THERE’S SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE

Back when I reviewed Anne of Green Gables I mentioned that I had never read the books, and had purposely avoided doing so in order to not make constant comparisons to it. Just the same however,  I would not have made a mistake either had I chosen to read it in advance to prepare for the anime. It would have been a way for me to further understand an anime, and even now I fully intend to read the original novels. Thinking along these lines, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how information leads to other information, and the limited amount of time we have to explore it all. I know we live in the Wikipedia generation and all, but it still feels rather daunting.

As an example, some time ago famous French comic artist Moebius made a statement that manga was like a “disease” in the sense that it spread into the culture of France while French comics were not able to return the favor in kind. I wanted to write an analysis of his statement, but then realized my knowledge of French and European comics is nowhere near extensive. The amount of Tintin I’ve read is sparse, I’ve only barely looked at Sky Doll, and for that matter I’ve never actually read Moebius’ work! “So I’ll read more European comics!” I said to myself, only to realize that time spent reading European comics is time not spent reading manga. That’s okay of course, but I feel like there’s little chance I’d be able to dive into European comics the way I have with manga where my enjoyment extends into every nook and cranny like I’m eating a Japanese English muffin.

Then I remembered how common the idea of “fully understanding something by extending beyond the immediate material can be.” With anime alone, you have a show like Gurren-Lagann where enjoyment of it increases when you realize just how much it’s paying homage to giant robot anime of the past, when you understand what it’s saying in response to the past. Going from there, do you research Japanese cinema because of its obvious connection to Japanese animation? Cinema as a whole? The technology of animation? Japanese woodblock prints for manga? The history of warfare in Asia? Do you look at the history of fine art in relation to commercial art in relation to animation? How about the fact that many famous works are adapted from novels and old literature? That’s not even accounting for series which incorporate elements from other parts of the world.

It’s like there’s this elusive “next level” of knowledge that people like myself try to reach, only to realize there’s millions of other mountains we could have climbed. There’s still time to get down and climb another, there’s still time to just walk at the base of each mountain and look up, but it’s impossible either way to get a full view of it all.

Phew. Maybe I’ll go check out some triptychs.

8 thoughts on “THERE’S SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE

  1. Read the old european comics: Asterix, Tintin, Spirou, Black & Mortimer. For the more recent, you have the books of Enki Bilal, and Bourgeon and the adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. For what is being done nowadays, there isn’t much worth, so you can continue with manga.

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  2. You encountered the problem with our information society. One can easily feel like Sisyphos when trying to get all the information. – Or like Don Quijote against giant windmills knowing you never can win against the mountains of knowledge. – Frustrating if you think that way. But I can easily live with it because I know I can never know everything. I’m sattisfied with the little pieces of knowledge that reach me every day. Overdoing wouldn’t result in something good.

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  3. And to think Moebius would do such a comment after doing an expo with Miyazaki… (and some people would like to mention Icare, his work with Taniguchi, but I think Taniguchi is nearer to European comics than to mangas)

    Mangas in France have a real success but European comics still have their aficionados. Maybe what Moebius deplores is that in his opinion, mangas have too much success amongst youngsters compared to European comics. I don’t think there’s really a danger for his domain, just that the saturation in the French manga market is wrongly interpreted.

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  4. I know how you feel, man, as I’m always feeling like this. There are so many things I have a passing interest int – live action films, for example, though even I could go on beyond media because I also have interest in lots of physical things – parkour, martial arts, boxing, etc., that I know all take so much time and effort to get into that it will cut into the time of my true passions – anime and music. I do dabble in everything – I try to get more physical, I try to watch more movies, and there are even things like comics from other countries (inc. the US) that I tell myself I’ll get into one day but have yet to – I dabble to the point where maybe I can get by on my knowledge and probably know w lot more than average joe, but the bottom line is that anime is my specialty, and seeing as I’d be a goddamn professor in the field already, I think it’s pretty safe for me to stick with this path.

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  5. My favorite triptych is Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.

    I don’t find anything wrong with impossibility. Even if you start the learning process and eventually give up, whatever you’ve done is something you can call back on later. It’s enriched your life and made the cluster of facts and memories that is “you” that much more interesting.

    I’ve picked up a few basic Russian phrases recently, after I listened to some t.A.T.u. songs and realized how much better they sound in their own language. Lord knows if I’ll remember them, especially in tandem with Japanese. But I’m doing it anyway.

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  6. I wish there were more of Christin and Mézières’ Valerian series translated into English. It really was one of my favourite comics, growing up, and you should definitely read those.

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  7. Pingback: Praying Towards Castle Grayskull « OGIUE MANIAX

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