Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Esteban and Sebastian

I had this really interesting discussion with someone today about personal imagery and how to assign meaning to imagery. We started talking about the process of embracing imagery and then stepping away from it and trying to decipher meaning from the image and the process of making the image. I think it is important to listen to the inner dialogue that happens as you work with images and we started talking about books that influence our images and vocabulary.

That got me thinking about the earliest stories that I remember reading/watching - Charlotte's Web b/c my mother read it to me and it was the first time I remember being moved to tears by a story. There was also this series of picture books that my mom read to me all the time (and she'll kill me, but I can't remember the title) that recorded the cyclical life of farmers and farm animals. We read these books so much that the bindings broke apart. I'm trying to pin point what was so important to me (then and now) about those farm stories. Whether it was the comfort that comes in cyclical living, or the dependability of animal's role, or the presence of animal characters. Still thinking...

Just curious, does anyone remember the cartoon, Esteban and the Cities of Gold? It was broadcast in the early 1980's from a French/Japanese company. In it Esteban is a small child regarded as the son of the sun. Linked to the New World by a gold coin given to him by his father, he is scooped up by the unscrupulous gold hunter to divvy out the gold cities of Mesoamerica. The Fountain of Youth and the Lines of Nazca, not to mention the Olmec and Aztec people and gods make cameos.

Here is a link:

It's super weird and creates this strange pan-Latin American world with little regard to geography or time - but it was hands down my most favorite cartoon growing up and probably the earliest show I remember watching. That and the countdown sequence in "3-2-1 Contact." Now I enjoy my memories of watching the show more than actually watching it now.

The other show that my memory constantly melds with "Cities" is "Belle and Sebastian" - another Japanese series. This one is about an orphan (sebastian) who befriends a huge white dog (belle) and travels across the French alps in search of his missing mother. Belle kinda acts as a surrogate mother, protecting Sebastian as they brave the elements and have scraps with the local law enforcement.

I guess my point is that articulating the meaning of images and their meaning to you is so layered and vague. The wonderful challenge is in opening up memories and thinking about stories that shape your perspective - and then trying to describe those in between moments and chain of thought to someone on the outside of you. Even if the best description is just - "like in that scene when Belle growls and Esteban forces open the clouds."


  1. Why are we so comforted by farms as children?-the ideal mythology about them is so strong-land, people, animals all working together...hmmm
    On another note- why are the japanese obsessed with Alpine villages!?!?

  2. I know!!! Maybe both cartoons were a way of introducing Japanese children to European culture/history?

    Also, Kevin asked for it, so here is a link to the Belle and Sebastian trailer on: