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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

OBJECTS GIVEN LUSTER PT. 2

In OBJECTS GIVEN LUSTER from December 2014, I toyed with the conceit that all of my persona-types could be applied to non-sentient focal presences, addressing a science-fiction tale published by DC Comics story in 1959:

[The story's] focus is the spectacle of an entire world resounding with titanic "tick-tock" sounds, by which planetary doom is averted. This trope loosely aligns the "Tick-Tock World" with the agon of the heroic figure, though I would hesitate to classify this particular focal presence as a "hero."

I'm glad that I added the word "loosely," for the more thought I gave to the matter, the more I came to the conclusion that it was impossible, even in fiction, for a non-sentient presence to be either a hero or a villain. One of my earliest comments on the subject of the persona-types was to the effect that the types I call "heroes" and "villains" were, in Milton's words, "sufficient to stand"-- or to fall, if they so choose. In contrast, the other two types, "monsters" and "demiheroes" are governed by what I've called "existential will," in that they cannot transcend their existence. Further, my association of the "Tick-Tock World's" protective function failed to take into account that the world does not choose to do anything, protective or otherwise; the fact that its physical nature staves off "planetary doom" is merely part of the planet's exotic nature. Therefore, it is as much of a "demihero" as "the Destroyed Earth," the other passive environment discussed in the 2014 essay; the former planet is simply one that manages, even passively, to erect a defense that the other world cannot, much as I've frequently shown sentient demiheroes like Jonathan Harker managing to defend themselves against monsters like Dracula.


And what of the other persona, the monster? Well, I briefly touched on Rene Clair's silent film THE CRAZY RAY for purpose of contrast, saying that, unlike the Destroyed Earth, the focal presence of the Crazy Ray really was the source of "chaos on a global scale," and that in itself would argue a similitude with the persona of the monster. This also applies to other non-sentient phenomena that get out of control, whether they are objects created by man (the mystic statue of the Chimera, seen in this TOMB OF DRACULA story) or have come into being through geologic processes, like the natural wind-tunnel from the serial PERILS OF NYOKA, discussed here. If they possess what I've termed "negative persistence" in excess of their potential for "positive persistence," then they are concepts analogous to monsters; if the converse, they are concepts analogous to demiheroes. Further, most of the "worlds gone wrong" that inhabit science fiction are analogous to monsters, in part because they breed monsters. The Morlocks of Wells' TIME MACHINE and the Mutates born in the film WORLD WITHOUT END-- both discussed here-- would qualify for this persona, as would the Cursed Earth with which Judge Dredd contends in this myth-comics story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MYTHCOMICS: THE MAGICIAN'S WIFE (1986)



"Nothing ever happens without Dolores."-- offhand dialogue from minor character.

Since the name Dolores means "sorrows" or "sadness," writer Jerome Charyn may have meant to convey that sadness was an inevitable aspect of the human condition or some such. It's a reasonable assumption, but I have to admit that one can't make that good a case for such a theme in the American author's collaboration with French artist Francois Boucq. THE MAGICIAN'S WIFE won the Fauve d'Or prize at Angouleme in 1986, and the stand-alone album, after being out of print for many years, has recently resurfaced from Dover Publications, though I'm reviewing here the 1987 edition published by Catalan.

Though Boucq's highly detailed art is beyond reproach, Charyn's script is never as clever as he seems to think it is. I've not read any of Charyn's fiction, but in his introduction to the Catalan edition, the author makes clear that he idolizes the French approach to "bandes desinees." This may be a reason why, although WIFE does qualify as a genuine mythcomic, the writer shows, like many French comics-practitioners, a cavalier attitude toward the little details that add to a strong symbolic discourse.



Still, WIFE shows an admirable psychological structure. Within the first few pages of the album, the reader is introduced to a group of characters living in a house in 1956 Saratoga. Rita, a girl of perhaps ten, is being raised by her mother, a widow following the death of her husband in Korea. The unnamed mother works as a maid in the house of a reasonably well-to-do family. However, all the reader knows about the lady of the house is that she gardens all the time, while the lady's husband never seems to come down off the roof he's repairing. The couple's one child, an adult named Edmund, plans to become a professional magician, and the action remains at the house only long enough to establish the relationship between the chimerical Edmund, little Rita, and Rita's mother.

Modern politically correct readers would no doubt be disturbed by Edmund's teasing of Rita, claiming that he plans to marry her someday. It's obvious, though, that Edmund is not a follower of Humbert Humbert, for he never makes any inappropriate approaches to Rita when she's a child. Rita doesn't fully trust Edmund or his predictions of their future relationship, but she's even less than pleased when she happens to spy on Edmund making love to Rita's mother.


Edmund gets his way: not only does he become a successful magician, he talks Rita's mother into coming along, whereupon both mother and daughter become part of the act. In contrast to real stage magic, Edmund does seem to possess some sort of supernatural pipeline, but only when working with Rita, who becomes the star of his show. Predictably, as Rita comes into the bloom of adolescence, her mother's looks wither and eventually Edmund wants to send the older woman away. Rita alternates between being captivated by Edmund's charms and remaining loyal to her mother, but as Edmund predicted in her childhood, the sense of erotic interest wins to some extent. However, not long after Edmund marries Rita, Rita's mother passes away. Rita, racked by guilt, flees Edmund and his magic act, taking a job as a waitress in a New York coffeehouse.


Nevertheless, Rita is unable to forget her "demon lover," and begins imagining him in place of other men she encounters. Complicating things further is that during one of the magical performances, Edmund apparently unleashed a "werewolf spirit" in Rita-- and now, far from his control, mysterious bloody murders begin transpiring in New York. Though there is a relatively mundane solution to the murder-mystery- a solution provided by a French detective who seems to know more than he should about Rita's history with Edmund-- Rita finally decides that she has to find out what's happened to her husband. Oddly, amid all the suggestions of violence and perversity, the two are reunited in a relatively upbeat conclusion, though nevertheless I tend to view MAGICIAN'S WIFE as belonging to the Fryean mythos of the irony.



The fact that the name "Dolores" is sprinkled throughout the story indicates that Charyn wanted it to signify something, though it may have been no more than a private in-joke. It's first used as the name of a Saratoga jockey's horse, but it seems to have some special meaning to Little Rita. Charyn also attributes the name to an unseen maid who finds the body of Rita's deceased mother, and to a strange sorceress who holds Edmund in thrall. Still, this motif is undeveloped, as is Charyn and Boucq's view of magic. Since they remain non-committal on the subject of whether Edmund and Rita's magic is real or illusion, WIFE doesn't sustain any metaphysical myths. However, the psychological relationship between Rita and Edmund does achieve a mythic status, and so MAGICIAN'S WIFE succeeds in that department.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

BEAT COMMENT #33 1/3

Responding to THIS item:


If, as the essay says, it's true that Marvel's Valkyrie and Grandmaster characters are even temporarily popular, it has nothing to do with how good they are, as characters. I for one think they're godawful. I like how the script skirts the fact that Imitation Valkyrie has evidently been capturing people to die in Grandmaster's games for some good little time, But hey, she can't be implicated in slavery and murder, because she represents GIRL POWER!

No, they're popular because Marvel knows how to sell even a crappy script with loads and loads of humor. People remember enjoying the laughs in RAGNAROK and so everything is ennobled thereby. This is the mainstreaming advantage of the MCU that the DCEU didn't quite get, Joss Whedon's belated employment notwithstanding.

Frankly, I think Geoff Johns is probably part of that problem, but that's me.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

MYTHCOMICS: "SHE TRIED HER OWN ON" (DOMINA NO DO PART 35, 2008?)

Though I've devoted a number of mythcomics to the topic of sexuality, none of the comics I've addressed deal with the act of sex itself, but with sexuality as it occurs within culture, usually in such genres as adventure and romantic drama. Sex itself-- which I talk about under the blog-label "sex" rather than 'sexuality"-- is, within the literary continuum, primarily a cosmological phenomenon, in that it deals with bodily functions. Sex can also have, in literary works, psychological, sociological and metaphysical connotations, but most of these are manifested within the corpus of "sexuality."

What people commonly call pornography is literature that focuses primarily upon some aspect of the sex act. The acts depicted may be "hardcore" or "softcore." In my estimation the more specific the work is about the specificity of the sex act, the less it is about the symbolic discourse surrounding the plot and characters involved. However, I have found at least one exception, thanks to a writeup on TV Tropes.



So far as I can tell, DOMINA NO DO is an original manga work, written by one "Zappa Go" and illustrated by Sankichi Meguro. It's a comedy-romance in the "hentai" style. Most of the material in its 41 chapters is softcore, along the line of LOVE HINA, but there are a few scenes are close to hardcore, though in Japan there are still various restrictions on what is shown. Part 35 displays these restrictions, for even though it's a comic take on the differences between male and female sex organs, a lot of the imagery is adumbrated through devices such as dream-imagery.

Some quick backstory: average high-school youth Takeshi is abducted and taken to a private estate owned by an insanely rich family, the Dominas. He learns that the oldest daughter, Hikari, is a previous acquaintance, with whom he enjoyed a brief friendship back in grade school. However, teenaged Hikari has recently been encouraged by her parents-- a practicing sadist/masochist couple-- to make a marriage of convenience. Desperate to avoid an arranged marriage, Hikari convinces her parents that she still holds a deep romantic longing for her childhood friend. Since her parents are both rich and insane, they more or less buy Takeshi from his worthless middle-class parents-- who almost completely disappear from the narrative-- and make him their permanent "guest' in their capacious mansion.

Most of the stories in DOMINA are, despite their hentai aspects, pretty typical comedy-romance. Obviously, once Hikari is forced to remain in close propinquity to Takeshi, she begins to relate to him as a human being more than as a possession. And in Chapter 35, this is exploited for comic effect with regard to one of Freud's favorite tropes: what he termed "penis envy."



Because the Dominas are super-rich, they have access to all sorts of mystical resources. Hikari, despite having seen Takeshi's penis and having deemed it less than impressive, has dreams in which an incredibly well-hung Takeshi advances on her. She wakes up before anything happens in her dream, and she theorizes that it's because in a previous adventure she seemed to witness Takeshi making love to another girl. Adding to her distress is the fact that she sees Takeshi socializing with Hikari's twin sister Kageri, which threatens her potential relationship with the young man. 



Hikari's youngest sister Akari and one of the estate's many maids observe Hikari sulking around, and for some reason decide she needs a lesson in male sexuality. Then, when that doesn't seem to soothe Hikari's adolescent sensibility, her grandmother decides to let her walk a mile with male equipment. Not only does this mean that she has to adjust to new bathroom habits, she even gets to find out what it feels like for a male to get busted in the balls. Since she did that very thing to Takeshi in the previous adventure, this causes her to experience a degree of guilt, and for the first time, she tenders an apology to Takeshi, who can barely understand the change in Hikari's attitude. The grandmother then takes off the spell, and everything goes back to normal-- except that Hikari has one more comic dream. I won't describe the dream, which almost seems like a direct refutation of Freud.



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

NOBODY EXPECTED THE SEXUAL INQUISITION

I just posted this short diatribe on CBR Community:

What a tool John Oliver is:
“Because it is reflective of who you [Dustin Hoffman) were, if it happened, and you’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen, then there was a period in time, for a while, when you were creepier around women. So it feels like a cop-out to say, well, this isn’t me. Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”
I like how the media whores are focusing on a single clip from the panel that makes it sound like Oliver won the argument, when in fact, Hoffman made a very cogent defense of his position; that he was willing to apologize for possible offense but that he didn't appreciate being judged simply because somewhat made an allegation. It's pretty obvious that there was no "evidence" that Hoffman could have given that would have pleased this rabid witch-hunter.
I'm so glad I never thought he was funny in his Daily Show appearances.

As yet I haven't seen a complete transcript of the remarks Hoffman and Oliver made to each other at a function given by the Tribeca Film Institute, but here's one of the partial breakdowns. Youtube has a few films of the event, but either they're incomplete or the sound gets bad at some point.

I haven't had the occasion to rail against the abuses of ultraliberals on the subject of sexuality since July's HOW TO HANDLE A TOXIC MALE. Thus I've had no occasion to address what's now being called the Weinstein Effect, which came about following the investigation into Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual abuses in October 2017.

While the investigation of Weinstein has been so well documented that it's clearly justified, one can't say the same of most of the "Me Too" brigade. Another of Oliver's idiocies is his claim that Hoffman's accuser "has no reason to lie." This shows an absurd ignorance of the way human beings operate in the real world. The ultraliberal narrative would have people believe that every single person-- whether male or female, hetero or homo-- is crying "Me Too" because they couldn't speak at the time due to fear of recriminations. Oliver apparently cannot even countenance the idea that people might lie, or at least exaggerate, in order to feel validated. Just as soldiers have lied about their martial exploits in order to be seen as heroes, Franken's accusers have by this time been exposed to dozens upon dozens of celebrations of the "courage" of the women who came forward, no matter how belatedly. I don't doubt that Al Franken may indeed have smooched or groped a woman without her consent at least once in his life. But is that really "sexual abuse," and does it justify the senator's resignation-- which, it has been alleged, may transpire soon?

Leeann Tweeden, the radio host who made the first allegation against Franken, got an apology-- though not a confession-- from Franken in response. Her response was to read it on an episode of THE VIEW on November 17, and thus she joined the ranks of women who had suffered in silence, but who would now display their immense courage by giving testimony against powerful men who could no longer hurt them. In the course of the interview she claimed that she was not calling for Franken's resignation. She claimed that what she was attacking was not comparable in any way to lesser sexual approaches, claiming, "I don't want men to be afraid to talk to women at a bar."  Another VIEW lady chimed in by saying something about how men had to learn how to seduce a woman, and though Tweeden isn't responsible for that remark, I think she and the women of THE VIEW are on the same page in having unrealistic expectations about men.

Make no mistake: actual rape is a crime. But the things Tweeden described Franken doing, while also illegal, were not in the realm of forced sexual assault. Based on Tweeden's descriptions, they amoun to little more than attempts by a male to get a female in the mood. They are, to be sure, supremely stupid ways for men to romance women, and they almost always fail, since women don't as a rule "get in the mood" in this fashion. I'm not defending these lame attempts at seduction, but they simply should not be considered to be as invasive as rape. They are crimes at the time they occur, but are they crimes over a decade later?

Clearly the moral logic of a "statute of limitations" does not affect the court of public opinion, and now a senator, one who seems to have promoted good works in his governmental career, must be judged guilty over acts he MAY have committed years ago.

And that's how the Sexual Inquisition works.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

MYTHCOMICS: "WORLD WAR III" (JLA #36-41, 1999-2000)

Last week I devoted a mythcomics essay to a THOR arc in order to purge the bad memory of THOR: RAGNAROK. In contrast, the JUSTICE LEAGUE film, released the week after the THOR flick, provided a much stronger translation of a comic-book concept, in this case of DC's most venerable team-feature. So this week's essay is more in the nature of celebration than of catharsis.



The JUSTICE LEAGUE comics title of the 1960s has never received a lot of respect even among Silver Age comics-fandom, and one reason may be that the early comic, for several years written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Mike Sekowsky, is perceived as being too "old school." Most team-features in both the Golden and the Silver Ages followed what I'll call a "plot-based model," in which "character moments" are kept to a minimum, as the author concentrates on the events of the plot, usually showing how the members of the team work to overcome some common enemy. The plot-model seems like an easy row to hoe, as indicated by countless spoofs of the model, but DC Comics pursued it almost exclusively, even when Marvel Comics in the 1960s advanced a "character-based model" that over time become the dominant paradigm.

Both models have their weaknesses. The character-model lends itself to bathetic soap-opera, which in modern comics has further degenerated into allegedly arty bathos. The plot-model often depended not on symbolically rigorous concepts but on weak contrivances. This vacuity dominates most of the Silver Age team-books-- BLACKHAWK, CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN, SEA DEVILS, and RIP HUNTER TIME MASTER  Fox's JUSTICE LEAGUE was one of the plot-modeled team-features of the Silver Age to overcome the model's limitations, for Fox was largely responsible for making the League's adventures all about the heroes' experience of "the sense of wonder." Only a few of the Fox-Sekowsky adventures are symbolically dense enough to qualify as mythcomics, as I've shown with "Secret of the Sinister Sorcerers" and "The Justice League's Impossible Adventure." But aside from a few clunking null-myths, such as "The Plague That Struck the Justice League," most of the Fox oeuvre offers at least strongly conceived "near myths." In fact, the current JUSTICE LEAGUE movie approaches its team-building story in much the same way that Fox launched the original series.

Prior to Grant Morrison's run on the JUSTICE LEAGUE title, few raconteurs on the book showed Fox's penchant for the sense of wonder. There were some uneasy attempts to shift the feature in the direction of the character-model-- "Justice League Detroit," anyone? But Morrison, aided by the pencil-work of Howard Porter, is the first author to exploit the original plot-model for all that it was worth, as well as providing enough "character-moments" to make his project palatable to Marvel-ized tastes.

Seventeen years before the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, Grant Morrison also sought to devise a bridge between the wonder-scape of Fox's JLA and that of Jack Kirby's slightly later "Fourth World." Morrison was far from the first raconteur to provide a crossover between the superheroes and the "science fiction quasi-deities" of Kirby's universe, but he seems to be the first who understood how to get the best out of both worlds. Kirby's Fourth World cosmos is very different in tone than the Fox-scape, but the two are fundamentally both indebted to the "plot-model," and Morrison alone found a way to meld the two aesthetics. The current film only achieves this synthesis once or twice, but then, the filmmakers were primarily concerned with introducing the heroes, and the film's use of Fourth World characters and concepts is much more scattershot.

Morrison crossed over Kirby's "New Gods' and the JLA in his arc "Rock of Ages," but this, while a great deal of fun, wasn't nearly as mythically resonant as the author's final arc in his tenure, "World War III." Earlier issues also introduced the League to the champions of "Wonder-World," which in essence was a Mount Olympus for superheroes who had evolved to the level of gods. However, the gist of the story was to pit the League and some of Kirby's New Gods-- Orion, Metron, Mister Miracle and Big Barda-- against a seemingly unstoppable threat, the Wonder-World champions were primarily created to be the victims of the new menace.



The menace is Maggedon, the Anti-Sun, a non-sentient weapon created by "the Old Gods" who, in Kirby's cosmology, preceded the newer super-deities. Mageddon escapes its exile at the end of space-time and destroys the Wonder-World heroes by emitting radiations that fill the heroes with rage and despair, so that they murder one another. That done, the super-weapon then makes a beeline for Earth. and as it approaches, the world undergoes the first symptoms of Maggedon's influence. Nations begin gearing up for a world war, and even the Justice League's regular villains become pawns of the extraterrestrial invader. Said villains include master planner Lex Luthor, who helmed an analogous bad guy-group in "Rock of Ages," and two old Fox-fiends, the Queen Bee and a substantially revamped Shaggy Man. For good measure, Morrison adds a villain he created in earlier issues of this tenure: Prometheus, a computer-nerd gone berserk.

Yet, although this is clearly a plot-heavy continuity, forcing the Leaguers and their allies to prevent a war opening up on multiple fronts, Morrison doesn't neglect the "character moments." The evildoer Prometheus plays the part of Faust to the League's long-crippled intelligence gatherer, Barbara "Oracle" Gordon, offering her the chance to walk again if she betrays the good guys. The then-current Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, experiences a crisis of self-confidence, and the angel Zauriel-- allegedly Morrison's substitute for an unavailable Hawkman-- must remonstrate with his fellow angels to coax them to come to mankind's aid. Morrison gets a lot of humorous mileage out of the sometimes manic Plastic Man, but even characters who aren't overly funny get good lines. These include Kyle Rayner telling Luthor that he's being "outsmarted by a giant eyeball," and even the brutal Shaggy Man referring to Orion as "Mr. 'Was-God-an-Astronaut.'" Morrison crafts strong moments for all of the heroes, and even strives, in his use of the New Gods, to pepper their dialogue with Kirby-ish touches, like calling Maggedon's interior "techno-active."





At the same time Morrison knows that the "friendly enemies" relationship of DC's most iconic characters, Superman and Batman, lies at the core of the modern JLA. The climax of WAR involves Superman trying to defeat Mageddon directly, with the result that the super-machine enslaves him. There's more than the suggestion of Biblical imagery here, in that Metron poetically describes Maggedon as "dragging its broken chains across the stars"-- and during Superman's captivity, he carries much of the resonance of Samson chained in the Temple of Dagon. One panel even makes Superman's eyes look overshadowed, as if he might be as blind as Samson, though this may have been no more than a fortuitous accident.


Maggedon enslaves Superman by filling him with a despair that plays on the hero's sense of "survivor guilt." Batman, speaking to the hero through a telepathic link, essentially "out-guilts" the machine, causing the Man of Steel to rally and to defeat the Anti-Sun with his own solar-based powers: the "positive sun" besting the "negative sun."



I should note in closing that though Morrison pays full respect to Kirby's Fourth World, the later author places a lot more emphasis on the idea of humankind's evolutionary destiny, which, in essence, argues that everyone can be a superhero. The author's meditations on metaphysical evolution are arguably better worked out in the later "Being Bizarro" sequence from ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. Nevertheless, I can find no substantive flaws in Morrison's homage to the wonder-working proclivities of the Silver Age JUSTICE LEAGUE, which, like all good homages, is as much about what the modern author likes as the thing being homaged.




Wednesday, November 29, 2017

BLAZING RATIOCENTRISM

Like many if not all comics-readers, Alan Moore's 2007 BLACK DOSSIER was the first time I'd ever heard of THE BLAZING WORLD, a utopian fiction published in 1666 by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle. From what I've read online, Cavendish's work has only been revived in the last decade or so by feminist scholars.

I've now read THE BLAZING WORLD, though not any of Cavendish's other works, most of which tended to fall into the format of Renaissance-era philosophical discourses. WORLD's level of philosophical thought feels fairly derivative of the Greek and Roman authors then being re-discovered in Europe, supplemented by a few tropes dear to the heart of English aristocrats, such as the topic of aristocratic rule. It's probably not fair to judge Cavendish by WORLD alone, since utopian novels are generally boring affairs, including the 1516 Thomas More work that started the whole thing. But though I can validate feminist academia's project to reclaim lost female voices from the days of a dominant patriarchy, I have my doubts, based on WORLD, that Cavendish ranks as more than a curiosity. Certainly it's silly to deem WORLD "the first science-fiction novel," just because Cavendish's utopian otherworld includes SF-tropes like hybrid animal-men. If you're going to judge a work as science fiction simply because of the presence of such tropes, then Cavendish is obviously still a long way from first, out-firsted by the classical author Lucian of Samosata. It's possible that the main reason Moore referenced Cavendish was because of the work of those aforesaid feminist scholars, because there's not a lot of common ground between the respective themes of Moore and Cavendish.

In short, Cavendish's WORLD is an example of what I've caused ratiocentrism. Her viewpoint character, a young noblewoman called "the Lady," is precipitated into what SF-authors now call a parallel world. The Lady is instantly married by the Emperor of the Blazing World. As Empress, she's in the position to learn about all the government and philosophy of her new realm, though there's never much of an explanation about the otherworld's most prominent feature: humanoids with animal aspects, such as "bird-men," "bear-men," and, perhaps most improbably, "lice-men." All of the animal-men have particular societal functions, which sounds like a simple restatement of the Great Chain of Being, as re-formulated by European Christian scholars. This is one of the things that seems least like Alan Moore's anarchic system of belief, and though he puts the animal-men into his version of the Blazing World, he doesn't assign them any particular thematic function. Either he or artist Kevin O'Neill did stick in a cameo shot of one moderately famous insect-man: "Turan," mentor to the Simon and Kirby Silver Age character "the Fly."

I believe that Moore's re-use of the Blazing World is in essence just another synonym for the occult concept of "the astral plane," on which Moore had already descanted in his 1999 PROMETHEA series for ABC Comics. But whereas Moore is fascinated with the influence of the irrational upon human thought and desire, Cavendish clearly falls into the category of reason-worship. In one section, the Empress rails against the abstruse syllogisms of the realm's logicians, who are satirically pictured as descended from magpies, jackdaws, and parrots. The Empress says:

I have enough, said she, of your chopped logic, and will hear no more of your syllogisms, for it disorders my reason, and puts my heart on the rack; your formal argumentations are able to spoil all natural wit; and I'll have you to consider: that art does not make reason, but reason makes art, and therefore as much as reason is above art, so much is a natural rational discourse to be preferred above an artificial: for art, is for the most part, irregular, and disorders men's understandings more than it rectifies them, and leads them into a labyrinth whence they'll never get out...

In the end, though the Empress does not forbid the bird-men to carry on their logic-chopping, she stresses that they need to keep these labyrinthine meditations to themselves, rather than letting them escape to cause societal unrest with the greater populace. I think I'm justified in seeing the long shadow of Plato-- or rather, of his own fictional utopia, the Republic-- as having provided the better part of Cavendish's ideas about reason's precedence over art.

I don't know exactly why Moore chose to allude to Cavendish's concept, though it may be largely because she's a female creator from the generation immediately after that of Shakespeare, whose influence is much more significant in DOSSIER. I strongly doubt that Moore worships reason as Plato' and Cavendish do, given that Moore concludes DOSSIER by talking about what I termed 'the opposition between "matter's mudyards" and the "radiant synthesis" of this multi-story mashup.' But then, no author ever really adapts another author with complete fidelity. Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of HAMLET is really Kenneth Branagh's HAMLET, not Shakespeare's, Steve Ditko's SPIDER-MAN is nothing like the raw Simon-Kirby concept with which Ditko started, and Alan Moore's idea of THE BLAZING WORLD is only minimally connected with that of Margaret Cavendish.