What have you done to his face?

September 13th, 2009

Confession time: I’m not too comfortable with the kind of language I frequently use around here to descibe the mentally ill. Over the years I’ve known a fair few people, some of them very close to me, who’ve had to contend with one difficult condition or another so not only am I aware just how inappropriate and insensitive throwing words like ‘loony’, ‘mad’ and ‘bug-eyedwhackedoutfuckmind’ [yep, sounds like your average mindlessism - ed] is, but also how completely useless they are as descriptors, quite, quite as bad as the much maligned by mindless’ *weird*, in fact worse because this terminology is generally applied to people.

It doesn’t help anyone to other people suffering from mental illness, not only because by doing so we effectively marginalize those aspects of ourselves that don’t *fit* but also because, like with ‘weird’, it shuts down understanding.

And not only is this dangerous, it’s also BORING.

Seriously, an inability to shake hands and enter into a dialogue with the stranger aspect of ourselves is, above and beyond any moral and civic obligations, totally dull. It’s the enemy of creativity.

Nimbies do not good artists make.

Anyway.

I think we’ve touched on this before, but one of the reasons most bat-writers have, historically, failed the Joker is because they reduce him to the status of a cackling, camp, homicidal goon. Seriously, it doesn’t matter how painterly the art, how lavish and ‘adult’ the production, most writers are simply taking the shortcuts, or should I say adopting the shorthand, bemoaned above and it doesn’t work. So many batbooks represent insanity via a series of well worn cliches – maniacal laughter, speaking in non-sequiters, sudden, random acts of violence – all of it, the height of banality. There’s no invention, understanding or empathy there, just a series of well worn signs and signifiers, to the point of tautology: he’s mad because he looks/says he’s/is mad, etc….. There’s nothing genuinely disturbing about these shoddy portrayals because there’s nothing human about them. Nothing true. Nobody’s *gone there*.

Which is bollocks ’cause we all have.

Thank god for the 2000AD and the british invasion. From Peter Milligan through to John Smith, these writers comics were defined by an interest in self-transformation, psychotic and psychedelic states, who, very often, seemed unconcerned with depicting anything else. In the early nineties their’s was the most interesting extension of the then new psychological depth embraced by the work of Frank Miller and Alan Moore. From the scrambled identities of Shade The Changing Man to the rambling free poetry of the caption boxes littering Scarab, the focus started to shift from physical to metaphysical action and comics were all the better for it. Sure, some of this stuff was a little gauche, gaudy, even naive, but it was early days. The writers were still flexing their muscles, trying things out, and it didn’t matter because by and large they were still confined to the Vertigo ghetto anyway.

It would be a long time till Grant Morrison got his mitts on an ongoing Batman title.

Before we proceed, I want to make one thing crystal clear. I’m not claiming the work we’re discussing has any claim to psychological realism. This isn’t some essay about how the memplex maps perfectly across schizophrenic states or anything like that, just that this stuff does attempt to go there, does have at least something to say about our inner workings, and is often informed by the writer’s interest in this area, their struggles with their own mental health issues and their own attempts at brain change via pharmaceuticals, psychological techniques, mysticism and magick.

Because whatever conclusions you draw about Morrison’s Kathmandu experience, it’s pretty out there, and, arguably, it changed him forever, defining his obsessions from that moment on (as evidenced by his work. The focus really shifts after 93).

So, yeah, this stuff I’m talking about, it does have the whiff of the genuine about it, either of lived experience or at the very least a cataloguing of current theories surrounding these subjects. It’s rare we see abstraction employed for abstraction’s sake in a Milligan or Morrison book. If it is employed, a la the weird poetry of Pyg’s speech, it’s purposeful and used to define the contours of the character’s internal environment. You can read it on the level discussed above – he’s mad because he sounds mad and mad people sound like that – but if you can be arsed to look a little deeper, there’s method there. Something’s being described, not just by the words but how they’re boltholed together. And as I said in my last post, I think we all, at some level, pick up on that.

And somehow we arrive, breathlessly, back where I wanted us to be. Yeah, ish 3 of Batrob. And that cover.

I never felt entirely satisfied by the explanation commonly trotted out for the Joker’s origin, that upon glimpsing the clown leering up at him out of the chemical goo his psyche somehow imploded, transforming him into the super-psychotic we know today. It just didn’t ring true, even if you did add all that Alan Moore stuff about dead babies and living in a rundown tenement. No, the really interesting thing about that most famous of origin stories, as everyone knows, is the line ‘Sometimes I like to remember the past one way and sometimes another…’ That’s where the action is, and, I would argue, the inspiration, amongst other things, for Morrison’s reimagining of the ‘character’ as an endlessly rotating selfplex, a 21st century schizoid man. Killing Joke did come out before Arkham Asylum, didn’t it?

Actually, I would argue that the only element of the Joker’s origin story we can *rely* on is the image of him staring down into the whateveritismysteryliquid, but, like with a David Lynch film, this imagery doesn’t have to be taken literally, it could be viewed as a profound, soul shattering encounter with the psyche. The Joker’s Philadelphic Door, so to speak, where he finds himself confronted with a vision of himself, of what he is, that just doesn’t fit, that explodes any semblance of identity he once possessed, transforming him from individual agent to unbeing, freefloating and drifting, with ‘his’ only way of anchoring himself to the world grand gestures, vast theatrical detournements and acts of savage comedy and violence.

If Batman is defined by the crosshairs of Joe Chill’s gun, then the Joker is exploded by whatever it is that created him. Batman can’t forget, the Joker has become forgetting. Or, put more accurately, Bruce Wayne defines self as rigid continuity, the Joker, well, he detonates the idea of a continuous self altogether. Far more modern.

So, with the Joker I find most interesting there really isn’t a lot you can say about his past, what pushed him to the edge. All we can talk about is the view as he fell.

And I think the cover of 3, and in some ways the issue itself, just about nails it.

This is a freeze-frame of Jack Napier (?) losing it.

This is his mind at the time.

Ah, where to begin.

Morrison is documented in more than one interview talking about how his new Batman title would have a ‘bad drug’(gy) vibe. That it would concern itself with the portrayal of states so psychotic they would have the air of the supernatural about them. This is best exemplified by Pyg’s speech where he’s constantly invoking gods, otherworldly beings and creepy monsters. These creatures representing not some kind of corporeal evil but frighteningly deranged internal conditions and ways of seeing. They embody his struggle with the wriggling chaotic mass where his self should be, and, arguably with the Joker’s also. In this sense, then, it’s easy to understand Pyg as a tiny homunculus of the Joker himself. Afterall we know nothing of his origins, and it seems somewhat likely that on a literal level the Joker may be pulling the strings behind the scenes, to the extent that he may even have created Pyg in the test tube alembic of the fairground where this new villain of the week makes his lair and where the Joker originally failed with Jim Gordon. Mr. Aaron, far below in our comments section, could well be right when he identifies the ‘he’ at the beginning of Pyg’s rantings as the Clown Prince himself. Look again, the bit about the ‘Despair Pit’ is a quote, and, yeah, the Joker, when he confronts Batman in Arkham does equate the Asylum with a bottomless hole, through which you can fall ‘down, down….’ But whereas Pyg attempts to do battle with the ceaseless noise of existence through the creation of perfect, mindless autonotoms incapable of being effected by its clamouring, the Joker just gives in completely.

Probably the best way of handling a trip really.

I never got on with mushrooms or acid, largely because I’m a control freak. I just couldn’t cope with the way it kaliedoscoped everything – the endless transformations discussed above. So, yeah, bad drugs. The collapse of the centre common to the psychedelic experience and bad trips in general. The experience you don’t walk away from unchanged. Bruce Wayne’s conducted years of yoga and meditation grounding the essential experience of not-self his practice provides, Pyg the Joker and myself haven’t. In my case this led to panic attacks, in the Joker’s it led to something else entirely. The stink of psychedlic chemicals are all over the Joker, right there in his wayward origin story, and the way he wears them above and on his skin. He infects the comics he’s in with their colour scheme.

There’s been a lot of talk about how the new colourist has, whilst having a cool pallete, screwed up with his transitioning. This is, from where I’m standing and the purposes of my argument, tommyrot. If Batrob is Batman as pop icon, as kid’s toy, then it makes sense that it should incorprate the colour scheme of a video-game – kid’s really aren’t playing with that much else these days. One could make the case that the abrupt gradations of colour and their vibrancy and luridity transform the panel into a monitor, but that’s not what interests me here. What interests me are hallucinations.

Anybody who’s ingested any hallucinogenic drug will be struck by the flourescent lightshow that erupts across the retina. The glowing, intricately latticed patterns. The internal CGI. This, whether the colourist knows it or not, is the other reason his electric paintpot works. Sure, it’s Gotham, and the vivid greens, pinks and purples wrestle with the murk, but that’s because this is, as Morrison himself put it, ‘dark psychedelia’. Although they don’t wrestle with it on the cover, do they? Here the colours practically blaze off the page.

What’s happened to his face?

Now we’re going to talk about it.

Here everything is inverted. Distinctions between inside and outside evaporate. His flailing hands, grasping for the seat of his identity, invert, and wind up groping away at a luminous void where a person should be. The smile becomes a branded logo, disinctions between subjecthood and objecthood no longer clear. Colour, neon, bleeding everywhere, eating… eating… In that vat. In the factory. Drowning in a sea of toxic information. Everything illuminated in the sickening dayglo of plastics and synthetics. This is acid ascendant, the chymical wedding of man and modernity, scorching a blistering, sparking hole in the soul.

This cover is the real origin story.

This is the burning ‘face’ in question and what tears him to shreds.

And now let’s turn our attention to the eyes, the windows of the soul, the most expressive organ we have, where the self resides…. Or so we thought. For those of you unfamiliar with it here’s a brief overview of the new science (if you can call it that – there’s a debate raging right now) of memetics. Memetics argues that with the emergence of a particular kind of brain this planet, actually this universe, saw the production of the second and to this date only new replicator after the gene itself, the meme. The meme can best be described as a unit of supra-physical information. Some people confuse it with ideas, but they’re getting mixed up, ideas being clusters of memes. Memes depend on self-aware consciousnesses to reproduce in that they can only incubate in and transmit themselves via minds able to reflect on received information. Memetic theory is revolutionary – at least in neurological terms, zen buddhists have gone on about this stuff for ages – in that it argues for a discontinuous self. It postulates that our sense of me-ness is in fact a hologram formed by overlapping memes, competing clusters of information, each vieing for control, for total domination, transposed across our automatic (or should I say automated) psychic relex action to fill in the gaps, to construct a stable narrative of selfhood.

Honestly, our brains are amazing at this shit. Put down your funnybooks and check chapter 12 of Oliver Sacks’s brilliant The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and gawp at the relentlessness of human identity. It’s not so much gaps filled in as grand canyons.

Regardless of what you think about memes Grant Morrison has evinced a long standing interest in them, and having a sense of what they’re about – what they mean – is an interesting way into the cover image. Because here so much of the face, and it’s spiritual core as represented by the eyes, is constructed out of a sea of mindless, endlessly replicating automotons. Remember, at the heart of Meme theory is the idea that the packets of information that perform the optical illusion we call Me contain no selfhood whatsoever. They’re empty, the closest lifeform they’re comparable to is a virus. Anthropomorphised they become zombies, or, in this case, dollatrons.

Earlier on I described the Joker’s transformation – or more precisely his general state – as an implosion, an endless collapsing in on himself, and the cover sums this up beautifully. Because it’s a tunnel, isn’t it? A bottomless burrow, with all the individual units of the face/selfhood streaming away into the singularity at the centre. Around about the nose. Batman and Robin duking it out. Remember how John a Dreams interpreted the human body unravelled across time as a biomass endlessly devouring and fucking itself? Well, this is the same vision applied to the human mind. The Joker’s ‘self’ can be found only where he identifies with the dominant memes in this swaying, brawling mass. And oftentimes that’s dictated by where and when he comes into contact with Batman’s fist.

How well this image articulates the dynamic between the Joker and Batman! The sea of raging chaotic data and it’s eternal surging towards, and repulsion from, the diamond hard singularity that is Batman at the centre, the one thing that really defines it, that gives it shape. Self vs Not-self. The famous image of the Joker clutching his head and cackling is a Batman’s eye view, the Joker as being, possessing integrity and form, but this is a snapshot of the topsy-turvy world Pyg inhabits where there’s nothing to hold onto, the mind laid bare, identity as a discontinuous, looping root winding its way back into the primordial, luminous ooze.

The reflection in the puddle.

So before I go I want to say, let’s privilege Morrison’s take on the Joker not just because presenting him simply as a giggling, murderous oddball is offensive and perpetuates cruddy stereotypes, but because in seeking to understand and unpick the character we add more depth and make him more interesting, more fun. More superheroic.

But having sad all that…

ALL THIS IS BULLSHIT. I HAVE IT ON VERY GOOD AUTHORITY THAT FRANK DIDN’T PURPOSEFULLY SET OUT TO PAY HOMAGE TO THE IMAGE FROM THE KILLING JOKE. IT’S NOT INTENTIONAL.

And that’s one more reason to respect the Joker. Grant’s talk about an aura of the supernatural pervading his stuff? Maybe in the end the Clown Prince of Crime is irreducible. Maybe there really is something going on here that doesn’t make sense. Maybe the virus has infected the page.

Bad Hoodoo.

You can’t get any better than that.

42 Responses to “What have you done to his face?”

  1. Thrilltone Says:

    “Confession time: I’m not too comfortable with the kind of language I frequently use around here to descibe the mentally ill.”

    Can’t say I’ve noticed too much of this sort of thing at Mindless Ones, to be honest, as that sort of language normally jumps out at me for the reasons you describe – it’s diminishing and lazy and aw that, and as a person with experience of mental illness, it does tend to piss me off somewhat (though I have used that sort of shitty language myself, in relation to myself, to sort of put friends at ease, make them feel a bit less awkward aboot it all, lighten the mood and things,”ocht, it’s time for me to take my madness pills” etc. ‘cos special treatment or pity is not a lot of fun). ANYWAY. TOO MUCH INFORMATION etc.

    In the hideous world of the internet, Mindless Ones is a haven of non-offensive language, really, and the fact you folks even worry that you might be using ‘bad’ terms and things immediately sets you above sooo many other sites.

    I am genuinely surprised that Quitely never made the Joker homage on the cover on purpose, it really does add to mood of the story, really. Bad hoodoo, indeed. That’s some properly sinister shit.

    Some great stuff, Poodle, about memes and their relation to Pyg and the dolls. I’m not totally sure I fully understand what memes are all about, but I think I’m grasping towards a vague understanding, and this stuff all helps. So cheers for that! I remember trying to explain memetic theory to someone a while ago before realising I was spouting near-gibberish. It is good to learn, though.

    Man, as usual, there’s a lot of good stuff to mull over in this article, and I’ve typed too much (and I’m not even drunk), so I think I shall go and sleep. It’s for the best.

  2. amypoodle Says:

    JJeez, I’m not a meme expert or anything, i’ve just read a little sue blackmore and listened to a bunch of her podcasts.

  3. It Burns Says:

    Great article, Poodle.

    Memetics has interested me ever since The Invisibles, at that very point you referenced above. But one image I’ve always had trouble with, and I’ve heard Morrison and others use it plenty, is the “our sense of me-ness is in fact a hologram formed by overlapping memes . . .” I don’t know if the analogy doesn’t resonate with me, whether I carry a misconception that it even IS an analogy, or whether I cling to the idea of self to strongly to accept it. Whatever the fuck my problem is I continue to be enamored by the image of the hologram, and would love to hear any suggestions to strengthen my understanding of the concept. Admittedly, I’ve only read half of “The Selfish Gene,” Chapter Eleven, so feel free to pounce on my impatience (maybe I’ve just answered my own question).

    Anyway enough about me. Great stuff as always.

  4. Papers Says:

    The Joker is a response, a reaction, a ricochet off old Batsypants–Batman is All-Origin, Joker is No-Origin. It’s one of the few elements of THE DARK KNIGHT that I enjoyed.

    Great fucking post, Mindless.

    I don’t actually like THE KILLING JOKE, by the way. I’m concerned that I came to it too late, too long after the fact, too deeply mired in the hype did I trek to read it and I did read it and certainly didn’t *hate* it, but it didn’t click with me. It was surprisingly short. I don’t know. You guys know how I feel about Batgirl, maybe that’s the whole problem. It took her off the board. Maybe I’m just bitter about that. Didn’t click.

  5. Zom Says:

    It’s perfect that that cover was unintentional

  6. amypoodle Says:

    i don’t particularly like the killing joke either, btw.

  7. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Fantastic stuff.
    And like others have said, I’ve never seen any sign of stigmatising the mentally ill here, and I *would* notice (spent two years working on a psychiatric ward as well as more personal stuff). You’re as clean on that as anyone…

  8. Norkhat Says:

    Always such a pleasure to read you !

    When I was a kid I switched brutally from the ol’Batman-Strips of the 40s they had in my primary’s school library
    to the comic section of my father’s library where I found those great french edition of the Dark Knight Returns (which is twice the size of the american version).

    I’ve struggling ever since to find balance between those two poles
    and Arkham Asylum was one of the best batman comics I ever read recently !

  9. amypoodle Says:

    I love the idea of owning a huge dark knight – was it on the same scale as a hardback deluxe edition? comics look better bigger.

    as for arkham asylum, i went off it for years and years but i’m now very keen to reread it. i think it’s probably very enjoyable in a ‘hurt me FATHER!’ kind of way.

  10. Zom Says:

    I reread it recently and was not amused.

  11. Kieran Says:

    Great analysis, but I think Blackmore’s description of a mind without a single identity was done earlier and more comprehensively by Deleuze and Guattari, arguing that the body, brain and all, is a collection of “desiring machines”, processes with their own individual and sometimes contradictory aims, with only an illusory unity. The only thing missing is the idea of a free movement of ideas between individuals, but that’s always been the least convincing part of meme theory in my opinion, and I just love the idea of using schizoanalysis on the Joker, which this post comes very close to.

    Actually it reminds me of the schizoanalytic discussion of Neon Genesis Evangelion at this thread:

    http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3195375&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=1

    which was a great help to me in figuring out their stuff

  12. Linkblogging for 14/09/09 « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak! Says:

    [...] Over at the Mindless Ones Amypoodle has a great post on the Joker, Morrison & Quitely’s Batman & Robin, mental illness and concepts of the sel…. [...]

  13. Zom Says:

    The history of the philosophy of the mind is littered with minds that are in some fundamental sense selfless. Memes are merely the latest example but they fit nicely with this analysis

  14. Seabear Says:

    Dick Grayson is like, “wha…?” to this.

  15. Kieran Says:

    Hmm, seems I have allowed my dislike of meme theory to distort my perception of it’s position in philosophy.

    To be honest I mostly brought up schizoanalysis* because I was reading both at the time and the analysis of NGE was almost identical, in retrospect “breakdown caused by loss of sense of identity” is an extremely common plot. What I find interesting is the comparison between the selfhood delusion and other abstract points of authority like the subject of a book.

    It adds a neat double meaning to the Joker’s “that’s just wikipedia” line Batman: RIP: it’s the crime that’s wikipedia, a collection of injuries and acts of violence with no central motive or perpetrator, and Batman is a fool for trying to impose some sort of pattern on it. The Black Glove are putting him through the same process the Joker went through, and they fail because his self is fractured anyway, and most important organising figure to him is the motive or person behind the crime. The Joker then is on a better track than those clowns, attacking Batman’s identity as a detective, though of course it fails and Batman goes on to solve the identity of the Black Glove even when the reader can’t. Huh. Does anyone think Batman gives the Joker hope, makes him question his own nihilism? That line about struggling out of his patterns only to be put in a new one, was it said with a touch of grudging affection?

    *in line with your worry about the word mad, I’ve always been a bit iffy about this term and the way it glamourises and others schizophrenia. It’s wonderful that the Mad movement is removing the stigma from the disease but I don’t think that gives neurotypical people free reign to use their own ideas of what being schizophrenic is like as an ideal. Don’t know enough about the topic to say whether this is what’s happening though.

  16. Kieran Says:

    Argh, sorry, not sure why I’m posting RIP commentary in your comments section. Seems to be a common affliction round here, must be the quality of the Original Posts, I should say again, but this is cracking stuff, a textbook example of the “seeing things that aren’t there” style of criticism and of why that’s no problem at all.

  17. amypoodle Says:

    Indeed. You’ve just got to make sure what you see is a good, plausible story. at least for 5 minutes.

  18. plok Says:

    Absolutely fantastic, Amy!

    And that’s from somebody who has just about no time for the meme-thing. But then I don’t usually come across anybody using it for anything, do I? LOVED THIS. And I seriously don’t know what to make of the serendipity of it all, I’m floored. Damn it, they — and you — have done it again!

    Superhero comics that are really about something! It’s wonderful.

  19. Zom Says:

    I think it’s easy to make too much of Amy’s comments on memetics. We don’t have to consider the spiralling fragments of self in question to be memes for his thinking to make sense. Memes are just a fun way in when you consider that Morrison is interested in them.

    Also, it really doesn’t matter that the cover isn’t intended to say anything about the current series. Bad hoodoo aside (although ya gotta love bad hoodoo), and taken on its own, the image works fantastically as a visual description of the Joker’s-mind-according-to-Grant-Morrison, especially when juxtaposed with that moment from the Killing Joke.

  20. Eman Anistow Says:

    “Tales Calculated to Give You
    A Personality Disorder!”

  21. plok Says:

    “We don’t have to consider the spiralling fragments of self in question to be memes for his thinking to make sense.”

    Indeed we don’t! But that it’s fun to do so in this case is a blast for me, because I usually never find the meme-thing fun: mostly because it’s not often used poetically, only polemically. This, though, is another kettle of fish…I would call it, the properly-cooked kind.

  22. Eman Anistow Says:

    there is no veracity to meme theory.
    it’s just an attractive idea that people like talking about.

  23. amypoodle Says:

    Thanks Eman. Challenging stuff.

  24. Eman Anistow Says:

    or is it?…

  25. amypoodle Says:

    Actually, I’ll expand on that.

    Meme’s may be an attractive idea that people like to talk about, but it seems to me that they’re also an idea some people like to form opinions about before really getting to know, like, I don’t know, feminism or something, only less important. Possibly. And that’s just it – i don’t know where i stand right now, i’m not particularly invested either way. but i tell you what, i think it’s better to be enquiring, to keep an open mind, to explore and take from a theory like this what you can – and there’s a lot to take away from one of Susan Blackmore’s lectures – and not just dismiss somthing out of hand because it happens to be trendy.

    now i don’t know if this is what you’re doing, eman, because you’re not giving me anything to work with. a lot of us mindless ones come from a web forum where we were expected to back up our positions with argument and we take a pretty dim view of people just dropping in to tell us like it is and dropping out of sight.

    sorry if this sounds harsh, but i just want to make the default position clear.

  26. amypoodle Says:

    attention seeking – read: trolling – doesn’t go down very well either.

  27. Eman Anistow Says:

    ooh, snippy!
    get you!
    well, i’ll be sure to listen to a bunch of susan blackmore podcasts before i post my next [b]joke[/b] about memes in someone’s blog comments.

    “an attractive idea that people like talking about”
    i don’t know how i could make it more obvious.
    perhaps only by adding the disclaimer;
    “by the way, i’m not bloody stupid, so try reading me with an open mind. or do i need a doctorate for that to happen?”

    sorry about your dim view.

  28. Eman Anistow Says:

    ahh, no hard feelings amy.
    i thought your article was very interesting and stimulating and i’m glad i’m not the only person who thinks that upside-down face thing was unintentional.
    i think if it was deliberate it would have been done a lot better.

  29. Eman Anistow Says:

    i got to say though,
    i’m having a good LOL about that “troll” remark.

    some people just take that kind of thing too far, don’t they?
    i suppose they grow out of it eventually, though.

  30. amypoodle Says:

    eman, you gave me nothing to go on except for what looked like a couple of drive-by posts. i don’t have to presuppose anything. unsubstantiated opinions like those expressed above are really dull – they bring nothing to the table – and i’m sure you can appreciate why, after spending a solid chunk of a saturday afternoon on a post, it might grate when your only response is a smug ‘pfah! it’s all nonsense!’ and an absolute failure to engage with any of the ideas contained therein.

    and i don’t think the face was unintentional, i as good as know it was.

  31. Zom Says:

    Re the face, we’re not merely spouting off an opinion. You’ll just have to trust us, it *definitely* wasn’t intentional.

    Tru fax

  32. James Says:

    I’m assuming you fellows have a different source, but Rich J’onnz’ton done a “I spoke to Frank Quitely” post about it.

    Oh, and very much enjoyed this post, amyP.

  33. Zom Says:

    Ah, good, now we can stop being mysterious.

  34. plok Says:

    Not like it wasn’t between the lines, there…

    But man, that still floors me.

  35. Eman Anistow Says:

    just to be clear then:

    “tales calculated to give you a personality disorder”
    is a reference to the covers of Mad comics.

    and the one about memes is deliberately self-contradictory.
    ie: memetic theory aint true, it’s just a very “fit” meme-plex.
    ok? so not an argument at all, as it goes.

    call em drive-by (?) if you like but at least they were short, and intended to raise a grin.

    but, if it makes you feel better, i can find someone properly ignorant to comment here and you can patronise them instead.

    (meow)

  36. Zom Says:

    To be fair, Eman, for those of us who didn’t get your references (me) they did come across as a little dismissive, and perhaps a little cheeky. It’s okay for people to get cross with you about that. The text medium, as I’m sure you’re aware seeing as you’re not an idiot, is very open to misinterpretation and ambiguity so it pays to be clear and thorough in those instances where you risk pissing other people off. Personally I think Amy over reacted a bit, but I can understand *why* he over reacted, and I think your posting style, in this comment thread, is at least in part to blame.

    I suggest we put down the barbs and let bygones be bygones.

  37. amypoodle Says:

    fine with me.

    i wasn’t that annoyed anyway.

  38. Eman Anistow Says:

    ah well, so much for the brevity/wit relationship.

    ahem. i really don’t think (even read without a sense of humour) that my short comments would’ve seemed antagonistic to many people.
    on my favourite forums the only stigmatised behaviour is flaming.
    etc etc, i won’t go on about it though. i have deleted some “barbs” from all of these posts, this one included.

    anyways, i was wondering about this “self” thing…

    1.
    opinions, semantic associations & contents of consciousness (a patina of memetic influences)
    _vs_
    autonomic and “instinctive” behaviours (faster than thought, occurring without the “latency” of the review-of-recent-significancies that makes up our conscious awareness)

    which is closer to being “the real me”?
    is either more or less unique to the individual?
    is that unique-ness a functional criterion for defining “self”?
    (sorry, i don’t seem to know the difference between self and ego)

    2.
    re: inverted-face-based-composition:
    artist’s “hidden intention” = a much celebrated resource. (see 1)

    ps: that pictoral double-entendre thing used to be done quite a lot.
    eg: a skull made up of the light areas of a scene, signifying an omen of doom.
    Bryan Talbot has demonstrated that particular usage, but i’m pretty sure the device goes back at least to victorian times.
    normally though, the secondary image is properly proportioned and the right way up.

  39. Lanmao, the blue cat Says:

    driveby backslapping: This is the best comics site on the internet. You got Joker, you got memes, you got people who have feelings about memes (not common of the comics sites of the world), and you got theory of mind.

    I honestly don’t give a shit about whether there is authorial intent in anything described here (or anywhere, for that matter).

  40. Anonymous Says:

    if anyone is still confused about memes, here‘s Sam Leith from the Guardian with a perfect definition (i’m being sarcastic) :

    ” Fast becoming part of the cultural landscape, memes are sort of jokes and sort of catchphrases, but they also take in film clips, cartoons, photographs, mash-ups and icons. The best way to think of them is perhaps as cyber graffiti; it would not even be stretching things to say they are a modern web version of ‘found art’. ”

    i think i’m learning, but tell me more, please.

    ” … Memes almost always involve repurposing someone else’s material, appropriating authorship, or making it collective. And they create miniature artistic genres of their own. ”

    thank you mr Leith, you have earned my respect.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    (last sentence was sarcasm also)

  42. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » Three fools - Part 1: Moore and Bolland’s Joker Says:

    [...] Amypoodle doesn’t think so. “I never felt entirely satisfied by the explanation commonly trotted out for the Joker’s origin, that upon glimpsing the clown leering up at him out of the chemical goo his psyche somehow imploded, transforming him into the super-psychotic we know today. It just didn’t ring true, even if you did add all that Alan Moore stuff about dead babies and living in a rundown tenement… …the only element of the Joker’s origin story we can *rely* on is the image of him staring down into the whateveritismysteryliquid, but, like with a David Lynch film, this imagery doesn’t have to be taken literally, it could be viewed as a profound, soul shattering encounter with the psyche…” [...]

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