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Fri, Nov. 14th, 2008, 03:46 pm
Neon Genesis Evangelion is bleak

I've been watching Neon Genesis Evangelion this week (never seen it all the way through before), and as a result have been having the scary, vivid dreams all week. Dreams that now seem very clearly related to the show, that are pervaded with the feeling of bleakness one gets from watching it. I rarely have dreams that are so flat-out unpleasant. Most of my "nightmares" are still about embarassing myself socially or something.

Evangelion is so good for some reason. It has the same "feel" as awesome and bleak Soviet sci-fi such as the movie Solaris (the 70's Russian one) or the books of the Strugatsky brothers (the ones I've read). Part of it maybe has to do with the fact that all of these works typically feature a monolithic, crappy, sort-of-sinister (but also sort of mediocre), sort-of-impenetrable government organization facing a supernatural phenomenon that refuses to explain itself. All of these works also typically feature a future where technology, government, and historic events have made life--not a nightmare like in 1984, but also just sort of crappy and a little bit bleak.

What's so terrifying about these works, I think, is that typically neither the monolithic government organization nor the supernatural phenomenon ends up having any kind of real central intelligence, any "ego." Anyway here are some of the dreams I had this week.

Yesterday: I dreamt that I was watching my friends perform and I was part of the performance or something. It was probably a Fiction Circus performance. My father and sister were there. My father was complaining about how the performance was too indecent, and I was worried about what this meant. Were my friends failures as artists, and as people? Was I?

Then everyone starting running--there was a group of gunmen in the crowd that was firing at everyone. My father and sister ran into the car that one of my friends was driving (it was some generic "friend") and that I was in the front seat of. Finally they were experiencing genuine terror; finally, instead of complaining, they were moved by something that happened during the performance. I was proud of myself. The show had inspired this group of crazed gunmen to commit violent acts, even against the very performers. The show was a rousing success. I was sure that my friends and I would escape, with my father and sister, and we would get to tell everyone about it later.

Except as we kept driving and the gunmen followed us inexorably I realized that the gunmen didn't care about the performance at all. They had randomly chosen to shoot at the performance and then randomly chosen to follow this car to follow and kill everyone in it. We couldn't get away and I kept facing the gun and realizing with this terrible, terrible certitude that this was it--that I was going to die, and for no reason, and because of this the show didn't matter, the fact that my friends and father and sister were also going to die didn't matter--everything that I had cared about was retroactively made random and meaningless by my impending death. This kept happening over and over. I kept facing the gun and having this realization, and then something would happen at the last moment (i.e. the killer would start to feel remorseful) that let me escape, and I would try to run away again, and then I would face the gun again and think, "This is it, you won't have another chance."

Today: For some reason I was living with my mother. We had gotten so poor that we had to leave our hole of an apartment and start living out of a used car that someone who pitied us donated to us. That is probably why my mother and I were living together in the first place--because we were so poor. We worked really hard to get the seats out of the used car, so that we could fashion a sleeping place for ourselves inside. I put the seats outside the car and was trying to feel cheerful about the situation. I said something like, "See, now we have an outdoor patio." Unfortunately, we didn't have any money to buy food, but I found a guy (I think it was miraclejones) who could tell me how to make a special nourishing stew that would let us eat for a week.

There was a stove that still worked in some kind of old parking lot. The guy told me to put all these vegetable into a pot on the stove, and a bunch of bacon grease. There was a whole section of the dream where I tried to hide my mother from the police because she couldn't afford a MetroCard and tried to use the subway because we needed to go somewhere. When that was over, I went back to check on the stew. There was a small black cat with yellow eyes sitting in the pot, which was boiling (it looked like jones's real-life cat that is now mine I guess, but it wasn't). The cat was narrowing its eyes a lot but not moving.

I was said something like, "Oh, I guess the cat needs to be in there for the stew to work." I thought to myself, "Huh, I guess cats aren't harmed by boiling water. I remember reading something like that." The guy was like, "Yes, the juices from the cat as it boils are what makes this work." It somehow became clear that I had been the one who put the cat in this boiling water, and that I was the one who wanted the cat to be boiled alive as part of some project I didn't remember anymore.

I looked at the black cat again, and realized that it wasn't moving because it was already about to die. I looked into its yellow eye that was in the process of slowly closing up. It was the only part that was still alive. The black body of the cat was melting all over the place, all around this one slit of yellow.

Fri, Nov. 14th, 2008 10:39 pm (UTC)
miraclejones: Learn to wield dark magics....

Thanks to NGE, the only Japanese I know is "embrace the universe like a blazing star," the line that shows up in the opening credits out of nowhere as the answer to "the angel's cruel thesis."

I have yet to sit down with anybody from Japan in an appropriate social setting, but I plan on busting that out after looking deep into their eyes and searching their soul. I will put my hand on their shoulder and say:

"Yo shinwa ni nare!"

("Embrace the universe like a blazing star" (as far as I know))

Then I will walk away, hoping this is not a ubiquitous Japanese cultural fragment, hoping that this will be a sufficiently strange and terrifying nugget to hear from a New York roundeye who does not appear to ever bathe.

Sat, Nov. 15th, 2008 11:17 pm (UTC)

The bleakest time of my life was the afternoon I watched the entire Planet of the Apes series in one sitting on t.v. I don't know if this relates to your feeling because I can't remember anything about the films except the oppressive sense of dread that remained with me for weeks.

Wed, Nov. 19th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)

I once watched a Batman series marathon for three solid days. Each day I fell asleep and dreamt of Caesar Romero's Joker cackling wildly at everything I thought or did.

I am not a proud man.

Wed, Nov. 19th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)

Caesar Romero's joker is so festive! Those don't sound like bad dreams at all.

Wed, Nov. 19th, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)

I still regularly see Neon Genesis Evangelion discs sold next to stuff like My Friend the Hippo and Richard Scarry books at one of the local book stores. I'm beginning to suspect these people might not, in fact, know their goods.