my neighbor totoro

Somehow, some years back, I became the guy who people came to and said, “Hey, I found this amazing art.  It’s super, super dark.  You’ll love it.”  And I do, and I did.  But it’s got me thinking, what is it about that beautiful chaotic darkness that fascinates me so much?  In some ways I like to think it has to do with a veneration of truth, of a scientific approach to life where the outcome of experiments, the ways in which you test your hypotheses is not dependent on what you want.  People so often see what they want to see, and yet the reality of existence, the true glory of humanity, is in our duality.

We are ourselves both heaven and hell, entwined and incarnate, Beethoven’s symphonies and Hitler’s gas chambers.  We embody both ends of the bell curve, whether we like it or not.  And without that darkness, without the stretching of that darkness to the point of last light, we could never have the moments of breath-shattering beauty that make life worth living.  I’d like to think that’s why it fascinates me.  When all is utterly lost, when my chest feels like it’s going to burst in rage or shame or frustration or despair–there–in that darkness, lives the flicker of something divine.

Thus Totoro, remixed and lovely.  When Miyazaki made “Grave of the Fireflies,” his bleakest, starkest work, his distributors thought it was too dark to move by itself.  So they bundled it with Totoro, where death is a lovable, invisible, childhood friend.  I thought I’d do the same here for you.  Enjoy him, death, and his beautiful song.  He’s not the enemy.  Not really.

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