Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jacob Is Lost (plus: comics and genocide)

I never saw an episode of Lost (I was exhausted just watching the eight-minute recap at the beginning of season six), but I know enough about how the nerd mind works to trust that Jacob Levy is correct in his angry comments about the finale, which makes them an amusing read (being ignorant can be very entertaining).  It sounds like the show was about as complex as online social networking (which I’m planning to start doing soon — but in the meantime catch me at Lolita in NYC tonight at 8 for the Shakespeare historicity debate or at Vermilion in Old Town Alexandria Sunday at 1).

Jacob’s rant is no doubt how comic book nerds like me sound to normal people if we go on too long.  But once in a while a comics nerd says something so pithy and wise that it should become one’s new slogan or be engraved on a monument, and I think that’s the case with these profoundly true words, which I recently saw on an official DC Comics chatboard:

thats how it works in the WWE

first make the wrestler said a bunch of stupid things like he is better than everyone and in the next moment he is cheating ppl and having a bald girlfriend

is just the same on comics

first they kill his daughter, then he uses drugs and acts like an ass and in any moment is resetting time or trying to conquer the multiverse

As Thor or Shakespeare or Obama’s jester might say: verily.

One reason mainstream book publishers are awed by comics, Ali Kokmen tells me, is that comics bring loyal readers into the store to buy new stuff as it hits shelves every Wednesday.  Regular book publishers can only dream of that sort of loyalty (or look with envy upon the Harry Potter juggernaut).  I’m reminded of the story of a ruler who was shaken and frightened upon first hearing that Muslims (Ali’s ancestors) pray simultaneously across the world, since he realized that a mighty unity-inspiring new force had appeared.

While I’m giving rare props to Islam, let me add that an interesting article by John Myhill in Vol. 22, No. 1 of Critical Review makes the very interesting case that the real problem in the Middle East is not Muslims vs. non-Muslims but Arabs vs. non-Arabs, with Islamism just the latest tool in that conflict — with pan-Arabism following a pattern similar to that of German and Turkish unification, those being the only other two cases in modern times of a nation concocted out of a common language, with all three cases leading to frustration and a sense of humiliation over the continued geographic separateness of the various subgroups of the language’s speakers (and defeat in wars), soon followed by genocide against those perceived to be in the way of unity.  People need to be more comfortable with social fluidity, clearly.  Humanity’s still getting the hang of it.


Eric Hanneken said...

Sometimes non-investments turn out to be highly profitable. I didn’t buy a house during the real estate mania earlier this decade, and I stopped watching Lost partway through the first episode. In retrospect those were good decisions, although I had my doubts along the way.

Gerard said...

It’s an interesting point, because Islam is a uniquely Arabcentric ideology. In order to read the Koran properly you need to completely understand Arabic, and the two most venerated cities are located on the Arabian peninsula.

Irshad Manji recounts an interesting anecdote in her polemic/memoir about growing up as an East Indian/African Moslem in Canada, where a group of Bengali students who came to protest against her appearance on a college campus suddenly realize that the person leading them-an Arab from the Middle East-detests them.

There are similar tales in works of fiction loosely based on real events, e.g. My Son, The Fanatic, White Teeth, East is East, but the fact that this anecdote is based on a real, observed incident crystallizes the concept of hierarchy in Islam, and gives the lie to the notion that all Moslems are created equal in the eyes of “Allah.”

Dave said...

I actually compare Lost to the illumanatus trilogy – not because it’s nearly as dense, but because it teases conspiracy story fans with references that could mean something but ultimately don’t (or do they?). The finale aired on 5/23 (not it’s regular night). They sat at table 23, and Jack’s “number” was 23. So, while that all adds up to a big cup of “so what?” It’s sort of like a cameo from the number 23 for conspiracy story buffs.

There is an episode with a live and a dead version of a character named John Locke – standing next to a giant foot. This is probably (I think) a reference to the philosophical conundrum of Locke’s Sock – a derivation of the Ship of Thebeus (in essence, the question is which is the real John Locke) Again, this leads to not answering the question, “so what” to the greater (or even lesser) story. But if you like spotting things like that, Lost was fun.