Imagine there was such a thing as Ambient Fiction. There are very probably lots of examples around. Mind working slightly faster than mind’s traps and editing software tonight.
Works you can dip into and out of, like treatises and long non-fiction works, and still draw complete little micro-experiences from, as you do in ambient music. A flow, or combination of flows, of word and picture that constitutes an ideational visual soundtrack, if you like.
The pure imagining of ambient music was that sound was used as you’d use light. You want constancy from light. You want to be able to ignore it, or drift away from it, but also to be able to focus on it, to study and enjoy it.
Throw away the notion of complex plot. Only the simplest of dramatic engines required — just setting characters, themes and relationships in motion. Creating a string of moments and conversations and sequences that CAN add to a whole, but don’t necessarily HAVE to.
Great for a cheap 100-page print book, probably more feasible for the webcomic, which deals in small chunks often by necessity. But it’d be nicer for the print book — something you drift in and out of, draw inspiration from, savour the evocations it causes. Something you forget you’re reading.
There. Needed to get that out of my head. I’m sure it makes no sense at all, but it’s been bugging me for three days. Now I can use that headspace for more important things, like being pissed off that I’m probably going to have to take my cane with me to Canada next month.
The end. Rattle your jewellery. Bed made of vaginas. Drop of the creature. Let’s away.
(Originally written 31 March 2005. And I did have to take my cane to Canada. And the above may relate in part to something I wrote about Urasawa’s PLUTO the other week, which follows — and, yes, I am using the website to assemble some old thinking:)
Paul Gravett’s original subtitle for his currently-controversial book on manga was “comics as air” — denoting an artform that is pervasive in its country. But it applies to the way the form works on the page, too. Manga isn’t a string of postcards, a row of lights or a drum figure. It’s a warm jet of air, a stream, to be experienced in motion.
I’ve kind of resisted the following definition, because invoking the word “emotion” in narrative always sounds so clueless and fake: but one of the reasons manga never broke in the comics-shop audience in America is that manga values emotional and psychological content over plot, and comics-shop boys are just frighteningly anal about plot.
Manga are emotional comics. They want nothing more than for you to breathe together with them. To conspire with lives.