V's hideout preserved the wreckage of the historical past. V for Vendettta. Art: David Lloyd. © DC Comics.
We've reached the end of a cycle that makes a transition from anarchy to remembrance, from Hallowe'en to All Souls' Day. In Britain, these festivals build up to Guy Fawkes Night, which is usually preceded by a few nights of fireworks, with a bonanza on November 5th.
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's mercy he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!
Click here for my earlier post which discussed Fawkes and V for Vendetta, the famous 1980s' pulp maxi-series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The character 'V' was created in Guy Fawkes's image and the story borrowed from Guy Fawkes's story.
Another element Moore used was that the character V, while a chaotic destroyer of a fascist future Britain, was a romantic, nostalgic character. To V, the past was the stronghold of everything that should be preserved and protected. I'm not quite convinced that Moore's story is just about a terrorist ripping apart a totalitarian régime. Moore never quite explained how his character's strong conservative historicism fitted with his anarchic message. But there is a relationship: everything about V, his hideout filled with historical artifacts carefully preserved, his elegant manner of speech, his old-fashioned manners - glossed over his violent terrorism. V was an avenging angel of a past history tossed aside by a fascist administration that was built on erasing that past. This is the ultimate story in which the past comes back to haunt people who thought they could write history anew and obliterate where they came from.
Alan Moore remarked on how his ideas about anarchy and Fawkes informed his story in an interview on Youtube; but his first comment in that interview was about history, nostalgia and time as the key to his whole formula: "As with most of the future worlds in science fiction, you are not talking about the future, you're talking about the present. You are using the future as a way of giving a bit of room to move. A bit of a fantasy element. It makes it into something that is once removed from the thing that you're actually talking about, so people can enjoy it on a fantasy level, while hopefully perhaps some of the deeper points that you're making are sinking in."
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