Friday, January 29, 2010

So long, Mr. Salinger...and Thanks!

Over at Trouble with Comics I just reposted a review of Batman #663 that I wrote a couple years ago, which focuses on the similarities between the infamous Joker prose issue by Grant Morrison and J.D. Salinger's last published story. Salinger was one of my favorite writers, and "Hapworth 16, 1924" remains one of the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned stories in the history of American letters. Anyway, the review is more about the comic than Salinger's story, but I hope you'll check it out.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Avatar

Jeet Heer has an excellent and insightful essay up at his Sans Everything blog about Avatar, James Cameron's special effects spectacular, that's a must read if you've seen the movie.

Without re-wording Jeet's main arguments, I agree wholeheartedly with everything he writes. In fact, I think he doesn't go far enough.

The idea that humans have lost our connection with nature due to our fascination with technology is the ultimate irony of the movie, and is something that one of my favorite writers, Viktor Frankl, talked about in his writing after WWII.

I remember a particularly moving passage in Man's Search for Meaning where Frankl, recalling his imprisonment in Auschwitz, was momentarily transported by the beauty of a sunrise, even as he was standing exposed, nearly naked, in the frigid winter. That moment made him realize how isolated from nature he had become living in a modern city (Vienna). In his former life, he never saw a sunrise like that, partly because he was living in an urban area, primarily spending his time indoors, and partly because he simply didn't make time for such things in his busy life.

But it's not just nature, it's religion, too.

In The Will to Meaning, another of Frankl's books devoted to the study of logotherapy, he had a remarkable quote which I think sums up the transformation society has undergone since the industrial revolution, which Jeet is hinting at in his analysis of the movie.

"I deem it to be a remarkable fact that man, as long as he regarded himself as a creature, interpreted his existence in the image of God, his creator; but as soon as he started considering himself as a creator, began to interpret his existence merely in the image of his own creation, the machine."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two New Posts

I have a couple new pieces over at Trouble With Comics that I hope you'll consider checking out.

The first is an admittedly geeky list of the 15 best back issues I read in 2009. Personally, I find reading and collecting back issues in some ways more satisfying than reading new comics.

The other has nothing to do with comics. It's my heartfelt reaction, as a lifelong Cardinals baseball fan, to Mark McGwire's recent admission that he took steroids.

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Best of 2009

I've posted my annual best of the year list over at the Trouble With Comics blog this year. You can check it out here. Happy new year and thanks so much for reading.