I won’t be submitting this as the “best blog post ever.” I’m on hyper drive. Must sleep. For now some initial thoughts…
Book X, 8-9: Ozy, Nite Owl and Rorschach are all watching the world, trying to find “patterns,” “order and structure.” Ozy does it to turn a profit but he’s supposed to the be the smartest. I guess it makes you wonder how smart he is if the world is going to collapse as he knows it and money probably won’t matter. The other two misfits seems to get the bigger picture. The difference between Nite Owl and Rorschach is that Rorschach has the most organic approach – hands on.
Book X, 8-9: Aren’t they just a couple of warm and fuzzy guys.
Book X, 12-13: Apocalyptic view of comic book of two (not four) horses and reference to Doomsday in Book of “Revolutions”…
The hands on the clock go
round and round
round and round
round and round
the hands on the clock go….
Book X, 20: “Egyptian decor coloring logic” for Rorschach. Past has no place in present and future? Hinders progress perhaps? Reminder of death undisturbed. Not working here concerning murder. Distrust of fascination with relics.
Book X, 20: Veidt. That prick! Rorschach unsure about ass kicking abilities when knowledge is power.
Book X, 20: Journal irony. Buried under junk mail avalanche. Dumbass. READ IT!
Book X, 26: Nite Owl and Rorschach have a snow day! Not horses, but there are two of them riding toward an end. Hurm.
Book X, scrapbook: Veidt – IS he what capitalism comes to? All or nothing marketing schemes based on war? Oh yeah, Iraq. Say no more, say no more. As for the Veidt Method, the dude talks about spiritual disciplines – Hurm.
Book XI, XII, XIII – will have to wait til morning. Oh. It IS morning. Scratching my watch and winding my ass – so tired.
The English department is trying to break me and they’re about to succeed. I’m really goddamn tired… tired of the high-gloss, quick-pick course designs where nothing is allowed to penetrate in depth before we’re jerked off down some new path. The tub is taking on water and it’s all just spilling over the side today. For that, I am pissed. It’s time for a warm bath… and maybe a razor blade.
And with that dramatic introduction, I offer my fully unformed and meandering thoughts on Watchmen…
What is real? Humanity seems destined to confinement within a predisposed genetic identity while we suffer from a past which offers us no control over our environment as children, for better or worse. These things have an impact on who we are, to be sure, but Watchmen demonstrates how “choice” also creates both our identity and our future. Rorschach and Nite Owl feel more comfortable in their costumes than they do within their own skin. Their alter-egos beg the question, is reality simply what is, or is it something we can define and redefine as we see fit? They believe the latter. Eventually, Dr. Manhattan does too.
Rorschach, perceived as a character played by Kovacs, becomes the reality. While avenging a child’s murder, Kovacs can’t stomach the sight after hacking the dogs that were eating the child’s bones. “It was Kovacs … who closed his eyes. It was Rorschach who opened them again” (VI, 21) From this point on, the internal shift to Rorschach is brought to life through outward appearance. Kovac’s natural face and clothes are no longer real. Taking his costume pieces from the alley, Rorschach says, “putting them on, I abandoned my disguise and became myself, free from fear or weakness or lust” (V, 18). Similarly, as the authorities remove his mask during his arrest, Rorschach says, “My face! Give it back!” (V, 28). The transformation eventually evolves full-on, seeming to require no mask. Because he creates his own reality, even his therapist calls him “Rorschach,” unwillingly and without the disguise. As Rorschach says, “Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long” (VI,26). Rorschach is what Kovacs imagines for himself, and thus his existence becomes what he makes of it.
Like Kovacs, Dan is only able to fully experience his identity in costume. While seduced by Laurie, Dan can’t perform sexually, and not for lack of trying. Laurie pegs it when she says, “Y’know your trouble? You’re inhibited” (VII, 13). Once asleep, Dan fantasizes that Twilight Lady’s true identity is Laurie and Laurie reveals Dan’s true inner identity of Nite Owl by peeling back his skin. Only when their true inner identities are revealed do they experience their full sexuality… until they’re nuked (VII, 16). Later, the dynamic duo dresses up and performs a heroic act to find that dreams do come true. After heating things up to full-on flames, so to speak, Laurie asks, “Did the costumes make it good?” Nite Owl answers, “Yeah, I guess the costumes had something to do with it. It just feels strange, you know? To come out and admit that to somebody. To come out of the closet” (VII, 28). Admittedly, the Nite Owl costume is what allows Dan to experience his identity to the fullest, a reality unable to be achieved simply as Dan.
Jon brings Laurie to Mars to discuss his intervention with the possibility of nuclear war on Earth. According to him, the questions and answers are preordained but must be played out in time. Laurie accuses him of being “just a puppet following a script” (IX, 5). Jon replies, “We’re all puppets, Laurie. I’m just a puppet who can see the strings” (IX, 5). After a good old shot of Nostalgia shattered by reality, Laurie’s realization that the Comedian is her father persuades Jon to shift his own perception, to see that life isn’t meaningless. The random collision of circumstance and science that created Laurie’s life was nothing short of a miracle. Jon proclaims, “We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet, seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away” (IX, 27). Rather than an alter-ego, it is Laurie’s influence that alters reality, breaking from that which is predetermined.
The message throughout is hopeful. We all have the ability to create change by simply imagining the possibility. We have potential that needs only to be tapped by that imagination and freed from that which binds it. We are not emprisoned by our selected identity, but liberated by our chosen reality and our assertion within it. Taking on an alternate view gives us a more rounded picture of what truly exists. Now let’s all don our costumes and get out there!
I plan to eat a bowl of alphabet soup, shove the can on my head, and tackle the English department of Saint Rose with a vengeance. In just this one week I’ll kick out the Theory Carnival, finish Watchmen, lead my student discussion in Brit Lit AND write the paper due Friday. For Tuesday, I’ll read those two chapters on how to write Flash Fiction, read ten sample stories AND write two of my own. I’ll take on Ezra Pound and all his image map allusions with one hand tied behind my back. And for Stress Management, I’ll put that fucking pedometer on my dog’s collar so I can bang out three miles of walking all from the comfort of this chair – which sports a permanent imprint of my ass. First, I might just hop in the hot tub… razor blade no longer required. Like my new action figure?
So, I’m driving home today (Wednesday, Feb 21) and can’t get this Alphabet Barbie image out of my head. I think I’m going mad. The term SOUPer hero flashes through my gray matter. I totally crack up. Probably not funny, right? Okay, it’s just me.
This assignment is interesting. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of comics, but I’m having fun seeing echoes of Jameson all over the place. I can even see a bit of Saussure and the French duo, Deleuze and Guatarri.
Like the reflective walls of LA’s Bonaventure Hotel, Watchmen reflects the genre in which it situates itself, and yet it is certainly not a direct representation. This is a comic book – kind of. The format, like all comic books which came before, comes complete with crime, super heroes and cartoon-like illustrations, yet Watchmen borrows this traditional form to create something new, a graphic novel (as in pictoral AND graphic in content). This gives whole new meaning to the recycling of comics.
I’m reminded of Jameson’s description of the Bonaventure’s confusing layout with entrances that aren’t clearly marked and with no directions within. Maybe it’s just that I’m new to the whole comic thing, but it took me some time to learn how to navigate through the narrative. In the traditional sense of reading from left to right, I could enter into the story, but I needed to allow the text to carry me through time (flashback with the actual use of a flash image) and space (the use of color to designate East coast, West coast, Vietnam and Mars). Like the Boneventure’s escalators and elevators, the text required me to be receptive and adapt to the space within the page.
This is where Saussure’s sign/signifier/signified theory comes in. While he spoke solely of speech, I learned a new visual language, one randomly assigned but accepted and understood by the comic community. Again, I’m reminded of how color represents place while images of flash bulbs and fireworks signal flashback. This only works if this is true of all comics. Perhaps the Super Man and Batman “Pow” is a better example of the sign we all know to signify a punch.
More directly associated with Sassure is the necessity for societal acceptance in the adaptation of language. Minuteman Hollis Mason in Under the Hood also talks about?this happening in his lifetime when he says:
The arrival of Dr. Manhattan would make the terms “masked hero” and “costumed adventurer” as obsolete as the persons they described. A new phrase had entered the American language, just as a new and almost terrifying concept had entered its consciousness. It was the dawn of the Super-Hero” (Watchmen 13).
(Uh, do I credit Mason or Moore & Gibbons for this quote? I jest. Ah, the technicalities of a new form…)
To return to Jameson here, I have to ask – Are the super dudes parody or pastiche? I think parody, although Jameson would disagree. One thing is clear. These guys aren’t super heroes in the traditional sense. Most don’t have powers at all, except for the tall, blue freak. (I mean that in the nicest possible way.) These clowns (I mean that in the nicest possible way too) don’t even have morals to guide their mother-freaking mental ship. The Comedian is the ultimate satirical character. He isn’t funny and he doesn’t seem to find the world as funny as he says he does. His superbly f*&!ed up power is to rape a fellow super hero and shoot a pregnant woman carrying his child. Aside from the foulest of his transgressions, I think he’s an amusing character… but I’m kinda sick like that.
To recall Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizomes, this novel is certainly the organic orb to which the metaphor refers. There is a pulpy center called Watchmen. Off to one side is the offshoot of the Comedian’s journal. To the other, there is a comic book within a comic book. And somewhere left of center is Hollis Mason’s autobiography. This is no typical, traditional, linear representation.
Jameson would have a field day with the fact that Watchmen looks back to a non-existent social and political history. This brings us back to our discussion of capitalization on both the nostalgia and originality of a piece depending on the consumer’s generational perspective. If comics are for kids, and this is definitely not, does this idea still work? It seems that this book targets the same audience that was once interested in comics, although it targets them at an older age. And does Watchmen lose it’s comic critique in the face of the previously released Heavy Metal, an adult cartoon that similarly looks back on “future artifacts?” Does that make it pastiche – a dead language – something lacking indiviuality? I think yes. Sure, it won awards for what it accomplished, but so do pop songs and they’ve all been done before too.