Thursday, May 23, 2019


“This embracing of what were unambiguously children's characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence... It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite 'universes' presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times" - Alan Moore

I guess there is a retro element to the endless torrent of Marvel / DC / et al superhero vehicles

A regressive or stagnant element in terms of character typology, motivation, fantasy, morality, narrative etc

Coupled - paradoxically - with absolutely ultra-modern state of the art powers being flexed in terms of the technical execution of these "children's entertainments" - the CGI and motion-capture, the 3-D camerawork,  the sound design, the grading, the editing etc etc etc.

A parallel to my avant-lumpen theory about the most progressive or futuroid musical forms being coupled with politically regressive values and attitudes.

Technosonically in the future;  emotionally-libidinally in the.... Middle Ages, really.

Codes of honor, warrior-masculinity, potlatch etc etc

Return of the saga, the legend, the epic, the allegorical etc etc


On the subject of heroics and heroism, I think also of this book


  1. How about calling it tecno/cyber-hygienism? I saw the term "hygienism" used to describe the human body as represented in fascist- nazi- comunist art. According to this narrative (as I remember), in the late XIX century art started drifting from the grecolatin classical models and started representing imperfect bodies, the sick, the dead, non-western models etc. And with authoritarian politics its art sort of went back, although the bodies were way more muscular. I saw this at an exposition and then searched the internet for this term in relation to art but couldn´t find it.

  2. definitely something a bit fascist-y about the musclebound aesthetic... not sure if 'hygienism' quite captures it although the idea of the body as this impenetrable fortress glistening like marble is a fantasy of non-impermeability by contagions...

  3. Phil Knight sez:

    Alan Moore's basic assumption here is that the future has a shape, an arc, a "progressive" direction. What he dare not allow himself to consider is that the persistence of the Marvel characters refutes the progressive narrative. What if the Marvel characters really are still relevant, and that indicates that there is no progress? Or that "progress" and "regress" are just the value-laden subjective judgements of a relatively small portion of the population (the bourgeois intelligentsia) of one particular corner of the world?

    If there is one over-lying theme of our particular era right now, it is the failing attempt to maintain a progressivist theory of history against the accumulating political and cultural forces that are gradually burying it. The idea that social progress (which requires disciplined political action) moves lockstep with technological progress (which is actually pretty anarchic) is obviously untenable.

    My own view of this is that the future is indifferent. It really doesn't care what any of us individually think it should be. All investments in the future, no matter where they emerge on the political spectrum, will be disappointed. The only people the future will fail to disappoint will be those who didn't have any investment in it in the first place.

    1. It isn´t necesary to believe in progress to believe in the need of change in culture. Just change, plain change, progressive, regresive, whatever, is enough. Adaptation of culture could be necesary for a different situation.

  4. Impertinent interjection, but how's the Doors tome proceeding, Phil?

  5. Bobby - it's morphed into a book about the darker currents of the 20th Century, and how post-war music absorbed and reflected them.

    These currents are, for specific reasons, attenuating now, which is why a phenomenon like The Doors is no longer possible.

    But I have already said too much!

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