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The Dreams of Satoshi Kon: Chapter VI - The Endless Dream

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Joined: 18 Mar 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:39 pm Reply with quote
I can't stop thinking about Paprika lately. I've only seen it twice so far. The most recent viewing was a few months ago.

The first time I came across the sci-fi laced idea of a machine that could help therapists watch and influence the dreams of their patients was in the late 80s in high school when I ran across a reprinted book from the mid-60s. It was Roger Zelazny's The Dream Masters (1966), a very thin novel which was an expanded re-write of his Nebula award winning short story "He Who Shapes," about a psychiatrist and his dream machine. As I recall it dealt with the dangers of entering into the dream world of seriously delusional patients, and the worry the doctor might emerge deranged. All of that is barely touched on as a springboard for a therapist deciding if he will help a blind woman have visual dreams so that she in turn can become a dream-therapist. (It seems like there was a micro-story-in-the-story about a doctor who had entered the dreams of a gorilla or chimp and come out mentally devastated, unhuman.)

Not too long after I ran across Philip K Dick's Eye in the Sky, which had come out in 1957. Not the best book, but the best exploration I've seen of what it would be like to be trapped in the subconscious perceptive reality of another person. Technically not about dreams, but very reminiscent of the idea brought up in Paprika, that the dreams of one person can not only swallow someone else's dreams, but that original parasitic dream can invade the reality of other people as well. In Eye, 8 or so characters get horrifyingly trapped in the perceived reality of one of their members.

In all of Kon's work he's blurring the borders between one or more subjective worlds with the so-called objective one we hazily are supposed to agree on as being the "real one," the "real world." I'm fascinated and eager to see how this evolves in Kon's upcoming The Dream Machine, which reminds me of the robot mythologies of polish writer Stanislaw Lem -- landscapes filled with robots.

EDIT: This might be a good place to remind people, or inform them if they didn't know already, that ANN's own Zac Bertschy was on Anime3000's memorial for Satoshi Kon at the end of August. If there had been an announcement I missed it, and somehow only lucked into finding it today (following an Oshii link). But he's podcasting along with Andrew Osmond, who wrote the book on Satoshi Kon, and Helen McCarthy who wrote the books on Tezuka and Miyazaki. They all do a brilliant retrospective of Kon's work which is an excellent chapter in his memorial.

Anime3000 Satoshi Kon Memorial podcast

@ GATSU (or anyone who might know) -- do you know if Susumu Hirasawa has said anything publically about Kon's passing? I haven't heard anything, but he worked so closely with Kon I'd be interested to know if Hirasawa did any reminiscences or things of that nature, talked about their work together, etc. Watching the several director's interviews on Kon's film's discs it seems as though Kon went from being an admirer of Hirasawa to a friend as they worked together through the years on various projects.
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Redbeard 101

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:28 am Reply with quote
First off I have to say Mike your 6 piece article set on Kon was wonderfully done. I think you handled this all with the respect and admiration Kon had earned but didn't go overboard and just sound like a raving fanboy. You showed the same hard work with the piece you did in respect for Peter Fernandez. As wonderfully written as they have been I hope you do not take offense when I say I don't want to read another of these from you for a nice long time. Too many as is.

As for Kon himself....not much I can say that has not already been said. Whatever he did he did with 100% effort. Something I think that if more directors and producers did we'd have a slue of higher caliber anime. He took his time and he put all of himself into his works. It felt like he always set out to do what he felt was right, not simply what people may have wanted. He kept true to himself and his visions and I think that dedication to them helped make his works leagues apart from others. I agree whole heartily he saw the world differently then most of us. And instead of compromising that and just making shows to make money and get by he followed and listened to that inner voice and made works he felt would challenge viewers and their predisposed thoughts and opinions. Nice mindless action is good at times but sometimes you just want to be stimulated mentally. You want to have to think, honestly think and apply your mind to what you're watching. The joy of his works I think is partly due to the fact that he left them open in such a way there was no right answer so to speak. He challenged you mentally but their was no set correct answer. The correct answer was up to the viewer. Beyond that his works were always visually stunning and imaginative like few others could do. Don't know really what else to say that hasn't already been said so I'll leave it at that.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:49 am Reply with quote
Garth: Yeah, he mentioned Kon on @hirasawa on Twitter a while ago. It was really tough on him. I think he also attended the funeral. Makes me wonder if he's going to work on Dream Machine's score, but we all know the answer to that now. They were really best buds, too. Kon would mention some of Hirasawa's albums in his blog entries. What really surprised me is when the Gantz guy had a tribute to Kon on Twitter, since he's the last person you'd believe would be into high art anything.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:57 am Reply with quote
I wish this was 7 parts instead of 6 parts...
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:34 am Reply with quote
Another place where I wonder about the intention behind certain details in Paprika:

Both Joseph Campbell and Stanislav Grof (among others) write about the role of mind-altering substances (from alcohol to LSD) and other visions (such as the dreams of Black Elk) as a part of the shamanic initiation rituals into the mystery religions from around the globe.

While Paprika's hallucinogenic landscape is nearly entirely dream-based, nonetheless the bartenders in the film are voiced by Satoshi Kon himself, alongside the author of the novel Paprika is based on, Yasutaka Tsutsui. So are they meant to be the administers, like high priests, of the chemical key which will unlock interior doors for the detective as he journeys deeper and futher into his own mysteries and the mysteries of the world he's living in? Are they threshold guardians, straddling the space between two worlds, who both help and hinder, testing the hero as they urge him forward with cryptic hints of what is to come?

If they are high priests, it stands to reason that Kon is having fun showing how authors and film creators enact similar mind-expanding roles as do shamans.

When at some point every scene in the film comes under question as to whether it is dream or waking reality, it's hard also not to draw comparisons between the bartenders here and the ghostly bartender from Kubrick/King's The Shining, who performs a darker but still similiar role -- opening the door between two worlds for that author trapped in his isolated and haunted hotel. In that book & film we also find Kon's favorite theme of the juxtaposition between the subjective world and the so-called objective.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:53 am Reply with quote
Thanks for re-linking the tribute to the main page. I found that all 6 articles were equally well written. A very enjoyable read.
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I Run this place.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:25 am Reply with quote
reanimator wrote:
I wish this was 7 parts instead of 6 parts...

Hopefully one day we can repost it with part 7.

That certainly would be nice.

Psycho 101 wrote:
First off I have to say Mike your 6 piece article set on Kon was wonderfully done.

Mike's contribution was great, but each part was written by a different person. Not trying to steal credit from Mike, but just making sure that everyone involved gets the credit they are due.
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