Eppur Si Muove: Our Comics, Our Selves


Oh, hello there.

You must be the members of the Unofficial Geoff Johns Blogospheric Defence League.  Hey, pleased to meet you!

I think it’s time we had a chat.

Now I understand you’re growing up, and your bodies are changing, and that’s a little scary sometimes.  And that’s why you love Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern and Flash and LSH work:  because he speaks to you, he is telling your stories.  And that it’s nice to have someone out there who’s telling your stories, is a fact I will happily concede;  you don’t know how many times I’ve wished to see somebody out there telling my story.

But!  This isn’t a contest.

Today in the venerable Globe And Mail newspaper, on the back page where they put annoying essays about how cleaning one’s oven gives one an elemental feeling of connectedness to one’s grandmother, was an op-ed piece by a woman in her mid-sixties who works as a university administrator, who chafes at the question which is always being put to her by her peers:  so when are you going to retire?  She looks around and can’t fathom the attraction of the constant, useless, “adult play” her retired friends engage in, are so busy with, have been consumed by…prosyletize for.  Am I right, people? she seems to be saying.  I think the ladies in the house know what I’m talking about

I studied this in school, as it happens.  Some people find the transition from working to retired life very challenging.  But where this woman finds her difficulty is in thinking it’s everybody else who’s embracing a delusion.  The Sufis say:

“Until you have real knowledge, your belief is mere coalesced opinion, no matter how it may seem to you.”

And this is precisely the stumbling-block.  They also say:

“The way a master teaches is often incomprehensible to the student…they are trying to understand the workings of something, when in reality they are in urgent need of its benefits.  Without its benefits they will never be able to understand its working.”

Which is a fact very readily apparent to every senior person in the working world, but invisible to every junior in their charge:  because it’s about experience.  The older person tells the younger that experience carries wisdom with it — but the younger person’s own experience is that experience just doesn’t tell you much of what you need to know, and so they look on the older person’s experience with an understandable dubiety.  They have only their senior’s word for it, that the senior’s experience is worth listening to…

…And their own word disagrees.  Because not having gained the benefits, they can’t understand the workings.  Five years of working basically explains to you that your own experience is pretty much for shit, as far as extractable lessons go.  Therefore you conclude the same is true for everybody’s experience…

…Because that’s what your own experience is telling you.  But your own experience about what experience is worth, doesn’t offer much in the way of extractable lessons either, and that’s the information you’re missing:  the information that every blade of grass and grain of sand hollers out to the older and wiser person…

…But which they sometimes forget too.  As our friend the university administrator has forgotten it:  confusing her reluctance to give up her identity in the sphere of conventional accomplishment and achievement, for her peers’ self-absorption.  But really she’s the one who’s not seeing things as they are, here — because until she takes retirement, her beliefs are mere coalesced opinions, no matter how it may seem to her.  To the people on the other side of that divide, there is actually no divide — and that’s the benefit they’ve received from biting the bullet and letting go, and willingly ceasing to be the people they thought they once were.  Our administrative friend (if you read her as I do) sees a conflict, maybe a madness — an irrational commitment to a spurious ideal of self-gratification.  A selling-out?

And what do you see, O Unofficial Geoff Johns Blogospheric Defence League?

To me, you look like a bunch of people who think they’re being attacked by zombies.  But me and the rest of the blogospheric folks who think a lot of what Geoff Johns offers is unwholesome pandering, non-nutritious nostalgia, are not seeking you out.  You are seeking us out.  And when we meet you, a whole lot of the time it seems you are being really shifty, moving your goalposts, passive-aggressively inviting us to consider that maybe the fault isn’t in our Big Stars, but in our little selves…I mean if we’re as rational as we claim, can’t we allow that we may be playing the opposite, of the role we think we’re playing?

Wouldn’t a rational person have to allow for the possibility, that maybe their belief is mere coalesced opinion, and that actually they’re acting contrary to their own stated point of view?

I don’t say this because of that fellow I was talking to on Geoff Klock’s blog, I’d just like to make that clear.  I am absolutely not writing this in response to him, I have no problem with him, he and I are good.  But he did get me thinking about how in really the oddest places online, if you say you think Blackest Night’s a piece of shit, or that Geoff Johns is no good, suddenly there will pop up defenders of his to invite you not to worry about the mote in their eye.  Indeed, I don’t mean to reference any specific person, or any specific instance, at all…but I’ve noticed this going down.  And I didn’t really feel like it was happening for real, you understand…it was nothing like the painfully-obvious campaign of the Civil War Comment Troll from a couple years ago, the “but these characters have always been this way, and anyway even if they haven’t what are you all getting so worked up about, the next event’ll just cancel it all out and return your precious backward-looking status quo to you anyway, and um maybe it’s just comics dude?  Peace” guy I used to chase around from blog to blog calling bullshit on…no, I knew what that guy was doing.  But this was a bit less clear to me, for a while.

And now it’s not.  Which is sort of why I set this little weblog-update trap for you, because I know now that you really are out there, and I wanted to speak to you, all of you, all together, just one time.  And say stop this.  Because I can understand your mistake.  Indeed, the thing about zombies and other monsters — but especially zombies! — is that they’re a mask of gruesome fear thrown over the fair face of self-recognition.  That’s what these things are, they’re just a scary veil draped over a mirror.  Which is just what they’re supposed to be, because no one wants to look in a mirror for real, not really look in a mirror…but once you’ve looked, that horror disappears, and everything’s okay again.  Hell, it’s better.

It really is!

And that’s the fun, the frisson, in that reading.  But to bring that reading to your fellow bloggers, no, this is not on.  Uppity art-comix snobs.  We really aren’t, you know?

Would we even be here, if that’s what we were?

We don’t want to take your Geoff Johns comics away.  I even like Geoff Johns, myself.  And I fully support your fun reading of crap comics that speak to you.  However geeked-out you want to get, I’m for it.

But this thing where you come and get on people’s cases for saying Blackest Night sucks…

Well, I am getting out my flamethrower, okay?  Because this is not cool, and so I refuse to play the zombie here.  You can be the zombie for a change, if the game “Zombie” is all you want to play.

Final Crisis?  Blackest Night?

Well, it could all be happening right now, couldn’t it?

But this is too metatextual for me.  We are not the fucking superheroes, people.  Neither Geoff Johns nor Grant Morrison is writing us, you know.

So let’s leave all that Good vs. Evil stuff on the other side of the veil.

(ps. Comments to this post that begin with the word “um” will be deleted unread.)

(pps.  Holy shit I am now convinced Johns is a Meta-Genius!  You think he and Morrison had this planned all along?)

(ppps.  Our sentence is UP.)


8 responses to “Eppur Si Muove: Our Comics, Our Selves

  1. Don’t get me started on the Geoff Johns fans. I mean, I like the guy’s writing too–to me, he’s kind of today’s Roy Thomas, and that’s a compliment coming from me–but I’m not willing to grant him papal infallibility the way some people are. I’ve actually become more skeptical about anything that he writes just because he writes it: I’m always looking for something being put over on me.

  2. Pingback: Linkblogging for 18/11/09 « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!·

  3. You know, if you really wanted to get your point accross you just should have stuck with The Blackest Night sucks line instead of typing a bunch of words and which all add up to the same thing.

    ps-I guess i’m one of the league of geoff johns defenders, oh well i’ll go back to reading my crappy fan fiction comics that guys on the internet said mean things about boo hoo.

  4. They don’t add up to the same thing, of course. I have not offered a criticism of Blackest Night.

    Why would I? I haven’t read it.

    Just tired of the Geoff Johns Defenders beating on people who did read it and happened to think it sucked, that’s all. Seems wrongheaded. An argument on a message-board is one thing, but coming along and yelling at people for saying stuff on their own blogs is something else.

  5. Well… You know people like to enjoy their crap and don’t like it when somebody points out that said crap is crap.

    I used to like Johns circa Stars and STRIPE and even Dark Reign, but aside from some Superman stuff he’s turned into this guy who would revive The Green Team and then have Black Adam punch gooey holes through their faces.

    Guess I’m still bitter about Infinite Crisis.

  6. My Final Crisis backlash was so profound I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Blackest Night. Bet it does suck, though.

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