More Alan Moore

Although I couldn't make it through Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I loved The Saga of the Swamp Thing . . . the art is fantastic and the content is surprisingly philosophical: though it uses some possibly specious science about memory transfer from cannibalistic planarians . . . the results of the real experiment, which haven't been reproduced consistently, claim that if you train flatworms to run through a maze for food, and then have other flatworms who have never run the maze eat the flatworms that have run the maze, then the cannibalistic flatworms will gain the ability to run the maze without having to experience the maze-- but who cares if the science works-- Moore uses this conceit to explain that his Swamp Thing is not "Alec Holland somehow transformed into a plant" it is "a plant that thought it was Alec Holland"-- he uses the swamp thing to investigate one of the great philosophical conundrums-- if your exact (or even inexact) consciousness was reproduced-- digitally or botanically or with giant gears or whatever-- and this new thing believes it is you and thinks as you do, despite being a facsimile of you, then is it you?-- and who is the real you?-- what if you are given a drug that allows brain cells to regenerate and your brain is split in half and each side regrows in a different host-- then which is really you? or if you were to replace your brain bit by bit with identical circuits, then is the final robot still you, or when did you switch from being you to being an android? or if you teleport and your molecules are disassembled and then reassembled with identical but different molecules in another location, did you die?-- and is the thing that is reassembled just another facsimile of you with a very short break in consciousness . . . and this is the sort of existential question that The Saga of the Swamp Thing investigates . . . it is about a botanical consciousness coming to grips with what it really is (though the philosophy is interrupted by one odd page of the Justice League deciding that they can't do anything about Wood-rue, the Floronic Man, who is enlisting the world's plants to destroy all animals, including man . . . but he is quickly defeated by the simple logic that plants need animals to produce carbon dioxide-- the respiration cycle, and then it's back to the existential crisis) and in the end The Swamp Thing comes to terms with what he is, and the fact that he is not Alec Holland . . . that he is a plant with consciousness and as Fall approaches he has strange fears and anxieties because he is linked to the cycle of the seasons just as many plants are, and at the very end, there's a great frame of him walking into the swamp, holding hands with an autistic kid, explaining how he's afraid of fire and the kid replies, "That's good , it makes me feel better, I mean, if even monsters get scared sometimes, then it isn't so bad, is it?"


zman said...

But planaria aren't plants.

Dave said...

tell that to alan moore.

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