Chapter 19

Into the Mystic: a double-edged sword

Although this nineteenth chapter is relatively short, it reveals to us both the development of the plot of the story,as well as more than a handful of ideas and topics that are resonated throughout William Gibson's novel.

[P.S. Because of William Gibson's style of writing, it is actually quite difficult to discuss these two aspects separately (the plot and the ideas). And so, I hope that you will bear with my discussion even if it might seem to be hard to comprehend.:)]

The story follows Cayce as she returns to her hotel room after her action-scene incident involving two Italian guys. Instead of doing just that, Cayce actually makes up a story wherein she lost her key in order to have someone else go up with her to her room. This is because of her paranoia brought about by the recent events that have caught her by surprise.
Again, as often seen in the novel, we see the issue with security. Sure, it may not be anything new as Cayce has proven herself to be quite a natural paranoid, but we must also take into consideration the fact that her feelings of fear and insecurity have significantly decreased, if not totally vanished, when she arrived in Japan. In fact, her feeling of security could be traced back to her 'little boat' which she rode as a means of going to Japan.
Here is a blog entitled 'Just Me in a Little Boat' in which a guy talks about the relevance of a feeling of security after an incident in is life. It was not explicitly stated that the 'little boat' was his place of security. but it was interesting to find this coincidence given his blog entry and our definition of the little boat.
I think this recent development just proves that although Cayce P. appears to be an overly paranoid person, the truth is that this paranoia is usually brought about by the harsh realities that one actually experiences. Let us not forget that this novel is about the 9/11 tragedy, and that Cayce herself is coping with a tragedy worse than the death of a loved one. In fact, we are subtly reminded of these theme of the story through the way Cayce acts the way her father probably would have.
She checks that everything is alright before she lets the night security man go. Inside the room, only one thing has changed: there now appears a bag with the Blue Ant logo containing her new Buzz Rickson's MA-1. She puts it back into the bag and then prepares to take a shower. Here we see the mention of a trainee mortician's work, and more importantly, Cayce's consciousness of the gaijin products available in the hotel shower room.
Quote: "She unwraps a bar of soap, reminds herself not to use the
hotel's shampoo, which will have the wrong pH for gaijin hair,"
Although the act is trivial, this actually brings about an important idea about GLOBALIZATION: although we are able to cross boundaries and dissolve distances, we are still not able to globalize the one thing that most makes all of us different: our nationality and the traits that come along with it. We adopt foreign practices and items, but we adopt them in such a way that they still become somewhat ours.
Case in point: our food - red sauce pasta that's sweet (when originally pasta actually has minimal
sauce and simply the taste of tomatoes)
Italian vs. Pinoy spaghetti
- the infamous rice burger from McDonald's :P


*an aunt of ours from the States came to visit us about a year ago, and one of the things i could not forget is the fact that she was actually quite disgusted with how we put gravy in our chicken. For them, gravy was only used with mashed potatoes…and here I was thinking gravy and fried chicken are Westerners' food.
Speaking of mashed potatoes - Cayce then orders a small pizza with a side of mashed potatoes.
She (or could it be Gibson?) admits that the pizza is very good, although Japanese, and that the potatoes are amazing! super-simulacrum of a Western classic.
Now, what was up with that?? saying that the pizza is very good although Japanese - isn't that similar to saying that it's being Japanese is a negative thing? With the mashed potato on the other hand, well, it is as Gibson says a 'classic'. loved by everyone of all ages. Do classic things also transcend race and nationality? what can be considered classic? is Disney truly a classic?

Japanese PIzza: particularly from pizza hut for you to see the difference.:)
*note: couldn't find image result for the 'american' version

On with the story.:)
Cayce then proceeds to check her email: there is one from Parkaboy entitled Wondrous Strange (this is the tile of the attachemnt entitled WS.jpg.) It was sent by Taki to them right after he got home and after he had already emailed 'Keiko' twice from two separate cafes. Apparently, Taki's 'love' has now turned into lust.
He said that the image was the latest from the Mystic of which in fact, Taki was not a part of. What is the image?
A map. A broken T scribed with city streets and strings of numbers. Later on we'll find that the number obtained from Taki indeed matches with one on the map.
But now we get to a discussion of this chapter's title as we get 'into the Mystic'.
As mentioned, the Mystic is a group of what Cayce and the others thought were simply footageheads like them. However, we are informed in this chapter that the Mystic are merely techno-obsessives for whom the highest level of play is always and purely about information itself. They were footageheads, yes, in the way that they wanted to know about the footage and what it really is about and where it came from and how it came about. But they were also not footageheads because in reality, they didn't really care about the footage; they merely saw it as a puzzle, a source of information just waiting for them to solve it. At the same time, we see the weird 'powe-play' relationship between Taki and the Mystics where information is power. It seems that the Mystics were originally using Taki to get hold of information that he has, but now Taki is also able to extract information from them.
And now, Cayce and Parkaboy and Musashi are able to extract information from Taki which he has extracted from the Mystic.
With the new information revealed to our characters, the chapter becomes a turning point for them; it becomes a point of no return as they finally take a step closer to discovering the truth behind the footages.
Into the Mystic: the group learns more about the group of techno-obsessives who are obsessed with solving the puzzle of the footages. At the same time, 'into the Mystic' can also pertain to how our characters are getting into the Mystic that is the footage. It is a double-edged sword because while they do gain new knowledge, they face even more uncertainties and questions.
This is characteristic of our information society as well; it seems the more we know, the more we realize that there is even more that we do not know. Is this really the nature or things, or are we simply the ones fabricating even more questions about these things? are we even asking the right questions? I don't know…but then again, maybe it is in not knowing that we will begin to know.
* a 'pilosopong' quote goes: "if you are looking for the answer, you're asking the wrong question."

Chapter 19 Additional Annotations

Daryl Dave De Vera || Com12, Section A

Nothing Can Beat Beat Takeshi

In the first paragraph, the narrator describes the security man at Cayce’s hotel as a

“younger, slightly less approachable version of Beat Takeshi.”

Takeshi Kitano or Beat Takeshi is a Japanese filmmaker, actor, film editor, screenwriter, author, poet, painter, professor, and a video-game designer. Some of his famous Japanese TV shows are Oretachi Hyōkin-zoku, a comedy show, and Takeshi’s Castle, a game show (a Tagalized version was shown on GMA 7 with Joey de Leon as the main host).

Here’s a picture of Beat Takeshi:


Just imagine a “younger [and] slightly less approachable version” to visualize the security man who accompanies Cayce to her room.

Also, Gibson describes Beat Takeshi as a Japanese filmmaker

“whose existential gangster films have been the favorites of [Cayce’s] two boyfriends.”

Here’s the introduction part of “Sono otoko, kyobo ni tsuki” (Violent Cop), one of Takeshi’s gangster films:

Most Beat Takeshi films have long scenes where nothing appears to be happening. We can infer that Cayce’s two former boyfriends are somewhat boring. But with this blankness in his films come controversies. And with these controversies, moral questions are raised and foods for thought are produced. This is an amazing paradox. I think this paradox has a connection with the mystery of “how blankness can yield an image,” a statement of Parkaboy in his e-mail in the latter part of the chapter.

More stuff about Beat Takeshi? Click here.

From Vampire to Bampira

Tricie of Com12-G has talked about Pinoy spaghetti and the infamous McDonald’s Rice Burger because of Gibson’s reference to the perfectly imitated mashed potatoes in the novel. The spaghetti and Rice Burger are products of Filipinization, the process of adopting Western ideas and considering them as our own.

Most people appreciate the existence of these super-simulacra of Western things. By adopting others’ ideas, a culture is enriched. This is a positive effect. But how can Filipinization produce a negative effect?

Here’s an example:


Due to this false news, a lot of American Twilight fans reacted…violently. Here are some comments from Perez

Comment 1: um…why can't they just replace the english voice with filipino voice if people don't understand english there??!!! there's no need to make another new movie. It would suck big time!!

Comment 2: ARE YOU FCUKING KIDDING ME????? Did the filiponos remake Titanic or Star Wars or any other of our "great"movies??? NOPE but they sure want to remake Twilight cus it will bring in the big bucks. I hope Summit & Stephenie Meyers SUE THE SH*T out of these people for ripping off Twilight. As a Twihard or Twilighter I'm wicked pissed they are dissing us like this.

Comment 3: wow,they want to fake a movie? that pretty cheap. and it won't work because the actors are ugly…the person who got that idea should be careful,i would like to scratch his/her eyes out !

Effect: Racist RACIST Remarks.

Want more RRs? Click here.

This is interesting. Do you want to have a glimpse of the rumored cast of Takipsilim? Click here.
SPOILER: Gabby Concepcion as Dr. Carlisle Cullen.

Here’s another product of Filipinization. Presenting TV5’s Lipgloss, the Philippines’ Gossip Girl.

Wondrous Strange Maps

What sets the 19th chapter apart from other PR chapters is the Wondrous Strange map. Taki sent it to Keiko. Gibson describes the map as

“a broken T scribed with city streets and strings of numbers.”

In detail, it is like

“a steak’s T-bone, the upright tapering raggedly, the left cross-arm truncated. Within its outlines are avenues, squares, circles, a long rectangle suggesting a park. The background is pale blue, the T-bone gray, the lines black, the numbers red.”

I tried to find a map that looks like Taki’s WS map. Unfortunately, I did not find one. But I found a blog about maps wondrous strange maps. This website is maintained by an anonymous blogger. Here are some interesting examples:

1. Driving Orientation World Map

This is a traffic map. But it shows which side of the road traffic drives on.


Dark blue: drives on left (mainly British ex-colonies).
Light blue: used to drive on right, now on left (Namibia).
Purple: used to have mixed system, now drives on right.
Light red: used to drive on left, now on right.
Dark red: drives on right.

2. World-Wide Web Map

If Taki’s map is “scribed with…strings of numbers,” the WWW map is scribed with ccTLDs, which stands for ‘country code top-level domain.’ These are the extensions after the final dot in mail addresses and URLs.

3. UFO-Hotspots Map

Enough said.

4. Handy Map of San Francisco Bay

The title says it all.


Cartography is fun! More WS maps here.

Unlocking Card Keys

"She kneels to look under the bed…and comes up, still kneeling, with the key, a plastic mag-strip card."

Card keys are unquestionably useful. They make life for people who stay at
hotels/dormitories/condominiums/super high-tech homes a lot easier. With the swipe of a card key, gaining access to rooms, purchasing items and personal identification become possible.

Here’s an example of a Card Key Reader:


The card key reader above is the one being used in the East Campus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In Shan-Ling Chuang’s article about card key readers on the MIT web site , she points out that according to Anne P. Glavin, Chief of Campus Police (yes, a woman chief), MIT prefers using card keys because the security it gives is higher compared to usual keys. Chuang also emphasizes that crime rate has decreased by 30% when these electronic door knobs were installed.

However, despite the many advantages of this device, many problems still arise. Chuang interviews MIT officials Pensalfini and Tesler. Pensalfini says that students “hold the door open for other people, even those they do not know.” Meanwhile, Tesler points out that "a stolen card is significantly more dangerous than a stolen key [because] by looking up the name in the student directory, a criminal could easily find out precisely where the card gains access."

I would like to focus on Tesler’s view. This is so because we can consider the card key an example of communication technology. Like cellular phones and the Internet, it can transmit information. Card keys and card key readers communicate people’s identification. According to Amy Bruckman, Head of MIT’s Committee on Privacy, “the key card readers could potentially use the key cards for a tremendous amount of information. No data is stored on the card itself, but the card reader is capable of recording as much or as less as is programmed."

Indeed, card keys and CK readers are very useful and efficient for they make life easier. However, people must remember that because it can communicate personal identification, it should be kept safely. I find the idea of protecting from criminals a device that is supposed to protect you from criminals somewhat weird. :P

To read the Chuang’s article on card key readers, click here.

While I was looking for information regarding card keys, I found a web site that talks about card keys in the hit Nintendo game Pokemon. Yes, nothing so remarkable. HOWEVER, this really surprised me:

"Question: My son is playing [Pokemon version] red and beat the guy on 5th floor of Silph Co. but did not go down the hall to get card key. Now the two guys (who have already been beaten) are blocking the hall way from both ends (north end and south end) and he cannot get the card key. Is there any way to get to it now, he is very frustrated and needs to finish Silph so that he can get into Sabrina's gym. Help, he wants to start over!!! Susan"


Ok. It was Mommy Susan who consulted the WWW. Indeed, the Internet, a communication technology, is for all ages.

Another thing that caught my attention was the structure of the web site. It is in a Q&A form. Internet surfers ask and answer questions. Here's an example:


Ok, here's a more familiar example:


This only shows that the Internet is an effective communication tool for it has a lot of features that allow people to interact with each other. Asking and answering questions is only one of its numerous features.

Tiger Balm does not Contain Tiger Parts

"She becomes aware of the smell of Tiger Balm from her own Rickson's."


Who does not know Tiger Balm? It is so famous that there are videos on YouTube that have
Tiger Balm as their subject.

I tried to find the history of Tiger Balm. However, only Wikipedia gave me this information:

"Tiger Balm is the trade name for a heat rub manufactured and distributed by Haw Par Healthcare in Singapore. It was originally developed in the 1870s by a herbalist, Aw Chu Kin, in Rangoon, Burma, who asked his sons Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par on his deathbed to perfect the product."

It is amazing to find out that Tiger Balm was created and perfected due to a dying Burmese’s request to his sons. I also became curious about the ingredients of this “perfect” product. I also tried searching it but only Wikipedia gave me this answer:

Ingredient Red White
Menthol 10% 8%
Camphor 11% 11%
Dementholised mint oil 6% 16%
Cajuput oil 7% 13%
Clove bud oil 5% 1.5%
Cassia oil 5%

"The remainder is a petroleum jelly and paraffin base. The red variety also contains ammonium hydroxide, which acts as the colouring agent. The rub does not contain tiger parts."

Aside from being amazed to know that the two most well-known variants of Tiger Balm are TB Red and TB White, which is for a “less intense warm feeling,” I was surprised to know that Wikipedia emphasizes (I do not want to use the word warn) that TB does not contain tiger parts.HA! HA! HA!


I know you want to know more about Tiger Balm. Just click this.

Shampowder, No-Rinse and No 'Poo

"She unwraps…reminds herself not to use the hotel's shampoo, which will have the wrong pH for gaijin hair."

Cayce Pollard does not want to use Japanese shampoo because her gaijin hair might get damaged. If I were Cayce, I might have used it for I am not that meticulous when it comes to hair care. But if the following products from "The Beauty Brains" are the ones that are available, I might think again.

1. Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo, a "shampowder"


According to the web site,

"basically, you spray or sprinkle a powder (cornstarch) on your head and it is supposed to absorb the oil. To finish the cleaning process you comb the product out."


Furthermore, however,

"it doesn’t clean your hair nearly as well as a regular shampooing. It also may leave a white residue and can leave hair feeling gross."

2. No-Rinse, a no-rinse shampoo


To use No-Rinse,

"just put it on dry hair, work through with your fingers and watch it foam. Then wipe out the foam with a towel for clean hair."

It may not give the results expected in regular shampoos but

"if water is in short supply or you just don’t feel like hopping in a shower, this no-rinse shampoo might be for you."

3. No 'Poo

This is not a brand. It is simply a short version for No Shampoo. "The Beauty and Brains" says that

"[a]ccording to the folks at Nature Moms, if you stop using shampoo your hair will be fine…You don’t actually have to shampoo your hair. Of course, it won’t be clean either. It will be healthier and probably look more shiny. However, it may also look and feel greasy, smell funny, and be difficult to style in any way except laying flat on your head."

"The Beauty and Brains" is right when it said

"[t]he quest for clean hair is never ending. Dry shampoo, No-rinse shampoos, and other products provide options. Now you know that you don’t have to always be stuck using that same old shampoo."

We are living in a world where change is the only constant thing. I am not saying that innovation is always a good thing. But I am also not saying that it is bad. It is up to us whether we will use it in order to better our lives.


I find this Malaysian shampoo commercial interesting very interesting.

Who said shampoo commercials must expose a woman's hair? I did. Honestly, I laughed after I watched this commercial because I found it very weird. It is gaijin to me. Why? Because Malaysian culture is not the culture that molded me (and probably you.) Because our culture does not dictate that hair should be kept hidden at all times, we were made to believe that body parts can must convey a company's message. For instance, this commercial:

Yes, body parts can convey messages. They can make people interact with people. Like the Internet, it can be considered a communication technology.

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