Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Retcons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Retcons. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Art of the Retcon 3: Time and Heroism in the Multiverse

Morrison's 18 Days retells the great Mahabharata in an animated CGI drama on Youtube (you can watch it here). 18 days is the length of the battle in the Mahabharata. Image Source: Broken Frontier.

The wavering fictional reality of DC Comics resembles theories from today's quantum physicists.  A comic book fantasy of multiple Earths and multi-dimensional universes aligns with contemporary scientific ideas of a fractured multiverse and mysterious dark matter.  It makes one wonder: if our physicists are right and the multiverse is real, what sort of creatures are we because of it, and how do we feel its effects?

Multiversity #1 (October 2014). "Every comic you ever read is real." – Grant Morrison. Behind the Panels review: "Morrison directly challenges the reader. 'Whose voice is speaking in your head anyway? Yours?' The same narration urges us to stop reading. That’s when things get beautifully weird."

Are we pawns of a larger order we will never perceive? Scottish writer Grant Morrison would say: yes. He is delivering his long-promised crossover, Multiversity, right now via DC Comics, and a glance at the multiversal map below shows that he is combining years of esoteric interests - mind expansion through drug dreams, a fascination with ancient Indian epics and religions, and a belief (expressed in 2012's Supergods) that modern superheroes are manifestations of ancient gods. More importantly, in Multiversity, the heroes exist along a metafictional continuity with our reality and time. They are part of humankind's long quest to define the line between creation and destruction, from which everything else follows in this world, and other worlds too.

DC's map of the Multiversity (August-September 2014; click to enlarge). Image Source: DC Entertainment.

From 2009 to 2013, Morrison worked with Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics to produce 18 Days, a retelling of the Mahabharata, in which a classic Indian battle sees the age of gods give way to the age of men. Two of the founders of Liquid Comics are author Deepak Chopra and his son, Gotham Chopra. Deepak Chopra famously discussed these ideas with Morrison at several comics conventions; the Chopras also published a book about it, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes (2011). CBR reported on one such discussion in 2006 in San Diego:
Superheroes, in Chopra's view, are not external beings. "These are archetypal beings that stoke the fire of life and passion in our own souls. These are potentials that exist within us, and by creating these superheroes through our own collective imagination, we are in a way serving our deepest longings, our deepest aspirations, and our deepest desires to escape the world of the mundane and the ordinary and do things that are magical."
Morrison draws from Indian traditions to marry that consciousness to the cosmos of existence. Thoughts become physical substances in other dimensions. The great epic of the multiverse involves the genesis of values in that consciousness through dharma and karma, action and negative action, creation and destruction, good and evil. In our reality, mythical heroes are legendary archetypes. But Morrison insists that these paragons embody physical forms in other times and places.

18 Days concept art by Mukesh Singh. Images Sources: Decode Hindu Mythology, Comic Vine, Concept Art, Dynamite Comics, Planet Damage, Mukesh Singh.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Art of the Retcon 2: DCnU's Orwellian Timecrunch

The DCnU panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con.  Image Source: Grizzly Bomb.

I've already commented on DCnU in terms of the demographics of anticipated readers here, and comics archetypes here. DCnU also reveals a disturbing, and very Millennial, treatment of history and time. The Internet has completely transformed our understanding of both.  This is because computer systems allow any historical source to be ripped out of context and juxtaposed with something that popped up yesterday.  Even before the Tech Revolution, the idea grew in the 20th century. 

The most famous use of real life retcons is in Stalinist-era USSR, when apparatchiks who fell out of favour were erased from photographs, which I have blogged about here.  It was used in South America in the 1970s, when political dissidents 'disappeared' and their identities were wiped off the face of the earth, as though they had never existed.  In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell had his protagonist employed in rewriting old newspaper articles to erase records of people later deemed undesirable by the state.  This critique of oligarchical collectivism spawned his famous INGSOC line: "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."

Now, I'm not saying that the core messages in DC's fictions have anything in common with murderous dictatorships. Rather, I am suggesting that the use and abuse of history has become widespread across cultures and political spectrums in the 20th and 21st centuries.  It used to be that the past was sacred.  What had been done could not be undone.  It could be reinterpreted by historians, but only within reason and in well-sourced and well-defended arguments.  Given Orwell's communist critiques, it's tempting to put a political spin on this - socialists call for revolutions, liberals like change, conservatives cling to the past.  But the dangerous Postmodern notion that rewriting or erasing history brings money and power is seductive to all who seek them.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Art of the Retcon 1: DC Does the Time Warp Again

This isn't an alternate timeline, this is the only timeline. Booster Gold #44 (July 2011).

Tomorrow, DC's solicitations for September comic books come out.  But for the past two weeks, they have been releasing news about their rebooted fictional universe that will arrive that month. For those who don't bother with pulp fiction, this matters because the company, which owns Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, is doing a complete overhaul of all its series, based on a gigantic crazy time warp storyline it's putting out this summer called FlashpointAnd it's the time warp story that interests me, because it involves the renumbering of all titles to coincide with the first historical transition in comics from paper to digital formats.  There's a history of DC's notorious reboots here at Comics Alliance.  Of this one, CA said: "Flashpoint Throws Out the Bathwater, Baby Reported Missing."