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Online Magazine of the Visual Narrative - ISSN 1780-678X
 

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Issue 9. Performance

Kenji Siratori, Blood Electric.

Author: Michael Schiltz
Published: October 2004

Kenji Siratori,
Blood Electric.
s.l., Creation Books, 2002

 

From the cover page: "A fatal collusion of drag embryos and DNA angels in Cadaver City ignites the circuitry of the ADAM doll... dogs of zero waging gene war in Placenta World, chaos unleashed by the digital vampires of Sato Corporation, nano-junk virus pandemic. On the pink ash planet EVOL, DAM and ANTI=ADAM clash in terminal zodiac burn... enter robo-succubus Super-Cherry 666, hunting for the grotesque nova skulls of Sato Corporation napalm torture victims.

Vividly evoking the coming to consciousness of an artificial intelligence, Blood Electric is a devastating loop of language from the Japanese avant-garde which breaks with all writing traditions. With unparalleled stylistic terrorism fully embracing the image mayhem of the Internet/multimedia/ digital age, Kenji Siratori unleashes his first literary Sarin attack.

As will be clear from the above cover text, Blood Electric is a difficult and contentious book. This makes it especially difficult to review. On the one hand, its disconnected, loose, and fragmentary prose suggests comparisons with James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake or Ulysses, and especially with the delirious style of William Burroughs' Junk and Naked Lunch. Just as William Burroughs, Siratori seems to be experimenting with formulating the most horrible and ugly things he can think of; he may be involved in an exercise to experience and express the extremities of consciousness and meaning. On the other hand, this inflated rhetoric lends the book a cult status, with its typical advantages and disadvantages. On its best, Blood Electric is a compelling psychedelic trip in which the status of the writer and reader are frequently shifted. Different from for example Burroughs' work, we are not offered any breathing pause, but are forced to search or create an orientation of our own. On its worst, it is an example of cheap pornography. Indeed, as has been noted by one of its many reviewers, "[Blood Electric] is a proudly pornografic book, in terms of its cyborgasmic ethos as well as its language. In its pages, sex and death are joined in apocalyptic sexdeath" (Abraham Kawa, http://www.thealienonline.net/ao_060.asp?baa=1&tid=2&scid=20&iid=950). Siratori makes excessive use of hyperbolic language, more specificly language with strong (Freudian or violent) connotations. Typical: "The anus-protocol of the megabyte of the dog that encrypted the impulse of the assassin::the drug embryo stimulates chemical annihilation to the brain surge body that was abandoned::vision is cancelled:://coefficient of the cadaver-mechanism of the pleasure of cold-blooded disease animals//ADAM strand of retro-sperm abortion:synapse of control external abolition=caused the despair machine spasm::the synthetic scene of the reproduction nature of the masses of flesh//>>the eyeball of self injects the soul/gram of the mutant/cobalt rock death in Sarcophagus City/" (p. 90). The latter, rather problematic, aspect is furthermore enhanced by a host of tendentious comments by Siratori's fans or aficionados. In a typical example of flawed contemporary Japonism, Stephen Barber (author of Tokyo Vertigo) and Jack Hunter (author of Eros in Hell) describe Blood Electric as respectively a "blood- and semen-encrusted debris with the finesse of a berserk Issey Miyake" and "the black reverb of soft machine seppuku".

Yet, its cult-status notwithstanding, I experienced Blood Electric as a rewarding read. As said above, its psychedelic style, mixed with its idiosyncratic (and definedly Japanese!) use of the English language, recommends a reading in which the reader is rendered the real author of this book (cf. supra). The theme of the awaking artificial intelligence demands us to be replaced in the mind of what is awakened, including the noise of growing, learning, forgetting and remembering, in short, acquiring a self-referentially evolving self. In Siratori's own words: "In my writing, the language cell is distorted by the infinite hyperlink of the synapse -a new language is the conceptual pain-- all the data act as the hardweb character as if I dissect subjective writing, I'm striking the nude brain to a screen. This is the practice that hardweb creatures were disclosed" (Kenji Siratori, http://www.3ammagazine.com/litarchives/2002_jun/interview_kenji_siratori.html). In order to read it, one furthermore has to do away with everything that qualifies as fiction, science or otherwise. Siratori presents us the art of the 21 st century word, with its typical references to the multimedia embedding of (post?)modern communication.

So what is there to be said about the place of this language in the literary field? In my judgment, Blood Electric must be seen as a product and symbol of the medial interconnections the very digital revolution. Word, sound and image have become one. I therefore doubt that it can be discussed as literature in its pure sense. It is as much a work of visual art, or, if one takes into account Siratori's abrasive, commercial-like style, even sound. I was frequently reminded of e.g. John Cage's tape works in which music, sound, and word cannot anymore be distinguished. At other moments, Blood Electric is strikingly close to pop-art and fluxus, as it shares the latters' concern with mass-production, abundance, and shock-effect. Yet, put against the wider background of Japanese (visual and musical) cultural development (especially the field of Japanese new music), Siratori is not so much of an iconoclast. Actually, when reading to the sheer endless stream of Freudian and aggressive words, I had an experience of sensory overload as I had when listening to the noise music of Japanese artists as Merzbow, Masonna, and others. As Siratori himself states, ' my writing was born with the horizon of techno -- I'm advocating nerve physics here -- I process violence and sex as the reality of data -- I take a view of my conceptual web with nerve experiences. The writing is linked to how I game this expanded hardweb for me -- such a method that touches to my brain more cruelly. (http://www.bookmunch.co.uk/view.php?id=399). Blood Electric is an experiment with noise and complexity, and the necessity of its reduction. The reader should therefore be especially attentive to what he remembers of the text, what he perceives to be the text's meaningful (although I doubt that word is in place here) qualities. More than anything else, this implies a sensitivity for the transformative aspects of the new media. What is the meaning of this book, what is its truth? If one asks Siratori: 'TRUTH--data trash in the brain universe--nerve violence and nerve sex—we scan reality with the HIV form.' (http://www.bookmunch.co.uk/view.php?id=399). Apparently, he has accepted the epistemological consequences of his writing. This digital narrative is no more than a synapse of an endlessly evolving web of communications, the meaning of which is ever harder to discern... Read if you dare.

Kenji Siratori is the author of, among others, Tattoo (http://www.3ammagazine.com/short_stories/fiction/tattoo/page_1.html) and Hallucination=cell (http://www.3ammagazine.com/short_stories/fiction/hallucination_cell/page_1.html). For more information, see his website (http://www.kenjisiratori.com/).

 
 
 
   
 

 

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