Friday, October 28, 2005
Who watches over the Watchmen?
It is the oldest ironies that are still most satisfying: man, when preparing for bloody war, will orate loudly and most eloquently in the name of peace. This dichotomy is not an invention of the twentieth century, yet it is in this century that the most striking examples of the phenomena have appeared. Never before has man persued global harmony more vocally while amassing stockpiles of weapons so devastating in their effect. The second world war - we were told - was The War To End Wars. The development of the atomic bomb is The Weapon To End Wars.
And yet wars continue. Currently, no nation on this planet is not involved in some form of armed struggle, if not against its neighbours, then against internal forces. Furthermore, as ever-escalating amounts of money are poured into the pursuit of the specific weapon or conflict that will bring lasting peace, the drain on our economies creates a run-down urban landscape where crime flourishes and people are concerned less with national security than with the simple personal security needed to stop at the store late at night for a quart of milk without being mugged. The places we struggled so viciously to keep safe are becoming increasingly dangerous. These wars to end wars, the weapons to end wars, these things have failed us.
Now we have a man to end wars.
Since my association with Dr. Jonathan Osterman and the being he eventually became are well documented elsewhere, I feel I need only recap them briefly here. In 1959, in an accident that was certainly unplanned and just as certainly unrepeatable, a young American man was completely disintegrated, at least in a physical sense. Despite the absence of a body, a form of electromagnetic pattern resembling consciousness survived, and was able, in time, to rebuild an approximation of the body it had lost.
Perhaps in the process of reconstructing its corporeal form, this new and wholly original entity achieved a complete mastery of all matter; able to shape reality by the manipulation of its basic building blocks. When news of this being's phenomenal genesis was first released to the world, a certain phrase was used that has - at varying times - been attributed both to me and to others. On the newsflashes coming over our tvs on that fateful night, one sentence was repeated over and over again: 'The superman exists and he's American.'
I never said that, although I do recall saying something similar to a persistent reporter who would not leave without a quote. I presume the remark was edited or toned down so as not to offend public sensibilities; in any event I never said 'The superman exists and he's American.' What I said was "God exists and he's American.'
- Alan Moore, in Watchmen (1986-87).
[Refer to my other Watchmen post for more links.]
[the pic: a page from Watchmen, Alan Moore]