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Simon visits Otake (Nakanoshima)

Simon visits Otake (Nakanoshima)

I hit ‘random article’ on Wikipedia and then rant about whatever I see. This week: Otake (Nakanoshima). A volcano! I'm still excited.

And with that we begin this week with a very obtuse reference to Mark Duplass' band Volcano, I'm Still Excited! My favorite song of theirs is New Brad, because I too have stood in driveways waiting for people to come home. And while this is strictly off topic, I'd just like to add that I think that Mark Duplass is a remarkably talented fellow, as is his brother Jay, and also his wife is good looking and fuck it let's just be honest here: I'm a sucker for mumblecore and good indie pop and FX shows about fantasy football so it'd be quite peculiar if I wasn't a big Duplass fan. Plus his last name is pretty sweet.

In fact, as someone who has (at various times in his life) aspired to be: a filmmaker, a musician, married to an attractive woman, and from New Orleans, I can't help but be a little jealous of someone like Duplass who is all of those things and most probably more. Plus he looks so damn pleasant in everything he is in; his character in The League is a lady's man but he's not really a dick about it, to the point that feminists (well really feminist, as I only know one who watches The League regularly) don't consider his character to be offensive. So really, he's a great fucking guy, go watch Baghead or Cyrus, etc.

Otake is a volcano, which is the kind of thing that excites people like geologists, volcanologists, and seven year olds. My favorite thing about volcanoes is that Blaine's gym was in a volcano and Ash had difficulty beating his Magmar because that's a pretty big homefield advantage. Also, considering that Magmars are pretty much bred in volcanoes I'd say that Blaine gets the most points for playing to his Pokémon's strengths. I also remember volcanoes because when I was very young we went to Hawaii and I saw exploding volcanoes, but I was about seven years old then so you can understand my excitement.

Otake is a stratovolcano, which is the same kind of volcano as Vesuvius and Krakatoa, probably the two most famous volcanoes in historical fiction. When people (like volcanologists or seven year olds) defend the coolness of volcanoes they use Vesuvius or Krakatoa as examples because one of them destroyed an entire city and the other exploded an island. Described in terms of Final Fantasy VII villains, Vesuvius is like Genesis and Krakatoa is like Sephiroth. Or for a more broadly understandable analogy; Vesuvius is about as destructive as walking in on your parents doing it and Krakatoa is about as destructive as coming across the video of the aforementioned parents doing it whilst browsing a porn site.

Comparatively, Otake is your mom making a sex joke while you two are on the highway and you know you'll be sitting there for the next thirty minutes, basking in its awkwardness as one basks in a fart. It is deeply uncomfortable but it isn't going require therapy unless you are a big fucking Puss McGuss.

According to Wikpedia the rock of the mountain is composed of non-alkali mafic rock from the last 18,000 years. I feel like there should be an "approximately" in there somewhere as there is no way in hell that volcanologists and seven year olds are absolutely certain about that timeframe. It's entirely possible that they are overestimating, as seven year olds are prone to do, and that really it's the last 17,563 years, but even then some precision would be much appreciated.

Not to go all Creationist on the situation, but it's stuff like this that reminds that science is not -- and do pardon the expression -- an exact science. To quote that eminently quotable monologue from that eminently quotable film by that eminently quotable character portrayed by that eminently quotable actor, "Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe." That wasn't superstition, it was science. And everybody knew it was true until they didn't.

I have a tendency to say absurdly oversimplified statements followed by the phrase "hard science" (and usually I also flip over a chair) and the fact of the matter is that it is hard science; it is upon my fellow interlocutors to disprove my science, as the burden has fallen onto me to call a spade on this whole 18,000 years mantra.

Now lest I sound too much like that incredibly obnoxious knee-jerk liberal (who is prone to say things like "Well obviously freedom of speech is an illusion), let me state clearly that I really don't give a fuck about how old the rocks are. There's just not a lot to write about Otake because Wikipedia doesn't know much about it.

Otake apparently translates to "honorable mountain," which is a nice name. It isn't extremely nice, but it isn't terrible. I guess adequate is a better modifier. Honorable Mountain is located in Kagoshima Prefecture, and I love how places in Japan are referred to as prefectures, like how I love how they refer to other people's grandmothers as Grandmother or how they refer to tentacle rape as an acceptable form of pornography.

I have two very conflicting images of Japan. The first is of a beautiful, mountainous land filled with the castles of Shoguns; a place of honor to the point of obstinacy and tradition that runs deeper than the earth. This is the Japan where swords are legally considered works of art and there are dozens of schools of tea ceremony. In this Japan, Otake is fueled by a kami of fire and the fact that it hasn't erupted in over half a century is testament to how the offerings have pacified him.

Conversely, my other view of Japan is of a land where everything is a cartoon character. A land where people pose in every picture with a peace sign and men can buy panties in vending machines and people sleep in tubes and tentacle rape is an acceptable form of pornography. This is the Japan that saw how terribly fucked up and insecure our western world was, how we built monuments to ourselves and demanded others admire them and they misinterpreted our bravado for grandeur and replicated it without irony, our grotesque became their super-deformed and the casual beauty of Hokusai was crushed under the belligerence of Betty Boop. In this Japan, the flaccidity, the emptiness of Otake is a reflection of the empty promises of Commodore Perry in Kangawa.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't spend hours pretending to be a samurai, or if I wasn't a huge fan of Haruki Murakami or Hideo Azuma's Disappearance Diary. And, like many a volcanologist or seven year old, I still find wonder in fire shooting forth from the earth and up into the heavens. But something about Otake screams to me of my tentacled view of Japan, it is a perversion, or rather it is something that I cannot love that echoes faintly of something I do.

Simon is also the genius behind the blog “Some Children Left Behind,” a resplendent collection of literature and poetry. He can also recite the poetry of Whitman verbatim (request only).

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