User:Rachel Thorn/Sandbox 5

I've inserted some subtitles to make the page a bit more navigable. Given the way this conversation evolved these divisions are somewhat arbitrary, but I see no point in trying to edit the arbitrariness out. This is not that kind of discussion. The purpose is simply to establish some points of entry other than the beginning and the end. Bill Benzon (talk) 23:57, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia and ResearchEdit

I'm having a running argument with a Japanese editor named Oda Mari who has been reverting my changes to the shōjō‎ and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea entries. Part of it hinges on this person's seeming lack of experience doing any kind of scholarly work (see my User Page, the last item for what I mean) and part of it hinges on translations and mistranslations (?) from the Japanese. Either way, someone who knows Japanese -- I know only a little and although I can get by using various machine translations, I do not like them! -- can assist materially in helping settle the issue. Thanks. Timothy Perper (talk) 21:35, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I wrote several answers to Oda Mari about how scholarship uses multiple sources. We have a chance here to educate someone about this. I'm not going to drop it, though I thought I might. But in the last Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea talk page comment from Oda Mari, this person said that there really are carp with human faces and gave Google Images as a source. So we're dealing with someone either very young or completely naive or -- well, we have to set this straight. Timothy Perper (talk) 22:59, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
For some reason shōjō had not been on my watchlist, so I missed all this action. I took a look at the interview with Miyazaki, and he's as clear on the subject as he could be: the model for Ponyo and her family is a goldfish: not the real kind, but the traditional Japanese toy goldfish made from tin. He said he was originally thinking of a frog as a model, but frogs had been overdone and he wasn't satisfied with any of the frog designs. He also says in the interview, "Ponyo, who was originally a fish..." There are obviously similarities between Ponyo's family and the shoujou described in Gordon's book, but given Miyazaki's own words, and the fact that in an earlier film he used characters that were explicitly identified as shoujou, and yet bear no resemblance to Ponyo or her family, I think it's hard to argue that those characters might be shoujou. Since Miyazaki has already shown 1) knowledge of and 2) interest in shoujou, it seems odd that he would have had shoujou in mind in Ponyo, yet never say so even when asked. To use your Tokyo Tower metaphor, it seems to me to be a case of, "Look, it's Tokyo Tower!" "Well, from here it does sort of look like Tokyo Tower," but actually that the Kobe Port Tower." I think your take is "original research" in the good, non-Wikipedia sense: it's an interpretation of the work that is interesting and for which you offer evidence. Now if you had written and published that idea somewhere else, then we could refer to that article. I don't think the Gordon reference suffices, because the similarities are superficial and could be applied to, say, a red-haired drunk man in an anime. There's a missing link here. It's too bad, since it's an interesting idea, and Ponyo's family does seem to have more in common with the shoujou of Japanese legend than do the shoujou in Princess Mononoke. BTW, I'm disappointed that the reference to Princess Mononoke was axed in the process, since that was solid as a rock. As for the Ponyo page, I agree that Oda is wrong in saying "Ponyo is a goldfish." The impression I get from the Miyazaki article is that a tin goldfish was the model for Ponyo's appearance. Saying Ponyo is a goldfish is like saying the shoujou in Princess Mononoke are orangutans. I might weigh in on the Ponyo article discussion, but I don't want to get involved in the Shoujou argument because I'd rather not contradict you there. BTW, the whole carp/goldfish thing is not only getting out of hand, it seems to be based on a misunderstanding. The word Miyazaki uses is kingyo (金魚, Carassius auratus), not koi (鯉, Cyprinus carpio), and he further clarifies by saying "those old tin goldfish toys". So carp (koi) don't come in anywhere, and Oda's photo's of carp with human-like faces are interesting but irrelevant. On the shoujou thing, I personally think you're fighting a losing battle that isn't that important. I also think you've let Oda get under your skin. Remember what you told me about kobolds. (^_^) Matt Thorn (talk) 01:52, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
You're probably right. Oh well. BTW, I agree with Miyazaki about the tin models of goldfish. I didn't axe the Princess Mononoke material; I didn't add it because I didn't have the references. If you want to, you can add them. But beware of kobolds. o_o. Timothy Perper (talk) 04:40, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Do me a favor? Check ISBN 978-4-19-810012-4 on -- it's the Ponyo art book (which would cost a fortune if I ordered it because of shipping). Does it mention shoujou? If it doesn't, then I'll be a bit more convinced that I'm wrong about the Ponyo clan, but I'd like to see what's in the book first. Thanks. Timothy Perper (talk) 05:58, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
I'll look for it next time I'm in a bookstore. Matt Thorn (talk) 08:40, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. No hurry... Timothy Perper (talk) 13:33, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
I can check that and a couple other Ponyo books I have. I'll let you know. ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 03:20, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Nihonjoe. I feel that the entire issue has been argued wrongly. If we went through all Wiki articles with the criteria used by Oda Mari, there'd be nothing left. Like all policies here, NOR needs to be undersood and used carefully, not as an excuse for removing material someone doesn't like or understand. Let me explain. Consider the following three real examples from manga and anime.
(1) The anime example I used, Burst Angel, explicitly set in Tokyo, where a monster climbs a huge steel tower and battles the good guys. What is the tower?
(2) In one episode of Yu Aida's manga Gunslinger Girl explicitly set in Florence, Italy, we enter a museum and see a painting on the wall. It is a nude woman standing on a sea shell at the edge of a beach, with two figures in mid-air on the left and a woman's figure on the right holding a robe or cape. What is the painting?
(3) In an episode of Jin Kobayashi's manga School Rumble are two portraits of a young woman who is one of the characters in the story. One portrait is realistic and shows what she looks like; the other is angular, done in a modern style, with the word "cubism" in a small panel above the image. What does "cubism" mean?
The answers are not -- at least according to the criterion used by Oda Mari -- "Tokyo Tower," Alessandro Botticelli's "Venus Arising from the Sea", and a style of modern art made famous by artists like Picasso that depicts people in such ways. In that criterion, each of these answers must be called "Original Research" and removed. According to this criterion, the only source we can use is one, single website or book that explicitly says that the tower in Burst Angel is Tokyo Tower, that the painting in Gunslinger Girl is Botticelli's painting in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and that Jin Kobayashi had Western art in mind when he used the word "cubism."
Please note that these examples are NOT "common knowledge." Not everyone knows that Tokyo has a huge steel tower, not everyone has seen the Botticelli painting, and not everyone has heard of cubism.
I have to interject here: "common knowledge" does not mean that everyone knows something, but rather it is something which would be reasonably be expected to be known by someone who is reasonably familiar with a particular subject (say, a resident of Tokyo and the surrounding area for the first example). Therefore, for anyone who lives in Tokyo, that the tower in Burst Angel is Tokyo Tower is not even a question. It is Tokyo Tower. The same goes for the other two examples: in both cases, anyone with reasonable knowledge of those particular subjects just understands to what the respective shows are referring. It's just "common knowledge". ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 03:17, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
So let's compare two ways to deal with this.
(4) One is my own, which is to cite a source for the additional information -- a guide book to Tokyo showing and describing Tokyo Tower even if it never mentions Burst Angel; an artbook with a illustration showing the Botticelli painting even if it never mentions Gunslinger Girl; or a history of art discussing cubism even if it never mentions School Rumble. That is what I did with the shōjō‎ entry -- I added a reference to a solid source that unequivocally identifies that species of supernatural being as shōjō‎ of the red-haired, sea-dwelling kind, and no, that source didn't mention Miyazaki's film.
(5) The other is the criterion that Oda Mari used. We must have one and only one reference that explicitly says that that portrait is Botticelli's painting, for otherwise it is original research to say so, and all the art history in the West and all its textbooks can go to hell. They aren't good enough. "If it doesn't mention Yu Aida or Miyazaki, it's original research and original synthesis and you're making it all up!"
Please understand, guys, this is not a trivial argument about a movie or a couple of pictures in manga or anime. It is about how to understand and use the criteria for sources that underlie the entire Wikipedia effort, the whole nine yards of it. Note also -- this too is crucial -- that the Oda Mari criterion reduces all such discussions to the lowest common denominator of ignorance, to saying "I never heard of Botticelli. That's original research!" intread of saying, "OK, someone who knows about Botticelli and about shōjō‎ has provided a reliable source of information -- thanks, and we leave it at that." Which do you want for Wiki?
At root, the question here is How do we use expert information of the kind that Matt Thorn and I bring to Wikipedia?
I'd like more discussion of this issue.
Timothy Perper (talk) 13:02, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Tim, I don't think this is about what Oda thinks. The examples you give above of Tokyo Tower, Botticelli and cubism are not, in my mind, parallel to the case of Ponyo. In those cases, features and settings are so distinctive that it would be absurd to argue that they are coincidental similarities. In the case of Ponyo, that is not the case. I think by now most of us who have worked closely on the shōjō article know about as much about the subject as anyone (although I'm sure there are probably a handful of "shōjō fanatics" in Japan who know far more than we do). But at this point, you are the only one who is convinced that those characters are supposed to be shōjō. If I agreed with you, Tim, I would be in there making the case, and I wouldn't let Oda or anyone else simply dismiss it. But for me, the evidence is just not there. We have red hair, magical powers, and an association with the sea. That alone doesn't clinch it for me, particularly since, as I wrote before, Miyazaki already portrayed shōjō in a movie, and he did so in a very different way. (Those shōjō had red eyes, but dark gray fur.) So we know that he has knowledge of and interest in shōjō. And in the case of Mononoke Hime, it was explicit, right down to the details in the official movie pamphlet. That being the case, if he was going to explore shōjō in a very different way in a new film, why would he hide the fact? Shōjō are associated with the sea in at least one Japanese version of the legend, but I know of no description of them being fish-like. In Ponyo's case, there's no getting around the "fishiness." And if Miyazaki were trying to do an interpretation of shōjō that is closer to the familiar Japanese version, why would he leave out the most famous trait of all: a fondness for liquor? The most damning thing, though, is the (at this point) complete lack of a single mention of shōjō in regards to Ponyo anywhere. Miyazaki is not exactly reclusive, and talks at great length about sources, inspirations, etc. And his are probably among the most analyzed movies in Japan. As soon as a new Miyazaki movie comes out, it is following by a stream of books about the movie, ranging from fluff to deadly serious scholarship. Virtually every creature, every motif from every film has been cataloged. Here's an example off the top of my head. The first time I saw the old Fleischer Brothers Superman cartoon, titled "The Mechanical Monsters," I was certain the Fleisher robots had been the inspiration for the robots in Miyazaki's Laputa. I had never checked it out until three minutes ago, when I Googled and came across countless pages identifying the connection. Old Superman cartoons are hardly well-known here in Japan. It was Miyzaki himself who had identified the inspiration. So I find it extremely hard to believe that in that interview, when asked about the inspiration for Ponyo, Miyazaki would not have mentioned shōjō if shōjō had indeed been the inspiration. So, in a word, I'm not convinced by the Tokyo Tower or Botticelli analogy. You and I have expertise, but in editing Wikipedia articles, we still have to do the hard labor of gathering sources. For example, in my first draft of my Katsuji Matsumoto article, I included a great deal of the kind of interpretation I offer to my students in class. But the fact is, I simply don't have the sources to back some of that interpretation up, so I cut out those parts and have put them on the back burner until I can dig up sources. I'm really sorry I can't back you up on this one, particularly since you've been so helpful to me as I've tried to learn the ropes here, but I just don't think you've made your case yet. Matt Thorn (talk) 14:40, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Tim, an update on that book you asked about. Two of my former students are serious Miyazaki fans with near-encyclopedic knowledge of his work, as well as work about his work. They say the book includes no mention of shōjō, and that in all the various material they have seen and read about Ponyo, they have never come across a reference to shōjō. They themselves are of course aware of the shōjō in Princess Mononoke, but they personally don't see a shōjō connection in Ponyo. Just thought I'd let you know. The Little Mermaid connection is much more strongly established. Matt Thorn (talk) 14:25, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. I'm not sure that it matters if Miyazaki has said much about it, if anything. By now, I'm working more on CZ, which allows me, on my own, to make the shōjō connection. It struck me that the shōjō in Princess Mononoke are close kin to orangutans, which is one of the meanings of the term, even if they have shorter and grayish-brown hair. A related question -- how much recent work of any kind (manga, anime, folklore studies, anything) has there been on the red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural, magic-using shōjō? Or has this topic vanished into the distance as one more forgotten thing about folklore? Timothy Perper (talk) 16:14, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

It seems to me that Tim's penultimate question is the critical one. It would help if we knew more about the "red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural, magic-using shōjō." Bill Benzon (talk) 17:51, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

What to Do?Edit

Matt, with all due respect and friendship, I think you may be missing my point. It concerns (1) the role of knowledge outside a narrow frame of reference for material in the film or manga and (2) what we decide to bring to bear on the questions we ask here. I myself am not fully convinced that the supernatural beings in Ponyo are shōjō -- I'd like more information about both. But I am convinced that R. Gordon Smith described red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural and magical human-shaped creatures in his 1908 book and that later Hadland Davis included the same information in another book. I'm also convinced that Miyazaki drew the Ponyo clan as red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural and magical human-shaped creatures. Both are verifiable facts, not original research, not speculation, and not wild-eyed craziness.

Added later by TP: This is the Wiki criterion that the basis for inclusion isn't truth, but verifiability. And it's verifiable that red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural and magical human-shaped creatures like this are called shōjō. Source: Gordon Smith; Hadland Davis.Timothy Perper (talk) 18:46, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

The parallel is not an original synthesis any more than the Tokyo Tower, Botticelli, and Cubism examples are. One can always say that "I am not convinced that it was intended to be the Botticelli painting or the Tokyo Tower or -- ". However, I'm not arguing about intention, but about verifiable fact in a source. Given Gordon Smith's description of these red-haired creatures, he could be talking the Ponyo clan in the film (as you can see from the illustration in the Gordon Smith book, and allowing for the difference in era when the drawings were done). Yes, it might be coincidence, but whether or not it is, the creatures in Gordon Smith and in Ponyo are very similar.

I think it's very useful to quote Miyazaki about the shōjō in Princess Mononoke. That was a nice catch, as they say. But locating a source in Japanese folklore for the Ponyo clan is also a nice catch, if I may say so. Nor is it that I don't want to do the hard work digging up stuff like this -- I did, and will continue to (which is why I asked you guys about the Ponyo book). But as long as Gordon Smith's description exists, it connects Ponyo and her family to the shōjō. That's not a piece of looniness of my own or something I made up. I didn't write Gordon Smith's book.

My question is, what do we do with such information? We can ignore it, but should we? I don't think so, because it provides one more verifiable link in a connected discussion about the shōjō and (the more general question) about the role of traditional Japanese folklore in manga and anime. (I should be clearer, maybe -- that is not the question in the article, but is the intellectual setting, if I can call it that, of the issue.)

A next-to-final observation. I've had several discussions now about this with various people here and elsewhere. No one likes the parallel between Ponyo/shōjō over here, and Burst Angel, Gunslinger Girl, and cubism/Tokyo Tower, Botticelli, and Picasso over there. That's because -- I speculate -- the ones on the right hand side (Tokyo Tower, Botticelli, and Picasso) are familiar to many people and they see the identification very easily. But they're not so familiar with the shōjō, so they're very doubtful. So here are two other less familiar examples.

(1) In Mamoru Oshii 's film Innosenzu, Batō and Tegusa visit a woman who is an expert in cyborgs and in fact is a cyborg herself. They call her Harraway. Who is she?

(2) In a later scene in Innosenzu, when Batō and Tegusa are in the castle, Tegusa pulls a book from a shelf by someone named Hans Bellmer. Who is he and why is he in the scene?

This time I won't give the answer because answering the question requires doing what I'm doing with Ponyo and the shōjō. (And the answer is NOT that this is trivia -- it isn't.)

I personally really don't care very much if Ponyo's folks are shōjō. But I do know that Gordon Smith described people who are dead-ringers for her family.

A final observation. All this stuff deals with what literary critics call "intertextuality." It means, simplifying somewhat, the appearance of unexplained cross-references between different works of art and literature. Understanding intertextuality requires leaving the frame of the work itself and, with proper citations, looking at other works.

Timothy Perper (talk) 18:03, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Tim Perper, whom I've known and worked with for several years, asked me to take a look at this conversation. Hmmmm. . . .
And an interesting conversation it is. First, I've not seen Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea so I don't have any worthwhile opinion on the resemblance between the Ponyo family and shōjō as depicted in the Gordon book (which I do not know). For all I know, Tim is on-target here. But I don't think that is the issue. The issue is whether or not his making that connection counts as "original research" as defined by Wikipedia's policy. That's a tough one.
Let me note, as has already been stated here or there or somewhere else, that there would be no issue if Miyazaki himself had said they're shōjō, or if the connection was made in some official material. As this does not seem to be the case, the connection has to be made by inference. Tim has done that. And the inference seems to be of a very basic sort: X looks like Y. Y is a shōjō. Therefore X must be a shōjō. As I've said, I'm not in a position to judge this inference as I know neither the X nor the Y in this case. My point is simply that this inference does not involve a lot of intermediate steps, some of which may be very problematic.
Nonetheless my intuitive sense is that that simple inference should probably be counted as "original research." My intuition is based on my sense of how things are in literary studies (I've got a doctorate in English lit.). Ferreting out intertextuality is the sort of thing one does in journal articles. To consider Tim's examples, the two from Innosenzu, while not at all problematic, strike me as original research. It's pretty basic research, but it's research nonetheless. To make those connections, you have to already know something that's not evident in the film, or you have to know that there's some connection to be made, and know how to make the connection. The difference between those two examples and his other examples - Tokyo Tower, Botticelli's Venus, and cubism - is not about the type of inference, which is the same, but simply of how well the extratextual item is known. The relevance of Harraway and Bellmer is not at all problematic, once you know who they are, but who they are is obscure. Hence, that knowledge counts as research (even if you identified both references the first time you saw the film).
It seems to me that the connection between shōjō and the Ponyo's is in the same class. If that connection had been made in some verifiable 3rd-party source, then one could introduce it into the shōjō article by citing that source. As it is, I don't see how to introduce it into the article. Bill Benzon (talk) 20:42, 23 September 2008 (UTC)

Beyond WikipediaEdit

Continuing on . . . You've noted, Tim, that the only thing you're sure of is that roughly the same non-trivial description applies to shōjō and to Ponyo's family. That is, you're not really sure whether or not Ponyo's family are shōjō. I suppose you could put that description in the shōjō entry and note that it applies both to shōjō (in Gordon's book) and to Ponyo's family. But that seems rather over-elaborate for an encyclopedia article. In this case, you've got a good link to Mononoke Hime and that makes the point that these ancient mythological creatures are still being used in Japanese culture.
The important issue, as you've noted, is: What do we do with this conjecture, forget about it? Well, what we are in fact doing with that conjecture is discussing it behind the scenes. What would be useful is a more structured way to incorporate such conjectures into the Wiki-sphere. As it is, the Wikipedia contains a mess of unidirectional links out to completed sources. It doesn't have links to "incubator" areas where ideas are being spawned and nurtured. And that's what you really want for this Ponyo-shōjō conjecture, you want to put it where serious researchers can find it and work on it, or where anyone at all can take a look and see what's brewing even if they have no intention of adding to the brew. You're looking for a new kind of social structure for intellectual work in which at least some conjectural items are tossed out into the world for all to see rather than being held in someone's private research notes. And it would be nice to have this somehow tied to Wikipedia because the process of writing and editing articles here is going to generate such conjectures and inferences.
This, of course, is a new kettle of fish. Bill Benzon (talk) 00:12, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Bill. There's an article in the current issue of Scientific American about the question of the sort of intellectual structure that has been created or is being created by the weblinks Wki represents. Having invented such things all by myself when I was 12 years old -- a telephone number you could call up and they'd answer your questions about chemistry was my idea -- I am more than susceptible to the idea that the current practice of Wikiology is insufficient to deal with the kind of intertextuality Bill is discussing. What do we do, in good faith, deal with the co-occurrence of "red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural and magical human-shaped creatures" in a 1908 book about Japanese folklore and a Hayao Miyazaki film?
I claim that the answer is not trivial and cannot be settled by pat phrases like "original research." I am, quite frankly, unsure of what to make of the connection between these different occurrences of "red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural and magical human-shaped creatures". I ran across it, it's real, and it means something probably very important. How do we deal with that? I am smart enough to understand that the shojo/Ponyo case is only the tip of an iceberg floating on the seas on the mind as the collectibe human mind has been reified in cyberspace. We need tools to deal with things floating on that sea, things that go far beyond Neuromancer. Is this a new form of intertextuality? I think it is, in the sense that it has become undeniable to anyone who can punch keys on a keyboard and pull up images of Guranmamere from "Ponyo" and the text to Gordon Davis' book -- and that means anyone in the world. Try it, if you don't believe me -- pull up both and look. They look to be the same damn things, these 1908 shojo and these Miyazaki creatures.
It is no answer to say that Wiki is not a crystal ball. The internet will go beyond what is presently built into Wikipedia (and fiercely guarded by its child-soldiers). My experience is that by now Wiki is old fashioned, out-of-date, and outmoded. What do we do with the real co-occurence of red-haired, sea-dwelling, supernatural and magical human-shaped creatures in two places on the internet?
Obviously, I do not care very much if someone says "You can't put that on Wiki!" The point is that it is not on Wikipedia. It exists out there in the intricate interconnections of data on the web. Anyone who can push keys on a keyboard can find it. What do we do with it?
Also, frankly, I am on the edge of giving up on Wikipedia. I think it is coming close to having outlived its usefulness and has become bogged down in turf wars, hostility and hatreds, and angry polemics by various nationalists. It is not at the cutting edge any more.
Timothy Perper (talk) 00:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I've been looking around a bit more. Tell me if I've got this right. The article about the mythological shōjō was split off from the article on shōjō as (more or less) girl when it became clear that there was enough interesting material about the mythological creature to require it. That is, it was no longer possible simply to mention the mythological creature in passing in the shojo as girl article. This was discovered in the last week or so as various people worked on the shōjō as girl article. Thus we have a genuine collective research effort that has brought something interesting to light, something involving girls, orangutans, a story about white sake, a Noh play and character, two Miyazaki films and other stuff.
Whether or not there is something new in here, and, if so, just what that is, that's not at all clear. What is clear is that this arose in the process of producing the most conservative type of intellectual work, an encyclopedia article. It seems utterly absurd to treat this other stuff as expendable residuals on the encyclopedia articles.
Further, the group that did this work is physically scattered about the globe and consists of people of widely varying ages and levels of training and expertise in manga, anime, Japanese culture, and culture in general. It's a heterodox team worthy of a classic film, such as Seven Samurai. An academic institution would never assemble such a team. But, this team managed to assemble itself, thank you very much.
Is this the future of humanities research? Bill Benzon (talk) 02:23, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Tim and Bill, for the thought-provoking discussion. I think what the three of us (and no doubt many other Wikipedia contributors) would like to see is a wiki for collaborative research, in which "original research" is not a pejorative but rather the whole point. I share Tim's frustration, but I also think that Wikipedia, as it is now, needs to have this undeniably onerous restriction, for the obvious reason that "anyone can" (and does) edit Wikipedia, and right now "no original research" and "NPOV" are the two big fly swatters that we can use to keep ninnies, ideologues, and vandals from making things even more of a mess than they already are. The only way, I think, to achieve the kind of wiki Tim envisions is to eliminate the whole "anyone can edit" aspect. But it is that aspect that has allowed Wikipedia to grow to its present size and achieve household-word status. (Yeah, the bulk of the content is crap, but finding non-crap is not difficult if you know how to look for it--which most casual users don't.) It'll be interesting to see how Google's encyclopedia develops, but I suspect it will still be an "encyclopedia," in which there is no place for synthesis, analysis, and interpretation. What would be interesting to see would be a "Wikipedia Advanced" version, in which only people who have demonstrated real expertise and also made consistently valuable contributions to Wikipedia would be certified to edit, and to do so without any of the restrictions imposed on Wikipedia editors. I think what you would end up with would be something more like "Wikidemia" than Wikipedia: open-source, collaborative scholarship that would be a lot more interesting, informative and inspiring than the forms in which scholarship is traditionally generated and presented. Matt Thorn (talk) 02:58, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I really like the idea of Wikidemia. It's possible to do, also -- the wiki software does exist and is available. It'd need a university as a home, I think, because of the sheer maintenance issues, but that's what universities are for. Any takers? I'll volunteer to help!
I share Matt's dysenthusiasm for the ninnies, ideologues, and vandals who encrust Wikipedia like some kind of mold. (Dis-enthusiasm didn't look right, so I made it dysenthusiasm.) Yes, there is good stuff hidden away, sometimes because an article is never seen by the kobolds.
Added later by TP, since I forgot before: I also really like Bill's take on the intertextuality issue. Yes, that's how all the riddles about Botticelli and Donna Harraway work. And yes, Bill, your take on the origin of the shōjō entry is correct. Timothy Perper (talk) 07:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Martha and I have been talking about this recently because (I assumed you've guessed) I'm reaching the end of my tether with the way Wiki is now. We started to talk about the credentialing issue and ended up with a rather traditional viewpoint -- advanced degrees, university jobs, published papers and books, and a probationary period. I know it sounds all too damn familiar, but we couldn't come up with anything else.
Added later by TP: There have got to be more scholarly types out there who are just itching to get their little paws on Wiki and fix it. How do we find them? Timothy Perper (talk) 07:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
So this conversation has given me some new hope (a rarity in these days of $700 billion bailouts). Let me stew about it, while I clean out my watchlist of the worst of the mold.
Timothy Perper (talk) 07:11, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. I would only quibble about the "advanced degrees, university jobs" aspect, since some of the most knowledgeable and interesting "experts" I have met are people with nothing more than a B.A., or maybe not even that. Frederik Schodt leaps to mind. I'll take a track record over a string of letters at the end of a name anytime. But maybe I say that just because I myself decided to drop my own quest for a Ph.D. Matt Thorn (talk) 07:32, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Um, well, Tim invited me here, but I'm not sure why - I'm an undergrad, and I'm not even writing for Wikipedia in the 'right' field. You could check out Citizendium, and see whether your desire to theorise in a wiki format fits with their mission, or you could get some wiki software of your own (and a spam blacklist! otherwise your wiki looks like this) and set it up with your colleagues. Aside from that, I don't really know what to say. :( -Malkinann (talk) 08:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, Malkinann. I hadn't known about the awkwardly-named Citizendium. (Then again, two months ago I didn't know how to add a reference to a Wikipedia article.) My impression after taking one look at the article on manga is that they have a long road ahead of them. For all its warts, the Wikipedia manga article is, I think, far more useful and informative. The Citizendium version seems to have been written by a 60 year-old Japanologist for whom manga is nothing more than a curiosity. (Maybe they exhumed Edwin O. Reischauer and got him to write it.) Either way, Citizendium still aims to be an encyclopedia, which is not, I think, the kind of "space" Tim is hoping for. I think it would be possible to make such a wiki by starting with a narrow focus--say, Japanese public culture--inviting experts who might be interested to contribute, and expanding from there. You could also define a protocol that could be used for any field of study and encourage others to use that protocol to make their own narrowly-focused wikis, with the goal of eventually merging them into one big wiki that would be a space not for organizing "facts" but rather for collaborative development of ideas based on facts. People keep telling me I should write my own book instead of contributing to Wikipedia, but the sort of thing we're daydreaming about here is something you couldn't do in any other format. As Bill pointed out, the birth of the shōjō article from the discussion page of what had been a simple disambiguation page is not the sort of thing that could happened anywhere else. Not in a unversity, not in an academic conference, not in a scholarly journal, not even in a collaborative research project, because there is no self-selection and no exclusion. A new (and even useful) idea or opinion can come literally from anywhere, any time. (Maybe that's why I tend to watch the discussion pages more carefully than the articles themselves.) Matt Thorn (talk) 10:28, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Which is why I invited you here, Malkinann -- because you have all the skills needed to involve yourself in the kind of endeavor Matt is framing. I agree overwhelmingly with Matt that advanced degrees, indeed any kind of degree, is NOT necessary for this kind of work. I don't like the idea of imitating a tenure-and-promotions, PhD-based university structure for "Wikidemia." Trust me, I have known some tenured PhD-type people who have not one new or original idea in their heads -- boring and worse. That ain't you, Malkinann.
I like the idea of starting small, of declaring the current topic to be XYZ -- Japanese popular culture is as good a starting place as anything -- but not limiting it to only that. Other people can branch out, but in the same open-ended fashion and within the same "Wikidemia." The only proviso has to be their ability to work with others = to collaborate and to have a serious and healthy respect for ideas, facts, knowledge, and synthesis into new systems, not merely their own, but of other people as well.
As Matt and Bill both suggest -- again, I agree 100% -- that is not a common talent. There aren't too many people like Fred Schodt and his ability to range from robots to Japanese artists in turn-of-the-century North America. But there are, I think, certain environments that nurture such people and their abilities, Wikipedia not being one of them, at least not to any great or obvious extent.
You've already demonstrated that, Malkinann -- I hadn't thought of the spam problem. See?
I'm going to look at the manga article, or whatever it is, on Citizendium.
Timothy Perper (talk) 13:32, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Citizen's CompendiumEdit

Um, good grief. Well, we could always register on Citizendium and rewrite the whole article. But, TBH, the mild-sounding little comment about "gentle peer review" got my hackles up -- all kinds of warning lights lit up. So, heh-heh, I think I'm going to do a test. I'm going to register at Citizendium and offer some suggestions about the manga article, then see what happens. I'll let you know. Thanks for the lead, Malkinann. Timothy Perper (talk) 13:50, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, I signed up and they will do me the favor of letting me know. They also have "constables" and a "family-friendly policy", whatever they take that to mean. Given how much I've published on sexuality, it doesn't sound good, but then I have a US-based reaction to the phrase (over here, it usually means an anti-sexual, censorship-positive approach to topics and content). They're trying to sound Firm and Professional, thus scaring away the crazies. I'm going to read some more of their articles. I think they may be British. Timothy Perper (talk) 14:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
They seem terribly impressed with themselves and with the Importance of What We Are Doing for the World of Knowledge (aka, "stuffy"). They're also very academic, with various editors and authors listing their degrees and publications in High Academic Style -- aka, "I have more publications than you. " Not the kind of thing that warms the cockles of my heart. But we'll see. Timothy Perper (talk) 15:25, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

I applied, too...and for editor, yet. (Gave me an excuse to update my CV.) My cockles also remain room-temperature, but, like you, I'm curious. Matt Thorn (talk) 15:38, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Things seem to be buzzing along. I'd like to offer two comments, one about encyclopedias and one about the academic blogosphere.

I happen to own two specialized encyclopedias, an old 8-volume encyclopedia of philosophy (published by MacMillan and the Free Press) and the enlarged edition of the one-volume Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (first published in 1964). All of the articles in these encyclopedias are signed, and all of the articles have a small bibliography at the end. But none of the articles have in-line references to bibliography.

Beyond this, I've written an article (on commonsense ontology) for a specialized encyclopedia (of metaphysics I believe). The article is referenced and, I believe, does have inline citations (I don't have it at hand and I wrote it some years ago). It also has, here and there, a bit of "original research," as it would be called in Wikivania. Not much, I was very conservative. Not only that, but I'm pretty sure that I was commissioned to do the article precisely because of those little bits of OR that I provided. Of course, I did not have carte blanche on what I wrote. I had a word count, and, more importantly, my article had to pass muster with the editor who commissioned me. Thus I had to revise the first draft that I submitted, which I was perfectly willing to do.

I suspect that a good many of the articles in those two other encyclopedias - philosophy and poetics - are like that as well. That is to say, there is a bit of OR in each of them, and they were commissioned precisely to get those bits of OR. And all of the articles were written by experts. That doesn't mean that any of the articles are the best coverage one could imagine for the given topic, but only that the coverage meets a moderately high minimum standard.

In contrast, it seems to me that Wikipedia's hardline on OR exist precisely because one cannot assume expertise from Wikipedia editors. Hence everything in an article must be verifiable in the most-explicit possible way. Editorial discretion is extremely limited.

As for the academic blogosphere, there's been quite a bit of discussion about whether or not it is appropriate for academics to maintain and contribute to blogs. A good many pre-tenure academics blog under pseudonyms because they fear that their blogging will be held against them when they come up for tenure. Much of the discussion has been about whether or not one can do real intellectual work in blog format and, if so, how to get that counted for promotion and tenure purposes. The real issues are complex and subtle, and vary from discipline to discipline (one can certainly do literary criticism in blog format, but experimental physics?), but the real issues are overlain by institutional inertia.

Cyberspace creates opportunities for communicating, publishing, conducting research, and collaborating that don't exist in the "hardcopy world." Hardcopy models don't work. And the only way to discover new models is to jump in, feet first. Alas, most of the resources are in the hands of folks who can't even see the sea, much less swim in it.

Meanwhile, this discussion is getting long. Do we want to move it to its own page somewhere, a sandbox perhaps? Bill Benzon (talk) 16:02, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes, let's sandbox the entire contents of Need Your Assistance. Call it something like Wikipedia and Research. Then delete all this from here, adding only a cross-reference to the Sandbox.
In the meantime, I haven't heard from Citizendium, but did notice on their website that they may want proof of my identity. Caution. The police in this neck of the woods warn people not to send scanned copies of ID cards, passports, or other sensitive personal material that can be used for identity theft, ESPECIALLY not through an insecure email link to an unknown receiver. If they ask me, I will refuse and tell them to look me up in the Philadelphia phone book and call me if necessary. But I won't send them any ID cards or such. Maybe it won't come up; maybe it will.
Yes, I think Bill is right about academe being highly suspicious and intolerant of web-style "publication," at least in the US. Japan may be different and Matt's university in particular may be different -- that of course I don't know. I'm an "independent researcher" and have no deans, department chairmen, or colleagues to tell me it's all useless for serious professional purposes. But I do have limited time (I'm working on another paper for print publication right now about manga iconographt) and even Wikipedia can take up a lot of time, especially when I'm arguing with kobolds and puppy-dogs-who-bite. By contrast, a conversation like the one we're engaged in is worth its weight in gold. (That includes you, Malkinann!)
How come they're suspicious? Lack of peer review and lack of quality control; concern over bad publicity for a faculty member's department and university; a general "lack of seriousness" perceived to be rampant in a popular culture/popular entertainment medium like the Web. Another, subtler reason may be professional priority. Anyone with access to a blog can post stolen or borrowed ideas taken from a colleague, beating out the colleague to publication -- the solution is that web-publication doesn't count except under very unusual circumstances. But I think the basic reason is lack of refereeing and quality control that editors and referees exert, especially when anonymous, in professional print journals and books.
As an example, take the manga article on Citizendium. I don't care who on Citizendium may have commented on that article; it's barely competent if competent at all. By their company shall ye know them, or something like that. For academics in the US, things like that are important markers of one's professionality, no matter how much Citizendium may prattle on about being professional. A while back, I suggested to Frenchy Lunning, the editor of Mechademia, that she and the University of Minnesota, which publishes Mechademia, set up an interactive website for reviews and comments about anime, manga, and the fan arts -- but nothing came of it. Too bad, too, because I'd switch over to them like a shot if such a thing existed.
But I'm not giving up on the idea of a publically-accessible venue for our ideas and collaborations. I just don't know how to do it right. And doing it right is important, if only for the reasons Bill has outlined -- and don't forget Malkinann's comment about preventing the spamsters from ruining everything.
The present conversation is just too good to be wasted.
Timothy Perper (talk) 18:54, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
From TP. Here's another, very telling example of how we need to go out of the frame to understand manga and anime. It's from Yoshiaki Kawajiri's 1984 space-opera masterpiece Lensman. It's based loosely on E.E. Smith's Lensman SF novels plus a healthy dose of Star Wars. Those statements I assume could be documented very easily, so I'll skip doing so. Here is a much harder example from the film. The character Buskirk, a large stalwart fellow and Good Guy, is Kimball Kinnison's friend and helper as they battle the evil Boskonians and try to rescue Clarissa McDougall from the grasp of evil monsters. The only teensiest oddity about Buskirk is never mentioned and never explained anywhere I know: he has two little horns, very much like Lum. What are they? What do they tell us about who Buskirk is?
That will need an external reference of the kind I've been yammering about all along and the kind that I deny is "original research" in any real way.
As I said, this kind of thing is very common in manga and anime (and in all film as well, but I want to stay with manga and anime).
Timothy Perper (talk) 19:08, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

I've applied for author status at the Citizen's Compendium (aka Citizendium). They'll let me know.

I've also nosed around a bit. Yes, the manga article is weak. But we'll have to say "pretty please" to edit via total replacement. The guy who wrote that article, one John Stephenson, is currently teaching English at a Japanese university. It appears to me that he didn't check his managa article against what he could see on the street in Japan. He also wrote the article on Japanese pop culture.

One possibility would be to copy the Wikipedia manga article over to CZ (as it's acronymized) and then upgrade it. That sort of thing seems to be permissible. The question: Is starting with that article better than starting from a blank page?

You might want to check out some of CZ's discussion forums, in particular, those on original research and citation. There does seem to be sentiment for useful flexibility. Take a look at the thread on a "So Citizendium doesn't allow any research?" Note that these discussions are several months old. I don't know what, if anything, that signifies. Bill Benzon (talk) 19:45, 24 September 2008 (UTC) Bill Benzon (talk) 23:11, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

I wouldn't go near the manga article. It's a disaster area -- and I know because Peregrine Fisher and I wrote all the good stuff in the article. The far better article, though far from perfect, is History of manga, also compiled by Peregrine and me. It needs a lot of work, but it's thoroughly referenced and has space for expansion (we designed it that way).
But I'm not convinced that Citizendium is a better choice that Wikipedia. For one thing, it has an unknown public and an unknown set of editors. We certainly do not start by saying, "Hi, we're here to replace this miserable rotten article written by some damn incompetent." NO, NO, NO.
Instead, we say we're doing another article, called "History of Manga." Then we put in an edited version of the Wikipedia article. I will, if we go this route, set up the edited version, because I do not want to post the Wikipedia article itself to CZ or anywhere else. But, at the moment, I don't know anyone involved in CZ, nor anything of their crotchets and foibles about "who owns this article" -- aka "Offa my turf!" -- nor anything of how much they genuinely welcome a bunch of self-proclaimed "experts" who seem to intend to take over the whole area. So I urge some caution before just jumping in.
They just sent me an email saying I'm an "author" now. So I intend to make some inquiries about this on CZ.
Timothy Perper (talk) 23:56, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not interested in contributing to CZ for a couple of reasons - first and foremost being that I don't want to contribute under my real name (I've had a Bad Experience that makes me wary of using my real name on the internet, please don't ask) secondly being that I like the eyeballs which Wikipedia gives my writing. -Malkinann (talk) 01:42, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I hear you, Malkinann. I know plenty of people who've had Bad Experiences using their real names on the Internet, and most of them were young women at the time. I've been harassed by creeps several times over the years myself, but the only time I ever felt the possibility of a genuine threat was when the Japanese Far Right got pissed off at a print piece I wrote for Shukan ST, a column titled "'Petit Nationalism' and Manga." Scary nationalists were calling not just the publisher (Asahi) but also my university with veiled threats. That was the first (and thankfully only--knock on wood) time I really felt like something I had written could lead to violent consequences for me or my family. I also hear what you're saying about "eyeballs." I never even heard of Citizendium (god, what an awful name) until you brought it to our attention. For now, I think I'll just try to rewrite the manga article, write a short article on shoujo manga, and maybe do a few very short bios. If after that I feel like it's worthwhile, I'll stick with it. Otherwise, I'll just fade away. One major misgiving I have is that I could put a lot of time and effort into writing an article for Citizendium, only to have it appropriated by anyone and everyone (including Wikipedians) without attribution. (With Wikipedia, we all know what we're getting into from the start, so that hasn't been a concern for me here.) But Citizendium has a system of signed articles, apparently. I think that's the only route I would want to go. BTW, my user name on Citizendium is "Matthew Allen Thorn". You can see my talk page, but unfortunately you can't edit it without registering, which requires your real name, blah, blah, blah. Matt Thorn (talk) 04:13, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I invited Malkinann also, but before I saw the comments here. Malkinann, I can understand very well your point of view. I'm going to do the same thing as Matt on CZ because I too have reservations about it. My user name over there is Timothy Perper. I'm not going to stop Wiki, but I want to check out the CZ website. Timothy Perper (talk) 09:57, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

An interesting place, Citizendium. I keep finding all kinds of retired professors of this and that from various universities around the world. So far, so good. They have a special dispensation for people who really need to edit under a pseudonym. I'm going to ask more about that. Timothy Perper (talk) 18:01, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

I've been looking around a bit. Yes, lots of retired profs and the like. Ian Pitchford is one of their editors (he started an evolutionary psych listserve that I'm on and that Tim used to be on). Now that Matt is an editor I'm guessing that he's the "czar" of manga over there - though I realize that isn't how editors function there.

The only really sour note I've seen was an angry resignation in one of the literature forum threads. A scholar resigned after Sanger refused to recognize ethic studies and gender studies as top-level categories. Of course I'm not privy to any behind the scenes, just the angry resignation notice. Don't really know what that's about. Most neutrally, of course, it reflects the fact that a tree structure is not a good way to organize knowledge - too many things are related to too many other things in too many different ways. So, yeah, they've got their category structure and it's pretty much out of the 19th century, but I don't know enough about the "facts of the ground" to know what kind of practical problems that creates, if any.

Judging from discussions I've read here and there, there shouldn't be the sort of problem over "original research" that exists here. I don't even think they've got an official policy statement.

If the place proves hospitable, Tim, them perhaps the thing to do is to try it for a month or three and then propose some kind of cooperative arrangement between CZ and Mechademia. I suspect the CZ folks would be interested; don't know about the Mechademians. Bill Benzon (talk) 19:22, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

I thought of the Mechademia connection. It is possible, but it might prove complex to negotiate. But I shall assuredly keep it in the back of my mind. As you say, let's see. Timothy Perper (talk) 20:29, 25 September 2008 (UTC)


Here's a summary and definition for one of the issues above. "Extratextuality" refers to the fact that many manga and anime (indeed all art and literature) make references to phenomena external to the frame of the story itself and that are not fully explained within the frame of the story. To find out what those phenomena are -- their names, identities, and characteristics -- we must exit the frame and find other material. I've already mentioned the first several, and the first is what started this whole thing. But there's a lot of new stuff, so read through them all. I give the answers only for the first ones.

(1) In Miyazaki's "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea," Ponyo's family are red-haired, sea-dwelling supernatural beings with immense magical powers. What are they called? Answer: shōjō (reference already cited).

(2) In "Burst Angel," the Good Guys battle a monster on top of a huge steel tower in Tokyo. What is the tower? Answer: Tokyo Tower.

(3) In "Gunslinger Girl," a painting is shown in a museum in Florence of a nude woman standing on a sea shell emerging from the sea. Who is she and what is the painting? Answer: Venus/Aphrodite and the painting is Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus."

(4) In "School Rumble," the word "cubism" appears over an angular and distorted portrait of a woman. What does "cubism" refer to? Answer: a style of painting made famous by Cezanne and Picasso that depicted the human form in abstract, linearized form.

(5) In Oshii's "Innosenzu," the cyborg coroner is named "Harraway." Who is she? Later, Tegusa picks up a book by Hans Bellmer. Who is he? Answer: Donna Haraway wrote a famous essay called "A Cyborg Manifesto" about cyborgs, and Bellmer was famous for his paintings and drawings of cyborgs and robots.

The reply is not "Tim, everyone knows all this, but not about the shōjō!" Wanna bet? Try the next ones, if you think that "everyone" knows the answer.

(6) In Yoshiaki Kawajiri's film "Lensman," Kimball's friend Buskirk is shown as having two small horns on his forehead. What is he?

(7) In Kazuhiro Furubashi's anime "Le Chevalier d'Eon," Eon de Beaumont's sister Lia dies and her soul moves into Eon's body. When she emerges to take over his actions, he is shown wearing women's clothing. Is this appropriate to Beaumont d'Eon or is it merely a way to indicate that Lia has taken control? (In other words, who was Le Chavalier d'Eon?)

(8) In the same anime, a woman named Ekaterina is shown as seizing the throne of the Russian empire after the husband, the heir apparent to the throne, dies. Is this a fictional invention?

(9) In the same anime, who are Cagliostro and Saint Germain? Inventions and poetic license, yes?

(10 In Shukou Murase's anime "Ergo Proxy," Vincent Law is from Moscow and possesses a flying ship (= a sea-going type ship that can fly). This is made up, isn't it?

(11) In Masaki Watanabe's anime "Bartender," the narrator tells a story about how Suntory, a Japanese liquor manufacturer, distilled Scotch whisky for the first time in Japan. Poetic license and invention?

(12) in Yuichiro Yano's anime "Moyashimon," the hero is able to see microbes that are normally too small to see without a microscope. He can see bacteria everywhere and yeast in the sake vats. Are these bacteria real and does this mean that yeast we use for making bread are used for making sake?

(13) In the same anime, one of the characters says it was the job of the shrine maiden to chew the rice used for making sake. What is a shrine maiden and is this true?

(14) In the extremely popular anime "Sergeant Frog," the Sergeant is obsessed with building Gundam models and we see a good many of them. Are any of them real Gundam models or are they all made up?

(15) In the crackpot comedy "Pani Poni Dash," in one scene we see a burning piece of paper with the words, in romaji, "cthulhu R'lyeh...fthagn." Utter nonsense, right?

"Pani Poni Dash" is so jammed with this kind of thing that ADV, which sells the DVDs in the US, put in pop-up menus to explain them.

I have lots and lots more of these. In every case, it is a matter of fact, not interpretation or judgement, what the answers are. Timothy Perper (talk) 10:32, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Actually, Tim, I think Hans Bellmer is more intimately related to Innosenzu than your remark suggests. I didn't recognize the name when I first saw it, so I looked it up. Where? Where else? Wikipedia, that's where. And the first thing I saw in the article was one of his doll sketches (check the Hans Bellmer article). "Gee, that body looks a lot like the female cyborgs at the center of the action in Innosenzu," so I thought.
Indeed it does. And the article mentions that. If it weren't for the fact that Bellmer's name is explicitly in the movie, we'd have pretty much the situation you've got with Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea and shōjō. There's something in a movie that looks an aweful lot like something described and depicted in another source. The fact that a connecting name is explicitly there in Innosenzu simply reinforces the connection.
The Wikipedia article directed me to an essay by one Sue Taylor, an art historian at U of Chicago: Hans Bellmer in The Art Institute of Chicago: The Wandering Libido and the Hysterical Body. I've not read the whole thing, but it's got some interesting illustrations and what I have read is most interesting. Not only did he make sketches of dolls, but he constructed dolls, some of them life-size, and photographed them in various (often erotic) poses. Consider this passage from Taylor's essay:
Bellmer's doll, the first sculptural construction of an erstwhile graphic designer, developed out of a series of three now legendary events in his personal life: the reappearance in his family of a beautiful teenage cousin, Ursula Naguschewski, who moved to Berlin from Kassel in 1932; his attendance at a performance of Jacques Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann, in which the protagonist falls tragically in love with the lifelike automaton Olympia; and a shipment from his mother of a box of old toys which had belonged to him as a boy. Overwhelmed with nostalgia and impossible longing, Bellmer acquired from these incidents a need, in his words, "to construct an artificial girl with anatomical possibilities...capable of re-creating the heights of passion even to inventing new desires."
Bellmer celebrated his invention of the doll in a delirious essay, "Memories of the Doll Theme" (1934): "It was worth all my obsessive efforts," he wrote, "when, amid the smell of glue and wet plaster, the essence of all that is impressive would take shape and become a real object to be possessed." In their explicit sexual implications, the images of "young maidens" he put forth in this essay depart dramatically from the ideal of the innocent femme-enfant.
If you know Innosenzu, then you realize that that is right smack at the heart of the film.
So what? At the very least we know that Oshii was in some way influenced by Bellmer. Beyond that, this film is jam packed with references of all sorts, including Haraway. That's part of its technique. Does one need to "get" all of these references in order to "understand" this film? If so, then I certainly don't understand it, because there must be scads of references I don't "get." I'm not even sure I "understand" the film any better now that I know who Hans Bellmer is and what he did. I understand something a bit better, something about the film, about the circulation of cultural tropes in the early 21st century. But the film itself?
Consider a related example, The Matrix. We know that film was inspired, in part, by Ghost in the Shell. It has motifs from GitS. For example, the cascading green characters in the title sequence and here and there in the film, that's from GitS. Do you need to know that in order to understand what's going on in The Matrix? I don't think so. Whatever's going on in The Matrix, I don't think it's playing off of GitS in any interesting way. If you're interested in understanding something we might call "the international film system," then, yes, you need to know about the connection between GitS and The Matrix, and lots of other connections as well. But if you just want to curl up and enjoy a flick, then knowing that connection isn't going get you more juice out of the popcorn. Bill Benzon (talk) 12:05, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
That's my point.Each of the examples leads to as complex and rich a set of connections as the ones you have found for Bellmer. (I might mention that I refereed a paper on the subject of Bellmer and Oshii submitted to Mechademia.) To dismiss all of it as "original research" and delete as such is not acceptable scholarly practice, whether for shoujou or for Bellmer. Timothy Perper (talk) 01:18, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm probably going to switch most of this kind of work over to CZ. The working ambience here on Wiki is getting to be more than I can abide. I personally don't care much about the relative size of internet readerships; I'm more interested in being able to cite the articles in other work, like my print publications -- and many, if not all, scholarly editors will throw out a reference to Wikipedia on sight. They -- meaning the Wiki kobolds and whatnot -- have made Wikipedia unacceptable to the kinds of scholarly reader I try to reach in my work. Oh well... Timothy Perper (talk) 17:12, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Some Fine TuningEdit

Somewhere not too far above, Tim, you assert, of these sorts of things: "In every case, it is a matter of fact, not interpretation or judgement, what the answers are." However, determining matters of fact may be easy or it may be difficult and there are certainly situations where matters of fact cannot be definitively determined. For example, whether or not OJ Simpson murdered his wife is a matter of fact, but a criminal court has not determined that to be a matter of undisputed fact, though many people certainly have earnestly held beliefs to the contrary. As another example, whether or not there is intelligent life somewhere out there in the universe is a matter of fact (subject, no doubt, to all sorts of quibbling over the definition of "intelligent life"), but determining that fact is a rather difficult matter. I bring this matter up, not because I think any of your examples involve matters of fact that are as perplexing as those two examples (in the different ways), but because, as you well know, we makes lots of statements about literary works that are irreducibly matters of interpretation and judgement. I rather imagine that someone somewhere has argued that Shakespeare's King Lear is a critique of the patriarchal family. That is a matter of interpretation and requires an appropriate argument. The sorts of things you're interested in aren't like that.

So, let's return to Innosenzu and Bellmer. We have that book that Batou finds in the library in the boathouse where the inspector was murdered. The name "Paul Bellmer" is on the cover of that book. The link between that name and the German artist, Paul Bellmer, is an undisputed matter of fact. It is, however, a fairly obscure fact. Most people don't know it and so at least some of them are going to require some kind of evidence for an assertion linking the image in the movie with that historical figure. Unless we're dealing with a philosopher who wants to score as many epistemological points as possible, there is little difficulty supplying such evidence. If we are dealing with such a philosopher, well then, all is lost.

But let's consider a related issue. The nature of the anime medium is such that one can't just invoke a generic book with "Paul Bellmer" on the cover. If this were a purely literary work, yes, we could get away with that. But anime is a visual medium. We see the image of a book. Hence, the lettering has to be in some definite style, it has to have some specific coloring, it has to be in a specific place on the cover, and so forth. Given those requirements, we can ask this question: Does the film depict some specific real book by or about Bellmer, or is the image a fabrication? That question is about a matter of fact, but I don't have the evidence needed to answer it. If I had to guess, I'd guess that its an image of a real book, but I don't really know. I just have an intuitive sense that Oshii would prefer to depict a real book over making one up. If that's what he did, then one ought to be able to find a copy of that book somewhere and thus verify that assertion. For all I know, Tim, the article you reviewed does just that. But I'm not in a position to do anything more than offer judgements and interpretations.

I rather imagine that that article is filled with many uncontested matters of fact about Bellmer and about Innosenzu. And it surely has some uncontested matters of fact about the relationship between the two. But, once we start talking about such relationships we're in territory where some judgements and interpretations may never be anything other than judgements and interpretations. For such relationships surely involve the issues Bellmer was exploring in his art and Oshii in his. Those issues don't strike me as being about matters of fact; they are of a different kind.

What kind?

I wish I knew. The meaning of life, the universe, 42?

Can't say I disagree. The Bellmer whose name is on a book in Innosenzu might be Paul Bellmer the New York lawyer whom I knew when I was a boy or Paul Bellmer the florist whose shop in Cleveland I once visited or Paul Bellmer the Dutch taxonomist who works with deep-sea fish or -- and so on through an infinite list of possible Paul Bellmers. Then it just so happened, for reasons unknown to me at least, that somebody at Production I.G put a picture of a robot sort of thing on the cover of the book in the anime.
Likewise with each and every example I gave. It is always possible to fill the vacuum left by the manga- and anime-makers' incomplete image with anything we like (incomplete, e.g., in omitting the ISBN of the book in question). That is of the essence. Umberto Eco wrote a whole book about the phenomenon -- he called such things opera operta -- "open work" -- in which the viewer is able to fill in the blanks, so to speak, left by the work itself. Kenji Iwamoto called it "unexpressed expression" in a discussion of Japanese film. And so on through a number of writers who have dealt with this kind of issue.
Are some of these interpretations better ( = more accurate or more plausible) than others? Going back to one of my examples, More coming in a moment. Timothy Perper (talk) 22:55, 27 September 2008 (UTC) Masaki Watanabe's anime "Bartender." Another episode centers on the cuba libre (the drink) and a story is told and depicted about Hemingway and "The Old Man in the Sea." Which Hemingway and what old man? You mean Gus Hemingway and his endless fishing trips down to the Jersey coast every year? Or Mike Hemingway and his father Walter Hemingway the fisherman? Or is it a reference to Ernest Hemingway, the American writer, and a short story he wrote? Don't take my comment as a rhetorical way to say it means one and not the other. Instead, I am asking what information we, the viewers, need for making an identification of something a work of art portrays or depicts.
But, in any event, I'm not going to continue here on Wikipedia. I'm going over to CZ and work on the extratextuality draft over there. Join me if you like and we can continue the discussion. But Wikipedia is no longer the place for me to discuss issues like this. See you there, I hope. Timothy Perper (talk) 23:13, 27 September 2008 (UTC)