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Historiography of Alan Moore
August 14, 2008 6:15 PM   Subscribe

"In Wells, God writes the human narrative, in Moore's version, it is humanity that ghostwrites its own story and credits it to God. The decision left to humanity is whether it will script its own history consciously, or allow the narrative to be shaped secretly by leaders and figures of authority..." The historiography (alternate, longer explanation) of Alan Moore. Warning: long.

See also: and insue that contains terrorists in GI Joe, illustrations in the works of Jules Verne, a study of Y, The Last Man, or an entire issue on William Blake, and creating a Comic Book Markup Language in reference to For Better or For Worse. [Previously.]
posted by flibbertigibbet (14 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Notes on Watchmen

Alan Moore: Confronting the Fourth Dimension
posted by empath at 6:40 PM on August 14, 2008


[T]he point of Moore's revision is not that metaphysical, providential, teleological paradigms of history need only to be demystified by a raw, unsentimental, cynical positivist materialism.

Nurse, get me an editor, stat! Teleological paradigms. . . cynical positivism. . . severe complications related to adjectival overkill. We may not be able to save this patient. . .
posted by rdone at 7:28 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, those are some big words. The author of that article must be really smart.
posted by Bromius at 7:54 PM on August 14, 2008


See Watchmen's Rorschach With And Without His Mask

!!!!!
posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on August 14, 2008


How utterly predictable that the first few response are from people intimidated by big words dismissing the whole article.

FWIW, I thought it was very illuminating, and I hadn't noticed the theme of history in his books, and it makes me want to give Promethea another shot, since I skipped all his ABC work, thinking they were for children.
posted by empath at 8:57 PM on August 14, 2008


[T]he point of Moore's revision is not that metaphysical, providential, teleological paradigms of history need only to be demystified by a raw, unsentimental, cynical positivist materialism.

That's a perfectly concise and well formed sentence, and every word makes sense in the context in which it's used. It's not written for a general audience, but it's not in a journal for a general audience. Any first year philosophy/english lit student should have no problem following it.
posted by empath at 9:07 PM on August 14, 2008


Any statement that includes the phrase "metaphysical, providential, teleological paradigms" cannot accurately be characterized as "perfectly concise." Moreover, by including three adjectives where none would suffice, the sentence in question displays the "Moe, Larry, and Curly" fallacy of overuse of modifiers.

I'm afraid that whenever I contemplate the demystification of a teleological paradigm, I always get raw, unsentimental, and cynical.
posted by rdone at 10:14 PM on August 14, 2008


I mainly like it when people hit each other.
posted by Artw at 10:55 PM on August 14, 2008


by including three adjectives where none would suffice, the sentence in question displays the "Moe, Larry, and Curly" fallacy of overuse of modifiers.

Otherwise known as Ed MacMahon's Corollary.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:56 AM on August 15, 2008


(Possible Tom Strong / Promethea spoilers)

Has a few interesting bits, but seems a bit pointless. Alan Moore's ideas seem to me more mystical than historiographic.

The final Tom Strong has a bit set after the mystical apocalypse in Promethea: all places and times are collapsed into a unity: you can talk to the dead as easily as you talk to the living.

So, I don't think he's particularly interested in history at all: he tends to move straight from human individuals to the mystical.

Article does make some good points about the way the grim, angsty Eighties comics were a temporary phase for him, but seem to have become a dull cliché in mainstream comics.
Watchmen, an unsurpassed revisionist superhero narrative, was a further progression in Moore's historiographic vision, but it was received by the comics industry as an invitation to abandon the past and transform superheroes into violent, amoral killers as a means of making comics more "realistic" and appealing to new readers.
...
Moore's work in the twenty-first century, while continuing to explore the themes begun in the 1980s and 1990s, does so with an eye towards maintaining the imaginative, pleasurable possibilities of comic books, of enriching the particular fun inherent in the form, and this is no doubt why Moore is the consummate collaborator: he writes out of a love for the form and for its history, and with an appreciation of the strengths of every artist with whom he works, tailoring his scripts to their particular styles of illustration. I suggest, finally, that it is in the pleasure, in the fun of comics that Moore sees its most liberating, utopian possibilities.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:51 AM on August 15, 2008


Moreover, by including three adjectives where none would suffice, the sentence in question displays the "Moe, Larry, and Curly" fallacy of overuse of modifiers.

Firstly, the 3 adjectives mean three different things. Secondly, without any adjectives, the sentence makes no sense.
posted by empath at 6:33 AM on August 15, 2008


Cheer up, empath. I think your article is good!

Seriously, though, Promethea is well worth a read, but Moore created it for a pretty specific purpose: it's an introduction to the Ceremonial Magic tradition (Golden Dawn, mostly) that happens to be done in comic book form. It's very didactic. Think Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics for the Aleister Crowley set. The art is pretty glorious, though, and having read several books about Qabalah, Western mysticism, etc., I think Promethea is probably the best introduction to the basic principles and symbolism that I've ever come across.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:26 AM on August 15, 2008


I love Alan Moore. He and Eddie Campbell are about the only comics people I've ever been nervous about meeting. (He's a darling, by the way...a perfectly charming, wonderful man...did I mention I love him?)

He is spooky brilliant, and quite possibly one of the most original thinkers of his generation. His language is precisely chosen for effect. He can do more with 50 words than almost any other living writer. He is a god of English. Did I mention I love him? Cause, ya know...I do. I know I'm pretty subtle most of the time, so sometimes it's hard to miss how I feel about things.
posted by dejah420 at 9:38 AM on August 15, 2008


Again, I mainly like the hitting. It's interetsing and could probably do with a deeper re-reading, but Promethea coming to an end was actually a bit of a relief for me.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on August 15, 2008


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