Saturday, May 1, 2010

Apostates, Animals, and Comics

I. While I’m content to read a Rand speech today to Columbia students (4pm in Hamilton, Room 303, north of West 114th, near Amsterdam Ave.), some political speakers aim higher.  I heard of one who spent the weekend (if memory serves) addressing a gathering of a thousand libertarian women in Texas (I’m pleased to hear there are that many in the whole country) and a separate gathering of libertarian multimillionaires.

Getting back to Rand, though: in mid-career, she downplayed her indebtedness to Nietzsche (his brand of amoral callousness being evident in her earliest work) — so much so that I remember having a particularly stupid online debate back in the 90s on a listserv called Secular Right (not to be confused with the current site by the same name) with a couple idiot Objectivists who insisted that since Nietzsche is a relativist, Rand couldn’t — not shouldn’t, mind you, but couldn’t — have been influenced by him.  They likewise insisted that Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan could not have been, in turn, influenced by Rand, she being anti-mystical and all, as though one can deductively determine who has read or will read what.  Morons.

But I for one acknowledge Nietzsche’s influence and thought of him not only while preparing for the Rand speech but at an odd moment two days ago: Thursday, I saw a carriage horse standing right next to a pole upon which police had stuck a small, temporary, paper “No Parking” sign.  The horse, apparently disagreeing, tore the sign down and began chewing it.  He may have in him just a bit of the anarchic blood of that horse Nietzsche hugged on the street before going mad.

II. In other animal news:

(A) I can’t help suspecting that the precise form of this headline about a 3,000-pound steer was influenced by the Simpsons character Cletus, the Slack-Jawed Yokel;

(B) my contact at alerts me to the fact that John Derbyshire’s dog is finally being compensated for being bitten by another dog;

and (C) an old dog name Ebonyser, who lives in a nursing home with his elderly owner, got stuck inside a recliner chair and had to be freed by firemen.

III. That incident reminds me that even if this coming Friday’s eagerly anticipated Iron Man 2 does not prove to be fantastic, it’ll likely be cooler than the notorious character who won a contest among comics professionals to create the stupidest character possible: Dog-Welder, who has the power to weld dogs onto people.  I’m not sure if that would work better or worse on someone wearing armor.

Dog-Welder is even stupider than the TV premise that comics creator Kyle Baker once apathetically spat out, off the top of his head, under pressure from TV producers: Ghost Chimp, M.D. I believe the idea is that he was a chimp used in lab experiments who died in a hospital but then wandered its corridors as a ghost, learning the medical and scientific expertise needed to save lives and solve crimes, something like that.

Of course, the stupid comics things that annoy (rather than entertain) are usually moments that suggest the writers and editors aren’t trying to make sense even when dealing with ostensibly-serious characters — like Captain Atom, who I gather recently went insane, attempted to conquer the multiverse, blew up one version of North America and a separate entire universe, but then (in a story written by the unreliable James Robinson) smoothed it all over and returned to his usual status as a beloved hero via a puff piece in the Daily Planet, which reminded everyone he’s basically a great guy and thereby “coerced” everyone into forgetting his past, via the power of mass media.  And by everyone, they mean fans who make the mistake of paying attention.  So best not to.  Better to just enjoy Iron Man for a couple hours.

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