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AMadManWithABlog

Welcome to my blog :3 My name is Yoann, and I do all kind of things.

I am interested in things that make me think, laugh or feel fuzzy with cuteness, as you can see from myanimelist or my shitposting tumblr. I am not interested in brainless action-driven pop culture, or anything about the real world.

On this blog, you’ll find mainly my writings and games, or pseudo-philosophical essays, both aimed at highlighting new perspectives for reflection (not at being fully developed argumentaries). I also have an idea box where I store all kind of food for thoughts that I will flesh out here later (or never if they’re not fertile or original enough, since I want to explore new ideas and not reinvent the wheel).

I leave you with a list of keywords a la 90s Google referencing exploit:

#uploaded consciousness, #memes in the Dawkinian sense, #noematics, #contemporary and experimental art, #ironic appreciation of cringe, #fujoshi culture, #postmodernism and deconstruction, #aesthetics, #transcendance, etc
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The Phantom Zizek vs Deadpool

Ok so disclaimer, this essay is going to be mostly about the ending of Persona 5, and as such, it spoils the whole thing. I’m going to recap what’s important for the non players, but you should most definitely play this game before, it’s an excellent game, easily one of my favorites, which stands at the pinnacle of the Persona series, and contrary to the others, it has an… interesting overarching plot, which is what we’re going to talk about here. So wake up, get up, get out there first, and then you can come back 😛

An introduction about Persona 5

There’s a shitload to be said about this game. It’s basically symbolism on crack with a heavy handed dose of jungian psychology as the title implies, and judeo-christian theology. Many aspects of the game warrant their own analyses but the one I want to tackle here is its representation of society, democracy and the neoliberal capitalism it’s bathing in. Persona 5 is amazingly spot on when it comes to the pulse of the times.

Image result for jesus doing drugs

It’s hard to not see when going through the game how feeble public opinion is, which is all the more central a theme that it appears as a gauge on every loading screen. The parallels with the current entertainment-political climate are obvious, and they could almost sue the 2016 american election for copyright infringement.

Image result for persona 5 donald trump

But the part I’m most impressed by is how well Persona 5 captures the ecosystem and environment which gives birth to these circumstances. Society’s obsession with sensationalism is just one piece of a bigger picture, that we’ll call The System™.

The System™

I’m not the best at talking about the economical and societal implications of neoliberal capitalism, so I’m going to leave you with a brief summary and pointers to people who do it way better, before I try and tackle what this means in the context of Persona.

The crux of it is that the current neoliberal system is amazingly good at commodifying and marketing anything, and most importantly its own criticism and counter-cultural movements, thereby absorbing them and vampirizing them. And therefore any attempt to rebel ends up feeding the system. The textbook example being Che Guevara shirts.

Image result for Che Guevara shirts

I briefly mentioned in my 2nd Godel article how South Park season 19 deals brilliantly with the question. This topic is a favorite of my friends at Wisecrack and comes back in many of their videos. A notable example would be the Deadpool franchise, as self aware as can be about its own use of tropes and extremely cynical about the money-driven industry of brainless superhero movies, which ends up nonetheless as a huge superhero franchise and thereby becoming the very thing it’s mocking.

This is a core motive of the philosophy of Slavoj Žižek, who could be qualified as the resident expert on the amazing power of neoliberal capitalism to phagocyte counter movements, in a cycle that seems pretty desperately endless. He’ll tell you all about it better than I ever could.

Another cute recent example about counter culture becoming the thing they fought against is highlighted by this episode of PhilosophyTube about “comprehensive designers”:

Phantom thieves against the world

In Persona, the anti-establishment force is the group of protagonists, the Phantom Thieves, which can be extended to their Phandom. Their aim is clear: standing up and providing an alternative to a sick and corrupt society. The metaphors of the ending are pretty elegant about this: the world has become ugly and fucked up, but only a handful of chosen ones see it as it is and understand how dire the situation is. 

Rebels as they may be, they quickly become products of the system as reminded by the popularity gauge or the frequent talks about fan goods. Their anti-establishment criticism gets co-opted by the system in a textbook example. So much so that they literally become pawns in the political conspiracy. Their call to action is ridiculously cliche, their adult-bashing doesn’t help building up their depth.

Image result for phantom thieves merchandise in the game

The true end brings little comfort. They succeed in destroying the False God born from the blind faith of the general public, by using the blind faith of the general public in themselves. Ironically, they’re just replacing a false idol with another false idol (themselves).

(see 46’50)

Even the ending in the game is pretty ambiguous: we’re not sure if or how much it helped. The Phantom Thieves fad is waning and another one will take its place in the endless cycle of twisted idolization. After a year, people are starting to forget them already, and seem ready to move on to the next big thing. It’s pretty unlikely that they broke the cycle.

But one may then ask, if this is just a textbook rebel story that gets vampirized by the System, what does it bring to the table? What’s so interesting or important about it so that you have to write an essay about it? Well, I’m glad you ask…

The root of the problem

Persona 5 gained an instant place in my heart when I discovered the last dungeon. The dungeons are representations of twisted human psyche, and the ultimate one is the representation of the General Public psyche, i.e. the collective unconscious. It takes the form of a prison, built by mankind, where they long to be kept.

The name Prison of regression” and its description heavily plays on the fear and aversion for progress, echoing the dichotomy of corrupt adult vs dynamic children that punctuates the whole game. But I think it’s a bit simplistic to summarize everything wrong with mankind by “conservatism”. The various NPCs trapped in jail cells fortunately paint a more complete picture.

In any case, it means that the final boss is mankind itself, and you end up fighting to “save the world” explicitly against the population’s wishes. As proof, the final boss regenerates all of its hit points in an ability elegantly called “Will of the People“.

So in the end, the Phantom Thieves don’t just rebel against society but against human nature itself, and by extension their own nature. They willingly face adversity and challenge their essence, which sounds like Ubermensch growth 101 to me.

The meta game

But of course it wouldn’t be a proper post on this blog if it didn’t mention meta in some way. And I swear this is not just my own obsession, I mean, the game really IS begging you:

Presenting the confrontation of the main character and the “ante-christian” Akechi as a game run by a deity to try humanity allows for a lot of meta goodness. A game or challenge to try mankind and determine its worth is a frequent pattern in judeo-christian tradition, echoing of course the trial by the apple of knowledge.

Image result for good omens picture tennant

The constant references to the phandom are a reminder that in the real world, it will literally exist too. Sure, it will be the fan community of the game rather than fans of actual activists, but since the Phantom Thieves are kind of idealized characters in the game too, isn’t it pretty much the same thing? The game world and real world intertwine, and when the Phantom Thieves fad in the game world echoes the Persona 5 popularity in the real world. Just like the game world spent a year with the Phantom Thieves, so too does the real world spend a while with these characters, and as their adventure end, in both cases they will live on in the heart of the audience.

Image result for pokemon go trailer

What can we then make of Igor’s insistence about the existence of the game, and by extension trial? Is humanity in the real world also on trial, and is the player its champion? Is the game a mean to judge the fate of mankind? Is the player then, just like the main character, playing a game against the dark side of mankind/themselves? Is the game rigged for the dark side here too? As a J-RPG, it’s certainly rigged towards the player winning eventually… Does that mean that the player should, lest the dark side wins, refuse this deal, put down the controller, and “get out there” ? Is this a meta-critic of videogames in particular and entertainment at large as a force for self-indulgence, complacency and apathy?

Image result for videogame globe

The solution?

So in the end, does Persona 5 offer a solution to the questions it raises? Can we break free from the cyclical and vampiric system that ingests any opposition? As Žižek puts it, it’s easy to complain and rebel, but then what?

Most media who reach this point in the reflection shove off some vague answer about love. The Matrix trilogy is a good example advocating that there is no solution, there is no escaping the system, and maybe that’s what it ultimately is.

words cant express how much i love anime

But faced with an imperialistic and seemingly invincible system, the Phantom Thieves still act. And sure they do shove off some vague answer about your loving confidants as per tradition, but I’d like to see if there could be a bit more to it. They keep fighting against the collective unconscious, against mankind itself. As the False God reminds them repeatedly, they are defying the natural order of things. It is certainly reminiscent of Zarathustra’s invite to stand up to the natural tendency of decay to better oneself.

Image result for fight yourselfIs this a sacrificial motif in answer to impossible odds? After all, it fits the theme. The key may be in the perseverance within adversity. But it might be worth considering what they are persevering for.

Their response to the corrupt system that replaces one false idol by another is to kill God, the crystallization of mankind’s current beliefs. And then hope for the best. They do so on display, in a very public setting, under the public’s attention. So maybe that’s the best we can do. Sacrifice ourselves and denounce the hegemony of the System by trying our hardest to kill God, even if it’s most likely pointless, and make sure people are watching…

Image result for nietzsche anime

But for the main character, the “rehabilitation” is only complete after he accepts that the Phantom Thieves fad must end, and that they need to be forgotten. The final step of his growth is the acknowledgement that he may not be able to break the cycle, and the acceptation of his own limits. His best try is the most he can offer. Maybe, in a way, that’s the best we can do…

Anthropomorphic principle

 

I can’t even imagine what it must be to be normal. It’s been so long since I’ve lived anything close to the life of an average human being that I’ve forgotten what it felt like. I’m too different.
It wears you down, trying to fit in knowing you never will, facing your problems knowing they’ll never end. Every day the burdens pile up and the weight get heavier. Well I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of suffering. I can’t take it anymore. Now I just want to rest.
Why did everything end up that way? Why did everything keep getting worse, with no end ever in sight? What relentless curse kept dragging out my torment, as if toying with my life? All I wanted was a way out.
There comes a point when you’d accept anything to make the pain stop. And for someone like me, the only way is to end my life. Put an end to all of this bullshit. Leave this world where I never should have been.
I contemplated the bottle of pills that stood firmly on the table in front of me. It takes a lot of courage to fight your survival instinct. To make that final leap. Death is scary and terrible. But sometimes, the alternative is worse.
A final effort to put an end to suffering. The last bit of pain ever. After this, there would be no turning back. The story would end.I poured some pills in the palm of my trembling hand.
But contemplating the medicine, I got scared. I heard far too many stories of such attempts failing, which kept replaying in my mind as I was trying to gather my courage. I didn’t want to spend all night puking, only to come back to my hell in the morning. The point was not to add more suffering.
I decided to put the pills back in the bottle with a trembling hand. There had to be a safer way. I certainly envisioned a lot of things during the darkness of my days. I moved slowly through my apartment. Everything felt distant, like I was in a dream.
I took a deep breath and shoved the fistful of medicine in my mouth. I swallowed painfully. I really hoped that it would be enough, else it would have all been for naught. Just to be safe, I gulped down the rest of the bottle.
Now there was nothing to do but wait. I lied down in my bed, crying softly, until sleep carried me off forever.
Finally, I reached the window. My building was only a couple of floors high, and dominated a highway. I often stared at the flow of life on the road, watching the pulsating bustling of a world foreign to me. Maybe it was time for them to do something for me. If the shock didn’t get me, certainly the traffic would.
I yanked the window open. The fresh air from dusk came whipping my face, the rumbling of the cars at the end of rush hour filled my surroundings. Nobody noticed as I poked my head outside of the building. How fitting.
Dizziness overcame me as I watched the ground far below. This would do nicely. I took a deep breath and prepared to command my legs to push me for a last time. I closed my eyes, and jumped.
The wind lashed my body, as if to welcome me in its embrace. For a second that seemed like an eternity, I was falling down a vertiginous infinity. My soon-to-be-corpse kept tumbling and spinning disorderly.
I landed on my back, in a horrible cacophony of cracking sounds. I immediately lost consciousness. My head hit the ground first. My skull exploded under the impact. And I was no more.
The screeching sounds of tires stopping abruptly resonated all around me. People were honking and getting out of their cars, panicked. They yelled at each other and to themselves, trying to make sense of what to do in this routine-breaking situation they had never imagined.
Emergency services were called, and soon the strident siren of an ambulance tore through the chaos of the arguments. It fought its way to what was left of me. The medical staff came out and carefully moved my body to a stretcher.
The vehicle started up again while the paramedics applied whatever first aid they could. An IV in my arm helped the body hold on until the hospital. They kept exchanging information in a lingo I couldn’t understand nor hear. In our trail, on the freeway, the disturbed human life was slowly taking back its course.
The ambulance arrived at the hospital in a short time. The staff dragged my stretcher to the ER, through brightly lit immaculate hallways. Heads were turning on our way, but this was nothing out of the ordinary for this place. Medics were exchanging information in rushed but not panicked voices.
We made our way straight to an operating room. Nurses and doctors started to probe and tend to whatever was left of my body, their chatter punctuated by the beeping noises of the medical equipment.
The surgery lasted for some time. Many bones were broken, internal bleeding needed stopping… All the while the various machines kept insisting on the precarity of my condition, letting everyone know how close to death I was. One false move would be the end of it.
But there was none. After a long battle, the surgery staff put down their weapons and let out sighs of relief. I was stabilized.
It would obviously take a while before I was in any decent shape, but my life was out of danger. They carried me to a room where I was left on my own until I regained consciousness.
The surgery staff kept fighting against the dreadful state this lump of flesh was in. The machines confirmed it was not looking good. The internal bleeding was too dire for them to do much. They tried their best and worked at it for a while, but in the end the steady noise of the flat line confirmed that I was beyond saving.
It happened gradually, and it was hard for me to come to my senses, numbed by the intense pain that bathed every inch of me as well as the heavy doses of anesthetics that made it all tolerable.
It probably took hours for me to be lucid enough in any meaningful way. White lab coated people came and went every now and then. The rhythm of their visits was the only way for me to tell the passage of time.
After a while, one of them talked to me and explained, in a bored and disapproving voice, that I would be here for long and that they’d have to do a full psych evaluation of me the next day to figure out exactly what would happen to me. I knew what it meant, and it wasn’t good. In fact, it was probably the worst case scenario. But my brain was still too confused to think about it and fully process the information. I slept for some time.
When I woke up, it was still night. The fog in my mind had lifted a little, replaced by a growing anxiety about what would come next.
I gazed up at the starry sky through the window of the room, and felt an unexpected sense of serenity washing over me. After all that had happened, there was something especially magnificent about the view that unfolded in front of my eyes.
“Maybe the universe just wants to be looked at.”
For a short moment, I couldn’t help but accept the part of me that was in awe of this world, and lucky to have lived to tell the tale.

Immortality generator

Hellow

I’ve finally gotten off my lazy ass to solve that whole mortality thing by encoding my brain into a computer. Now I’ve decided to be super nice and I encoded also your brain and everybody else’s actually, so you can go about and live your life without worrying too much because there’s a saved backup. I’ve put it here:

http://yoannbourse.com/encode_brain.html

hope you like it  ❤

Best of Gintama

Gintama is probably the funniest shounen, and its success is pretty interesting, but it’s also extremely long.  Unlike some other shows, it’s not complete garbage, but I wouldn’t say the whole show is good. It’s a shounen and as such has its fair share of multi episode boring long fights. So if you want to skip the boring bits and focus on the best part, here is my take on the subject. As usual, bold is the best of the best. I didn’t include any exposition because I don’t think it matters much, you can watch the pilot or read a wiki…

This is an excellent point to start, as Gintama’ has a lot less boring shounen “serious” content than the first iteration, and a lot more goofy comedy.

Gintama – the (actually second) movie

 

Best of South Park

I once made a list of the most important/best South Park episode for a friend who wanted to see more but didn’t want to go through the whole thing, and I thought I’d share it here, kinda like I did for Supernatural. Contrary to SPN, South Park is actually a good show, pretty witty and sly, well written, not completely shit, so I highly recommend you watch it, but I can understand how a 20 seasons show can seem daunting, and how all the poop humor may obfuscate the brilliance of their nuance societal analyses, so feel free to use this list as a starting point. It should give you good insight on the most interesting and the most influential South Park episodes:

  • 1×01: Cartman gets an anal probe

 

  • 2×14 : Chef Aid

 

  • 3×06: Sexual Harassment Panda
  • 3×11 : Chinpokomon

 

  • 4×05 : Cartman joins NAMBLA

 

  • 5×04 : Scott Tenorman Must Die
  • 5×08 : Towelie
  • 5×14 : Butters’ Very Own Episode

 

  • 6×07 : The Simpsons Already Did It
  • 6×09: Free Hat

 

  • 7×01 : Cancelled
  • 7×09 : Christian Rock Hard
  • 7×11 : Casa Bonita
  • 7×12 : All about Mormons

 

  • 8×01: Good Times with weapons
  • 8×14 : Woodland Critter Christmas
  • 8×5 : Awesom-O

 

  • 9×4 : Best Friends Forever
  • 9×11 : Ginger kids
  • 9×12  : Trapped in the Closet

 

  • 10×3/4: Cartoon Wars
  • 10×6 : Manbearpig
  • 10×8: Make Love, not warcraft
  • 10×12/13 :  Go God Go

 

  • 11×10/11/12: The imaginationland trilogy

 

  • 12×06: Over Logging

 

  • 13×12: The F Word
  • 13×13: Dances with Smurfs

 

  • 14×03: Medicinal Fried Chicken
  • 14×04: You have 0 friends
  • 14×05/06: 200
  • 14×11/12/13: The Coon trilogy

 

  • 15×01: HumancentiPad
  • 15×07: You’re getting old
  • 15×13: A history channel thanksgiving

Most of season 16:

  • 16×01: Reverse Cowgirl
  • 16×03: Fath Hilling
  • 16×06: I should have never gone ziplining
  • 16×08: Sarcastaball
  • 16×12: A Nightmare on Face Time
  • 16×13: A Scause for Applause
  • 16×14: Obama wins

Most of season 17:

  • 17×01: Let Go Let Gov
  • 17×02: Informative Murder Porn
  • 17×06: Ginger Cow
  • 17×07/08/09: The Black Friday trilogy
  • 17×10: The Hobbit

Pretty much all season 18:

  • 18×01 : Go Fund Yourself
  • 18×03 : The Cissy
  • 18×07: Grounded Vindaloop
  • 18×08 : Cock Magic
  • 18×09/10: Rehash

Seriously watch all of season 19, but if you need a highlight:

  • 19×06 : Tweek x Craig

 

  • 20×01 : Member berries

 

  • 21×02 : Put it down
  • 21×07 : Doubling down

 

  • 22×01 : Dead Kids
  • 22×06/07: Time to Get Cereal

Please reach out to me if you think I forgot anything, this is highly possible 🙂