“Dark Genesis” Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Becomings in a Monstrous World or How I Became Elemental and Lived to Tell the Tale. Phillip Thurtle. Assistant Professor Comparative History of Ideas University of Washington. A Story in Three Parts. Part 1: Why Genesis?
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Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Becomings in a Monstrous World or How I Became Elemental and Lived to Tell the Tale
Comparative History of Ideas
University of Washington
“The countless disaster movies bear witness to this fantasy, which they clearly attempt to exorcize with images, drowning out the whole thing in special effects.”
The Spirit of Terrorism
Adventures of Superman issue no. 596
Released September 12, 2001
Adapted from Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of the American Newspaper, 1978
From The World, Jan 28, 1890
“The comic strip and the ad belong to the world of games, to the world of models and extensions of situations elsewhere.”
Marshal McLuhan, Understanding Media, 169
Detail from Action Comics #1, June 1938
From Alan More and Kevin O’Neill, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Acme Novelty Library No. 2, 1994
The magic is in the numbers . . .
“There are 356 pages and 124 illustrations in the average comic book.
A single issue ranges in price from $1.00 to over $140,000.
172, 000 comics are sold in the U.S. every day.
Over 62,780,000 each year.
The average comic collector owns 3,312 comics and will spend approximately 1 year of his or her life reading them.”
Opening sequence from the movie “Unbreakable”
This city has seen its share of disasters. I watched the aftermath of that plane crash, I watched the carnage of the hotel fire. I watched the news waiting to hear a very specific combination of words but they never came. Then one day I saw a news story about a train accident and I heard them: “there is a sole survivor and he is miraculously unharmed.” The movie Unbreakable)
Much of our “lowbrow” media as looping people’s bad days
To endure can lead one to a new qualitative logic . . A logic of non-scalar events
From Doom Patrol, Archival Edition Volume 1
An accident at a highly connected juncture can become a disaster
From Albert-László Barabási, Linked: The New Science of Networks, 71
Industrial Technologies mediate relationships of scale
: “. . . the attacks had a critical effect on another kind of network that we’ve created among ourselves: a tightly coupled, very unstable, and highly nonlinear psychological network. We are all nodes in this particular network, and the links among us consist of Internet connections, satellite signals, fiber-optic cables, talk radio, and 24-hour television news.”
Alan More, The Killing Joke
One Bad day as “non-scalar” event
From Plastic Man, Volume 1,Issue 1
Spiderman-radioactive spider bite
X-men-low level radiation
On and on
“The thing about Jim was no matter how many times he got shot he always got back up again. Of course nobody knew what a mutant was in those days. We just called him Lucky. Lucky Jim.”
From Ultimate X-Men, Vol. 5, Issue #2
Escapism is an art. . . It depends on where you escape to
Neil Gaiman and John Bolton
Brian Vaughn and Pia Guerra