Friday, 2 January 2015

Meskin and Me thoughts on Me Being (part 1 of 40 000)

Let's see how complicated I can make this. 

I'm interested in ontology, which I think is something to do with states of being. Like just about every other philosophical term that I throw about with gay abandon, I haven't really got to grips with how it is used, or what it really means.

Being a post-modern semiotician, I use the word in any way that I see fit. However, today I intend to try to understand ontology, via Aaron Meskin's Ontology of Comics.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the futility of my life?

We shall begin with Meskin's conclusions...

Must comics be multiples? 
I have argued that they need not be, although the generic statement ‘comics are multiples’ is true. 

How are instances of comics produced? 
I suggest that the art form of comics is typically a two-stage art in which instances are produced by means of what Stephen Davies calls encoding and decoding. In normal cases, decoding (i.e., printing) is required to produce an authentic instance of a comic. But this is only in normal cases—in some cases no decoding is needed to produce an authentic instance of the comic since the encoding is itself a proper instance of the comic. And in some of these cases comics are produced by means of a one-stage process (i.e., they are finished when the artist’s work is complete). 

Finally, when do we have an authentic instance of a comic? 
I argue that comics (even digital comics) are best understood as autographic—they admit of referential forgery and direct transcription will not suffice to produce an authentic instance of a comic.

Holy shit. I have no idea where to start with these conclusions. I probably better read the whole article.

What is a 'multiple'?
Comics and graphic novels are typically multiple works of art rather than singular: they are repeatable, admit of instances or occurrences rather than mere copies, and—in virtue of this—they allow for simultaneous but spatially-distinct and unconnected reception points.

That is clearer: a comic can exist simultaneously in multiple forms - like a complete print run of Fantastic Four Essentials, and be experienced in different places at the same or different times. They are printed and distributed, and no single copy can be seen as the 'original'. I guess they share this quality with scripts. 

A comic is a bit like Multiple Man off the X-Men: it can exist as several identical versions at the same time. Although whereas there is a Multiple Man prime (he's the one who makes the first copy of himself, and has certain rights that his copies don't have), the comics are all 'originals'.

(Note, if Vicky Price out of the University of Glasgow is reading: I know the word 'original' is problematic. But if I talk about a 'source' text here, I am going to get even more confused.)

So a comic exists in a different state of being to a human, who is stuck in one particular time and space. Far out. 

Apart from the suggest that a bit-part player in the X-Men is some kind of meta-commentary on the nature of the medium, here's a reflection. If a comic can exist in an almost mythical state of being (effectively timeless and spaceless, since its existence is not dependent on a particular anchor in the space-time continuum but can exist simultaneously at several points in the same moment), does this make it an ideal medium for expressions of timeless narratives, like myths? The superhero, rather than being some idiosyncrasy of comic book history therefore becomes a logical subject for the medium, being located in a similar boundless ontology. 

Even something like Maus, which always gets mentioned as worthy of study (because it is about a Very Serious Subject, the Holocaust), is lent a mythic dimension by Spiegelman's conjuring of comic book tropes. 

(Note: myth here means a story with meaning, not a false story.)

And isn't Spiegelman a cool name for a comic book creator? It's like a superhero name. His special power is, like, making the low become high. 

Come back for part 2, I dare ya.

No comments :

Post a Comment