Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tesla's Wireless Electricity in the Erogenous Zones

Mmkay. Pluto has entered Capricorn. Thank Fucking God, the God of Fucking. Planetary position's as meaningless as everything else, but to go on association, the transformative essence of Pluto applies to the fundamental Structure of our human perspective when in Capricorn. That's neither here nor there, but I guess I have some hopes for certain fundamental changes. I want to change the world to be more accepting so that I don't have to act demonstratively. It's selfish and stupid.

Anyhow, gender identity's been on my mind a lot lately. Of course, I could go on about Batwoman for days. I could talk about how Greg Rucka has written her as a full human being and how that seems so fucking mind-blowing in the reactionary field of superhero comics. I could write about how her scary straight-browed mask offsets the chalk-white skin and blood-red lips, how her body language becomes both intimidating and arousing simultaneously, how White Town's "Your Woman" goes through my head when she flirts with her future Big Ex and future Question, Officer Renee Montoya.

Thing is, I don't know that this should feel as special as it does. I should be more critical of the stilted dialogue during the Baroque Horror of Gotham moments with the Religion of Crime. Frankly, it says something to me about the world that Batwoman doesn't get a title all her own. I can complain that DC Entertainment "should" have done a Batwoman book, but as a retailer, I don't think that it would sell as well as it would within Detective. I'm kind of sad that a character as human as she is seen as new and innovative for a lead role, that LGBTQIA characters most often flesh out ensemble casts as something separate or novel.

There's also the shapeshifter/intersexed character problem that dogs me. "Shapeshifter" as character type seems to carry the dichotomy of Trickster/Sociopath, and, with the exception of a few X-Men or aliens, seem mostly male/masculine in disposition. Mystique, the most high-profile of the feminine shapeshifters in the superhero genre, is a notably oversexed sociopath, all the way to fighting Wolverine while naked and carrying all sorts of phallic artillery. Her callousness seems only portrayed through her cavalier use of sex appeal and through few other outlets. We could argue that it's "part of her character," but she's barely a character in contrast to the potential she has. Secret Invasion, where Earth has been invaded by a shapeshifting species of extraterrestrials, exemplifies this by displaying the War Skrulls as bulky, steroidy Man-Dudes with the ladyshaped ones acting in a more manipulative role. Why does it take so damned long for media to move forward? As much as I love Mad Men, I feel frustrated that a show that takes place in the early 1960s seems more relevant than the most bleeding-edge dramas.

Sure, I get it: it's comic books. Most somatypes are relegated into extremes and visual shorthand due to the limitations of publishing, as well as a given artist's skill. I'm as incapable of living up to Batman's physique as the lady sitting next to me is to Wonder Woman, but with so many opportunities to explore the fallacy of any identity, especially in a genre where identity is writ so large, the stagnation feels like a waste.

Having LGBTQIA characters work in comics would, in my opinion, come through making it less of a big deal. A character's gender identity, or rather gender tendencies, act as window dressing for the person beneath all of those motivations. In the words of Mark Renton, "It has everything to do with aesthetics and fuck all to do with morality." I'm getting kind of tired of two women getting intimate as being seen as "hawt" and marketed toward this weird harem fantasy for the hetero male. Maybe I take all of this too seriously. Maybe it's that focus on sensory intimacy as, well, intimate that makes this whole scenario seem more frustrating than it should be. Maybe I just want the world to change so I don't have to think about how to act like a Man all the fucking time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spitting Out Golden Apple, Rinsing the Mouth Out with Mes.

Unfettered information shrieks through the mind at a terrible pace when stimulated and given little chance to absorb. The focus of the mind narrows to increase the velocity of the information's processing, yet more often than not a bottleneck occurs for those who tend toward a visual-simultaneous information processing method to their mind. The proverbial log jam thus creates anxiety, since the perspective views all of this information building on itself from all angles instead of a single line. Of course, non-physically-oriented anxiety leads to abstract sources for solutions; imaginary cobra problems require imaginary mongooses.

So anyhow, Assassin's Creed II can share some blame for the length of time it's taken between posts, yet it can take a lot of credit for inspiring this Town Madman to rattle his box full of thingamajigs and scream to high heaven once more. The first Assassin's Creed dropped us into the Crusades of the 13th Century CE, highlighting the effect that dogmatic organized religion has had on civilization, primarily for the worse but without being uncouth about it. While the player operates the Assassin Altair (pronounced all tahyEER), the main character of the game is a fellow from 20 minutes into the future, Desmond Miles. The premise comes from a corporation interacting with his memories to find a particular maguffin artifact, the Apple of Eden, presented as a gold sphere that contains all human knowledge (but of course, not all human wisdom). So, Desmond gets into a machine which allows him to operate within his own memories, synchronizing with the actions of his ancestor, Altair. This ancestor in question had, as far as the first game went, very little in the way of personality, and was a bit like Mr. Spock with a hard-on for libertarianism. You had only so much you could do in the first game, and the gameplay eventually became something you had to do to get on with the story... until you beat the game and have the development of a) Desmond developing similar ESP to Altair and b) the entire lab in which Desmond was imprisoned covered in strange glyphs and symbols, most (if not all) of which come from real sources. (Nazca plains animals, Hebrew phrases, Quran scripture, Newgrange spirals, etc).

The second game comes right after the weirdness of the first, and shoves us immediately into a game whose scale goes absolutely berserk in both macrocosm and microcosm. Desmond escapes the corporation to a hideout of others who belong to the Assassin bloodline (or cause or whatever). Their machine's better, of course (cuz it's made by a cute girl! Haw!) and the premise of the current game is Desmond learning through the memories he accesses with this machine the ins and outs of Assassin training.

Now, let's clarify: "Assassin" in this game comes from a hypothesis of a radical, rational humanist sect coming off of the Ismaili sect of Islam, rather than the mercenary. It doesn't overtly recognize the notion that "assassin" was a pejorative epithet of the Ismaili made by opposing sects and picked up by Christian scholars. While the games use history as incredible window dressings for the game, it does digress wildly.

This round, the Assassins cue him up for the career of his ancestor Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Ezio begins as a pugnacious rich kid who isn't quite used to consequence. In contrast to the angular, cold features of Altair, Ezio has rounded, earthy features. The only real mark that possibly sets him as worth mentioning is a from a split lip he received from a rock to the face during a very demonstrative brawl with a rival family. Once the story requires he accept his role as Assassin, he goes through various stages of helplessness. Where he had been used to punching and yelling, he must now work in secret, skulking in crowds and ducking into alleyways to avoid detection. The designers put a lot of work in the subtlety of his emotional shift from extroverted snarls and barks to cautious speech and chilled stares at odd corners of the room.

One of my favorite things on this game is the introduction of money. Not only does Ezio have numerous ways to gain income (completing side quests, treasure hunting, looting bodies, pickpocketing, maintaining his villa) and utilize income (artwork, weapons, throwing money to distract minstrels and guards, hiring courtesans, thieves and mercenaries, bribing town criers), the power money has becomes more emphasized in this game. Most of the targets in this game have more of an economic influence than religious, although the Church still plays a large part of the story. Lorenzo de Medici has a strong connection with the character, and yet he challenges the player's perceptions of their actions. Aside from the assassinations that move the story forward, Lorenzo sends contracts through carrier pigeons to different cities for you to collect and act on. After about five, I began to wonder about these contracts myself, and exactly how many people Lorenzo wanted me to kill for good reason, how many he wanted me to kill for his own purposes, and how many out of pure paranoia. I've stopped doing those missions altogether, and with the amount of things to do, I don't feel that bad about it.

For me, one of the most important features in the game comes from the glyphs hidden throughout the world on important landmarks in Italy, and the Codex pages penned by Altair after the events of the previous game. These unlock computer code written by the previous person to enter the Animus, which opens into puzzles that bring into question contentious moments in human history (Oppenheimer, Gandhi, JFK, Nikola Tesla, Atilla the Hun, etc) This is where we get into the meat of what the game wants to express ideologically. How does a person fight a war against ideas? What will a person find himself willing to do when rational humanism devolves into atheism and nihilism? What is the responsible use of knowledge? How does a person fight a battle against ideas? How do we outgrow civilization and how can we initiate this next stage in our species' evolution?

I feel like Assassin's Creed will be the next Metal Gear series, and I hope that we'll be able to see this kind of sophistication in subject in future games.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Clapping Away the Calluses

Been thinking about Ragnarok. Well, pieces of it, since a person so possessed could write a lifetime's worth of observation and still find themselves wanting in expresion.

Baldur dies by his brother Hodr's hand, while Hodr is in turn killed by Vali, one of Wodan's sons. In some way, Vali seems to represent some form of the a balancing function. With Baldur, the brightness and active illusion gone, Hodr, the action made in ignorance, must pass as well. Loki's whole role in this, although often presented as due to some self-interested malfeasance and malediction toward the consummately useless, yet well-loved Baldur, Loki can also have performed his own function as the External brought Within. Baldur had no songs of his deeds aside from those that prefaced his death, an inevitable yet exceedingly unlikely event. In fact, his whole existence as the impenetrable allowed for the resolution of extreme penetrability. Baldur would not be wounded; Baldur would in fact stop functioning entirely once his impenetrability had been compromised, like the proverbial imperfection of a diamond that blows the whole thing up. Upon his death, the Aesir, the Pillars and Riverbeds of the Wights, could see past the distracting glow of Baldur and see the resolution of their own paradoxes and beings. Of course Wodan had foreknowledge of the situation, existing outside of time after a fashion.

Frey hasn't the chance to resolve anything. Not unlike Baldur, his function is the sacrifice. He relinquished the martial aspect of his libido for the lovin' aspect of his libido. That martial aspect is then writ large as Surt, a big walking Armageddon. Frey as a progenitor analogue, as this will act as resolution, is slain by the destroyer itself, as if to mention this as the point from which no new things will come into being, but instead break down. The aesir, the big mamma-jamma powers of the universe, are little more than cattle that requires culling during Ragnarok.

On the other end, Wodan makes preparations. He prepares not to overcome his demise; that's inevitable. He instead prepares his son, Vidarr. To his son he gives a boot made from all of the excess straps of leather shoes. The superlative nature of the boot allows for a transdimensional quality, as all leather straps, from all time, from all leather shoes, contribute to the strength of this boot, despite these items being seen as castoffs by Those who Make Shoes. This tradition its opposite number in the attention to the fingernails of the dead, said to construct the Poltergeist Ship Naglfar, which carries jotnar and Bad Dead Guys to the final battle. Although both are inevitable, (The giants get there to wreck shit, Vidarr whups Fenrir) the effects of each action come to making the job of one easier, the other harder. A lot of row has been made on Wodan's death at the jaws of Fenrir, some claiming these silly, anthropically biased ideas of this consummate mad god of inspiration and death slipping on blood while flexing his martial muscle against the big wolf. In this instance, we see Wodan submit to become a part of the natural scheme of things, understanding that all of his preparation, all of his searches for wisdom, for enlightenment, for elucidation of the universe all stems to giving back to the universe. His wisdom holds that he remains little more than a snowflake doomed to melt in the persistent churning of events of the World Tree. The Yggdrasill remains the unshakable yet ever-transforming foundation of the universe, and all of our aspects of life further its living process. He has left behind his children, both who present attributes of ascetic sacrifice (Vali, with his ritual squalor, and Vidarr, with his ritual silence).

Everyone's favorite superhero Thor, one would think, would have been pitted against Loki. This is where Comic Book Shaman Ben shrieks in terror as Vitki Ben and his spitting cobra fangs of maledictions toward fanboys and comic book fundamentalism/escapism. The closest imagining I've found for a Thor archetype comes from Brock Samson on the Venture Brothers. Brock's capable of ludicrous feats of violence and sexual prowess, a fully-realized Mars at peace with his capability. His challenges don't come from the act of killing, screwing and his mission, but from elements that keep him from properly killing or screwing as defined by his mission parameters (Expired OSI license to kill, Molotov Cocktease's chastity belt, a nameless henchman he killed resurrected by his charge to create a childlike Venture-stein who reflexively fears him). Brock's role changes upon his quitting both OSI and the Ventures, signified by an exploding robot. Hidden killers, such as poison and explosives, fall under the scales of Jormundgandr, the World Serpent. Thor faces off with his own capability to kill, with his own Zen sense of the world (all Thor needs is his hammer, all Brock needs is his knife) as an extension of himself. Jormundgandr represents the barrier between this individual sense of control and the actual external world. Once this barrier breaks (through repeated hammer blows) the imperceivable, undodgable, unblockable poison seeps in and the greater unity reabsorbs Thor, who takes nine steps, one for each world in the cosmological model of the Norse. Not unlike Wodan, Thor has left behind children. Magni comes from inborn strength, using one's proclivities to move forward. Modi comes from the sheer desire to reconcile a conflict, using otherwise adverse reactions to achieve victory. Thrud, Thor's daughter, seems a mystery. Her name means "Power," in the most basic terms. Her name has been included amongst the Valkyries, and she may have acted as a feminine analog to Thor to universalize a concept socially confined to one set of plumbing. The children of Thor and Wodan seem to point to methods a person may call upon the "powers" of these gods without ripping out an eye, throwing hammers or any of the other hyperbolic tasks these two aesir undertook.

Heimdall and Loki also annihilate each other. Heimdall represents a Fellow, be it friend or family, pushed to the outskirts of the world while Loki represents an unknown variable welcomed within. Consider the reliable friend with whom you never socialize, and the strange, exciting person you want to know more about. Trickster and Shaman archetypes on occasion act in concert, each providing a different service. Preservation and change annihilate, the Trickster's inductance of transformation creating a process through which the greater pattern can subsist. The interplay of these two acts like the rhythm, the chaos found in order and the order found in chaos. Infinity results, and all becomes renewed.

Once Ragnarok finishes, the children of the aesir emerge to take up the tools and toys their predecessors have left them, and Nidhogg, the ultimate non-being, makes its presence known. This begs a question: would, in the next Ragnarok, Nidhogg resolve a paradox we have yet to perceive, and what world would open up from there?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ajna Heat Vision, Anahata Super Strength

Lately, in very ordinary ways, I've been dunked in the well of Myth for sustenance. The offer to cover one coworker's shift at the comic book store has spun out into two weeks straight of counter-jockeying, bagging, pricing, grading, reading, bag checks, and so on. One tarot reading tends to spill into three at the drop of a hat, and astrological Samhain snorts in laughter at my attempts to act skeptical, rational and detached.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, "Hero" derives from the same route as servare, to protect. This said, one wonders how much stock "protectors" receive. What of the abstract preservation brought through development? The moment in Flex Mentallo when Vic Sage remembers the magic word has stuck with me, and I wonder: what would we consider a super-shaman, super-sadhu, or other such figure? In one way, the attribution of post-human bombast with these social roles might seem counterintuitive, yet there's that there show Avatar that made many transcendental concepts accessible for even eight-year-olds. How would we strip down the scriptural trappings and faces given to the basic ideals that underpin philosophy and paint them in bright primary colors? Would the character really need to wear their briefs on the outside? Does the character require a secret identity? How does identity play into a role of non-civilized living and liberation? How does a person apply extranormality to their position? How does the individual explore a genius phenomenon that gives reason to their manifestation in the reality continuum? How about the super-construction worker or super-chef? Need post-humanity remain purely defined by militarism, with uniforms and stripping of the individual into sickening self-deification and strong reference to deeds as noble in and of themselves?

So now, the caffeine has worn off. Whoops.