Notes towards a re-engagement with THE INVISIBLES hyper-sigil // a few thoughts on a quick reading of DEAD BEATLES and the DOWN & OUT IN HEAVEN & HELL story arc // (working from the TPB SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION)
DEAD BEATLES page 29, judge sentencing Dane: “senseless crime which went far beyond the limits of what might be regarded as legitimate youthful rebellion against authority”. Implies the existence of sensible crimes and affirms the existence of a legitimate, Machine-approved “rebellion”. When everyone’s a rebel (or, alternatively “special/awesome!” and if you haven’t read ‘HELLO I’M SPECIAL: How Individuality Became the New Conformity’ by Hal Niedzviecki yet, do so!) how can true rebellion be achieved?
Throughout the DOWN & OUT story arc, there are a number of comparitively subtle 4th wall breakages that, taken in context with the series as a whole, and GMs statements re: THE INVISIBLES as a hyper-sigil/call-to-arms to create/recruit (existing) Invisibles, are in fact quite punchy. Outstanding examples: first splash page in Part 1, Dane: “Got any change, Mister?”, KM in Part 2 (TPB p76, middle panel): “One day, when you least expect it, we’ll be there,” as in ‘how bout right now, as you’re reading this?’, Tom with a threat/promise (p91) “I’m a nightmare, boy... one holy fucking terror”, as good a descriptor (Holy. Fucking. Terror.) for THE INVISIBLES as I can imagine, and of course, the readers own initiatory experience with the white/blank page as Dane looks into the badge that’s bloodying his palm. That’s ours as much as his, and perhaps not subtle at all, UNTIL you compare and contrast with Dane and KM (p120) in the top panel: “What if I don’t want to join?” “You joined a long time ago. But if you don’t want to come with us now, if you don’t want to find out more about what this is all about, you’re free to go your own way. You might just survive.” Yeah, we could put the book down, but then again, he’s stating a truth: we joined all right, back on p95. If not long before, when THE INVISIBLES was just a fever gleam in GMs eye.
“Carlos Casteneda, these are your children,” Boy says, ages away in Volume 2, and here in DOWN & OUT Part 2 we see Don Juan rearing his inscrutable old head in Tom’s sorcerous teaching methods, from the “assemblage point shift” accomplished with a blow to Dane’s back (or that point on his ‘luminous egg body’, perhaps? p80) to the first panel (p85): “All of my teachings are done on this level of consciousness,” to the remarkable sequence of three panels (p90) in which Tom tweaks Dane’s path down to the riverbed confrontation with subtle hand gestures. I can’t imagine that these are just the random interpretations of the illustrator, as we know GM plans out his panels with some precision. Now, this I find interesting, because unless you’ve gorged on Casteneda, all these little touches mean nothing: it’s a call-out, a secret-ish handshake across the page barrier, and a reminder to perhaps read THE INVISIBLES as you would read Castaneda? Not as anthropology text/gospel or god forbid a literal grimoire, but as a framework of sociological questions? Either that, or, to paraphrase Jolly Roger (again, ages away in Volume 2) “It just means you’ve read the same stupid paperbacks they have.” Well, it’s both: Dane & Tom in the abandoned underground tunnels (p64) “What’s that there? Ah, somebody’s been down here before us. That’s crap.” “Guardian of this shrine. Totem and protector...”
Stylistic notes: I’ve never been keen on Yeowell’s art (too what’s-the-word? sketchy? When I feel like I could maybe draw about as well with some practice, I tend not to like the artist, but that’s my own Outer Church self-loathing program running, probably), but the covers for DOWN & OUT are brilliant. If I’d seen these covers on the racks, nothing would have stopped me from picking them up. I’ve read since that GM wanted KM to look like the actor Daniel Day Lewis at the start and I can really see that now upon re-reading, particularly in the final panels of Part 3. Which to me says that GM had not yet grokked what he was trying to do with the series. He’s yet to inhabit the fiction-suit of King Mob. Now I’ll be looking for that moment when he does. Which could imply that all those ‘subtle 4th wall breaks’ I was talking about earlier were not, in fact, deliberate, and I am merely seeing pattern and meaning because I want to. Or is it the story that manifests itself as a gestalt even before the writer/channel is aware of it? I’d like to think the latter, myself, ‘cuz apophenia just makes me mad.
Davis, thanks for a) getting me to look up apophenia and for b) getting this rolling! I think we can all have some fun here. Peace, gentlemen.
* * * * *
Scott R Jones -- writer, spoken word artist, naturalized sorcerer
for promotional materials, bio, upcoming shows and excerpts from
The Boy's Own Guide to Sorcery visit www.boysownguidetosorcery.com