Chapter 17

Annotations for Chapter 17 (Supplementary to Jan Hermano's)
Prepared by TAN, John Vincent G.-Section A

Chapter 17 is probably the chapter where we finally get to see the thriller aspect of the film; this is where we get to see a more “aggressive” Cayce Pollard, and major developments as far as the plot is concerned. Since Jan has basically summarized the whole chapter, I will lean towards explaining the cultural references and terms that appeared in the chapter, terms that may not be so familiar to the casual reader.

For those who don’t know, Solaris is a 1972 Russian sci-fi film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and based on a novel written by Stanislaw Lem. Most of the story is set on a space station hovering above the planet Solaris, while the plot revolves around trying to make contact with intelligent alien life, and failing miserably in that attempt to do so. Researchers in the space station would hallucinate and relive their most painful memories, it would seem as if they were the ones being studied by whatever lived in the planet Solaris.

For more information regarding the film, click here

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For viewer reviews on the film, click here

In Pattern Recognition, it is mentioned that some parts of the film Solaris were filmed in Roppongi Dori, particularly in the multi-tiered expressway. In addition to what Jan already stated, it is ironic that a place that had once envisioned the look of the future (enough for it to be used as a set for a sci-fi film), now seems to rot with age, and as William Gibson mentioned in the chapter: “looks like the oldest thing in town”.

That would bring us to the second film reference in the chapter, the mention of Blade Runner to refer to the current state of Roppongi Dori. Blade Runner is a 1982 film directed by Ridley Scott, also in the genre of sci-fi. It was one of the first films to explore the theme of man against machine: blade runners are a specialized police force created to exterminate the biologically engineered workers called replicants, at least those that have gone haywire.

For more information regarding the film, click here

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For viewer reviews on the film, click here

The relevance in Pattern Recognition of the film is that the supposedly futuristic-looking expressway of Roppongi Dori is now being addressed as having been “Blade Runnered”. In the film itself, the future Los Angeles (November 2019) was portrayed as a city of dystopia, where poverty, dirt, and pollution were characterized as a way of life. In the chapter, the two cities are being compared; the current state of Roppongi Dori is being likened to how the film Blade Runner depicted the near future: dark, dismal, and miserable.

Two specific bars were also mentioned in the chapter: Henry Africa’s was an upscale bar catering to singles; it was a gathering place for well-dressed “upscale” men and women. It was made popular in the 1970’s and 80’s, and was a place where people were more interested in seeing each other and being seen than in simply drinking and talking. The other bar, White Horse was a London pub that was similar to Henry Africa’s in terms of sophistication.

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Other cultural references worth noting include Caster and Asahi Lite, Japanese cigarette and beer brands respectively, and SAS or the Special Air Service, which were the British elite forces.

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Apart from all the references mentioned, one thing very apparent in this chapter is the concept of fetishism. Fetishism is that almost unnatural obsessive behavior for particular things that do not usually deserve that much attention. In a sense it is over-indulging in material things or favorite hobbies that may seem important to a particular person, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, isn’t really that important (unless they share the same fetish).

In the area of sexual fetishism Taki deserves a special mention. He is thought of as a social deficit and yet he made the extra effort to meet up with a stranger and moreover a foreigner just to be able to get an image of a girl that he desires. Libidinal economy at work: that Japanese schoolgirl image of Keiko is used to seduce Taki and satisfy his sexual fetishism, and thus get the watermark code in return. Chapter 17 is where we actually see that exchange; Taki is brought to tears upon the sight of his beloved Keiko and the fulfillment of his long held back fetishistic desires.

In this day and age, fetishism can be considered as normal as waking up in the morning, though there are some cases where the obsessive nature has become so intense that it almost seems pathetic, such as Taki’s delusional obsession for a person that doesn’t even really exist.

Annotations for Chapter 17: Making Mayhem
Prepared by HERMANO, Jan Rudolf A.- Section G

IN my opinion, this chapter can be divided into four parts:
-the meeting place (outside)
-the meeting place (inside)
-the "meeters"
Taki
Cayce

-Making Mayhem

So anyway lets get this started!

-Outside the meeting place:
The way I imagine Roppongi dori (with the aid of Google images to clear things up) is somewhat like the MRT stations when they were first erected. At first they all look so futuristic, being a new technology and all but the people and the businesses around it generally crowd this place just because the station offers so much market potential. The third paragraph illustrates this phenomenon. The way I see it, this is a mirror of the previous chapter where Japan localizes a lot of global icons, there by making it local. Let's call it GLOCAL as I have learned in Com11. This mirroring is a bit iconic since it no longer is a global icon they are trying to localize but a local icon they localized and in a sense transformed its functionality to fit that of daily living. Notice as the multi-tiered expressway has been transformed into the epicenter of cross-cultural sex trade. Imagine again the MRT exits and how they are now plagued by businesses such as fishball vending and the like. This happens in Roppongi so much so that the area has been completely transformed.
funny scene where Cayce "litters" her bag and walks away. All I thought was that's so "Gaijin."

The way the red-lantern district is described is one like a dingy place where people generally pee on the walls. (or at least in the Philippines). However, this is in response to my previous explanation. While people generally crowd to commercial areas, they leave the other places un-commercialed thus killing the "culture." In Gibson's words "Their bare bones decor or lack of it reminding her of a certain kind of functionality alcoholic corner lounge in lower manhattan, now nearing extinction as the city's ley lines shifted further still, initially in response to a decade's disneyfication and now to a deeper whammy." Here we see how culture kills culture with the development of technology. The "functionality" I presume is that people treat these once commercial places into meeting places in order to go into the new commercial places.

Moving on…

-Inside the Meeting Place
A noren is one of those Japanese-styled curtains. As referred to be dingy, this matches the inside of the red-lantern bar as the place looks shabby. Probably a result of the previous discussion wherein this once-commercial place is a victim of the disneyfication.
Taki is the sole customer in the bar. The meeting place says a lot about Taki (assuming it was he who set the place). It reminds me of high school boys buying porn under the counter. They know what they like enough to hide it when they purchase it. In a culture where sex business districts are open, it is ironic how Taki is still embarrassed to get a hold of pornography.

Not much here. Moving on…

-The "Meeters"
Taki. The way Taki is described is somewhere in the midst of a highschool boy, mixed with a certain kind of nerdiness, and throw in a bit of sweat. Whatever image that represents, it bothers Cayce in a lot of ways. In Cayce's point of view, the image of Taki is that of a Japanese Geek culture kind of nerdiness where they "specialize" in one weird kind of knowledge and thus associating it with everything. Reminds me of the movie I am Sam where the lead guy associate everything with Beatles songs. Its something like that only geekier like Soviet Military vehicles as Gibson puts it.
Going further into the meeting, Taki becomes very excitable at the mention of Keiko yet he displays it in a very subtle way like flinching and wincing. That is up to the point where Cayce gives him his porn and he gets all excited. Later on, we will just how excited he got. (I'm tempted to spoil.)
Apparently, Taki's geek thing is Anne of Green Gables as he associates the relationship of Cayce to Keiko/Judy with this.
Japanese men's view of the opposite sex is given a glimpse here as Taki describes Keiko to be a modern, "body-con" girl.
Taki tries to infrared Cayce the number but fails aparantly because Cayce's gadgets are not capable of infra red communication. Funny how the development of technology will still persist to connect us to each other. And besides, they were face to face and still he opted to send the number that way.
Cayce. Cayce acts up. Referring to this acting as improv where she crates a bunch of stories to finally get to the point where the exchange happens. She gets uneasy with Taki and experiences her jet lag finally going full circle on her.
another funny Gaijin moment when Cayce points at the Asahi Lite to order for herself.
More Gaijin moments as Cayce finally gets the number and proceeds to the restrooms to free herself of Taki. Apparently, restrooms here are still the old fashioned ones that are stuck to the floor. She takes a deep breath which she regrets and decides to scribble down the number to her left palm with a ballpen she found and tested on the "graffiti-less" walls of the restrooms. Its funny how being a foreigner lets you care less about your surroundings when you are in a foreign country. From littering to vandalism, Cayce seems to be alienated from Japan in a sense that she feels so detached from her environment so much so that she cares less when she inflicts damage to it.

Anyway, Cayce exits, sees that Taki is gone and sees the television where something like Masked Rider is being shown. Its old-school kid's entertainment.

-Making Mayhem
This is perhaps the most action packed chapter there is in Pattern Recognition in terms of martial arts, blood, and the history of broken noses.
Making Mayhem is more of a brawler's style of combat rather than a special kind of martial arts. While most martial arts are bred through years of tradition (much like Japanese martial arts) this on has been developed from the "maximum-secutiry wings of British prisons.
Cayce finds herself being assulted by Italian men (they are men of *toot* tempted to spoil again). Oddly she remains calm enough to think of her following moves. So calm that she manages to notice the the man is wearing a Prada and even much so that she realizes it is just a Prada clone. More action takes place as Cayce manages to break one of the guy's nose and stomp on the shin of the other.
She gets off with the help of Boone Chu who is apparently the guy in the motorcycle in the previous chapters.

With this the chapter ends and we learn that Cayce was not being paranoid when she thought that she was being watched. Because indeed she was…

Potential-Spoiler Deleted Harhar. It's a nice novel really. I finished it last christmas.

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