Tag Archives: philosophy

Happy Halloween. Have some Eight-Circuit Brain Candy.

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One of the single greatest treats of my life was delivered to our door exactly one month ago today. Three drawings created by my brilliant wife Nina were published in my favorite author’s new book. It was a hallowed evening that will last the rest of my life.

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I share these treats with you today, on the day of all days. If you would like to taste more of Antero Alli’s thought candy, he did a delicious interview with New Paradigm that you can chew on for a good long while. Here is my favorite flavor:

My sense of this moment in history is one of suspense and accelerating uncertainty, and since these comprise two primary catalysts for any truly creative state, I sense this moment in history carrying great potential for optimal creativity. Admittedly, this perception is biased by a deep optimism informed by decades of writing and producing original work for theatre and film. My optimism for modern culture at large and for society, however, has vanquished into a misanthropic horror.

As I see it, society as an entity has gone stark raving mad. The lowest common denominator of society — the consumerist culture — has succumbed to a mass hallucination of entitlement, fed and maintained by excessive materialism and soul-deadening greed, archaic religious beliefs and toxic guilt, government deceptions and immobilizing fear. I see modern culture as a cul-de-sac, a dead end. The problems of society cannot be solved by the same mindset that created them in the first place. I see a sick society in desperate need of healing yet I do not see how society is set up to heal itself. To begin this healing, a radical transformation of the mind — at the level of the individual — must occur.

I admit to having zero ambitions to change or save the world. I am also not here to contribute to society. In fact, I no longer care what happens to society. However, I do care deeply about the individual. I am here to support the individual in restoring the lost capacity for direct firsthand experience as a primary source of integrity, autonomy, and authority. I view anything less as walking backwards into the nightmare of history from which we all struggle to awaken. If there is to be any real transformation, I think it must happen within the individual first and then, through clusters of such self-governing entities — evolutionary agents — discovering and designing new models of intimacy, collaboration, and collective life that honors the integrity of the individual. Since I have no political agendas, beyond the body politic of each person to define themselves, I suppose I am suggesting a kind of spiritual anarchy. Define yourself or be defined, I say.

Happy Halloween!

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Squirrel Girl Named “Coolest Character in the Marvel Universe” by Brian Michael Bendis.

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It’s true. Brian Michael Bendis has annointed Squirrel Girl to her rightful place. Doreen Green’s nutty alterego is “the coolest character in the Marvel Universe”.

But where did she come from? In all her appearances, Squirrel Girl has never shucked the shell of her origin story. We turn, therefore, to the magnificent dopes at TVtropes for a few theories. Some of them make perfect sense.

Squirrel Girl is the daughter of the Beyonder.

Her powers have not fully manifested themselves, but she unconsciously warps reality around herself. This allows the teenage girl to beat heavy hitters of the Marvel universe who should otherwise mop the floor with her.

These ideas are not official. They come from the Wild Mass Guess (WMG) page on TVtropes.org. That one hits home. Squirrel Girl doesn’t even know how powerful she is. She warps reality around herself naturally, without being conscious of what that means. Maybe she really is the daughter of the Beyonder.

Squirrel Girl is a student of Miaowara Tomokato, the Samurai Cat.

Tomokato was the original practitioner of the martial art based on the Dark Side of Absurdity, which allows the wielder to exercise effective omnipotence and beat any foe, however cosmic, but only if the audience is laughing. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Add in that Tomokato is himself a time-travelling and parallel-timeline-travelling anthropomorphic furry animal, and that his first candidate as his protege (his nephew Shiro) is a hideously unlikeable psychopathic brat, and its not unlikely that at sometime throughout his wanderings through all time and space, he met the utterly charming Doreen and decided that she was a more worthy successor to his school. (The character of Miaowara Tomokato is from the ‘Samurai Cat’ novels by Mark E. Rogers).Supporting this theory is the fact that among the very long list of fictional realities Samurai Cat has visited is Hyperborea, which as we all know is part of the ancient past of the Marvel Universe. So he is entirely capable of having travelled to Earth-616.

Wow, that one makes me smile. It would be a crossover like none we have ever seen, but it would be awful sweet; Squirrel Girl’s unlimited power comes from the ability to make the audience laugh. It includes the fourth wallery that she is known for, and it just might work.

Squirrel Girl’s using an infinite loop.

Obviously, she has Earthcraft, Squirrel’s Nest, and a Forest in play.

Oh my. Perhaps the most gut-busting Magic the Gathering reference of all time. Moments like this always make me glad to be alive. Disturbingly plausible, indeed.

Squirrel Girl’s secret is she’s a DC character trapped in the Marvel Universe.

She’s able to do everything she does witha happy-go-lucky outlook on life, is confident, well-adjusted and straightforward, and manages to do it all with no Angst. The excessive Angst typical of Marvel characters, such as Speedball becoming Penance, drives her crazy. If she was in the DC Universe, she’d be utterly unremarkable and typical.

This explains why she can’t die either. When Marvel and DC do a crossover, they aren’t allowed to kill each others characters. So, no matter how deep a hole Marvel puts Squirrel Girl in, she’s gonna get out because she’s a just a DC guest character.

Ummm, no. DC characters are happy-go-lucky? That better be snark, buddy. To quote Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins: “Don’t let’s get silly.”

Those are a  few of the theories surrounding Squirrel Girl’s origins. She has been officially named “the coolest character in the Marvel Universe” by Brian Michael Bendis. All we need now is that namesake miniseries mentioned by Joe Quesada and we will be set.

Make it so.

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Promethea Lives!

PrometheaAndGod

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times. Promethea is the best comic book ever made. Alan Moore, JH Williams III, Mick Gray, Jeremy Cox, and Todd Klein created a transcendant testament that tickles while it teaches. There is, perhaps, no greater source for learning about magical and spiritual traditions while being totally entertained. If you have never read the 32 issue series, please do it as soon as you can.

Our personal connection to Promethea is pretty intense. We jumped in at issue 12 and it became the only book we ever wrote letters for. Yes, the early issues had a published letter section just like the glory days. The book was highly irregular when it came to schedule, and I will never forget the months it was late. Such delicious agony. Then the ecstasy.

The page above shows the moment that Sophie finally came face to face with God. Did she say just any old words? Of course not. She was Promethea. She was the invisible embrace of the collective imagination that joins us all. She said our prayer.

We have three children. They are magical adults now, but every night when I tucked them in we said a prayer. It goes like this.

Dear God, I love you.

Help me to be what you want me to be, and thank you for everything.

Amen.

When I saw that Alan Moore had written the same words for Sophie to say when she finally got a chance to speak to The Universe, I was speechless.

There were many, many moments like that from 1999-2004 while the new issues were still flowing. Issue #32 was the end of the line, in keeping with the Kabbalistic tradition. Promethea, however, lives on.

Surfing the interwebs keeps everything going nowadays. Yesterday something jumped from its grave and pulled my eyes out of their sockets. I was toying with bing instead of the google, and their image search returned a synchronicitizer stronger than any other.

The best interview I ever found involving Promethea contained two pics that blew my mind, since the original art hangs on our wall. They were nestled comfortably alongside Mick Gray, the World’s Greatest Inker. We will start with the interview highlights, then I will explain the connection.

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(Mick Gray and his wife Holly.)

Working on Promethea is much more challenging than any other job I have ever had. J.H. is always pushing me to the next level and it has been very rewarding. I am not looking forward to its end. It is just so inspiring to work on this book.

Alan Moore is well known for the notoriously long and detailed scripts that he provides for his illustrators that still give leeway for their input into the finished product. Do you get to read much of Alan’s scripts yourself or do you just concentrate on finishing the art that JH Williams provides for you?

I have a copy of the script for issue #1 and it is huge. But my job is to work close with J.H. to try and capture the vision. I have only talked to Alan once over the phone (After we won the Eisner award!) but J.H. talks with him quite often. There is a lot of communication between everybody who works on this book, this is why the quality is so high.

When Promethea finishes with Issue #32 you will have been working on it for about 5 years (1999-2004). Is this the longest you have worked on a single title?

Yes this is the longest run we both have on a book.

What are some of your favorite images from Promethea so far?

The “Mobius Strip” page from issue #15 (this is most definitively the most asked about page), the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse” from issue #5 and the whole issue #12!

From an artists point of view what were some of the hardest images you have had to produce for Promethea. Which images do you think most closely approximated what you imagined they would turn out like?

The “Four Horseman” page was a lot of work, it just took a lot of time! And issue #12 was pretty tough because of the deal with all the pages put end to end make one long piece of art. That took extra time in making sure all the pages butted up to each other just right. Wow, that was some issue.

Do you have a favorite character that you enjoy producing an image of more than any of the others?

I have a soft spot for the original costume of Sophie’s. I miss it! Even thought it took longer to pencil and ink, it was just so cool.

Both Alan and JH Williams have said in interviews that while they were working on the Daath Issue “The Stars are But Thistles (#20) they were taken quite ill as if someone or something didn’t want them to be doing it. Did you have a similar experience yourself when you worked on it and have you received any interesting feedback from readers about this particular issue?

Hmmm… I had a really bad hemorrhoid during that issue… just kidding. I have never heard about this from Alan or J.H., sorry.

Has working on Promethea spurred any interest in finding out more about Magick, The Kabbalah, Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, John Dee or any other figures of real people who have appeared in Promethea?

I am very interested in the Kabbalah and I have been on a spiritual journey of my own for many years. Working on this book has just made me more interested in these subjects.

 Issue #26 which just came out looks and feels almost like a Tom Strong comic rather than the usual Promethea one (if there is such a thing as a usual Promethea Issue). Did you enjoy your change of style on this one. Are there any other comic such as Ghostworld which inspired this style?

I just love all the different styles J.H. has used on Promethea. It just makes it so much fun when you don’t know what is coming next.

How many awards have you won for your work on Promethea. Was the Eisner a single statue that you had to share with JHW or did you each get a statue?

We have been nominated many times (including this year!) for different awards but the only one we have actually won is for “Best Single Issue” for Promethea # 10 in 2001. We each got a nice plaque for our walls!

Is there a question about your work on Promethea that no one has ever asked you but you wish they would so you could answer it?

If you could work on any book, with any team, and do it forever, what would it be? Promethea.

Endless love to eroomnala for that magnificent interview. Now the freaky part. Mick Gray supplied a before-and-after set of drawings to illustrate the state of the page when it was given to him by JH Williams III. It just so happened to be the exact page we own, thanks to ebay. Spooky conicidence? Divine intervention? Either way, what bliss.

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That is the drawing from JH Williams III. Promethea #7, pages 6-7.

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That is the finished inking by Mick Gray. The planets and eyes are actually collaged onto the ink surface.

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That is a photograph of the pages, hanging in our bedroom .

So, you see, Promethea lives! Synchronicity is her standard time zone, and she set the alarm for this very moment. Thank you Alan Moore. Thank you JH Williams III. Thank you Mick Gray. Thank you Todd Klein. Thank you everyone at DC who allowed something this real to be published.

We will glow in gratitude forever.

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Alphabets of Desire: Chakra Kabbalah Eight-Circuit Reality Creators Anonymous.

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(Alphabets of Desire copyright Todd Klein and Alan Moore.)

Today’s nugget of wisdom from Alphabets of Desire is solid alchemical gold. Whether you study Kabballah or tune your Chakras or practice the Karma Mechanics of the Eight-Circuit model, you can create your own reality.

Here is the next serving of Alan Moore’s actual words, as lettered by Todd Klein:

A is derived from the Greek alpha, with the modern capital adapted from the earlier North Semitic aleph, said to have been winged in its initial form. A is for Alexandria where at the hinges of the first millennium were Hebrew scholars blowing dust from brittle scrolls, Phythagorean parchments that described creation in ten spheres which corresponded with their base-ten system of arithmetic. By adding twenty-two lines to connect the numbered globes with one another, one line for each letter in the Hebrew alphabet, they could combine all the components of their world, its numbers and its letters, in a single memorable symbol called the Tree of Life that would provide a basis for all the all-inclusive knowledge system known as the Kabbalah. Centuries thereafter, in Prague, lived two fabled rabbis who maintained that by manipulation of the kabbalistic lexicon they’d conjured a lamb dinner with full trimmings, every night for many years.

Arranging letters in a certain order they’d evoked the minted sizzle of the tender flesh, a slight resistance in the roasted skin of vegetables that yields to a serrated edge, exposes steaming fluff within. A slippery marbling on the meniscus of the gravy and the scent of hot bread rolls cracked open. Every forkful of the lean and flaking meat glazes the lips with grease and next a warming slither in the gullet that’s suffused throughout our grateful centre. Recombining letters, they had entered the pure magic of creation. Spelling, they had cast a savoury and aromatic spell in words so delicately seasoned they were edible. 

 And here is the explanation:

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Magical systems such as Kabbalah distill the creative potential of life into its basic structures. The tower of  human potential can be built all the way up. Alan Moore’s incomparable riff goes way beyond any ability I have to explain these powers. He condensed two centuries into two paragraphs while making the reader’s mouth water for emphasis. I am humbled.

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Alphabets of Desire: The Words Get In The Way.

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promethea

(Promethea copyright DC Comics.)

Welcome to the third portion of the extended study of Alphabets of Desire by Todd Klein and Alan Moore, who also happen to be two of Promethea’s real parents. Our introduction has the full image and ordering information, this section has a knife.

These are Alan Moore’s next six sentences:

We are living in a code. We feel the apple resting in our palm, its weight, the waxen texture of its skin. We see the highlights rolling on its dimpled contours and the point at which leaf-green becomes lustrous red. Lifting it to our lips we catch its perfume, redolent of rural mornings, urban dinnertimes, our mother’s pastry and the way she had her hair. Our bite is audible, the crunch of tooth enamel in the crisp wet flesh, cell splitting violently from cell and a sweet aerosol of juice sprayed from the fissure as microscopic dew upon our taste buds. The familiar flavor is infused in our saliva, its initial sharpness rounding to a sumptuous curve there in the mouth’s dark privacy and rivulets of juice uncurl in sticky ribbons on our chins, but our experience of the apple can be only an experience of those words used to contain the raw phenomenon: red, green, sweet, crisp, round, and the way she had her hair.

Do you remember the last time something felt really good? Well, while you were actually experiencing it you weren’t putting it into words. Direct connections don’t have soundtracks. Or narration. Or storyboards.

The human brain gets trained to explain. That sack of meat in the skull is ideally suited to specific translation and categorization. Once it is schooled, it is too late.

The exquisite apple eating doesn’t happen to you. It just happens. In order for you to know what you went through, you need to use code. Identifying yourself with the bliss is a separation process. The words get in the way.

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Alphabets of Desire: Playing Tag.

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(Alphabets of Desire copyright Alan Moore and Todd Klein.)

Welcome to the second chunk of examined text from Alphabets of DesireOur introduction gives the details of its creation, now we are trying to understand the meaning of the piece. Today’s three Alan Moore sentences go like this:

Using sounds or scrawled marks we distinguish between fire and water, earth and sky, divide the world up into self and other, man and woman, good and evil, black and white and fish and fowl and sheep and goat. The whole of our experience is broken down into roughly two dozen minimal phonetic glyphs that can be recombined in almost endless permutations, can be called upon to conjure the imaginable universe and all that it conceivably contains. The world of our perceptions, the one planet we can ever truly know, is made of nothing except language, having words instead of molecules and letters in the place of atoms.

Upon birth, the human being feels the world directly through its senses. As it grows, the brain begins the process of differentiation. Raw experience is translated into language. The seamless whole universe gets chopped into bite-sized pieces. Easier to digest that way.

Unfortunately, the words create as many obstacles as pathways. Pretty soon the human cannot feel the world directly any longer. A skull full of language colors everything around it.

The Matrix movies did a good job of showing the basic theory here. After language takes over completely, the brain is helpless to know, for sure, what reality is. We think ourselves into a corner, and the walls are made of words.

Is this prison of phonics inescapable? Perhaps. And yet, with the very words that shackle, the poet patterns wings of fancy and flies to the stars, with readers in tow. We may not be able to shake the spell of language, but we can simultaneously celebrate its wonders.

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Sunday Mandala: Tributes and Remixes.

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What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is. Basking in the glow of one human masterpiece reinterpreted by another artist. If you open your ears all the way, you can hear countless cover versions and re-mixes of Michael Jackson’s exquisite catalog coating the entire surface of the Earth. Inevitable synchronicity dragged my eyes across the sizzle of the googlesphere toward a blinking bauble by Alex Duplation Mediation for breakfast. It is a New Day Rising.

You see, today’s mandala is an interpretation of Julie Dillon’s champagne bottle crashing with a splash against the flying angel pointed toward the horizon that launched this ship. I started the Sunday Mandala feature twelve weeks ago with her work. Today that image has been spectacularized into a morffledelic chakrabbalah map to the center of infinity equals one equals zero.

What a fanglorious Sunday morning this is.

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