Ergo Proxy

I’ve just started re-watching the sci-fi anime show Ergo Proxy, and again I’m struck by its visual splendor. Ergo Proxy is a deeply philosophical, beautifully animated dystopian cyberpunk series which deals with the existence of humans and AutoReivs (androids) in the domed city of Romdeau, built to protect its citizens after global ecological disaster thousands of years in the past. The main character is Re-l Mayer, an intelligence bureau agent who is assigned to investigate the “Cogito virus,” which causes infected AutoReivs to become self-aware. The “Proxies” are mysterious, godlike beings whose nature is enigmatic yet deeply human. Taking place both within the seemingly utopian, futuristic city and outside in the vast, dark expanses of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, the capacities and origin of the Proxies are slowly unraveled. In this gorgeous animation, cerebral engagement, existential musings, emotional intensity, and aesthetic rigor combine in a rare way to produce a dreamlike, vague, often abstruse, but ultimately compelling story.

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Prose Poetry Manifesto: From Hakim Bey’s T. A. Z.

“I am awake only in what I love & desire to the point of terror–everything else is just shrouded furniture, quotidian anaesthesia, shit-for-brains, sub-reptilian ennui of totalitarian regimes, banal censorship & useless pain.

Avatars of chaos act as spies, saboteurs, criminals of amour fou, neither selfless nor selfish, accessible as children, mannered as barbarians, chafed with obsessions, unemployed, sensually deranged, wolfangels, mirrors for contemplation, eyes like flowers, pirates of all signs & meanings.

Here we are crawling the cracks between walls of church state school & factory, all the paranoid monoliths. Cut off from the tribe by feral nostalgia we tunnel after lost words, imaginary bombs.”

— from The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism
by Hakim Bey


Shanghai’s 1933 Slaughterhouse

This beautiful concrete, glass, and steel edifice, designed by British architects and built by Chinese developers in 1933, is an Art Deco wonder of space, natural light, and enigmatic curves and bends. It’s hard to imagine that this incredible building, which reminds me of a Lovecraftian elder city of stone labyrinths, was originally designed as a slaughterhouse.

Its maze-like passages were built to herd cattle along to their deaths. The rough surfaces were to prevent cattle from slipping, even on floors slick with blood. Atlas Obscura says, “The hulking spiderweb of intertwining staircases, ramps, bridges and corridors was all part of guiding the flow of both thousands of workers to their stations, and millions of cattle to their deaths….Ultimately it is the interlocking staircases and twenty-six ‘air bridges’ of varying width that connect the outer areas with the circular core that give the building its mind-bending M. C. Escher quality.”

It underwent a major renovation in 1998 after being abandoned for years, and is now used as a sort of mall and simply called “1933.” This architectural gem reminds me of Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, a gorgeous midcentury industrial district of military factory buildings built in the ’50s in a Bauhaus-inspired style, which was reclaimed and redesigned by artists in the ’90s and 2000s, and is now a home to art studios, galleries, and cafes, with a unique, spacious, majestic, beautiful, half-sterile feel. 1933 would be amazing as a center for art and creativity.

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