Accordingly to Scott Bakker (and sorry for the simplification) the purpose of “literature” should be to target a popular medium that can reach a wide and diverse public and then “spike” the food so that, instead of confirming beliefs and repeat canons, the effect would be explosive and shake the foundations of the fixed establishment.

The fantasy literary genre is his choice, but I think another ideal medium could be manga and anime. They already work in certain similar ways. They create both conditions: they reach a diverse public and they are differentiated within themselves in sub-genres and groups. Manga and anime make their own sub-worlds, with their esoteric and self-referential jargon. It’s an extremely structured medium, but at the same time this lends to plenty of hybridization. So, while the canons are very strict and defined, they are also constantly played with and defied. A kind of post-modern way of playing with boundaries and mixing ideas on all levels (and, thankfully, still with a freedom and levity that is unmatched elsewhere, for example religion and sexuality).

“Homunculus” is a manga by Hideo Yamamoto that I’ve been reading for some years. It’s finally complete in Japanese, 15 volumes, but only 13 have been translated by fans in English. I consider it an extraordinary work and it is a compelling read. After you start you can’t stop as it works as a big mystery that starts from completely absurd, crazy premises, and then moves, every single page an incremental step forward, moving toward a final reveal that makes sense and explains perfectly all the absurdity that preceded it. It’s at times gross and violent, but it serves the purpose of the story.

It’s a kind of “spiked” food I’d recommend having, and it touches parts of this recent discussion about the ideas on reality and the “self”. There may not be an happy end, your mileage may vary.

(it’s Japanese, you you’re supposed to read the balloons and sequence of images as “mirrored”, from right to left)

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