There is a fine moment, among many fine moments, in the movie Serenity where The Operative explains he does not have a place in the better world to come. He is a monster and he acts to make a world he can't exist in.
Its a very good moment. It cements the character.
It says allot about means and ends and the choices to get from one to the other.
And it says allot about what I think about Civil War.
Had a good vibe of white noise going on, including the central air, a cat purring, Bill Maher (as white as noise gets), and some mp3s. Finally that little window opened in my head, and I saw the character, what he was setting out to do, and who was waiting for him.
On one hand, the character is a symbol for everything I like to think the US tries for on our best days - The Great Experiment and all that liberal progressive jazz. The rule of law, equality, an inherent value in each person, and the notion of justice in its most innocent form. The best writers have used him as a mirror for this - a way to remind readers what we want to stand for in the US and how hard it is to make that stand. More so he shows how often we fall so short we can't even see the other side. He has told truth to power, and left for the road when the weight of corruption was too much. Hell, the man is even an artist.
In the other hand we have a jingoistic symbol of the United States own certainty in its own (self) righteousness and relic of an age where we were sure everything we did was just. An age not to different from now for some people I think. He wears a flag on his chest and throws the same flag into people's faces. He bares a name that presumes to speak for everyone on two continents. More so he is a blue-eyed blond man chemically made into the perfect soldier, which can be fairly creepy. A thing many writers have noticed with the amount of time the Red Skull ends up looking just like him. In the end, he is the authority of force and the symbol of American imperialism with feet.
And he is dead. Again really, its a common enough story. And there is a new Cap, another common story. But I think this story addresses the issues above like no other has.
We have Bucky, or to be exact Brubaker's Bucky, an character uncertain in his ideals, a character with no belief of the simplicity of right and wrong. It is Bucky's book now. Yet we still have Steve Rodgers - as important a character dead as he was alive. Thats different this time too, the dead figure is not off to the side, he looms large over the story.
Rodgers is now a ghost of an ideal. The best angels of what the old character stands for act to give drive the new Cap. A new Cap who is at once more troubled as a character and less troubled as a symbol. The costume is the still an image of "America", the shield still flies at people's heads - but the character is not presumed to be perfect. A flawed broken man in search of an ideal that vanishes like a ghost, but one he very much knows exists and he hopes he can live up too. That is the USA I so often love and so often hate. And so the symbol changes.
Brubaker has stripped out the faults and left the dream. Captain America is now a character seeking redemption both for himself and for that dream. Within Brubaker's new narrative this Captain American can live up to the reality of the ideal in a way the older character never could.
Its a defining run. And no matter what happens next I am damn happy to read it each month.
Edit: Clarity, typos and context. Allot in other words.
This was taken during Bhudda's Birthday, sort of like the Bhuddist version of Christmas. Only during it, every Bhuddist in town makes little paper lanterns and participates in a march through town. In Seoul this meant that there was a march of about 100,000 people silently walking with little coloured lotus lanterns. My girlfriend at the time and I visited a big temple in the area of Insa-Dong. The effect of a million paper lanterns quietly swinging in the breeze was most definitely the calmest feeling I've ever experienced. Add to that the fact that on each of these lanterns is a little card with someone's name and their wish and you have the best holiday I've ever heard of.
I mean, I like football okay I suppose, but I'm just not feeling it this year. And though I like the |natural enemy of the human| a little more than many here, I'm certainly not going to watch this. (link not safe for... anyone)
The parking roulette goes like this: Street cleaning every Wednesday and Friday for street cleaning that never seems to happen. Protest or negligence costs forty bucks. My neighbors stack the game, leaving their cars on the safe side for days at a time.
Ticket time begins at 10 a.m., easy for most people, but I am not most people. A) I work at night. B) My overactive thinker makes sleep an uncertainty. Never sure when it will happen and for how long. Most days I'm okay with 4 or 5 hours, others, well no alarm exists that can rouse me from my crash.
I crashed last night. Woke at 9:58. A quick internal budget provided the funds for continued inertia. Pride made me stand. Axe body spray, a fresh fabric skin, the pre-packed survival satchel, and I was off, drowsy and muddled.
The great thinkers of LA congregate in coffee houses. You can tell their quality by the ones they choose, funky or independent. The problem with the funk is the employees work to their own standard. The Latino kid at Psychobabble on Vermont kept his low. The wifi and parking are the only reasons to go there no matter whose working.
He vanished, simply vanished after putting my bagel in the toaster. A line of thinkers formed in his absence. They called out for assistance and whispered strategies to procure the network passwords. Finally, the kid appeared, oblivious or reveling in the malevolent stares.
Then, she arrived, a whirlwind that cut the line with unmedicated fury. She wanted nothing but to express her world view to the under caffeinated and that view pertained to Psychobabble and how she hated it, the employees, the owners, and all the great thinkers who toiled there.
She'd been burned by bad service, used as a sperm dump by some guy called Gary, and fuck us all for not appreciating all she did for Los Angeles, Los Feliz, and the generality of the world. It was the type of performance that reminds you exactly where you are. LA is a city of well-groomed crazy, generally isolated in their cars and homes, just looking for a stage.
And since that crazy's been honed in pursuit of some craft, public displays come furnished with headshots on request. At the door, she spun around, paused for the proper beats, and said "I hate this fucking place." Several people thought about asking for a glossy at that moment. You could see it in their eyes.
And me without my headphones.
I went to the counter where the kid remained, a little shellshocked, but grateful for the buffer the counter provided.
"Puta," he muttered. "Crazy, huh?"
"Yeah," I replied. "Can I have my fucking bagel, kid? It's been 15 minutes."
He wears a denim jacket and flannel shirt. His barrel chest has aquiesced to age and his stomach has become a weight-watcher's nightmare. His hairstyle is a sort-of cross between Tommy-rocker and late Elvis impersonator.
He's also a racist.
Usually it's just dirty looks and something muttered under his breath, but other times I can make out the words 'fucking' and 'paki' and he spits whenever I walk past or he cycles by, breathing heavily, face redder than a baboon's backside.
I've considered saying something. But what do I say? Do I shout, swear, chastise, mock, pity?
If he hasn't learnt anything in his fifty-odd years on this planet what words can I throw at the fool?
It seems to me that, at least in my area, we live disconnected from each other IRL. Families don't eat together much, don't do much of anything together. We don't talk to our neighbors, and I don't think anyone in my town knows who their local beat-cop is, much less would ask him for help with anything (our cops are scary). We don't watch our fellow humans as if they were people. We watch them as if they were objects put in our way for the mere purpose of annoyance. Please and Thankyou? Pfft. Who the hell heard of that?
So, with a lack of RL socialization, I turn to the blog, seeking connection, friendship, something to cure that "Oh God I'm alone and surrounded by idiot zombies" feeling that curls deep within my black little heart.
I just can't identify with my 20-something peers with their 2-3 young children, wellfare and mcdonalds lifestyles supported (HAPPILY!- how do they manage to be happy in such poverty?) by bad jobs and the nightly napenthe of booze. I look at them- my peers who never did much after graduation, and try to strike up conversations, when words falter.
I don't have anything in common with these people, these wage-slaves who spend so much time with their kids and their crap jobs that they've forgotten there is a life beyond that box, that other things exist. I don't drink, I don't do illegal drugs. I read. I write. I use "Big" words like Genre, sycophant and plebian.
I look at the people I knew in high school, and I have nothing to say to them. They look at me; the feeling's mutual. We both speak english, live in the same city. But our values, our lives, our loves are so different that we might as well be speaking different languages.
So... I blog. I chat. I e-mail. I digitally communicate, because, goddamnit, I need wit. I need vitriolic sarcasm. I need Intelligence. I need sharp, curious minds, people aware of what's around them.