Archive for December, 2008

Oh God, Not Another Stupid Claremont Plot

December 23, 2008

Guest columnist, Evan Grey, touches upon the iconography of Sage.

Note – This essay was written as a response to someone who accused critics of X-Men: Legacy of anti-intellectualism. As regular readers are well aware, Legacy is one of the favorite topics of discussion on our site. Here, Evan fantasizes about the inevitable inclusion of Sage in the saga of X-Men: Legacy. Evan has kindly permitted the cross-posting of his essay on this blog.

Wow, I’m glad somebody finally said it! All the crude readers of this book need to be taken down a peg or two.

I’m curious, since by the look of things, you’re into semiotics and the historicism of art, what reading do you garner from this?

At first glance, I personally thought: “Oh god, not another stupid Claremont plot”. On reflection though, there are so many powerful meanings that this master story teller has woven in here. For instance, with her bleeding eyes, Sage immediately evokes the idea of the Virgin Mary crying tears of blood:

Indeed, we see constant undercurrents of the holy Mary, blessed be her name, during Claremont’s depictions of Sage. We even see Sage give birth to a new and improved Beast, in her own kind of immaculate conception.

Of course, this comes with it’s own implications as there is a subtle yet brilliant commentary on the tensions within Christianity with the notion that the Virgin Mary gives birth to the Anti-Christ!

Astounding indeed! It does not end there, however, for with the naming of Mary we see a powerful comment on the Mary Sue cliche. CC clearly was writing back a powerful narrative for his audience.

Of course, there is another reading I am in favour of – a Freudian one. Freud constructed his notion of gender and sex with the Oedipus (and by extension the Elektra) concepts where the vagina is seen as a castrate. This begs the question: are Sage’s bleeding eyes symbolic of menstrual flow? Are Sage’s eyes really a representation of bleeding vaginas which, when they ‘flash’ and catalyse a mutant, give birth from their castrated orbs??

It’s little nuggets of meaning like that which make me appreciate the X-men so much, especially X-men: Legacy. It’s so rich and full of meaning where it covers the great expanse of X-history. I can’t wait until it gets to covering the time of Sage, someone who Xavier desperately needs to make amends to, so that we can have these notions further explored. I have faith that Professor Carey will uncover the roots and motivations behind Tess Niles and, like Claremont, use her as a springboard to discuss the deep and meaningful issues of religion, sex and genre. What are your thoughts on the matter? I’d love to hear them. I’m so glad that there’s another reader out there just like me!

Evan is an on and off cultural studies student with a liking for extraordinarily bad comics, high literature, independent music and big meaty cocks. He happens to live in Australia.


The Great De-Lurking

December 17, 2008

I’m making some changes, so I’d like some idea as to who reads this blog and why. How did you get here? Why do you stay? Reader emails indicate that I have several different constituencies. I’m working on some changes to the format (possibly even the site address), and would like to get a better sense of my silent interlocutors because we’re going to professionalize this shit. I have statcounter embedded in this thing. I know you are reading. Usually the ones googling “Arab + Penis” or “Underage Boy + Sex” or “Burqa + Virgin” come from Saudi Arabia or Iran (seriously!). The googlers come and go. My little brother has several stalkers who arrive here occasionally. I can guess who the guy is who arrives here by googling my name from Marshall, MI. I can tell some are probably academics. Is the person reading this from Berkeley, Judith Butler?! Is Terry Castle‘s girlfriend, Blakey, still reading, ready to tell me off for snarking at her girlfriend? Blakey, I love the Wikipedia entry you wrote for yourself. Listing the dogs as children was an incredibly poignant touch!

The folks linking from different blogs seem to become regulars. If my mom is reading this, I want to know! Please introduce yourselves, and if you happen to know how I can upload jpegs into the blogger header, share your knowledge.


December 17, 2008

The one redeeming quality of a heavy winter is the chance to unwrap a new conquest from his coverings of winter clothing in anticipation of the surprise underneath. Yesterday, on the train, I finally spoke with the man I’ve been making eye contact with for months. He boards and disembarks at the Chinatown stop, leading me to believe he’s an inhabitant of the South Loop where all the up and comers live. He’s got a football player build and a shaved Foucault head. He always carries his briefcase and gym bag. On my way home last night, I was engrossed in the book I’m reading when I looked up at the end of the chapter. The guy was looming over me, staring intently at my book. I initiated conversation about the book. By the time we reached Chinatown, he asked if I’d like to grab something to eat. Defensively, I answered, “I’m allergic to MSG. Another night, though?”

Seasonal Affective Disorder hits me differently every year. Sometimes, I feel it right away at the October time change. Other years, I’m fine until February when it feels like all of nature has turned against me, locking me in a freezing white box. For years, I would overcompensate by keeping the temperature in my apartment at 90 degrees. Culturally and genetically, I’m ill-equipped for winter weather. Both nature and nurture agree that I’m built to live in hot converted deserts.

I was born in upstate New York, but by the time I was three, my mother, baby brother and I moved to El Paso, Texas. From there, to Los Angeles where single mothers worldwide flock to escape. My first memorable encounter with snow occurred when I begged my mom and her boyfriend to drive us to the mountains. When we got there, I stuck an ungloved hand into the snow to make a snowball to hurl at my brother, and felt like I’d burnt it. I retreated to the car, groping with my hand, trying to find some way to warm it. Imperiously, I demanded we leave. My first winter in grad school, on New Year’s Eve I flew back from New York where I was visiting Dat. It hadn’t snowed yet, but that evening, Chicago was struck by a record breaking blizzard. Stoned, in my apartment, I didn’t notice a thing. New Year’s morning, I smoked a joint and went to get some groceries. As I took a step off the porch, I landed face down in three feet of snow. I wiped my glasses clean and looked around. The whole neighborhood was blindingly white. It took two days for the street cleaners to get to us.

This year is a relatively bad year. My reaction to the weather was immediate. I’ve been ignoring emails, blowing off blogging, not taking phone calls. I delete evites as they arrive. Spending nine hours a day in a dimly lit artist’s studio can’t be helping. Every day, it’s a struggle not to order dinner when I get home. I fight with myself to cook at least one hot meal a day, to remind myself I’m alive (a coping strategy I learned from Peter Hoeg). I try to go to the gym every day. In my apartment, I resist submitting to my general depression: I keep active and clean the place; I light up my $300 sun lamp; I make piles of books and then read them. This weekend, I decided to force myself to do something for the holiday season. A friend came over and we baked two dozen double chocolate pot cookies to celebrate winter. Once high, I breathed a sigh of relief. “That really hit the spot. I just needed to slow my brain down.” My friend, a social worker who treats substance abuse, was equally high: “Do you think you have a tendency to self-medicate?” Proudly, I said yes. As the discussion progressed, a realization hit me. “Are you using self-medication with a negative connotation?” She stared at me and nodded affirmatively. “I feel so stupid! I thought you were using it in a 90s D.I.Y. sense, like changing your own tire or cooking homemade cat food.”

After three days, we had each eaten our share of the cookies. I face this winter day without a crutch. Longtime readers know that I consider December 17th the worst day of the year – the most heinous of anniversaries. Part of me regrets not grabbing dinner with Mr. Clean, but the guy radiated pure heartbreak. I also know that if I can get through December 17th on my own, I can get through any winter day.