Knights of the Old Republic
The ideological warrior and the battles that must be fought
Serafuku really is a wonderous thing, don't you think? There is a certain allure that can only be captured as a warm wind blows gently on a summer morning, happy chatter of joushi kousei echoing between the homes on a suburban street outside of Tokyo. Motteke sailor fuku! A carefully tied ribbon that falls across her breasts accentuates the soft lines of collarbones. The flutter of the skirt and the brush of soft fabric against smooth skin stand in stark contrast to the high-buttoned coats and straight pants worn by boys. The boundary between where the skirt ends and the top begins is the subject of many a wet dream for the prepubescent schoolboy, who does not yet understand the depth to his depravity. The beauty is not what is beyond that boundary, rather, it's the idea that something so sensual is hidden so feebly that an unexpected gust of summertime wind could realize the dreams of dozens of boys in one fell swoop. The possibility is what is enthralling. There is a shadow rapidly approaching and it's here to stay. The defenses are raised but will not restrain the torrent that threatens.
1990. All the Young Nerds gather within a summertime memory of the sepia-tinged streets of Akihabara. The smell of sweat and salty food lingers in the afternoon air as the sun sets just beyond the concrete horizon. Off to the side of the closed-off road, a young woman stands with a microphone and boombox, singing an off-key cover of "GURA GURA" in cosplay- she is wearing a serafuku. A crowd slowly begins to form around this new idol. Her voice resonates at the perfect frequency and the crowd is at her mercy of her eternal serenade. Like ships beckoned to their premature end by Sirens on the rocks, all the young nerds are lost in a swirling whirlpool of thoughts, unable to go beyond. They clap and she sings. Lightsticks dance on their own.
Most of my upbringing was structured in such a way to best plant the seed of a God-fearing good-doer in me. My parents raised me in the way they were raised, and how they thought would give their child the best possible chances of being a decent person when he grew up. I prayed to the Virgin Mary but never onced asked "what does virgin mean?" My grandmother would go on to warn me of the temptations of the Devil. My nightmares saw a terrifying horned creature surrounded by pulsating red flames and I would awake in cold sweat. My fingers interlocked and I kneeled by my bedside, begging an omnipotent God for forgiveness- I had lied about eating dessert before dinner today! The absurdity of this memory should not be dismissed merely to needless dramatization. The lessons I was taught were thinly veiled attempts to instill a fear of wrongdoing in a child who knew no better. I have always been naive and was deathly afraid of breaking rules; I played nicely between the lines in the sand and thought of nothing beyond the limit. I didn't want to tarnish the reputation I had with those around me and the authority of adults evaded me. I thus fell into line and knelt as words of prayer found their way to my lips.
I found myself uttering words of prayer to ask for forgiveness and offer up my praise towards an icon I have never known of. The words continued but they lacked meaning, they lacked weight. My weakening grasp on religion was strained during many weeks of Sunday school leading up to my First Communion. This was partially rooted in my learned apathy towards the act of being locked in a room to listen to a sermon every week when I could have been playing with my matchbox cars at home. I was told not to speak and just to listen. I found it hard to find interest in the subject matter with a toddler's attention span. Sunday school was the nail in the coffin as, especially after the Communion, the amount of time I spent there was not doing anything to help me understand. It wasn't a problem with the class, it was a fundamental issue with the material. I was reassured that the ghosts in the closet were not real, but was expected to believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. I was caught between the eagerness to challenge the doctrine of faith I was led to believe, and the ancestral fear of being haunted by the foreknowledge of Purgatory. This skepticism was born from a desire to metaphorically stretch my intellectual legs and adorn a fedora to complete the look. My parents still bought into weekly Church-goings so I went along with their beliefs, doing my best to play along with the facade. There is never a good time to say you renounce everything your family has been following for so many generations. Surely I would hear "just go along with it and don't influence your brother to be a Satanist" so I did just that and bit my tongue.
In high school my favorite class was European History, despite me being sorely lacking the motivation to memorize information and sharing the same commitment as the other students- my grade and outstanding missing assignments was reflective of that. However, I enjoyed learning about the people and ideas that drove history. I started to get funny ideas about the world and my place within it. This Nietchze guy was pretty spot-on! I began to read Wikipedia against the advice left by memories of grade school teachers. Composition notebooks charted my downward spiral- embracing self-destructive tendencies with hopeless romanticism. My vision was clouded by the lingering fog of yesteryear's depression. But these raging thoughts fueled by my youthful libido and hopeless naivety set the foundation for my own awakening. The bad daze would only continue for so long before the storm cleared. My teenage apathy morphed into misanthropy, and my ideas ran unchained. But you know my magic is strong, and you know my power is endless. No God, no meaning… tfw no gf. The fedora-tipping gained a new dimension as I began to build a narrative out of my daily evolutions to a homebrewed ideology. A child of faith I was no longer. I could now strike down my nightmare daemon by my own blade.
I will direct your attention momentarily to the 2008 Sono Sion film Love Exposure, in which one young man's spiritual quest for meaning is found by means of voyeuristic upskirt photography. Honda Yu grows up being told by his late mother that his true love should be a woman like the Virgin Mary. After she passes, his father turns to Christianity before becoming a pastor. His sermons are full of energy and there is a motivation to teach the good in the world. All is well, until he is charmed by a mysterious woman. After which his teachings become more aggressive- and he forces Yu to come to confession exceedingly frequently to tell of all the Sins he supposedly committed. But Yu is a good kid and he sees no wrong in anything he did, be it intentionally or not. He grasps at straws and tells of the most insignificant things- his father is pleased. But his father is only pleased when he does wrong. Honda Yu sees this and experiences a loss of faith for the first time, as he witnesses the fragility of the faith he thought to be unbreakable. So he rebels. He begins to commit petty “sins” to get back at his high-strung father. Initially to have something to talk about, but eventually he feels good for finally letting loose. He then proceeds to commit the most severe sin that he knows that triggers religious folk the most- a sexual sin. He follows the noble path of upskirt photography and gets quite good at it. Once a master, he goes to confession and tells his father of the hijinks he's been involved with. This is the first time his father was angered at Yu not just as a pastor, but as a parent. He continues to tumble down the path of a voyeur photography until he is graced by a fated meeting with the girl under the veil- Maria-sama. For the first time in his life, he feels something deeper beyond the initial rush of taking perverted pictures of passers-by. The beauty is not of the cloth itself, rather, it's a simulation derived from the wearer. Yu is not just a pervert, he's a pervert with dignity.
Religion to me is a code of conduct. I was sorely missing the "point" by believing that I had to delude myself with the mysteries of Ghosts and fabricated history. It was a LARP that took itself too seriously and might have been better off being more so taught as a way of life instead of a rigid law. The Christianity I grew up to understand as history was nothing more than a system put in place to teach people to be decent people (though the validity of the moral code is not something I wish to debate). It was in that moment that I realized my own moral code has replaced Christianity as my spiritual guidance in life. Perhaps in another world I could have found solace within the guidance of organized religion, but I was not fated to in this reality. My own morality was misconstrued and woefully juvenile, but served a similar purpose. I didn't need religion to be a decent person. I took the ideas I respected from the old way and recontextualized them into a system that would best serve my purpose. I have a moral code to abide by regardless of how Sunday Church-goers perceive their missguided black-metal-listening son to lack.
The reason I needlessly expanded upon an initially-brief diatribe about religion is because my stance on it lies in parallel to my feelings regarding my current ideology. The "Ideological Warrior" is a concept I'm surely not the first to conceptualize, though I'm not well-read enough to tell you otherwise. However, this ideal state of being is my own twisted reimagining of the nirvana you dream of. It's the perfect existence that I strive to become. Some have role-models they wish to be half as good as one day, but these idols can be corrupted. The point of the Ideological Warrior was to embody the pure image of what you love. You know you're wrong, but choose to continue to make "mistakes." This is not intended to be confined specifically to my brand of otaku lifestyle either; it could be applied to anything you believe in. One person might know that there is no supernatural force controlling your life, but choose to believe in that religious doctrine because it gives them something fantastic to believe in. That is what faith is, I guess. Faith is the confidence to pray and never get an answer. Faith is the ability to run blindly and to trust the angel by your side. You can look beyond the horizon and know a better day will come before even the sun rises. I couldn’t find any of that within the empty words I was struggling to form as I knelt. My uncompromising desire to exceed the limits of “cringe” put me in a place where I only know to trust my own eyes. I can only be a good person by my own Judgment, but that is all that matters in the end. Find a way, look away from hate and what's not pure. Show them you can become a faithful shape. The Ideological Warrior does not need to believe that they are the perfect being, but instead be living a life with the goal to get as close to the limit of the knife's edge as possible.
There is beauty contained within something so sensual, yet is hidden so poorly that an unexpected gust of summertime wind could realize the dreams of dozens of boys in one fell swoop. The possibility is what is enthralling. There is a shadow rapidly approaching and it's here to stay. The defenses are raised but will not restrain the torrent that threatens. I got all these Shields and you can't breach them. Winter is fast approaching and the nights grow long; winds rest easy across the untouched virgin snow. Heart racing uneven, pulse speeding. Honda Yu doesn't want to see the joushi kousei's panties beneath the skirt. It's just a piece of cloth afterall, but that's besides the point. What matters is the meaning prescribed to the otherwise inconsequential piece of cloth. Nothing is but what it is not[a]. I spend many nights wasting away in another time; moving pictures reflect against my eyes as shadows dance across my chambers. I focus not on what "should be," but "what is." Nothing is real anymore and reality slips away once more. My 2D romantic comedy flourishes at the behest of my heavy keystrokes. She stares back at me- eyes unblinking with a half-smile that eludes me to this day. Yet, my heart moves. The flipside tried but failed to evoke such an emotion in me. Visions of plastic girls swirl through my nostalgia as their last temptation begs for my lust-corrupted affection. Cold silicon leaves me snowblind. The provocations from their advances left me at odds with my all-too-human instinct. But in a moment of clarity, the desires pass over me... I dream of PVC figures as stand-ins for their flesh-bound counterparts. I dream of a queen of snow, far beyond compare. I dream of just playing games; I know that's plastic love. Dance to the plastic beat and another morning comes- I'm just playing games, I know I'm just playing games. My PVC girlfriend exists only within the glass detolf imprisoning her. The love of my life cannot extend her hand to hold my hand when I need it most, but she can touch my heart. Elaborate tales of grandeur are woven amidst the spiraling blacklight party within my room. The stars overhead coalesce upon the horizon I seek; the wintry plains lie untouched in perfect virgin beauty. So my Asics never touch the ground because I dare not sully the sparkling beauty beneath me nor the sight above me- I exist merely in the space between two magnificent sights. From the moon upon the black sky, night is all around me! I drown in delight and I'm overwhelmed by her majestic might. This is all a fabrication of words, but my vision is true. Thus, I retreat into dreams: my Artificial Night Sky.