Alternate Universe 01: lowercase gods
Reviewing "Y/N" by Esther Yi
Hi there. Welcome to the first issue of Alternate Universe, the monthly review segment of Active Faults.
On the 1st of every month, I will walk you through a piece of art and media content that’s relevant to understanding Chinese entertainment and fandom.
That sounds way too serious - let me try again.
This is an outlet for me. I am too severe of a cinephile and bookworm to consume something without a space to air my meandering thoughts and more often than not, they inspire a new way to look at the subject matter of Active Faults.
A book like Y/N (Esther Yi) does more than that. It touches on a fundamental question this publication has been winding itself around: who is being fanned?
For a novel hyperfixated on a fan’s experience and interaction with her idol, what struck me the most about Y/N was the haunting absence of the latter, Moon, the boy group member she is fanning. We the readers cast an intrusive shadow over her “intensely private” journey: pit-entering at a concert, gradually losing her grasp on real life as her interest grew, eventually taking off on a dreamlike pilgrimage to South Korea in search of him. Yet the narrative dances on the edge of a volcano, circling a ginormous void that is the celebrity himself.
From physical appearance to habits and personality traits, Moon is described in such scant detail throughout the book it leaves behind an itch of curiosity in the reader. Yi writes with the precision and deliberate omission of an IKEA instruction manual. The idol is distinctly and occultly sketched out in parts, like his neck in a rolling passage of elliptical prose, but nothing is colored in. I know, from being in fandom for far too long, that Yi is perhaps mimicking the narrator as she gatekeeps the figure of her intimate worship.