Posts Tagged ‘ Vita Sexualice ’

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (56/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

I’d like to thank the people who have donated so far. I appreciate it, and it is because your support that I keep working on this translation. Thanks again.

Mostly plot building and foreshadowing in this block, but I still hope you enjoy it.

If you catch some grammatical mistakes, please tell me. I will fix them.

Progress:
[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]

This an experiment.

If you would like to see more, please donate. [PayPal]

Translation Notes:
I have absolutely no knowledge of French, so I base my translations of those sections on both existing translations (when it’s (in)famous text) and the Japanese translations of the French text given in the book. (I’m not using automated tools or anything.)

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

[5]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Night of Unpleasant Rain – 7
Chapter 2: March of the Saints – 95
Chapter 3: An Unbearable Existence in Suffering – 191
Chapter 4: An Emptiness Devoid of Color Contrast – 257

[15/291]
[35/291]

[36]

Maribel Hearn had a boyfriend. He was a year older and they took a seminar together.

Merry ran her fingers along his naked chest as he slept, listening to him breathe as she lay beside him in bed.

It had been months since the last time they had sex, Merry thought absentmindedly. It wasn’t as if they loved each other any less… at least that was how Merry reasoned with herself about it. There was no way for her to see inside her boyfriend’s thoughts and she knew that, but all the same. Their relationship felt like a loosely tied thread slowly coming apart under its own weight. Merry couldn’t really put her finger on the circumstances, but inside of her the meaning and value of having sex felt as if it was slowly being filed away. Looking back now, Merry thought, even the last time they had sex she had felt some sort of distance between them… though she wasn’t sure.

Merry continued to think about this as she traced her boyfriend’s chest, which was by no means muscular, but not twelve minutes went by before she was tired of both.

What happened that day at noon. The thing with the human library. Renko.

Merry tried to remember. She tried to tie everything together, but her efforts were fruitless.

[37]

Merry closed her eyes and looked on at the darkness that remained, watched as it rolled around behind her eyelids. She waited, but the curtain of slumber would not fall for her, not one bit. She couldn’t sleep. Instead she felt her pupils constrict, and her eyes attempt to focus.

Lately this was getting to be more an more of a problem.

Merry shut her eyes more tightly and readjusted herself, wrapping her arms around one of her boyfriend’s. His arm was thin. His biceps probably weren’t any bigger than hers.

Moments later, without really thinking about it, Merry had reached for her portable terminal device. Rolling over to one side, she started it up, and bluish white light from its diodes faintly filled the room.

Merry opened up her address book and flicked through its contents. There were the names of her classmates, of her parents, the names of people from high school she still kept in touch with… and the name of her one and only friend.

“I’m connected with all of these people, so why is it that she is the only one I can call my friend?”

I used to have more, she thought. There were more, in the past, when I was in elementary school, middle school, high school… Out of all of the people Merry had contact with, there was only a small percentage that actually had the contact information of. Out of that smaller number, there was an even smaller percentage of those that she saw on a daily basis, and…

Merry closed her eyes.

[38]

Merry brought her terminal to her chest and rolled onto her back. Behind her eyelids, she watched the burned afterimage in her eyes swirl about. She watched as outlines were drawn, and she watched as they frayed apart. She watched them connect, swell and disperse like a surging tide, come apart and together again. As her eyes moved, the movements slowly became more disjointed. There was no rule or sense to it that Merry could find. Normally she wouldn’t give any thought to it, but on these sleepless nights it bothered her. She opened and closed her eyes, as if she were blinking in slow motion, but she could not call sleep to her as time wasted away.

Merry turned her terminal screen back on. Not three minutes had gone by.

Merry slipped out of bed and put on a shirt and some track pants before walking to the window. The apartment had an eleven tatami mat layout, about 18 square meters, and its outward facing wall was entirely made of panelled glass.

Merry pulled back the curtain and stepped barefoot out unto a small veranda. While the night that lay across the sky was a night somewhere between spring and summer, it was enough for her to feel a chill across the soles of her feet as she walked onto the veranda’s rough concrete surface. A 2 am breeze brushed lightly against her cheek.

About fifty years ago, regulations were put into place to protect the night sky. After 8 pm, artificial lighting was limited by lux, and so the city streets Merry looked down upon revealed themselves as small variations of the color of a thick coffee brew. Merry watched as the streets of West Kyoto slept, and she thought they resembled the library. She was reminded of the words that human library, that self-proclaimed witch had spoke to her.

[39]

“Books are caskets…
“In a way, you could say that a library is a city…

The rectangularly structured city streets, with their low rectangular buildings, in each of them were people. In each of them are people, separately. But under the curtain of night, everyone was the same, everyone in their boxes.

However they laughed, however they cried today, all of that existance was now buried, and to Merry that made her feel terribly alone.

Merry rested her arms on the veranda railing and looked down at the terminal in her hands. There was a single droplet on the liquid crystal display, and it twisted and warped the light coming off of the screen. It took Merry a while to realize that she was crying. Once she realized she was crying, her tears turned to sobs, which turned to wails gushing out from her uncontrollably. She couldn’t understand why she was crying, but she knew that she was sad. It felt as if there was a mass of leaden wool in her chest, stopping up her heart, and this feeling ran rampant through her. The night filled her with sadness.

Merry balled up and continued to cry, softly.

[40]

By the time Merry came to, wiping her tears on her sleeve, she had completely lost track of time. After wiping her tear stained terminal screen, she turned it back on, went straight to her address book and selected the name of her friend.

Would she answer? Merry sniffled and brought the terminal to her ear. After a few rings…

“Merry?”

“Good evening, Renko.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little late for ‘good evening’?”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I couldn’t sleep either.”

“What makes you think I couldn’t sleep?”

“Isn’t it normal to think that when you get a call at this time of night?”

“Well isn’t that something? You, talking about what’s normal.”

“Well statistically speaking, the median status of someone who calls at this time of night with the voice of someone who has clearly been crying is that of insomnia, as several studies on this subject confirm.”

[41]

“Where do you find this kind of information?” Merry replied, a slight smile forming on her lips. Above all else Merry felt comfort in these words, which showed her friend understood the state she was in.

“What, you don’t know? There was a paper published about it at the 2034, uh, Human Engineering something something Conference.”

“You’re making that up, aren’t you?”

“No, no. It’s just that it’s late and so I need a buffer to trace back over my memories properly… probably.”

“You need to qualify that with ‘probably’, even though you’re talking about yourself?”

“What we know least about is ourselves. Talking about the animals we call ‘humans’ as a whole I mean.”

“I agree.”

“Well isn’t that unusual, coming from you?”

“…”

“So, what’s the matter then?”

“Well… I’m just a little emotionally unstable right now, I think.”

“I see. Well, I guess that’s often the case with sleepless nights.”

“I guess so…”

[42]

“Are you having trouble with your boyfriend?”

“…We’re not having sex.”

“Come again?”

“I mean, it’s been months now since the last time we did it.”

“So does this mean you’re ‘sexless’?”

“I… think so. Probably…”

“You don’t like it?”

“I don’t think it’s that, it’s just…”

“Just?”

“It’s just that I feel like my body and soul are separated when we do it.”

“There you go again, being all abstract…”

Merry could hear what sounded like a snicker on the other side of the line.

“Ever since I’ve been able to see these strange things, I feel like my sense of reality has bottomed out.”

“Some kind of change is to be expected. After all, for humans, sight influences us more than any of our other senses.

“You think it’s as simple as that?”

“Absolutely. It is also true that I haven’t ever heard of a case where that has had a direct effect on one’s physical sense of touch though.”

[43]

“You and me both.”

“So that’s the reason you chose to rely on your friend in the middle of the night?”

“I’m not ‘relying’ on you, it’s just…”

“Just?”

“I just wanted to believe that there was someone out there watching me.”

“……What kind of nonsense is this now?”

The tone of Renko’s voice had changed slightly from before. Was there a trace of… anger?

“Renko?”

“Yeah?”

“Nevermind, it’s nothing. But I wonder, what should I do?”

“About what?”

“My boyfriend.”

“Well I think your boyfriend is partly to blame. He’s got this beauty lying next to him every night and doesn’t lay a finger on her? He must be out of his mind.”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Just trying to make you feel better.”

“Well, thanks.”

[44]

“…So you don’t like doing it?”

“That’s not… I don’t think that’s it. Like I said before, I just don’t feel like I’m myself. When we do it, it’s… I feel like something’s off, something’s not right.”

“You think it’s a problem with your sexual sensitivity?”

“Maybe? But I don’t think that’s quite right either.”

“So you feel pleasure, but it isn’t leading to any emotional satisfaction?”

“That might be the reason. When we do it, it’s like my spirit is

“It’s like… my soul is separated from my body, like a ghost. It’s not as if I can see anything, but… No, that’s not right. I can see. I can see my boyfriend. I can see the room. I can see everything properly, but it’s as if I’m observing everything from the outside.”

“Sounds serious.”

“You aren’t taking me seriously, are you?”

“Of course I am.”

“Well… if you say so.”

Silence found its way into their dialogue. Unlike before, Merry felt as if she was being left behind. It wasn’t as if she could say so though. She was afraid that if she did, something between them might end.

“Why don’t you try something new for a change?” said Renko, breaking the silence.

[45]

“Something new? I’m not trying any of that weird fetishistic stuff.”

“That’s not what I mean. Like, what if you try sleeping with someone else?”

“You’re saying that’s not fetishistic? No, I don’t want to do anything like that.”

“Are you sure? The basic idea is that by breaking down the status quo, you might be able to find something new.”

“But still, I don’t want to have sex with another man.”

“Who said anything about another man?”

“Huh?”

“I mean, you could do it with a woman.”

Merry gasped slightly before answering.

“Renko, you… always come up with the craziest ideas, don’t you?”

“Is it really that crazy though? To be honest, in this day and age… the idea that sex is an act only to be shared between those of opposite sexes, I think, is the one that’s more behind the times.”

Merry knew same sex marriage had been legalized nationally a number of years ago, and she understood why Renko would bring up, “this day and age” to argue her point. The nation had already come to a conclusion on its solution for declining birthrates. Instead of continuing to pressure the population to have more children, which had not yielded results, the government had changed direction. If there was not going to be enough children, all they had to do was make sure their nation could survive indefinitely without them.

[46]

The nation was aging. Everyone agreed. After reaching a certain level of development, it was impossible to continue an endless series of economic booms. Just like people, just like other animals, a nation will age.

All that was left was to wait for a slow descent unto death. With that in mind, everyone had accepted death, and focusing only on how to die in the least painful way possible. Every nation on earth had come to the same conclusion. Rather than material sufficiency, emotional and psychological satisfaction was more important.

There was no need or pressure to get married to someone of the opposite sex, to have children. To do that, “for the sake of our future” was laughable. There was no need to engage in romance. If you could die together with someone you truly loved and cared for, that was enough. Renko’s words truly were a product of the present age. However…

“I… guess you’re right. But still, I wouldn’t want to have sex with some random stranger.”

“So you’d be fine with someone you knew?”

“Better than someone I didn’t.”

“How about having sex with me?”

[47]

Merry gulped, completely taken off guard.

“R-Ren… ko?”

“……I was kidding.”

“T-That wasn’t funny, okay? You almost gave me a heart attack.”

“Why?”

“The thought of having… of having sex with you is just… I’ve never thought of anything like that before.”

“That makes sense I guess… Well, I mean, it just sort of came out. I wasn’t really thinking.”

“That’s not something you say without thinking.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Please do… But, come to think of it, I feel a little better now. Maybe because of your bad joke?”

“Behold the wonders of Ms. Usami’s Shock Treatment! Pretty effective, don’t you think?”

“I’m afraid of the side-effects.”

“What kind?”

“I’m not telling you.”

“As the founder of this treatment I’d like to pin down its various effects and virtues.”

“Enough already! Good night,” said Merry, hanging up before Renko could respond.

[48]

Immediately afterward, Merry looked up, sensing someone there. It was her boyfriend.

“Did something happen?” He asked.

“No, nothing. I just couldn’t sleep.”

“I see.”

The lights were already on in the room. Had she really been that concentrated on her call with Renko to notice? Because of the yellow tinted back light, Merry couldn’t see her boyfriend’s face. It was indiscernible in the shadows. Neither could she really make out what emotions might lie behind the vague tone of his voice.

“You’ll catch a cold like that.”

“…Right.”

Feeling that she was being pressured to, Merry went back inside.

On the glass table next to their bed, there were two steaming mugs. They must have just been poured. Merry sat down on the floor by the table and took one of the mugs in her hand. It was filled with a yellowish white liquid. When she brought it to her lips, she could smell the sweet scents of honey and milk. She took a sip and felt the hot milk flow down into her stomach, the heat from it spreading throughout her body.

[49]

“Hey, Mary.”

“Mary”, of course, referred to Merry. That was the way her boyfriend called her name. Not only her boyfriend, but everyone in her classes referred to her the same way. It was the more common, normal, shortening of her name.

“What is it?”

“Do you mind if I turn on the TV?”

“Go right ahead. …You don’t normally ask though. Is there a reason why?”

“Not really, I mean. I dunno.”

“I just thought you might be bothered by the noise,” her boyfriend muttered as he reached for the remote.

As electricity flowed through the television screen, it lit up with a color bar code. According to the clock hanging on the wall, it was three o’clock in the morning. It hadn’t felt as if Merry had spent a long time talking, but it seems that she had been out on the veranda for quite some time.

Flicking through a couple of channels with scheduled programming, Merry’s boyfriend left the television on a news program.

“News at this hour?” Merry thought, but she realized that she never really watched TV this late, and it might not be strange at all.

[50]

There were channels upon channels available nowadays, a far cry from the past, when only a dozen or so channels was the norm. So it wasn’t all that unusual to have dedicated news stations which ran the news all day long, even at this hour. Due to the nature of the programs, the station sets did not have be changed more than a handful of times, and the station itself didn’t require a lot of funds to keep running. Cost effective, Merry thought, as she stared at the female newscaster with her perfect makeup reading off news items in a detached and disinterested manner.

“At 5 o’clock, yesterday evening, an explosion occurred in a district of West Kyoto. Immediately before the incident, a suggestive video message was uploaded to a public video site by the suspected culprit, with the handle name ‘ICQ’. Police are investigating a possible connection between this incident and a series of similar explosions. This most recent explosion occurred on the grounds of *** Park, where…”

This wasn’t Merry’s first time hearing the news. On her way back from classes in the afternoon, just as Merry was thinking that the grounds were a lot busier than usual, she heard people talking about an explosion that had happened near campus. When this series of explosions first started happening, everyone was making a big deal out of the incidents, but now they were so common that they didn’t feel quite as real anymore. Of course, everyone was still cautious, a little bit on edge. There was no telling when you might be caught up in one of the incidents yourself.

However, given that Merry didn’t know anyone, or knew anyone who knew anyone caught up in any of the explosions, she had to admit she felt a strange sense of safety. Even if another explosion occurred, she was sure that she herself would be alright.

Merry stared absentmindedly at the screen, as she continued to drink her hot milk.

ICQ.

[51]

Merry didn’t know what it meant. No one knew who was behind the incidents, or what their motive was. It was always an empty flower shop, an empty cafeteria, an empty merry-go-round in an empty theme park, an empty something. The culprit always picked a place where there were no people present, and the explosions were all on a small scale. Otherwise, no one knew what linked the places together. They seemed almost random. However, before every single incident, there was always a message from the culprit uploaded to a video site. The police still had not pinpointed the source of the uploads. Merry thought it strange that the police hadn’t been able to do that, but she wasn’t really familiar with the methods behind such a search.

“Hey,” Merry said hardly above a whisper.

“Hmm?”

“I wonder what this person is trying to accomplish.”

“Well… have you seen any of the videos the culprit has uploaded before, Mary?”

“I haven’t. By the time the news outlets report on the incident the videos have always been deleted.”

“If that’s the case, I’ve got one of them saved on my terminal. Would you like to watch it?”

“…When did you get your hands on that?”

“I ran across it by chance. If you can call it that. I’m not the one who downloaded it.”

[52]

“By which you mean…?”

“I got it from one of my friends. It’s the video that was uploaded before the third explosion, if I remember correctly,” Merry’s boyfriend said as he stood up to get his tablet from where he had left it on the table.

After turning it on and scrolling his fingers across the surface a few times he stopped.

“Here it is,” he said, holding the screen out in front of Merry.

The video playback program had already been started and Merry found herself looking at a pitch black screen, as a melody she had never heard before began to play.

“What is this music?”

“It’s ‘Parade’.”

“Parade?”

“It’s the name of an old ballet, this is the music used in that ballet. The composer… was it Satie? Yes, it was Erik Satie.”

[53]

A strange and lively sort of music sounded from the tablet’s speakers. Then, shown on the screen was a single picture. A picture of the Mona Lisa with a white frame. On the white part of the frame was written, “L.H.O.Q.Q”, and that was it. That picture, and the music continued for a few minutes. Then, the visual changed. A circular plane was rotating. It was something Merry felt she had seen before. Something burned in the back of her brain. That. In the restricted section of the library it seemed as if… but wait, no. It wasn’t that. Merry felt a burning sensation deep within her brain. In her throat she felt as if there were masses of cotton with thorns stuck in her throat. Merry tried to wash the feeling away she drank the rest of her hot milk in three large gulps. That spinning circular plane. On it was a spiral. A spiral dancing, spinning in such a way that it disrupted her depth perception. As it spun, words appeared on the screen. A place and time, and the letters ICQ, and the words, “Si je te donne un sou, me donneras-tu une paire de ciseaux?”.

“If I give you a penny will you give me a pair of scissors?” Merry’s boyfriend muttered.

[54]

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Who knows… I can’t help but think they wrote it without any particular meaning in mind.”

“Huh.”

The video ended after four minutes and thirty three seconds, leaving the words, “Se il vous plait arreter de Vexations (We have a duty to stop the vexations)” at the very end.

“I wonder what it all means,” Merry wondered aloud.

“Who knows? It doesn’t seem like they’re doing it for kicks, nor with any political motivation. The police don’t seem to have any idea either.”

“I bet…”

“But…”

“Hmm?”

“But you know, I kind of get the feeling I understand.”

“Understand what?”

“What the culprit is thinking.”

“What do you mean?”

Merry’s boyfriend took a sip of hot milk and let out a sigh.

“I can’t say for sure, but I’d bet they’ve just grown tired of the world.”

[55]

“Where did that come from?”

“I mean, doesn’t everyone feel that way at some point or another?”

In response to that question, Merry thought to herself, “No, not everyone.”

“I bet they just want to run away.”

“From what?”

“You see that, I don’t know… Everyone, I think everyone wants to run away from some thing or another. I think that’s what they’re trying to say. After all, they’re calling themselves ‘I seek you’…”

“I seek you?”

“I-C-Q. It’s a play on ‘I seek you’.”

Merry hadn’t realized the meaning until then.

“I hear that there used to be a communication application with the same name a long time ago.”

“So that’s what it meant.”

“Of course, I still have no idea why they’re calling themselves that.”

“Well if you did, that would be scary, wouldn’t it?”

“Why is that?”

[56]

“After all, the only one who knows that is the culprit, right?”

“Hmm… I suppose you have a point.”

“Now don’t tell me that you’re the one behind all of these explosions.”

“Of course not. I’d never go to all that trouble. It seems like a huge hassle.”

“A… hassle?”

“Yeah.”

As Merry looked at the slight grin on her boyfriend’s face, she thought, for the very first time… that she probably, really did not love him anymore.

***

Advertisements

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (35/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

Progress:
[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]

This an experiment.

If you would like to see more, please donate. [PayPal]

Translation Notes:
[29] An exchange attributed to Natsume Souseki involves him claiming the best way to translate “I love you” into Japanese is to say “The moon is beautiful.”

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Night of Unpleasant Rain – 7
Chapter 2: March of the Saints – 95
Chapter 3: An Unbearable Existence in Suffering – 191
Chapter 4: An Emptiness Devoid of Color Contrast – 257

==
[0-15/291]
==

[16]

There were several bookshelves arranged in an orderly fashion, and nothing else. In fact it was so orderly it seemed unnatural. It was as if those shelves had been born there, and died without anything about them changing. That was the impression Merry felt.

Merry’s boots clicked on the wooden tiles as she walked across the floor. She had thought the red carpeting on the floor had no sense or purpose to its arrangement, but she was wrong. It seemed to be forming a shape, but standing where she was, she was too close to make out the shape in its entirety.

The bookshelves were filled with paper books, and all of them were exquisitely bound. There were leather bound books, clothed hard covers, books with gold and silver lettering and so on.

One of those books caught Merry’s eye. It was a book with a cloudy yellowish white color that had blackened in places. Merry reached out and ran her fingers along the spine. It had a rough feel to it and she thought that it was as if someone had bound this book with human skin.

The title read, “Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella”.

Merry used her finger from the top of the spine to pull the book out. It was heavy in her arms. When she brought it close and opened the cover, the mouldy smell which wafted from the pages tickled her nose.

[17]

From the pages which had already began to yellow, she read.

ーSeventeen is a perfect and complete number.

That is how it began.

ーSeventeen is a perfect and complete number. As for the reason why…

“It symbolizes death, and death is a sphere. Spheres, within their limited number of fragments repeat over eternity. No one was able to provide proof for what separates the inside and outside of a circle. The only thing they could think of was to fiddle repetitively with the arrangement of a hundred thirty thousand letters, like the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”

Someone was reciting the words written in the book.

When Merry reflexively looked up, in the gap made when she removed the book, there was a single lip – half of a pair of lips. From the half mouth’s single lip opening were fingertips. Not fingers with fingertips attached, but only the fingertips, twisted and bent like withered birch, bent and packed into a ball.

Merry gasped and slowly started to take a step back when she finally realized.

[18]

The red velvet carpeting was laid out in the shape of of a person. It was a young girl’s silhouette lying on the floor.

Between the folded legs of the silhouette was a single tea set. The porcelain tea cups’ edges were painted gold, and they were filled with a dark red liquid. Floating on the surface was a single flower. It took a few moments for Merry to realize that it was a colombine flower.

“Eighteen is a perfect and complete number. It is a number formed from the multiplication of the numbers three and six. When eighteen is divided by seventeen, one can say that it is the same as a single fragment of sky passing through the gas pipes.”

Merry felt as if her brain had lurched into a spin.

Dizziness… Vertigo…

It felt as if the entire restricted section of the library was spinning, with Merry at its center.

The bookshelf furthest from the entrance had its books pulled randomly from the shelves, and in those void spaces Merry saw a face… a face whose presence suggested it was the face of the entire room.

[19]

As that thought crossed Merry’s mind, from the bookshelf right beside her, the shelf closest to the floor, an arm reached out. The hand attached to the pale arm had only its thumb and pointer finger, with the others missing. That hand picked up a teacup, as another similar arm reached out to the teapot and poured a dark red tea. Merry could smell the faint fragrance of the tea, and it was bold and sickeningly sweet.

“I wonder, is it more appropriate to say, ‘Welcome’, or ‘How dare you!’ in this situation? At least the present me can’t say for certain. Be that as it may, ‘Welcome’ to this mansion with no master to receive you, Miss Ghost.”

The voice was laughing. The human library buried within the bookshelves was laughing.

“Gh-Ghost?”

“You’ve been here before, haven’t you? Here and… somewhere,” The voice cackled.

“Baths in course tea for beauty marks without too much Bengay. (In the end, is there any meaning in translating these words? Bains de gros thé pour grains de beauté sans trop de bengue.) Well then, Miss Ghost. I see you’ve taken the trouble to come all the way down here, after all. How can I help you?”

“U-Um…”

Words crawled their way through the air, without serving any purpose.

[20]

“When you think about it, books are nothing but caskets, the same as I am. Humans are not reproduced in a shower of raucous laughter. Humans are not reproduced. I am searching for a singularity. For that signifies nothing less than a cultivation of the void.”

Merry did not understand the words that were being spoken to her. What she was saying was…

Is ‘she’ the right word?

Merry looked around. There were countless gaps among the countless bookshelves. In those gaps were mixed the parts of a young woman. From the dead middle of one bookshelf, she could see a thin leg sprawled out. But from where the ankle would be, was not a foot but an ear, such that it looked as if a flower was growing there. The ankle and foot instead were suspended from the ceiling, flickering inside a light bulb. One eye opened from the sole of the foot. A rounded, feminine belly was exposed. In another place was a slit, probably her vagina… but from it gazed a single eye. Merry could see her hips and breasts peeking out from gaps in the top shelf. Then there was a white, frilly cloth. It floated out of several gaps in the bookshelf, and probably was what she was wearing. From the book that Merry held open in her hands, was the paired lip of the other she saw before. It was trembling slightly, as if it were breathing.

“Who… Who are you?” That was all that Merry was able to say.

[21]

The human library raised a melancholic smile.

“I have seen it. I have seen how all of this time every single human being has huddled their shoulders and run off doing countless idiotic things, lowering the intelligence of their peers, spreading the rot of their souls by all means possible. You know what they all claimed as the motivation for their actions? Honor.”

“U-Um…”

“Good afternoon, Miss Ghost. I am a witch. A library witch bestowed with the name of ‘Knowledge’. Yes, a library is nothing but a communal graveyard.”

Merry recognized those words. After all, that is just what she had been thinking about.

“Books are caskets. Why? For they consist of others’ souls buried solely for others to observe them. They are no different than the Jane Does laid in their caskets and placed within rose decorated rooms. The collection books and their storage behind locked doors constitutes nothing but the formation of a communal grave. In a way, you could say that a library is a city. We are but a single casket eternally locked within a city.”

Tea spilled from the overflowing teacup and spread out on the floor.

“The only thing that makes me distinct is the name ‘Patchouli Knowledge’.”

The red liquid, still flowing, had spread all the way to Merry’s feet. As it filled in the area outside of the outline of Merry’s boots, the liquid continued to flood the velvet carpet and wooden tiled floor.

[22]

A sea three centimeters deep now filled the restricted section of the library.

“In the mirror I stared at my mouth, my mouth I had injured of my own free will. I hadn’t thought things through. How was I supposed to know whether this was a normal human smile, when the blood gushing from the two gashes on either side of my face made it so hard to see? But after looking intently in the mirror for a while I could finally see. I could finally see that my smile was no human smile. In fact, I was not smiling at all… Well then, Miss Ghost. From where should I begin?”

Silently a finger, a pointer finger and nothing more, reached from the bookshelf and slowly traced Merry’s lips. It continued to move, from her lips to along her jaw, along the path of her tears.

“But the void was not cultivated,” Patchouli continued. “I cannot help but be silent in the face of the fact that it is yet impossible, in the same way that you cannot help but be silent about things which you cannot speak.”

“Is that Wittgenstein?” Merry interjected reflexively. She had read Wittgenstein as a requirement for one of her lectures.

“Yes, his ‘now’ was hundreds of years ago, and his theory is still incomplete.”

“Incomplete?”

“Everything was incomplete, be it the definition of existence, existential meaning… Everything was left incomplete, while everyone died insane. Logic fills the world, and the limits of logic are the limits of the world. In other words, it is impossible to have others accept what which you yourself cannot understand. This is despite the fact that everything exists on an outer shell. For whenever you look into a mirror, you are being looked at by yourself residing within it.”

[23]

Merry heard the sound of something crawling about. When she looked behind herself, she saw a chair. In that chair a young woman’s body was seated. The body was armless and legless, only a torso. The stomach was separated by a grating, a grating that traced along the body’s entrails. Buried in the very center between the heart and stomach behind the grating was a microphone.

A static noise echoed in Merry’s ears. Where the body’s head should be, from its neck upwards, was a birdcage. In the birdcage, tightly fit, was a picture of a blue sky.

[24]

It was an empty sky. But the sky was twisted into an unnatural shape. It shape was almost like that of a human eye. In the very center was a pitch black sphere. That is all there was. (A false mirror, or perhaps a mechanical boy.)

From the microphone howled a noise ridden voice. It produced a resonance in Merry’s ears, and she felt as if they would burst. She felt thousands of rusty needles piercing her brain.

Vertigo… Dull pain… Nausea… Dizziness…

The flickering restricted section and the young woman’s body which would not collapse… Her face in the gaps between bookshelves and her violet bellflower hair… The scarlet velvet carpeting… The geometric layerings of the wooden tiles… The shelves, the ceiling, the spiral stairwell…

All moved with uniform velocity repetitively in different ways. (Many critics discuss the ways in which M.C. Escher’s images define spaces which do not exist, but why will no one talk about the fact that what is necessary is not a pure formulation, but something completely removed from it, and nothing but that?)

The library itself began to move about and become entangled in itself. It was like a fetus in the womb. Yes a fetus kicking in the womb.

[25]

A scarlet puddle spread from Merry’s feet. (Menstrual blood is a crimson pollutant.)

Within was reflected faintly a spinning circular surface.

The tea, which like frozen blood had clung to the surface, cracked and flaked off as it spun, creating a series of patterns, a series of letters by Merry’s feet.

What was it that rose from the surface? That word… Merry no longer remembers.

***

“What you’re telling me sounds far too vague and indeterminate to be a dream… in my opinion anyway.”

Merry sat across from her friend, Usami Renko, on an open café terrace located within the West Kyoto University grounds. Renko looked somewhat annoyed as she responded to Merry’s story, in between sips of her synthetic coffee.

[26]

“Well I’m not disagreeing with you…”

In her hands, Merry felt the temperature of her light brown milk tea in its plastic cup slowly drop as it was exposed to the surrounding air. It was just past noon. Morning lectures were over and afternoon lectures had yet to begin. While the crowds around them were loud and bustling enough to be a nuisance, they all kept passing by, giving Merry the impression that just Renko and her were being left behind somehow.

Merry took a sip of her milk tea and felt only its sweet fragrance pass down her throat. Whether the tea itself was synthetic or not was minor compared to the overwhelming additive flavors of saccharine and synthetic milk, clearly there to mask the cheap flavor of the tea, and Merry felt them stinging on her throbbing tongue.

However, Merry thought as she wiped the bit of milk tea left on her lips with her ring finger, there was no way for her to really know what true milk tea really tasted like. Her impression of the milk tea in her hands was limited to the fact that, “This is a drink that is called ‘milk tea’,” as she could not compare it to the original. True milk tea had long been left only to the realm of high class connoisseurs, and even the price of food plotter cartridges with non-synthetic ingredients far exceeded the budget of a university student.

By Renko and Merry’s generation, all food products were synthesized with 3D plotters. Synthesized end-product food items could be printed by loading cartridges in specialized machines, where the cartridges were filled with a putty composed of various ingredients the product required. The cost of each cartridge depended on the composition of the putty, where the more pure and less complex its composition was, the cheaper it cost. However, if the aim was to accurately reflect a product’s natural flavor, it was necessary to include impure ingredients and randomized variable components in the putty to an appropriate degree, resulting in added costs of production unnecessary for cartridges with only purified ingredients.

[27]

It was in this way that “true flavor” had become a luxury product for the wealthy. But while the luxury of “true flavor” was still available, handmade food items made from natural ingredients simply did not exist anymore. Not only was the manufacturing of such products incredibly inefficient, human rights groups had claimed the working conditions and labor involved were intolerably restrictive of the human rights and freedoms of both men and women, and this had long ago led to a trend of self-regulation and decline of such products within the food industry.

Therefore, for Merry and Renko it was impractical to try to experience the so called “flavors of old”. For them, only the costs registered on the scales. After all, “true flavor” relied heavily on impurities, and these impurities only served to muddy the flavors they were more familiar with.

“Well let’s see then, Miss Merry… You think this is a case of your eyes being too sensitive?”

Renko took another sip of her similarly cheap flavored coffee. (Renko herself had trouble viewing the kind of coffee that she was drinking as a cheap knockoff however. Her reasoning was linked to the arguments above. To Renko, “coffee” was simply a black liquid that was both bitter and acidic, which she only valued as a means to ingest caffeine.)

“Well, it is true that this time I couldn’t tell where the boundary between the dream world and the present was, but…”

Ever since Merry was discharged from the sanatorium in Shinshuu, there had been times where Merry not only could see beyond the boundary between this world and the dream world, but where doing so resulted in a time-displacement which removed her from the present time axis.

[28]

That phenomenon had occurred before when Merry and Renko had shared their senses. However, from the look on Merry’s face, it didn’t seem that she was as sure of what happened as when she had brought back an Izanagi plate fragment.

“…all that I saw… none of it made any sense,” Merry muttered.

“Well if that’s the case, I wonder what you really did see?”

“I have no idea. It was like I was inside a Dali painting.”

“Dali?”

“Oh? Miss Usami the know-it-all doesn’t know who Dali is?”

“Unfortunately I don’t. Care to fill me in on who this dreamer is?”

“He’s not a ‘dreamer’, just an artist.”

“An artist, huh.” Renko rolled her head back and up towards the sky, before putting her over both eyes with a look of disgust written all over her face.

“Stop it. You know I can never understand any of that poetic stuff,” Renko moaned.

“Are you sure? His paintings are as if you took facets of human psychology and fed them directly through a 2D plotter. They’re definitely worth a look.”

[29]

“But you can’t take any of that and boil it down into a set theory. It’s the same as the fact that no matter how you phrase a statement about the moon’s beauty, you can’t convey love.”

“You really don’t have any passion, do you?”

“Well, it’s not like you can make babies with passion.”

“Isn’t passion a necessary part of the process?”

“The way I see it, the kind of relationship you need to make babies is nothing but a form of mutual dependency. Why else do you think god would have necessitated a game-like process for our reproduction?”

“So you won’t recognize passion, but you’ll admit it’s like a game?”

“Well, of course.”

“Either way…” Merry smiled weakly. “I have the feeling our conversation not only lacks passion, but also is starting to get a bit vulgar.”

“Agreed. However…”

Renko paused and took her coffee cup between her thumb and pointer finger of one hand, swinging it back and forth like a pendulum as she rested her head on the palm of her other hand and stared straight at her friend.

“Whether what you saw was a dream or a product of your eyes being too sensitive… I wonder what it was supposed to show or mean,” finished Renko.

[30]

“Was she was saying to me was so abstract, I’m not even sure I’ve conveyed it accurately to you.”

“Well that’s to be expected. You know what they say, the only ones who can memorize Heine poetry are tape recorders. It’s impossible for normal people.”

“Is this you trying to console me?”

“I’m only stating the obvious.”

“If you say so.”

“Anyway, can you still see that human library?”

“No, unless you count me visualizing her when I trace back over my memories. I might be able to meet her again if I go back to the library, but to be honest, I’m not at all thrilled at the thought.”

“Good point. If I were you, I’d want to pass on a second encounter.”

“Right?”

“But I’ll admit, I’d still welcome a first encounter.”

“It was bad enough for me the first time…”

With a clack, Renko set her coffee-filled cup to the side and leaned in towards Merry.

“I wonder if I’d be able to see her, like that time before,” Renko said.

“Like that time before…? Oh, you mean the time with the Izanagi plate?”

[31]

“Yeah. If what you saw was really something beyond the boundary, then I might be able to sense a fragment of it. Then I might be able to help you understand it, don’t you think?”

“Hmm… Well, I’m not sure what you’ll see… but you might be able to see something… Shall we give it a try?”

Renko silently closed her eyes in response. Merry reached out her hand, so that her pointer finger and middle finger hid Renko’s eyes from her view.

Merry heard a squishy clicking sound as if a gear had started moving deep inside her brain, and noise started to fill her consciousness.

Merry felt her pupils convulse and her eyeballs tremble as her and Renko’s consciousnesses connected.

Quietly, she could feel the fibers ripped from both of their egos touch and tangle.

Renko’s consciousness came to Merry as a minor feedback to the signal of her own consciousness, and she felt a rough texture like sand on her tongue. She felt her feeling of balance slowly crumble under a rotating motion.

[32]

To make an analogy, it was as if there was a screen in front of Merry’s eyes that was split in two. The two separate halves were on the same timeline, experienced the same surrounding noise, projected the same crowds around them, but something was off. There was a sort of phase shift between the two sides, as if there was a small frame delay, a delay of less than point-five seconds. While this disparity continued, something different began to be displayed on the right side of the screen. It was as if someone had fed two layers of different film into the same projector. (For the sake of a half-crushed right eye.)

The two layers of screen began to bleed into each other. The fuse was lit. Filaments. Bamboo filaments. Filaments that carried the heat and burned scarlet. They did not glow. Instead only the distinctness of the shadows melted away.

A screen split in two halves. The bustle of students behind the screen. The shadows of people moving past. Mixing projections. Violet bellflower. The human library.

[33]

Scarlet velvet. A clock. A witches clock. It was a machine. A stage of human shaped clocks. Humans.

The gears turned, the human library’s cage’s bird.

There was the image of a human twisted into a rectangle. Beans spilt over the floor. The soft innards of a boiled bean, perhaps a portent of rebellion, an insurrection from the inside.

Images blurred in multiple layers.

A leg of the human library kicked down a man. No, wait. Those two images were from separate layers. That was only the product of the collage. The two images weren’t on the same axis of space, nor on the same axis of time.

Students kept walking by. One of their heads was a cash register.

Merry had only seen cash registers in reference books, in pictures from when people still frequented convenience stores. It was used in monetary exchanges. A machine made specifically to handle physical currency. A machine long dead.

[34]

Now the human library was kicking the back of the student with the cash register head.

There was a hat at the feet of a young man. There were several hats on the ground.

Again, this meant nothing in terms of space. This meant nothing in terms of time.

Upon the countless hats were eyes. A pattern of opened slits in the shape of eyes.

A single slit. It was placed on the ground. Regularity. What could be seen in it was a single spiral.

It was rotating. The hats were following the path of its rotation.

Everything was rotating. A rotating quiescent point.

“The child who suckles is a hot-flesh blower and doesn’t like hot-house cauliflower.” (L’enfant qui tête est un souffleur de chair chaude et n’aime pas le chou-fleur de serre-chaude.) Those letters alone kept spinning.

Merry’s split vision with the two halves split yet again. Now there were four quarters. The upper left and upper right were the same as before, showing the students. In the bottom right were endless diaries. In the bottom left was…

It was… an eye. An non-rotating pupil. Countless boundaries. Proclaiming. Ghost. What was there was. What it was was… a butterfly specimen.

[35]

“Stop!”

Merry’s hand was slapped away.

Merry could see Renko in front of her, her face as white as porcelain, her lips trembling.

“I’m sorry I just… Please…” Renko’s fingers were shaking.

“I-I should be the one apologizing,” said Merry.

“I’m… I’m going to go now, okay?” said Renko, hurriedly gathering her things before leaving without another word.

The bustle of the crowd began to fade away.

After all, it’s almost time for afternoon classes to start, thought Merry, standing up from her chair.

***

[56/291]

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does (15/291)

I reserve the right to remove this translation without warning.

Progress:
[15/291]
[35/291]
[56/291]

This an experiment.

If you would like to see more, please donate. [PayPal]

Translation Notes:
[5] Also written throughout the book in the margins as “A Dream of Unpleasant Rain”
[14] “John’s Staircase” – The real world equivalent is “St. Joseph’s Staircase”.

Comedic Mechanism: Parade of the Jane Does

[5]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Night of Unpleasant Rain – 7
Chapter 2: March of the Saints – 95
Chapter 3: An Unbearable Existence in Suffering – 191
Chapter 4: An Emptiness Devoid of Color Contrast – 257

[7]

Chapter 1: A Dream of Unpleasant Rain

[9]

―May a theatric death befall us all.

A white cylindrical building stood in a corner of West Kyoto University’s campus.

In front of that building stood Maribel Hearn.

“Why is it that paper books still exist as a medium, so many years since the start of the scientific age?” Merry wondered to herself absentmindedly.

According to her friend Usami Renko, it had something to do with the discrimination in the value of different types of information. Merry walked through the entrance of the building as its curved glass doors slid into the walls on either side, and stepped onto the light green carpeting inside the building.

To prevent the degradation that information on paper faces over the years, that information can be digitized and thus made nearly permanent, easily passed on for generations to come. The value of information considered for digitization is weighed against the costs involved in the process and if the information is not deemed valuable enough then it is left to degrade in its current form, knowing that information will someday be lost. At least that’s what Merry’s friend asserted.

“If that’s the case…”

Merry walked across the communal space in the center of the building and over to a reception desk alongside the far wall.

[10]

Beside the reception desk was a small gate, like the automatic gates you pass through at a train station on your way to the platform. Beyond it was a cramped spiral stairwell which led to the restricted library section in the basement.

There were not any bookshelves in the communal space, but ten or twenty terminals. From those terminals, using the number on a student ID as well as vein identification (When people turn twelve years old, a microchip is embedded in their wrist with their biological information. Paper based identification, along with signatures were largely abandoned due to problems they presented in the past. With the digitization of such information, information for personal identification could be accessed from a database, which in turn could be accessed from any terminal device using their microchip. It is in this way that an individuals were identified, their souls ruled by numbers.), any digitized information could be readily accessed and downloaded into your personal terminal. Like in fairy tales, there was no borrowing limit, and the information did not have to be returned.

Because of this, the communal space was mostly empty. The only people there were people who wanted a desk to work on, and those who wanted a quiet place to sleep in between classes. There was no one else.

If you exclude the first floor communal area and the restricted section in the basement, this building was nothing but a box for servers which held all of the digitized data. That’s why the building was in the shape of a cylinder. It was the most effective way, at least so Merry had heard at some point or another, despite not really understanding why it was supposed to be an effective shape.

At the reception desk a single librarian idled about, clearly bored.

[11]

“Excuse me. I would like permission to enter the restricted section.”

Without answering, it wasn’t clear whether the librarian had actually listened to what Merry said, but he put a square box about twenty centimeters on each side in front of her. Merry put her wrist over the box, and a soft electric hum could be heard. The gate to the side quietly opened.

With a slight nod, Merry walked through the gate on her way to the restricted section.

The near and far side of the gate. A single thin barrier. It did not even reach to the ceiling and yet Merry felt as if the air about her had changed. Of course, it wasn’t as if there really was a difference in the condition of the air from one side to the other. It was nothing more than a sensory illusion, but Merry liked this sort of feeling. The feeling of a boundary.

It was nothing but a small gate, which separated the present and relics of the past already thrown away. Merry thought about the words of her friend.

This was information whose value was not seen as worth saving for future generations. Still, these were the words of people who were already dead, that they had left behind.

“Surely, what I’m walking into is a coffin,” Merry thought vaguely to herself.

Words wanted by no one.

[12]

The people that wrote them might have spent their whole lives doing so. Invisible words not heard by anyone. Everything which was denied passage to the next generation. Among them might be poetry, senseless theories, works on subjects of study already lost. Even so, Merry could not help but feel uncomfortable cutting all of that away as unnecessary.

Uncomfortable. She couldn’t really put what she felt into words. Discomfort? No, that wasn’t it either.

It was probably the same feeling that someone gets when they look at abandoned ruins, buildings that have lost their use, buildings that were built for someone, buildings not loved by anyone, everything. Perhaps it was due to monetary reasons, structural reasons, but it wasn’t the reason behind it that mattered, only the reality that they were no longer loved by anyone. That was…

Sad.

Surely Merry was being consumed by her heart, by the sadness she felt.

[13]

The stairwell was just large enough for a single person to walk down. With each step Merry watched out of the corner of her eye herself descend into the boundary between floors. From below she could smell the rust-like smell of paper. The sort of materials necessary for a student’s thesis were all digitized and could be downloaded from a terminal. Archeology and paleontology, hunting down the kind of folklore left only in the minds of the elderly, fossils on the brink of collapse were all unnecessary. All of that information was digitized, it was placed inside the living box.

“So why am I descending into the restricted section?” Merry wondered. “It must be because I feel sad.”

The conclusion she had just made felt as if it were caught in her throat. Her brain whispered that trying to reason about it anymore was unnecessary.

“A communal graveyard filled with the words of several people now dead,” she thought, as her leather boot clicked on the iron steps as she walked, filling the silence.

No one had any interest in what lie under the library. Never did Merry feel the presence of another down here, and that hadn’t changed today. Still, something felt different, but she could not put her finger on it.

Despite the fact that nothing should have changed, Merry felt some disparity between her memories and the present, sticking to the steps. She put her hands on the railing, and the cheap ring on her left hand glinted faintly, but beyond that ring…

[14]

Merry then realized the center pillar that was always there before was gone.

Due to the structure of a spiral staircase, if there is no center pillar, the staircase will be unable to support itself and collapse. In her memories, the pillar was there, but not now, not on this staircase. A phrase slowly came to mind.

“John’s Staircase”

It was a spiral staircase built in a church somewhere. After the church had been built, someone realized that there was no set of stairs connecting the first and second floors. They were no remaining funds to build a proper extension to the building, but while everyone wondered what to do, a man arrived at the church. With only a ruler, a saw, and a small toolbox, it is said that he built a staircase in a single night, the staircase now known as John’s Staircase. The staircase had no supporting pillar, and it was said that a hymnal choir could stand on its steps and it would not collapse.

Merry gripped the railing a little more tightly than she normally would. When was it that they changed the stairs? No, no that wasn’t it. That’s not it.

Merry felt her vision lurch along with her brain. The left side of her face was convulsing. The area of her cheek under her eye twitched like an electrocuted frog’s leg, and she felt something in her throat. Her pulse had quickened.

The stairs.

[15]

Like cracks in window glass the space below her had cracked. She could see the boundary lines. Beneath her, the words she liked, the words that had been laughed off and scorned as worthless, it was if they were screaming.

Merry took one step down. Subconsciously she felt herself trying to descend. Somewhere inside her her sense of reason was wailing. But still her body would not listen. It must be that somewhere inside her was the desire to witness it. She wanted to know the screams that echoed forth from the books proclaimed worthless.

It was like exposing the boundaries… but no. No, it wasn’t right to compare the two, and so she…

To the left of the stairs, along the railing which was not attached to any pillar, there was a single thin pipe which stuck out, and fused to it was a plate.

“1 1/17th Floor”

The stairs continued down into the basement, but Merry could not venture any further.

Over wooden tiles lay a red velvet carpeting, placed in an irregular fashion, and it was upon this floor that Merry stepped. Nothing had changed. The violent array of cracks in space did not fill this floor, but still somehow she knew. This floor itself was a crack in space. The boundary lay right in front of her eyes.

[16]