[LWC 54] Misanthropic Sororiphilia, Non-Fictional Lacrimalation

↩ [LWC 53]

Arguably, Holden has a siscon – no, he isn’t a siscon, he has a siscon, a sister complex, シスコn, if you will (please, do will). There were times when I would think “Holden, you’re saying too much here” (italics!). Did I want to be exposed to a teenage boy’s mental machinations on his kid sister’s legs? Her red hair? Her overall appearance? It’s fiction, so I don’t really care in that aspect, but if Salinger tried to write a novel on the “average teenager”, I would be frightened to discover that incestual tendencies are (were?) rampant among America’s young adults (I’m an only child, I swear). Well, to be honest, I’ve had this topic in my head for a while (Mike can attest), although it may seem like I’m pirating one of Daniel’s question: “is Phoebe moe(もえ)?” [or モエ if it's in Katakana since I'm assuming incorrectly that it doesn't have a Kanji.]

This brings up an larger connection. It’s significant (well, sorta) to set semantics down on the term. Daniel posits that the site of moe is in the subject, not the object (i.e. I think of her as moe). The notion that moe is largely kinetic, that is to say it is “a subjective event in the viewer’s mind, stimulated by the presence in a ‘moe’ character of certain qualities,” is crucial because what I really want to get into isn’t exactly “what” moe is (though this discussion would be its cousin in semantics) rather than “how is the attribute and feeling of moe conveyed, interpreted and narrated?” And what better way to dissect this question than to compare it between mediums.

Trying to apply a recent Japanese phenomenon to an aged (sorta?) American novel is a fickle thing. It’s a cultural thing, perhaps an reverse-anachronistic thing (animanachronistic?). But, just as moe is open to interpretation and subject to historical change, there may have been a 1951 American equivalent to our 2008 transnational sense of moe. The historical and cultural barrier of personal characteristics (such as moe) is one thing, but going back to the narrative difference, well, that is the other. This initiates yet another difference – is situationality of moe. Moe being situational, however, is nearly contingent upon its narrator. Thus there are three event locations (sites) of the production of moe: (1) the “attributee”, (2) the narrator, and (3) the viewer. There is a necessity for the narrative proxy because there is no such thing as direct information transfer between the “thing itself” (atributee – the possessor of qualities that insinuate a feeling of moe within the viewer) and the viewer through a medium – hence the very necessity of the medium itself.

We saw what you did there

As you’ve probably guessed (I would certainly hope), the first medium is print, the book. The second is anime. With the easy part done, as you saw which anime I’m going to be connecting it to, the very nature of the ‘prompt’ at hand (“is Phoebe moe?”) itself is indirectly poking at the difference in narration. For the case of True (non-fictional) Tears (lacrimalation?), internal dialogue was mostly (fuzzy memories are the product of not bothering to re-watch for the occasion) via Shinichiro. This differs from Catcher since the misanthropic sororiphile, Holden, was the novel’s true narrator while Isurugi Jun was perhaps True Tears‘ own articulation of the misanthropic sororiphile and most definitely a supporting, non-narrative character.

Before I can attempt to answer whether or not Phoebe is moe, I’d have to tackle whether or not Noe is moe (this continuing rhyme will prove too disastrously cute to pass up). However, and once again, moe being situational, is the moe of Noe dependent upon the people that interact with and see her? Perhaps, so is that to say there are several types or flavors of moe? The quasi-taboo sister complex moe? The rival girlfriend moe? The helpless, eccentric moe? True Tears offers this kind of heterogeneous approach to moe because, whereas with shows like Manabi Straight! whose cast is much more homogeneously moe (by design and personality), the three main interpreters of Noe-moe (Hiromi, Jun, Shinichiro) are all distinctly different for their own personal reasons.

Noe has in all three categories of narration some degree of moe, probably. There are different qualities of moe, so perhaps cat-fighting moe is within the boundaries of what’s conceivable as moe, although I think I’ve an incorrect orientation towards viewing the typical loli as moe by default – loli is always moe (maybe so?) but moe need not limit itself within the territorial circumference of the loli. By the limits of the single narrator of Catcher, Phoebe is inherently limited to one interpretation of moe via Holden. Being in fourth grade, by American standards in K-12 education, she must have been ten to eleven years old. I’d say that easily counts as loli, being in elementary (primary or what have you) school. The dissonant part, however, is how intelligent Phoebe is (or can be), and such childish wit isn’t usually visible in the stereotypical loli. The funny thing is that when children are depicted as the clever things they are (they are smart, you know), they’re not coextensively lumped into the loli section (much to the chagrin of everyone who isn’t in the same camp as the casual Kure-nai hater).

We also saw what you did there

So I’ve run into yet another wall: is Phoebe loli? Or rather, a loli? To return to theoretic definitions, is loli a condition, interpretation, attribute or feeling? The deeper etymology behind lolidom may perform the saving grace: maybe the idea of “little girl” is, however ambiguous in itself, somewhat universally accepted on lines akin to “I know it when I see it.” Thus the loli is “less discursive” (more biologically based) than moe (constructed). Yet this still doesn’t break necessarily the gravitational causality so established between loli and moe. Without digressing any further, I would, on a whim, say that Phoebe is not loli. For my own personal opinion, Phoebe is moe because Holden as an interpretive proxy does “sistercomplexify” Phoebe, especially the part where he tell her that he’s running away and they walk on opposite sides of the road until they get to the merry-go-round and so forth and so on.

The misanthropic segment of the sororiphiliac similarity between Jun and Holden resonate because they both reposition their sisters into the center of their worlds, into the eye of their storms where the outer walls of the hurricane scream either “phony” or simply don’t matter enough to be considered. Jun has the luxury of being a bishie, while Holden, ample in his hypocritical pessimism, has the audacity (albeit unbeknownst to himself) to self-righteously glorify Phoebe as a pretty bright kid etc., while Jun will just go to somewhat extreme measures of procuring himself a date partner in hopes of satisfying Noe (or whatever the world he intended on accomplishing through Hiromi).

And in the end, I still prefer Hiromi over Noe.

Meta commentary:

(1) This is a guest writing by lelangir (as if you hadn’t figured that out already?) on Hoshi’s [et. al] blog – I give appreciation where it’s due.

(2) I feel guilty. Having originally agreed to write about Catcher, I then proceeded to procrastinate perpetually. Perhaps two other people may laugh at the lesser-litterateur that I am (oh wait, I meant three now four, five, six

(3) Contrary to what Ecchi Attack! was saying two years ago, I don’t think borrowed words (no matter how xenophilic their usages are) are a “bad” thing. As has been stated around the aniblogosphere in several places and on several occasions, the best way to change the meaning of a word is just to use it a lot. In this case, the most effective way to change the way words are used is just to do it a lot and troll the opposition via semi-subtle pretension until the masses move. So I’ll have my sugoi kawaii loli and, uh, “eat” it, too.

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17 thoughts on “[LWC 54] Misanthropic Sororiphilia, Non-Fictional Lacrimalation

  1. KEIKAKU DOORI!

    I’m kidding. Thanks for participating! :)

    With regard to your post, Phoebe is a loli with regard to age, but with regard to the common connotation of loli, I would agree, she isn’t. While our vision is limited to the narration and exaggerations of Holden, what can be seen of Phoebe is not loli.

    While I’m not a lolicon, I think and thought that Phoebe is moe (even before I knew what moe meant) because as a sister she deeply and truly loved her brother, even if she did not exhibit it in an animedoting kind of manner (YES, THAT’S A PORTMANTEAU!). I find intelligent girls moe, and I really think Eustacia Vye is moe, too.

    To conclude, I SWEAR! I THOUGHT SHE WAS 18!!!
    :D

  2. Catcher in the Rye turned me lolicon far before Ichigo Mashimaro did.

    I’ve actually thought of writing a Catcher in the Rye ero doujinshi, shit’d be pretty cash.

    I’d comment more directly on your post, but it’s 3:05 AM right now, so that’ll have to wait for later.

  3. Holden ‘is a siscon’, if you ask me: in the Anglotakusphere, ‘lolicon’ has established itself as something one is (not) more than something one has, so I think we should decline ‘siscon’ in a similar way. But do continue to use the word how you like – I’m well aware how hard it is to argue someone out of a usage, as per your last footnote.

    I like your whim’d decision that Phoebe might technically qualify as a lolita figure, but isn’t interpreted as such by Holden.

    I can’t really comment directly on True Tears not having seen it (my inner curmudgeon kicked in when Owen declared it to be the best anime of 2008).

    @ Michael: I’m not sure Eustacia Vye provokes any feeling of moe in me, but there you go.

    @ Anonymous: Given what Rule 34 says, it’s surprising how many things haven’t been Rule 34’d. Popular literature provokes pornographic fanfiction, but the vast and shadowy body of forgotten texts don’t: there’s a smutty Canterbury Tales/Gundam Wing crossover, but no fanfiction of any kind for Pearl.

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  7. @lelangir, I have neither read Catcher in the rye (though I’ve often heard or it) nor seen True Tears. Though that didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying your post ^-^

    “I think I’ve an incorrect orientation towards viewing the typical loli as moe by default – loli is always moe (maybe so?)”

    I feel like I’m very guilty of doing this myself.

    @The Animanachronism, there’s a smutty Canterbury Tales? Hmm if only that had been around when I was sitting for my English Lit A level. I mean not for myself, but the boys might have paid more attention in class :D

  8. Mike: I said I was originally going to write something up but just got too lazy for my own good. Luckily I whipped this up in a night. Going back to loli vs. moe, I said that loli is less discursive because it’s more founded upon appearance of age, whereas moe is pretty subjective. However, the concept of age itself is (can be) discursive therefore making loli, by extension, discursive? Hm. I’d still say that lolidom (the state of being a loli) is a little bit more “concrete” than moe. So is Phoebe a loli?

    OH WAIT I GOT IT.

    Ok, so, a young girl can only be loli insofar as she is moe. You cannot be loli if you aren’t (don’t possess?) moe. You can, however, be moe but not a loli (Lucky Star cast, etc.). Or maybe I had already said that? I don’t remember. In any case, by that rule, Phoebe is moe because of her actions (not contingent upon age), but her wit and cleverness “de-lolify” her. I would perhaps equate her to Murasaki (if you’ve seen Kure-nai, which itself would have made an interesting article).

    But “de-lolifying” presumes the inherent state of lolidom in all young girls. Then, are all young girls inherently loli? – or is that our perverted mindsets “creating” that meaning?

    Anonymous: I had no idea what lolicon was when I was 16, the first time I read the novel. Catcher ero doujinshi…wow. Better than Macbeth ero doujinshi?

    IK: You’re right, Holden is a siscon, and he has a siscon. When I was using siscon as an abridged “sister complex” (or, uh, reverse-Japanese loan word?) I completely forgot about (or wasn’t paying attention) to siscon basically equating to having a sister complex.

    Phoebe can be loli, but since Holden is the only narrator, the reader is subject to a monolithic interpretation of Phoebe. If, perhaps, we saw her through the lens of someone else she would be portrayed as loli. She is moe but not loli.

    I guess, then, I’m relatively glad I didn’t enter the aniblogoshere until late April as True Tears was probably over by then. And by the time I really started “getting around” more Owen was already internet-less and without much blogging.

    Sakura: Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    That line you quoted, I’ve contradicted myself in the previous words in this comment. I guess I had to tinker with my syllogism a bit. I was correct in saying that I had a tendency to view loli as moe because it has to be – moe is the prerequisite for loli, a more specific type of moe, perhaps.

  9. @ lelangir, “Then, are all young girls inherently loli? – or is that our perverted mindsets “creating” that meaning?”

    Hmm, I would think its our own perverted mindsets creating the meaning.
    I remember commenting a while ago on a post about Strawberry Marshmellow about how utterly cute the characters were and someone said that must mean I’m a loli lover.
    I remember reading the comment and thinking ewwwwww, yuck. I just mean they are cute, I don’t really think of them in that way. So I guess in my mind I equate the term loli with something perverted.

  10. I shall abstain from bashing Kure-nai.

    Jun left town for Noe’s sake. Holden stayed in town for Phoebe’s sake.

    I suddenly had the urge to bash Kure-nai and forgot where I was going with this…

  11. I prefer Hiromi too, over Noe. And as promised, I’ve read your post and now I’m dropping you a line and saying that even though I’ve read it more than 3 times, it still bamboozles me. :]

    However, this isn’t your fault. Big words like “misanthropic” and “sororiphilia” and “lacrimalation” trap me, and although it’s used so much, I still don’t have a clear grasp on what “moe” is…

  12. @Hoshi, its okay I still get confused by the term myself, since as lelangir points out, there are actually a lot of factors when deciding whether or not a character is Moe and then even with all the factors involved it can still come down to your own personal view.

    Kinda like Tsundere, some people consider Haruhi a Tsundere, some don’t.

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  14. Sakura: I guess that can be trick because we’re dealing with subjective observation versus objective existence. Considering the latter, the loli is a dependent concept – it needs a concrete anchor (the girl) to apply itself to, since you wouldn’t have the body of a grown man intake the concept of loli. So the young girl is just a young girl, but she inherently has the potential to be considered a loli because that potentiality exists. Considering the former – subjective observation – then I’d probably say that it does depend on the person whether or not the girl in question is considered loli or not.

    BK: You secretly love Kure-nai.

    Hoshi: The title was for pretentious enjoyment only. Holden is misanthropic because he hates everyone. He’s a sororiphilia because he has a philia for a sorori (sister), in latin, I think. Non-fiction = true. “Lacrimalation” is a made up word, probably, but the lacrimal glands are the glands that produce tears, so there you get “true” and “tears” = Misanthropic Sororiphilia, Non-Fictional Lacrimalation.

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