Project Rebuild (mostly)

I am fascinated by Murakami’s Project Rebuild. It’s such a fantastic and visually appealing idea.

I’d be interested to know know what Murakami’s particular relationship to the Vancouver specials is, and whether or not the poets she selected to send her early poems to lived in Vancouver specials themselves. It looks like this might be something she’ll explain in her upcoming book, but I couldn’t find anything on the website. It’s an interesting piece of information to choose to obscure.

I was worried I was reading too much into this, but I searched around online a little but and found this review of Rebuild, which talks about how the issue I’m just about to mention dominates the latter section of her book. I couldn’t help but notice her Japanese name — property in Vancouver is so important on a really emotional level to many Japanese-Canadian people, since that was where so many of our families lived before World War Two, when they were interned and had their homes sold very cheaply to other residents of Vancouver. The old Japanese neighbourhood is now East Hastings. It’s a really strange and socially marked place — the linked Wikipedia article talks about its high incidence of poverty, drug use and violence, but it can’t really describe how bizarre it is to be walking around in this rather dangerous area, then turn a corner and suddenly be in the very affluent, gentrified, and tourist-heavy Gastown. Even the ground is a different colour — Gastown is paved with red brick. I think Project rebuild captures a lot of this feeling on a really deep, structural level.

Anyway, the whole thing brings up a lot of questions about socially marked property, gentrification, voyeurism and appropriation. I think there’s a lot to be said about the relationship between gentrification and the remoulding of words in this project. I feel like this kind of conversation is really the strength of interactive fiction — it’s fairly cheap to produce, so you don’t have to water anything down to appeal to a mass audience, and it allows you to welcome a lot of different people into conversations that would otherwise be intimidating to have. A lot of the other readings this week also deal with some pretty serious social issues in a very accessible way. 

I was wondering what everyone else’s reactions to Project Rebuild was? You can probably tell that I’m not really approaching this from an objective perspective!


2 thoughts on “Project Rebuild (mostly)

  1. THIS IS FASCINATING, MATT! It’s impossible to be able to know about the issues that are important to every different community, which is why reading this was so fascinating – it might betray ignorance, but it’s a connection I never would have made. I was really lucky to visit London, England earlier this year for an extended period of time and gentrification was a much talked about topic in my circles, and reflecting on those conversations in context to this project is really interesting.. you’ve really made my brain work!
    I definitely also agree that it’s ultra important that things like this are free (or at least really cheap) to do, which allows for a specificity and authenticity that may be lost when trying to appeal to larger masses of consumers.


    1. Ahh, that’s so cool! I’ve heard some thigs about the class system/gentrification in London sound like it works in a totally different way than it does in Canada? I would be very interested to hear about that! (I also feel like the divide in East Hastings works differently than this sort of thing does through the rest of Canada, although that might just be me betraying my ignorance. 🙂

      Either way, though, Vancouver tends to keep that particular part of its history/city very hush-hush.


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