[RACCies/LNHY] My eligibles / Other ramblings

Saxon Brenton saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au
Mon Nov 22 14:28:55 PST 2004

Martin wrote:
> My eligibles [...]
> are mostly LNH2 this year.  And most of the LNH stuff I did write
> involved members of the LNH watching TV. 

And reviewing movies. Don't forget the reviewing of movies. Or were 
they ones being shown on TV too?

>                                         When I go back to look at
> the full list though, I see that the only LNH series with more than
> three issues posted were Vel and Alt.Riders.  

Hmmm. You're right, I hadn't noticed that. 

> I actually did (slightly) more LNHY than LNH this year (not including
> the LNH2 stuff).  I might do more LNHY stuff later.  I am intrigued by
> this line from The Daily Super-Short Short Story #63: "there [are]
> loads of gods and demons and stuff out there, all from mutually 
> contradictory myths and religions".

That line was basically my attempt at a distillation the way the comic 
book genre (as exemplified by the big two US companies, Marvel and DC, 
and to a large but not universal extent copied by many smaller 
companies) seem to have all this mutually contradictory 'weird stuff' 
floating about. Of course, later in the same story I then have to 
explain why all this strangeness doesn't seem to have much affect on 
human society (I was drawing on www.narbonic.com for that), but that's 
another part of the comic book genre altogether. But basically, I was 
assuming that *all* comic book universes have - at least potentially 
- multiple mythologies active within them until such time as specific 
stories establish it to be otherwise. It's another meta-textual 
reference, I suppose.

>                  In the Marvel Universe, you have the Asgardians, the
> Olympians, the Atlanteans, the Lemurians, the Eternals, the Devients,
> the Inhumans, the Celestials, the Watchers, Galactus, the Beyonder,
> etc., etc., etc., and at no point (with the exception of Uncanny X-Men
> #203 or so in which Nightcrawler got a major headache trying to figure
> out what it all meant) does anybody ever worry about the theological
> implications of all this.

All true, to the best that I can recall right now. I was specifically 
thinking of the way Grant Morrison used various conflicting 
cosmologies in his JLA run - Kirby's Fourth World, the 5th Dimension 
of Myxzptlk and Quisp, and the Abrahamic Heaven that Zauriel comes 
from - but the way the Marvel cosmology is laid out is just as good 
an example. The best term that I've ever come across to describe it 
is the Cosmic Vacuum Cleaner Principle, which IIRC was used decades 
ago to describe the way various RPG games would eclectically 'suck 
up concepts from every science fiction, fantasy and horror story that 
came within reach'.

>                               Apparently no distinction is made in
> Looniverse Y between atheists (who would say that none of them exist)
> and polytheists (who would say that all of them exist) so there would
> be this mutually contradicting drive to promote the existance of God
> while denying the godhood of the other gods out there.  And, in
> Looniverse Y, the other gods might actually be of similar stature to
> God himself: after all, it has already been established that there are
> people beings than God in Looniverse Y so perhaps there are beings
> almost as old as God.  It can give you a major headache trying to
> think about this: after all, we have the ultra silly Arthur Spitzer
> stuff and the ultra serious Saxon Brenton stuff and it might take a
> while to reconcile everything so that it all makes sense.  

I have to admit that the 'ultra serious stuff' label, while true, is 
something that I kinda stumbled into. After the meeting between 
Martin Wryce and St. Christopher, I recall wanting to get back to 
something that was thematically consistent with the nastiness that 
Damian had managed to wreak on TJ up to that point, and jokingly 
threw out the opening line, 'and now that we've dealt with the touchy 
feely stuff, we will now return to the deeply psychotic Acraphobe 
content'. I knew that I wanted TJ to be an atheist to contrast Martin 
and Delroy's seminary student status and given them something to 
argue over, and came up with the unpleasantness of TJ's secret origin 
that was appropriately dark in tone - after which point the idea sort 
of ran out of control and came to dominate with the implications of 
those back-history events.
In retrospect this seems to be another factor to be careful of when 
writing a daily story. The plot kept its structure more or less, 
although when I realised how long things were taking I deliberately 
started truncating things. Still, the plot of: the demons caught the 
boys, a demon lord then caught them all, and then the forces of Light 
(in this case Jesus rather than St. Christopher and a strike force of 
Benandanti) came and rescued them; was the same. But as we saw, the 
implications of things brought up as characterisation elements rather 
than plot elements ultimately ended up needing two epilogues to deal 
In any case, I have been doing some religious themes for a while now, 
and my underlying point is that my characters, no matter how diverse 
they are in their faiths (and I've deliberately made them so), will 
all at least respect each others' underlying human dignity even if 
they don't share each other's beliefs. Retcon Lad is a case in point, 
since he's 'gotten better' from a far right wing anti-mutant 
evangelical Christian background. Perhaps the best summation of this 
idea is from a tentatively planned bit of Martin Wryce's dialogue to 
TJ over the people running the concentration camps where he goes 
something like: "I'm not going to try and tell you that they weren't 
'real' Christians, because I've seen too many apologists try to 
explain away the stuff done in the name of their sect but which they 
don't want to be held accountable for as not being done by 'real' 
member of their religion - while at the same time holding everybody 
else accountable for every little thing that goes wrong, even if they 
have to make up lies about it in the first place. I'm not going to 
fall into that trap of hypocrisy. But Tim, even if they were motivated 
by genuine religious belief rather than just plain lust for power - 
we're not all like that, and they're definitely a minority. <sigh> I 
guess this is what it feels like to be a moderate Muslim trying 
explain that the Sept 11 hijackers were extremist fanatics." The 
point being that TJ's distrust, while grounded in valid reaction, 
is taken to extremes by the paranoia and sociopathy of his metal 
illness, and that Martin, being a genuinely good person, was prepared 
to strike up a friendship with him and try to help.

>                                  So the bottom line is that I might
> want to take time out to study some comparative mythology and then ask
> serious questions about how ordinary people would react to gods
> walking around and how that would affect their religious beliefs, and
> at the same time try to come up with a way to make it funny.

Well, there has been the topic of how normal people react when the 
superheroes try to explain the fourth wall to them; I enjoyed the 
reporter's reaction to Dr Stomper's explanation. If it's any help, TJ's 
position on not believing in any of multiple gods is basically copied 
from how I think Limp-Asparagus Lad feels: he knows they're there, but 
he doesn't think they have any of the cosmological significance that they 
claim they have which would warrant them being worshipped. In fact, since 
he knows about the fourth wall, he thinks that most gods exist purely to 
provide exciting story elements (and the rest are ASH universe style 
hyper-apotheosised superhumans). All my other characters tend to have 
more normal cosmological beliefs (including the pagans like Anal-Retentive 
Archive Kid, or Lenny, who's literally the Dreamtime equivalent of either 
an angel or an elf, or maybe both). Although the Cleric, Elder of the 
Looniverse that I created for Bride of C'thulhu #7, probably has really 
funky beliefs based on the Sourcecode.

> Incidentally, "What If... Jesus had been a Scientist!" was written
> before I knew that Looniverse Y had various gods and demons walking
> around.  I suppose it probalbly should be ignored in favour of the
> Jesus that appeared in The Daily Super-Short Short Story.

I automatically assumed that as a What If? it was effectively an Elsewhirls 
and wouldn't have any bearing unless the elements in it were introduced in 
a non-Elsewhirls story. As for divine hallucinations, I'm given to under-
stand that John Allegro's book _The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross_ is 
totally dubious and lots of fun (in the Kenneth Hite sense of 'bad 
anthrolopolgy should always be mined for ideas for your fiction, because 
there isn't any other use for it') and is considered a key text in the line 
of thought that Jesus and the apostles used fly agaric.

Saxon Brenton    Uni of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
Saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au

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