Neonomicon

Neonomicon and its prequel ‘The Courtyard’ are both graphic novels written by the acclaimed storyteller (and bearded dude) Alan Moore. Warning: Some spoilers may emerge!¬†Details on the Wiki.

As most of the story is outlined in the Wiki article, I’m going to stick to personal impressions.

Positives:

1. It’s novel and graphic for a graphic novel! There is weird sex and rape, Lovecraftian nightmares and an interesting twist on traditional Mythos understanding. It received press when a library was prompted to censor it for its depictions – though frankly, an age rating on it would probably have avoided all that anyway – and after Moore’s ‘Lost Girls’ it’s clear that he has no fear of pushing the boundaries, making him one of the most interesting writers today.

2. Concepts are good. The prequel shows the descent into truth/madness of a federal occult investigator, and links in the significance of language. Neonomicon carries on that linguistic vein and promotes the Lovecraftian-sex theme.

3. The rape-orgy scene is very well done – both shocking in its topic and humane in execution. The characters are rendered as fat, skinny, old, young, mixed races etc. A great deal of the horror is the everyday nature of it.

4. Artwork is appropriate for the story, calling for beauty and lumpiness with a spattering of gore. The ‘Gargouille de la mer’ is a wonderfully brutish rendering, and effects a poignant death scene.

5. Inversions in the plot. There are lots of these, and I have always been fond of stories where the initial character point of view shifts and inverts as they experience the world. Agent Brears is rescued by the monster from the murderous humans. Agent Brears faces down the institutionalised murderer as she becomes a much bigger bee-atch than him!

Negatives:

Not many of these really.

1. That is was over too soon perhaps!

2. The graphical and Lovecraftian nature of the story will likely deter many, but given the interesting and challenging concepts contained perhaps that was unavoidable.

Conclusion:

I recommend the read to any like minded souls!

 

A word from our sponsor…

I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett’s ‘Unseen Academicals’ recently, and recalled this particular excerpt where the daunting Patrician – getting a litle tipsy – recounts a personal childhood experience:

The Patrician took a sip of his beer. ‘I have told this to a few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.’

This mini-tale called to mind a personal experience when gorge-walking with a group of youths somewhere in Devon. The party came across a sheltered rock pool between turbulant waterfalls, in which we were greeted by a lone duckling. It chirped without fear and swam right up to us. As we passed through the pool it followed us with uncertain paddling and bobbing, the ripples of our passing threatening to drown it at any moment. Then, after we had traversed the pool, and helped one another to clamber up the next obstacle, it watched us leave, spinning in circles and attempting to follow. Of course the water kept throwing it back each time it tried, in vain, to come with us. We stood atop the waterfall, catching our breath, and discussed the situation. The duckling had likely become separated from its mother and been swept downstream to this place where it was effectively trapped. We could not help it for fear of our human scent rendering it alien to its own kind anyway. All in all it was a particularly heartbreaking moment and when asked what was likely to happen to it I was pretty frank about its minimal chance of survival.

As we pass through life our roles change, sometimes we are gods holding powers of life and death in our hands, and sometimes we are victims of forces that threaten to devour us. Some feel trapped in roles they feel compelled to play, through love, fear, notions of duty and myriad other reasons that twist and twine into bonds. I wonder, if those bonds were severed, what kind of god would you make? In whose image would you attempt to craft the world, and according to what principles? The Patrician speaks of becoming the moral superior of a supreme being, but given the status quo I do not feel that is remotely difficult. The difficulty may rest in retaining your notions of morality as you become a god. Power transfigures the best of us, and the result may be scarcely recognisable…

The Lovely Bones

Recently watched the film then read the book. The film was excessively harrowing, but the book was very good.  One thing that came out of it for me was a bit of a puzzle.

Spoiler alert for anyone not wanting to hear crucial parts of the plot! To summarise, a bad man does nasty things to a lot of women and children. Right at the end of the book, he ‘gets his comeuppance’, being killed in a freak accident that closely resembles the ‘perfect murder’ that the murdered Susie Salmon’s sister concocts at one point in the book. This seems to suggest that either Susie somehow intervenes from her heaven, or god has a sense of humour, or maybe it is all just coincidence. Now, here’s my puzzle.

Why do so many people – almost all of them – watching the film or reading the story feel that the bad guy ‘getting his comeuppance’ is almost cathartic, practically cheering his demise? I mean, it’s a good thing that he won’t go on to kill again, but his death does not bring the dead girls back. It doesn’t even bring any real succour to them or their living relatives as it happens pretty anonymously to all of them. It seems to me that it was a plot device aimed pretty squarely at the reader/observer, to bring some sort of relief. But what kind of relief actually makes sense?

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