Editorials · On Themes · Stray Thoughts

Let’s Be Animals: Chaos and Gatchaman Crowds

Source: 間宮庄子
If you don’t like Hajime, I’ll be plenty happy to punch you in the face. Source: 間宮庄子

“However, chaos and threat may not be one and the same. The judgment is yours to make.” – J. J.

Gatchaman Crowds is a bit nuts. Each episode unfolds like flashes of lightning striking buckets of paint, bright blobs of color flying indiscriminately in every direction with no pattern in sight. Nakamura’s direction is sporadic and the show drips with a strange flair for amorphous rubic cubes, blue ammonite shells and modern art decor. How strange! So strange that it may seem as if everything is random, almost pointlessly so. Although I don’t subscribe to this train of thought, it’s easy to understand how this conclusion can be made.

But truth be told, Gatchaman Crowds isn’t merely random, but rather chaotic. What Gatchaman Crowds preaches is madness at its finest: unrestrained, unintelligible impulse. Hajime, the lovable eccentric, is a positive example of an old classic, “letting it all hang out.” To the straight-laced Sugane, the depressed Joe, and the “follow everything but don’t think” Paiman, it seems that a little bit of chaos would be good for the soul. It’s intriguing, unpredictable bedlam, so much that even the enemies are titled the MESS. But how does this translate (or better yet, how is this relevant) to us, the viewers, when the LCD screen is bombarding us with clutter and chaos?

Maybe you’ve heard of Gilles Deleuze. You know, that French philosopher that gaguri always wrote about? Well, he came up with a certain idea that I’m rather fond of, the Body without Organs. The idea is that when we continue to round closer to objectivity, we’re completely open to senses and emotions. We’re no longer translating, interpreting or even rationalizing what we see with subjective truth like a rational organism but instead sensing and immersing ourselves in what we’re taking part in. We become madmen, unbiased by subjective goals and requirements, drinking in everything which we sense. This level objectivity is inherently chaotic and nonattached; at this state the individual has no preferences or predetermined ground rules made for art, just a completely open, vulnerable canvas for feelings and emotions.

What does these mean is a good question. What do we sense is even better.
“What do these mean?” is a good question. “What do we sense?” is even better.

This isn’t “turning off your brain” as much as it is “letting go.” Sometimes asking ourselves “what do they mean?” isn’t good enough and we need to ask ourselves an infinitely better question, “what do we sense?” Before we can think, we sense and it’s from sense that we derive meaning. It’s unavoidable. Introspection comes second. And though we can certainly have our cake and eat it too, the immediacy of sensation can’t be replicated; pondering and wondering is extremely fun as we get caught up in the director’s flow, but when we pause the video to play the game of dissection or to read that subtitle, we’re robbing ourselves of the continuous, flowing feeling.

If we’re too rational and too logical and too methodical, we get frustrated easily and fall into the trap of Cartesian anxiety, trying to pick apart things which no longer function like clockwork. And governing cartoons fiction with reality is dangerous, especially when an unreasonable, illogical background or object appears. It’s at that point where we falsely label things “pretentious,” “frivolous,” or “uncontributing” even when that slight adjustment in angle or hopelessly obtuse building can have more impact on our mood than any exchange of dialogue. Even the great Modernist architect (although he esteemed himself as an engineer) Le Corbusier made this mistake, deeming all estheticians “liars” even when his supposedly streamlined Villa Savoye was both an aesthetic masterpiece and a rainy deathtrap. Living by uptight laws and standards can make us blind.

Villa Savoye. Although Le Corbusier touted it as a masterpiece of maximum, the roof, support pillars and walls were plenty flawed.
Villa Savoye. Although Le Corbusier touted it as a masterpiece of maximum efficiency, the flat roof, thin or even unnecessary support pillars and walls were plenty flawed.

Is anything that Gatchaman Crowd’s trying to say about chaos concrete? Will the truth eventually be given to us directly or will we have devise our own theories? Only time will tell. But for now, let’s be immediate. For thirty minutes, let’s get carried away by the colors and sensations, lose ourselves to the insane clutter of their modern art exhibit hideout and dance to the disco beats of transformation sequences. It might make us happy, it might get us pissed, but we’ll be moving to the director’s rhythm and free from the restraints of traditional-yet-subjective requirements. We’ll be animals! Objective animals! And right when those thirty minutes end, we’ll be don our glasses and coats and dive at subjective truths. It’ll be great.

So for all the uptight ivory towers, cold judges and chilly academics out there, rejoice, objectivity is out there! You just have to give up a bit of your sanity. And that’s just cool with me.

______________________________________

Notes:

  1. I’m not the resident expert on Deleuze. But Ha Neul Seom’s gaguri is. Definitely worth a visit.
  2. 2DT did a great post on Cartesian anxiety and Mystery, found here.
  3. Full immersion into BwO is impossible, but we can get close. But when we get too close, we die. Live too fast and you can be a goner, a good example being a friend who jumped Golden Gate “for kicks” a couple of years back. He lived, but you probably won’t.
  4. Le Corbusier was a genius and a hugely influential architect, if a bit too proud. He defined a house as solely “a machine for living in,” and was the forerunner for Modernist architecture. He claimed to build solely for efficiency, regarding architects who wasted materials for aesthetic design as “liars.” But although Villa Savoye may have looked like a practically minded machine, it was far from it. The delicate-as-lace walls were expensively handmade from Swiss mortar and the supposedly streamlined flat roof leaked water within a week (eventually giving Roger Savoye a chest infection which turned into pneumonia).
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