Japanese Lesson # 3 – t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者 – アンタラ通信 (Antara News)
On our last journey in to the Vaporworld, we finished translating all the text on Macintosh Plus’s Floral Shoppe, and reviewed some of the core concepts we’ve encountered so far, such as katakana, kanji, and the の particle. We even learned a new particle, と, which functions similarly to the English “and”. In this lesson, we’re going to get a bit more advanced, and dive right into the mystical dimensions of t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者. Yet another legend in the Vaporworld, Telepath takes a different approach to the style than most musicians, seeking to explore the more dreamy and surreal sides of Vaporwave. Telepath is certainly the most mystical artist in the Vaporworld, and as we will see in today’s lesson, the artist’s album titles and tracks tend to reflect this allusive, transcendent quality.
The specific album I will be focusing on today is Telepath’s アンタラ通信, a title which I have translated as “Anatara News”. This is the Telepath album that I’ve seen discussed the most, and so have chosen it so that most readers might be familiar with it already. If you aren’t yet familiar, you can listen to and purchase the album here:
Firstly, the most important thing is to look at Telepath’s actual artist name, which prominently, and notoriously, features Japanese characters. Thankfully, we’ve learned enough so far on our journey to easily be able to decode what’s going on.
テレパシー能力者 – (terepashii nouryoku mono) – Telepathic Ability Person
As the more observant Japanese Through Vaporwave readers will have probably already noticed, the first part of Telepath’s name is comprised entirely of katakana:
This katakana simply represents the foreign loanword “telepathy”. To be perfectly honest, the Japanese segment of Telepath’s name was giving me a difficult time, since I had never seen the word 能力者 used before, and could find no dictionary entry for it. Of course, the individual kanji
能力 (nouryoku) – ability
and the qualifier
–者 (mono) – kind of person
are both commonly used, but together the term “ability person” didn’t make much sense, and I suspected it was perhaps a translation error and the intended meaning was “talented person” or “skilled person”. But upon further research, I found an example sentence on Weblio which suggested that, taken as a whole, the name テレパシー能力者 literally translates to “telepath,” or “ a person with a telepathic ability.” This phrase doesn’t appear to be very common in Japanese however, as most of the results that appears when you look it up on Google are specifically related to the vaporwave artist.
In any case, we can now slide deep into sleep mode in peace, satisfied knowing the full meaning of Telepath’s mystifying name. Next function: The album title.
アンタラ通信 (antara tsuushin) – Antara News
The title of this album is a mysterious one, and it’s a little difficult to see why Telepath would have chosen it. As far as translation goes, the title is simple enough:
makes use of katakana, representing a foreign loan word, in this case what I suspect is a name.
通信 (tsuushin) – Correspondence, Transmission, News
is comprised of two kanji,
通 – to pass through
信 – faith, trust
and would usually be translated as something like “communications,” as in
衛星通信 (eiseitsuushin) – satellite communication
but in this case, I suspect Telepath may have been trying to create a Japanese translation of “Antara News,” which is the national news agency of Indonesia. This is the most prominent source I’ve found online making use of the name “Antara,” and that leads me to suspect that this is likely Telepath was referring to with the album title.
If this was truly Telepath’s initial intention, the title may have been more accurately translated as
アンタラニュース (antara nyuusu) – antara news
which makes use of the katakana for the foreign loan word “news”. This is the typical way of representing news programs in Japan, as in Japan’s own national NHKニュース7.
As to why Telepath would have made use of this particular title, it may have to do with the motif of the unknown and the anonymous in vaporwave. While Antara News is hardly anything mysterious to people living in Indonesia, for a traveller in a foreign country there is certainly something very strange and alienating about watching a television program in a language you can’t understand, employing social codes you’ve never before encountered. The experience can be daunting and alarming, but in that state of quiet shock there is also an element of beauty, like the beauty you find when embarking on the dangerous task of trying to scale a great, looming mountain. You may find that you ultimately lack the strength and the resources to arrive at the goal you have your sights on, but nevertheless, standing at the bottom, you might look up at the imposing, impossible object with a certain awe. The same is true with foreign media. It’s a matter of confronting the unknown, and there’s something somewhat spiritually beautiful about that. That is, perhaps, the meaning that Telepath was attempting to strike at with the title of this album.
OK, that’s it for now, Vaporones. I’m very happy that these posts have been receiving as much attention as they have been, and I want to give my sincerest thanks to everyone who has been encouraging this project. I hope these lessons are of some use to you, and are helping clear away just a little bit of the haze found in that misty maze of the mysterious Vaporworld.
Next up, we’ll look at the アンタラ通信 track titles.