Back in the I-Life Again
(Now Less Coherent!)
(Soundtrack: Singles…the Westerberg songs are so good!)
Throughout The Filth, Greg/Ned asks his interlocutors variations of this question from issue #2:”Are we on another planet? Just tell me, I can take it. Am I in the future? Or in virtual reality? Am I in a state ward, wanking in front of relatives?”
An answer, of sorts, comes much later, in response to the related question of what the Hell those crazy dolphins are doing in “The Crack” (and where that pen came from)…
Noxinnixon: “Did the blueprint maker cut off his almighty hand in a fit of horror at what he’d made? Is it still attached to a body somewhere in a bigger universe we don’t even want to imagine, stuck with writer’s block?” [Spector jumps in, dialect first] “Or wiz it writin the suicide note we like tay call existence, eh? Naebdy geeza fuck. Aw we kerr aboot’s the ink…”
And the ink, as “naebdy” ever tires of mentioning, “brings things to life”…I-life!
Where does Greg go when he falls into “The Crack”? Well, I think he goes to the same place that Sidney Orr does in Auster’s Oracle Night–the world of the creator, as opposed to that of the created.
As human beings, we are always both of these things at once–The Filth represents a major advance beyond Animal Man in that Morrison now realizes that the moral buck stops nowhere–and, consequently, everywhere. The feeling of an “infinite egress” is more palpably conveyed here than in any of the previous work. This is nothing like The Matrix–reality has no “ground zero” here. There is no “truth” obscured by “conspiracy”. That’s Max Thunderstone’s–and, apparently, the old Greg’s–bag. This is clearly a dead end! Morrison calls it the “person/anti-person complex”. Chaos-fomentors need an “Oppressive Structure” to push off against…and they really have no place in a post-structuralist world.
There’s only the ink.
The ink “rolls through all things”, courses through our veins, and it coagulates into panel/memories too. When Greg Feely stares at a framed picture of Tony (in #12), his deceased cat, and says: “You don’t even seem real now”, he echoes “Secret Original’s” (definitely a sad reinterpretation of Animal Man, as far as I’m concerned), virtuoso look back at the pages featuring his wife (remind anyone of Ellen Baker?) in issue #3…
Oh, Eve. If only I could see you. If only I could talk to you again but I flew too high and broke against the walls of heaven, Eve. You were right. I see the cruel reality behind all of our hopes and dreams now. I know us for what we truly are. Not supermen but super-slaves in a synthetic prison. Playing out crummy meaningless adventures written by amoral monsters. They farm us, Eve; they farm us for the wonders we simply accept in our ignorance…
There are even pornographic versions of our lives, my love. Alternative continuities where you let the entire Status Quorum gangbang you for money to pay the rent. Sick sex situations I’d never even thought of until I found Mercury’s files… The sideways lives he’d written for us to live… I pull out and run those rotten stories every night, Eve. I can’t help it. I…I love to watch you lose your cool and your decency every night because it’s the closest I can get…to how it once felt tgo love you. Man-Ro help me. I keep thinking I’ll find a way to save us all. Then I just waste another five hours checking out sleazy hardcore comix.
Of course he’s dead wrong–but I’m sure that everyone reading this has wasted ink of their own on similar projects. At the root of Secret Original’s confusion (and the Filth‘s critique) is his flawed insistence upon the “us” and “them” binary. Nobody’s farming us–we cultivate ourselves. And we are pollinated by Otherness. Telling stories is a very healthy human impulse–narrative makes wonderful fertilizer–but the desire to sink our roots into that manure is not. Consciousness blooms out of nothing and feeds upon the shit that happens… You cannot be present at the moment of your own conception. You can only hear about it later. You were never there. You still aren’t. There’s nowhere for any of us to BE. That’s what’s sick about pornography–“wish you were here” syndrome! It’s not the images so much as the fact that these are films/comics/books that really depend upon reader/viewer-identification. They cannot be contemplated, they must be “escaped into”.
“Fuck or be fucked”?
That’s “volitionist” philosophy in a nutshell.
And–as Greg says late in the book–“I’m not having it!”
“Love” cannot truly exist between creators and their creations. Love proper is always a relationship between I-life “bio-ships”. Your subjectivity glints off of mine–objectification is inevitable but it’s still a drying out of vital fluid–a hardening of the arteries. Parallel ink-smears create far more beautiful effects than those which run together. We spoil things by connecting the blots.
Okay. Break time. I’ll be back with more tomorrow! In case you haven’t noticed, my thoughts on this masterpiece are far from settled–so please jump in!
Good Day Friends!