Computer Shy: Ring and the Technology of Maternal Longing
I want to begin at the end, or, rather, an end-an end that happens to be at the beginning, in this case, of a series of horror novels and films that, in an important sense, is deeply preoccupied thematically with beginnings and ends. The end I have in mind concerns the information that appears on the back inside flap of the dust jacket for the 2003 hardback English translation (Ring) of Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel, Ringu. In an account of the author’s beginnings, we are provided with the basics of Suzuki’s birth, his education, his early employment-as a school teacher-and his non-writing interests, including yachting and cross country motorcycling. Next we learn that Suzuki is the father of two daughters, that in Japan he is a respected authority on childrearing, having written numerous works on the subject, and, finally, that he gained his expertise on childrearing when he was still a struggling writer and a househusband. Inadvertently, I’m tempted here to say, unconsciously, the dust jacket copy intimates-through juxtapositionlinks between his career as a father and as an author, between childrearing and writing, between husbanding and authoring. I have argued elsewhere that such links have a long, complex cultural history, indeed that they may in fact constitute the very foundations of culture and history. For readers of the three novels that constitute Suzuki’s Ring trilogy, especially the first and second installments, Ring and Spiral, such juxtapositions, and the links I am suggesting they intimate, might seem counterintuitive. And yet, if alerted to potential conceptual, semantic, and lexical overlaps between symbolic systems and human reproduction, between paternity and writing technologies ranging from pens to word processors, one quickly notices that not only are the first two novels profoundly obsessed with fatherhood and writing technologies, but also that they often obsess over these issues in close proximity to each other. I will begin again by focusing our attention on set of examples that appear early in the first novel.