Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Invisibles #3

This is exactly what taking drugs isn't.

Our world is composed of geniuses and not-geniuses. That's the kind of statement a not-genius makes because it's so fucking obvious. Do you ever have to say anything that pretty much says "All of the people on the world are either this or that"? Anyway, the point I was making wasn't that I'm one of the not-geniuses even though it's the point I accidentally made. The point was that in the non-genius camp, we have those who are smart enough to recognize genius and those who sit grumpily in their pee-puddles whining about how the high-falutin' elites are trying to make things different. Different, in this case, generally means better but if you're a non-genius who can't recognize geniuses, you're just mad that somebody said french fries might not be the most nutritional side dish (even though you could still live in a world where you acknowledge that french fries are both not even close to nutritional and also the best food on the planet. I mean, you have that choice. But I guess the pee-puddle you're sitting in (which is slowly leaking into your gun cabinet) has probably distracted you from rational thought). Again, that wasn't the point I was going to make (about the french fries!) but I have a problem staying on topic. Partly it's because I've never been able to stay on topic (you should read some of my college essays which I'm not going to release to the public so even though I suggested you should read them, you won't be reading them. Ever) and partly it's because of another reason that I forgot while typing the college paper parenthetical statement.

My point might have been that you can recognize a genius because they can state plain what other people are obfuscating in their pronouncements. If you're not smart enough to recognize the genius, you might think the genius is spreading propaganda, mostly because you really want to believe the thing that isn't true because it shields you from guilt or blame or repercussions stemming from following your own selfish desires at any cost. The genius is reviled by people who can't recognize genius and viled by people who can. Or unviled? Previled? Maybe I should have just gone with lauded.

You might think I'm saying all of this in regards to Grant Morrison but you'd be wrong. I'm actually saying this about A.R. Moxon, the author of The Revisionaries, whose Twitter handle is @JuliusGoat. He did not pay me to point out that he's a genius although he probably should have. I suppose it's not too late. Being that he's a genius and knows the smart thing to do, I'm sure he'll buy my RPG when he Googles his name and/or Twitter handle and finds me sticking my tongue way up his asshole in this post. I mean, I'm basically saying he's smarter than Grant Morrison!

Getting back to Grant Morrison, is he really a genius? I'm not so sure. I think maybe he's just a libertine who did a lot of drugs and traveled to a lot of sort-of-spiritual places (not to be more spiritual but to get his hot genius take on spirituality in a place that smells of burning corpses and goat semen while he shits his guts out back at the hotel high on hashish). Sometimes when you've done acid and other illicit substances, you feel the need to think you've risen above the flock by doing a thing most people will never consider doing. Maybe Grant doesn't exactly feel this way but some of his stuff sometimes comes across as that. I mean, sure, if you've ever done LSD or the like, you've definitely experienced a sort of melding of yourself with the profound and the mundane and the timeless in a way that usually only schizophrenics experience. You have done something that has changed you from the person you were before. But thinking that it has somehow made you different or better than those who haven't done it just means that you've never talked to people who went to high school in the flyover states. I've known some really boring and backwards people who did a lot of acid simply because there wasn't anything else to do out in the cornfields. It really did surprise me, a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, to discover how prevalent psychoactive drugs were in the Midwest and Plains states. I thought that was just the hippies and children of hippies! What I didn't think, though, was that it made me a non-sheep (like the guy in my San Jose State creative writing class who once wrote a story about how he had broken from the flock because he dared to try LSD. The teacher loved his take and luckily for me, she was blind so she didn't see me rolling my eyes and making jerk-off motions from the back of the class. I mean, wow, dude. You dared to try LSD. I was probably on LSD while listening to the teacher read that stupid ass story!).

Okay, maybe my whole take on "Grant Morrison thinks he's better than everybody else" stems from my envy of the idiot jock who wrote a stupid story that the teacher loved while she mostly just reacted to my stuff with "WTF? I guess I see how nostalgia can seem like a dream and the pop culture death of Superman can sometimes be more powerful than the death of a close family member but why did you choose to make none of this linear and what the hell do your Star Wars figures have to do with your future death? Also, the baseball game between Heaven and Hell where Heaven wins because Hitler snarls 'Jew' and then beans Jesus with the pitch to push in the last run was decent."

Now that we've resolved some of my issues (I mean, maybe not "resolved" but at the very least "put out there in the open so you know where my biases are coming from"), let's get on with The Invisibles #3.

When we last left our homophobic pouting white suburban "my mother doesn't hug me enough" anarchist protagonist, he was about to be hunted to death by a mystical group of human fox hunters in the secret London hidden beneath the one everybody thinks of as the "real London." I sort of hope the kid gets murdered. But then we won't get to see him learn his lesson which allows viewers to also maybe a learn a lesson. It's sometimes why you need characters like Mrs. Oleson from Little House on the Prairie. Although it was kind of enough to have Laura Ingalls who was a selfish devil child who was always learning lessons from humble and righteous Pa (who probably only killed one or two Native Americans, making him a stalwart saint of the frontier). I suppose the audience didn't need an over-the-top scurrilous villain like Mrs. Oleson. Although without Mrs. Oleson, how could the show have glorified the true saint of the frontier, Nells Oleson? The patience and kindness of that man were a testament to, um, patience and kindness!

I'm assuming Dane spends the next twenty pages snot-crying into a used coffee filter.

Dane continues to hang out with Tom of Bedlam because Dane can't survive on the street on his own and he knows it. He's not hard at all. He's a little wanna-be suburban gangster who read half of a book on anarchy and now thinks he's better than the slack-eyed populace going about their normal day-to-day bullshit. But he also thinks he still needs money and a place to live. He's not really great at the anarchy thing. But maybe if he listens to Tom, he'll learn a little bit about life and his heart will grow three sizes. Not because he suddenly cares more about everybody; it'll be a side-effect from learning the Dark Arts.

Tom casts a spell so that Dane can look through the eyes of a pigeon as it flies about London. While Dane is seeing the hidden, creepy monsters lurking behind reality that pigeons can see (just as Pigeons can enter the afterlife in Moore's Jerusalem. I'm sure there are other urban horror stories that tell of the magic of pigeon vision. Did Lovecraft ever right any pigeon poems?), Tom tells Dane the secret history of cities. They're a virus that has propelled man from small villages which barely change across the centuries into huge population centers that use up the life force of the hosts as they build more and more and more, bigger and bigger, until, one day, they can build a rocket to propel the city virus into space and onto a new planet. Tom has seen, in visions, other planets affected by the virus, dead planets where the buildings stand as gravestones for the previous used-up races that contracted the virus. It's all very Lovecraftian. Not in the racist way but in the visions of other realities that change the nature of your own reality once you realize their existence. Hmm, that can actually kind of describe racism. I suppose Lovecraft's xenophobia was what made his stories about strange, unknown terrors so compelling.

After teaching him loads of magic, Tom decides to teach Dane the most important lesson:

It's a really good lesson but also it's just Tom's attempt to get Jack Frost to appear.

Tom teaches Dane not to be a sheep or, in Tom's words, a robot. It's one of those weird lessons that everybody thinks they learn but nobody really learns it. Like when people read just that one Frost stanza on some poster in their English Lit class from "The Road Not Taken". Everybody gasps in air as the profundity of that single stanza (extracted from the context of the larger poem, much to the detriment of all of us) washes over them and they suddenly believe they've seen what life really is. Life isn't doing the thing you're supposed to do! Life is living to the fullest! Carpe diem! But the feeling of that moment erodes. It is eroded by the path we all take as we pretend we've taken the other path. We stop seeing that their weren't just two paths but many. And we get a job and we get a spouse and we get a house and we get a child and we occasionally think of Frost's single stanza and we decide, "You know what? I'm going to find the time to jump out of a plane!" or "I'm going to climb Everest!" or "I'm going to sleep with somebody of my same sex because I've always wanted to and hopefully my wife won't find out!" And sometimes we do and sometimes we don't; it doesn't really matter. Because the thing about taking the path less traveled is that it's still a path and it still represents the path you took and, you know what, there's that other path over there that I never got to experience and it's just shitting all over the path I'm currently on. Some people somehow block out the phantom possibilities and they're the lucky ones. The ones you can claim they have no regrets and maybe they're speaking truth when they say it. But mostly they just try not to think about it. Because once you start peeling at the wallpaper of your current life because the wallpaper, which others upon first glimpsing might think is beautiful and extraordinary, but which you've looked at every day for thirty years, you're done for. And you don't do it to find the beauty of what's underneath; you simply do it to see something different. And the new thing hasn't been scrutinized and deconstructed and critiqued; there's been no time to obsess over it. It's imaginary and if you happen to be like most people, imaginary must be better because why imagine the worst?! Okay, okay. I've just outed myself as not an anxious or depressive person! But I also don't go peeling at the wallpaper, so who knows? Maybe I do imagine the path less traveled was an intense tragedy?!

The Invisibles #3 Rating: A. It's still pretty good and I'm still upset that I only have a few issues. Recently, I was thinking of writing an essay about how the worst thing about growing up is how you stop feeling things. Not that you stop feeling anything at all! Just that you stop feeling feelings that were once overwhelming and all-important. Like the crush you had in junior high. Can you imagine if, at forty, you still felt those feelings so intensely (among all the other ones you've felt across your life)? I understand that feelings must abate over time or we'd all be fucked up from not being able to get over our first crush while simultaneously not moving past the death of our closest grandparents. I get it. And some would say it's a mercy. But lately I've been wondering, "Is it?" Maybe I want to still feel those seemingly inexhaustible passions. I was reminded of wanting to discuss this because Tom says in this issue, "They made you forget how to feel, eh? Remember it now? Like everything new and the sun itself spinning behind your ribs, filling you up with silver. Like the way it was before they made robots of us, sentenced to a life behind bars we're trained to set in place ourselves."

Now, that Tom speech was more about the whole "we're the shepherd of our own sheepdom" thing but in a robot and prison analogy. But the other thing about feelings made me remember how I was recently lamenting not feeling all of the things I once felt. Like the basket case from The Breakfast Club says, "When you grow up, your heart dies." And while you can argue whether that's true in the sense that you just stop caring about things, I think it's absolutely true in that it just slowly winds down and isn't capable of feeling how it used to. It's like a rechargeable battery that can no longer keep a charge. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, every single one of my friends, at one time or another, wound up weeping in my basement apartment about something in their lives (usually a woman!). I can't even fucking imagine that now. Maybe they'd be a bit upset or hurt or depressed but hardly disconsolate. I thought I would never get over the sadness at the loss of my grandfather or (and this might sound ridiculous to some but others will understand) the loss of my first cat as an adult, my precious little Judas. And while I obviously won't ever "get over" them (my eyes tear as I write this), I am no longer destroyed by the mere thought of their non-existence. A week after my Judas died, I saw Guardians of the Galaxy in the theater. Judas was always my Raccoon Boy so I almost broke down near the end when one of the characters put their arm around Rocket to console him. I made it out of the theater before absolutely losing it and snot-crying all the way back to the car. And so I can see how retaining that level of feeling over anything would be counterproductive to actually living, I absolutely miss it. I profoundly miss it. I want to be kicked in the stomach until I can't breathe by my feelings. I want this every day even if I know it's the cursed wish of a Monkey's Paw. How can anybody feel everything so palpably for their entire lives? And yet, how can we not?!

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