Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Laughing Man

A few months ago I watched Ghost in The Shell Stand Alone Complex which is an exceptional prequel to Ghost In The Shell the film based on the Manga and the first Japanese Anime to be digitally produced (a combination of scanned cells and digital effects). The series explores the possibilities of terrorism and the phenomenon of Stand Alone Complex, I don't want to go into details and spoil the plot, but it is brilliant.

Anyway the series has a master hacker in it known as The Laughing Man who once assassinated someone is broad daylight by covering his escape and his identity by hacking every piece of digital equipment with his image on, including the cybereyes of the people witnessing the event firsthand. The story has a few noted references to Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger which just like John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is yet another great American novel that takes it's title from a poem, but that is going off on a tangent.

I read Catcher in the Rye purely because of the reference to the book form the series and it is a good book. Not quite a page turner, but that would explain why the book didn't enjoy an immediate commercial success. It is instead one of thoes works of fiction that lingers at the back of the mind and is difficult to forget. After finishing the book I was doing some research on J.D. Salinger and discovered that he had written a short story called 'The Laughing Man' the same name as the hacker in Stand Alone Complex.

Well it turns out that the story is freely available on the internet from various websites like This One. It is about a group of kids and the adventures of The Laughing Man as told by their baseball coach. The story follows a similar theme to Catcher in the Rye in that they are both retrospective views of childhood events concluding in the loss of innocence and the transition from childhood to manhood. Catcher in the Rye does this with a declined invitation of a ride on a Carousel, and The Laughing Man does this with the death of The Laughing Man, a fictional character with "a hairless, pecan-shaped head and a face that featured, instead of a mouth, an enormous oval cavity below the nose".

I have completely forgotten where I was going to go with this, but all three fictions are very good, I might have been wanting to make a declaration that Ghost In The Shell is a better work of fiction. But the written isn't comparable to the visual, so to say one is better than the other is immature as eyecandy is always more immediately delectable than any book whoes true value is never rearlised until a retrospective viewpoint on the story is reached.