Thursday, 23 August 2012

Alan Moore's Psychic Time-Bomb

posted 8/23/2012 by the Salt City Sinner

Alan Moore has pulled off quite the feat.

One part magic, one part art, one part what I guess you could call psychic bomb-craft - I don't think I've seen the like before. Imagine if Mickey Mouse, instead of becoming as recognizable and relatively benevolent as Jesus Christ in most of the developed and developing world, was hopping and "Ha-ha!"-ing across screens large and small toting a Kalashnikov and spouting aphorisms.from the Little Red Book (Chairman Maus, perhaps?).

Think of it as The Guy Fawkes Mask Phenomenon. I have taken an extended tour of opinions regarding it - I took pot-shots at it  here  and  here  , started to warm to it  here  and finally fully embraced it  here :

who WAS that masked man?

What does The Guy Fawkes Mask Phenomenon represent, exactly?

The mask itself commemorates Guy Fawkes (obviously) - who was a Catholic partisan and terrorist who was involved in the infamous Gunpowder Plot ( learning is fun! ) to blow up the British House of Lords in 1605.

Nobody really knows or cares who Guy Fawkes is when they don the mask, however (with the exception of you and me of course). What they are really invoking is V For Vendetta , a relatively obscure and brilliant graphic novel by Alan Moore, noted genius, recluse, warlock, and ontological anti-authoritarian*.

Alan Moore in all his warlock-y glory
V For Vendetta concerns the efforts of the titular anti-hero, V, a caped and Guy-Fawkes-masked anarchist who (spoiler alert: successfully) attempts to overthrow a dystopian fascist future British state.

It was "rescued" from obscurity by Hollywood, and turned into a big-budget, slightly lower-brow feature length motion picture in 2005.

Something about the iconography of the masked anarchist V, with his creepy, smiling Guy Fawkes mask, struck a perfect chord across space and time.

Although V For Vendetta was written in 1982 it wasn't until the last few years, almost three decades later, that the smiling face of Guy Fawkes became both a staple of #Occupy (of which I am a member, as much as it has 'members') and Anonymous (which I am a supporter of and fellow traveler with, but not a member, as I have roughly the computer hacking skills of a baked potato).

So: Moore crafts the psychic bomb by creating an anti-hero who is a genius bent on toppling Government. Over the next three decades the encroaching security state begins to resemble - at least a little - his nightmarish vision of future society. The fuse is lit. The 2012 election rolls around. Cue the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

From the  Charlotte Observer :

The YouTube video is blurry, the voice on the recording intentionally distorted. A person sits behind a desk wearing a smiling Guy Fawkes mask, holds papers in a mock newscast, and issues a call for action. 
The video encourages militias, computer hackers and activists to descend on the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., next week. 
"We hope to see a large amount of freedom fighters, Occupy protesters, militias and other groups that are against the tyrannical rule of our current so-called government," the voice says.
Meanwhile, from the  Chicago Tribune :

[In Tampa] last Friday bricks were discovered on a downtown rooftop next to a stenciled number "99" and the image of Guy Fawkes, a 17th-century bomb plotter who has become a revolutionary symbol used by the Occupy and Anonymous movements, groups opposed to excesses on Wall Street and Internet censorship. 
Authorities suspect someone stockpiled the bricks with the intention of hurling them down onto traffic or pedestrians to disrupt events surrounding the convention.

So a greasy, hairy would-be bomber from four hundred years ago undergoes a symbolic makeover in the early 1980s, and now, thirty years later...boom?

Alan Moore is an impressive magician by anybody's standards, but his most awesome feat may just be unfolding as we speak.

* - That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you craft an  epithet .

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