R E P L I C A N T S

 

 

 

BladeRunner2049-TA.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So swollen with purpose, so titanically self-conscious in its myth making, that at times it nearly paralyzes itself with solemnity”, 

 

 

 

opines critic Ty Burr, for the Boston Times, definitely in the minority for his ambivalent review of Denis Villeneuve’s newest film Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 science fiction classic Blade Runner, currently doing the multiplex rounds and the object of infatuated critical response.

 

 

 

 

His summary of the film encapsulated my own feelings completely though.

 

 

 

 

We emerged from the cinema on Saturday night so delighted to be back in the cold fresh air, to be back in real life, after three hours of crushing, reverential seriousness and spectacular special effects and artful production design and the reverberating oppression of the synthesized score, finally beginning to to feel as if we could breathe again, packed under the weight of the portentous seriousness and the grand themes of humans and technology and artificial intelligence and whether virtually real creatures can fall in love. A future world, a dystopia that was so treeless and depressing I could hardly bear to watch it. The plight of the ‘replicants’ – the humanoid creatures at the heart of the film who live and respire like us but are man-made and thus disposable. Slaves.

 

 

 

 

Potentially absorbing subjects, yes, and I did love the original, and also rather like director Denis Villeneuve (whose Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal was a mesmerizingly intense and dark crime drama that really gripped me and whose recent Arrival, another sci-fi starring Amy Adams as a linguist trying to make contact with extra-terrestrials was also rather interesting, and quite beautiful to look at). I like his aesthetic, so there was no way I was not going to see his take on Blade Runner 2049 this weekend and drag Duncan alongside with me.

 

 

 

Prior to seeing the film, we had a delightful Japanese meal at one of our favorite izakaya near the cinema in Tsujido – red lanterns and wooden tables, the only foreigners in there, packed, tucked in at the counter table near where the cooks were wreathed in steam and smoke and shouting enthusiastically in tandem with the waiters as the orders came in; delicious yakitori and tofu and our first winter nabe hotpot of the season that felt like very necessary soul food – we ate it in silence, immersed in the ambience of the restaurant, and then moved on contentedly to the cinema, looking forward to new evocations of Shinjuku and giant neon screens familiar from the city itself and the original classic.

 

 

 

I was bored to death though. It felt like molasses. Like a vacuum. I love slow and beautiful films, but this felt almost interminable. Like a gradual asphyxiation. Choking in black.  I even asked D if we should leave the cinema half way through (could we make it to the very end?), but we decided to stay and brave it out. Surrender to it as it washed over you and crushed you. Slumped in our seats, in the dark. A slow, viscous black of cinematic texture that certainly impressed with its ‘design’ and its almost tactile heaviness and peculiarly realistic feel, but which also seemed to have no heart, nor tension, nor propulsion nor real dramatic interest but which was drowning instead under the weight of its sheer duty to not betray the original film and yet also to showcase the originality of the director’s successor in a morass of such humorless ‘philosophical’ gravity that it felt, almost, more like an ordeal of ‘quality’ and sturdily scientific ‘good taste’ than an evening of pleasure or entertainment.  We came out numb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yet yesterday, and even today, I find the film lingering still in my consciousness. It is in me. And despite what I have written here, and quite perversely, I almost really want to go back and see it again ( I very nearly just abandoned this post to rush back to the cinema to try it in 3D).  Perhaps it was the level of consternation of so many of my friends who really loved it and were outraged by my initial reaction to it that makes me want to reassess it. Perhaps it touches me in some way I don’t entirely understand. Perhaps it went under the skin.

 

 

 

 

Do I identify with the main protagonist, K, played by Ryan Gosling,  in some way? A replicant human who is employed by the corporation that created him, a vital part of the organization and yet outside of it? It might be an overreach to say so. And yet the experience of being a permanent, eternal etranger here in Japan, while having its fair few privileges and attractions and beautiful dreamness (I don’t think either of us has remotely tired of those yet and who knows if we will ever leave) can still be very alienating, disturbing, fascinating – like K staring at his hands and yearning for humanity, myself aware of my otherness and whiteness in a way that is perturbingly, but importantly, quite different from the familiarly European or American or any other Caucasian majority nation standard white gaze out on to the other – the darker skinned, the ‘alien’. Here, obviously, it is in reverse. Privileged, certainly, but still a complicated lodestone of Japanese complexes of superiority and inferiority, interiorized. A useful lesson, but still very distancing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have long been the only foreigner working at my company, or at least the only one that has a permanent position. Teachers from all over the world are contracted to teach English conversation classes for the elementary school sixth graders, a couple of times a week, just short, entertaining lessons at the various schools in Kanagawa Prefecture, but I never meet them. I am alone in my position of almost total independence and autonomy. Trusted to do the job in my own way. Uninterfered with.  It has been me, and only me, for seventeen years – a strange predicament whose origins I don’t understand entirely (why put yourself in a position where you are culturally, to some extent, permanently estranged? )

 

 

 

 

And yes, it has sometimes been difficult psychologically for me, as any job is, even (especially?) with people of your own nationality – don’t tell me you have never had work frictions – but it has also been endlessly fascinating: I am a natural voyeur and an analyst, and for me it has been like living as a borrowed infiltrator, a person who has absorbed what he has seen and understood a totally different culture intuitively, even when it is sometimes impossible to put into words. The madness of it. The beauty of it. The elegance. The obedience and sadomasochism. The physicality (when every person you interact with is Japanese, and those features become absolutely the norm of your eye), your own invisibility yet constant standing out;  its almost willing erosion of your heart and soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In September suddenly there were two of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a sea of hundreds of Japanese people: another permanent White Teacher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it has been strange. Awkward; something to adapt to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cynic, expatriate, anyone who knows anything about foreigners from overseas who have come to Japan (and often never leave), will assume, quite rightly perhaps, that my ‘uniqueness’ as the only white ‘charisma man’, the term given to pathetic people whose status and self-worth is built upon their identity as an ‘unusual’ foreigner, was unduly threatened by the invasion of this newcomer: everyone knows – it is a standing joke here – how unnerved foreigners (or ‘gaijin‘, the slightly pejorative term used for and ironically by the non-Japanese here) are by the presence of other gaijin: you don’t know where to look, whether to smile and nod in acknowledgement, or to look in the other direction, which is what almost everybody does, your bubble of insularity and nothingness and sheer emancipation in some ways from your former self temporarily burst by your unwanted reflection. It is almost a shock, sometimes, to see someone else who is in such a tiny minority of the population and has also made the strange decision to immerse themselves deeply into a society that doesn’t really want them but which, secretly, is equally very struck, bemused, and intrigued by their difference, their alienness –  a discomfiting mirror. A reminder. A threat to your serenity. As in the film, where replicants are trained to kill one another to take out old models, but where other replicants are forming resistance armies, there is a dis-ease sometimes with your ‘own kind’, as if you wanted never to be remembered to yourself: to just blend, or even disappear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other man, who I shall call Michel, is from France. Intelligent, tall, dignified –  perhaps troubled –  and about ten years younger than me, he has been employed in the company since March as an English teacher who teaches English in Japanese. Unlike myself, employed as a native speaker and communicating with all English teachers in English but all other staff in Japanese, treated as a valued member of the school I think but definitely not quite part of it – because of his superior Japanese ability as well as his fluent English, Michel works as a Japanese member of staff, and is treated as such. He is ‘one of the teachers’. He has been absorbed. Partly. He is a novelty. A new kind of hybrid (the central conceit of Blade Runner 2049 is the possible existence of the child of human/replicant parents, or even fully replicant, a potentially lethal revelation – as the artificial humans were assumed to be sterile – that might endanger the stability of the strict replicant/human divide, imbuing the former with humanity, and more importantly, a soul.)

 

 

 

 

And while not subjected to the full, exhausting schedule of the other teachers, which only the Japanese teachers would put upon themselves, he attends the meetings, and team teaches with them, and, essentially, acts like them, behaves as a Japanese, which is not something I have ever done because I am incapable of it and not only because of my stubborn linguistic handicap – it goes more inwards, and it would feel like some kind of treason or terrible capitulation. It is instinctive. I just can’t. I have never wanted to. I have always refused to. For whatever reason, it would be like letting go of my inner core, a freakish pantomime. To my eyes,  to be bowing and scraping and subverting yourself, if you are not Japanese, just looks too unnatural somehow- it looks like theatre, it looks buffoon. It makes me cringe. I would also love to know what my Japanese colleagues secretly, really think too.

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met a lovely English girl for the first time recently, Polly – long term resident, writer, and sensitized to this environment as phobically as I am; nervous, too sentient, like me, a person who seems to feel the same in her love/hate relationship to it all though she is tipping over more to the latter side, now,  and is soon going to leave and ‘go back’ (where ‘a different set of internal organs will be affected’, she memorably told me…)

 

 

 

 

 

Polly is now a freelance Japanese/English translator here and thus has no problem communicating, but she still, also, like me, can’t quite bear the sight of a foreigner putting himself through the motions, of aping and mimicking the gestures and body language and honorific language when he knows that he will never really be thought of as part of it all…….to both our sets of trained and languishing eyes it is embarrassing, undignified, almost,  slipping willingly into an alien skin, an unnatural carapace like a sealed deep sea diver trapped within airtight glass of taut atmospheric pressure, gesticulating pointlessly and mouthing like a dumdum. Clownish. Like the lumbering but always good-intentioned Frenchman in Shusaku Endo’s ‘Wonderful Fool’.

 

 

 

 

 

Not that Michel is anything but charming and thoughtful and sensitive and very capable. I like him. I would like to get to know him better. And we have had some quite interesting, if occasionally fraught, conversations about various issues, where we realized how different our politics are; slightly guarded exchanges, the eyes flickering occasionally with some kind of mutual suspicion, or at least an uncomfortable wariness while we attempt to find some common ground (he had gone six months being ‘the only one’ while I was in hospital and at home so it must have been something of a shock, for him as it was for me, to adapt to the other’s presence). We both want to keep our own space. We both admit that it feels weird speaking too loudly in English (or in French, for extra confidentiality) in the teacher’s room, like an impingement on the Japanese harmony of the space. That we must know our rightful place. An invasion of the bodysnatchers.

 

 

 

 

 

There is some kind of hyperconsciousness. As you will see from reading this. This comes not from me, though, at least I don’t think so. It is possible that I am paranoid, but essentially I think I am just processing and reacting to what is there. Japan is neurotic and hypersensitive to everything foreign and I am just responding to it.  It goes down deep into the insular DNA, the land that was sealed off from the rest of humanity for century after century. The island.  The mythical Nippon. You can’t escape it, and it is part of the pleasure of living here, in a contrarian kind of way. You make of it what you will. You live the Japanese life that you want to. Or that you are able to. It is a choice. But judging from our exchanges so far, it is obvious that he is by far the Japanophile – with plenty of reservations and criticisms of the culture, still – but he does really seem to love it here, and seems to have left France far behind, for reasons he has not gone into and which I have not probed. Here he is more comfortable, despite his very French fundamental nihilism and what I feel is some kind of suppressed despair, and his socially gregarious, polite and generally genuinely likable self.  In that way, I feel we are the opposite. I like to imagine that I am happy within myself, deep down, but that it is society and the falsity of communication and the oppression of stupid, arbitrary rules imposed on us from without that get me down. The ‘outside world’. And in escaping both the strictures of my culture of birth but also rejecting most of the one that I have adopted, I have found a strange form of spiritual freedom. A place where I can ‘be’. As has he. But unlike me, Michel is great at the Japanese small talk, and the friendly banter – something I have much more difficulty with – I go straight for the crux – and is essentially far, far more pleasant, nicer than I ever could be, more ingratiating, even.  I find it impressive. But for me when I am observing, quietly from my corner (we only encounter each other in various schools intermittently) it also feels like a weird, self-conscious replication of something. It feels like an act. Or is it just jealousy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

The intense, almost unnerving feeling of being quasi- repelled within my own skin (an interesting sensation – this must be what happens to all racial minorities when overexposed to the majority ethnicity of the country they live in) came one evening in early October when the two of us were alone in the teachers’ room, all Japanese teachers having gone to their lessons. Preparing lessons, typing at our computers, and occasionally talking. We were sitting at our desks, visible to the students from the outside. And I noticed that two of them, young girls, who had come to ask their teachers a question, were looking in from the corridor with slightly odd looks on their faces, dismay, even, or at the very least discomfiture, and I immediately felt some form of perturbance ; an awareness of my skin, that the teacher’s room had been colonized by Europeans.  I really felt that I could feel the students’ slight discomfort and even the school secretary’s: that we had almost taken over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I felt, in fact for a moment, almost like an android; uncanny.

 

 

 

 

 

Acrylic.

 

 

 

 

 

White.

 

 

 

 

Clammy.

 

 

 

 

Waxen. 

 

 

 

 

Piggish. Keen:  flushed with Europeanness.

 

 

 

 

An amphibious, capillaried skin pallor; drained yet somewhat pinkish with our Caucasian, more prominent noses ( we don’t look entirely dissimilar, M and I; vaguely Napoleonic); our melatonin depleted irises – his blue; mine green.

 

 

 

 

Cold beacons of light in a more usual, familiar sea of penetrating, brown, nearly black,   indigenous eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big-limbed, ungainly, straw-haired goons seeking oblivion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36 Comments

Filed under autobiography, cinema + perfume, Organic

36 responses to “R E P L I C A N T S

  1. Yet again I am perhaps inviting attack on myself in delving into the delicate subject of national identity and race, but this is my subjective experience and I want to write about it. The weirdness of being so hyperaware of your own ethnicity.

    I am also of course aware that my experience is very different from non-white people living in Japan, where overt discrimination is much more common. I have felt that immediately at immigration centers for example, where there seemed to be different treatment for people depending on where they came from in the world.

    For Otherness, there is no doubt that the black experience is far more trying. African American people I know here definitely make me realize that. But I can only speak from my own experience.

    I also don’t mean to imply that Japan is an especially racist society. It is no worse than any other, in fact you can live quite freely and happily here, even if the residual xenophobia is ever present.

    It IS though, definitely interesting in many ways to become self ethnically aware, in the sense that if you are the racial majority in any culture you probably take your appearance for granted and only those that look different to you stand out. When your eyes only see one homogeneous ethnic group day after day though, you believe that you start yourself through THAT GROUP’S eyes and can become almost too aware of your difference, to an unhealthy degree.

  2. What interesting posts. You are such a good writer. When I read your words, I can actually feel like I am there. Your depiction of Japan and Japanese life as well as your personal thoughts on a myriad of things has been like reading a good book that you don’t want to end…I become immersed in it and picture everything you say in my mind…as if I am watching a movie. Thank you.

  3. I loved the first movie and will eventually see this one as well.

    • If you do please tell me your verdict. I miss the slightly more frisky, almost campier elements of the original. This one is as humorless as death. And yet, you know what…..I think I am going BACK

  4. I would like to read this several times when I have some more time to myself to immerse myself in this world you’ve created for us to inhabit, this skin you’ve created for us to live inside. I can feel it viscerally already. Can’t describe how amazing this is.

    I love this: And in escaping both the strictures of my culture of birth but also rejecting most of the one that I have adopted, I have found a strange form of spiritual freedom. Such an economical way to express so much.

    I think I would have the same reaction to the film as yours.

  5. rprichpot

    This was a beautifully written and enthralling post. To the smaller point, though I don’t disagree with Ty Burr’s assessment, I really enjoyed Blade Runner. I saw it in 3D, and thought the production design was masterful, the brutal score was a visceral assault on the senses, and every potential loose end was neatly tied up. It was long but I was never bored.

    To your larger point about being an outsider in another culture, wow. Deeply insightful, honest and fascinating. You are a terrific writer. Thank you.

    • And thank you too. Yes, the brutal score WAS a visceral assault and I have been listening to it all morning on Youtube. You have also convinced me to go and see it in 3D. I might even go in the morning before work tomorrow.

  6. rprichpot

    I never saw the first Blade Runner.

    • Probably if you loved this one, it might seem rather flat and almost campy in comparison, I don’t know.

      I agree that 2049 is definitely a stand alone work though. It was certainly TOTAL IMMERSION as well – maybe that was what I reacted so strongly to.

  7. I love the first Blade Runner – one of my favourite films. I was expecting to love the sequel but I didn’t. The cinematography was great, but the whole thing felt self-indulgent and way too long. And the sound was almost painful – Dolby stereo amplified to cater for a generation of ears wrecked by personal stereos. Just too much, I had to shut down a bit to cope with it, so I felt like I couldn’t really engage properly with the film because I was in self-protection mode. I am looking forward to seeing it at home!

    • Maybe it was that – the music, that made me shut down also. I thought I was enjoying that aspect of it as I love synthesizers and quite liked the visceral ‘assault’ aspect of the soundtrack, but three hours of attack did get too much. It was as if you were trapped in the cinema.

  8. David

    My experience in Japan was partially shaped by having a Brazilian-Japanese partner. Might I add, a partner who did not like the Japanese side of his heritage, who loved anything and everything American (including me, ha ha). Like you, we both hated when we saw foreigners take on Japanese ways. Actually, we kind of liked it because we made fun of them! We loved standing next to them on trains just to make them visibly nervous. At festivals, we would take pictures of them dressed up in their happi coats and fundoshi (the worst look ever for a gaijin man) and ask them “Are you Japanese?” I guess we were bastards! I would HATE working with a co-worker who took on Japanese ways! I don’t mean fluency in the language, but the bowing and the mannerisms. I’d probably tell him “Just be yourself tonight” (love that Eurythmics album). But I would LOVE having a normal foreign co-worker to shoot the shit and commiserate with…. Here in Brazil we don’t have these problems. Going native means getting smashed and suntanned.
    You and Duncan should come here for Carnival next year. We have a French friend (straight) visiting during Carnival. He’s coming for parties, sex, and drugs. I mentioned some museums and an architecture tour, and he’s like “Yeah, right.” I think everyone needs a little Brazil in their life.

  9. David

    I think Japanese people like it sometimes. I was once dressed up in a kimono and brought to a tea ceremony….and everyone oohed and aahed when I could sit seiza for 90 minutes (that shit hurts!). But I really think they prefer the bumbling, rather uncouth gaijin. I was close friends with the very Americanized head teacher at a school where I once worked. She dished the dirt. She told me that they liked gaijins to make cultural mistakes because such mistakes would take the heat off them, the Japanese. Japanese are always being watched, evaluated, judged. Once, at that school, something terrible happened: a student complained about one of the Japanese teachers. It was terrible for them because they couldn’t conveniently explain it away as a cultural misunderstanding. It was a HUGE deal to resolve this situation without anyone losing face (how i hate that phrase).Other tidbits I learned from her: most complaints from students were actually about the shitty textbooks and methods the school used. Because they weren’t about to change books and methods, they pretty much dismissed all student complaints.
    I still miss Japan though. Luckily, there is a big Japanese neighborhood in São Paulo and I can find all my favorite foods. I’d love to go back for a visit (my last trip back was to pay 600,000 yen in back taxes a few years ago.). I don’t think I’d want to work there again because of all the head games and and at this stage of the game, I just don’t have the time for it. Brazil is a big hot sexy mess, but at least what you see is what you get.

    • I don’t doubt it. Somehow though, having lived in Italy I think, bizarrely, I prefer it here. I am just a weirdo.

      • David

        I spent 6 months in Italy when i was in my early 20s. Such an enchanting place. But towards the end, it got a bit tiring. I lived in Siena and I remember one day my friends invited me to take the passegiata with them. One friend said, “This is when we judge people and make fun of tourists.” Yuck. Now I think of that scene in the “Sex in the City” TV series when Stanford tells Carrie, “Some people do arts and crafts. We judge.” I guess we all judge. I certainly judge those gaijin who go full- force Japanese…
        I think for me, I need to live in a place with lots of immigrants. Lots of languages. This is why I probably will leave São Paulo. The immigration here was generations ago. As they say, “Brazil is for Brazilians.” I need a city like Miami or Los Angeles….
        By the way, thank you for responding to comments. A lot of writers don’t. I think some writers don’t like when their sites have interaction in the comments section. Maybe they have had to deal with abusive comments or bickering. The people who respond on your site seem very kind and friendly.

      • I cannot IMAGINE not commenting ( though sometimes I forget or neglect to).

        The whole thing would be pointless and the height of arrogance otherwise

  10. Renée Stout

    As an African American woman who descends from generations of African Americans as far back as the time of slavery, I can tell you that even though your race and the environment you describe is different than mine, you have basically just articulated what it feels like to be African American in this country. One is constantly reminded that you are seen as an “other” even though the generations of your family, more often than not, extend further back in the history of this country than the ancestors of those who have decided that you are an “other” and that you don’t belong. But like you, I am generally happy within myself and have been very careful to not internalize the pathologies inherent within this culture that foster racism. Still one grows tired of this culture’s inability to evolve faster than it has. If I taught, your blog would be required reading. Your insight and perception when it comes to many things is amazing and though provoking. Thank you for your depth and honesty as the personal things you express are often universal.

    • Really? I am relieved to hear you say this.

      This is a very difficult subject to tackle, as I am hyperconsciously aware of the fact that as a white person writing this I could easily invite scorn and derision. ‘We’ are both elevated and despised, where black people here have it much worse ( posters for English schools rarely feature non-white teachers, even if the schools themselves are usually racially diverse, for example) and the usual tropes – good at dancing, happy, or scary often persist in horrifyingly oblivious ways.

      Still, the experience I felt at the end of the piece, the two ‘replicants’ in the teachers ‘ room, was both very unnerving yet also illuminating in the sense of shedding light on how non-white people must feel in majority Caucasian environments. I felt extremely, unpleasantly aware of my skin tone, features, everything. That any of this charms with you in any way I find extremely gratifying.

      • Renée Stout

        The first Blade Runner movie has always been one of my favorite movies, because on many levels it poses the question as to what defines us humans and who gets to decide who is human. The replicant Roy Batty’s soliloquy at the end breaks my heart every time I see the the movie as it can apply to any human being whose life has been deemed “expendable” by someone else who feels they are more human and therefore more entitled to life. I haven’t seen the second Blade Runner yet, but thanks for the heads up as it may prepare me for the heaviness.

      • A heaviness I find I am strangely craving again…

  11. Polly

    Hello hello, I read through a lot of your blog the day after we met and meant to comment then, but somehow imagined I’d have to do some complicated account-creating in order to do so, so procrastinated.
    Anyway, hello, belatedly, and thank you for this post, which has compounded the hesitancy I feel about tackling Blade Runner 2049.
    But aside from that, there’s so much here which I’ve thought much on, and so much of what you say echoes precisely not only the thoughts but the whole body of senses and feelings that surround them (waxen really hit me). Maybe someone needs to design Gaijin: The Fragrance.
    I think about hyperconsciousness a lot. Particularly: is it the hyperconscious ones who are drawn to Japan, is it precisely having a thin albeit waxy skin that enables the country to get under it, somehow? I think we spoke about how the less hyperconscious ones seem to fare better here at least in terms of maintaining their own mental equilibrium, shielded by their thick skins and thus blissfully unaware of their blunders, but at least in my experience, they aren’t the ones who tend to stay. (Or perhaps, in staying, they gradually change and become self-conscious). I suppose that makes sense, that in order for Japan to really have a hold on you, you need to be psychologically disposed for it to tap into your deepest insecurities or pleasing tendencies, in some way. I ponder this with reference to what it means to refuse to conform, to finding the conforming replicant kind of disgusting. I think the truth is that I used to aspire to Japaneseness far more than I do, and think that if I could just get it all right then I’d finally be accepted here (and maybe thus fully escape what I had been previously). And for me at least, getting to a place of refusing to prostrate myself, of refusing to placate people constantly, is a sign of psychological robustness in some way? That in doing so you’re reminding not just others but also yourself that being a replicant is a permanent state and not something you’ll eventually graduate from. Dignity for replicants, etc.
    Anyway, thanks again for this, and thanks for the mention, and I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

    • So excited to see you on here.

      What you write is fascinating and has my head reeling.

      • I love what you say about the hyperconscious being almost masochistically susceptible to it all and never able to leave, whereas the blunderers can stay for a while then just leave, happy as Larry. I would love to delve further into this.

        I also agree that refusing to replicant feels like a certain ( complicated ) robustness. It still makes me feel like a stubborn English bastard though.

      • Polly

        I wonder too if these two are related – like the guilt at refusing to replicant comes from the sense that it ‘means’ one is not hyperconsciousness enough, or that one will be perceived as that way. I think I definitely feel that a lot – that I want to be not conforming to be seen as a conscious choice rather than a blunderer’s lack of one, but knowing that nobody would or could know that? And coming to be comfortable with that being a long and rocky road, maybe.

        On a different note, your blog is really inspiring, in a quite literal sense that it’s making me feel very tempted to start one myself – maybe documenting my demise/return to the uk.

    • Very astute. Thanks, Polly.

  12. Katy McReynolds

    I just want to respond quickly while I still have my wits about me! They were quite literally blown away by your incredible writing! I loved this film and cried for about thirty minutes after viewing it as I was quite overwhelmed by the beauty and horror of the cinematography. My ultimate take away from the film was our, be it human or almost human, longing for the bonds of family and love, for belonging to someone or a group of someone’s. I found the performances restrained, befitting the bleakness of the story. Utterly devastated by this movie and your writing, a hallmark of powerful art, I dare say…..

  13. A completely enthralling read. I really need to see the new Blade Runner, I adored the first one and hope I will enjoy this one.
    It is funny what you said about Caucasian people who take on Japanese ways, because that would probably be me. Wherever I have travelled to or lived in this world I always have tended to try and assimilate and follow the customs and just be like the locals. I don’t know why I am like this, seeing that I have such a strong personality and sense of self, but I always fit in as much as I can. Maybe because I grew up outside of Boston in an Asian community, travelled back to France regularly, had friends from all over the globe, very few Caucasian friends though, and just feel very comfortable in different cultural settings.
    Funnily enough, I feel least comfortable where I live now, in New Hampshire, because it is so homogenous and white.
    I guess living where I do I kind of feel like a replicant, I look the same and am perceived as the same, yet I feel completely set apart and removed from everyone I interact with. I feel more comfortable when I visit Chinatown in Boston or when I visit with my friend Betzie and her huge Dominican family.
    I have to say, I felt pretty much at home in Hong Kong, too bad it is now under Chinese control.
    Well, your piece gave me quite a bit of food for thought and insight into what you go through daily. Thank you my dear for sharing these wonderful experiences.

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