Part 1 here

Back to this, then.

Maybe I was too hard on Geofferson Aerojohns in my first post. Maybe “Bollocks” was an appropriate response to a room covered in blood and the stink of the supernatural. Bollocks might often carry with it a low level sense of levity, but then John Constantine has had to weather some pretty terrible things in his time. Things worse than a few pints of the red stuff and a black magic chaser. Perhaps, for Constantine, a bit of sardonic humour helps him manage his emotions. Perhaps he just doesn’t respond to scenes of hideous violence in the way that you and I would, his emotional responses deadened after one too many trips to Hell.

What is magic, treacle? Find out over the jump

Bullshit ain’t about lying, not according to philosopher Harry Frankfurt from Princeton University. It is, however, still concerned with falsehood.

It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.

Great, an’ all, and all very right sounding, but it’s not the definition you’ll likely get from the man on the street. So if we don’t fully grasp bullshit, then God help foreign readers when it comes to its close cousin “bollocks”, that most British of swearwords.

More bollocks over the jump

Building a better Batsignal

September 26th, 2010

  • The phantasmal Bat-Signal of Nolan’s films with it’s spooky overtones works, somewhat counter-intuitively, with a drive towards a more realistic Batman, both in the aesthetic sense in that it marries with new colouring techniques in the comics, capable of rendering more precisely the qualities of light, and in the conceptual sense: it’s more plausible than the erstwhile cone of light, and gestures in the direction of a Batman more constrained by a realistic set of rules. The symbol’s ambiguous presence can also work to stake out an ultra-noir view of the character, less superhero more urban myth. The citizens of Gotham don’t know who or what this Batman stands for, or what he is or even whether he’s actually real, in much the same way as they don’t know whether that light does in fact constitute a signal or whether it’s, in line with the official explanation given in Nolan’s films, just the product of faulty equipment. This Batman is inherently mysterious, a creature of the shadows, someone (something?) to be unsure of. This isn’t a Batman who has much use for the golden chest emblem.

More chat about Bob Kane’s golden phallus after the jump

Heroic hype: the Batcave

August 21st, 2009

As adults we forget how strange things are. Take caves, for example.

On a recent holiday, my wife, son, and I found ourselves on a guided tour through a cave system. The group was large, and the cave as well lit as the intersection between health and safety and the management’s sense of theatricality would allow. The guide’s patter was honed and confident, glinting with comfortable jokes that didn’t require laughter, and just the right blend of folklore and history to keep us interested. The package offered no reason this side of phobia to feel unsafe, or uncertain. No-one was going to get lost, and no-one was going to get hurt, even boredom was unlikely to be much of a problem given that the tour was, quite sensibly, rather short.

But somewhere in the darkness beneath the spotlit consumer experience the real appeal rustled. Awe. It went unspoken of course only ever hinted at or skirted. The guide spoke of a gigantic network of which ours was but a fragment, of divers who had squeezed their way through small spaces in the deep and discovered gigantic caverns, one of which was thus far inexplicable to the geologists and engineers that had pored over the photographs, the mega-tonnage above the vast cave roof apparently unsupportable. The guide also spoke of deeper passages still, of underground lakes and streams, and of tunnels yawning forever into the earth. Even the history of the place hung like a heavy shadow. The caves had been sacred to the Celts, who offered up sacrifices to the dark. Later the Christians came and banished the old religion, a conflict hinted at in the local legend of a witch turned to stone by a priest. The guide showed us the rock where, if the light is right, the witch’s petrified profile can still be seen glaring into the blackness, and claimed, as a good tour guide should, that late at night her mordant laughter can be heard echoing in the depths.

Perhaps from sub-level 7, perhaps deeper


Down, down, down…

So the news about Captain Britain and MI-13 coming to an end hit just as I was halfway through a reread of the Alans Moore and Davis’s seminal run, and I’m left with the distinct feeling that had Cornell and Kirk engaged more closely with the question of haircuts that their tenure may have had more longeivity, or at least been more enjoyable from my own valuable perspective.

MI-13 never reached the heights of Cornell and Hairsine’s brilliant Wisdom mini. Even that series’ latter issues, the weaker ones, were comparable with MI-13 at its best. And Kirk’s art, sitting halfway between Mark Bagley and Brian Hitch, never rose above merely adequate. Perhaps if MI-13 hadn’t been creatively hobbled by a no doubt sales boosting tie in with Secret Invasion things would have been different; Perhaps if Cornell had opted/been permitted not to stretch the second arc to five increasingly tedious issues, and stuck to the snappy, smart high concept format which had worked so well for Wisdom I would be sad to see MI-13 end, but given that I’d just had the pleasure of wallowing in a youthful Moore’s kaleidoscopic take on the titular character I can’t say that the news bothered me overmuch. Yes it was half decent, yes it was one of the better books on the racks, yes I want to be a cheer leader for Cornell’s work because when it’s good it’s very good, but I know what I want to see in a comic featuring Captain Britain, and MI-13 wasn’t supplying it.

I want to see is a lot more of this…


Bad hair

The centrality of haircuts is discussed at length after the jump


Just like our Rogue’s Reviews but with 100% more hero!

Ah, the Martian Manhunter. Don’t you feel like waxing lyrical on the Martian Manhunter? I know I do. But let’s get a few preliminaries out of the way first.

Read on, mindless reader. Read on!