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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Hokusai & the Manga Graph

Every time I look at a print by Hokusai I can smell the hair of a former girlfriend.

It's the mountain. Thirty-six views of Fuji. Red Fuji. One hundred views of Fuji. Rendered by Hokusai Fujiyama is the most mathematical of manga mountains, the perfect graph of our relationship. Exponentially it rises up from nothing, dances up there in the clouds for a brief period, then inevitably drops you suddenly, until it finally brings you right back to the bottom, albeit gently in the end.

It was an imperfect six months she went out with me, but even for the short high period I was always behind her. Behind her on the street as she marched to coffee shops I didn't know we were going to, behind her in the department store as she raced to the changing rooms with a skirt that was always too small, behind her as she stepped onto the train for home without me, behind her at an ATM - for she always had more money than I, and behind her in the galleries and museums, especially when Hokusai and the masters of Japanese printing came to town. Behind her, smelling the tangerine scent from her hair whilst staring at our graph over her shoulder.

And of course the graph is always there. Whether surfing on a great wave, or working on a tea plantation, or crossing a river, or measuring a pine tree (one of my favorite past-times), there she is, my girlfriend. Her and I, graphed for eternity. Always there, over somebody's shoulder, or in the distance, and I'm left smelling Tangerine Tickle.

Did Paul Dorrell Know?

When Paul Dorrell snuck in to a museum with his girlfriend to see the ukiyo-e artists, did he know that among the Hiroshiges and Utamoros they were looking at a graph?


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