Elements of Ergo Proxy: III

February 28, 2015

Leap into the Void/Mazecity

After Vincent’s hostile glare at Monad at the end of the last episode, we are abruptly brought to a tram. It is intentionally made so so that the audience cannot be certain that Vincent is Ergo Proxy.  How did he end up there? My imagination tells me he and Monad fought all the way down to some little known underground location and killed her (where later Re-l discovered the body of Monad), all without being captured on any security camera.
In Vincent’s sad dream he recalled Mosko being invaded with Rapture bombardment. As is the nature of a dream, which is often a fusion of past memory and perceptions of reality projected to the dreamworld, that mysterious man Proxy One so naturally crossed from Mosko to the running tram that on the first view, I completely lost the point that he was indeed in the cabin and watched Vincent for a while before stepping out. But actually, there is even stronger evidence of his presence. The exact opening frames, in fact, show the shadow of Proxy One and his hand holding on to a pole. I didn’t notice this until the fifth view!
After reviewing this dream for a couple of more times, I noticed that Vincent was initially sitting on the chair. But after Proxy One left, he was on the floor! This is another fantastic depiction of dream: the body in reality sometimes responds to what happens in the dream. In this dream Vincent was hit and fell to the ground.

Switching to Re-l, since she found Vincent’s pendant in her bathroom she had been trying to reach him in vein. Then Iggy found some suspicious database access records and pushed to Re-l a window titled “Analysis of the access”. Well I am far from certain but the content appears to be HTML codes… If indeed it is, I wonder what page it generates. More importantly, what they figured out from this analysis is a mystery. Re-l mumbled “これは…” as if something dawned over her. מה מי מו? And then? これは何?? We only learned that an unknown account with high-level permission accessed intelligence bureau’s database many times within a short period of time. Is it security bureau or Proxy One? I guess it could be from Raul as he is now unmistakably bent on capturing Vincent.

As we speak of Raul, the scene switched to him alone at home in the darkness. Only now I understand, how playing piano with Pino a cherished memory of Raul’s is. Now his wife and child dead, his favorite Autoreiv is to be disposed of. And he is facing a crisis at work. All these translated into a single smash on the piano and his face twitched with misery.

As the focus cycles through the main characters, it’s Vincent’s turn again. Having received Dorothy’s call, Vincent returned to the AR facility. Pino’s photos were conspicuously shown on every computer screen with the label “in pursuit” bickering. I could remember I was very puzzled by Vincent’s being attacked by the security. It is understandable because I was in no where told that it’s a crime to kill an Autoreiv. As for who actually murdered Dorothy, in contrast to Re-l’s conclusion in the next episode that it’s the security bureau who framed Vincent up, I’m inclined to believe it’s Proxy One. If the security bureau wants to arrest Vincent, they could do it directly without all the tricks. Because he was seen on the security camera footage to be chased by the proxy. Naturally security bureau could at least order him to come for an interrogation, if not arrest him. On the other hand, it is always of Proxy One’s interest to mess up with Vincent.

Vincent meets Pino! It seems after infection, Pino started to establish a sense of self-awareness, indicated by her questions

Is Pino really Pino? Does Pino like to be Pino?

Her answering Re-l’s call in the stead of Vincent is absolutely cute. But at this point Vincent couldn’t care less about her. After the phone call, Vincent just let Pino tag along. Pino showcased her superhuman strength, which makes it all very reasonable in the last episode when she caught a free-falling Re-l by hand. And then she goes “待て待て!” read more …

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Elements of Ergo Proxy: II

February 23, 2015

Confession of a Fellow Citizen/Confession

In the beginning, the interrogator said unable to confirm Vincent’s claim that there is an infected Autoreiv case to handle. It’s unclear whether this refers to Pino or the one afterwards. Since as of now, Raul (appeared in an everything-under-control confidence) believed that Monad was going after Re-l and that the immigrants had nothing to do with it, there is no reason for the security bureau to frame Vincent up. So it must mean that the records were deleted by Proxy One the manipulator. And that makes sense because Proxy One would hate to see Vincent living a bland fellow citizen life. Vincent has to suffer and be rejected by the Romdeau society so as to be awakened.

Shortly before the center mall trip, Pino was seen rocking a toy to the baby in a scary look. (I do like her cute black dress a lot.) Her mother probably often turns her chat mode off, implying a cold, unkind relationship between them. At this stage there is almost no trace of how Pino and Raul regard each other, except that Pino calls Raul papa instead of father. In fact, at first I wasn’t even sure if Raul is the father of this family. When Raul and his wife made phone calls, it ever only shows one person and the voice of that person; it never makes it explicit that it’s these two people that are talking to each other. Add to that is that Raul was never seen being together with the family. The closest moment being when they were all in the center mall but never got to meet. To me it also works if Raul didn’t know them and he could simply be shocked to see the massacre. Because at that time I didn’t understand, if they were indeed family, how Raul could show no sign of grievance after witnessing the deaths of his wife and child. Now I can see that suppression of emotion does seem an essential element that makes a good citizen.

After the phone call, it’s curious to see Raul concealed his discovery from Kristeva that there were two proxies as opposed to one. Why would an exemplary fellow citizen do something unhonest like that? My guess is that in the previous episode, the regent did not respond to Raul’s request of information regarding the proxy and consequently, Raul felt like withholding this information from the regent. He might feel this extra little piece of intelligence could help him further his own investigation.

Back to Re-l, as nobody believed her testimony, she was instructed to see her physician by the intelligence bureau chief. As he saw Re-l leaving, his Autoreiv put her hand on his shoulder to remind him to say something proper. This detail illustrates how human heavily rely on Autoreivs. However the other side of this human-Autoreiv relationship is demonstrated by Re-l’s habitual ignoring what Iggy was saying while indulging in her own thoughts. Clearly human and Autoreivs are far from co-existence. Rather it’s an owner-servant relationship complicated by Autoreiv’s supervision function that sometimes cause human fear or resentment.

The climax of this episode consists of a series of events and human reactions, which occurs in the center mall. Raul was just watching Pino getting a red heart balloon for the new baby with his wife slowly ascending by accelerator, when some commotion caught his attention. First he saw an immigrant running in panic and bumping into random people. Then he was taken by shock: a monstrous looking creature he had never imagined appeared before everyone. The subsequent massacre including his wife’s throat being slit in an instant and the new baby falling down the accelerator to death, completely paralyzed Raul’s sense for a while. Thus is the vulnerable nature of human lives. Noteworthily, Pino’s beautiful prayer pose upon contact with Monad was carved into Vincent’s as well as the audience’s mind. While from another point of view, in Monad’s eyes there is nothing else but Ergo Proxy. She could sense him there, so she simply and recklessly pursued. In the end of the pursue, Monad reached out, her eyes radiating blue rays of happiness, while Vincent’s awakened inner self, with no reaction to her love but only perceiving another proxy closing in, became dominant. And Vincent slightly opened his eyes, displaying a scary face which instantly made him appear ten years older. read more …

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Elements of Ergo Proxy: I

February 19, 2015

In light of the abundance of “Fundamentals of Ergo Proxy” in the literature, albeit contradicting at times, to date there are no comprehensive documentation of episode-wise micro-level explanation. Therefore I decided to take the matter into my own hands for the peace of my bewildered mind.

Pulse of Awakening/Awakening

Watching the series afresh from the start, I was shocked to see Vincent Law’s debut. The hair that obviously took him great effort to tame still has those two uncompromising hairs funnily sticking out. This seems to coincide with his subconscious incompatibility with the Romdeau society in spite of his announced will. Then there is his “boring face of a fellow citizen”, as remarked by Re-l, constantly displaying a made-up submissiveness, though exceptionally young-looking. After a long journey accompanied by the gradual change of his appearance, during which I also acquired a taste for Law’s face, the shock (and possible resentment) from this first encounter for the second time indeed demonstrates the purposefulness of the character design.

Among the overwhelming information that the first few episodes poured into me and that I failed to register during the first round, is the appearance of Proxy One and his declaration of intention. Given the context, I now understand why this man has charcoal colored skin and why he has those glowing eyes, as are the common features of proxies. He has already discovered the utmost malice of this world, and has planned his revenge prior to this awakening stage, which is when the story begins. One also has to notice the distinct voice given to Proxy One in order to identify when he comes to manipulate things in later episodes. All these things about Proxy One were easily missed, which contributed to the total confusion upon finishing the first round.

After Monad’s escape, Vincent was called up at night to handle some infected Autoreivs and he fell down at the red light. What does this traffic accident signify? Some implies it’s the pulse of awakening at work in his body and mind. Or, think I, it simply tells us how hard Vincent has to work in order to become a fellow citizen. And the serious fatigue leads to this accident as well as him being knocked out by an Autoreiv later during a mission.

So here we come to this battle. At first it seemed to me the vehicle Autoreiv (later revealed on Re-l’s iPad to be a PK30 model) was chasing the escaping humanoid Autoreiv, as though the vehicle was on the AR control side. However as soon as Vincent finished the humanoid, he turned to aim at the PK30 but was beaten up. It then hops away to some other scene, leaving me profoundly confused: which side does this PK30 belong? And what happened to Vincent after he was punched flying in the air? Such is the story telling of this show. The next day Vincent showed up unharmed and from his conversation with Dorothy we can infer that PK30 did no further harm to Vincent and simply ran away. Now that I think of it, it’s only logical that Vincent is safe and sound since he’s a proxy! As for the first question concerning the PK30, after reviewing I found out it often bumped into sideways during its motion. That doesn’t look like normal behavior for a well-programmed vehicle. So perhaps at the time it had indeed contracted the Cogito virus and was simply running with the humanoid. And the story of this machine does not end here. Later when Re-l was in the abandoned immigration facility, she was attacked by this same guy – another thing I never figured out before! read more …

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Chrysanthemums and Aphids

December 22, 2014

I bought myself a bouquet consisting of several kinds of flowers for the birthday more than a month ago. In no more than two weeks, all the flowers withered away except for the two branches of white chrysanthemum. Surprisingly, these outlived not only their peer flowers, but also my expectation and lived vigorously to welcome a new neighbor – a dark red Betta fish. I scarcely changed water and never cut away the bottom bits, although I was instructed to do both everyday. They remained in their loveliest blossom, not showing any sign of weariness from day one. My boyfriend once joked that I had bought plastic flowers. But yesterday :(

As I was about to drink my morning water, a miniature bug floating in my glass caught my attention. I quickly realized that it must have come from the only plants in my room, the chrysanthemums. A close observation had me totally stunned and disgusted. Numerous small bugs similar to the one dead in my glass are found everywhere on the topmost flower of the four. The other three flowers adjacent were also speckled to various degrees. I straightened up and looked out of the window, not able to believe what I just saw. I moved my line of sight back again and confirmed this horrible scene. This time I noticed how these insects firmly remained static in their respective positions on the petals, unlike what I would imagine that they would crawl all over the place. I couldn’t give more description because I couldn’t stand it and trashed the flowers immediately.

After that, I gave much thought about it and felt sorry for the chrysanthemums. If only I had given them more attention maybe I’ll notice some early warning of the pest attack. How come that it seemed like it was all fine for over a month until suddenly there appeared such huge number of insects? The only possibility I could think of is there was already larvae when I bought it. They simply hatched at the same time suddenly and started their feasting.

Recently I’m reading Insect Plant Biology by Schoonhoven et al. The bugs I just saw reminds me of something I’ve read in the book. After some searching I’m convinced those belong to the common pest family of aphids. From what I read online it seems their usual place of appearance is the leaf surfaces. If the ones in my case also hatched on the leaves, possibly on the undersurface since I didn’t see them, and moved from the leaves to the flowers, that means they had been around in my room for much longer time, which makes me sick even more. Although I took comfort in thinking that usually monophagous species are very specific in their food choices. This means that they choose not only a particular plant but also a particular part on that plant. According to Wikipedia, aphids feed on sap rather than chew on plant tissues. This on one hand explains why they sit there motionless but on the other, it’s strange why they target flowers where I suppose there’re no phloem vessels.

Above all else, the biggest lesson that I learned is that there are actually home-friendly ways to kill the aphids and preserve the plants. If I had examined my chrysanthemums throughly thoroughly – petals, leaves and undersurface of the leaves, that would have given me hints on abnormalities and would have enabled me to take early preventive actions. This combined with the spray method that should have been used after the pest attack happened, could have saved my chrysanthemums. Sigh.

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A General Launches a War for Wildlife

July 22, 2014

Chapter Six of Alon Tal’s book Pollution in a Promised Land: An Environmental History of Israel. This chapter talks about the activities of the Nature Reserves Authority, mainly when Avraham Yoffe was in charge. I’m left with an impression that under his command, the new born authority secured an astounding fraction of Israeli land for reservation, albeit small and scattered. His successful campaign to stop the dirty habit of wildflower-picking remains the single legend that never repeats. Along with the anecdotes, for instance

walking into the kitchen of his host, opening the refrigerator, and pulling a leg off of a chicken without being invited,

or another, he hired two female scientists and threw out the grumbling male staffs saying
Yoffe

he had ‘enough balls’ already and wanted some brains,

as well as Figure 13 which depicts a Yoffe in full army uniform, feeding a cute little baby herbivore (I’m guessing gazelle?) with a milk bottle, which easily reminds me of that famous picture of Ariel Sharon with a lamb slung over his shoulders – all these make me take a great liking to him.

However now, many weeks past, Claude Lanzmann’s Pourquoi Israël that I watched much earlier somehow surfaced again. And I remember there was an interview with a retired military man who turned to wildlife advocacy. I opened the DVD package and found indeed the name Abraham Yoffe there. In the film, aside from telling us about his dream of rehabilitating the biblical animals in the land of Israel [1], he also offered his opinion on the political conflicts, in which he clearly aligned himself with the school of “Greater Israel”. For Egypt, he said the Sinai

is not important to them, but important for us… It can act as a buffer zone, which is good for us, good for them and good for the world.

I can’t decide if to say he was naive or if he was intentionally blind. As regard to the Palestinian problem, he said

We should learn to live together. and I’m ready to give them all rights as Israelis.

This is of course one basic underlying belief for any one-state solution advocate. But when questioned by the director “what about the Jewish state”, pointing to the demographic problem, Yoffe said

I’m not afraid… You see when I was born in this country, the percentage between Jews and Arabs was 1 to 10… Today it’s 3 Jews to 1 Arab. So why should I be afraid?

Well I don’t really want to give an analytical comment on this bizarre statement. The point is, it is really interesting to get accounts of things and people from different places. Just as reading the Israeli environmental history gives me a unique feeling when looking at these less known but no less inspiring, exciting, heroic or heartbreaking deeds against the most familiar Israeli modern history, the association of different depictions of this person evokes a similar curious sentiment. As a result, Yoffe’s image is now more complicated in my mind than before.


 

[1]. This biodiversification effort – the Hai Bar project – is also documented in the book. It is quite a subject of controversy. On one hand it collected a lot of endangered animals, opened up a safari as a tourist attraction, on the other hand some predators were confined in small areas, and the indigenousness of some of the species were questionable.

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