It has always been curious, this world of Fandom, not so much that people like certain works of art and performers of those works, but rather the intensity of those likes which can border or even cross over, fanaticism.
We constantly hear stories of Fan Stalkers, and the often violent reactions of fan comments on various blogs and websites is constant and obvious.
We have for the last 9 years, been following a manga story called Chihayafuru (ちはやふる). Written by MS. Yuki Suetsugu, her story began on December 28, 2007 and is still ongoing whose current published content stands at 44 Volumes across 230 Chapters as of October 24, 2020.
Pywackett Productions has published several analyses of this story here on this blog under the category URL
In all those years, we have tried to find a blog or website where the fans really wanted to discuss the story as a story, a work of art but such a search has always ended in failure. So in somewhat of a frustration, we opened this blog as a place to publish and encourage such a discussion.
The story of Chihayafuru concerns itself with an obscure Japanese card game called Karuta, and a young girl, named Chihaya Ayase (綾瀬 千早, Ayase Chihaya) who falls in love with the game and devotes all her time to becoming the Champion Queen. The story has a very large cast of supporting characters which makes for a very interesting, and enjoyable read.
Three characters stand out, two male friends whom Chihaya has known from childhood, Arata Wataya (綿谷 新, Wataya Arata), and Taichi Mashima (真島 太一, Mashima Taichi); and also a female opponent
Shinobu Wakamiya (若宮 詩暢, Wakamiya Shinobu) whom Chihaya wants to become her friend. As of Ch 230, Chihaya is in a Karuta Championship competition with Shinobu who is the reigning Queen and current Champion. Their match is a 5 game series, and stands at 2-1 in favor of Shinobu with two games to play. But although Chihayafuru is all about Karuta, this is not what occupies the vast majority of the fan base.
Go anywhere on the internet searching for Chihayafuru and you will find fan discussions, not about Karuta, but rather with whom Chihaya should/will fall in love! Any objective student of this fan base must immediately confront the obvious, a story about a card game and a championship for that card game, and a young girl who has shown not the slightest interest in Romance.
In fact, there has in 230 Chapters, been zero, nada, none, NO Romances of any kind. There has been not one date even and only a forced, partial kiss once, with failed results. We have seen a few confessions, but no acceptances of those confessions nor have these intimate moments lead to anything remotely Romantic.
An objective observer would have to scratch his or her head in perplexed anonymity trying to jibe the story with its fan base. The fans seem to be hypnotized by Chihaya’s love life of which there is none to date. And not only that but, the vicious fights and name calling that go on in these fan discussions is scandalous at best. Basically there are two groups fighting with each other, who hold differing views on with whom Chihaya should be Romantically linked, AKA the (Arata Wataya X Chihaya Ayase) shippers and the (Taichi Mashima X Chihaya Ayase) shippers.
But the Chihayafuru Fandom, is certainly not unique. Consider any story or even any work of art, and people will come down all over the map of opinion. Some like it, some don’t. For some, the work of art really and truly moves their feels, and for others a nice Potato Soup will have more impact on their emotional life.
There is no universal right and wrong about a work of Art. After all, all Art is imaginary!
Many people become emotional during a movie. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is coming down the street
and there is the emotion of fear. When children are afraid during a monster movie, do mothers still say,
“It’s only a movie!”? That may be so but tell that to your personal feels. Why does one laugh and cry at a movie? After all mother is right, IT IS only a movie, complete fiction, and totally imaginary!
Yet human beings feel a work of art, and express those feels in an emotional response all the while with full understanding that what they are experiencing is total fiction, a product of pure imagination.
Stories are entirely imaginary. There is nothing real about a story, yet our hearts believe in the characters and their motives, and we bleed with them when they are hurt. Curious how the imaginary can have real world, pragmatic effects.
Our hearts believe where our heads do not. That is why we have always found the critic who says that a story violates physical reality to be like, “Dude, why are you wasting your money on a piece of art which you will not enjoy?” You experience a piece of story art or any art for that matter with your heart so why do you allow your head to butt into a potentially wonderful, emotional experience? Leave your head at the door when you enter the theater, and let the artists have they way with you totally.
Then if you do not have a wonderful emotional experience, you can call that work of art “bad” not because it violates physicality but because it did not move your feels. It is no criticism of a space opera because the ships move faster than light speed, “Well, that’s impossible, so I will not enjoy this story.” type of head reaction. That’s just silly in our minds, and a waste of good money for the tickets.
The unreal, the imaginary, possesses a reality all their own.
As Death says in the Hogfather, “If you do not believe in imaginary things, how are they to become?”
The belief in the imaginary is the ability to transcend physicality, and this allows the unreal to effect change in the real. We do not build anything until we imagine what that thing will become.
The belief in the imaginary as Becoming allows the real as Being. The imaginary becomes the real.
This leads belief to a consideration of time where we put Being into motion. Traditionally Being is a fixed, timeless, unchanging thing, like in most religions, a Faith which leads then to fixed dogmas and doctrines which themselves are unchanging. But as (“No man ever steps in the same river twice”) Heraclitus maintained, change is a fundamental fact of reality.
Without the fundamental belief in change, you are locked into the chain of causation, and everything about your life is fixed and immutable. There is “no free will” type of thing. You have no real choice!
The Future is fixed and immutable. Fate governs all.
But imaginary things have a way of moving the feels which can then move the will into a changed state of behavior. As Death says, if you cannot imagine something which does not exist, how will you then make that something become.
This is why you react to an imaginary story in the movies or novels. Your heart knows what your head does not, it is necessary to believe in imaginary things in order to break the chain of causation.
Art is certainly created in the real world so its causation is the result of a real individual effort. But where does the work of art reside? Where does it exist?
Consider Michelangelo’s sculpture in David.
The reality of David is that it is a block of marble with considerable chipping having been performed.
And, if so, where is the Art of David? Where does the statue exist? Michelangelo’s chipping has resulted in a physical object which suggests a human being. But that suggestion comes from the structure or form which has been imposed upon the physical marble. But considered as such, the structure or form is not real. That same form could be and has been imposed on many different physical objects. The Art of David is imaginary in the very same way that all fictional stories are imaginary.
Beethoven’s 9th Sympathy exists in thousands of different versions with every copy being a physical instantiation of an abstract, idealized imagination. Which one of the versions is the real work of art? Well, its all of them. Where do stories exist? Books? But that is just ink marks on paper bound together into something called a book. Where do words exist?
One way of looking at this dichotomy, is to use an idea from the mathemagicians. When they encountered something so impossible such as √-1, this hardly phased them, being the creative people that they are, they just invented a different number scale. Now the x axis is for the real numbers and the y axis is for the imaginary numbers such as a + bi where a and b are real and the “i”s imaginary.
As an example, we then include the following diagram ignoring all negative values:
On the X axis, we place all real things which obey fundamental physical laws, and on the Y axis we place all imaginary things. A movie is created on the X axis, but the creation, the movie itself, is on the Y axis.
The block of marble is on the X axis, but the statue of David is on the Y axis.
As another example, lets consider a movie, and in particular, the movie Tootsie(1982) [Warning: Spoilers follow].
This movie was made by many human beings. Its production was mechanical. Business decisions were made as to how it would be released. The movie grossed a certain real figure in dollars. It was seen by many real people.
All of these factors in making the movie are on the X axis above. They are real and can be legitimately debated as to truth value. While we may debate what the number is, we all know that there was a single discrete dollar figure that was the total gross. Likewise you can make many statements as to its construction. “Dustin Hoffman was the real actor playing Michael Dorsey in the movie” is a true statement. “Leonardo DiCaprio was the real actor playing Michael Dorsey in the movie” is a false statement.
But many other elements of the movie are on the Y, Imaginary Axis. Tootsie(1982) is a work of fiction. The story and all the characters in the story are fictional, imaginary, they do not exist, and you will find the standard boiler plate, “Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.”
Dustin Hoffman (a real male actor) plays
Michael Dorsey (an imaginary male actor, a character in the story) who plays
Dorothy Michaels (an imaginary female actor, a character in the story being played by Michael Dorsey) who then plays
Emily Kimberly (an imaginary female character being played by Dorothy Michaels who works as a hospital administrator in the soap opera, “Southwest General”)
NOTE: Emily Kimberly is on the Y axis relative to Dorothy Michaels who is on the X axis. Dorothy Michaels is on the Y axis relative to Michael Dorsey who is on the X axis. Michael Dorsey is on the Y axis relative to Dustin Hoffman who is on the X axis. There are even those who would say that Dustin Hoffman is on the Y axis relative to a super intelligent pan-dimensional being who is on the X axis of a super simulation like the Matrix. The imagination has no limits in this recursive process and it certainly is possible to become lost in this imaginary world
This is a tour de force of acting where Mr. Hoffman plays three different characters each playing the next with a gender change even and its hard to understand that while nominated, Mr. Hoffman did not win the best actor award that year.
But the point is that Dustin Hoffman is a real human being who is an actor. That individual exists in real space and time on the X axis. But Michael Dorsey, Dorothy Michaels, and Emily Kimberly are characters in a story which is in the Movie Tootsie(1982), and as a work of imagination, those characters exist on the Y axis. They are imaginary.
In the x,y chart above, please note the point indicated by (2,3). It is at this point that the x and y axes intersect with each other. Your feels during a movie are within your body which is on the x axis, but those feels are being generated by an imaginary event or character on the y axis. If 2 represents you and your feels, 3 represents the exact event or character in the imaginary story. The point (2,3) is where they come together. Think about this: a totally fictional, imaginary event moves your feels, and perhaps inspires you to change in some way. You then go out into your life, and actually effect some sort of change because you have been inspired by an imaginary thing. This is breaking the chain of cause and effect, and allows an imaginary ideal such as justice or mercy or truth or goodness, to become real as Death says. You first must believe in a wonderful world, how else will a wonderful world become?
You may wear your sackcloth and ashes in extreme cynicism about such Pollyanna views, but the truth remains. You have been inspired by a wonderful thing, to become a wonderful person.
Inspiration takes place in real time with real people, so where does it come from? The (2,3) point above suggests that inspiration comes from the world of imagination which in the model above is placed on the y axis. All thought and art resides in the imagination on that y axis. The (2,3) point is the light bulb in your head suddenly coming on, its that ah-ha experience of sudden realization. Its the very moment that one realizes that they are Free to change themselves and the world, and then set about doing so.
In the anime Aria, S1-EP5, we have a wonderful conversation between Alicia (blond), Akari (pink), and AI who is off screen. Akari is telling this story to AI in an email from Mars (Aqua) to Earth (Manhome) which lays out what this story is all about which is belief in wondrous things.
In this conversation Alicia makes this comment about Akari
The full conversation goes somewhat like this:
In this scene, Akari has a profound emotional response when the Imaginary makes sudden contact with her Real person. This moment is the (2,3) point. And of course all of this is imaginary to us so what the artists seem to have intended is that this same feeling in Akari is reproduced in you the audience. If you are in sync with the story, you will indeed feel what Akari is feeling, and your heart will be moved.
No guarantees that any work of art will move you in proscribed ways, but the artists do want to have their way with you, and if you are open, and non-judgmental, hopefully you will feel Belief as it moves your emotions.
The (2,3) point is the point of the Aria anime. Throughout the story during its three seasons, and two OVAs, Akari whose love for Aqua is unbounded and unqualified, experiences the Belief which is her love for Aqua.
This is symbolized in Akari’s encounters with Cait Sith, the giant cat-king who in some ways represents the protective deity of Aqua. The real of Akari touches the imaginary of Aria, and then that touch will touch you. Provided you have left your head to commiserate with someone somewhere else.
If you try to make this all work rationally, it will of course completely fall apart, because the process by which your feels are moved is not rational, or real in any way. You have to allow the Imaginary to make itself Real in your heart, and then you carry the ball from there.
This is the (2,3) point on the graph. Aria will hit that mark if you allow it to do so.
If perhaps the (2,3) point is not made clear by Pywackett Productions, then consider a wonderful movie, “Your Name.”(2016) by Makoto Shinkai.
At the very end, the last scene, Taki and Mitsuha finally meet on the steps to the Suga-jinga shrine in Tokyo. But because they cannot remember each other, they pass on the steps, Taki climbing up on the right, and Mitsuha descending on your left.
The Suga-jinga shrine, and these steps actually exist and look something like this:
Because they don’t know each other, they are at first embarrassed to speak, but at the last minute, Taki turns at the top and says one of the most clichéd lines in all romance stories. Mitsuha then turns and responds. And in unison, they ask for “your name”.
This is a very good scene as an example of the (2,3) point, where the imaginary touches the real, and the Suga-jinga shrine steps have become something of a shrine itself to be visited by fans of the anime.
It is doubly intentionally ironic, in that the Suga-shrine itself, is an example of (2,3) where the divine touches the real.
The (2,3) point activates your feels, and floods your emotional self with wonders and warm and fuzzies. For all of our history, these points have been blindingly brilliant, and overpowering. Religions and religious movements originate in these (2,3) points. Moses and the burning bush being a very famous example.
But the universal bottom line is that our deep feels are touched which is the essential point of the (2,3) point.
Imagination has no limits except for your horizons!
The imaginary is totally beyond all the laws of physics. Cause and effect cannot affect the imaginary, but the imaginary, by inspiration of human emotions, can then become a First Cause in Human affairs. If this were not so, then Star Wars ships could never exceed the speed of light and the god Zeus would fall off his cloud and Superman could not fly.
Akari is constantly moved by the imaginary forces of Aqua, and her feeling reaction to this emotion, then makes her the wonderful person that she is.
All persons who allow themselves to be moved by the imaginary, can then approximately approach that imaginary. I.E. You see a character do something on screen, and then in your life, you are inspired to become like that MC and then to do that very same action.
The Imaginary then moves the Real.
This is a function of Belief, the acceptance of the Imaginary into your life. Belief should be clearly distinguished from Faith. You believe this or that to be true but in real terms, Belief can be wrong.
Faith is never wrong. And that is why Faith is a problem.
In Fandom, the emotional attachment to the imaginary is so profound, that it takes on the character of a Faith Community. In the Chihayafuru example above, the (Arata Wataya X Chihaya Ayase) shippers and the (Taichi Mashima X Chihaya Ayase) shippers often act as if their ship is the only right ship, and the other side is not only wrong, but so wrong-headed as to be morally retarded. And so intense emotions are raised. After all, we think that others should have the same Faith as we do. You see this same phenomena in your BFF. “I love the new movie X” you say to your BFF, and are shocked when he/she responds that they did not like the movie. In fact you are hurt, that your BFF, who you thought you knew, who you thought shared all your same feels, who you thought was a member of your Faith community, suddenly turns on you (in your eyes only). And then things can get really nasty, as we see every day with strangers on blogs and comments sections, having an argument about a work of art, a work of the imagination.
Well, indeed, we are very silly creatures.
© 2021 Folcwine P. Pywackett (w152)