Shake It Up Baby Now! Ding…An…Sich; or, Wildly Psychotic Analysis

(Soundtrack: Ramones–Road To Ruin)

Marc Singer has composed a paean to “super-literalty” in comics, and I think everyone should read it… Of course, I have some problems with it, the main one being that metonymy cannot even exist without some kind of Idealist underpinnings, and, contra Mickey Dolenz, I’m not a believer.

What is Fiore talking about now? And, more importantly, why? As always, you are the ultimate arbiters of the validity of my posts here. If you think this line of argument is moronic, then it is! Nevertheless, I feel compelled to press onward!!

Damn the torpedoes!

So. Metonymy… Here’s the dictionary.com definition of the process:

Substituting the name of an attribute or feature for the name of the thing itself (as in `they counted heads’)

I can’t tell you how pleased I am that they decided to put it that way! It sounds simple right? And maybe it is. “Suits n’ ties” are “office guys”, etc. But, like Casper Gutman, I must have my little joke. It’s the only thing I’m ever serious about, to tell you the truth.

Here’s the thing–where’s the “thing”?

What I’m saying is: the logic of metonymy demands that we accept the possibility of knowing “the-thing-in-itself”. As a proponent of the “infinite egress”, I must object! Where are we getting these attributes from? And to what objects are we attributing them? If “death” is a human construct, can it be literalized? Everything is a metaphor… When you leave off groping the noumenal and attempt to take hold of it, an “idea” is born, and you can pass out cigars if you want to, but they’d better say “It’s A Toy!”

I think Marc is dead on when he insists that a romantic, “anti-realist” work (and superhero comics plainly fit into this category) can pack a wallop through sheer “what the fuck?ness”. There is no “literature of ideas”, because “Ideas” don’t exist in any way that is intelligible to us. Doom Patrol provides a fine example of this aesthetic in action. (As does Bob Haney’s work, right Mr. Wintle? Has anyone ever told you that you rock?) Which reminds me–I’m due to head into Jane’s “craziness” soon! (if only Archibald Lampman would set me free!)

Good Day Friends



  1. I might have known someone would call me on my shit, and I might have known Fiore would be the man to do it!

    I’m not too interested in the infinite egress/regress of self-consciousness, myself – I’m tempted to endorse Johnson’s confutation of Hume – but your point that metonymy is ultimately just as figurative/idealist as metaphor is well taken.

    I’m still grappling with this problem. One of the drawbacks of my piece is that I combine a couple of very different usages of symbols and “the symbolic” (common usage, Zizek’s Lacanian terminology, and White’s home-brewed look at tropes of consciousness); a work can still be non-Symbolic in the Lacanian sense and be littered with symbols, as in fact Hitchcock’s Birds is. (And in fact, White would likely argue that Lacan’s pre-Symbolic, pre-Imaginary phase is an entirely metaphoric sense of self.)

    But I still think those terms apply well to superheroes, and the current talk about metaphor, insofar as I think comics usually *aren’t* figurative in the narrow sense that’s commonly used. “Metonymy” is the best term I currently have for that kind of figuration, as they clearly aren’t straight-up mimetically representative, either. (Although, as always, they’re magnificently mimetic within the terms their own anti-realist worlds.)

    What this all really needs is a formal article (maybe on Moody and Lee, as they make such an elegant contrast in representation) to sort it all out.


  2. “Has anyone ever told you that you rock?”

    Not for a little over a week now, though I am hitting the dancefloor tonight, so I expect that situation will be remedied. Rock!

    Congratulations on sneaking the Care Bears into a post on comics, by the way. I’ve been trying for years. Now that you’ve succeeded, I think I may move onto the Snorks.

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