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January 10, 2005


Steven Berg

At the risk of belaboring Marc's points....

The allegorical trappings of your argument actually seem sort of superfluous, since the political philosophies for which you claim these characters are representations are, in fact, the political philosophies they subscribe to as characters. To transform the narrative of Watchmen into an allegorical philosophical argument makes the book's political-philosophical statements appear much more like a coherent unity than they are, and much less interesting at that. If you take the narrative as it is, as a narrative of complex characters who adopt political and philosopical views, act on them and compromise or refuse to compromise them, observing the interactions and mutations that occur as the characters come into conflit or accord, I think you'd end up with a political narrative that follows the broad outline of your THEN, but more ambiguous, complicated, and entertaining.

I don't know if that's relevant to your class, but there you go.

Björn W.

while right wing populism (Rorschach) and authoritarian statism (the Comedian) both die

If you look at it this way you should not forget that Rorschach's diary still remains. Thus, there are manifestos from right wing populism that are potentially able to bring down the new society should they ever be discovered. Eventhough it seems as if the enlightenment has won, it may in the end be a Pyrrhic victory, since the element of right wing populism still lingers in the shadows of the new state (among a heap of nonsense and paranoia) like a box of Pandora that might easily be opened by those who underestimate its strength and see it as harmless nonsense (Seymour).

Joseph Gualtieri

Bjorn already points to one major hole in the thesis, but even if Rorschach's diary is never published, there's little assurance Viedt's plan will work beyond the short term.


Steven: of course you're right - hence the tongue in cheek and the shout-out to Marc! Watchmen is so rich, and operates at so many levels, that it would be absurd to *really* try to reduce it to a single interpretive level. This one is kind of fun, though, I thought!

Bjorn and Joseph: yes! Bjorn's reading of the remnants of right wing irratoinalism actually fit pretty well, though: the victories of rationalism, modernity, the Enlightenment, whatever you want to call it, over barbarism are always at best tentative and incomplete. Moore might give the game to the Enlightenment, but he doesn't really seem to identify with it, or ask the reader to do so: the Enlightenment "wins" only with the assistance of non-rational forces, and does so over the graves of untold millions. As Dr. Manhattan reminds us, nothing ever "ends": the liberal utopia, Kant's perpetual peace, will always remain just beyond the horizon, spurring humanity on to ever greater sacrifices... and atrocities? Everyone - including Veidt - seem to agree that the Comedian's Realpolitik worldview is the most honest and insightful one, which sits uneasily with Veidt's plan to radically change the world. The Enlightenment's "victory" is only ambiguously a happy ending, then.. and not even really and ending.

David Fiore

just a brief note on this kind of reading--

I'm no more a fan of it than Marc or Steven are, but I think that, in this particular case, the work almost begs for it! It's kind of the Magic Mountain of superhero comics... but here's the thing: if you pursue my analogy, Dreibeg & Juspeczyk (you left her out!) become a kind of dual-Hans Castorp... not stand-ins for any philosophy, but protean figures stranded in the labyrinth of allegories that Moore builds around them "while they were sleeping", as it were...

now, what do we do with that assertion? (assuming that people don't just discard it out of hand)--well, I'm not sure...but I'll know more in a few weeks!




Something similar to this came up over at comicon when I suggested Watchmen had a hokey ending. It does, and any rationalist even close to worth the label would realize that Ozzy's plan wouldn't work; he'd have to keep creating tragedies for it have any lasting effect, thereby severly skewing his hedonic ratio. The fact that every character was too dumb to realize this is a real failing of the book. Anyway, Ozzy ain't exactly a rationalist, in the Enlightenment sense, with capital R reason. He's a ultilitarian -- not a very good one, but a utilitarian.

the aardvark

Charles - I'm not sure I agree that it's a major failing of the book. It's at least possible that we, the readers, are supposed to see the fairly obvious hole in Veidt's plot... and conclude that the Enlightenment doesn't have the answers we need either. Jon's "nothing ever ends" more or less tips off the game. So I would read the ending as Moore's depiction of Ozzy's hubris and blind spots rather than as a failure of the book.

Winston Smith

About a year ago I picked up the Watchmen TPB. I have no idea why I did, not being a comics fan, but I'm glad I did.

Well there's one facet of this story that I've never seen discussed anywhere. That would be what I see as veiled references to the Illuminati, New World Order and eventually, 9/11. You can go ahead and laugh now but I really see these references and I'm wondering if I'm the only one.

Here's where I'm seeing this kooky stuff.

If your familiar with the conspiracy theories about the Illuminati, you know they are believed to be a group of elite families bent on taking power over all of the world by infiltrating all major corporations, organizations, governments, etc., at high levels, but keeping these agents compartmentalized so they really don't know what ends they are working for. The Allseeing Eye of the Illuminati represents this compartmentalization.

Ozymandias, has this Allseeing Eye symbol incorporated in his costume. (You can also find the Allseeing Eye on the back of the one dollar bill.) Not only that, but you see this symbol recurring throughout the book, apparently suggesting the omnipresence of Andrew Veidt's influence.

Not only that, but in his conversation with Nite Owl and Rorshach, he starts spouting rhetoric about a "new world" and an "age of illumination". This is significant because according to "conspiracy theorists" the Illuminati is behind the construction of the New World Order to centralize ruling power under one body.

Now let's look at the 9/11 like events of chapter 12. The faked alien attack was perpetrated by Ozymandias to unite the world against a false enemy. Now many people believe 9/11 was perpetrated by higher powers to unite the world against a manufactured enemy. The resemblance of the two events is just uncanny, especially considering that Alan Moore wrote all of this back in the late 1980's.

I've also noticed diabolical references to Freemasonry in some of Moore's other books (From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) that also have relevance to "conspiracy theorists".

Anyway, I just wanted to throw this information out there to see what others think about it.


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Avenging World

Veidt created a completely new, highly complex and sensitive form of life from the brain of a (presumably murdered) psychic,
then killed it, turning its corpse into history's most gargantuan effigy of Moloch, and dumped the corpses of several million people at it's feet as a sacrifice .
In Veidt's New World, United and Pacified, Communism will be a thing of the past,
and there will be no obstacle to Veidt's huge interlocking network of corporations from acquiring control of the entire World's territory and resources.
And Adrian Veidt will rule the Earth.

Just like Alexander.

My site, WATCHMEN UNMASKED details the Occult symbolism in WATCHMEN at some length.


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