Tuesday, July 10, 2012

fantasy & meaning

For all I know, those guys and gals could be borderline drooling monomaniacs. But I don't think they are. I think they are nice folks who love their families and friends and who do their duty.

Those guys and gals who blog perpetually about comic books. I'm talking years. They are locked into the subject of their fascination. These are disciples of Golden Age goofiness, adepts of Silver Age wonderfulness, cultists of Bronze Age wackiness, monks of Platinum Age garishness, adherents of Vertigo Age irony.

There's this one guy -- Mike Sterling. He runs the Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin blogsite, where he expresses himself about aspects of comic books. He also works at a comic book store way out there in Ventura, California.Years back when I had me some money, I would order comic books from him, from that store. He was always very nice, knowledgeable, and willing to go the extra mile to be of help. I don't think he is existentially unstable at all. I think Mike is grounded and probably sane. The fact that he is obsessed with Alan Moore's Swamp Thing...well...that extrusion of his human spirit into a fantastical dimension of meaning might have deep philosophical implications for the entire human Earth.

There's been a lot of reality probing for a long time. That Gilgamesh fellow, Zoroastrianism, the Upanishads, Hebrew monotheists, Chinese mountain sages. Then on to other stuff: Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, whomever.

All trying to suss out what the heck is going on.

When all's said and done, I think we've gotten not one whit closer to what's going on. In fact, we might even be getting collectively stupider, with all that philosophical specialization. Who's to say in what the Good Life consists? The twist is that all of those philosophical projects -- those ostensible attempts to get at the Real -- are oblivious to the fact that reality is always already sur-real. Ultimate Meaning is always already swallowed up in the vortex of beyond-our-brains.

And that's where fantasy comes in.

That vortex of beyondness. That's sort of where Doctor Strange goes to cast his overwrought spells. Dimensions and worlds on the "edge of infinity," where cat-whiskered villain guys turn mystic adventurers into eternal statues. Utterly unusual stuff. Just like the cosmos itself, reeling in the inhuman condition of its own phenomenal non sequiturism.

Fantasy is a transformation of time into substances complementary to the riddling deal. It metabolizes the gaucheness of false normality into infinite daydream. Fantasy is an alchemical human process turning the apparent solidity of our facts back into the gleaming liquid of escapism and jaw-dropping reverie. It turns time into color and wonder.

You might adore someone who exists in an Earthly condition beyond you. Is it unreasonable or strange that your adoration flows on a fizzling current of the extraordinary and the impossible? Not at all. The meaning of your regard moves upon ethereal, marvelous, and beautiful forms of feeling. It's no crazier than the oddly impersonal cores of stars or that card game still being played before the Big Bang around a table of winking, toothless pink sharks.

Comic books are cool. They open up a plane of altered duration that is distinctive. The love of comic books is a graphic attunement to the way things already are down to the roots -- preposterous. Comic book obsession is, therefore, a wonderful grooving to the rhythm of Great Nonsense. It's also where Doctor Strange's world is as real as anything else.

Image of Doctor Strange by Caravan Studios

When I began writing this piece, I think I had a point I wanted to make. I'm not sure if I actually made any kind of point. But that's okay, I guess. It don't mean that much. I'm just word-roaming through an old mood and a new half-thought.

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