Theory and Practice – Learning – Providence – Rising – Expenses – The Road – Girding – The Authorities – Rogues, a story – with some Halloween recommendations, and thoughts about endings and conclusions (The following is a work of satire. The people and events depicted, including those based on real people and events, are all entirely fictional.)
Rogues is the first part in a kind of extended prelude, and my first attempt at a more or less straight forward space opera style science fiction story. I say more or less because it is still only a parody, and if that’s not readily apparent it is only because I am by inclination at least as much nerd as parodist. Also, in addition to this month’s selection of Notes, you can read a pair from the upcoming second volume at Burr, alongside the work of other, more talented writers. This is an effort led by graciously Joshua Rothes, mentioned here before, and one that is hoping to expand its membership.
*If you’re looking for something more in the spirit of the season, OCCULUM is an excellent new magazine focused on weird fiction and poetry.
*It was about this time last year that I began reading Hellboy, and I’ve been re-reading it ever since. I had only read the first arc and a collection of short stories before, but wanted to read Hellboy in Hell, the follow-up to the original series, after reading reviews by Sean Collins and Oliver Sava over the previous summer (these contain spoilers, but, for me, probably because I hesitated so long, didn’t do anything reduce its impact), and I got an earlier volume because, quite frankly, I wanted to see Nazis get punched. This is no small part of Hellboy’s appeal. On top of the pleasures specific to Mike Mignola’s genius—writing and art that only get better and more expressive as they grow more spare and abstract; the expert mix of pulp and folk tale—it’s a relief to find those more broadly derived from mainstream superhero comics and Lovecraftian cosmic horror turned against the fascism and racism that have always haunted them. Though, of course, Hellboy in Hell offers something else again.
Both series were conceived as freewheeling, open-ended sagas, more episodic and capable of being stretched out indefinitely, the second perhaps because this had not been achieved with the first. Yet it’s fascinating to read in Mignola’s forewords and afterwords how this intention was invariably thwarted by the creation itself: relatively minor or purely comedic interactions have dire consequences: apocalypse, so often threatened in comics and popular entertainment nowadays, turns out to be unavoidable: responsibility inescapable. The result is, I think, probably the greatest and most genuinely moving of all superhero tales, a genre that rarely offers (usually because it has a vested interest in avoiding) that kind of completeness, to say nothing of transcendence.
*This is not to suggest that conclusion is by any means necessary for satisfaction. If Mignola finds himself inexplicably drawn to the former, David Lynch seems determined to resist it at all costs. I loved The Return, surprisingly enough, even more than I had hoped I would. I was happy with the ending and didn’t intend to go looking for answers since it didn’t occur to me that I needed any. However, I stumbled across this video (it contains spoilers, as do all of the following links), and I’m glad I did, if only because I realized I missed something important watching the last part with the volume too low (it was at the very end, and is at the very end of that video, and it still gives me chills every time I think about it). It also happens to be a fun theory whether you subscribe to it or not, and maybe especially if you can’t quite. There are interpretations ranging from the intuitive to the meta to the racial—so many people catching so many things you had missed or forgotten, and yet the questions only ramify. The most comprehensive dissection I’ve seen is in many ways the diametric opposite of the first, though they both, like so many others (this comment thread is linked to in the previous article, and deserves to be read in full), rely on a distinction between waking and dreaming, even between life and death, that may not be as clear for Lynch.
My own interpretations of the various installments of Twin Peaks tend to be more process-related. I doubt The Return is meant to be solved like a puzzle. I suspect that its looped, symmetrical structure was built (probably with more input from Frost than is typically acknowledged) to spur association and improvisation (we know Lynch is a fan of jazz), to be undermined and chipped away, and perhaps, ultimately, to be torn down altogether in the name of freedom: that is, to demand questioning.
But if we take all these theories and interpretations, mine included, and think of them as filters or lenses, or, better yet, the overlapping circles of a Venn diagram, we can see at the dark center an overriding interest in the nature of good versus evil, and in the constantly evolving relationship between the two. When Lynch says “everything is up to you,” he’s not just saying we get to decide what happened, he’s reminding us that when we decide, as with every act of interpretation, we take a moral stand.
Or on the other hand there’s just this.
Next issue: November 14th (you can find the publishing schedule here)