Starting tomorrow, HU is going to host a roundtable on the marketing of art manga. We’re going to have a whole host of guest contributors…so click back through the week.

On HU

HU suffered a major outage and was down for 9 days. For a moment we thought we were going to lose about half our comments…but the folks at tcj, and especially blog admin Tom came through and managed to restore almost all the damage. More details here and here.

In less apocalyptic news; since the last link roundup, we completed our Asterios Polyp roundtable with posts by Caro, Robert Stanley Martin, me, and Matthias Wivel. Please note that all comments have not been restored to Caro and Robert’s posts; we’re hoping to fix that soon, but at the moment the threads may be a little disjointed.

Suat published a long two part discussion of The Times of Botchan. Part 1; Part 2.

Richard Cook reviewed Iron Man 2 the movie.

Vom Marlowe reviewed Connie Willis’ novel To Say Nothing of the Dog.

Suat discusses Walter Benjamin and comics criticism.

And finally, I have a cheesy country download available, and also a Scandinavian black metal download.

Utilitarians Everywhere

Both kinukitty and I participated in a roundtable about an academic collection of essays analyzing the Boys’ Love genre.

Kinukitty’s posts are here and here.

As it turns out, I was reminded of an observation by G.K. Chesterton. In a 1911 essay, he said (in his cheerful, racist turn-of-the-20-century British way) that he felt Japan had imitated many Western things — the worst Western things. “I feel as if I had looked in a mirror and seen a monkey,” he wrote. And, reading “Rewriting Gender and Sexuality in English-Language Yaoi Fan?ction,” I had a similar experience. I love yaoi. I love Weiss Kruez fanfiction. And, to be overly dramatic about it, this essay ground my longtime passion and obsession into dust and ashes. I looked in the mirror and saw a demographic slice, vaguely exotic, in a Dances with Manporn sort of way, and ready to be dispassionately observed.

My contributions are here and here.

This book really helped me come to terms with my past, my regrets, my desires. Speaking as a straight white cisgendered male, I occasionally regret my transgressive decision to drop out of grad school to explore the fluid, abject jouissance of the non-(i)voried and nontowered. But then I encounter a text like this, and in its quivering, jellylike prose I remember why, though riven by radical difference, still numerous numinous heterogenous communities speak with a single pleasurable speech-act when they utter: “academics fucking suck.”

Over at Comixology I discuss a classical Chinese Zen triptych featuring bodhisattva, crane, and monkey.

Kuan-yin’s calm here may be in contrast to these unenlightened viewers, who squat like monkeys or strut like cranes, curious but oblivious. Or, perhaps, the joke isn’t that the audience is unworthy of enlightenment; but rather that they are already enlightened. Because they are as undignified as the monkey or the crane, those who contemplate the picture have their own plain, contingent place within it, like cranes or monkeys who happen to be nearby when the bodhisattva comes.

At Splice today, I review new releases by Monica and Toni Braxton.

One of the more noticeable results of this transformation was that r&b semi-fused with rap, and the resulting homunculus took over the world. Less spectacularly, the change wreaked havoc with typical pop career arcs. In the normal course of things, you expect a pop act to release a few good albums, and then get progressively crappier until they finally attain a plateau of unlistenable awfulness and fade into oblivion. But after r&b as a genre exploded aesthetically, singers like Brandy and Mariah Carey found themselves doing their best work in their second decade rather than their first.

Also at Splice Today, I reviewed new albums by Christina Aguilera and black metal band Nachtmystium.

All of which leads me to conclude that, if given the choice, I’d rather hear Christina Aguilera perform black metal than listen to Blake Judd try his hand at pop R&B. Some musicians should stick to their roots; others can only get better the more thoroughly they betray themselves.

At Madeloud I have an interview with Norwegian black metal band 1349.

Many black metal musicians have been inspired by Satanism or alternately by traditional cultures or nationalism. Is that where you’re coming from at all? Or are there other beliefs and convictions you have which influence your music?

ARCHAON: For us this is about the art. But when that is said, it’s an artform coming from a background that had a great focus on such beliefs/convictions, and to a certain extent we are all believers of the individual being it’s own master – that’s where we would meet. Obviously, we are four individuals that would give you four different answers to this subject, but none of us are worshipers as such. And 1349 has never been a religious or a political band, and (most probably?) never will. Even though we’re all quite philosophical…I cannot see any of us going down that path, mate.

Also at Madeloud, I have reviews of two short albums by pop R&B group Allure, a review of 1349’s latest album Demonoir and a review of a new album by the dubstep duo Vex’d.

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