The escape from reality was, he felt—especially right after the war—a worthy challenge… The pain of his loss—though he would never have spoken of it in those terms—was always with him in those days, a cold smooth ball lodged in his chest, just behind his sternum. For that half hour spent in the dappled shade of the Douglas firs, reading Betty and Veronica, the icy ball had melted away without him even noticing. That was the magic—not the apparent magic of a silk-hatted card-palmer, or the bold, brute trickery of the escape artist, but the genuine magic of art. It was a mark of how fucked-up and broken was the world—the reality—that had swallowed his home and his family that such a feat of escape, by no means easy to pull off, should remain so universally despised.”
― Michael Chabon,
If you read my blogs you will realise that I have a whole lot of interests. You may not understand how one fits with the other. Hell, anyone who reads me regularly is probably confused. She’s writing stories one day about teacher education, the next weirdo things about social media potatoes. But you know what? This weblog is me. I am a series of episodes that get made up as they go. I am not a well thought out plot. I’m a postmodern cyborg – well maybe posthuman…I don’t know…who cares.
My family used to get frustrated with me because I kept going off on tangents. I’d say I was going to do one thing and get really excited and motivated. Hijinks conceptualised. Inspiration boiling. Escape from my current state of being planned. Then I’d get distracted by another great idea and chase after that. Family frustration. Only deep down inside did I know that all the episodes were leading to an unfinished product. Unfinished until I return to the soil. Unfinished until my remains give nutrition to a tree…unfinished until…always and forever unfinished. Me.
I had to think hard about which book to include in this post. There were two: American Gods by Neil Gaiman; or the one I have chosen The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. The Nobel Prize winning novel by Michael Chabon. Both have comics in common. Both are episodic and messy. Neil Gaiman writes comics and Michael Chabon wrote about them. As I’m not a screaming fan of comics, I went with the “based on historical” novel.
Kavalier and Clay are cousins. Kavalier smuggles himself out of Nazi invaded Prague in a coffin and comes to sleep on Clay’s floor in New York. The two grow up and write a comic. They want to write an antithesis to Superman, a flawed character more reminiscent of Batman. So they develop The Escapist based on the legend of Golem, a clay creature from Jewish mythology. Throughout the text amazing adventures are had by the duo and their relationship forms through the bits. The political history of comic books is also a common theme.
Through reading this book I began to develop an appreciation for the comic book and the political role it has had in the 20th century. It’s remediation to the big screen is also something I muse about. Superhero films are smoothing out the mess. Hmmmm.
Comics were places of resistance. They were episodic adventures that had not real end point. Even when the last issue was released they still live on in re-reads and remediations. Fantastical things happened in them. They have inconsistencies that became the subject of demanded satisfaction at Comic Cons. They are the voices of people resisting the slick well thought out plots of the publication industry. I’m including ‘zines here as well.
Comics are messy.
Blogs are messy.
Nothing is well thought through, despite what we are convinced to think. Polished products do not belong on pedestals. They are part of an assemblage where bits rub up against each other in their borderlands, bruising, scraping, mingling of fibers, screws, sutures, blood, carbon, oils and DNA.
So don’t try to understand me through my blog. Read all of them then relax into my chaos. That way you’ll get a better idea of the “thing” typing into this machine.
This is the fourth book in my blog series on the books which have made me who I am.