Skip to main content

Full text of "Innis Herald, Volume 44, Issue 3 - November, 2008"

See other formats



Innis College "^'2 Sussex Ave. ^ Room 107 ^Toronto, Ontario If MSS 1J5 ^ 416-978-4748 


EdUors-in-Chief Chris Heron & Michelle Kloepfer 

Associate Editors Rolla Tahir &, Michael Sloane 

Film Editor Tom Nowak 

External Representative Phil Donehon 

Treasurer Michelle Kloepfer 

WebmaSer Chris Heron 

Layout Editor Chris Heron 


flc« capper » (p. 2). 
8c fl OuToboros-esque » (p. 3). 
&« Came»{pA). 
&(.^6link^>{p. 5). 
8c « conmibiality i» (p. 7-8). 
&« recognition-connection » (p. 9-10). 

^ ^ NOTES 1^5- 

The puzzle pieces found throughout this issue assemble to form the article - Status in Everyday Life: A Formal Model for 
Application » by Larry Earlix. 

The Innis Herald is usually published during the third full week of each month during the Fall and Winter terms. MeeHng 
dates and deadlines may be found on our lisebsxte. We hope to hear from you in the new year. 

All submissions are welcome. 

In the Realm of Oshima 


youve seen the cover of the fall 
Cinematheque Ontario programme, you'd 
be forgiven for thinking that a David Bowie 
retrospective had been scheduled. The ret- 
rospective is actually focused upon the Japa- 
nese director Nagisa Oshima, best known 
for his Bowie-starring Merry Christmas 
Mr. Lawrence (1983) and his controversial, 
erotically explicit In the Realm of the Serues 
(1976). Though these two features are the 
promotional centerpiece of the current retro- 
spective, it's telling that in the programmes 
introduction to Oshima's works (written by 
James Quandt, the Cinematheque's head 
programmer, for whom this retrospective 
is obviously a long-in-coming labour of 
love), the former isn't even mentioned by 
name. Quandt rather, and rightly, gives the 
brunt of his attention to Oshima's output 
from the 1960s, beginning with Cruel Story 
of Youth (1960) and ending with The Man 
Who Left His Will on Film (1970). AU told, 
Oshima produced 30 works for the cinema 
and television during this period, including 
three feature films released in 1960 {Cruel 
Story of Youth, The Sun's Burial, and Night 
and Fog in Japan) and three in 1968 {Di- 
ary of A Sbinjuku Thief Death by Hanging, 
and Three Resurrected Drunkards). In his 
own way — as revolutionary a filmmaker of 
the '60s as Jean-Luc Godard (a comparison 
to which Oshima has frequently stated his 
dislike) — he's regarded by many critics as 
Japan's greatest living filmmaker; however, 
his output has steadily dropped off along 
with his health: his last film, completed in 
1999, was Gohatto, which reunited him 
with Lawrence actor 'Beat'Takeshi Kitano. 

The retrospective is by no means com- 
plete (Oshima's '60s TV work, according 
to Quandt, remains stuck in a nightmarish 
rights tangle), but it's a lifesaver for anyone 
interested in Oshima's cinema, given that so 
many of Oshima's theatrical works have yet 
to see release in decent, English-subtitled, 
non-bootleg DVD editions. Moreover, el- 
ements for public screenings in the past 
have been less than ideal (Quandt recalls, to 
his great embarrassment, a Cinematheque 
screening of a beat-up 16mm print of Vio- 
lence at Noon [1966] vrith Oshima in at- 
tendance); thus, the presence of many new J 
35mm prints make the retrospective even '''^ 
more of a cause for excitement. As well, 
given how prolific Oshima was during the 
'60s, it's inevitable that a number of titles 
have fallen through the cracks {The Catch 
[1961] and Pleasures of the Flesh [1965], to 
cite but two), making their appearances in 
the retrospective that much more vital for 
both veterans and newcomers to Oshima. 

Beyond sheer quantity, the admirable 
scope of Oshima's films from the '60s must 
be acknowledged. Dealing with subjects 
(frequently overlapping) as varied as the 
deplorable treatment of Koreans in Japan 
(by way of an informal trilogy consisting of 
Sing A Song of Sex, Death by Hanging, and 

Three Resurrected Drunkards), true crime 
stories ripped from the headhnes (Violence 
at Noon and Boy), the impotence of the stu- 
dent movement in Japan {Night and Fog in 
Japan, Sing A Song of Sex, and The Man Who 
Left His Will on Film), and detailing the 
lives of those living at the edges of Japanese 
society {The Sun's Burial, Diary of A Shin- 
juku Thief and Boy), while still having time 
to complete an animated feature {Band of 
Ninja), Oshima defied easy categoriza- 
tion throughout the decade. TWis applies 
to Oshima's style as well as his choice of 
subject matter; he moved from long takes 
{Night and Fog in Japan) to rapid-fire ed- 
iting {Violence at Noon), black and white 
{Death by Hanging) to colour {Three Resur- 
rected Drunkards), and intimately focused 
films {Cruel Story of Youth) to ensemble 
pieces {The Sun's Burial) with much ease. 
Oshima's restless (and seemingly endless) 
shape-shifting throughout the decade per- 
haps accounts for the sharp decline in his 
productivity later on, though he remained 
just as hard to pin dovm then, moving from 
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence'^ gay POW 
drama to the Bunuelian farce of Max Man 
Amour (1986). 

It's telling that Oshima has stated his 
admiration for Luis Buiiuel above all other 
filmmakers (including, pointedly, Godard), 
and though Max Mon Amour most explic- 
itly brings out this affinity, Bunuel's influ- 
ence is reflected in a number of Oshima's 
films. TTie wedding without a bride and the 
grandson drunkenly atiempring to sodom- 

izc his grandfather in The Ceremony (1971); 
the Korean character R.'s unsuccessful 
hanging (followed by amnesia) and the 
Japanese officials' subsequent reenacdng of 
his crimes in Death by Hanging, the Escher 
loop of The Man Who Left His Will on Film 
are but three examples of Oshima's embrace 
of Bunuel's keen sense of the absurd and 
the surreal. Oshima (especially early in his 
career) was often more didactic than Bu- 
iiuel in inserting consciously topical, often 
political, subjects into his films; however, 
in two of three of Oshima's breakout 1960s 
films — in Night and Fog in Japan — explicit 
reference is made to the unrest surround- 
ing the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and 
Security between the United States and Ja- 
pan. Nevertheless, the Bunuelian streak in 
Oshima's films cannot be denied, espedally 
as his movies (particularly from the Ko- 
rea trilogy on) began to increasingly break 
down in terms of strict realism. 

It's in this way that I appreciate the 
two most popular of Oshima's films: In 
the Realm of the Senses and Merry Christ- 
mas Mr. Lawrence. The former, Oshima's 
first major international coproduction, is a 
remarkably intense portrayal of a passion- 
ate, isolated obsession leading inevitablv 
tovm-ds death and the latter is a queer- 
edged WWII drama that transcends the 
label of mere war movie with its complex 
characters, stylistic and narrative flights of 
fancy, and rcfiisal to demonize cither side of 
the conflict; pop icon Ryuichi Sakamoto's 
excellent score alongside his lip lock with 
Bowie don't hurt matters either. The theme 
of men in conflict caught up in homosexual 
passion carries over into Gohatto's tale of 
19th century samurai, serving as a fitting 
capper to Oshima's brilliant (if too quickly 
extinguished) career. 

Quality DVD releases of many of Oshi- 
ma's works (barring In the Realm of the Senses 
and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, special 
editions of which are in the works from the 
American DVD label The Criterion Col- 
lection) may be a ways off, which is unfor- 
tunate; however, the mere presence of such 
a comprehensive retrospective (which is al- 
ready rolling out all over North America) is 
enough to g^ve one hope that the entirety of 
Oshima's oeuvre will at last start to get the 
recognition it so rightly deserves. S 


S 0 n gs f 0 r the Dancing Chicken 

^3 a Herzog enthusiast, the referen- 
daJ title of Emily Schultz's debut collection 
of poetry, Songs for the Dancing Chicken, 
piqued my interest. Moreover, the usage of 
the penultimate, Ouroboros-esque scene 
from Stroszek (1976) as a book cover did 
more than just grab my attention - it gave 
me the impression that Schultz would delve 
into a creative exploration of the subtle nu- 
ances of Herzog's oeuvre. Unfortunately, 
Schultz's Herzog- in spired poems are not 
unlike the recapitulation of the facsimile 
image that appears on the cover insofar as 
they are merely rudimentary, synchronic 
snapshots of salient scenes in Herzog's 
films with Uttic interrogation or creative in- 
vestigation. For instance, • The Conquistador 
of the Useless », drawing upon Fitzcarraldo 
(1982), arrogandy attempts to re-present 
scenes from a filmic language into the com- 
parably narrow scope of the written word 
without elaborating or engaging them in a 
way that justifies the pseudo-adaptation: 

Many children wait to watch 
Fitz fall asleep 
to music — 

or is it the music itself 
they wait to observe? 


The black umbrella of the dead 
floats on water. A hand-cranked 
phonograph preserves. 

As well, the provocative banality 
of Herzog's final scene in Stoszek is bastard- 
ized by Schultz's over-simplification and 
obvious acknowledgement of the implicit 
ambiguity that Herzog so idiosyncratically 
constructed by means of her rhetorically 
playfiil questions in section 9 of •< Double- 
Double and Hell on Earth »: 

Are Herzog's animals friends? Does 
the mallard who beats the 

keep time with the others? The rab 
bit rides a fire truck in his 

and the piano-playing chicken pecks 
at keys. 

Rather than the lackluster Her- 
zog-based poems of Dancing Chicken, it is 
poems such as ■ The Man Out of Time », ■ 
A Climax of Dirt >• and " The Boy from the 
Theatre, the Excrement of Dogs » are where 
Schultz really hits her stride. She beauti- 
fully parades a fastidious, lyrical darkness 

that both subsumes and distances the read- 
er, placing him or her into a Unguistic space 
- often instigated by fascinating formalis- 
tic experimentations (« A Group of Empty 
Trees, Regularly Spaced ») - that contains 
truly unique, enthralling cadences. « The 
Boy from the Theatre, the Excrement of Dogs » 
ends with the quintessential Schultz voice, 
which operates by luring the reader in and 
subsequently arresting the momentum of 
the poem in order to re-inscribe the mun- 
dane with an enigmatic ecstasy: 

I lay dreaming 

that we were a thousand years old. 

When I vroke you were sunlight 

and my heart was the cold colour of 


In the apartment below me 

a spoon scraped the bottom of an empty 


Overall, Schultz is a more than 
worthwhile up and coming poet that has 
the ability to shock and stun in a very dis- 
creet manner so long as she does not try too 
hard to fit within the confines and param- 
eters of a German auteur. IS 


DRIVE through 
Dubai and this is what you will see: sky- 
scrapers, each with a crane on top, still un- 
der-con struction (has been and will be for 
a while still) and larger than life billboards 
advertising things to come {Dubailand, 
Arabian Ranches, Hydropolis, Dubai Wa- 
terfront, etc). Both scenes are true testa- 
ments of Dubai's recent construction/rcal- 
estate boom; seven and five-star hotels are 
almost as rampant as luxurious housing 
complexes built on man-made islands and 
condos soon to be in revolving buildings. 

Dubai initially thrived mainly on 
its pearling industry, and recendy on its oil 
production; with both industries dwindling, 
the latter expected to cease in the next 20 
years, Dubai is desperate for ways to main- 
tain its current wealth and attraction to 
Western investors and tourists. In creating 
economic free zones such as Dubai Inter- 
net City and Dubai Media city, including 
Dubai Studio City, it is guaranteeing con- 
tinued interest and investment. The city 
presents an exercise in building a city from 
the ground up — literally. Dubai is essential- 
ly a desert; however, Dubai's city planning is 
much more ambitious than just building on 
desert land; added to the city's geographi- 
cal make-up are several artificial islands 
and soon the underwater city^ Hydropolis. 
The only part of old Dub^ that survives is 
minute, and the only reason for its survival 
is because of its economic importance, and 
partly because of its tourist appeal. The tra- 
ditional markets, souks, in the downtown 
area of old Dubai by the Creek comprise 
the majority of the remaining historical 
buildings, including Dubai's famous Gold 

Representations of the city are 
limited to hotel openings, fashion shows, 
and the latest business deals, all of which 
are always attended by celebrities as if to 
grant the event legitimacy. What is xirtually 
absent from any representation of the city, 
however, is the largely immigrant working 

class that comprises a large majority of the 
population. This sharp class division is not 
unique to Dubai. Working immigrants, like 
other foreign investors in Dubai, comprise a 
temporary population, a population in tran- 
sience. The city itself is built with this tran- 
sient population in mind; by that I mean 
the business investors and tourists more so 
than this working class population. 

Diversity is disconcertingly visible 
in the sharp split between the locals, which 
is largely seen in traditional attire and the 
rest. The ambition the city is striving to- 
wards is admittedly achievable but similarly 
disconcerting. Nonetheless, there seems to 
be a charm in a city that is entirely ersatz; a 
charm that is entirely incomprehensible to 
me upon finding the city alienating when 
visiting it during the summer. Schools are 
established for international students, es- 
sentially the children of foreign business- 
men in mind. Hotels and nightclubs are ca- 
tering for the consistent influx of celebrities 
attending the latest hotel opening or fiJm 
premiere. Malls are the only distraction for 
the city's permanent population, who aside 
from working and shopping have very iittic 
else to do. I guess it is the same appeal that 
drives flocks of people every year to Las 
Vegas or Hong Kong, each unique in their 
own way, but artificial nonetheless. But at 
least both Las Vegas and Hong Kong are 
not disillusioned by any pretenses of culture, 
unlike Dubai. Devoid of any culture, strict- 
ly thriving on a flow of money generated 
largely by its transient population, Dubai is 
strictly a financial hub. Despite its grandiose 
seven-star hotels, its entertainment districts 
and its glamorous nightlife (that let me say 
not everyone gets to participate in), Dubai 
is like a replica city that is stranded between 
quickly decaying remnants of its past, ap- 
propriating various Western modernizing 
aesthetics from the present, while looking 
ahead for developments that will make it 
stand apart in the future. While Dubai suc- 
ceeded in becoming the financial hub of the 

Middle East, I doubt it will ever achieve its 
ambition of becoming the cultural hub of 
the Middle East. 

There even odsts an internal 
rivalry between the emirates of Dubai 
and Abu Dhabi, both cities competing to 
become the hub of culture in the Middle 
East. Abu Dhabi with its newly established 
Middle East International Film Festival, 
currently in its second year, closely followed 
Dubai's Dubai International Film Festival, 
currently in its fifth year. 

This incessant modernization 
has its advantages nonetheless. The Dubai 
Film Festival is one success story, I believe. 
It hasn't - not yet anyway - been contami- 
nated with the obsession vnth attaining 
everything Western. Dubai became the 
first Middle Eastern State to effectively 
inaugurate an international fUm festival, 
one that is successfully bridging the gap 
between Western and Middle Eastern Cin- 
ema. (The key word here is " successfully » 
because technically other Middle Eastern 
cities have established international film 
festivals, but with little success and virtually 
no recognition from the West). Granted 
other areas in die Middle Eastern region 
have international film festivals, yet none 
have reached the eminence of the Dubai 
International Film Festival. This is by far 
the only development in Dubai that I see 
as being beneficial, not only to Dubai but 
also to the Middle East. The fuU effect of 
the festival is yet to be achieved; on the one 
hand, Middle Eastern tUms shown in the 
festival rarely make tt to other international 
film festivals in the West, and on the other 
hand, Western films shown at the festival 
rarely receive distribution beyond the fes- 
tival circuit in the Middle East. But every 
year in December, for the past five years, 
the cultural bridge between east and west 
is successfully bridged, however temporary. 



'M^vr '*J|K|r« 

^''BP*'* i'l^lP'* /t^Pi'i 

Notes on Quantum of Solace 
(aka The Bond Identity) 


rected by Marc Forster, is the twenty-sec- 
ond official film in tJie James Bond series. It 
once again stars Daniel Craig as the super- 
spy (or action hero, if you will). The follow- 
ing is a set of critical notes regarding the 

1. Peter Howell of the Toronto 
Star was entirely correct when he men- 
tioned in his review of Qtmntum of Solace 
that the film was made for audiences who 
would rather watch The Bourne Identity. 
Hence, the end result is a so-called « The 
Bond Identity i*. 

2. Why are the producers, Ms. 
Broccoli and Mr, Wilson, so cruel to the 
movie-goer? TTiey assume audiences are 
dumb and utterly visceral. Watching Qtian- 
tum of Solace was like experiencing a con- 
fusing sadist ritual within a travelogue after 
ten cups of coffee. 

3. If this film had a test audience 
at all, the individuals comprising that audi- 
ence were undoubtedly under some sort of 

4. The film does not deserve to be 
titled Quantum of Solace for it has no relation 
to the original story and essentially abuses 
the literary career of Ian Fleming. This is 
reflected in the fact that during the film's 
tides, Ian Fleming is named only added af- 
ter « Daniel Craig as James Bond » appears 
on-screen. After all, the film is crafted into 
a manic thriller first and then labeled as a 
Bond film vrith no relation to the franchise 
or to the character. 

5. One link this film has to pre- 
vious installments, aside from the presence 
of James Bond and M, is the corpse of Ms. 
Fields covered in oil and lying on the bed 

(a reference to the corpse of Jill Masterson, 
which was covered in gold and placed on 
the bed in Goldfmger). And yet this is still a 
contrived homage. 

6. The entire course of the film 
features no charm on Bond's part and barely 
any romance. 

7. There is a virtually total ab- 
sence of comic relief in Quantum of Solace. 
The only moment in the film that the au- 
dience seemed to find humorous was when 
Bond left Mathis' corpse in the dumpster, 
which certainly says something about con- 
temporary society. 

8. The villain, Dominic Greene, is 
banal, and his death (the most important in 
any Bond film) is not even depicted. Plus, 
like its predecessor Casino Rayale, the film 
lacks a henchman. 

9. The plot is quite confusing, 
even for a spy film. It aims to stir suspense 
among viewers, but instead leaves them 
perplexed. Consequently, the film relies on 
chases, explosions, and brutal fights to re- 
main « entertaining » at the very least. Could 
someone remind me why Paul Haggis was 
brought on board as a screenwriter? 

10- The political and economic 
subtext of the film is too self-conscious and 
superficial. Why do the Americans always 
need to be presented as obsessed with oil, 
scheming to undermine world powers, and 
downright greedy? For the most part, this 
film was made in Europe by Europeans and 
for Europeans. 

11. Feel free to add the repeated 
lack of gadgets to the multitude of Bond 
film mainstays absent here. Is someone at 
Eon Productions afraid to give John Cleese 

a paycheque? 

12. Also, the gun-banei sequence 
belongs at the very opening of the film and 
not in the end credits. This is simple. There 
is no need to be « experimental ». Shame on 
you Marc Forster. 

13- I'd comment on the film's 
theme song, but I've completely forgotten 
it, and I wonder why. 

14. Why does the average shot 
length need to be so low? If you're prone to 
blink like all human beings do, then you'll 
probably miss one of every three shots. 
Quantum of Solace cries to be « calmed down 

1 5- On a positive note, there were 
one or two worthy sequences (e.g. at the op- 
era) and Craig's acting (and physical) ability 
was superior. 

16- Quantum of Solace offered me, 
well, no solace. It is not only the shortest 
and most visceral of all Bond films, but also 
perhaps the worst (the criteria being its 
merits as a film and as an installment in the 
Bond series). I believe Broccoli and Wil- 
son (if unable to change their ways) should 
cease making these films for the sake of 
movie-goers and James Bond fans. If they 
want to they can produce one more install- 
ment to round off with a « quasi-Bond tril- 
ogy starring Daniel Craig ». But otherwise I 
see no sense in making Bond films if these 
films do not deserve to be titled as such. Yet 
I doubt that this v/ill happen. James Bond 
is, after all, a lucrative marketing device that 
generates plenty of box office receipts. 

Hence, the question arises: how will 
James Bond return? W' 



■tuj^' >jg|^v 'Jjll,' -'jiMM.'-' 
>H1P''» rf'^P''* /i^F* 

— to alleviate certain intolerable discomforts, 
liarring her gracefijl situation amongst the 
other members of the Lunar Society, was 
met with consternated glances and the dis- 
sonant clinking of glasses that served to 
animate that collective disapprobation. The 
young gamine had helped herself to many 
liberal a serving of the divine Chicharr6n 
and, ignoring the repeated exhortations 
imploring her reconsideration by fellow 
colleagues and one particularly disquieted 
server, was soon faced with the invariable 
outcome of any action predicated on rash- 
ness, poverty-line insouciance, and repeated 
prayers to the porcelain god (- Shiver my 
top-sails! Mama's bringing dinner tonight ! 
"), namely some sort of gastric apocalypse. 
She was in the habit of ordering every por- 
cine platter available on any night of fine 
dining; and was predisposed to leave those 
dishes untouched until they were lined up 
according to the sequence in which they 
had been requested. 

Deliberately over-extending her- 
self having discerned a monstrous partiality 
to the dish in question, Virahallaloo arrived 
at the seventh serving before taking excep- 
tion to her stomachs repeated warnings of 
capitulation (the signs had been abundandy 
clear to the doyennes presiding over her 
induction - for this was the reason for the 
celebratory gathering at La Azalea, her ini- 
tiation into that reclusive order in dire need 
of secretarial organization - by the third 
helping, which seemed to bear responsi- 
bility for the fiendishly inhuman odours 
co-mingling with wafts of fried gristle and 
lyonnaised onions). Recalling dowdy Luci 
Vbnk's earlier pronouncement that a tall 
glass of milk would be as good as any an 
anodyne to the multiple inflammations that 
galled her pride and body, not anticipating 
the malevolence to which the Naga Jolokia 
pepper owed its endowments {nor for that 
matter the chef's Bangladeshi origin and 
fondness for cross-fertilizing ingredients); 
Virahallaloo began to gulp voraciously. It 
had been a heedless oversight to underesti- 
mate the influence such a dish could com- 
mand over one's body. 

Her state of distress was not re- 
stricted to the aches in her gullet, painful as 
they may be. TTiis it did not take the others 
long to seize upon due to their realization 
that Virahallaloo was not afflicted with 
rickets; the locations of her pains were fur- 
ther implied by the way she darted back to 
the table from an apparently unsuccessful 
deposition at the lavatory (she did not take 
well to the patina of incontinent figure- 

eights etched in rehef like a decipherable 
cryptogram, nor for that matter the pursy 
woman lying on the tiled floor a few feet 
shy from a vacant stall, pathetically reach- 
ing for the door handle and whose mean- 
ing was quite equally as obvious: death comes 
to those who vjaitf). When she unsteadily 
approached the foot of the table at which 
Vonk, her assistants. Lady Bria Ardley and 
Lady Minnie Mytton, and doyenne Eu- 
dora Wojcik were discussing Mrs. Mytton's 
newly entered state of connubiality, Mabel's 
thoughts again returned to Vonk's discus- 
sion of the pitcher of milk's imguentary 

Through a flawed (mis)perception 
of transitivity, she fu'mly clutched the han- 
dle of the jug while the others gawked, 
suffering her anguished whimpers with 
matronly compassion. They doubted her 
resolve when her intenrions became dear, 
protested her incivility when she leaned 
over against the table with the jug of milk 
hanging portentously in the air. 
" Heaven above ! ■ 
. Bosh ! » 

« She wouldn't dare ! * 

" Cutting a damned dumb dido Mabel ! * and 
other such phrases hung suspended in the 
air Uke shoes from a Slipper Tree. With a 
quivering lip, Mehitabel brusquely assured 
her newfound friends that they would all " 
somehow - someday - get past this 

The kangaroo court that soon 
aftenvards assembled to prosecute Vira- 
hallaloo's innumerable offenses and abuses 
to the DLS Codes of Conduct, chief among 
the more serious indictments her profana- 
tion of the ritual liquefaction and eventual 
consumption of the Soi«-Egg during the 
synodic month, had every reason to forego 
the procedural system of checks and bal- 
ances considering the degree to which Vi- 
rahallaloo had unerringly desecrated their 
most sacred of principles. This sentiment 
was perhaps most enigmatically expressed 
by taciturn Paviloda in. his sentiments: « 
Glattes eis ein Paradets Jur den, der gut zu 
tanzen weiss ». The adjudicators presiding 
over the mockery-of-a-trial were Lucinda 
Vonk, her husband Piotr Paviloda, fellow 
doyenne EUemenella Van Zandt, and Dec- 
imo Zeuse, that adiaphoristic hcresiarch of 
the Western Plains. Chief Justice Miaou, 
purported to be descended from the Tom- 
cat Murr, was also in attendance, though his 
impartiality was not in any way assured for 
the simple reason that it was, in prepara- 
tion for what he assumed would have been 
the newest addition to his coterie of abid- 
ing doppelgangers, his paws that had per- 
sonally brewed Virahallaloo's Sow-Egg to 
devastating perfection. His owner Francois 

cause, despite Miaou's multiple urgings to 
be petted during his purring diatribes, such 
demonstrations of unchecked power had in 
the past disturbed the former member of 
the Sous Gang's delicate sensibility. 

" Rrrrraow - Madame Mehita- 
bel Emma- Constance Nicolette Virahallaloo, 
Miaou beg-an, votre examen selon les regies 
rigoureuses de notre administration, prouve 
que vousetes saine de corps ct d 'esprit pour subtr 
id votre prods suite aux nombreux affronts 
que vous avez commis envers notre petite, 
cependant respectable communaut^, d laquelle 
vous aviez, ily a queique temps et avec grande 
assiduity, daigni faire I'effort d'adhirer. Selon 
plusieurs accusations dipos4es centre vous et, 
compte tenu de la gravity de leurs consequences 
sur notre sociiti, ce tribunal a conclu que, vous 
garder captive de votre miserable inconscience, 
causerait une lerreur incalculable sur notre 
monde; II est difficile de concevoir les limites de 
la devastation que vos actions sans retenue ont 
cause sur un monde credule et sans ressources. 
La sagesse est un bien que Vhumamte priserve, 
ce en triomphant de la vague mon/ante de 
I'indiff&ence qui malheureusement caract&ise 
cette decennie, afin d'etre prete a I'imminertte 
confrontation avec ces inconsdents pricurseurs 
de I'obscurite. Void done les considerations dont 
nous avons charge de deliberer en ioute serenite 
sur votre destin: quel est votre plaidoyer ? » 

No sooner had Miaou's procla- 
marion ended than the rate of Mrs, Vira- 
hallaloo's steady decomposition had begun 
to emit a foul effluvium, to which all the 
parties had taken notice: willowy facial 
contortions and a violent smacking of the 
lips in the vain hope of giving the malodor- 
ous stench sense, shape and form was the 
common response by those present. Lucie 
Vonk had dared to say that it rivaled Vi- 
rahallaloo's past olfactory assaults, whereas 
Dccimo, hitherto unfamiliar with the wom- 
an's physiological abnormalities, suggested 
that the experience would not be dissimilar 
from the expected consequences of putting 
a polecat in a microwave. Miaou, dissatis- 
fied with the relief his enameled gavel af- 
forded his teeth, was rendered incapable of 
resisting his more primal urges in charing 
Virahallaloo in contempt of court while in 
the midst of gnawing at the body's limbs, 
having adroitly leapt from his elevated seat 
to take advantage of the rigor mortis setting 

It took the vocal insistence of 
Behzad Molavi, who had been represent- 
ing the defendant's family interests in his 
temporary legal appointment as counsel, to 
suspend the momentary lapse in judgment 
of the court with regard to the contents of 
the deceased's stomach, which had been up 

until this time, held in dispute. This recov- 
ering coupeur de nattes and leading Djord- 
jean scholar, renowned for his authoring 
of a riveting round of potboiler fictions 
{Borscht! Borscbt! My Bloody Borscht!, Recru- 
descence of The Hospitalized Agitprop Film- 
Star, Le Chauffage, and most recently, Rho- 
domontade: A History of Assholic Behaviour 
Amongst Primates) to finance his ambitious, 
some say impossible, construction of a 
Gusmaoan Passarola, had steeled himself 
against Miaou's cantankerous temperament 
on the promise by Mr. Virahallaloo of the 
ambrosial delights of an emesic casserole. 

Mr. Virahallaloo's two children 
were exceedingly eager to receive their just 
entitlements having scarcely eaten a morsel 
in the past three days; nay, were perhaps even 
more keen to carve up their dead mother 
at the thought of the ticking clock and the 
body's purported five hour digestion time of 
the cured pork. Before serrated implements 
were given leave to penetrate Mehitabel's 
gamy hide, perhaps all the more impera- 
tively while the day's sunlight had not com- 
pletely retreated behind the horizon, or to 
use the kenningar of days long past, the ex- 
tinguishing of the world-candle, an almost 
inaudible voice piped a plaintive plea. It was 
Miaou who shrewdly discerned the source 
of that swazzled cry, buried beneath layers 
of clothing chirruping, 

" SousSous-SousSous-SeusSous- 
Sous. SousSous-SousSous-SousSous-Sous f. 

As he pawed at the waistline of 
Mehitabel's trousers, the body began to 
gambol violently in the air, such as to give 

the impression of a wood nymph chok- 
ing on a pinecone, forming a parabolic arc 
whose protuberant zenith experienced peri- 
geal drops, the rotundity of which could 
veritably have been mistaken for an eight 
kilogram sackof bromated flour, 

■ ...unter vier Augen gesprochen 
! » blurted Paviloda, adjusting his misty 
spectacles fogged by the vapours emanating 
from the ipsissimositic rump; than which, 
as nothing can be so aggravating, so he 
proceeded to illumine those present in the 
fustian art of his displeasure: t Arschgesicht! 
Vafluchtnoch mall Wer hat gefiirztf Die kacke 

While Vbnk and her husband re- 
strained the merrymaking caboose, Miaou 
deftly clawed the trousers dovm; the horrors 
to which they were confronted threatened 
the apostasy of one's unanswerable com- 
mitment to religion, while others, such as 
counsel Molavi, simply chose to profit of 
the occasion, by committing the scene to 
memory. It may hap that the bete noire's 
speech, the peroration of ideas having gone 
largely without notice, had attempted to 
obviate such frenzied responses in a more 
than conciliatory fashion; had desired to 
be heard and understood without undue 
attention to the manner in which it hap- 
pened to prophesy the series of events to 
follow its inquisition. Paviloda thought of 
Bo Diddley's Jupiter Thunderbird, Vbnk, 
pygopagous conjoining with a parasitic 
twin. Zeuse swallowed his own ascending 
bile at the sight of the lobules hanging from 
the creature's chin, recalling a taunting line 

from « The Three Utile Pigs • and later, 
the dangling feet of the Zydeco band that 
used to play on the fire-escape of his apart- 
ment. Mute Van Zandt merely revealed 
her paunchy tummy and squeezed it until 
it vaguely approximated the likeness of the 
malformed face now pcrmanentiy affixed 
between Virahallaloo's buttocks. 

Miaou was rather busy fetching 
Martineau's calipers to waste time scouring 
his experiences for an event with which a 
comparison could be made with the sup- 
purating Hellmouth. He began to voice his 
agitation to his prided doyennes. This made 
Vonk uneasy, as it was Miaou's serenity 
that initially attracted her to his undaunted 
leadership; his tenderness that in her eyes 
poised that confident Ratiocinator for 
greatness. Had these qualities been lacking 
in any degree, he surely would not have been 
able to reconstitute the shambolic hordes of 
Djordje Mantzios' bacchanalian death-cults 
into members of the Lunar Society, self-ap- 
pointed guardians of the Sous and regulators 
of its use. Wedging the gaping maw open to 
dimensions that would not hinder the ex- 
plorations of a lone pilgrim in search of en- 
lightenment. Miaou entered the iridescent 
breach, sinking into oblivion. 

The doyeimes were treated to the 
sights and sounds of a thousand crepitating 
eggs plummeting from the night sky. B 

With appreciative thanks to Denis Briffaud. 


Visual Affect in Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, 
the Smartest Kid on Earth: Part III 


to analyzing 

the Super-Man scene, it should be noted 
that the Superman archetype appears quite 
frequently throughout ]C. For instance, 
this archetype essentially frames the en- 
tire graphic novel — or, more accurately, the 
story {i.e. excluding the para-textual visuals 
and appendices) — insofar as he first appears 
during the prologue as the « Famous Star of 
T-Vs big show - who doubles as Jimmy's 
childhood idol and quasi-paternal figure 
and last appears in the fantastical finale as, 
once again, a paternal figure coddling and 
protecting the childhood Jimmy. It follovi^, 
then, that my selection and subsequent 
analysis of this scene is fiirther justified be- 
cause it is a leitmotiv in/C 

The Super-Man scene (or set of 
scenes) that I would like to focus on inyC 
specifically involves a Super-Man character 
committing suicide. I would like to suggest 
that the most visually shocking moment 
is the suicidal -jump scene itself, which 1 
will carefully scrutinize; however, 1 want 
to situate my analysis of this scene in a 
more diachronic manner by analyzing the 
sequence of events and/or details that un- 
fold over the span of a couple of pages. The 
rationale behind this approach is premised 
on the notion that many — if not all — of the 
preceding and succeeding panels intensify 
and add to the visual affect of the suicidal- 
jump scene because of the specific stylistic 
choices Ware has made; moreover, the im- 
portance of focusing on what is essentially 
the context of the smcidal-jump scene is 
underscored by Groensteen when he states 
that, fl [t]he comics image, whose meaning of- 
ten remains open when it is presented as iso- 
lated (and without verbal anchorage), finds its 
truth in the sequence » (114). Therefore, the 
sequence of events and/or details that un- 
fold chronologically includes the following: 
the recognition- connection scene, the sui- 
ddal-jump scene, the immediate aftermath 
detaU, the shock scene, the aftermath scene, 
and the follow-up detail. 

The recognition-connection 
scene occurs when Jimmy notices Super- 
Man^ atop a building across the street from 
his work and believes that he is waving to 
him exclusively. Realistically, the chances of 
this recognition-connection are rare; how- 
ever, the incremental elevation of Jimmy's 
head and hand over the top of his cubicle, 
along with his excited facial expression, is 
evidence of a sort of self-delusion in pro- 

cess insofar as Jimmy sincerely believes 
that he is the recipient of Super-Man's 
wave. Although there is no absolute way 
of knowing whether or not Super-Man is 
exclusively waving to him, Ware's formal- 
istic choices supports this interpretation 
because the juxtaposition of two equally- 
sized panels produces a sense of intimacy, 
which subsequently raises the possibility 
that Super-Man is waving to him; however. 
Ware's usage of perspective — i.e. the fact 
that Super-Man is (not literally) the size 
of Jimmy's head — acts as a reminder of the 
distance between the two individuals and 
the unlikelihood that Super-Man is actual- 
ly vraving to Jimmy. Despite the ambiguous 
nature of the recognition-connection scene, 
one outcome of the non-exclusivc-wave in- 
terpretation is a sense of pathos, which is 
experienced by the interactive participants 
and based on observing Jimmy's self-delu- 
sion. Moreover, the fact that Jimmy's child- 
hood idol is the TV. Super-Man that was 
introduced in the prologue increases both 
the likelihood that Jimmy really believes 
there is recognition and connection and the 
degree of pity felt by the interactive partici- 
pants.The seemingly harmless nature of the 
recognition-connection scene has a certain 
degree of emotional weight diat is trans- 
ferred over to the unexpected suicidal-jump 
scene that follows. 

In relation to the suicidal-jump 
scene, then, I will argue that there are 
three features that constitute its emotional 
resonance: the Given-New Structure, the 
colour scheme, and the panel-to-panel 
transition; the latter includes closure and 
the gutter- Firsdy, the Given-New struc- 
ture of the suicidal-jump scene conveys 
a sense of irony that manipulates and af- 
fects the interactive participants; this irony 
can be explained by looldng closely at the 
left and right panel of this scene. The left 
panel (Given) entails something the viewer 
already knows, something that is presented 
as commonsensical, self-evident * (Kress and 
van Leeuwen 181); thus, in relation to this 
scene, it is not unheard of to see a superhero 
on top of a skyscraper preparing to launch 
into the air to save the day, especially in the 
comics medium. The right panel (New) 
entails something which is not yet known 
or agreed upon by the viewer, something 
that is * problematic' » and * 'contestable' 
» (181), which warrants the interactive 
participants to ■ pay special attention ■ to it 

(181); thus, in relation to this scene, it is « 
'problematic' » to sec Super-Man (i.e. the 
iconic replica of Superman) not fl)ing in 
the air after having jumped off a skyscraper, 
but lying dead in street. The irony of this 
Given-New structure is premised on Ware's 
evocation and subsequent manipulation of 
certain ideological underpinnings related to 
comics; this amounts to the violation of the 
interactive participants' expectations of the 
abilities of Super-Man, which results in an 
overall shock, a visual affect. Moreover, due 
to the irony in this scene, Ware provides an 
opportunity for manifold interpretations 
that all amount to a sort of black humour 
that is rather perturbing — e.g. Super-Man 
is cynical, legitimately suicidal, twisted, 
delusional, or insane. Thus, the shocking, 
ironic Given-New structure of the suicidal- 
jump scene can be characterized as exempli- 
fying the grotesque insofar as it is « bizarre 
" and • fantastically absurd - (OED) due to 
the violation of the interactive participants' 
expectations of Super-Man's abilities. 

Secondly, the colour scheme of 
the suicidal-jump scene enhances the vi- 
sual affect due to the stark juxtaposition 
between the dull, low saturation, mono- 
chromatic cityscape and the vibrant, high 
saturation, flat colour Super-Man. 1 would 
like to expand upon these characteristics in 
order to elucidate the visual affectiveness of 
this scene, starting vrith the notion of satu- 

It should be first noted that sat- 
uration's « key affordance lies in its ability to 
express 'temperatures', kinds of affect » (Kress 
and van Leeuwen 233, italics added); as 
well, this feature is an excellent example of 
visual affect. In relation to the suicidal-jump 
scene, then, the idea that low saturation can 
be « cold and repressed, or brooding and moody 
» (233) accurately suits the monochromatic, 
brown-tinged dtyscape insofar as these 
temperatures connect to and intensify the 
misanthropy related to this environment 
(N.B. I will expand upon the misanthropic 
cityscape later; for now it is only important 
to highlight the cold and repressed asso- 
ciations with the cityscape). Conversely, the 
dueling temperatures associated with high 
saturation — e.g. « positive, exuberant, adven- 
turous, but also vulgar and garish • (233) — are 
both, rather paradoxically, appropriate for 
the brighdy dressed Super-Man in the sui- 
cidal-jump scene because this scene conveys 
both strong, altruistic, and heroic associa- 

' N.B. The ■ suicidal-jump scene » is a sub- 
scene that falls under the category of « the 
Super-Man scene ». 

' Due to the fact that there is more than 
one Super-Man throughout JC, it is im- 

portant to keep in mind the context as the 
exposition continues; also keep in mind the 
distinction between Super-Man and DCs 
Superman because this is an obvious con- 
nection that Ware plays vrith. 

tions and perverse, unstable, and unsettling 
associations. Therefore, the juxtaposition 
between low and high saturation — along 
with the temperatures associated with each 
polarity — draws an immense amount of at- 
tention to the suicide itself, which results in 
a very emotionally stimulating scene over- 

Not only does the low and high 
saturation impact the visual affect of the 
suicidal-jump scene, but the contrast be- 
tween the monochromatic cityscape and 
the flat colour of Super-Man enhances the 
emotional capabilities of it. More specifi- 
cally, in relation to the distinctive feature of 
« differentiathn » in colour — or in this case « 
lack of differenliat 'mi f (234) — the cityscape 
provides a - restrainfed] » (234) backdrop 
that foregrounds the flat colour of Super- 
Man. The significance of this foreground- 
ing, and the subsequent visual afFecriveness 
of this scene, resides in some of the qualities 
associated with flat colour. McCloud pos- 
its one such quality when he states that, « 
[i]n flat colon forms themselves take on more 
signif icance. The -world becomes a playground 
of shapes and space » (192). McClouds em- 
phasis on form and shape dovetails quite 
nicely with what Kress and van Leeuwen 
note about flat colour: « (f]lat colour may be 
perceived as simple and bold in a positive sense, 
or as overly basic and simplified >• and « [f]lat 

colour is generic colour, it expresses colour as an 
essential quality of things « (234). Due to the 
attention-grabbing features of flat colour, 
then, the interactive participants can easily 
be swept up by the stunning suicidal actions 
of Super-Man. As weU, along with the at- 
tention-grabbing features of flat colour, the 
notion of « association » and/or ■< provenance 
' — i.e. another affordance of colour that 
entails asking questions like n -where have 
•we seen this colour before ? » (232-33)— is 
important because the red, blue, and yel- 
low are associated vnth the « iconic po-wer 
* of the perennial Superman costume; this 
iconic power is related to how superheroes 
are (nythologized and subsequently recog- 
nized (McCloud 188). This iconic power 
of association re-emphasizes both the con- 
nertion to die Superman archetype and the 
ideological underpinnings of comics; Ware 
uses both of these to affect the interactive 
participants and play with their expecta- 
tions. AU of these features of the colour 
scheme — saturation, differentiation (i.e. 
monochrome), and flat colour, along with 
other afFordances of colour — both accentu- 
ate and constitute the bizarre, visually affec- 
tive, grotesque nature of the suicidal-jump 

Thirdly, the panel-to-panel tran- 
sition of the suicidal-jump scene — accom- 
panied by the inextricable notion of closure 

and the gutter — is a salient, visually affec- 
tive feature that I want to now focus on. 
The type of panel-to-panel transition, then, 
that occurs in this scene is « moment-to-mo- 
ment ■ (McCloud 70)^ because at one mo- 
ment Super-Man is getting ready to jump 
and the next moment he is laying face first 
on the street. As McCloud notes, the mo- 
ment-to-moment transition requires « very 
little closure » (70); hence, the incumbent in- 
volvement of the interactive participants to 
« mentally construct a continuous, unified re- 
ality ■ (67) is set within very restrictive, in- 
terpretive parameters. This restraint results 
in the » agent of time, change, and motion • 
(i.e. closure) (65) conveying an almost im- 
mediate movement from life to death. The 
instantaneous natxu-e of this panel-to- pane! 
transition constitutes the visual afFecrive- 
ness of the suiddal-jump scene. SI 


^ It could be argued that the suicidal-jump 
is ■ action-to-action »; however, ■> moment- 
to-moment B is more suitable because this 
scene is not expliddy representing kinesis, 
which is a common feature in McCloud's 


Araatulli, Mirella A.C, and Guglielmo Bellelli. « NoBalgia, Immigration, and Colle&ive Memory ». Collective Memory of 
Political Events: Social Psycholo^cal PerspeCHves. Ed. James W. Peimebaker et al. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associ- 
ates Publishers, 1997. 

Cooper, Dennis. Closer. New York Grove P, 1989. 

Ital Tek. cYCLiCAL. Planet Mu, 2008. 

Luhmann, Niklas. « DeconSirumon as Second-Order Observing «. New Literary History 24.4 (1993): 763-782. 

Rosc.Jack. Kensington Tequila Sunrise, 2005. 

Yau, Herman. The Untold Story [Baat sin faan dim ji yan yuk cha siu baau]. Cinema City, 1993. 

Zeman, Karcl, dii.A Deadly Invention [Vynalez zkazy]. Ceskoslovensky Statni Film, 1958.