Globalization and the Image
Between Global Flows and Carnal Flows: Walking in Tokyo
Do not cite without permission of the author.
The power of a landscape does not derive from the fact that it offers itself as a spectacle, but rather from the fact that, as mirror and mirage, it presents any susceptible viewer with an image at once true and false of a creative capacity which the subject (or Ego) is able, during a moment of marvelous self-deception, to claim as his own. Henri Lefebvre
I was born and grew up in Tokyo, so I grew up with those buildings. I was small, and buildings were small at first. Then buildings became bigger as I grew up. That strange intimacy to the buildings and the city is analogous to the mixed feelings for the parents: affection and fear are two sides of the same coin. Shinya Tsukamoto
This paper looks at the relationships among walking, violence, and globalization in Tokyo. I will juxtapose the representation of space of Tokyo, the official account of an efficient, affluent informational city of the future, with the representational space, the private account dramatizing walking in Tokyo in Shinya Tsukamoto's films Tetsuo: The Iron Man series and Tokyo Fist. In this social/urban account, I will examine some significant urban restructuring projects during Tokyo's formation into a global city in the 1980s to demonstrate how the Tokyo metropolis invites its inhabitants to identify with the new image of the city and find their sense of self firmly anchored in the global city. In other words, the global city prescribes a model relationship between the inhabitants and the space to its best advantage. In this sense, Tokyo is Henri Lefebvre's capitalist abstract space par excellence, which promotes the flexible accumulation of capital at the cost of the inhabitants' everyday-life space by means of mimesis. Following Plato's use of the term as a means of aesthetic education for the elite class, imposing models for the guardians to emulate so as to reproduce ideal social relations, Lefebvre employs mimesis to elucidate the predicament facing the occupants of the abstract space. According to Lefebvre, the operative logic of the abstract space is twofold: the elevated subjectivity and civic consciousness shaped by the global city are inextricably bound up with the abstraction of the bodily experiences of the city-users. Deprived of the space of the body, the city-user becomes a body in an ever-fragmentary space, a space that reduces the totality of life to the visual. With an emphasis on the function and effects of mimesis, my discussion of the urban plans and assorted building projects of Tokyo in the 80s aims to show the model subject position projected for Tokyoites to emulate by urban plans and the construction boom, both as instruments of the abstract space. The ideal inhabitants of the new Tokyo are defined as proud users of the global city even if their concrete space of everyday life becomes compressed and abstracted at a galvanizing speed1.
While the first part of this chapter is devoted to exposing the invisible violence of Tokyo's abstract space, the second section seeks to critique the normalizing power of mimesis by exploring mimicry, a possible aberrational response to the abstract space. I will draw on Roger Caillois' theory of mimicry to explain how the films of Shinya Tsukamoto, one of the most interesting contemporary Japanese directors, demonstrate the relationships among mimicry, subjectivity, and space under the domination of the global economy. If mimesis is the key to comprehending the violence of the homogenizing abstract space, mimicry, I would argue, registers an imaginary pathological consequence of the overriding abstract space. Caillois in his seminal article on mimicry uses facts about mimetic insects to demystify psychasthenia, a psychological disorder in which people confuse the space defined by the coordinates of their body with the represented space (Gregory 154). That is, they blur the boundaries between themselves and their surroundings. Caillois sees the living organism's imitation of the environment so as to blend in as a result of being seduced by the powerful space.
The theory of mimicry helps to explain how the subject can be so overwhelmed by and attracted to the power of the abstract space that he becomes one with the space by mimicking the forces imposed on him, as seen in Tsukamoto's films. Presenting violence as an escalating fever against the backdrop of contemporary Tokyo, Tsukamoto articulates Tokyoites' oscillation between an intimate relationship with the city and an attempt to strike back against an inscrutable power. The picture-perfect global city with its concrete-and-steel buildings and virtual space of flows undergoes a transformation in the artistic representations into a postindustrial dehumanized space with forlorn walkers haunting the streets. The Tetsuo series and Tokyo Fist describe the hidden desire of an amenable salaryman to make his body as strong as the newly constructed high-rises everywhere in the city. Surrealistic to various degrees, all of these films take place in a technology-obsessed Tokyo against the background of either a quiet suburban neighborhood or gleaming skyscrapers, both witnessing the violent metamorphosis of the salaryman's body into a killing machine. In these works, Tokyo signifies a wild kinetic field for the flows of primal desires and fears as well as for global flows. The pathological violence permeating the images of walkers and their walking invites us to consider the effects of the imposing global space.
I. Mimesis: The Violence of the Space Abstract Space Par Excellence: Global/Fragmentary Space of Tokyo
Exploring Tokyo's urban morphology restructured by globalization in the 80s and its ensuing violence, I contend that the downside of the abstract space is its intrinsic violence, omnipresent but invisible. In this aspect, Lefebvre's theorization of the abstract space with its nature as both normalizing and pathogenic will be particularly helpful for our exploration of Tokyo's redrawn cityscape in the context of global city construction. Specifically, the official urban plans and various high-rises built during the governmental, corporate, and residential construction boom of the 1980s in Tokyo show how the subjectivity of the city-user is boosted at the cost of repressed bodily experiences. I will present some concrete examples taken from Tokyo's global space and Lefebvre's theory of metonymy and metaphor, two major types of mimesis that define spatial relationships to see how mimesis, a normative code imposing violence on the body, constructs the instrumental subjectivity subservient to the global capital flows.
The 1980s saw a drastic spatial restructuring of the Tokyo metropolis. This is the bubble era of Japan, in which the ubiquitous and colossal urban restructuring, initiated by a seemingly insatiable demand for office space for global capital flows, surrenders Tokyoites' everyday life to the "capitalist-friendly" space to an unparalleled extent. During this period, one could argue that all of the urban spatial elements become subordinate to the overriding order of globalization. From official pamphlets to actual enactment of urban plans, from corporate buildings to the New City Hall and the Bauhaus-style suburban housing projects, the Tokyo metropolis was cut up, sold, purchased, and utilized piece by piece to expedite the accumulation of capital. The urban restructuring cuts and slices Tokyo into the material sites of capital flow. As a result, Tokyoites are instructed to identify with the global city despite the fact that the centralization of the city to promote the global flows not only places affordable housing 50 miles away from their workplaces but also shrinks their living space rapidly. If one comes to think of this history as a massive relocation project, desirable for Tokyoites or not, the violence of the restructuring is apparent and far-reaching.
Here Lefebvre's formulation of the abstract space helps explain the logic of Tokyo urban development and the detrimental consequence to the inhabitants. Exploring the relationships among global capital, urbanization, and subject construction in The Production of Space, Lefebvre observes that global capital and urban restructuring go hand in hand to create what he calls the abstract space, a space that reduces everything to serve the flexible accumulation. Such an instrumental space of exchange value becomes particularized, segregated, and broken so as to create a new order or homogeneity: the goal of flexible accumulation (Lefebvre 365). The process of cutting up, retailing, and segregating the urban space involves all kinds of violence as we see in Tokyo's urban redevelopment. The coalition of assorted interest groups including the private sectors such as land owners, construction companies, real estate agencies, the multinational capitalists, and the public sectors such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Liberal Democratic Party, manipulate the subdivision of space to serve their respective needs. At the same time, a homogenizing ideology is imposed on the carved-up space to annihilate the differences and contradictions imminent to the rezoning. For example, ordinary citizens living in the Central Business District area are forced to move out of the city center to make room for office space. They are unwitting participants in Tokyo's restructuring but denied the right to decide the subdivision of their own city. Compromising or crushing the concrete space of everyday life for the purpose of capital flows, such abstract space registers the brutal control of the rationally conceived space over the lived space and simultaneously conceals its own manipulative nature by inflicting a sense of homogeneity on the broken space. A simple rationale will be like this: the cutting up of the city is for the common good of all Tokyoites since a more important and affluent world city will ultimately benefit all its users. Simply put, violence is the inner logic of the abstract space. As Derek Gregory elaborates, "[c]apitalist and neocapitalist space is a space of quantification and growing homogeneity, a merchandized space where all the elements are exchangeable and thus interchangeable; a police space in which the state tolerates no resistance and no obstacles. Economic space and political space thus converge towards the elimination of all differences" (emphasis mine, 402). The abstract space is the production of the state and the capital, working together to facilitate the money flows.
Significantly, the collaboration of capital and urban restructuring cannot be sustained without a pedagogy of subject construction; that is, the capital space of globalization demands the metropolis serve as concrete sites for capital accumulation, and the city requires its inhabitants as human resources to make the city-machine operate smoothly. Again, Lefebvre shrewdly observes that how one perceives and responds to the abstract space of globalization is achieved through an aesthetic process of mimesis, imitation of role models to become models. Mimesis dictates a model for the subject as space-users with autonomy and freedom, an elite position echoing Plato's standard guardian in the Republic. Like the political education of the guardian class, which aims to make the members perform appropriate duties for the state, mimetic subjects of the abstract space should devote themselves to fulfilling tasks required by the global city. In other words, to enable the flows of global capital and simultaneously sustain stable social relationships, mimesis as an instrument of the ideal space defines proper relations between the subject and his or her surroundings, instructing one in how to interpret and perceive the social reality. In a sense, Lefebvre reads against Plato's endorsement of mimesis as a necessary instrument to nurture the guardian class. For Lefebvre, mimesis is what conceals the violence of the abstract space, which prioritizes capital over the occupants of the space.
The violence of the abstract space lies in the fact that through mimesis, abstract space reproduces the existing social relations at the expanse of the immediacy of the body, the desires constrained to ensure the formation of an appropriate subject-position vis-à-vis the space. If the primordial dialectics between the occupant and its space, the "as-yet-ill-defined," resembles the Freudian polymorphous, or the Kristevean chora, mimesis curbs the potential aberration so as to formulate ideal spatial/social practices for the subject in space to observe. What constructs the subjectivity thus paradoxically empties out the body. As Lefebvre explains,
[B]y assigning a model, which occupies a space, to an as-yet-ill-defined desire, imitation ensures that violence (or rather counter violence) will be done to that desire in its relationship with that space and its occupant. With its components and variants, mimesis makes it possible to establish an abstract "spatiality" as a coherent system that is partly artificial and partly real. (376)
The potential guardians of the state are dictated from their childhood to imitate only that which will contribute to their future role as the privileged of the society and avoid whatever is detrimental to this role. By the same token, the model subject of the abstract space has to ensure an appropriate spatial relationship by repressing irrational desires. It is exactly the designated elite bearings that enslave the occupant of the space to flexible accumulation, repressing the concrete everyday life, the sensory/sexual experiences of the subject.
All the Glittering Buildings: You Are What You See
The 1980s are remembered as an era in which an unprecedented construction boom extended from central Tokyo to its hinterlands. I intend to look into this construction boom and explore the dual logic of the Tokyo expansion. The urban architecture serves the global capital not only as the material site of virtual flows but also as the agency that mediates the relation between the body and the space. As Saskia Sassen asserts, Tokyo owes its sudden rise to a world city to the fact that global capital requires concrete places to organize and extend economic activities; the metropolis thus becomes the chosen center for production, administration, and consumption (5). The concentration of international capital and labor further entails significant changes in the social, political, and cultural environments of such large cities. The logic of global flows rises above the interests of the lived space of the inhabitants and turns Tokyo a truly abstract space. Again, the abstract space renders its logic of violence invisible via mimesis: the high-rises, as conspicuous signs of power, guarantee that Tokyoites will identify with the glorious future of the city they embody and assume the role of an instrument for flexible accumulation, sugarcoated as autonomous users of the global space.
Notably, the expansion of the abstract space and its legitimacy established by mimesis cannot be comprehended without taking into consideration both the part (urban plans, rezoning, new buildings) and the whole (the abstract space of Tokyo) at the same time. The following study singles out the Century Tower, the New City Hall, and the public housing Ohkawabashi River City 21. Each one represents a specific type of building constructed to meet different demands of the global city. The Century Tower is one among many corporate buildings that represent the core of the construction boom, directly brought about by the influx of the global capital. The New City Hall for many reasons presented later in my discussion is Tokyo Metropolitan Government's attempt to paradoxically claim local control of the changes resulted from capital globalization. The Ohkawabashi River City 21 is the suburban housing project that reveals the contradiction inherent in the retailing of Tokyo's urban space to promote the global flows. One witnesses how the inhabitants are relocated to the hinterland of Tokyo so as to make room for the office buildings in the city centers. Each of these three examples claims to provide Tokyoites the ownership of Tokyo in its own way, but taken together they show the abstract space in the making and its consequent hidden violence on the concrete space of inhabitants' everyday life.
First of all, the construction frenzy in the 80s powerfully testifies to the fragmentation and commercialization of Tokyo's urban space resulting from the globalization of the Japanese economy. With the appreciation of the yen and the emergence of Tokyo as a global financial center2, Tokyo attracted a huge influx both of Japanese and foreign corporate headquarters, financial institutions, and securities companies since the early 80s 3. The keen shortage of office space created a collective need to meet the demands and make profits by re-developing Tokyo's urban structure. The National Land Agency's proposal estimates the upcoming demand for office space in central Tokyo to be more than 50 million square meters for the next 18 years to come (Machimura 118). In fact, the booming economy in the 1980s motivated every major construction company and real estate company to come up with its own imaginary urban plan to shape Tokyo as a city of tomorrow. The mushrooming office buildings in central Tokyo are indeed the city's answer to the unprecedented demand for office space.
Among the buildings constructed during the construction boom, the Century Tower located in east central Tokyo illuminates the spirit of the historical moment of the global era. This intelligent office building, typical of many other high-rises built at the same period of time, aims to "accommodate all the functions and services required by a computerized building in the foreseeable future" (Tajima 68). The Century Tower is a high-tech building in tune with the image of Tokyo as the city of the future, a city expediting the global economy with its renowned advanced technology. The architecture itself is the epitome of globalization. A project completed in 1991, the building was designed by Sir Norman Foster, the English architect whose Hong Kong Shanghai Bank became Hong Kong's new landmark and is recognized as a masterpiece of world architecture. Fascinated by the outstanding structure and the shining glass walls of Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, the client for Century Tower requested Norman Foster to clone this monumental building for Tokyo. The outcome is a scaled-down version, a 19 story twin towers separated by a central atrium (Tajima 66).
Strange to say, the slogan of "greater supply of space," returning space to the city for more building construction like the Century Tower, in fact always refers to what I shall describe as an emptying-out of the body. The body is decorporealized (abstracted) because on the one hand the stretching of the buildings greatly destroys the old living quarters and on the other hand this construction boom seeks to bring back the inhabitants psychologically with the spectacle of the global sublime as demonstrated by the buildings. As Gregory notes, abstract space is "dominated by the eye and the gaze; when the process of decorporealization is complete, our "space has no social existence independently of an intense, aggressive and repressive visualization" (392). A global city like Tokyo is a space of signs. The flows of information and signs prevailing in such a space incline to subsume the flows of bodily desires and sensory impressions. That is, rather than corresponding to the needs of the beholder, the myriad images fashion the desires. The predominance of visual experience easily renders high-rises the apex of entrepreneur power by being tall and erect, a phallic symbol securing deference and admiration from the spectator. The predilection for the visual allows the spectator to relate only two determinants of the building, the façade and the perpendicularity. Such a spatial relation between the body and the building is boiled down to nothing but a one-way gaze from the spectator. The prioritization of the visual thus brings about a constant metaphorization of the body: "[l]iving bodies, the bodies of users-are caught up not only in the toil of parcellized space, but also in the web of... images, signs and symbols. These bodies are transported out of themselves, transferred and emptied out, as it were, via the eyes..." (emphasis mine, Lefebvre 98).
One might argue that those who work in a corporate building like the Century Tower find themselves relating to the building more than its verticality or the façade. Still, the salaryman who painstakingly commutes to work in a tiny space in the office building in central Tokyo is subjugated to the space by metonymy, another form of mimesis. According to Lefebvre, metonymy, in which a part refers to the whole, designates a "to-and-fro movement enforced with carrot and stick between the part and the whole." A perfect example of this logic is the occupants of a highly compartmentalized apartment or office building with "stack after stack of boxes for living in": "the spectator-cum-tenants grasp the relationship between part and whole directly; furthermore, they recognize themselves in that relationship. By constantly expanding the scale of things, this movement serves to compensate for the pathetically small size of each set of living quarters" (98). The corporate culture requires the employees to identify completely with the company in the manner of samurais to the feudal lords4. The affinity between the employees and the corporation that often guarantees life-long employment can easily be stretched to the material space of the corporations, the buildings in the business district of the city. "You are where you work:" the lingering belief in judging how respectable a person is by the company he or she works for and how prestigious a company is by its address intensifies the employee's identification with the kaisha (company), the office building, and by extension with Tokyo, the habitat of the office building. The strong proclivity for the global sublime as a whole motivates the employees to willingly serve the abstract space on daily basis even though their office cubicle is never expanded and the paychecks somehow fail to catch up with the evident glory of the cityscape in sight everyday.
Those officials who work in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government can argue otherwise, proudly claim that their office cubicle does expand due to the construction boom. When the Tokyo Metropolitan Government shows its support for the construction rush motivated by capital globalization by committing to the construction of a new office building, hardly any Tokyoites can stay psychologically removed from this global city formation campaign. The New City Hall is a complex of three interconnected structures with an extended "Citizens' Plaza" in front of the 48 story No. 1 tower (243 meters high) located in West Shinjuku and opened in 1991. The cluster of buildings occupies 3 full city blocks of approximately 14,349 square meters in one of the most expensive urban areas in the world5.
Completed under the influence of unconstrained economic ebullience, the New City Hall has been represented and advertised by the governor Suzuki as a space for the citizens from the very beginning. For example, one official reason for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to move away from the Marunouchi administration area is to physically bring the government closer to the actual population center of the city, West Shinjuku. As "the symbol of Tokyo as a world city," this dazzling new home of an ambitious government aims to "provide better services for the citizens" and "an arena for open and free exchange among Tokyo residents" (Tokyo Metropolitan Government 1989: 74). In fact, Suzuki depicted the showpiece as "a gift for the metropolis' citizens of the 21st century" (Cybriwsky 155).
For the governor, the New City Hall is the mammoth project emblematic of the ideal composite of "My Town Tokyo" and "World City Tokyo," with the former intensifying the identification between the citizens and the metropolis and the latter the role of Tokyo as a nodal point of global flows. Specifically, the urban discourse states "the New City Hall will also function as a symbol of the 'International City Tokyo' to expand international exchanges along with the increasing importance of international exchanges at the citizens and local government level. Moreover, it will also serve as a symbol of 'Home Town Tokyo' and strongly enhance the hometown consciousness of the citizens" (Tokyo Metropolitan Government 1987: 267). The construction history of the New City Hall as well as the design of the buildings thus embody what Lefebvre calls "an ideology in action," a crowning monument built in the name of the citizens to address the political and economic symbolism of a specific historical moment.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government's "My Town Tokyo" concept that works to construct a new identity of Tokyoites at the global era is materialized in the New City Hall. This monumental building crystallizes how the images of the architecture can become a means of political education to construct Tokyoites' subjectivity in proportion to the expansion of the global city. To justify the construction of this new building, Tokyo Metropolitan Government resorts to the importance of realizing the ideal of "My Town Tokyo" for citizens to cope with changes of the urban space at the turn of the century. The 2nd long-term plan of Tokyo prescribes that "[t]he Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) is taking steps to realize the 'My Town Tokyo' concept vigorously so that all citizens can cope with such enormous changes and pass on the city in favorable condition to the next generation" (267). Again, the appropriate subject-position is a dauntless citizen capable of adapting to the new metropolis with the help of the government. For all the drastic urban changes, new Tokyoites should find the city "a nice town" to inhabit. Such ideal citizens will then serve as role models for future Tokyoites to emulate.
The exterior of the New City Hall may well be paradigmatic of the monumental building, which addresses an implied subject with its spatial logic: a postmodern montage of Notre-Dame style Edo castle6 and computer chips, a symbol of aspiring to the future of the city by recalling its past. Kenzo Tange, the architect of the project, explained the concept of the façade:
[t]he lattice-like pattern of windows, and of marble and granite on the exterior of the buildings, was intended to invoke the memory of geometric timber-frame buildings of Edo as well as the circuit board of a computer, an apt metaphor for the age of information and technology in Tokyo over which these government headquarters now preside. (Coaldrake 272)
The New City Hall's uncanny resemblance to the Edo castle makes a spatial statement that sees the booming present and the promising future of Tokyo as an extension of its glorious past, clearly signified by the home of the loyal samurais. If the spectacular skyscrapers hint at a contemporary version of the castle, who can be a more qualified user of that space than the modern samurai, the middle class Tokyoites like the salaryman7?
Under the spell of the monumental space, which seems to be always expanding and yet highly accessible, the city-users are tempted to identify with the spatial center of power, part of the matrix of global city transformation. They are encouraged to enjoy vicariously the sublime power demonstrated by the new monumental buildings whose conception and construction invite them to claim the urban space as their domain so as to justify the political and economic purposes of the buildings. The official representation of Shinjuku as a rising star in Japan with its new landmark, the new City Hall complex, will not present the interpretation of the skyscrapers as more a monument to the governor himself or to the architect Kenzo Tange than the people of Tokyo8. Nor does the choice of the location of the towers appear to the citizens as motivated by making the sub-center Shinjuku a worthy competitor with the prestigious Marunouchi to attract the headquarters of big companies and further the accumulation of capital. Likewise, the official narrative of the New City Hall is telling a different story of the project from those who critique the complex as the "Tax Tower," indicating its expenses, and the "Tower of Bubble," constructed not with granite and marble but the bubbles of the 80s' buoyant economy (Cybriwsky 155). The myth of endless economic growth, as prophetic as it is tangible by a glance at the monumental buildings of the New City Hall, produces an illusory space for the inhabitants, fostering a proud identification with "My Town Tokyo." The question is: can the increasing compression of everyday living space be compensated for by a mere look at the spectacular New City Hall or a walk in the Citizens' Plaza?
One manifest reason for monumental buildings like the Century Tower or the New City Hall to maintain a stable imaginary relationship between the grand global city and its users is the construction of public housing projects in the suburban areas. Those people who directly confront the violence of the rezoning of Tokyo due to the demands of globalization, such as those who are forced to move out of the central wards, need more than the glittering image composed by the buildings to call the global city their home. They need a reason to justify why their residence falls outside of their control. Suburban housing projects like Ohkawabashi River City 21 are the carrots that serve to ease the pain brought about by the centralization of Tokyo, the antidote to the conflicts of spatial apartheid which cannot be taken care of by mere ideology like "My Town Tokyo equals World City Tokyo." Seen in this light, public housing designates the by-product of the office/governmental buildings, another infrastructure to hold a tighter rein on the mimetic relationship between the body and the city.
Ohkawabashi River City 21, a housing project built in 1986 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Housing Supply Corporation for those who gave up their no-longer-affordable living space in central Tokyo to make room for office space, provides a window to show how the violence of the abstract space contains the conflicts it incurs. Forced to leave their homes under the pressure of rising rent and property tax or the maneuver of land purchase agencies9, a large number of downtown residents moved to Ohkawabashi River City 21. As the name of the project suggests, the composite of two high-rise towers and seven other medium-scaled residential buildings builds a miniature city in itself, a city ready for the 21st century. To maintain the affinity between the residents and the city center psychologically and physically, a new bridge was built for the residents of the 1,330 apartments10 to walk to work in central Tokyo, to serve the global city after the urban plans of rezoning marginalized them to the hinterland. The bridge to some extent works as an umbilical cord that ties the citizens in the suburbs to the global space. Moreover, all apartments provide impressive panoramic views of Tokyo. The spectacle of the dazzling city experienced through the gaze becomes an extension of the highly compartmentalized apartment of the public housing. No matter how tiny and parceled the apartment is, the inhabitant can look out from the window and see Tokyo, the whole city apparently always in sight and available in the eye of the beholder. Indeed, Ohkawabashi River City 21 can be seen as a textbook case of Lefebvre's theory of metonymy and metaphor. The spatial relations between the residents and the buildings demonstrate how the carrots-and-sticks trick compromises the lived space and how the inhabitants' living experience is dominated by the visual. Gradually losing the space of the body to answer the acute demands of capitalist space, the inhabitant of such a high-rise beehive turns to a body in space, or more precisely, a body contained in a space within numerous sub-divisions of spaces. Nonetheless, the ideology of homogeneity prevails over such a dispersed space: a big building in a global city creates for the inhabitants a sense of belonging to an ever-expanding and intact space.
Interestingly, the Bauhaus-style project is adjacent to the traditional local housing of Tsukuda-jima, a not-yet-globalized fisherman's island. A local from the Tsukuda-jima describes his experience of "looking down on the neighbors" (Ohkawabashi River City 21) as seeing "another town and another world" (Tajima 88). The contrast, like Hong Kong's Lantau Island, a traditional village transformed to the home of Disneyland, has been regarded as a perfect example of a "contradictory city," a hybrid of the modern and the tradition. Yet the contradictions imbued in such a hybrid space conceal the contradictory nature of space as both fragmentary and global, as elucidated by the spatial relationships between the indoctrinated inhabitants and the residential buildings.
One crucial contradiction of Tokyo as an abstract space elided by the grand Ohkawabashi River City 21 is the spatial relationship between Tokyo and the millions of suburban inhabitants who cannot simply walk across a bridge to the city center or admire the skyline at home. They have to commute everyday to see part and parcel of "My Town Tokyo" and work for their city of the future. The commuting nightmare that haunts millions of Tokyoites is one of the most glaring consequences of the prioritization of office over residential space. The centralization of capital and information flows in central Tokyo parallels the marginalization of an increasing number of ordinary citizens to its hinterland requiring an average 1 to 2 hours one way commuting to the city centers such as CBD or Shinjuku11. Every working day about 2.3 million commuters take the subway to CBD. The amazing number of commuters accounts for the fully packed rush-hour train ride, yet we can hardly imagine a physically painful ride due to the maximum compression of the human body. A close look at the subway employees with white gloves gives a better idea of the hellish congestion in the subway train. It might not be stated clearly in their job description, yet one of these subway employees' major responsibilities every morning during the rush hour is to push in those passengers who cannot get their whole body or belongings to fit into the subway car, so the door can close. It is said that the white gloves are worn out every two days. A human version of a sardine can is indeed an understatement12. In a sense, the overcrowded subway train stands for the container that disciplines the bodies of the commuters for the global city they head for. Before one feels at home in the city upon seeing "My Town Tokyo," one's body has to undergo the violence brought about by the literal compression of space. Commuting thus spells the mimesis at work to the point of physically disciplining the subjects.
II. From Mimesis to Mimicry
As demonstrated above, mimesis is crucial to the conception of the official urban planing and the assorted construction projects that cater to the demands of globalization in Tokyo. It serves as a looking glass held up by the abstract space for its occupants to see themselves as an indispensable part of an ever-prosperous global city. Nevertheless, this looking glass is treacherous: abstract space appears subservient to the subjects but in fact the users of the space are manipulated to serve the flows of global capital. Appearing analogous to the Lacanian mirror stage, which promises the formation of the subjectivity, this mirror that reflects the image of the self is as deceptive as that of Snow White's stepmother and as tricky as Alice's looking glass. As Lefebvre insightfully points out, "[For] space offers itself like a mirror to the thinking 'subject', but, after the manner of Lewis Carroll, the 'subject' passes through the looking-glass and becomes a lived abstraction" (314). The magic mirror on the wall that always attempts to assure the already indoctrinated subject as an eligible user of the space constantly seduces the looker to walk into the looking-glass to become a strange hybrid of elevated subjectivity and evacuated body, trained to see fragments as whole.
If mimesis explains the "norm-bound" nature of the urban space of Tokyo in the 80s, I would contest this normalizing formation by critically reading into the abstract space of Tokyo the possibilities of the malfunction of mimesis. Again, Lefebvre reminds us that the abstract space is both norm-bound and pathogenic. The tension between the tendency of an expanding global space of flows and the fact that one still lives in a Newtonian and Euclidean space as Lefebvre argues, results in a bodily unconscious. The repressed concrete space of everyday life, the space of the sensory and the sensual of city-users, becomes the unconscious that often returns in the form of powerful kinetic physical energies, a struggle of the body long subjugated to the violence of the rationally conceived abstract space. The following discussion examines a situation when mimesis slips into a state of duality in which the subject both follows the norms of the dominant spatial matrix to sustain his subjectivity and paradoxically is drawn to the space to the point of erasing his subjectivity to become one with his surroundings. In such a case the subjects are so overwhelmed by the sublime built environment of the abstract space as embodied by the buildings and urban infrastructure that they tend to integrate with the space of contemporary capitalism. This pathogenic phenomenon can be best described as mimicry, one of the possible aberrational consequences of the violence of the abstract space and indeed a most revealing one. Reflecting not only the demands of mimesis but also its failure as an instrument of producing a useful and docile body, mimicry marks a point of departure from which we can examine critically the violence of the abstract space.
As a term from biological studies, mimicry designates a survival strategy of "superficial resemblance of two or more organisms that are not closely related taxonomically. This resemblance confers an advantage-such as protection from predation-upon one or both organisms through some form of 'information flow' that passes between the organism and the animate agent of selection" (Encyclopedia Britannica 144). The best example is the phasmids, or so-called stick insects and leaf insects. To blend in perfectly with their surroundings, foliage-eating stick insects have evolved to look and move as the plants that they inhabit to avoid attention from potential predators. To survive the violence from the external environment, phasmids efface their subjectivity, disappearing in the space so as to show up somewhere else alive. Such mimicry, functioning as camouflage, differs from the way a chameleon protects itself by temporarily changing its colors. The stick insects' morphology and behavior have evolved to be part of their environment. Interestingly, a defense mechanism is an insufficient reason to explain why mimetic species mingle with their surroundings (Caillois 66). For example, scientists prove "resemblance is in the eye of the beholder": predators of the mimetic insects are not fooled by the trick. Sparrows, for instance, feed on the crickets or phasma that completely simulate twigs, leaves or small stones, invisible to the human eyes. In some cases, mimicry is a defense mechanism that backfires. Gardeners destroy the caterpillars of the geometer moth while pruning the shoots of shrubbery, which they so successfully resemble. Phyllia, another mimetic insect, simulates the foliage to such an extent that they cannot tell another Phyllia from the leaves they feed on. The sad result is a kind of "collective masochism:" they devour each other because of their mimicry, a "defense-mechanism" that goes too far (Caillois 67).
This biological understanding is very instructive in our explorations of the relationships between subjectivity and space. Roger Caillois, although not a Lefebvrian scholar himself, provides insightful observations for us to engage in a full-scaled analysis of the detrimental consequences of the abstract space suggested by Lefebvre. Starting with the biological phenomenon of the mimicry of living creatures, Caillois plunges into the dynamics between subjectivity and space in an effort to explain the relationships between mimicry and psychasthenia, or a subject's disorientation in space. Caillois postulates that mimicry indicates the individual's seduction by space, a process of assimilation to space that is "necessarily accompanied by a decline in the feeling of personality and life" (72).
Subsumed by the forces of the space, the subject cannot see the power but always feels it. When the power of the space becomes too overwhelming, the subject tends to be drawn to the enveloping environment and to depersonalization, the effect of falling for the space in the way iron is attracted to a magnet. The ultimate ambivalence of mimicry lies in the fact that self-defense and self-denial are two sides of the same coin: while the living creature survives by expanding into its surroundings, "life seems to lose ground, blurring in its retreat the frontier between the organism and the milieu" (Caillois 74). Mimicry thus describes a paradoxical relationship between the organism and its surroundings--the living creature is attracted by the space that devours it. Such a self-preservation mechanism simultaneously points to an instinct of renunciation that "orients it toward a mode of reduced existence, which in the end would no longer know either consciousness or feeling"(74). Seen in this light, Caillois' mimicry is neither conscious resistance as Homi Bhabha13 endorses nor merely a defense mechanism as it is generally defined.
The theory of mimicry brings to light a possible interaction between the subject and the abstract space: suppressed and tempted by the power of the abstract space, the subject ends up mimicking the surrounding environment, acting and looking like the space he or she inhabits. Experiencing the spatial violence of decorporealization on daily basis, the subject mimics an absolute power, whose source remains unseen, by reducing him or herself to assimilate into the environment and exerting violence on the body.
Salaryman or Iron Man? Tetsuo: The Iron Man and The Body Hammer
The relationships among mimicry, subjectivity, and space as theorized by Caillois, are dramatized in Shinya Tsukamoto's Tokyo films including the Tetsuo (The Iron Man) series and Tokyo Fist, which present mimicry as a pathological symptom in the abstract space. Produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, these three films established Tsukamoto's international reputation as one of the best Japanese film makers of his generation. Winning the Grand Prize at the Rome International Fantastic Film Festival for his debut 35mm film, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tsukamoto continues to inquire in his subsequent films, The Body Hammer and Tokyo Fist, not only the interactions between the human body and inorganic materials but also the conundrum of living in Tokyo facing the 21st century. These films all center on the metamorphosis of an archetypal salaryman character into a fierce fighter. The protagonists' act of taking on an arsenal body can be interpreted as a malfunctioning mimesis of identity in the global city that slips into mimicry of the violent abstract space to render violence into a play so as to escape the fate of being destroyed. In the following discussion, I will read Tsukamoto's Tetsuo series as sci-fi allegories of the subject's mimicking the violence of the city and further explore in detail how the dynamics between the body and the city is played out in his later work Tokyo Fist.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) and its sequel The Body Hammer (1992), with their major characters literally becoming cyborgs, narrate how Tokyoites, attracted to the overwhelming power of the urban landscape composed of concrete and iron, mimic the urban landscape of Tokyo. A combination of Japanese manga and Bladerunneresque cyberpunk14, the Tetsuo series tells the horror story of the salaryman's bodily transformation with minimal plot, provocative visual effects, and piercing industrial music15. Both films feature a mysterious fusion of metal and flesh which depersonalizes the salaryman, who comes to lose his subjectivity in order to be merged with the space.
In Tetsuo: The Iron Man, the un-named protagonist16 is first represented as just another agreeable salaryman in the city, whose carnal energies, repressed by the "clean and proper" space, can hardly be seen except in the wild sex between him and his sexy girlfriend. Yet everything in his life is turned upside down after he runs over a young man on the street, a metal fetishist inserting iron into his body. Driving to a suburban area with his girlfriend, the salaryman hits this metal fetishist, who runs in frenzies at the sight of the rusted metal scrap in his own thigh infested with maggots. The couple, without realizing the consequences of this bizarre incident, have wild sex in the bushes, excited at the idea of the victim of the accident lying somewhere down the hill watching them making love. Not until the next day when the salaryman sees an iron thorn protruding out of his skin does he start to be aware of what the hit-and-run accident entails.
With his flesh continuously evolving into metal, the horrified protagonist becomes more and more alienated from his salaryman identity (no salary and not a man). Later when he makes love to his girlfriend, the salaryman witnesses with great trepidation metal bursting out of his body with uncontrollable force. Ashamed of his grotesque body, he hides away from his girlfriend in a small corner of the house. The girlfriend's early response, "Show it to me. I don't get frightened easily," leads her to an unthinkable bloodbath. Little does she know that her boyfriend's body has become an unrecognizable mass piled up with metal debris. What is worse, his penis suddenly changes into a powerful electric drill. Horror-stricken, the girlfriend defends herself by stabbing the iron man but still fails to save herself from being penetrated and killed by the penis-turned-drill. The salaryman now realizes that he has irreversibly become a metal fetishist.
As the protagonist becomes more and more alienated from his own human flesh, he increasingly becomes part of the urban space he occupies, in terms of both the materials and its violence. Thus, the story of the iron man demonstrates in a classically expressionistic manner the violence of a global city, as if the salaryman could not see what the city truly is unless he also becomes the abstract space itself. Not only is the protagonist forced to undergo a metamorphosis into a metal body; his environment, the global city Tokyo, also morphs into an abject space of horror and agony, with city crowds emerging as monsters from unknown lands. For example, on the way to his office the morning after spotting the iron sticking out from his face while shaving, the salaryman runs into an iron woman where he least expects to find one. This office lady like woman, a female counterpart of the salaryman, is waiting for the train on a bench with the salaryman. Out of curiosity, she reaches for a deserted lump of metal on the ground of the subway station and soon becomes possessed by the rusted metal. All of a sudden, the transformed woman with metallic tentacles worse than Edward the Scissors Hand starts to assault the salaryman, chasing after him through the subway tunnels. A simple routine of walking in the city now turns to a dystopian fantasy of daily disasters. To some extent, the metal that takes over the salaryman's body allegorizes the domination of the industrialized urban space. Instead of seeing a city of high-rises, we see the assorted convulsive images of metal for industrial use or construction. What makes contemporary Tokyo stages its presence in every possible realistic and fantastic form: from the metal and machine in the factory to the metals that invade every imaginable orifice of the human body. Taking on a form identical with the urban environment in materials, the unnamed protagonist fearfully and reluctantly becomes one with his habitat. Specifically, the salaryman's transformation into an iron man in Tetsuo I is less mimicry than a critique of mimesis, the homogenizing forces that render citizens to identify with the abstract space. Both the unknown woman and the salaryman's experiences of changing progressively into a cyborg resemble a contagious disease, implying the subject's assimilation into the urban space as an uncontrollable contamination.
While Tetsuo I presents mimicry of the abstract space as a mishap of undesirable but irreversible metamorphosis, its sequel The Body Hammer questions whether Tokyoites can escape from such a misfortune. In a sense, The Body Hammer echoes Philip Dick's science fiction Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which later became well known in the film adaptation, Blade Runner. Like Deckard, the protagonist in Blade Runner, the main character Tomoo in The Body Hammer is tremendously confused, not knowing if the dehumanized surroundings he sees are part of the ordinary world or post-apocalyptic. Yet what distinguishes the two archetypes is the solution each chooses at the end of the film. While the protagonist in Blade Runner decides to abandon the immediate environment to look for an idyllic alternative, his Japanese counterpart opts for mimicking the steel-and-concrete environment so as to realize the dream of living in a pastoral space.
While the urban environment is presented through the expressionist lens in Tetsuo I, the object of mimicry is much more apparent and concrete in its sequel. The setting of Tokyo is highlighted in The Body Hammer. The nightmarish lump of steel and iron rampant in the city in Tetsuo I appears as numerous high-rises compacted in the city in The Body Hammer. The dazzling buildings that serve to define the ideal spatial relationship between the body and the city from the very beginning look oppressive and threatening to the protagonist. In other words, the abstract space of Tokyo takes an expressionist form of Fritz Lang's dehumanized skyscrapers in Metropolis. Buildings change from "clean and proper" space to sites of imminent danger and devilish violence. Again, reminiscent of the pursuit between Deckard and the android among the tops of skyscrapers in Blade Runner, Tomoo's chase after the cyborg-thugs induces acrophobia in the viewer. The pathological response to the altitude of the high-rise is the flip side of the phallic verticality, in contrast to the sense of power and sublime experienced by those who command the panoptic view from above as well as those who admire the phallic building from below.
Moreover, the sequel reverses the narrative of the first Tetsuo. To be precise, the story is not about the transformation of a nice-guy salaryman into a militant iron man as Tetsuo I describes but vice versa, and the daily walk in the city is in fact a strong repression of the violence of the space. In appearance, The Body Hammer narrates the same type of story of a salaryman becoming attracted to the urban space. Like Tetsuo I, the film starts with the depiction of a typical salaryman, Tomoo, leading a happy family life in Tokyo with his darling wife, Kana, and their young boy. The protagonist soon goes through a series of Kafkaesque events, each centering on a family member being kidnapped, twice his little boy, then himself and finally his wife. Similar to its predecessor, the sequel then shows how the salaryman's normal life in the city of Tokyo falls into pieces all of a sudden. However, as the plot thickens, it turns out that the abduction of the family members is an attempt by the cyborg gang to bring back Tomoo to their tribe. Tomoo's long lost brother, the leader of the gang, attempts to awaken the dormant violence in his salaryman body, knowing that Tomoo has always been a cyborg but resists such an identity through psychological repression.
Such a twist on the original story of a salaryman allows the director to explore the tangled relationships among memory, subjectivity, and space. Tomoo's repressed memory of his cyborg identity examines the mimesis of the salaryman's identity from a different, critical perspective. Instilled by their Frankenstein-like scientist father the gene of mutation to fight against a decaying world, both Tomoo and his brother can transform their body parts into weapons with their will power. When young Tomoo with his hand-turned-pistol kills his father, who accidentally murders his wife during an S/M game during intercourse, the father's experiment on his own sons backfires. The primal scene bloodbath, Tomoo's painful rites of passage, implies that the mutation of the human body into cyborgs is self-destructive. Tomoo from then on suffers amnesia, repressing the traumatic past till he reunites with his brother, Yazu, and his iron-man gang. Seeking shelter in the selective memory of his childhood, Tomoo tries to resist the violence inherent in his body. His amnesia about the loss of his birth parents makes the happy scene of walking with his family in an idyllic open space of Tokyo a comfort in the everyday life surrounded by the cold, inhuman high-rises presented through harsh blue filtered shots. The buildings are seen through his eyes, which become the eyes of the audience. Tomoo tells Kana about this recurrent dream: "I was in an open space with my family. I was a child again.... It was a wonderful dream. Very peaceful." In the self-deluding memory, all traces of violence are erased. Memory convinces Tomoo that he is anything but a metal fetishist like his father or brother. In other words, Tomoo as a salaryman represents the power of mimesis to deny his lineage of the Iron Man tribe. As required by the civil society, the boy has to forget the incident of patricide. He later grows up with his foster parents and becomes a model salaryman in Tokyo rather than following, like his brother, the path paved by their father and becomes the leader of the underground gang. Through repression and mimesis, Tomoo's real self as a cyborg is tamed and contained temporarily by his docile salaryman identity.
For all his efforts, Tomoo's resistance to the Iron Man identity fails due to the assaults of the cyborgs. Every time one of his family members is abducted, we see how powerless the salaryman's resistance is vis-à-vis the metal-flesh tribe. For example, in the second abduction of his son, Tomoo runs after the kidnapper as fast as he can through the stairs to the top of the building. The breathless father's hurried footsteps along with his panic expression are followed by the shots of the salaryman driven to the edge of the building and his struggle to climb back in the building. Tomoo can hardly protect himself from the strong iron-man thugs, not to mention rescue his family. The shots of the cold steel-and-iron structure of the building in which they fight and the numerous surrounding high-rises further highlight the vulnerability of the salaryman's human body. Ultimately, the repressed returns in a more powerful way than Tomoo can imagine. Tomoo's extreme rage at the attacker who gestures to drop his son to the ground from the high-rise turns his hand into a pistol, which fires at the kidnapper but kills the son by mistake. Devastated, Tomoo is later kidnapped and forced to undergo an experiment of meshing his body with steel in the underground skinhead faction. Mini-cannons exude from his chest and his back whenever the gentle salaryman is overwhelmed by fury. The failure of resistance, so inevitable given the flesh versus steel contrast, seems to imply the frailty and even a delusional attribute of both the utopian memory of an idyllic past that constantly flashes back in Tomoo's dreams and the happy family life in the present.
Confronted with the mounting pressures from the cyborg-gang, Tomoo ultimately makes a drastic decision to stay alive: giving up the resistance to being a cyborg and turning himself again into a weapon-loaded metal lump. That is, Tomoo chooses to be assimilated into the cyborg gang and mimics the violence of his environment. Shooting a cannon from his arm, Tomoo finds the destructive power of his iron man identity fascinating. The salaryman has come to a point that his mutation into a walking arsenal becomes the only way to deal with his repressed past and the imminent danger faces him. No longer resisting the iron-man gene in his body, Tomoo accepts his transformed body, which endows him with power he has never known. Tomoo furthers his own metamorphosis by stretching out his metal tentacles to the foreheads of all the iron men in the tribe and sucking the whole tribe into his body. Tomoo goes through the ordeal of becoming metal himself to avoid the seemingly inevitable fate of being a victim of the iron-man tribe and the similarly hostile buildings of Tokyo. The salaryman's transformation is indeed a result of being seduced by the steel city. At the end of his transformation, Tomoo becomes a grotesque tank loaded with metal mass.
The film bespeaks of an eerie tale of mimicry: to hold on to the idyllic dream or to survive at all, Tokyoites have to act as if they were dead so as to be identical with the fleshless ruins. With his iron-man body, Tomoo destroys the villains, including the underground cyborgs that disrupt his happy family life, and the sinister buildings that shatter his dream of walking in an open space. Ironically, the shattered dream resurfaces after his mimicry of the environment. Looking at the shattered skyscrapers at a distance, Tomoo's wife says contentedly: "It's so peaceful." What we see is a happy picture of the salaryman regaining his human body and getting together with his family to enjoy a leisured walk in an idyllic open space like he used to do as a kid. It is through mimicking the steel-and-concrete space that Tomoo survives the violence and realizes the idyllic dream.
Of a Man and a Building: Tokyo Fist
While the salaryman-heroes undergo self-mutilation to integrate their bodies with cybernetic heavy metal in Tetsuo I and II, the mild-mannered salaryman protagonist in Tokyo Fist endeavors to transform himself with blood, perspiration, and pain in the boxing gym. Specifically, the film is about Tokyo's urban space per se as perceived by director Tsukamoto, a native Tokyoite growing up witnessing the urbanization of Tokyo from the 1960s to construction boom of the 1980s. Tsukamoto has been explicit about the theme of urban space in this film in one of his interviews: "I was born and grew up in Tokyo, so I grew up with those buildings. I was small, and buildings were small at first. Then the buildings became bigger as I grew up. That strange intimacy to the buildings and the city is analogous to the mixed feelings for the parents: affection and fear are two sides of the same coin." Fascinated by such ambivalent feelings toward Tokyo, Tsukamoto produces Tokyo Fist to play out the possibilities of living in a city that tends to be more and more dominated by the steel-and-concrete built environment and the high-tech virtual space of global flows. Tsukamoto's drama of a love triangle among an unassuming Tokyo salaryman, his live-in girlfriend and a semi-professional boxer turns out to be something close to a thrilling urban folklore of space, or of the interactions between the human body and the city at the age of globalization.
I intend to explain the paradoxes of life in Tokyo by tracing the protagonist Tsuda's change from a model salaryman-walker to a disoriented roamer in the city as triggered by his reunion with the boxer Kojima and his confrontation of his repressed memory of a highway murder. I will first discuss Tsuda's average salaryman's life as a critique of the elevated subjectivity defined by mimesis. Following Tsuda's routine walk, we see the restructured cityscape after the construction boom. The clusters of buildings that make Tokyo into Lefebvre's abstract space par excellence stage their presence everywhere in the salaryman's urban life. Tsukamoto's filmic images visualize the duplicity of Tokyo's high-rises: the dazzling buildings of Tokyo seem to dwarf, compress, and hollow out the body of the inhabitants more than honoring them as members of a prosperous and powerful global metropolis.
Like the two salaryman-protagonists in the Tetsuo series, Tsuda leads a routine life in Tokyo. As a hard-working insurance salesman, he will be settling down with his office-lady girlfriend Hizuru and ready for a pension plan long before the age of retirement. Yet a chance encounter with his old friend Kojima significantly changes how Tsuda interacts with the city. Rather than a safe and reliable living space for the salaryman's years to come, the city becomes a boxing ring where one has to fight to survive. Running into Kojima on the street many years after their high-school days, Tsuda soon finds out that Kojima intends to seduce his girlfriend, who, intrigued by Kojima's world of violence and masculinity, breaks up with Tsuda and moves into Kojima's shabby wooden house. Infuriated by losing his woman to Kojima, Tsuda begins a grueling boxing gym routine in the hope of training himself to be a ferocious fighter for revenge. Unfortunately, the salaryman's angry fist neither wins the beauty back nor defeats his rival.
To some extent, Tsuda's story demonstrates the paradoxes of life in Tokyo. What the eye sees all the time (the feel-good-monumental buildings) fails to answer what the body experiences (powerlessness). The inhabitant is defined as the proud user of the new cityscape yet is unable to keep up with the fast-changing space, feeling compressed by the shrinking urban space yet unable to articulate what is wrong. Fascinated and exhausted by the dazzling global city, walkers in Tokyo like Tsuda experience what can be called a "split personalities" syndrome, torn between the abstracted body and the aggrandized subjectivity as a norm both produced by the logic of the abstract space.
Walking as a Salaryman: What's Wrong With it?
The representation of Tsuda's life as a normal salaryman walking everyday in his habitat of building-jungle exemplifies the power of mimesis. The ideal rational relationship between the body and the city is illustrated by where and how Tsuda walks in the city. For one thing, Tsuda's efficient and zesty walking in Tokyo indicates the salaryman's devotion to his job, a proper social relation in the interest of the circuit of capital in the abstract space. Commuting from a high-rise apartment building to work in another high-rise office building in Tokyo, Tsuda walks in the city all day long making door-to-door sales. From the subway station to his office building, from corporate buildings to apartment complexes, Tsuda's daily routine is all about such type of goal-oriented walking. The camera shows Tsuda's walking with his body in various relations to the buildings around him. The proximity between the walker and the buildings implies the function of mimesis, which imposes a symbiotic harmony between the pedestrians and where they walk. Every morning the smooth pedestrian flow formed by thousands of dark-suited, diligent salarymen like Tsuda, makes the giant city-machine operate efficiently. At the same time, the salaryman depends on the city not only for his livelihood but also for his sense of identity which can be summarized as "I walk/work, and therefore I am17."
The shots of the successful reproduction of social relations as shown by the protagonist's walking simultaneously reveal the repressive nature of the "phallic, geometrical, and visual" space of the global city. Following Tsuda's sales-calls, the camera zooms in on the façade of an anonymous apartment building. Like Tsuda, we see nothing but the building. The camera then zooms out to show the barely visible Tsuda climbing the stairs. While Tsuda is the focus of the mise-en-scene, we see a tiny little body with only the head and part of the shoulder in the shot. As Tsuda takes more stairs, his body is engulfed by the space of the building. A close-up of the sweating salaryman cuts to the building's façade again, a symmetrical honeycomb for Tsuda to walk through. Soon enough Tsuda is the same dwarf walking in another gigantic beehive-looking building maze. In fact, every shot of Tsuda's walking for his sales calls conveys a sense of claustrophobia and loneliness. Despite his diligent footsteps, all he encounters is disinterested customers and compressing buildings. Interestingly, if we eliminate the walker in the shots, the images of the buildings in fact very much resemble the conceived space as it appeared in the drafts of the architects and urban planners. These shots of the buildings, as perfectly designed geometrical space and the stunted human body contained in the fragmentary box within boxes, are some of the most expressive images throughout the film, suggesting the subjugation of the body by the repressive abstract space. Tsuda's walking experience, as being hollowed out by the rational, geometrical space, is summarized by the last shot of the sequence of Tsuda's walking as a salesman. Standing exhaustedly in front of big apartment buildings, the sweating salaryman looks up to see a tiny strip of blue sky diced up by the skyscrapers. The buildings around him seem to expand infinitely in all directions. One cannot tell if these are the ones Tsuda just visited or those he will visit next. Like the silent strangers in their separate cubes in the apartment buildings, the high-rises offer Tsuda no return look. The slaryman's one-way gaze seems to be the last link between the body and the building. The wearied walker looking anxiously at the buildings points to the sensory experiences of walking in the city, the pressure and pain that can be repressed but not eradicated.
The images of both Tsuda's family life as well as his home located in the beehive apartment building accentuate the abstraction of Tsuda's body experience as a result of conforming to the demands of the city life. Similar to the clients in the buildings he visits in the daytime, Tsuda and Hizuru correspond to Lefebvre's example of those tenants of stacked up apartment buildings, rewarded by the illusory "whole" at the cost of their lived space. The recurring shot of Tsuda dozing on his girlfriend Hizuru's shoulder in front of the TV illustrates the "quality" of their quality time. Like the workers exploited first by the repetition at the workplace and then by the repetition of cultural industry as Adorno describes, Tsuda marks his time at home by the TV program schedule. Drained of his energy by walking throughout the city, Tsuda doesn't have much stamina left for his after hours. When Hizuru inquires if he is working too hard, Tsuda comforts his girlfriend that "everything is fine at my work." Yet later Tsuda confesses that he has a physical checkup to find out what makes him exhausted. For all his efforts to rationalize the unreasonably demanding city life, overworked Tsuda is overwhelmed by fatigue, a symptom of a body drained by the duties of a model citizen.
Presenting Tsuda as such a normal man in Tokyo, the director poses the question of the cost of normalization with the recurrent and involuntary flashback of a murder scene that Tsuda witnessed in his adolescence under the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway. This memory is a defining event for both Tsuda and Kojima. Deeply repressed by Tsuda, the murder is revealed instead by Kojima. Recounting the secret bond between these two old friends to Hizuru, Kojima explains that he cannot wait to see Tsuda's face crushed since Tsuda's face reminds him of the girl killed by a gang of reckless teenage boys. The replay of the memory suggests an attempted gang rape which ends with the girl in school uniform being killed by a big knife stuck in her chest. Kojima sees how she dies but cannot fight back against the gang. One step late, Tsuda only makes it to see the girl he admires dead with her eyes wide-opened in an abandoned corner of the city. Tsuda and Kojima are angry and obsessed with finding out who killed the girl. Unfortunately, they are late again for their revenge plan: before they two can take any action, the police find the murderers and put them in jail. The juridical justice seems to close the case but the consequences of the homicide continue to be played out in Tsuda's and Kojima's life. Now the only way for these two teenagers to vent their anger and frustration is to come to the crime scene, get drunk, pound on the beams, and pour paint on themselves. Swearing to train themselves to be killing machines so as to avenge the girl after the murderers do their time, Kojima keeps his word and becomes a professional boxer, but after high school Tsuda seems to forget the whole thing and becomes a salaryman, a "nobody" in Kojima's eyes.
For Tsuda, his normalization cannot be possible without repressing this traumatic murder event. Contrary to what Kojima believes, Tsuda has never forgotten what happened under the highway. Witnessing the cruelly murdered body of the girl was a defining moment, a rite of passage for Tsuda, which determines his future relation to the urban space. It is not that Tsuda leaves the past behind. The truth is that he is left to drag his footsteps along what the abstract space prescribes for him ever since he is overwhelmed by the violence as experienced under the expressway. Conditioned to give up the irrational idea of deviating from the norm, Tsuda becomes a good young man in "My Town Tokyo." Simply put, Tsuda is the product of the abstract space, which suppresses any violence that might endanger the reproduction of role models in the city. The unrealized pledge thus marks the violence of mimesis, a process of containing and constraining a not-yet-indoctrinated body. On a symbolic level what happens in the abandoned space of the city one full moon night in Tsuda's teenage years predestines him as a helpless victim always outpaced and overpowered by the urban space. In a sense, the gangsters who stab the girl to death are allegorical culprits of the crime, the accomplice of the dark corner of the city under the gigantic columns of the highway. They are only the human agents that enact the violence of the space on the body. What haunts Tsuda all these years is not the faces of the murderers but the blood-stained hidden corner of Tokyo where he saw her penetrated body and his own helpless soul. Guilty, angry, and frustrated, Tsuda has been tortured by the memory since the very night she was murdered. As the narrative unfolds, the girl's dead body under the expressway proves to be Tsuda's repressed vision that returns in the forms of the dead cat in a narrow alley between buildings, Tsuda's dying father in the hospital, and Hizuru with her body pierced at every orifice. Seen in this light, the girl is not the only victim of the crime: when she is pierced by the phallic knife and symbolically gang raped, Tsuda's and Kojima's adolescent sexual desire is frustrated. The teenage ego aspiring to be a superman drives Kojima to hold on to the plan of revenge made in his liminal stage of life, whereas Tsuda falls behind the adolescent ambition and becomes more and more subjugated by the social space of the city. Tsuda assumes that emulating the model of the salaryman works as an antidote to the violence hidden in obscure corners of the city, yet ironically, as the plot unfolds, the defense strategies for survival turn out to be giving up the salaryman's identity and mimicking the violence he witnesses.
The major setting of the story is the realistic landscape of Tokyo. The crime scene, the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway, is not an incidental choice. The repressed memory of Tsuda also points to an often forgotten chapter of Tokyo in its current form of glistening skyscrapers. Originally built to connect the scattered stadiums for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, more than a decade before the construction boom triggered by globalization, the Expressway marks the entry of Tokyo into the array of global cities. This massive monumental structure later expands through all of Tokyo, the highway stretching as far as Tokyo's hinterland such as Chiba and Yokohama. With its 30 sections over 220 kilometers in length and huge supporting beams, the gigantic highway dominates the cityscape, dwarfs many buildings by contrast, and weaves its way to Tokyoites' doorsteps. Connected with other transportation networks such as railways, subways, bullet trains and pedestrian bridges, the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway is almost ubiquitous in Tokyoites' daily life. With his adolescent memory locked under a dark spot of the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway, what the salaryman Tsuda now sees is the compacted high-rise including Shinjuku's skyscrapers, the New City Hall, and suburban housing projects. That is, the growing-up experiences of Tsuda are parallel to the history of Tokyo becoming a global city. It is arguable that Tsuda's relationship with the fast changing Tokyo is a sort of projection of the director's own growing-up experiences in Tokyo as quoted above.
The unexpected reappearance of Kojima, the other witness to the murder under the highway, serves as a catalyst to crack open Tsuda's tightly sealed memory. The director Tsukamoto is persistently concerned with the theme of pressures from the urban space. Again, like Yazu, the leader-brother of the salaryman Tomoo in The Body Hammer, Kojima is the "twin" of Tsuda, the possibility of becoming an "iron-man," who refuses to be codified by social normalization18. Both The Body Hammer and Tokyo Fist allegorize the oppression of the space through the main character's pain of losing his beloved. In parallel to Yazu's kidnapping of Tomoo's family members, Kojima seduces Tsuda's girlfriend away from him. The prospect of losing Hizuru to Kojima opens a Pandora's box for Tsuda. The memory of the dead teenager comes back to haunt him. In this sense, Kojima is a trickster of the urban space, who forces Tsuda to open his eyes to the morbid ruins repressed under the surface of the glittering city.
Tokyo Fist is certainly not limited to a lover's quarrel; rather, the director dramatizes an existential questioning of the urban space in general. Tsuda finds it harder to cling to his salaryman identity in the city when his father passes away in the hospital. While in the background the nurse says "[y]our father died in peace without pain," shoved in audience's face is the façade of the buildings through the blinds of the hospital ward, providing a clear image of the strangers on the street rather than Tsuda's response. He has been prepared for his father's death for a long time, but still was unable to make it to the deathbed in time. The empty bed suggests that once again Tsuda is one step too late to the scene. Falling behind results in irresolvable melancholia for Tsuda, and the supposedly paternal city only intensifies Tsuda's unspeakable sense of loss with its hollow concrete and crowds. In short, Tsuda's personal loss is trivialized by the overpowering landscape of Tokyo. The speedy sequence of building shots ends with a panoramic view of the skyscrapers of Shinjuku. The following shot of the continuous flows of walkers in the street not only sharply contrasts the sudden disruption of Tsuda's life but also signifies an indifferent crowd in sync with the compassionless city. No longer looking for a return gaze from the crowds or a sense of familiarity in the buildings, Tsuda the salaryman finds "My Town Tokyo" disappearing everywhere he goes.
Disheartened, Tsuda is defeated once again by the space when Hizuru fails to show up under the highway as promised. Tsuda finds himself drawn back to the crime scene, where he waits for Hizuru as his last resource to seek consolation. The meeting place is by no means randomly chosen. In a sense, psychologically Tsuda never leaves the space under the expressway after the night of the homicide. As dividers and enclosures of Tokyo's cityscape (Tajima 18), the highway plays a similar role on a symbolic level in Tsuda's life. It marks the dividing line between Tsuda's adolescent aspiration and his later average salaryman days, between a world of brutal violence and a safe haven of order, which are paradoxically the same urban space. Lurking somewhere in his unconscious, the violence he experiences at the dark space of the city's monumental structure has become part of him. Provoked first by Kojima's trick and then his father's death, Tsuda walks back to the starting point where he becomes overwhelmed by the violence in the space and subsequently conditioned by the violence of the space to emulate the model of the honorable salaryman. Like the previous shots of the geometrically perfect buildings, the expressway is presented as a conceived space that compresses the body. The vacant spot created by the expressway where Tsuda keeps coming back physically and emotionally after being tricked by Kojima is only deceptively an open space for Tsuda to free his repressed feelings. Structurally, the highway and its supporting beams have always enclosed it; psychologically, Tsuda seeks liberation of his feelings here since he is tied up by this space in the first place. Standing under the highway, Tsuda looks small and vulnerable in contrast to the symmetrical giant pillars. When Tsuda comes back to the space under the highway as a private space of letting go of his emotions many years after the murder, he finally faces what has been suppressed by his salaryman life in the city, the space of the sexual and the sensual. The serpentine-like expressway that traverses the city twists around Tsuda's body and almost conveys a mythical sense, echoing the python sent by Poseidon to strangle the prophet Laocoon in the Iliad. Laocoon is killed for his knowledge of the Trojans' scheme, yet what secret knowledge does Tsuda hold if not the violence of the space? Thus seen, Tsuda's revisiting the crime scene is not a conscious attempt to exorcise the demon in him by confronting the space itself but an unwitting seduction by the power of the space the way a moth is attracted by flames. The high-school love is lost to the abject space of the city forever and many years later at the same place Tsuda confirms that he has lost another girl.
The urban space of Tokyo proves to be overwhelming and disorienting. With the loss of his father and his girlfriend, Tsuda abandons himself into a ghost-like drifting in Tokyo; he is swallowed up by the space, so to speak. From the marvelous New City Hall complex to anonymous buildings, from the subway station to the fire lane between high-rises, from the expressway to the sewers, Tsuda wanders from one place to another. Looking at the high-rises, the walker only sees a city with miles of buildings with no return gaze. The salaryman walks to the subway station without knowing where to go and what to do. Tsuda stands in a rather empty subway train car and stares straight expressionlessly as if he were not there. The following expressionist image shows Tsuda standing in the subway station with glass windows shining behind the dark figure of his body. The montage of a moving train superimposed on a motionless Tsuda creates the effect of the train passing through Tsuda's evacuated body; further hints at the decorporealizing forces of the city as represented by the daily commuting. An ensuing shot of Tsuda gazing at the pedestrian flows also indicates the malfunction of mimesis. The way Tsuda looks at the crowd walking out of the subway escalator is like he is looking among them for a lost self from the previous life. The walker's gaze is supposed to anchor his salaryman identity and maintain the ideal relationship with the space, but now Tsuda can neither see in the buildings around him the sublime and the monumental nor find a model to emulate among the pedestrian crowds.
In such a disorienting whirlpool of Tokyo, Tsuda cannot find any reference point except the overwhelming space itself. When disavowing the violence of the city so as to live as an ideal salaryman seems to be an inadequate survival strategy, Tsuda responds to the suffocating urban space by mimicking the violence of the metropolis. Finally getting to see Hizuru under the expressway on her way back to cook dinner for Kojima, the only thing the hollow man Tsuda can do now is to abuse himself and Hizuru. He imitates and displaces the violence inflicted on him from the external surrounding onto Hizuru and his own body. The pain of constantly being overwhelmed by a sense of insignificance, helplessness, belatedness now turns to a relentless physical torment of self and others. Ironically, when Tsuda finally gets to confront what really takes Hizuru away, the power of violence inherent in the space, Hizuru has been completely seduced by Kojima the sorcerer and is obsessed with various ways of imposing violence on the body, particularly un-anesthetized body piercing. As the always-belated Tsuda keeps hitting his head against the wall, Hizuru with a radish in her left hand hits him harder with several right hooks, telling the bloody Tsuda that "you can't beat it19." Hizuru is then punched to the ground as she tells Tsuda that she doesn't mind Kojima beating her to death. What follows is a repetition of the maniac-fighting scenario: Tsuda cannot stop hitting his head against the pillars of the Expressway and hitting Hizuru, who punches him in return like a professional boxer. When it turns dark, Tsuda's bloody face is hardly intelligible, and Hizuru's bruised and swollen. Several bouts of fights later Hizuru leaves with her now split in half radish, and Tsuda with his beaten up body alone under the highway. The lovebirds' reunion now only simulates the sad encounters between the pathetic mimic insects Phyllias, which prey on each other because they cannot tell the foliage from another Phyllia. Noticeably, the final shot of Tsuda standing in the middle of a busy street trying to raise his arms fades out with an impressive bird's-eye view of Tokyo's skyscrapers, followed by a sequence of cityscape shots. The bright lights and shining façade of the buildings, the traffic flowing on the Expressway, and the fast-moving trains contrast the dysfunctional salaryman with a lost soul and a beaten-up body.
Tsuda's delight in cruelty is not so much a defiance against the violence of the space as it is a survival instinct developed as he experiences the imminent danger of his existence but is unable to identify the predators beyond the loser-boxer Kojima and the unfaithful Hizuru. Like the fight with Hizuru, the sadomasochistic violence entailed in Tsuda's final confrontation with Kojima in the boxing ring typifies the mechanism of mimicry. Every round of their fight is intertwined with the shots of the various angles of the skyscrapers, the built environment of the capitalist space. The silent buildings not so much contrast the animalistic fighters than suggest another invincible opponent. The montage of Kojima's bruised face imposed on the city streets, buildings, and pedestrians further testifies the parallel role of Kojima and Tokyo envisioned by the crushed Tsuda with blood gushing out from every orifice in his face.
The survival instinct seen in the phenomenon of mimicry thus offers potential insights into the sadomasochistic nature of urban violence demonstrated in Tsuda's painful social relationships. When physical pain induced from the compressed lived space becomes the only signifier of an invisible power, the subject plays with pain to assume the power of the environment and in so doing survives the violence inflicted by the space. In other words, the only way to avert being devoured by the dark space is to be the dark space itself. Performance thus becomes the ultimate disguise to redeem the subject from being destroyed as a victim by the abstract space. He or she can choose to play the role of the master, an agent of power that inflicts physical pain on others (sadism). Or, the subject can choose to stage his or her own suffering, playing the part of a victim rather than simply being a victim (masochism). Assuming power and taking control of his or her own suffering, the masochist differentiates him or herself from the passive recipient of pain (Noyes 157). In the game of "S & M," bodily pain becomes an imaginary source of power. The more grueling the pain is, the more pleasure the sadomasochist gains: the sweetness of power lies in the excruciating physical torment. The masochist therefore constantly re-enacts the suffering of the body to assure him or herself the accessibility of power. In short, while mimesis defines the proper spatial and social relations for the occupant of the abstract space, mimicry shows the repressed body evolving to replicate what it experiences during the subject-formation process.
The last shot of Tsuda in his dark salaryman suit looking at the crowd walking on the street, identical to the establishing shot we saw of him as the film began, frames the narrative and hints at the dual nature of the abstract space and its inherent violence. Critically injured in his duet with Kojima, Tsuda is hospitalized and bandaged like a mummy. The camera springs from the blood gushing out from Tsuda's bandage-covered face and the empty bed in the ward to the traffic noise and millions of commuters walking on the streets, then finally to Tsuda going back to his commuting routine. As we see at the beginning of the film, Tsuda stands on an elevated pedestrian passage in his salaryman attire apparently coming out of a station. With half of his face in dark shadow, Tsuda stares at the crowds walking down on the streets with a blank look as the train passes by behind him. The director seems to suggest at the end of the film, by using the same shot, that the salaryman ultimately retrieves his normal life after the violence is over. Tsuda appears to be ready to join the pedestrian flows and resume his usual life after a wild episode in which he releases his repressed physical energies. Yet a closer look at the image of the salaryman's body reveals that the frame shots of Tsuda as a salaryman re-affirm the pathogenic nature of the space. Skillfully overlapping with the unhealed wounds from the fight, the strange shadow on the protagonist's face makes Tsuda look ghostly in the broad daylight. The surreal image of Tsuda illuminates the condition of living in a city subject to the global flows: walking in the abstract space as a salaryman, Tsuda is not too different from an apparition with an emptied-out body20. The ocean of blood that saturates the story of a salaryman's walking in Tokyo indeed allegorizes the decorporealizing violence of the abstract space.
The absurdity of Tsuda's life lies in his blindness to what he really grapples with: the power that reduces him to a clown or puppet has never shown its face. Hizuru's sarcastic comments on Kojima seem to be more apt for the salaryman's life in Tokyo: "You think you are a boxer. But you ain't. Instead, you are a clown, swinging up and down in the ring like a monkey. Everyone knows that but you. A big joke who doesn't know how to fight." No one knows how to fight since what inflicts the pain, the abstract space of Tokyo, is everywhere but also paradoxically invisible. Tsuda has been trying to avenge Kojima for shattering his normal life. Nevertheless, the normal life that Tsuda thinks he is fighting for is ironically what he really fights against, the imprisoning everyday life rendering him to serve the abstract space. The violence he takes on is the violence of the very space he inhabits. Like the stick insects (phasmids) that derive their names from the Latin word phasma meaning phantom, Tsuda in the mirroring shots that frame the film is phantom-like. If a stick insect's living condition can be boiled down to "resembling the twig but not the twig," the crux of salaryman Tsuda's life in the global city is "simulating the abstract space but not the abstract space," an on-going dialectic between mimesis and mimicry, between the global flows and the carnal flows.
Superimposing the urban geography of Tokyo redrawn by globalization and the artistic representation of contemporary Tokyo, one finds that the spatial relations between the subject and the global city constantly oscillating between mimesis and mimicry. Walking in the abstract space on the one hand is a daily practice that enables the subject' identification with the city. However, this everyday bodily movement also registers a strategic site between the body and the city, a switch plate that might trigger all kinds of carnal flows in the walker, imitating the violence they bear on daily basis. As a spatial practice, walking designates the functional movement of a docile body, and simultaneously a reservoir of carnal energies assimilated into the oppressive space, waiting to be released in the same logic of the hostile surrounding.
1 Such a tendency to abstract the bodily experience and deprive the space of the body is what Derek Gregory calls the violence of the abstract space, that of decorporealization.
2 As Takashi Machimura points out, "in the 1980s, when Japan experienced trade disputes with the United States and the EC, the rapid up-valuation of the yen and financial globalization, Japanese capital began to transnationalize on a greater scale" (116). For discussion of bubble economy and the trade disputes with the US, see the first chapter of Christopher Wood's Bubble Economy and New Left Review 229 (1998), 231-226.
3 From 1981 to1984 about 30,000 domestic companies moved their head offices to Tokyo and in 1985 the total number of companies in Tokyo reached 390,000. Foreign companies also poured into Tokyo; 1985 alone saw about 100 finance and securities companies settling down in Tokyo (Ogura16). For example, IBM moved its Far Eastern headquarters from Hong Kong to Tokyo in 1985 with an astonishing acquisition of 100,000 meter-square of office space.
4 For a detailed discussion of the relationships between the company and the salaryman, see Ezra F. Vogel's Japan as Number One: Lessons for America, p. 131-57 and Peter Tasker's Inside Japan: Wealth, Work and Power in the New Japanese Empire, p. 87-99.
5 The large floor space of 400,000 square meters accommodates 13,000 employees. Upon its completion in 1991, the official cost of the buildings is 1.23 billion US (160 billion yen).
6 For a detailed discussion of the analogy between the Edo castle and the New City Hall, see William Coaldrake's Architecture and Authority.
7 The architectural details of the City Hall complex also function to boost the civic consciousness. They convey a strong sense of practicality, of serving the city-users literally from a pedestrian level. The pedestrian access to the city hall was promoted as an indispensable part of the package of the construction of the sublime towers, in so doing, Shinjuku subcenter is expected to transform into a comfortable environment for the walkers (Tokyo Metropolitan Government 1989: 74). Another pertinent example can be found in the "Citizens' Plaza," located between the assembly building and the No. 1 building. The semi-oval plaza, reminiscent of Vatican's St. Peter's Square, was designed to "create a symbolic space serving as the 'bridge' between the citizens and the metropolitan administration" (1989:74). This open plaza functions more than a pit of a theatre which offers the citizens a chance to catch a glimpse of the officials working in the city hall buildings (Tajima 222): it is also used for gathering, events, exchanges, and latest the new lovers' lane.
8 The buildings were completed just three weeks before Suzuki's April election for his consecutive term as the governor, in which he was first time forced to run the campaign as an independent member of LDP. The New City Hall became the best promotion prop to the citizens in this competitive game of politics (Coaldrake 276). Also contradictory to the governor's statement of building a new city hall as a gift for the hard-working Tokyoites is the position of his office. Looking out to the Citizens' Plaza, his magnificent suite at the center of the twin buildings has an imperial style balcony, which "might foreseeably provide a spot for waving to a gathered populace against a monumental backdrop" (Tajima 224). Kenzo Tange, the patriarch architect of the postwar era, was responsible for the old metropolitan government office and the Tokyo Olympics Buildings. His open support of Suzuki's re-election, along with their old personal relationship before Suzuki's governor days, is considered one reason for his project for the New City Hall to be chosen over other competing ones.
9 For the social tension resulted from the expansion of business space in central Tokyo, see Machimura 126-7. For examples of resistance to the urban rezoning, see Peter Popham's Tokyo: the City at the End of the World, Chapter 3.
10 1,770 apartments are being built at the east side of the river (88).
11 In 1985, 60% commuters who work in three core wards spent more than 60 minutes to get to work, 20% of them spent 90 minutes (Udagawa 34).
12 Roman Cybriwsky, a scholar of Tokyo's urban landscape, gave two vivid examples to illustrate the unthinkably overcrowded subway train ride. He witnessed a man who had been lifted out of one of his shoes by the press of the crowd, and who had the most awful time trying to get his shoe back. Another time a woman bumped her face against the man in front of her and left a clear lipstick mark on his white shirt (100). My own experience as a first-time tourist echoed a similar nightmare. I waited for half an hour to take the Chuo line, assuming the next train coming in 5 seconds might have room for me to squeeze in, only to find out that there will never be a train less crowded. Boosting all of my courage, I squeezed myself into the car. My body was twisted due to the compression. I was not standing on the ground of the train, but rather on a pile of feet. It was impossible to move an inch; therefore I wasn't able to see the name of the stop I was supposed to get off at. It didn't really make any difference since I was not able to move toward the door anyway.
13Homi Bhabha employs mimicry as the central trope in his theorization of colonial presence as a site of ambivalence. Bhabha argues that "mimicry is like camouflage, not a harmonization or repression of difference, but a form of resemblance that differs/defends presence by displaying it in part, metonymically" (323). As mimicry always produces its slippage, its excess, its difference (318), the colonial mimic man will not entirely resemble the colonizer but constitute a partial representation of the images, which the colonizer attempts to reconstruct in the colonized Other. Such a partial representation of the colonizer turns to be a subversive identity that questions the purity and originality of the authority. The mimic relationship between the subject and the abstract space is different from Bhabha's mimicry, which designates defiance against the environment, in that the former situation is an internal colonization. What confronts the occupant of the abstract space is a power of no logo: the identity of the colonizer remains opaque.
14 Tsukamoto's style is reminiscent of David Cronenberg and David Lynch, seasoned with the fascination of Godzilla series and Japanese video-game culture.
15 The dominant background music is from laying the foundation of skyscrapers.
16 He is identified as "The Salaryman" in the credit.
17 The shots of Tsuda's routine walk in Tokyo suggest how mimesis successfully tames the subject: the salaryman follows the right pace of walking in the city and finds the right place in the society. The office scene in which the only thing humble Tsuda says to his superior with a polite bow "onegaishimasu" (please kindly...) reinforces the image of the indoctrinated body of the salaryman. In the space of corporate monumental, both the building as the material environment and the hierarchical corporate culture in the office offer models for Tsuda to imitate, the former a proud user of the capitalist space and the latter samurais, the feudal warriors devoted to the lords.
18 The truth is that Kojima, Tsuda's model of masculine power, is only deceptively an antithesis of the wimpy Tsuda. For all his impressive muscles and different life style, Kojima is as much subdued by the abstract space of Tokyo as Tsuda. At first glance, Kojima slips away from the normalizing corporate culture and the standard path of a salaryman life, the social/spatial relations in rhyme with the demands of the global city. Noticeably, the old house Kojima rents is within walking distance to Tsuda's modern apartment building. As Kojima says to Tsuda, "We are so close except the life style." The shots of Kojima's humble abode contrasts not only Tsuda's living unit in the high-rise, but the gigantic buildings right behind it: a replicate of the juxtaposition of Ohkawabashi River City 21 and the local housing of Tsukuda-jima. The disappearing traditional Japanese wooden house indicates a residual of a past less dominated by the abstract space represented by the highly fragmentary living space of tenants in apartment projects like Tsuda. Like the cheap wooden house he inhabits, Kojima seems to demonstrate the untamed body that refuses to be abstracted by the abstract space of globalization. Kojima is not boxed within the claustrophobic Bauhausian public housing like Tsuda, yet the boxer's spatial and social practice are no less dictated by the grid of power of global space. In a sense, Kojima's life style, instead of serving as an ideal alternative to a good salaryman like Tsuda, divulges the horror of walking in the city without the salaryman's bearings, the consequence of not modeling after an ideal type of citizen. Professionally, Kojima is by no means a first-rate boxer. His shabby house is slum-like, reflecting a career without life-long employment guarantee and seniority promotion, a job that often requires early retirement after the prime time of the body or severe damage in the next game. Indeed, Kojima has never been immune from the violence of the space of decorporealization. Two shots illustrate vividly that Kojima's lived space is manipulated by the capitalist space of the city. A shot of Kojima staring at the electric transmission of paper boxes in front of him suggests his moonlighting as a mover is no less monotonous and exploitative than that of a salaryman. A follow-up shot with deep focus cinematography shows Kojima being surrounded by anonymous buildings while reading carefully the newspaper classified ad in the hope of finding some odd jobs. The electric wire spreading above him among the buildings resembles a spider web waiting for the prey.
19 The cryptic remarks can be a pertinent footnote to Tsuda's anger directed against the space. "It" is the power of the abstract space that has been determined Tsuda's life but never recognized as the rival.
20 Tsuda's survival despite the bleeding and severe wounds further illustrates the logic of masochism, which in essence "is not about death" but "nomadic disappearances," to disappear "like nomads in order to reappear somewhere else, where one is not expected" (Noyes 219). Tsuda's walking as a dysfunctional salaryman in the city exemplifies such a "nomadic disappearance" from the familiar social space.