Annotations [Black Science 2, Part 3: Pavlov's Dogs]
The cover is based
on Henry Fuseli's "The Nightmare". [CM] It's a preface piece about the
shadows within dreams and dreamers. More can be found here.
[Whisper] I think the original in the Detroit Institute of Arts. [TB]
The title is based on the story of Ivan Pavlov and his experiments in
stimulus conditioning with dogs. He discovered that after conditioning
them to associate the ringing of a bell with the arrival of food, dogs
would begin to salivate after the sound of a bell, food or no. (http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/facstaff/g-cziko/without_miracles/07.html)
[Whisper] Pavlov's work was continued by American psychologist B.F.
Skinner; both Pavlov and Skinner were heavily criticized by Anthony
Burgess in A Clockwork Orange, which is a huge influence on The Invisibles. [White]
[page 3] [panel 2] They are about to enter level 7, a level below
'Nightmare Hall' in issue 2.04. [White]
o [page 7] [panel 2] The dude playing chess, is playing
as both sides at once, and he still has his apple. Notice that the white
side, whom he calls 'the sons of light', are on his left, and the black
side, 'The dreadful guardians of the black iron prison' are on his right.
o [page 8] [panels 1-2] The Blind Chessman's discussion
of a game in which, "sometimes I become so deeply involved that I forget
I'm playing at all." and "Imagine becoming so wrapped up in the game
that you experience existential dread and loss of identity when a piece
is removed from the board." Compare the implications of this discussion
to the Harmony House guard Bobby in 1.12, page 24, when he dies (his
"game piece" is "removed from the board") and at the moment of death
he is reminded: "Try to remember. It's only a game." [JH] [panel 5]
The Stranger's speech here parallels his conversation with Mary Shelley
in "Arcadia." [JWB]
o [page 12] [panel 1] "Black iron prison": This term comes
from Philip K. Dick, who, after a mystical experience which opened his
mind up to what he perceived as different dimensional levels of reality,
came to see our world as a false construct built to house a variety
of nasty stuff from the super-dimensions (the *real* realities) that
surround us. (Sound familiar?) Anyway, Dick's term for our universe?
You guessed it: The Black Iron Prison. All of Dick's later work concerns
itself with expressing these concepts in a variety of different manners.
[MB] See 1.20 page 9, where someone resembling Dick is screaming about
"black iron." [EB] [panel 3] "I don't suppose you know what 'Manichaean'
means yet?" See 1.23, page 20 where Dane's supposed future self says
to Dane, "You don't even know what 'Manichean' means, do you?" and later
in that same issue on page 22, panel 3, where Dane remembers, "I even
knew what 'Manichean' meant." [JWB] The line from the Mysterious Stranger
seems especially creepy considering that Dane's future self asked Dane
that along with a warning that "on December 22nd, 2012, the human agents
of one of those opposing forces [either the Invisibles or the Archons]
are going to detonate my [perfected human] soul". [Whisper] The concept
of the Battle of the Sons of Light versus the Sons of Darkness originates
with a Qumran (Dead Sea Sect) scroll titled, conveniently enough, "The
Battle of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness" (I think), an
apocalyptic text describing the future battle of the Sons of Light,
accompanied by angelic hosts, against the forces of evil arrayed against
them in the world; these forces include the Roman Empire, the demons,
and all non-Essene Jews. Also, the Blind Man and the Archons could both
be connected with Sethian Gnostic concepts. In the Sethian text (discovered
in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945), "The Hypostasis of the Archons," the
Hebrew God is described as Sammael, the God of the Blind, who induces
creation in order to trap the female portion of the true God, the Gnostic
God. Hence, all of what normal Christians and Jews worship is false,
belonging withing the realm of the demons. By extension, those things
which anger the Blind God and his minions, are good. The Tree of Knowledge
is presented as the source of wisdom to be gained by the true followers
of Seth, the pre-Christian conception of the Gnostic Christ. Could the
Blind Man be Sammael from this Gnostic conception? However, note that
in panel 3, the Blind Man is sitting not on one side of the board, but
is playing both sides. Manichaean entities are ones which are both good
and evil: what if the Sons of Light and the Archons are the same? [DSH]
The belief that our universe was a trap set by a usurper god to trap
the true god is core to Philip K Dick's 'mystical experience' and subsequent
beliefs. And judging by the amount of references to his work throughout
the Invisibles, I think it's safe to say that belief will figure heavily
as we get deeper into this. [PM] The concept of a battle between the
Forces of Light and the Forces of Darkness is one of the oldest of human
myths: it originated many centuries before the time of the Dead Sea
Scrolls. The Qumran texts only represent a late and peculiarly Judaic
twist on the concept - which first appeared in the historical record
courtesy of the literature of the Zoroastrian religion, collected in
a book called the Avesta. Zoroaster (aka Zarathustra; lived between
1500 BC and 1000 BC) was a Persian mystic and prophet who preached a
resolutely Gnostic theology: the world was the prison of the forces
of light (contained in human souls), and therefore a battleground -
because the world was the creation and stronghold of the forces of darkness.
In order to perfect the universe it was necessary to purge the material
realm; that is, to 'fight' the forces of darkness. This purgation would
be accomplished (ie, the 'battle' won) when the soul of each human was
'light' enough to ascend out of the realm of Ahriman, God of Darkness
and the Material World, back to its home in the Realm of Ahura Mazda,
God of Light. Zoroaster laid down a series of spiritual practices designed
to facilitate this 'ascension' (which are still being followed today
by the few thousand remaining Zoroastrians, who live mainly in northern
Iran). As with all eschatological mystics, Zoroaster maintained that
the cosmic battle he described had a predestined outcome - he taught
that darkness and materiality would be defeated at the end of time,
though only if his spiritual prescriptions were followed, an interesting
paradox (one wonders what will happen if they are not; how will his
prophecy be realised in such circumstances ...?). In many ways, Zoroastrianism
laid the foundation for all future religions which perceive a fundamental
and irreconcilable split in reality ... including Manicheanism. Mani,
the founder of Manicheanism, was born c. 215 AD; he was more than likely
an initiate of Mithra (one of the lesser gods of light in the Zoroastrian
pantheon) and a student of early heretical Christianity. In about 240
AD he began to preach a theology that took the doctrine of Zoroaster
to its logical extremes. He taught a highly ascetic and world denying
(even world hating) philosophy. He was put to death by the Zoroastrian
priests of Persia in AD 276 for heresy. In modern parlance, 'Manicheanian'
refers to a philosophy that perceives in the world a fundamental and
irreconcilable division, usually between light and dark, spirit and
matter, good and evil. [Zenkidu] [panel 3] On the chessboard, white
is now where the black was and viceversa. [White] panel 6: Interestingly,
although the knight has put the king in check, there is a pawn which
can kill the knight next turn. I'm not sure that means anything, but
what the hell. [DSH]
o [page 15] [panel 5] "I am not the god of your fathers...":
See 1.24, page 8, panel 3, where Barbelith generates a Christ figure
who says to Dane, "I am not the god of your fathers. I am the hidden
stone and break all hearts." [JWB]
o [page 16] [panel 2] These look like the creatures Jolly
Rogers teammates were turned into in 2.04 [Loz] A bit of PKD here. Jolly
Roger's nightmare place is reminiscent of the beginning of A Scanner
Darkly, in which the character Jerry, sees aphids and their eggs everywhere,
even though no one else can. He especially had issues with them being
in his hair, using many bottles of shampoo daily. I know that many of
PKD's later books were semi-autobiographical, but was this particular
character based on a real person or was he made up? [RT] The most recent
printing of A Scanner Darkly says Jerry was based on a real person.
[JWB] Jolly Roger's 'nightmare' place has the Berlin Wall in it. [White]
o [page 17] [panel 5] The mushrooms from the last time
we saw John-A-Dreams -- 2.15, page 7 panel 3. [White]
o [page 19] "Couple of weeks in there, you'll be giving
Linda Lovelace lessons..." Linda Lovelace is perhaps best-known for
her role in the famous porno movie Deep Throat. She later published
a series of autobiographies alleging that she was not willingly involved
in the porn industry. It would seem that Mason's lawyer is also a movie
buff, albeit perhaps not in the same way Mason is... :) [AM]
o [page 20] "The Sting": Mason is referring to the 1973
movie starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, wherein they portray
small-time con men attempting to swindle a racketeer out of a fortune.
I'd wager that Robin is playing the part Eileen Brennan played in the
original, that of the obligatory girlfriend who's assisting in the con.
Interestingly enough, however, Mason seems undecided on his role and
allows Takashi to choose either Redford or Newman; in "The Sting," Redford
gets in considerably more physical danger. Could Mason be undecided
as to just how far he wants to commit his resources in the timesuit
o [page 22] "Ever get the feeling you've been had?": The
infamous statement Johnny Rotten made from the stage in San Francisco
during what would be the Sex Pistols' final performance. [JWB]
o Speculation from Mr White: Colour is important in this issue,
with King Mob and Jolly Roger's 'nightmare' places being in black and
white, and the chess guy, talking about coloured dreams. Also remembering
back to issue 2:4, Quimper only sees in shades of grey, suggesting perhaps
that KM and Roger are both becoming closer to Quimper, and thus the
Archons. Also, this could just be coincidence but the titles at the
top of certain pages, ie. Page 1 - 'Dulce, New Mexica; King Mob and
Jolly Roger', progress from red to green as the story progresses. It
starts at red on page 1, and then is a kind of orangey colour for the
middle pages, and then is a definite green on the last page with Fanny.
Anyone find any signifcance there? from Art Rehak Here's my take on
what Mr. White pointed out: Every time we've seen Barbelith, the progression
of its color was from red to green. Red seems to be the color of prevention,
an indication of a lack of enlightenment, and when they reach the right
frame of mind, it changes to green to indicate it. That may be what's
happening here: the background goes red when KM & Roger are going thru
despair, losing thier faith. When they're trying to fight against it
they're in orange, which is between red & green in the spectrum, maybe
indicating an in-between state, not quite Invisible but not fully under
control. Then in comes the cavalry w/Fanny, who's been uncorrupted by
Quimper, and she's gets the green. This fits with what we saw about
her personality in the "Sheman" stories of V1. After being abused by
the men in masks, s/he swears to crawl thru the shit and "turn it into
the purest gold". Then John-A-Dreams comes in and she becomes an Invisible.
His/her spirit seems to be the strongest of the bunch, maybe cuz there's
both male & female aspects to Fanny. Lots of the ancient gods had female
counterparts & some were hermaphrodites.
day is Model's Day in SoHo- mortifications of the flesh in the Land
of Plenty. We consume, we devour, while a bunch of teenage girls worn
to skeletons like Catholic martyrs, bear our guilt on chicken legs and
call it beauty. Thank the bloody gods below that, like all the most
fortunate sacrificial-victim-sin-enlightened cultures like our own and
that of the Aztecs, they get to have a good time while it lasts.
Meanwhile, Godzilla tramples New York to dust. Meteor tsunamis pulverize
the city. Vampire apocalypses! Skies falling! Bruce Willis powerless
to save us! It's Sodom AND Gomorrah, it's Babylon the Great, Mother
of Harlots, and by Christ, We want the End Times and We Want them Now!
Twenty-four hours a day! With goddamn fucking fries.
I love living in New York.
Only one pages of letters from now on, as you'll have noticed by now.
I'll still be reading whatever you send, and I still value your responses.
Now read on...
MARK HADEN FRAZER: I've been running into a lot of readers lately
who not only find THE INVISIBLES confusing, difficult, and something
to avoid, but have even complained that the recent JLA storyline, "Rock
of Ages," was way too complex and gave them headaches...
Just what the fuck is going on here?
I've always been under the impression that fans in general, beacause
they can read... and retain what they read, are at least a notch above
of the regular walking-around chowderhead on the intelligence scale.
Perhaps this is an error on my part.
Melville is hard. Joyce is hard. Physics textbooks are hard. Not beyond
those willing to make a little effort, mind you, but when I hear otherwise
bright individuals who work regular jobs, maintain relationships, own
computers and have bookshelves at home that aren't filled with little
glass duckies and chunks of driftwood... when I hear them whine like
little kids who have been caught with a cigar behind the barn that "I
didn't unnnerstand whut happened" concerning something that you've written,
it makes me want to SCREAM!
I guess what we're seeing here, at the risk of sounding like some elitist
asshole, is the general dumbing-down of the populace. When the great
wad is bombarded every day, on all sides, with endless hype for the
lowest common muck... when movies are rated, not by quality, originality,
or performance, but by how many millions they generated at the box office
(celebrating then, the ad campaign and not the work itself), when bare-bone
and/or recycled plots are infused with obnoxious catch-phrases that
are rammed down your throat (to ensure that you can't escape it) and
music begins to sound as if it were recorded by the same 8 folks under
73 different names, and when the bestseller list is filled with nothing
but TV/movie tie-ins, ghost-written autobiographies, Dilbert collections...
something's very, very wrong here.
Hang in there, Grant. You may not be reaching everybody, but the ones
you are getting through to appreciate it deeply. Ta.
BERDNICK: Another skittish letter...
some music has been enclosed. Enjoy. I tried to reenact "Sensitive Criminals"
using a bottle of absinthe (fresh from Prague!) as a substitute for
the Hand of Glory. All we had were the storyline, four people, and a
quote of Oscar Wilde's for Operating instructions. Time began bending
in a interesting way even before we opened the bottle. We all have sort
of dream-like memories of the evening... space was spinning in multiple
directions, I woke up passed out in the basement and a friend saw me
in two places at once.
Keep opening doors.
Will do, Liza. At least until I figure out how to walk through walls.
Thanks for the present, keep doing the experiments and keep filing
And "Absinthe from Prague!" That's what I'm going to call my '80s
revival Gotho-Romantique group.
Anyone who didn't before should check out KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND, which
is out again (and here I should snatch the public stage to apologize
for the oversight which left the gorgeous D'Israeli out of my Oscar
acceptance speech in the afterword. The book wouldn't have existed but
for his brilliant backgrounds and finishes.) More fun with THE INVISIBLES