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Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 11:17 am
Hana Mochi and Re:Standard

Hana mochi are artificial flowers made of pulpy, glutinous, sweetened rice in pink and white. You make them at New Year. It's a tradition from up in the mountains, where there are no winter flowers. To make the New Year's celebrations festive, people organize workshops in which they press "buds" of sticky rice pulp to bare branches and twigs, making them into floral sprigs and spays.



Our small collective worked recently in a room heated by a wood-burning ceramic stove to make hana mochi, artificial rice flowers. Not only were we making artificial flowers, but we were -- some of us -- artificial Japanese people.



In order to prepare our hearts and minds better for the task of becoming Japanese-of-the-mountains, we pored over copies of Re:Standard magazine while drinking tea during our breaks. The wood crackled in the ceramic stove as we applied ourselves with dedication to our reading.



Re:Standard magazine is published by Little More, an independent Tokyo publisher and gallery. It is a magazine dedicated to the re-assessment of the normal. The first issue carried the cover story "A Life With Thermos Flasks". A Thermos flask is a simple, normal item, but it can suggest something extraordinary; a field trip with friends during which a magical moment arrives, a moment in which -- in the middle of nowhere, perhaps -- one is refreshed by hot tea.



"With your head and your instinct," say the editors of Re:Standard, "you should judge what you really need. The standard things in our daily lives, we would like to translate as futsu -- normal things. This is a magazine in which we think about normal things -- futsu -- and necessary things, neither too old nor to new. These things -- abandoned in the rush for progress -- can become our new standards."



This magazine about the normal and the not-so-new has a special interest in "slow photography" -- old cameras, old film. An analog camera, like a Thermos flask, is an under-appreciated friend, a device you take on a field trip with a small group of friends. With the right philosophy, it becomes a tool for the reassessment of "standard" things encountered on the way -- normal things which have become slightly neglected because of the arrival of new things. With the camera one records, and appreciates, them. And from the Thermos flask one swigs hot tea, admiring the hana mochi.

20CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 10:39 am (UTC)

Thermos flasks may seem ordinary - but no doubt when they first appeared they were considered heretical and depraved by tea ceremony masters.


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33mhz
33mhz
The Queen of Overdub Kisses
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)

Yeah, as I was reading this bit, it struck me that it could be a summary of one of those overly verbose magazine ads from the 50s or 60s.

A Thermos flask is a simple, normal item, but it can suggest something extraordinary; a field trip with friends during which a magical moment arrives, a moment in which -- in the middle of nowhere, perhaps -- one is refreshed by hot tea.

Tea, friends and adventure: all are now within reach thanks to your stylish vintage thermos.


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)

an excuse for japanese people to go buy shit

I think we have to take this part seriously:

"With your head and your instinct you should judge what you really need."

There is no society that does not consume. However, there are many societies that do not consume from the perspective of "what you really need".


ReplyThread Parent
akabe
akabe
alin huma
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC)

he, i couldn't possibly imagine a new years' more diametrically opposed to mine. here i am in the real japanese mountains countdowning with australian aboriginees and brazilians while moving to the latest obscene hits from the slum-suburbs of san paolo.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)

Happy New Year, Momus!


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)

I downloaded Tales from Earthsea. Did you and Hisae watch it in the end?

Yes, and I agree with the thing about him being in his dad's shadow. What annoyed me slightly about the ending was that the witch was a caricature of evil, demanding eternal life for herself. Miyazaki the Elder would have put more moral nuance in there.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 11:22 pm (UTC)

Well he does seem kinda self conscious of the fact.
"And the people who see the pictures in this trailer,
at the same time as they are moved in their heart by the song,
will probably be thinking something like this:
"It's the same Ghibli artwork" "It's just like a Miyazaki anime"."

That screams "existential boredom + anguish" to me. I can see him going nuts and becoming the new hideaki anno. Either that or chuoside....

Zephyre


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cerulicante
cerulicante
cerulicante
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)

I went to a mochidzuki party and it was a lot of fun!

When I was a kid, I loved mochi and still do. It wasn't until I was older that I learned from other kids that mochi, along with a lot of the other food I like that my mom makes, is supposed to be gross.


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slime_slime_sly
slime_slime_sly
slime_slime_sly
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 11:26 pm (UTC)



I made mochizuki for the first time last year, it was so fun!I hammered the thing and all the old ladies loved me. I love eating it, all those sticky japanese sweets are cool. And yeah there was an ambulance taking someone away when i arrived...


ReplyThread Parent
rurritable.wordpress.com
rurritable.wordpress.com
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)

Are you familiar with Joseph Holtzman's magazine, NEST ? Occasionally in looking at how people arranged the interiors of their homes, you'd get a sense of the fluid nature of what people regard as necessary. Usually they featured an artist's or design student's home in an issue. It got me interested in the idea of living in an ongoing work of art. Unfortunately, farming doesn't give you a very wide range of choices in how you organize or acquire objects.
That ceramic woodstove would definitely be welcome here, though.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)

I've glanced at Nest from time to time, but not in any detail. I suspect it would feel like peeking back at Western porn -- oddly alien, to my jaded orientalised eyes!


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rurritable.wordpress.com
rurritable.wordpress.com
Fri, Jan. 2nd, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)

You haven't missed anything by avoiding western porn, let me tell you. I must have watched hundreds of films this year alone, and it's always the same fucking thing.
My wife says I ought to be able to write one of them by now.


ReplyThread Parent
xyzedd
xyzedd
xyzedd
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
Sorry--nothing about flowers

Happy 2009, Momus!

First, the usual apology, which I've heard myself saying too many times before: I've had neither the time nor the energy to more than glance at this blog for months and months, and I know because of that neglect I've lost out on the copious outpouring of gifts you bestow upon your readers, not the least of which are your illuminating ruminations on everything from pop culture to advanced socioeconomic theory (negligible difference!). But today I decided to start off the new year right by dropping this comment and listening to the latest, which I've had for a while now but have been waiting to treat myself with after listening to scads of new but far less exciting musical offerings.

The last new Momus release I listened to within the lost world of an extinct volcanic crater in the tropics, and as I wrote here before, so far that's been my only listen--yet it's more alive in my memory than some of the others I've listened to dozens of times. I was going to say that one might be your best--but now I might have to revise my opinion, since I've given "Joemus" a digital whirl, this time on a glacial highland with snow drifting around me. I haven't read here about how the album came into existence, and I haven't looked up the words yet (are lyric sheets too much for ask for these days?), so the music and words are just a massive tangle in my brain right now--denser, more complex, it seems at this first listen, than anything you've produced yet--and that's saying a lot!

Comparisons are odious, but I am reminded just a bit of moments from the first side of King Crimson's "Lizard" and Peter Gabriel's debut album (things Joe and Nick have probably never even heard nor would want to hear), though I am certain the true influences and inspirations are much wider ranging, from Stanshallian vaudeville of course to Beckett or Brecht to ancient Hebridean rites. All in all, it felt like a three-ring circus, a Latin carnival, an American state fair, a Las Vegas revue, and a week at Bayreuth all crammed onto the same floodlit stage. Some are no doubt saying it's too busy, but that's like saying Stockhausen is too cerebral. Besides, I heard a lot of fresh open spaces and becalmed passages in there, too. Furthermore, unlike most cases of this sort, the covers are no more impressive (as compositions) than the Joemus originals. And it's a tremendous amount of fun!

I've long since given up trying to describe, defend, or deconstruct Momus's music, so I better stop right there. It looks like this year I'm going to have to sit down with all the Momus albums (including "Ocky Milk") once again and really try to learn them better. That includes all the old material you've just made available once again (thankfully replacing all my tattered and dubiously acquired mp3s, though I'd still much rather have the CDs!). Your track-by-track analysis of them is bound to enlighten me further--though I probably wrongly sense a certain sadness or despair in the whole project; are you Prospero drowning his books or Kafka throwing his manuscripts onto the grate? Never mind, I'm more than eager to see what comes after flood or fire.

(Just to let you know, a friend, not knowing I am a faithful follower, downloaded the album from emusic and admitted he was really enjoying it. So word must be spreading... )


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Sorry--nothing about flowers

Welcome, old friend!

It's interesting you should mention Gabriel -- there's been an ongoing reassessment of him on Click Opera over the last couple of months. I clutched my head in bewilderment on hearing The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, then saw the light in the form of some ancient Genesis TV appearances. I haven't really explored his solo work at all, but I'm sure I will.


ReplyThread Parent
xyzedd
xyzedd
xyzedd
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
That was quick!

And a tip o' the auld lang syne to you, sir! I must admit I've only very casually listened to "Joemus," while I was doing my morning ablutions and donning my gayest weeds and tweeds, but even so it seemed to me both a beautiful, seductive thing of wonder and another reason why "sui generis" is my favorite genre. I can't wait to get back to it! Having discovered Roxy Music far too late in their career, I first became aware of this creature called an "Eno" on the first Genesis album I ever bought, the aforementioned "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," still (I say with adolescent nostalgia) one of my favorite rock albums of the seventies, as big, labored, dated, and bloated as it is. Look carefully at the liner notes and you'll find Brian credited with "Enossifications," a term which bewildered me at the time. If you ever dare go back to the lp, listen for some synthesis of the sounds in some of the longer instrumental passages (I think--or is it on only one track?). Anyway, if it weren't for that mystery I might never have gone on to explore the greater mystery of Mr. Eno soon after... whose first album, I might add, sounds to me like the older bastard half-stepchild's uncle of "Joemus.) I never saw those Peter Gabriel costumes and videos until recently-- and I found them surprisingly graceful and Mr. Gabriel quite pretty in his springtime. I'm looking forward to that Vivian Stanshall restrospectacle down the page!


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC)
Hana mochi

As predicted, I became increasingly self-conscious while returning home on the subway carrying two Pinus eldarica branches with pink and white balls of rice flour dough attached to them. But at least it was a self-consciousness with Sonata Form (ABA). From Neukölln (your 'New Mitte' to the south) to Mitte, a gradual rise in gaping snickerers was noticed, leading to the inevitable: the subway ride's B (or 'Dominant') section in Mitte proper. Here the crowded car prompted me to lean against a corner by the door, protectively holding the hana mochi directly in front of me, wondering if I could achieve a less conspicuous effect by obliviously gazing out the window or by casually scrutinizing the artificial rice flowers inches from my face (I opted for the latter). Looks and laughs ensued, nonetheless, for two stops, then abruptly stopped. This was the 'final cadence' of the B section. Presently we returned into the tonic realm of the closing A section, as most of the passengers deboarded and the train finally entered Wedding (my 'New Mitte' to the north). Nick and Hisae, please have a Happy New Year!


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)

Ahh..where'd the blue background go


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eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
eclectiktronik
Fri, Jan. 2nd, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)

Happy new year, Nick!

"An analog camera, like a Thermos flask, is an under-appreciated friend, a device you take on a field trip with a small group of friends. With the right philosophy, it becomes a tool for the reassessment of "standard" things encountered on the way -- normal things which have become slightly neglected because of the arrival of new things"

I can identify with this, as someone who generally carries a recordable walkman (or similar) about, which I have not ditched in favour of an MP3 player. Recording fragments of sonic reality are like little snapshots one appreciates later,as they are somehow removed from banality. And of course using a trusty piece of old kit, which still has a function, only adds to the idea of appreciating what you have and what is around you. I'm sure Rinus (of DKFRF) will have something to say on this too!

In fact, I was given an MP3 player as a a present a few years ago, but found it unpleasant. Apart form the poor mic recording quality and lack of bass or 'guts' in the music (due to the compression I suppose), the experience of having so much choice of music instantly at hand was not the wonder it was made out to be. Often I was flicking to other songs and not 'listening through'. It all seemed superfluous, having hundreds of tracks more than I needed or would have time to hear, for the sake of it. With the walkman I carefully select the tape for the day, at most 2 albums' worth of music, and appreciate it more. The mixtapes made for me by friends years ago (providing me with 'hot tea' moments on the train!) also don't seem to have a modern equivalent!


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