Todesregel Isle (Part I)

The wind hissed and twined like ethereal snakes above the taiga. All was silent save the cawing of crows who high-circled the heads of the prisoners on the creaking ferry and they one hundred and twenty in number, all chained and over-watched by guards who moved pendulously, left to right, machine guns at-the-ready, eyes masked by helmet-dark. One lit up a cigarette and watched a pack of crows tear an eagle from the sky without comment or concern.

No distinction was made nor given to that swelling fearful mass of fletynge flesh, all similarly garbed in gray, tattered wool, white bands of incrimination upon every arm, distinguishable in the failing light due only their size and pallor. Though all fettered shook with the chill casting off the water like the spirit of death, none dared raised their voice in protest to the bandless sentries who stalked the deck like clockwork toys.

Gregor Villavic starred at the chains about his wrists and ankles and followed them to their source in the side of the ship. If the vessel capsized there would, for the prisoners, be no escape. He turned and watched a pale boy look to his arm band and thought of his ragged little body eaten by fish, bloated by wave-churn and parasites. The child whispered that his armband reminded him of his mother’s tablecloth and that it had been tied too tight by the guards. He asked if Villavic would remove it. The man shook his head and leaned against cold steel of the ship, “If I try to take it off, they’ll shoot us. You know why this is happening. Why they put that on you?”

The boy shook his head.

Villavic nodded, more to himself than the boy and arched his back to view the island, fast encroaching. The isle was small and uneven and covered in mist and strange jutting tors that looked like the ferne halwes to a deity beyond all reckoning. When the ship made landfall the guards ordered the prisoners up and set a plank and disembarked and loosed their fleshy cargo on a rock outcrop just beyond the shore as the wind tore above them like an insane curse. The guards threw them four bags of flour and told them that should they try to leave the island they would drown and should they not, they’d be shot by the villagers on the land surrounding who were under orders from the regional regime.

An old woman wailed and began to cry like as the women and the waves lashed the shore and soiled the sediment with foam like the blood of some cthonic beast and then receded as a strange bird loosed a howl as if in welcome.

Villavic stood up straight and addressed the crowd, “I know none of you. Not your names, nor your religion or from whence you came. None of that matters now. All that matters is cooperation. You there,” He pointed to a bald middle aged man missing an eye and most of his front teeth.

“Derrick.” The bald man replied flatly, his glassy eyes flicking to Villavic and then back to the prison ship as it ghosted into the mist and vanished from sight.

“Derrick, you look fitter than most, can you help me carry the flour.”

The bald man nodded.

“Good. Lets try and find a place to sleep. Somewhere further inland.”

The women weren’t listening and the old crone sobbed and hugged herself, muttering a prayer under her breath and rocking back and forth.

“What is her name?”

Derrick shrugged. A reedy waif spoke up with suddenness.

“Olga, sir. She doesn’t speak yer tongue.”

“Do you speak hers, girl?”

The waif nodded and addressed the crone who nodded solemnly and said a final prayer and rose awkwardly, so weak with fear and the depredations of the crossing that she could barely stand. Villavic gestured for all to rise and shortly the crowd was brought under his control and he lead them from the southern shore to the north, up a steep incline which flattened out into a filthy marsh, coated at every turn with skeletal brush and reeds the bones of animals. Up went a wail as the crone fell to her knees in the filth, making a sign that was unfamiliar to all but the waif and she gasping with terror the whole of her pallid frame. When Villavic followed their gaze he cursed neath his breath.

Laying in the muck before the women was a human skull, slick with blood.

Derrick and an old man with a long gray beard sided up to Villavic as the waif led the crone away from the horror.

“That poor soul was hewn to pieces. Hair and flesh still cling to it. Whatever killed the man, they did it not long ago.” The old man intoned grimly.

Villavic surveyed the settling dark apprehensively and responded flatly.

“Whatever or whoever.”

Film Review: Shin Godzilla

***Spoilers

Alternatively titled Godzilla: Resurgence, Shin Godzilla (2016) is a kaiju-political thriller/action film directed by animator Hideaki Anno and storyboard artist Shinji Higuchi and produced by Toho and Cine Bazar. The plot of the film centers around Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa) who deduces that a turmoil occurring in Tokyo bay could only have resulted from the movements of a giant aquatic creature.

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Perpetually serious, idealistic and sincere, Rando Yaguchi.

He is laughed at by his peers for proffering this outlandish theory and yet, shortly thereafter, is validated when an enormous reptilian tail emerges from the water. The Japanese government is shocked and fall into beauracratic debate, unable to determine what they should do about the titanic beast. The prime minister goes live to assure the public they are safe because the creature is seafaring and cannot broach the land which turns out to be false as that is just what the monster does, rampaging through the city incurring numerous casualties and mutating rapidly as it goes.

 

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A underdeveloped Gojira rampages through the streets after its first appearance from the sea.

Yaguchi is placed at the head of a taskforce whose sole purpose is to research Gojira to better determine how to stop it and is considerably aided by the brilliant, icy and eccentric scientist Hiromi Ogashira (Mikako Ichikawa).

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Hiromi Ogashira.

The US shortly send in a specialist, Kayoko Patterson who tells the taskforce that a political activist and zoologist named Goro Maki had warned about the coming of the creature as his wife had perished from radiation sickness, causing her bereft husband to obsessively research radiation treatment methods which lead him to believe that such a creature as had recently appeared could exist. Maki’s theory, however, was blocked from public circulation by the US. Patterson inquires about the whereabouts of Maki and is told by the taskforce that he had vanished leaving behind his research material, which was indecipherable, a paper crane and a note urging them to do as they pleased. Upon looking through Maki’s research the team discover he had named the creature, ‘Gojira’ meaning “God Incarnate” (‘Godzilla’ in English).

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Adult Gojira, who looms almost 400 feet tall.

Gojira shortly thereafter reappears roughly twice its original size and begins making inroads to Tokyo. The Japanese military attacks but Gojira seems impervious to damage. US stealth bombers appear and drop bunker busters upon the beast, this time, injuring it, however, this infuriates Gojira who then unleashes its stored thermonuclear energy into a concentrated beam, decimating the Japanese military, all the US bombers and destroying an enormous swath of the city. Then the beast, having spent its energy, falls into a deep slumber; the US, now witness to the monster’s destructive capabilities announce that a nuclear strike will commence upon Gojira after a short evacuation period, forcing a hastily reconstructed Japanese government, Kayoko and Yaguchi’s team to scramble to find a alternative way to stop Gojira and thus halt the impending devastation which would be brought to bare upon them by a US-led thermonuclear strike.

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Composite shot of adult Gojira making landfall.

The film, in both its tone, plot, pacing and effects distinguishes itself markedly from previous films based off of the monster which originated in the 1954 film Gojira. Its dry tone and serious treatment of its subject matter is the inverse of something like Del Toro’s slapstick Pacific Rim. Though it is billed as a monster movie, and it certainly is, it could equally be described as a political thriller, as backroom politicking make up the majority of the film’s considerable running time and, surprisingly, that isn’t a bad thing. Due to the massive amount of information needed to convey the story (who all the principal characters are, what is Gojira and how it came to be and what is to be done by the government and how the government operates and who was Goro Maki anyways? etc.) the pacing is incredibly fast, at times, too fast as characters are introduced with their names and designations at the top of the screen whilst the subtitles for their dialogue appear at the bottom, which made it very difficult to keep track of both what a character was saying and who precisely was saying it (a problem that native Japanese speakers, doubtless, did not have). Other than the scattershot, slapdash firing-off of perpetual streams of names and information (which becomes easier to keep up with once Gojira slaughters half the cast) and the fairly outlandish origin for Gojira (giant aquatic dinosaur remnant which adapted to feeding on nuclear waste??? why did no one ever see the predecessors to such creatures?!), there are few things that standout as problems (the constant overflow of bureaucratic positions, persons and protocols is an obvious satire on governmental red-tape policies – meetings to have more meetings to decide only when to have the next meeting).

The acting is perpetually solid, the story is gripping and the monster’s composite model is absolutely beautiful and terrifying. The meticulous attention to detail that the animator’s paid to the Gojira creature was truly impressive (for instance, when the monster first uses its atomic breath, small shiny platelettes click over its eyes, a adaptation to prevent orbital damage due to the intense heat – a thoughtful design choice). The soundtrack is also gorgeous and features the original Godzilla theme as composed by Akira Ifukube as well as his expansions upon it.

As pertains to the themes in the film, there are many. The original Gojira (1954) was a embodiment of post-war Japan’s fears of nuclear annihilation, a blatant metaphor for the A-bomb and its lingering effects on the collective consciousness of the citizenry of the island empire. Whilst the present Gojira certainly embodies a similar fear of thermonuclear devastation (such as the Fukushima Daiichi incident) it also represents other more recent disasters like the earthquakes which have in the interrum, devastated the island nation. There is also a rather humorous dig at environmentalists; when Gojira emerges from the water, a certain eco-contingent demands to the cabinet that the government capture the creature unharmed and later, they assemble in the streets chanting “Gojira is god!” Of all the things to pick as your subject of worship, a giant thermonuclear death lizard is probably not the best. Then there is the aforementioned lampooning of governmental bureaucracies and redtape typified by the fact that, though a giant death lizard is upon them, the Japanese government struggle to come to any conclusion about what to do and debate endlessly about whether they should just evacuate and allow the creature to tear through town until it goes away or whether they should strike or whether they should call upon another government and by the time they finally decide on a course of action, a quarter of the city is gone and countless lay dead in the rubble. It wasn’t the Japanese government’s fault that Gojira showed up but it does raise the fact that swifter action would have saved more lives (a point to which Yaguchi passionately raises later in the film). Another facet of the film which was interesting was its lack of villains. Though the US government is positioned as central threat (given that they deign to nuke Gojira if the Japanese don’t deal with him) they are never really set up as villains, for various US officials are shown talking about the window they have given the Japanese to evacuate before the nuclear strike and one of them states that he doesn’t think it is enough time (thus, showing concern over the potential for civilian casualties). Gojira himself is not a villain either, nor a hero; unlike many of the previous incarnations of the character where Godzilla is portrayed as having emotions and goals, whether to punish humans or protect them from other monsters, Gojira in the film is just another animal, a very dangerous one, but another animal all the same. Gojira is a powerful engine of destruction but the creature isn’t out to “get” anyone and only attacks once he is struck (Because why wouldn’t it? You’d probably fight back too if someone dropped a load of bunker busters on your back and blew your dorsal fins off) and yet, once imperiled the creature lashes out with wild abandon, killing innocent and aggressor alike without prejudice. It is this placement of Gojira as really no different from a wild terrified bear rampaging through central park, that lends the film a great power of unpredictability, for divine protectors and punishments are predictable, wild animals aren’t. At the end of it all, the denizens of Japan are not saved because of providence or because of the goodwill of the monster, but rather through the ingenuity and perseverance of their best and brightest which makes the ominous conclusion of the film all the more intriguing.

Its not Godzilla (2014), nor Godzilla (1998), which both espouse (to varying degrees) a naive neo-hippie philosophy to natural catastrophe; Shin Godzilla instead declares that nature has made no safe nest for us to lie in, that we must, instead, make our own (just as Gojira was trying to do) or perish.

That’s refreshing.

Highly recommended.


Note: I have not yet watched the English dubbed version of the film, though I intend to and will update this post once I do so.

Towards A Program of Great Works: The US-Mexican Border Wall

Pertinent First Questions.

Much has been said about the current US President’s proposed border wall, with opposition commentary generally running along the lines of, “A border wall is inherently racist!” Let us, from the start, dispense with such foolishness. Walls, no more than doors, columns or cornices, are in any cogently definable way classically “racist” meaning, presumably, bigoted (not that I think much of the term – it means little enough these days, a symptom of Prog Boy-Who-Cried-Wolfism). Furthermore, there are several very good reasons to wish to tighten border security, the opioid epidemic (covered in my previous article, American Deathscape: The Drug Scourge & It’s Sources) being pushed by the Mexican drug cartels that is currently ravishing the nation being just one prime example among many. Others include the prevention of sex trafficking and contraband smuggling operations and the countless injuries, mutilations, thefts, rapes and murders that come along for the ride, and, perhaps most importantly, the future cultural impact which massive Hispanic immigration will undeniably bring; indeed, it has already brought it (consider the curious case of the NCLR, or, The National Council of La Raza; which, literally translated, means, The Race).

Either a nation is sovereign or it is not; it is axiomatically impossible, given a long enough period of time, for any nation to maintain its sovereignty if it does not secure its selfsame borders. Thus, if the United States secures its borders it is taking a potent step in protecting its sovereignty. Yet, some crucial questions here must be asked, such as:

  • Would a wall really greatly aid in securing the border? That is to say, do fences work?
  • How much would such a construct cost, how long will it take to construct?
  • Would imminent domain be invoked or private property need be governmentally purchased?
  • Who is going to pay for it?
  • How would Mexicans and Americans respond to it during its construction and after its erection?

 

The Efficacy of Walls.

To answer the first question: Yes.

Yes, walls greatly secure whatever areas they are built upon from unwanted intrusion; that is their sole purpose. For thousands upon thousands of years civilizations have been using walls to deter unwanted migrants, undesirable criminals and warring invaders (ect. Great Wall of China, the walled keeps of the Scottish Lords, Hadrians Wall, The Berlin Wall, The Israeli West Bank Barrier as well as the twisting fences of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, all spring instantly to mind). Clearly they work. This doesn’t mean that they work everywhere, however, as some portions of the US-Mexican border are simply too hilly and uneven for a proper wall to be erected – but where walls can be built and utilized effectively they most certainly should be.

Financing the Project.

Now, unto a trickier topic – the cost. Estimates for the total cost of the wall to be constructed, were initially placed somewhere in the ballpark of the 15-25 billion dollar range (Mitch McConnell, in 2015 placed, the estimate far lower at around 12-15 billion). More recently, the estimated average price has moved to 21.6 billion dollars which is somewhere in between these extremes – still, it isn’t chump-change. Current estimates place threshold for completion at around 3 years. Mexico won’t pay, that is clear. Not directly anyways. Trump’s strong-man approach has utterly failed; Nieto made that clear when he spurned the President’s invitation to meet in January in the White House after Trump said he should only come if he was prepared to pay for the wall. With talks about the US pulling out of NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) the relationship between Mexico and America have only disintegrated further which has left many wondering if US taxpayers will end up drawing the short straw and footing the majority, if not the entirety, of the bill. Not good, but hardly hopeless.

Prospective Solutions.

While Mexico may not pay for the wall directly that does not, however, mean that they can’t be tapped to furnish it. Such a statement might sound both strange and more than a little ominous but such worries are easily remedied by taking a clear-eyed look at the sheer amount of money which the United States of America lavishes upon Mexico. Currently Mexico receives around $ 320 million a year from the US in foreign aid. A hefty sum by any measure. It would therefore be highly advantageous to the security of the American people to cease funding, in some portion or in sum total, to the arid federal republic. While some may cry that this would only grant further power to the various Mexican drug cartels – of which the Sinaloa Cartel is easily the most influential and hence, the most dangerous – this argument falls relatively flat by its very admission. If Mexico, since the la Década Perdida of the 80s, has been unable to crush the cartels, even with massive foreign aid from the United States, one can scarcely be expected to believe they will solve the problem in the immediate future. Funding Mexico IS funding the cartels. Thus one is left with a rather cut-and-dry binary decision: fund a failing state and its attendant criminal shadow-lords or fund the defense and further prosperity of one’s own nation. The proper choice here is clear.

Retracted foreign aid alone, however, will not cover the wall in its entirety as currently proposed so what other avenues of action could the government take that would circumnavigate the US taxpayer footing the bill? Remittances, of course! This is a highly promising area of inquiry for our purposes as Mexican Remittances alone make up around 2% of the countries total GDP, such payments by Mexicans living abroad generated $ 24.8 billion for Mexico in 2015 alone (which is more than the country generates in sum total from all of their oil reserves). If the President where to place a sufficient tax on this revenue source in conjunction with the surplus funds to be had after retracting foreign aid, the wall would be well on its way. This is to say nothing of the billions which our government could potentially utilize from the seized assets of Mexican drug lords such as the infamous Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Whether or not there is the political will for such a arduous undertaking is, of course, another matter entirely. But as the old adage goes, where there is the political will, there is a way.

It is now lies with us generate that will and foster a return to an era of great public works that, for generations, will reverberate throughout the world. This newest prospective monument should be a codification of our nations strength and pride, of our indelible spirit of industry and order. A signal to noise.

Kaiter Enless is a novelist and a contributing writer for New Media Central & Thermidor Magazine. He is also the founder & chief-editor of The Logos Club. Follow him here.

Value Ordination: Political Paradigm as Argumentation

Innumerable are the number of political compass tests which one can take online, from Playbuzz to PoliticalCompass.org to the 8 Values Github Test, all of which are sifted through and poured over, studied and analyzed by the takers thereof as if in the action of so doing they will confer some hidden and eldritch wisdom unto the reader. The popularity of political compass tests however, does not lie in their viewing by the takers thereof but in their viewing by everyone else. People that are likely to take political compass tests are also likely to be highly engaged in politics and thus are already well aware of their own political views and where they are likely to lie on any given political compass test (unless the given test happens to be poorly constructed, and thus, woefully inaccurate). They are not really seeking out what their ideological positions are but are rather looking for a shared visual platform where their ideological uniqueness can be shown to others. A narcissist’s past-time.

The fixation here is more upon the position of the individual along the political compass than upon the ideas which place them there. This is reflective of American political discourse more generally, where discussions are generally started with the prompt, “Well The Left,” or, “You see this is just what The Right has been trying to do for years now-”

Right and Left are, of a certainly, highly useful linguistic tools but there is here a problem which manifests itself whenever a particular political moniker becomes more important that being correct, that is to say, logically parsimonious (utilizing economy of explanation to arrive at a conclusion).

That may sound like a obvious truism; certainly it is true but it is far less discernible that it is readily obvious. Such is evidenced by popular internetisms like, “There is nothing to the Right of me but the wall.” Meaning, of course, that there is no one more Right-wing than the person whom is spouting the aforementioned phrase. This is only a positive however if the Right-wing views which the speaker holds are actually correct. That is to say, Right and Left are not arguments in and of themselves, nor is a statement of any ideological inclination. To say, “That is a Communist position!” is only a sufficient position in as far as it is actually wrong/illogical; it is not wrong merely by dint of being associated with Communism (which, by and large should be suspect for its historical record of death and intense political instability). Thus, for the previous example, it should, make the argument more suspect but it should not incline one to dismiss it out of hand.

Such is also true with rebuttals like, “But that is Authoritarian!” Well… why is that a bad thing? One should really be asked to explain.

In short, in the American context, the political Left and Right are all too often interjected in place of argumentation. Whenever the words Left-wing and Right-wing are utilized as a argument unto themselves, rather than as placeholders for extremely wide-ranging idea-sets, one knows that one’s opponent has woefully lost the plot.

Fractal America, Kodokushi-6771, Prt.2

In Japan sometime around the month of march, 2017, a employee named Takada from a Japanese company called Mind – which specializes in the removal of indelicate material (such as sex toys or sexually explicit manga) from the abodes of the freshly deceased – recounted to American scream-sheets a most peculiar tale. During one of Takada’s cleaning missions he had encountered the body of a single, 50 year old man named Joji whom had died of a heart attack whilst alone in his two-bedroom apartment. Joji was found lying in six metric tons of pornographic magazines which he had assiduously collected and stored in piles, overflowing in labyrinthine sprawl, all about his tiny house. He had laid there for more than a month; the room, filled with the noxious odor of decaying flesh, his selfsame flesh purple-green and liquefied. His eyeballs running from his sockets.

No one had noticed.

Joji’s peculiar and depressing death is part of a increasingly problematic trend of middle-aged to elderly individuals dying without notice in their homes, or else-wise secluded places, and there remaining for weeks, months or even longer. The problem has reached such a critical threshold of commonality that the Japanese have even given it a name.

Kodokushi.

The word roughly translates into English as, “Persons who [have] lived alone, die alone.” The primary causes for ghastly and seemingly ever increasing malady have been a source of much speculation and theorizing with the general consensus being due to social alienation. Japan has recently undergone demographic shift that has placed more elderly folk home alone than ever before without anyone to look after them and with the transformation of the traditional Japanese family, young people are no longer particularly keen to stay with their parents or grandparents and look after them – there are jobs and careers to be gotten into (a mindset, largely imported from America). This family breakdown and increase in the focus on endless careerism has also created another huge social problem for Japan: suicide.

Suicide-deaths-per-100000-trend

Japan currently ranks 26th (as of 2015) in total world suicide rates as aggregated by the WHO (World Health Organization), trailing Hungary and ahead of Togo (Togolese Republic). In 2014 alone it was estimated that around 70 nationals killed themselves every single day with the vast majority being men (males are highly over-represented in suicide, both in Japan and across the world).

Whilst Americans might find all of this, perhaps, grotesquely interesting they will likely fail to see the parallels to their own society. As was shown in my first installment in this series, America is far from being untouched by the vexing scourge of social deprivation. Just as a point of demonstration, whilst Japan ranks 26th in the world suicide index, The United States of America ranks 48th (as of 2015). Whilst this is significantly less suicides than Japan one should keep in mind that the WHO surveyed, aggregated and indexed 107 different countries; 48 out of 107 is nothing to brag home about. Nor is the United States exempt from the other strange and often harmful aberrations created by social deprivation which we shall examine in finer detail in part 3.

 


Sources:

RocketNews24: Kanagawa Man’s Body Found…