mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean... Plus cityscapes

amazon.jp pushes stuff at me, of course. Any time I go to them, they're doing 'wouldn't you like to look at these...?' Now, what I've bought from them is Ima Ichiko and Nemuki and Hatsu Akiko and Akino Matsuri, all in quantity. Do they offer me more ghostly and/or historical fantasy shoujo? They do not. They offer me FMA. I do read FMA, yes, but I've never bought it from them. O-susume no riyuu? (Why do we mention these?) 'Cause you bought Papuwa 12 from us so we're sure you'd love FMA 17. And this shounen Jump series over here as well, and...

Well, fine. But.

Suddenly they're pushing Be-Boy Gold and Be-Boy Magazine at me. Because it's the same theme as something I checked somewhere, they say. No I did not, say I. I don't buy BL. I didn't know BBG was still publishing, even. But then I press that nifty little carousel thingy that makes the pics of the books circle around. Anh. Yeah. Ran a search on Ima, search turned up a Chara with an ep of Phantom Moon Tower, and I clicked on that. So if you're looking at softcore Chara, stands to reason you must be into relatively hardcore BBG. And you'll want Yamane's Captive of Finder as well, natch. Mattaku.

However, paleaswater, the next Phantom Moon Tower is due out on the 25th. I have it on pre-order; but if Book1 gets it in maybe I'll try them instead, since careful squinting at their info suggests they send by mail directly to Canada.

In same-language reading, I finished Ackroyd's The House of Doctor Dee. *Now* I know where Mieville's coming from.

'Coming from' in the sense of place thing that shows up in his short stories- London itself as main protagonist. Mieville a lot, but Ackroyd much more, makes me want to go walking about London, to see these little streets and alleys for myself; as I once wanted to walk about Tokyo for a year, just to get a grasp of the place. I still do, actually, because my Tokyo is decided by subway lines and train stations, and I think of it on the schema of the route maps.

Even when I was there I knew that was incorrect, and occasionally tried to get the various areas to relate to each other in a real-life walking or bicycling fashion, but it never quite worked. As far as I'm concerned, Shinagawa, say, is the southernmost point of Tokyo, the way it is on the Yamanote maps, and not where it really is, in the east near the Sumida. I think of it as south of Gotanda with a little eastering, when in fact it's directly east and across from it. Equally, Shinagawa cannot possibly be due south of the gaijin playgrounds of Azabu, which ought to be in western Tokyo, nor should it be well to the *west* of the Imperial Palace when of course it must be south of it. But the Imperial Palace is not, as I always think it, in the centre of Tokyo: it's off to the east, and nothing lies between it and the river but the flatland shitamachi of Ginza and Nihonbashi. Tokyo is not a clock face, as the schematics would have it: it's a fried egg whose yolk- the Palace- has slid over to the right.

On the map and in personal experience the gaijin playgrounds- Azabu, Aoyama, Roppongi- exist in a transit vacuum, hard of access and requiring cars. I feel they can't possibly be as close as they are to the business hubs of of Shinbashi and Shiba, even though one of the first extensive walks I did was from Roppongi down to Shiba and the Tokyo Tower. Possibly if I'd remembered that these exclusive and high-priced areas are in Minato-ku- the harbour ward- I wouldn't be so kerblonxed at finding them over by the harbour and not a happy jaunt out of Shibuya. But emotionally Akasaka and Azabu belong in a different world from Shiba-kouen. The latter isn't shitamachi- temples and gardens mean daimyou dwellings- but it feels shitamachi to me, and I still find it hard to believe that a twenty minute walk takes you from that to high-fashion and astronomical rents and English by default.

So Tokyo in my mind is a patchwork quilt of areas that have no geographical relation to each other. I'd love to go through them and do what Ackroyd does- 'turning the corner of Fowler's Lane I came on the factories and boarded buildings of the main Wapping road.' And I can't, because Tokyo streets have no names. It's a huge stumbling block when talking about the city. No names. So- the street that passes the station, the street that runs up from the kouban, the street that runs parallel to the street that runs past the station, just to name three that are quite clear and distinct in my mind from where I used to live: you can't talk about them because there are no names, no old names, to resonate with the reader.

New names don't resonate either, is why doing the Ackroyd thing in more recent cities doesn't work. 'Turning up Euclid I took a left on Barton and then over to the shady green leaves of Manning.' That's name-dropping for the locals, in a desperate hope that Toronto names are as resonant as New York ones when of course they're not. Is also why LA novels don't work for me either. You're rhyming off freeway names, places where no one lives but cars. Possibly people who drive feel attachment to the parkways they drive on but, well, I just don't see it myself. Street names resonate with me because people live on those streets, or have lived on them, and there are places along their length where you can stop. Freeways are just corridors: not really places at all.

Which is also why the Tokyo streets that do have names don't have much association either. The ring roads (kannana, kanpachi) or the Kawagoe Kaidou (Kawagoe highway) have associations for me, because I used to bicycle them, but no character, because they were built to take cars from one place to another. But go a block north of Kawagoe Kaidou and you have the *old* Kawagoe Kaidou, the old daimyou route that the Kawagoe lords used to take into Edo, and that's another story. It's not six lanes wide and it follows the contours of the land, meaning it wanders a bit and people have lived on it for centuries. Like Indian trails here, it makes an instinctive sense of its own: you can trust it to go somewhere evntually. (Kanpachi drew curses from everyone I knew because in fact it didn't go anywhere. It just stopped suddenly and became a narrow Tokyo street going nowhere in particular.) So I could talk about the old Kawagoe Kaidou, or the old Nakasendou in Itabashiku, which was a shopping street all along its length because, well, daimyou routes tend to be shopping streets. But I can't talk about the little streets that curve and wind about most of Tokyo, because they don't have names at all.
Tags: fma, japan, manga_07, papuwa, place, reading_07

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