A Nice Derangement of Ladders and Knights


Ladders have captured my imagination since I was eight. In Singapore, the libraries have these tall bookshelves where you have to use a ladder to grab a book. Although I was tall enough to grab a book off the shelf, I could not help but imagine the anxiety of climbing one:

  • Would it be scary to look down?
  • What happens if you fall?
  • Is it okay to take a break on one of those steps?
  • Would the ladder wobble?
  • If you’re stuck, who’s going to save you?

I thought anyone who could climb a ladder was a god. They were fearless of heights and more. I had never climbed a ladder until I was sixteen because of my fear of heights.

It made me think of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. It asked a simple question: How did Abraham overcome his anxiety and sacrifice his son, Isaac, in the name of God?

Kierkegaard says that’s because he is a knight of faith. You may know that term in various terms: genius, Great Man, role models, heroes, Ubermensch, individuals, artists, and more. These knights of faith have the ability to be a paradox — they are abnormal people; they are looking at God’s point of view (sub specie aeternitatis).

Most of us are not knights of faiths; we are the knights of resignation. We “live dejectedly in worldly sorrow and joy.” He pictures us in a ballroom and “we are the ones who sit along the wall and do not join in the dance.” Instead, we gaze at the “knights of infinity [or faith]” who dance. Kierkegaard observes “the [knights of faith] make the movements upward, and fall down again.” Their slip of the foot is as elegant as their dance. “But whenever they fall down,” he continues, “they are not able at once to assume the posture — they vacillate an instant — and this vacillation shows that after all they are strangers in the world.”

For this, we may poke fun at them, call them junk, and ignore them. “Even the most artistic knights,” Kirkegaard laments, “cannot altogether conceal this vacillation.” However, what makes us, the knights of resignation, different from the knights of faith is the way the knights of faith fall: “it looks as if [they] were standing and walking.” Their fall is a grace: “it transform the leap of life into a walk, absolutely to express the sublime in the pedestrian.” We shouldn’t be deriding that slip; we should be admiring it because that’s the only thing “a knight of faith can do — and this is the one and only prodigy.”

If we were in their shoes — to climb up the ladder or to dance — we wouldn’t be able to do it in the first place. We would only tremble in fear. That’s why we admire, in the form of jealousy and envy, these knights of faith. When we see a mistake, we laugh at them to hide our uncomfortableness. We fear these knights of faith and how beautiful their efforts are.

It is the same with art: when we read or watch something groundbreaking, we feel like our soul has been crushed. Sometimes, our hands shake. We perspire more than usual. Our mouths gape. We are trying to comprehend how something of this magnitude is made. It just feels so natural to feel that way. I certainly feel that way when I wrote my awful Subarashiki Hibi post. When I look back, I see that I was in a naive state of euphoria, of fear and trembling. Everyone has that awful blog post about Madoka or Evangelion hidden somewhere in their Livejournals, Blogspots, and WordPresses about how amazing and revolutionary this show is without realizing how much regret they will cause to them later. The worst of us may stay fixated on this work and preach to the choir how this work of art makes us fear and tremble. They call themselves “emotional wrecks” and say that those works “hit us in the feelios”. Of course, we make fun of them on Twitter and IRC — but that’s because we all have that past and if you somehow don’t, you are lying.

That is not how we should view art. To be a fanboy or fangirl of this knight of faith (or artist) is a self-defeating attitude. We are not able to gain new perspectives; we just pigeonhole ourselves and not widen our world. And I think that’s another reason why we make fun of these fanboys and fangirls in the dark: “They should go outside,” we say, “and experience the world.” But this is the knight of resignation calling another knight of resignation out — the pot calling the kettle black. When we are the knights of resignation, people who trembles in fear, we are actually giving up on art and ethics to change us.

So we must replace this “fear and trembling” approach with something else more substantial. On a school trip to Turkey, I brought The Picture of Dorian Gray while glancing up from time to time to see my friends ski. I had frequent nosebleeds then and there were nothing and nobody to comfort me except this book. So I dived into the book and my eyes opened wide when I saw this preface (I have edited out parts that are irrelevant to this discourse):

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

While most people see this as a critique of mimesis (art imitating life ergo life informs how we depict paintings), I view it as a profound, unique way to see art. Art should be seen as art itself. This was an upset — no, a shock to my “fear and trembling” approach. If we fear and tremble, that has nothing to do with the work! It redirects our fear of the knight of faith into pure admiration of it. Everything is all about the artist making beautiful things. Our reactions and feelings reflect our state of thought. When we are aware of these emotions and moods we are going through, we can moderate and ask ourselves, “Are we adding beautiful meanings to the work?” Introspection will let us edit out anything that resembles a “fear and trembling” approach.

This makes sense especially if you read The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray has a painting of himself and he never grows old and ugly. But the painting shows a crippled, old, and disgusting version of him as he grows more corrupt. It is Dorian’s attitude that ruins the beautiful painting.

Oscar Wilde’s approach to art is anti-mimesis: life imitating art, not art imitates life as is commonly thought. Anti-mimesis “results not merely from Life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy.” We do not depict reality in paintings; the paintings inform us of this ‘reality’ through ‘certain beautiful forms’. 

This idea may sound preposterous, but there is evidence. In E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art, he discusses the challenges of appreciating paintings in terms of accuracy. “We are all inclined,” he writes, “to be quick with the verdict that ‘things do not look like that’. We have a curious habit of thinking that nature must always look like the pictures we are accustomed to.”

Horse-racing at Epsom by Theodore Gericault
Gombrich then says, “Generations have watched horses gallop, have attended horse-races and hunts, have enjoyed paintings and sporting prints showing horses charging into battle or running after hounds. Not one of these people seems to have noticed what it ‘really looks like’ when a horse runs. Pictures and sporting prints usually showed them with outstretched legs in full flight through the air … About fifty years later, when the photographic camera had been sufficiently perfected for snapshots of horses in rapid motion to be taken, these snapshots proved that both the painters and their public had been wrong all the while. No galloping horse ever moved in the way which seems so ‘natural’ to us.” The irony of this anecdote is that “when painters began to apply this new discovery and painted horses moving as they actually do, everyone complained that their horses looked wrong.”

Galloping horse in motion by Eadweard Muybridge

However, it is an understatement to say that life imitates art, ergo art informs us. It is our worldview! Our life! We can learn simple trivia, history (Les Miserables), social conditions (Down and Out in Paris and London), philosophy (The Stranger), and so much more from a book.

You can spend hours look up writers and artists about how art changes them in the inside. James Baldwin’s quote, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”, is so beautiful. And there’s also Ursula K. Le Guin’s belief that “We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel … is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”

So my conclusion is: art is an education and it is also a lifestyle.

I was excited about this new prospect of seeing art this way. I felt like I was climbing that ladder like all the knights of faith before me. Then, I stopped climbing.

“All art is quite useless.”

What does Wilde mean by that?

I looked up what that meant and Wilde had apparently written a letter to a fan who had asked that very same question. Wilde compares the uselessness of a work of art to the uselessness of a flower.

He writes, “The flower blooms for its own joy.” When we pick a flower from the ground and appreciate it, we feel elated. Emotions do not fall into the category of utility. The flower’s only aim is to “create a mood.” There is nothing to teach and learn from art and flowers. We cannot learn life lessons, find insightful answers to the questions that chain humanity into a meaningless existence, or walk away with a better understanding of ourselves from a mere flower. If we find “pleasure,” it is because we find “sterility” in the flower. We should remain inactive and gaze at this flower petal in silence. And if someone tries to sell this flower, that is not the “essence” of the flower. It is “accidental.” It is a “misuse.” The flower is what it is. Try to modify it, you will find yourself disrespecting the beauty of this flower.

I felt the fear and trembling overcome me again. Was I wrong? Was I actually trembling in fear but masking that fear in admiration instead?

I could only say, “Yes and yes.” I misunderstood Wilde’s ideas and I thought that he was right. Correct 100%. It didn’t liberate me from that fear and trembling in the way I thought it would; Wilde’s aestheticism preached silence instead of loudness. When he meant that the work of art was a mirror, he really meant it. We cannot do anything with a mirror except see that the mirror reflects us. I felt defeated. This philosophy was too restrictive for me. Even though I agree with Wilde’s conclusions (i.e. it is accidental and it is a misuse), it didn’t make sense for me. How could we see art by itself — by the standards of beauty — without feeling an affect?

That angst has stopped me from writing blog posts on stuff for years. It is pointless to me if I want to write all my “fear and trembling” reactions to everything. And I find myself dipping back into the position of knight of resignation, spitting out meaningless insults on works that disagree with my aesthetics. I mean, what’s the point if you’re writing blog posts on games no one will ever play except a select few? It’s elitism. Masturbatory elitism. I have resigned myself to stay where I am on the ladder and post dumb writings on Mimidoshima every October 16, my birthday.

After every book or so, I sigh at how marvelous or atrocious the writing is and then move on. Art is useless after all. People should keep quiet about their own ramblings on random crap. They should know better.

When I want to write something, I am afraid of “hyping” — or writing another “fear and trembling” post. No one had any idea how many drafts I put into the shelves because I was afraid of being stupid in public again. So I grudgingly accepted that I cannot write a review without spilling emotions and connections, which has little to do with the work as Wilde said. When someone brought up something that wasn’t in the text, I did not just raise my eyebrow — I thought it’s idiotic. I was no better than Dorian Gray. Every positive review, I saw, was a giant masturbatory session. My attitude on the world and art now resembled the knight of resignation and I could only laugh at my own demise. Because that’s what knights of resignation do.

Life goes on. I read to waste time, not to enjoy or learn something. Art is silence. The lesser you say about the work, the deeper your appreciation of the work is. There is one thing I do know in this chaotic world and it’s the fact that I love the activity of reading. Give me a book of any kind and I’ll read it.

One day, I have decided to read Linda Hutcheon’s A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms. I picked this book because I thought it may help me understand Dies Irae better and possibly inspire me back to writing a post. Of course, that post — but this book and various others that follow after including Mimesis, Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome, and Sakura no Uta had reinvented the way I see art.

A Theory of Parody, in particular, had taught me the concept of intertextuality — the relation between texts. Parodies encode a text beforehand to forge that relationship. Dies Irae is melded with Goethe’s Faust Part 1. Our understanding of Dies and Faust is mutualist, the same way the relationship of a pilot fish and a shark is mutualist. They help and inform each other’s readings. Masada, the writer of Dies, loves using this particular quote from Faust:

Verweile doch! du bist so schön!
Linger a while — thou art so fair!

There are various interpretations he uses to fulfill Dies‘s parodic/mutualist relationship to Faust. Everyone knows the protagonist of Dies has the ability to stop time and that’s one use. Another involves his relationship with Marie in her route. But in the holistic contexts of Dies and Faust, it is a warning to people that moments do not last and to linger further stops us in our tracks.

Dies Irae is written to the knights of resignation in mind, to those people who have stopped climbing because they don’t want to move forward. When we linger (or tremble in fear) at that moment that takes our attention, we will never mature. Such an attitude must disappear. We need to learn how to close the book we have finished and move on.

This mutualism made me realize that this mimesis/anti-mimesis argument was a false dichotomy. Aren’t mimesis and anti-mimesis mutualistic? Why couldn’t we say, “Life informs our understanding of art and art informs our understanding of life”?

This eureka moment was not complete. It was not until Yoru wa Mijikashi and Sakura no Uta where I learned the full extent of sub specie aeternitatis, the aspect of the eternal.

In other words, God’s point of view.

I see art from a distance. I am deliberately pulling myself back. To use an example from Yoru wa Mijikashi, I am on the clouds with some deities. Everyone below me looks microscopic. They are exchanging books instead of keeping books for themselves because books are meant to be read. From where I am, they look like fishes swimming.

This is not to be confused with historicism where we see a linear progress of art’s advancements. Nor is it the naive objectivity. No, I mean I am seeing the world and history of art in the knight of faith’s view, a holistic approach aka the aspect of the eternal.

The aspect of the eternal is holistic: it goes beyond subjective and objective — it encompasses all.

There is a reason why we must see the world this way. In the introduction to Spinoza’s complete works, translator Samuel Shirley laments how “even if we grasp the fact that there is a total system and understand its principles to some degree, our experience is so circumscribed and narrow that we are bound to make mistakes about our understanding of the system and our place in it.” He calls this disability similar to”myopia” and this “confines our understanding”.

This is what the knights of resignations suffer from. According to Schopenhauer, the knights of resignation are “the many who study in order to fill their memory [and] do not use the rungs of the ladder for climbing, but take them off and load themselves with them to take away, rejoicing at the increasing weight of the burden.” This is “fear and trembling” at its finest, but we rarely notice it. This can be seen if we look at ourselves climbing that ladder in the aspect of the eternal. We are still on that same step smiling like dorks without realizing the precarious situation we are in: we haven’t moved.

But we can develop a critical lens of the eternal — to see the world as a whole in the eyes of a God — because, as Shirley writes, “we aspire to experience every detail, every event, and every item as part of the whole, to see it from the perspective of the whole rather than from our own narrow point of view.”

We can see this in practice. In Writing from Start to Finish by John Schultz, he talks about how to depict scenes. If the writers find themselves backed in a corner, examining a lamp on a table in a room for no reason, that’s not good writing. The reader is stuck on this lamp when things are happening elsewhere. In order to create spatial relations, the writer must pull back from the scene and, in my words, see the scene from the aspect of the eternal. The lamp may be part of the scene, but then the writer can see that there are other events worth writing about. It is a simple instruction, but we are accustomed to being fixated to the space we are in. This is one of the many practical examples why the aspect of the eternal is crucial as an ideal attitude to live for.

To look at the world as a whole with an attitude like this is liberating. I can see what Wittgenstein means when he writes in his Notebooks, “The work of art is the object seen sub specie aeternitatis; and the good life is the world seen sub specie aeternitatis. This is the connection between art and ethics.” We have to be aware that, to use a cliche, there’s more than what meets the eye. Wittgenstein allegorizes this by a picture of a monk smiling at the vision of the Virgin Mary. The smile is there, but a slight, subtle change of the line (perhaps from where we see it, the line being smudged, or how moody we are) may make the monk’s smile ironic in our narrow-minded view. As Wittgenstein summarized, “it’s all in the attitude.” If we take the attitude of the aspect of the eternal, we may notice this slight change that can change our interpretations of the painting and then discover that there are multiple meanings which make up the work.

In a way, the critical lens of the eternal can be compared to Derrida’s deconstructionist philosophy. When we deconstruct a text, we unwrap the text and let the contents spill. Deconstruction allows us to see what makes up the work. We see not only the framework of the work of art but all the notions and prejudices that society and education have instilled in us. What Wittgenstein did was that he deconstructed that monk painting when he noticed that the smile could be seen as honest or ironic. It really is all in the attitude. Deconstruction (or seeing in the aspect of the eternal) shows all the possible attitudes. It does not make a mess out of it, but it lets us see how every attitudes, notions, prejudices, everything can make up the work. We are not stuck on one dogmatic meaning, but many other meanings.

Multiple meanings demolish the idea that art is, to use a Wildeian expression, “useless”. It is active. The artwork is not just about the artist, but the attitudes of the reader as well. Wilde is right in saying that our reactions to a piece reflect ourselves and that didacticism is poor art, but artworks and flowers can help us climb the ladder. It teaches us to move on. The French slogan, “l’art pour l’art”, is not true — crying out “Art for art’s sake” is not only bourgeoisie, it doesn’t make sense! How can we say that art, which “is the great stimulus to life” in Nietzsche’s words, can be understood “as purposeless, as aimless, as l’art pour l’art?

This epiphany surprised me. Wilde’s aestheticism was holding me back and not letting me climb up the ladder. Instead, I lingered on that beautiful moment, on Wilde’s ideas — I was actually trembling in fear. It took me ten years to figure out that art was not sterile; it was simply active.

So I climb the ladder again, free from the uncompromising ideas of aestheticism to search for the aspect of the eternal. I must let go of that knowledge in order to look for another one.

But I know that, if I want to succeed, I must acknowledge that reading in the aspect of the eternal is more than just deconstruction and pulling back from the scene. A knight of faith thinks, from this God’s point of view, what the whole world looks like — so he or she tries to be in a reader’s perspective; use different critical lenses (Freudian, Marxist, postcolonialism, race, feminist, LGBT, New Historicism, formalism, new criticism etc.); recognizes signs, signifier, and the signified in a work of art; examines what the work is telling, how it’s told, the way it’s told; realizes what the art piece is doing to the audience; and more.

And sometimes, I must admit that I will not always succeed in the fashion I wanted. Samuel Shirley writes again in his introduction to Spinoza that “our success is limited; we can free ourselves from prejudices and blindness but only to a degree. We can see ourselves and act in terms of the whole, but only within limits.” This is difficult when “our goal is to free ourselves from the distortions and corruptions of our finitude, to become free, active, and rational. These are all the same, and are aspects of becoming like the whole, which is what the tradition dignifies with the title ‘God’ or ‘divine’ or ‘the Highest Good.’”

But I feel it is possible to be in accordance with the world and look ar the world holistically if we collaborate. 

Here is an example: there was an art exhibition of Charles Ray’s sculptures in the Art Institute of Chicago. I was looking at these sculptures and the gallery was packed with museum-goers. There was a car that looked totaled and I read the description. It turned out that Charles Ray had actually sculpted based on a real car that went into an accident. The description asked us to ponder about that. So I did precisely that while glancing at kids pointing at the license plate. Like most viewers, I assumed that this was an ultra-realistic car wreck and that’s to the extent of it. So I took a picture with my iPhone. Several people were doing the same. As I walked around the exhibition, I saw the sculpture of a man lying on a hammock-like structure as if he’s taking a nap; there’s a woman crouching down; another woman was naked and looked stunted. Everyone was taking pictures.

However, a security guard noticed that I wasn’t getting the meaning of this exhibition.

“Notice everyone around you,” he said, “what is everyone doing?” He told me to walk to the far end of the gallery so I can look back and see the crashed car sculpture as if it was part of the Chicago scenery. The gallery’s windows were usually closed, so I did think it was unusual they were letting natural light in.

Then, everything made sense.

The people around me taking pictures of the sculptures, the sculptures’ locations, why I have to be on this corner to see what I am supposed to see…

It looked like a car accident in the middle of Chicago. And we’re all in it.

You had the crashed car, you had the people crying in shock, and most importantly you had the busybodies — the museum-goers — who were taking pictures like it was nobody’s business.

The museum-goers, including myself, were part of the art. This gallery was curated in such a way where people who were looking at the aspect of the eternal were the only ones to realize that we were being toyed with. There were three messages the curator wanted to tell:

  1. We museum-goers are uncaring bastards who take pictures of the grotesque because it amuses us. There was at no point we thought it was gross and disgusting.
  2. We see art in galleries the same way we see car accidents in the street; we concentrate on it for a few seconds, take out our iPhones and snap a picture, nod, and then leave.
  3. It’s all about the attitude we take to view art.

I am not what sure to call it but this meta-something, along with Charles Ray’s eye for perception and scale, made a huge impression on me. The way we look at the world and art changes how we think.

But I must add another point to the curator’s list:

  1. The knights of faith should also help the knights of resignation see the way.

I was not able to tell what this gallery was about if not for the friendly security guard. He urged me to tell everyone in the gallery — anyone who wanted to listen to me — about this revelation. Some ignored me, but the ones who listened were as enlightened as I was. I could hear their minds go poof the same way mine did.

Isn’t art in some way a communication medium? It is one of the many ways for the knight of faith to express a desire for collaboration. Sometimes, you have those ideas bouncing in your head and you want to put it down on paper. But what are the “certain beautiful forms” that we must use to realize that “energy” that Wilde noted? Every idea is unique and various approaches can be used to elicit wildly different moods.

The relationship of the knight of faith and knight of resignation is mutualist.

I must add two more points to the curator’s list:

  1. With this new understanding from collaboration, the knights must reread and rethink their actions and perception of art and ethics.

  1. The knights must repeat #4 and #5 until satisfied.

To reach the aspect of the eternal, discussions and rereadings are required as well. Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita is one of those works that require a second reading because, once you know what the fairies stand for, it changes how and the way you read. You will notice details that you will normally be unable to pick up. Chapters you would think are pointless become the most meaningful experiences for the protagonist and the reader. The title has a different connotation that what is initially assumed. Holistically, Jintai becomes filled with different readings that can enrich the experience.

This isn’t just restricted to Jintai. I believe the reason why people reread is because they learn new details with every rereading they do. Whether they realize it or not, they are in a different position with knowledge about the work — the critical lens of the eternal — and this causes them to read more deeply into the works they love. Add in discussion and they are closer to reaching that goal.

Anyone who reads like a knight of faith would try their best to emancipate themselves from prejudices and restrictions. They will find ways to spark new readings into the works they love and begin to love; they will also not linger on a particular reading or work of art.

And this is why I will agree with my fellow blogger Seele in that Sakura no Uta should not be classified under a typical bildungsroman/coming-of-age story — it’s like Catcher in the Rye in the sense that the protagonist doesn’t mature — but I disagree with Seele’s use of slice-of-life. To classify SakuUta under any ordinary label would require me to redefine a commonly accepted term for my own purposes, which is a bad habit of philosophy that should disappear (even Wittgenstein was problematic for this and he knew that as seen in Philosophical Investigations when he declares his ideas as obsolete!). And even if we managed to put SakuUta under a slice-of-life genre, it does not sharpen our insights into the work. Putting anything in a genre of most kinds dulls our minds into accepting conventions and discourage us to read in the critical lens of the eternal.

What we should do is develop the critical lens further and use it in practice. For a long time, people assumed Dickinson’s poetry had no consistent principles and thus not poetry. Her published poetry was censored unwittingly (her famous dashes became commas) and she was considered one of those madwomen in the attics. Her pieces were considered religious, sentimental, and bland because they read like church hymns. But recently, rereadings have given us the idea of the Dickinson sublime and her versatile approach to humanity. Her poems are small, but they pack a lot of possibilities. Multiple readings can easily be gained. It is no surprise that neuroscientists enjoy quoting “The brain is wider than the sky” because they see it as applicable to their own fields of study. SCA-JI’s interpretation of that poem in Subarashiki Hibi emphasizes the mind-body dualism (and the lack of it because, after all, the sky is part of the brain). Her poems are accepted into the contemporary world because we embraced multiple readings through the critical lens of the eternal.

There is a certain philosophy to this lens I feel that needs to exist as well: to advance our imagination into possibilities and new beginnings. For this to happen, we should learn as much as we can and then drop them when it’s unhelpful or unnecessary. We need to treat the many schools of thoughts like aestheticism and even deconstructionism as something to learn and then leave behind. Returning to Schopenhauer, he says:

For the man who studies to gain insight, books and studies are merely rungs of the ladder on which he climbs to the summit of knowledge. As soon as a rung has raised him up one step, he leaves it behind.

This duty will stop us from trembling in fear. We will be able to move on with our lives.

And artists, the knights of faith, know this — that endings are merely new beginnings. Sakura no Uta ends with a new beginning to show this. Subarashiki Hibi shows that ladder being knocked away in the “Tsui no Sora II” ending. If on a winter’s night a traveler is about the beginnings of books and moving on. Crime and Punishment and various Victorian-era novels end on a note that suggests there’s another story to be told but this isn’t the right time.

“Pump Six”, one of my favorite SF short stories, shows a bleak world. Humanity has dumbed down literally and has turned into beings that can only fuck. But the protagonist borrows an engineering book that he doesn’t understand, opens the book, and reads it. One of my professors summarized this story to a group of English teachers and they complained that “Pump Six” was another example of science fiction stories being depressing. But my professor argued that it is not. To him, this is a new beginning and the protagonist doesn’t tremble in fear at the duty. Yes, the beginning may be rough and he may never succeed, but he is a knight of faith. He is in accordance with the world and sees humanity in the aspect of the eternal. Even if humanity is wiped out, at least he tried — no, he was climbing the ladder, knowing that he will fall at some point and possibly be unable to stop the destruction of humanity. That was not an attempt; that was his duty to climb the ladder.

But it is difficult to be a knight of faith and let go of the rung that is making us a knight of resignation. Our current place in humanity is depressing and we have nothing to hold to. To us, the world just ends. Explanations that should make us feel calm don’t — they make us feel worse. In the light of several shootings that have happened recently, we probably have the right to think badly of ourselves. There’s nothing to latch on: our distrust of the government is considered normal when it shouldn’t be, we can’t follow the commandment of “Love thy neighbor” without going “screw you”, and there are so many things that don’t make sense to us. Adults feel like children again. The loss of certainty has reduced us to shambles. Relativism and subjectivity are accepted rightly so, but we accept them grudgingly. No grand narratives exist. And we remember that we die (memento mori). This myopically absurdist attitude, to me, is the postmodern condition — the condition of being a knight of resignation.

But what this critical lens does is cure that. It turns us into knights of faith. In Proposition 6.54 in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein says:

My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)

Wittgenstein says that if you use his philosophy to examine Tractatus, then everything in the text becomes meaningless. This is the criticism Popper uses in The Logic of Scientific Discovery and I definitely agree it makes no sense. But there’s another meaning to this ladder analogy as we know and this is what Popper has missed. Wittgenstein asks us to not treat his Tractatus as gospel; he wants us to move on with our lives, to a new beginning with this new knowledge.

We should see Subarashiki Hibi, Sakura no Uta, or anything as steps, not as something to be proud of because we read it or tremble in fear because we dread its power. That hinders us to move forward. We must do the same even with death. We must see death not as an gruesome ending but as a new beginning (or as SCA-JI puts it, ウィトゲンシュタインの「永遠の相の下」は、我々は死を経験出来ない。経験出来ないものは永遠に来ない。つまり今を生きる者は永遠の世界で生きている事と同じである、というアクロバティックでありながら単純明快な思想です。). We must, in Wittgenstein’s words, “surmount these propositions; then [we] see the world rightly.”

We shall never stay still.

And with tools like deconstruction, pulling back from the scene, and the farsightedness to see ourselves as pieces in a chessboard, we will no longer dwell on the specific, the particular, the existential, the postmodernist condition but dwell instead on new beginnings, new possibilities, and the rungs we must climb up to reach the top.

But we may have to abandon those tools to reach the aspect of the eternal. It’s an irony and a contradiction, I know, to say we must drop the tools associated with the critical lens of the eternal. But it is also how Wittgenstein ends his Tractatus. If we want to adopt this attitude toward life, then there’s no other way out. When the time comes, we knights of faith have to climb up and knock away the ladder. We have to adapt.

It is a warning Karl Jaspers knows too very well. He knows that “our questions and answers are in part determined by the historical tradition in which we find ourselves. We apprehend truth from our own source within the historical tradition.” This determination contextualizes our thoughts not in the aspect of the eternal but in a subjective history. It is “myopic”. If we stay in this subjective history, we will stay on the same rung of the ladder looking for a readymade answer to that questions of art and ethics.

But true philosophizing can only happen if our thoughts “arise from our own source.” He famously said, “Only as an individual can man become a philosopher.” We knights of faith have to raise our consciousness beyond our limits and communicate to each other so we can realize the fruits of our efforts. Communication is what he means by “our own source”. Collaboration and teamwork will provide new methods to overcome new challenges. This never-ending discussion can set us back on the path for the aspect of the eternal. The more feedback we receive, the more we can fine-tune this method. Soon, we ex-knights of resignation too can hear the sound put into syllables like all the knights of faith or as Jaspers puts in his own words, “The more determinedly I exist, as myself, within the conditions of the time, the more clearly I shall hear the language of the past, the nearer I shall feel the glow of its life.” This is the power of a holistic approach like the critical lens of the eternal — with collaboration.

Knocking the ladder off in unison will transform the knights of resignation into the knights of faith. And the knights of faith look for another ladder to climb. And the cycle repeats forever. That is how we advance humanity into the aspect of the eternal.

That is how I view the categorical imperative, “Live happily!”

P.S. If I may allow myself to be presumptuous and speak on behalf of the writers of this blog without their consent, we see this blog as a ladder too. One of you readers could read a post, go “wow, that was cool”, and never come back to this website. And that’s okay with us. We are a rung of a ladder, a mere epitaph in this fun derangement of epitaphs. You may leave us behind, forget the URL of this blog, and move on with your life. That is the case of not just blogs but mass media in general. Very few people stay. We can switch channels at the flick of a remote button. But we hope we may inspire you to see the world in a different way and help you climb your own personal ladder. Maybe you’ll say, “I guess light novels aren’t that bad after all.” Or even “Huh, I didn’t know visual novels existed.” Simple stuff like that. But that’s a change. Even if it’s small.

Would you call this blog useless if you are trying to get some utility out of it? Yeah, we admit that we are probably going to fail and instead write for English speakers who can read Japanese. That’s the dilemma of visual novel blogs like Mimidoshima and Curry Curry Chronicles: we are writing reviews of games no one will ever play. What’s even the point? Just put that on Twitter. We are already there. No one is going to read them. People who are interested will have followed us already. I can’t speak for Curry, but my own blog (and even in its previous incarnations) doesn’t get many views. There will always be that problem that we will write for a too specific audience and we cannot deny that.

But like “a flower blossoms for its own joy”, we write for ourselves. And here I will agree with Wilde that whatever the person does with the flower (or the blog post) is not part of the essence. But here I must disagree: it is not accidental and it is not a misuse. It is a cure for our postmodern condition. It is a rung of the ladder. It is holistic. It is the critical lens of the eternal.

Following John Fowles’s ideas in The Aristos, I believe that our duty in this blog is to educate non-Japanese learners out of a “false sense of inferiority” (fear and trembling) and that we Japanese learners and bloggers are responsible for that education to happen (Jaspers’s ideas). The “precious elite” is not threatened by the “barbaric hordes”; we need each other to coexist. The relationship between Japanese learners and non-Japanese learners is mutualist. The knights of faith will help the knights of resignation climb the ladder. This is our blog’s mission under the guidance of the critical lens of the eternal. 

We want this blog to spark a new beginning in your lives. Just like what Sakura no Uta did to us.

A Nice Derangement of Ladders and Knights

16 thoughts on “A Nice Derangement of Ladders and Knights

  1. A few things:

    “That angst has stopped me from writing blog posts on stuff for years. It is pointless to me if I want to write all my “fear and trembling” reactions to everything.” etc.

    All my same. I’ve resisted the urge to write about anything on an emotional level for quite a long time because I felt I could never match and articulate my thoughts on the matter to my words. Couple that with my professional training (which is highly inductive in reasoning and physical/phenomenological in approach), there is this certain disconnect in styles that I forcefully try and reconcile. Even my most recent post isn’t free from that ‘structuring’. Although it would probably be best for me to not fight it at all.

    Now on to the meat.

    The aspect of the eternal (that is, viewing under the lens/eyes of God/a divine perspective) allows us to broaden our perspective of a work. But what might be most understandable for anyone (and literally anyone) willing to partake in art is that art is never contextually constant. This is another necessary aspect of what is ‘eternal’, not in the eyes of God, but in the eyes of man reaching out to that next step in the ladder. This perspective of God is an aspiration, but never attainable individually (hence the need to collaborate). Thus we need to bring the mindset back down to the level of human understanding, and for that we need to understand that our artistic crafts, our products, must always change from our points of view. Only in hindsight can we engage art as a ‘Divine eternal’. To engage it in the present we must prepare ourselves under a ‘mortal eternal’, or an eternity of change. In preparing ourselves for this we remove our myopic lens, making us more acceptable to the true form of art.

    I also agree with your disagreement on the slice-of-life aspect on my post. My interpretation was meant to be surface-level. As such, I acknowledge that it is just but one level of reading, not a quite comprehensive take on some of its themes. Then again, that’s how most scientific journals work anyway. I can’t fight against my style anymore w

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is a common reaction for people to feel naked and vulnerable when they write personal narratives of any kind. It is not your profession; I have talked to memoirists, the people who should be good at this, censor themselves because they felt it was too “emotional”. Is that instinct a flawed self-defense mechanic that is ingrained from society and nature or our belief in objectivity? We will never know.

      When I was writing that section, I was inspired by St. Augustine’s Confessions. While I did not follow the structure of Confessions, I felt that it needed to be as personal as this classic. St. Augustine was talking about adultery and violence in sensual ways, ways that even disturbed the modern reader who was used to depictions of sexual violence in mass media. When a dear friend died, St. Augustine did not just write about what he felt but emotionally poured everything onto the floor. It was interesting because Confessions was written for God in mind. Hence, the title. It is a powerfully moving work and anyone who enjoys reading that section of my post should check that out.

      And yes, God is an ideal. Like all ideals, we will never reach that state of being a God. But with collaboration, I hope we can climb the ladder together and at least reach a near state of godliness.

      Also, do not worry with your “superficial interpretation”. It is only an interpretation in the derangement of interpretations. This blog post was actually written at first as a comment to your post. Originally, I wanted to write about how I disagreed with your usage of slice-of-life. But as I reached 700 words and started to write about the postmodern condition — inspired by the reactions from the Paris shootings — I realized that I was writing a subject that I deeply cared about. And I was thinking about the goals of the blog too so I tied that in. The beginning was written last — true to Sakura no Uta’s themes — and it was fun connecting the beginning, middle, and end with various ideas floating in my head. I’m glad that it made sense in the end.


  2. Hadler says:

    Excellent post, thank you for the nice read

    To talk about my experience with Wilde, when I was quite a bit younger I went through most of his works.
    At that time I thought that his message didn’t make sense, how to reconcile both quotes “life imitates art” and “art is quite useless” but after thinking about it it made sense. For Wilde art is completely separated from life, it shouldn’t be influenced by its surrounding. Art exists in a higher separate dimension and is therefore useless to ours but despite that it shines through like a burning star influencing our vision.
    Basil in Dorian Gray is the perfect example of that, he is the artist with incredible talent that put everything into his art, to approach true art he pretty literally had to give his everything completely rejecting actual Life, the fact that he ended up dying wasn’t surprise but a simple matter of fact, true art can only be approached by being the farthest possible away from life
    (Kei was probably based on him but I don’t want to get into it now)

    But personally while I could understand what he was going for I never agreed with it, Art itself being completely separated from life is a nonsense for me.
    Art exists because you can observe it, otherwise it’s just an object in space. A book without a reader is just a bunch of paper and ink.
    Art certainly influences life but the relation goes both way, art is given birth by Life and revived by Life
    In the end my relation to art is closer to Naoya’s, it’s all about having a good time and this is what I think is the ultimate message of Sakura no Uta


    1. Thanks, Hadler!

      I’m glad I was not the only one who had this problem of reconciling the two quotes. Oscar Wilde’s view on art is unique and I am glad that he has written extensively on it. It has led me to find my own philosophy of aesthetics as a result. I agree with you that art is connected to life. An object in space, a book without a reader, a painting without someone to look at — that’s not art, that’s just a draft. I am on board with the Naoya boat too.

      And wow, I didn’t realize that Basil was similar to Kei. Considering their actions and circumstances, they are really similar! frozenpillar/Ice_Rabbit is reading Dorian Gray, so I’m making some connections while discussing it with him. It is a very interesting connection. I hope you expand it more at some point~


  3. Interesting post for a mediocre translator such as myself.

    Someone once told me that light novels are for light reading, that they are not high works of art and therefore I should just go willy nilly in ‘localising’ them.

    The words of a knight of resignation, perhaps?

    Then again, his views posed a question to me. What is it that I’m translating exactly? And with what view do I translate from? I’m sure if you gave the exact same lines for ten other people to do, you would end up with ten different results.

    Perhaps the nature of translation is similar to the ideas being expressed here.


    1. I think it is definitely similar! I’ve developed my own philosophy actually from learning how to write and teach my peers how to write fiction. The idea of pulling back, assessing the situation, and trying to see the world as holistically as possible in worldbuilding (how each political event affects the other) is influential to my beliefs and that is why I included the John Schultz example.

      And for your own field, how many angles for translation are suitable for the work? I wanted to talk about translation, but I’m not too experienced on it — I just like reading translation theory. Your comment reminded me of the textbook, In Other Words, and Umberto Eco’s Experiences in Translation and they talk about the struggle to be faithful and yet be readable. How do we know about the author’s intent and how do we express it? In a sense, seeing the world in the critical lens of the eternal can be seen as problem-solving.

      I am kinda overwhelmed by the positive response I’ve gotten so far from this post. But it made me realize that we are all on the same boat. We have to problem solve and that means climbing the ladder. I’m glad you mentioned translation as a field and I hope this post helps you understand what you are trying to achieve like what this post did to me.


  4. First of all, nice post. Very enjoyable to read, if nothing else.

    Ideas you present here are actually very close to myself, though I would never be able to formulate them this clear. At least, in English.
    And I apologize beforehand for the lack of clarity and elegance in this comment too.

    Nevertheless, I would like to add something here. Something that might actually be the key to understanding what exactly is sub specie aeternitatis supposed to be and help on a way to such a view and approach to art and life as a whole.

    I’m going to use the terms you used in this post, because they actually do illustrate my point like no other terms would.
    The Knight of Resignation and The Knight Of Faith. What I want to ask about these two opposite conditions is, which of them is really an egg and which is a chicken?

    I would argue, that being the Knight of Faith is actually a starting point for everyone that we draw ourselves away from with time.

    Using perception of the art as illustration here, we only start to “tremble in fear” before a great piece of art when we first try to analyse it, when we first try to understand it and can’t grasp how somebody could create something like that. But this approach to perceiving art is something that people develop with quite a lot of time.

    Remember yourself as a child. Or not even that, remember when you first discovered something, when you first encountered some medium for art you haven’t seen before.
    Or just look around you, even on the internet, there are tons of people who encounter, say, eroge for the first time in their lives. When something impresses them, they genuinely like it. They only start to tremble in fear when they “develop a taste”, or rather, start to see patterns and feel when something goes out of them, When they start to analyse things, compare them to one another and stamp ratings over them. When they encounter something new to them something they didn’t think was possible with conventions they are aware of and such. When they develop a critical approach, in other words.

    Ironically, the more people try to think, to analyse things, to categorize them, the further we are from the top of the ladder. It may even be said that we are climbing down.

    “Resignation” is something we acquire then. With time, age and life experience, when we gradually lose that naive faith in simplicity of things and replace it with analytical thinking.
    Because the foundation of analysis is dividing a whole by elements, approaching them by themselves, and reconstructing the piece anew to only get no more the the sum of these elements by the end.

    There’s freedom in being a child that people, crushed by the hardships of life, lose with age and become more near-sighted, become unable to see the whole over separate details. When we start to develop theories and systems to explain things, instead of understanding them by “seeing connections”.

    I read your review of Subete ga F ni Naru, (which was hilariously designed), so I know you are familiar with that work. I haven’t read the book myself and didn’t watch an anime further than the first episode, but there was a line, stating that “All people are born geniuses, they all become mediocre with age”. I think it’s a very true thought. And I think that the key to approaching God is actually trying to return to that state of sincerity and freedom of a child.Because that’s when people are most open-minded and sharp. That’s when we love life the most and are most happy with it. That’s when we most pure and unencumbered with unneeded life complications.


    1. Yay, someone noticed something I didn’t put in explicitly! There are a bunch of ideas that I have decided not to put in and I let the reader explore what that means. You have precisely gotten the children as knights of faith part down.

      I know Moogy saw it as a post against ratings too and he talked about how he feared in tremble with SubaHibi too. That’s another point I decided to not mention. There are many more, some I have intentionally excluded and some I may have unintentionally done so. But the work is complete as it is and adding more will ruin that “perfection” IMO.

      Anyway, I’m in a class called “Writing for Children” and we talk about innocence, creativity, and imagination as linked things. Indeed, isn’t that what faith is? That pure innocence in believing in something? When we develop a “taste”, we become “mediocre with age”. As I read more children’s books, I begin to realize how complex they are and how personal they can be, even more than their adult counterparts. I am beginning to realize that my ideal is not only super romantic but approaching to a state of a return — or a beginning to a new childhood.

      There is a reason why, in “The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde, that his Christ figure is a young boy. He is beautiful and reflects a divine faith unto other people, especially the titular giant. God is often depicted as an old white man with a crazy beard, but I think it’s refreshing to think of God as a child.

      I think that children are the literal personifications of new beginnings too! They are human beings, just smaller than us, and they have a curious brain that is wider than the sky and deeper than the sea. Indeed, we’ve heard people say, “There is always an inner child in us and let us express it.” But I believe that the eternal is in some way childlike.

      Great comment. I almost forgot about the children’s aspect of it. I hope people read this comment and see the post in more than one way too!

      P.S. I loved designing the F blog post more than writing it lol


      1. The hard part is to actually abandon your grown-up-….ness. It’s easy to behave like a child, but it’s so freaking hard to think like one.
        But if you manage, there are practical benefits. If anything, it is so much easier to do and learn things when you just do them without thinking, as a child would. When you’re not afraid to fail or when you don’t think about how to approach your task.

        I saw somebody already recommended you to play Pathalogic on twitter.
        Now I’ll have to double this recommendation. Children and power of their innocence is one of the main themes of the game, after all. As well as the new begging.
        As well as “holistic approach”. Without going into spoiler territory, the plague, that is a central character (it is a character!) in the game is something that required a complete and whole understanding from the protagonists to overcome it in the end.
        This is just putting it as generally as possible.

        In the actual case… The game just dumps all these ideas unto you, that are sometimes too close to that of Sca-Ji’s (At leas in SubaHibi) to be a coincidence. Although this can’t be anything but.
        Right now it seems like the most relevant thing ever, huh.


      2. Yes, I think it’s easy to act childish but not think like a child. And when people say, “Grow up, you bozo,” I think they meant “Learn to be responsible.” But many people take that as throwing away their dreams and aspirations they held when they were children. It is such a badly worded phrase.

        Gosh, I guess I have to play Pathologic now. I’m very much looking forward to the PS4 remake!

        P.S. Hadler, the guy who recommended me Pathologic and also commented on this piece, was replaying Cross+Channel and he saw Taichi misquoted Wittgenstein and said Kierkegaard was the guy who said, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” The connection is eerily similar.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello. I decided to read your post in hopes of getting some meaning out of it instead of just pretty words, to see if I could take more from your thoughts. For this reason I apologize for my initially cursory reading in which I could not accept my capacity to climb the ladder you were telling me to climb.

    You introduced many concepts I had never thought about before, but also raised hoards of questions. I was lost from the beginning as to how trembling in fear at a work is something you want to unconditionally avoid. Surely there is some relation between trembling in fear and looking from God’s point of view as in both we are appreciating art, but in what way do they differ? You explained at length what makes one climb the ladder, and what makes one stay in the ladder, but I feel that I have not comprehended your point fully. Do you become a knight of fate by understanding how mimesis and anti-mimesis come together? By allowing yourself to dispose of that which stops you from climbing, at which you tremble in fear?

    From reading this post I feel more detached from the idea that art should be consumed to be enyojed. As I keep climbing this ladder I fear the idea of no longer enjoying works I currently enjoy. To stop feeling the lucidity of fearing and trembling. As you said, you all have this past and have let gone of it. My emotions say I should keep trembling in fear, but I also think my appreciation of art is intrinsically useless when I tremble in fear. What a dilemma.

    That said I thank you for showing me the entirety of aesthetics and the ladder of appreciating art. I have also taken from this a great explanation for Wittgenstein’s 6.54 and “Live happily!”. I shouldn’t believe you blindly, but your writing tells me this is what he implies all along in his work. That the Tractatus will help you climb the ladder, and then should be thrown away.

    I can’t tell, but maybe I’m sounding excessively naive and it’s grinding your ears. But I hope you understand my curiosity and desire to climb this ladder.


    1. There is an important question embedded in your post: “Is art supposed to be consumed for enjoyment?”

      I wonder at that question because I have gone both sides. And I will focus on that more because it is now the new mimesis vs antimimesis argument: art that imitates reality should tell us something about the world we live in, thus it has a functional value. However, antimimesis tells us that it’s the opposite, that life imitates art, that our perceptions of reality are informed by art (as seen in the horse example). So all art is quite useless.

      If you asked me when I haven’t discovered Wilde, I would use the mimesis approach because the only way I learned outside my home was through books.
      If you asked me in my Wilde stage, I would clearly say the antimimesis guys got it right.
      If you asked me now, they are mutualist.

      I have the same opinion with the new arguments too.

      If you asked me when I haven’t discovered Wilde, I believe all art should be enjoyed.
      If you asked me in my Wilde stage, I believe all art should be appreciated for its Beauty.
      If you asked me now, they are mutualist.

      Art should be enjoyed and appreciated at the same time. However, it cannot be “consumed” in the same way one binges on Pringles Buffalo Sauce flavor. Mindless consumption is not what we are doing here.

      And this brings to what you originally asked: What’s the difference of trembling in fear and seeing art in the critical lens of the eternal?

      To put it simply, the latter lets you fly around in the sky while the former is dogmatic and makes you sink in the ocean. To tremble in fear is, I believe, worse than mindless consumption. You start preaching how wonderful it is to sink in the ocean while enviously gaze at the people in the sky who don’t brag about their favorites. You just keep sinking to the point you are in an abyss, engulfed in darkness, and nobody could hear or save you. But you keep on preaching because how this work makes you sink…

      There is a difference between favorites and works that cause you to tremble in fear.

      One steals your mind, forces you to compare everything to it and see how bad everything is to it, turns you petty, changes your behavior, intensify habits like nitpicking, dulls your mind, redesigns you into a narrow-minded fanboy or fangirl, and more.

      The other type is your favorites; they make you happy.

      The critical lens of the eternal will help you distinguish favorites and works that make you fear in tremble.


  6. *plenty of ending spoilers for Mawaru Penguindrum*

    This post reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in Mawaru Penguindrum; the ending, where Himari climbs up a set of glass stairs, and with each step it shatters and the glass scars her. To return to the ladder analogy, it sounds like climbing up; becoming a knight of faith, is painful. We are enamored by the thought of eternity. To love someone forever, for our “favorite” to not be taken off its top spot (even your SubaHibi post mentions this haha), etc. To climb the ladder means to lose something as well. Himari lost her bros in the end, and even she herself finds it sad. To climb up the ladder hurts. Why do we even do it? I guess it’s because we can’t live that way. In MawaPen, Himari would’ve died if not for her bros. On many occasions she accepted her death, which only caused them all pain. Like you said, that is not the way to live. Reaching for some sort of eternity just means keeping something as baggage. It’s rather ironic then, how when we do not search for this eternity, we actually gain it — the critical lens of the eternal. I also think it’s quite funny, in how letting it go, we actually gain it. Himari may have lost her bros, but wouldn’t they be a part of her? If not for them, she would not have lived. In letting go of a “favorite” which made us tremble and fear, wouldn’t it have changed us? I don’t think we actually forget or throw these things away; I think we simply hold it dearer without forcing ourselves. It becomes an inseparable, yet intangible part of ourselves. (it’s been so long since i watched mawapen tho i have a long overdue rewatch ;w;)

    But well, I’m not really knowledgeable about these kinds of things, nor have I read any of the works you mentioned here. And I feel like I simply restated stuff you said ( ; u ; ). Hope I added something, and kind of wanna know what you think. And lastly, thanks for a great blog post!


  7. […] Answer: Of course not. But if one aims for a complete formal analysis then this is still the best method of attack. On the other hand, sometimes an elliptical approach that talks about everything other than the work in question, forming a circle around the edges of the work, can be as informative as a direct enquiry. Which is also why I do not feel attacking a person who reviews in a digressionary manner is fair, if he is attacked solely because of the digressions. An example of the ‘empty circle’ approach is this Criticism of a Visual Novel here. […]


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