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1 INTRODUCTION: (THE) POST APOCALYPTIC (IN) CULTURE America has been [star blasted], horizontally by the car, altitudinally by the plane, electronically by television, geologically by deserts, stereolithically by the megalopoloi, [and] transpolitically by the power gam e, [making it a] power museum [. .] for the whole world Jean Baudrillard, America (1988) more important than watching the supermoon. We a re not so much anxious about a supermars, superjuptier, supersaturn, supermercury, or supertransition of [Merc ury] or Venus across solar disc [. .] but the new generation would coin these terms and people would also take equal interest in connecting them apocalyptic representations is crucia l in evaluating recent American history, and [. .] analysis of post apocalyptic culture can help reshape important questions regarding historical transmission, [. .] trauma, [and] the representation of all events and objects that in moving toward a future with moderate hopefulness, yet without amnesia -James Berger, After the End (1999) This project began in the summer between my second and third year at New College. I was at the time working on campus, cleaning up and readying the dorms for their new occupants in the fall. My chores included trash removal, re painting, and s inhabitants; I was immersed in a veritable midden of New College culture. After work, I read (ironically enough, as a scholar of literature, reading for pleasure is a hard activity to come by during the academic year). That determinate summer, I encounte Oryx & Crake (2003). I experienced, while reading it, what I can only describe as a compelling experienced which her prose encapsulates, struck me so ef fectively b ecause of the post apocalyptic scenario. Granted, I did not know, back the n, how to articulate it
2 as such. However, con temporaneously, I felt that this vehicle was worth examining as a thesis project. Over the course of the next school y ear, up until I officially began the project this past semester, however, I came to understand that I was (and am) interested in a unfathomably vast topic. This is to say that the (post)apocalypse exists on myriad le vels: in literature, films news media co verage, social networking, New Age cults, radical politics, and everyday conversations. During my initial bouts of research, for example, I came across the twentieth Green Mountain Review entitled American Apoc alypse (2007), a collection of apocalyptic poetry and fiction; over eighty writers total. In the introduction, editor Neil Shepard begins by asking, as this thesis does, apocaly tion to a perceived shift in literary consciousness: If, as the poet Ezra Pound has said, writers are the antennae of the human race, then they are detecting signals and reporting from the front lines o f consciousness about what is imminent: and the tone and tenor of this reporting suggests apocalyptic events [ ] In short, laughter in America has suddenly rung hollow, and the new sounds in literature are the fear and lamentation of American Dread or the sometimes angry, sometimes rapturous prophecy of apocalypse. (6 7) imaginative projections ( viz. stories, rumors, and news media cycles ) contain an apocalyptic tenor. M ainstream television shows ( Adventure Time ), documentaries ( Doomsday Preppers ), films ( 2012 ), and even youth literature ( The Hunger Games ) have
3 all become saturated with stories that incorporate the notion of an imminent end; the prevalence of apocalyptic ism in mainstream cultural production conflicts with the margins as a sort of prer equisite for writing [so as to say that] in order to see clearly the norms of American life [ ] one must live [ ] intimations of apocalypse are written everywhere, from graffiti on urban walls and bathroom stalls, to airport novels and New Age prophecies, to literature of the d d the socio writers and their contemporaries all take part in the incommunicable yet integral process of th e everyday, affecting in unseen yet palpable wa ys the shapes of emergent cultural contexts For Kathleen Stewart, the everyday becomes the exact and most efficacious site of cultural production. In her experimental ethnography Ordinary Affects (2007), Stewart weaves an epic series of vignettes which, together, sketch a portrait of the current state of into view as habit or shock, resonance or impact [ ] [which is to say that] Something throws itself together in a moment as an e vent and a sensation; a something both
4 The ordinary is a shifting assemblage of practices and practical knowledges, a scene of both liveness and exhaustion, a dream of escape or of the simple life. Ordinary affects are the varied, surging capacities to affect and to be affected that give everyday life the quality of a continual motion of relations, scenes, contingencies, and emergencies. [. .] Their significance lies in the intensi ties they build and in what thoughts and feelings they make possible. The question they beg is not what they might mean in an order of representations [. .] but where they might go and what potential modes of knowing, relating, and attending to things ar e already somehow present in them in a state of potentiality and resonance. [. .] To attend to ordinary affects is to trace how the potency of forces lies in their immanence to things that are both flighty and hardwired, shifty and unsteady but palpable, too. At once abstract and concrete, ordinary affects are more directly compelling than ideologies, as well as more fractious, multiplicitous, and unpredictable than symbolic meanings. [. .] From the perspective of ordinary affects, things like narrative become tentative though forceful compositions of disparate and moving elements : the watching and waiting for an event to unfold, the details of scenes, the strange or predictable progression in which one thing leads to another, the still life that gives p ause, the resonance that lingers, the lines along which signs rush and form relays, the layering of immanent experience, the dreams of rest or redemption or revenge (1 4, emphasis mine) dinary affects pertain
5 pertain to the post the post apocalyptic narrative functions precisely becaus e its characters can situate their daily reality now to that of before and, in doing so, reveal what affects resonate in the after su premacist diatribe penned by William right surv ivalists. Stewart observes that indeed, what is most surprising about the book is its focus on the ordinary camaraderie but by honing their skills in engineering, shooting, sexual performance, and apo also a scene of life filled wi th worries, fetishes, compulsions, and hoped for satisfactions creating) the post the contempor ary map of post apocalypticism. Eschatology, a forbearance of and/or focus on the End, is the driving force behind all apocalyptic narratives. From speculative and science fiction to Far Right survivalist narratives to the Revelations of Jesus Christ to Hi s Disciple, John of Patmos eschatological narratives emerge striving to convince readers to act (or, at the very least, to suspend disbelief) Regardless of the cause of apocalypse and, importantly, what
6 comes after it, all of these narratives engage wit h and give meaning to fears of an imminent end. After the Rapture, for instance, Revelations proffers an endless, utopic (after)life for the faithful, thus coming, the second coming itself, and the timel ess utopia which follows it are all integral divine plan. In contrast, postapocalyptic science fiction written after World War II presents a more individuated apocalypse: these narratives contain one or several and reflecting; in some, on an apocalyptic event in The narrative structure of Revelations as Frank Kermode argues in his seminal series of lectures The Sense of an End ing (1967) has since compelled figures in the Western canon and culture to imagine themselves, to position themselves imaginatively, Kermode contends that we in the midd precisely bec ause our personal narratives exist between a since past origin and an ever imminent ending (7). an end, make possible a satisfying conso maker of concords between past, present and future, [and] a provider of significance to mere chronicity [ ] [ argues that we as modern cultural actors rely on an ancient form in order to express fears of itself relie s on such forms; there is not much sense without a coherent ending.
7 Sense While imminence still (and, some argue, increasingly) plays an integral role in conceiving of the end, the ends conceived of in contemporary literature are not total or and memories. Literary critics James Berger and Teresa Heffernan, for instance, in response to Kermod have increasi ngly given way to visions of after the end, and the apocalyptic sensibilities both of religion and modernism have shifted toward a sense of post ( After the End xiii apocalyptic climate that hau nts or inspires twentieth first century critic Post Apocalyptic C ulture 7). Together, Berger and Heffernan trace a shift in the apocalyptic climate of contemporary culture which parallels the shift in academic discourse from modernism to t themselves suggest the twentieth century crisis over teleological narratives precisely because they beg the inevitable question of what can possibly come after the modern or first century g
8 market into every sector of life corrodes the immutable; and technological reprod uction the singula r contemporary literature recognizes itself as such; definitively trapped between the conte mporary post reflecting culture [thereby] playing out of a cultural moment and therefore also (25). I will explore the notion of contemporary post apocalyptic literature and films as site s of both cultural reflection and production throughout this thesis project. In my first chapter, I examine several post apocalyptic novels, focusing on Margaret Oryx and Crake (2003) and, to a lesser extent, its sequel The Year of the Flood century works: The Memoirs of a Survivor In the Country of Last Thi ngs historicity. Overall, my examination reveals how these novels each ameliorate the broader, Western eschatological teleology. Furthermore, each novel also explores similar
9 anxieties abou t death, social decay, the structure of space time, and the realness of narratives so as to substantiate contemporaneous modes of cultural criticism, viz. constructed through t ext; both characters and readers are granted the capacity to imagine the scenario which entwines them outside the inscribed terms. favorite, the comics series The Invisibles (1994 2000). Released throughout the last decade of the twentieth century, this series provides insight into the politics of eschatology. Its visual component does not necessarily avail the reader to a more role in watching the narrative over, for instance, resembles the omnibus graphic novel that the post circulat ion reader examines for meaning: the entirety of The In visibles on one encapsulated surface. As raphic novel further complicate the function of space time in the process of reader/viewership. For the purposes of this thesis, I argue that sp ace time is an ever emergent mode; it is shaped by the past and continues to shape the future. Moreover, space time serves as the nexus point between all narrative connections from author to reader/viewer such that the narrative in question becomes couched My third chapter takes on the most current attempt to bridge the gaps between modes of representation, namely film. In particular, the time travel narratives depicted in Twelve Monkeys (1995) and its cinematic La jete (1962) obscure their relation to the postapocalyptic scene; nevertheless, they
10 identify themselves as part of a larger system of intertextuality ( viz. references in both to Vertigo (19 56) As such, t hese movies parallel with an evolving, cultural sense of time and space. In effect, the narrative created in La jete and updated in Twelve Monkeys interlinks the socio these films and their interior constr (and more popular) work reinvents the complicated function of space time within cinematic representation.
11 CHAPTER I: POST APOCALYPTIC NOVELS That should be an easy one one to talk about since there are no prior impressions by which to compare notes. It is r oad or stream, everyone passes with eyes turned seeing by other senses Images, words, music. Imaginative structures. Meaning human meaning -Jimmy/Snowman, Oryx and Crake Stories create for their readers an intangible yet palpable space time in which one or a multitude of narratives construct them selves. In contemporary American post apocalyptic fiction, collapse of infrastructure serves as a poignant form of social criticism. Fictions that imagine social collapse display how cultural beliefs and practices affect the emergent post scarcity; whether government continues to function and whether codes of conduct persist signifies precedent value systems. The post apocalyptic protagonist, then, becomes a preeminent interpreter of signification. In this chapter, I will treat Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Cr ake (2003) as an model of and (as Atwood's interest in her own reception intimates) for post apocalyptic literature. I will read this novel against its sequel, The Year of the Flood (2009), the second in an (appropriately) unfinished trilogy, as well as ag ainst Doris Lessing's The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
12 and Paul Auster's In the Country of Last Things (1987). My purpose in analyzing these texts is to exegete how they create critical narrative stances which signal changes in our cultural reality. I will argue that, especially in the case of Oryx and Crake, the post apocalyptic narrator (read: post apocalypticist) mirrors their reader's impulse, preserving themselves for future audiences. Atwood's constructed reality, like those of her literary counterpar ts, incorporates a narrator whose main concern isn't his inconceivable landscape, but the prospect of someone else being around not conceiving of it. In this way, her narrator evokes a literary form that hearkens to a larger body of eschatological narrativ es. Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake (2003), the first of three novels in the MaddAddam trilogy, is an account of the collapse of American society in the not too distant future. Her central figure, Snowman, documents the course of events which lead to this apocalypse and its aftermath, as framed within a third person limited narrative. The narrative functions, after a fashion, as a bildungsroman; the life and times of Snowman (formerly known as Jimmy) comprise its entirety. However, the narrator's story abou t Snowman's life experiences also remarks on his socio historical moment; from his childhood in the privileged compounds to his adulthood in the wasteland, Snowman's modification, technologies on humanity a nd the world around it. Snowman's legitimacy as a storyteller, however, derives primarily from his connection with the source of the apocalypse that lies at the center of the narrative: namely, Crake (formerly known as Glenn) 1 1 His former name is hardly used in Oryx and Crake however Conversely, in The Year of the Flood codename means more to and for the narrative.
13 Crake and Jimmy have been f riends since childhood. When they both go off to post secondary institutions Jimmy, to the third rate Martha Graham Academy; Crake, to the well regarded Watson Crick Academy they stay in contact. Jimmy, however, soon realizes how powerful his counterpart c ould potentially become. After matriculating, Jimmy begins working at the AnooYoo compound as an advertisement guru; his degree at Martha Graham has at least afforded him the gift of gab. In contrast, and much to Jimmy's chagrin, Crake's career by this poi nt has accelerated further than anyone's expectations. He invites Jimmy to come work with him on his new project at the modi as Jimmy and Oryx (Jimmy's and Crake's mutual female Within Paradice, said Crake [ ] there were two major initiat ives going forward. The first the BlyssPluss Pill was prophylactic in nature, and the logic behind it was simple [ ] The aim was to produce a single pill that, at one and the same time: a) would protect the user against all known sexually transmitt ed diseases, fatal, inconvenient, or merely unsightly; b) would provide an unlimited supply of libido and sexual prowess, coupled with a generalized sense of energy and well being, thus reducing the frustration and blocked testosterone that led to jealousy and violence, and eliminating feelings of low self worth; c) would prolong youth [. .] but there would be a fo u rth [capability] which would not be advertised. The [pill] would also act as a sure fire one time does it all birth control pill, for male and female alike, thus automatically lowering the population level. (292 94)
14 As step two, the Crakers, who are designed to mature quickly, dying around the age of 30, will slowly but surely replace the non modified human species. As the narrator relates (via e human race of the two [steps ] in combination would be stupendous [ ] The Pill would put a stop to haphazard reproduction, the ca n move forward without Jimmy's help. So, Crake brings him on, nominally, as chief advertiser. American society crumbles in Oryx & Crake primarily because of an airborne pandemic strategically designed by Crake. At the onset of the outbreak Jimmy realizes Crake's master work; he has instantiated the pandemic causing virus in batches of the BlyssPluss pre release. At this moment, and despite both Crake and Oryx being away from the compound, Jimmy engages the airlock sequence to keep out the virus. When Crak e returns with an apparently injured Oryx, and after much coaxing on Crake's part immediately, however, Crake slits Oryx's throat, forcing Jimmy to shoot Crake. Following this climactic exchange, Jimmy spends weeks on end in Paradice, dividing his time between scouring Crake's computer, pillaging the food and libations stored up, and catching up on the news, at least until the solar grid finally fails. When this happens, Ji mmy knows he must, in accordance with Oryx's wishes, attend to the Crakers; he must lead With the children in tow, Jimmy sets out from the once heavily guarded now completely deserted compound. From the outset of their jour ney until Jimmy Snowman's final journey out of their
15 Atwood's central figure to explain ( the world appears as it does. Since they know nothing of the world outside Paradice, y comprised by the narrative's reality (349). For instance, besides making Crake out to be a father creator figure for the Crakers (and Oryx as a mother guardian of the environ, animals and all), when they implore him to explain why the world outside Parad clearing away the chaos, for you because they love you but they haven't quite finished dying victim of the pandemic whom he shoots to protect the Crak dream that Crake is dreaming. [. ] He dreams it [. .] s Snowman demonstrates (that is, grows into) his authorial role. He is free to create any and all reasons for the current state of things and, as such, connects his position to the narrator's. way as the novel's and make contact with them. When he finally rounds the bend, however, he hesitates before making himself visible to them; he is arrested by the myriad possible scenarios ( Don't let me down
16 (37 4). Here, Snowman realizes that the onus of narrative progression rests with him, ending the novel by th sequence reaffirms Snowman's projected and internal senses of authority: a s throughout narrative's trajectory. Whereas these non attributed quotes were once physical moments, they subsist now only as fragments in Snowman's memory. Similarly, Snowman's lifeti me consists of fragments which Atwood's nar rator arranges into a lineage; a lthough he remains, to the end, a reluctant protagonist, Snowman nevertheless is aware of this lineage. In order to make anything happen in the narrative, he must go forth and enact it. The final sequence of Oryx and Crake provides the beginnings of a story which Jimmy/Snowman has the ability to compose. As Coral Ann Howells asserts in her study S follows a Last Man archetype, the second, smaller portion (signaled by his return) lays t he groundwork for an unfinished, alternative time [ .] me of mind and wearing his new 'two eyed sunglass plot is taking a new direction, for there is evidence that Snowman is not the Last Man line emerges when Jimmy/Snowman, upon his return t o Paradice, hears a faint voice on the radio. However, it only comes to fruition when the Crakers inform him of the others' presence nearby. Howells explains how
17 because h is perspective has changed, with the prospect of entering again into human name and spirit afford him an authorial position; Jimmy, now Snowman, has the capacity to change (or, at the very least, add to) what is already written. Atwood's third person limited narrator problemat izes Snowman's authorial role; a lthough he is especially priv y to the source of the catastrophe, his story is, invariably, someone else's about his. Thus, through his own narrative, Jimmy/Snowman becomes a tool which Atwood 's narrator utilizes to call into question the very modes of representation that instantiate him and his reality. This problematization, however, only succeeds because of Jimmy/Snowman's latter day realization of authorship. Here, Atwood has provided a cat ch 22: b ecause her story must end somewhere it ends, as it begins, in medias res ; b ecause her story depicts Jimmy/Snowman coming to terms with his authorial nature, his story remains encapsulated within Atwood's constraints. As /Snowman's] futuristic scenario is itself a kind of (191). His seemingly direction addressed to Nobody, though it well may be answered not only by ghosts but by complicated role as writer; replicating the narrator's impulse, he strives to shape his story for a future audience and is most concern ed with the possibilities that his own future
18 holds. In Negotiating with the Dead Margaret Atwood makes explicit her conception of the relationship between writer, character, and reader. She pictures this relationship as: A triangle, but not a complete triangle: something more like an upside down V. The writer and the reader are at the two lateral corners, but there's no line joining them. Between them whether above or below is a third point, which is the written word or the text, or the book [. ] or whatever you would like to call it. This third point is the only point of contact between the other two [ ] [In other words,] the writer communicates with the page. The reader also communicates with the page. [But the] writer and the reader commu nicate only through the page. (125) This construction reaffirms Jimmy/Snowman's role in Oryx & Crake ; he is a liminal messenger, documenting a course of events that borrows from, satirizes, and subsequently influences Atwood's socio historic environment (t hat is, our reality). The writer's and Jim my/Snowman's liminality are one in the same triangular relationship. Viewed as such, Snowman functions as a cipher, communicating the anxieties of Atwood's standpoint through an explicitly constr ucted extant readership, her protagonist, by nature, resonates with the novel's r eadership (133).
19 Atwood's participation in the critical reception of Oryx & Crake serves as a point of entry into how Jimmy/Snowman, as every and only man, functions as or becomes the author of his own narrative. Oryx and Crake is a speculative fiction, not a science fiction proper [and] [ ] it invents nothing we haven't already invented or e by taking credit for their production, and by cluing readers in on her inspirational thoughts, concurrent strategies, and reactions too unfamiliarity, to Jimmy/Snowman's character. The world he grows up in is both symbolically and chronologically parallel with his readership (however unknown it is to him): the novel begins and ends when he is 28 (his birth year is ~1996); the story is set only 23 years after the novel's publication, which itself occurred 50 years after Watson and Crick realized the structure of DNA, an event that shapes and catalyzes the circumstances of both realities. Oryx & Crake merely reminds its readership of technological breakthroughs that they, as her charact ers have already, gro w accustomed to and inevitably take for granted. In short, Margaret Atwood creates a world that we already have the capacity to Negot iating with the Dead and Oryx and Crake : In [the former], Atwood likened the creative writing process to a journey to the Underworld in quest of a lost love or forbidden knowledge, where the writer negotiates with the ghosts of private and collective memor y as well as with
20 literary tradition [ ] [Both, however,] negotiate in their own way with the dead, the influences and mistakes of the past. Each also deals with Atwood's fascination with fictionalizing and the power of published or oral narrative, to affect the ways in which we see, project and construct worlds. (158 59, emphasis mine) According to Wisker, Atwood's constructed reality proffers a standpoint through which contemporary cultural anxieties, as derived from individual, shared, and previousl y written sources, persist. Wisker's notion underscores Atwood's efficaciousness; Atwood has successfully created a reality that overlaps with ours, at least in terms of influence. Since she only writes about extant technologies in Oryx and Crake for inst ance, her story takes on a persuasive aura. Complicating her relationship to the reader via Jimmy/Snowman only accentuates its influence. Further complicating her relationship to the reader is the contiguous narrative she creates in The Year of the Flood (2009) the sequel to Oryx and Crake In this second novel of an unfinished trilogy (the third installment is due out this year), Atwood turns her attention to characters that inhabit the pleeblands from which both Jimmy/Snowman and Glenn/Crake are shelter ed. In contrast with the first novel, The Year of the Flood constructs its narrative through a variety of perspectives, represented through a variety of frameworks. While all of the central characters are part of an eco religious outfit named God's Gardene rs the narrative is organized thusly: Each section begins with a sermon delivered by Adam One (the leader, for all intents and purposes, of their outfit), followed by Toby's story (told in the third person limited), which precedes Ren's story (told in the first person). Especially when read against Oryx and Crake Ren's story parallels with Jimmy/Snowman's; unlike the other Gardeners, she is inside a hermetically sealed
21 environment when the outbreak that Crake delivers ensues, thus she too becomes a lone s urvivor character. Moreover, her relationships with Jimmy and Crake grant her an unparalleled narrative authority (esp. viz characters in ways Atwood's reader cannot (until she relates to them), she incorporates ne w facets of them into the reality shared by the two novels. While Ren's character certainly grants the MaddAddam trilogy a sense of intra textuality, it also, more directly, gives its readers narrative lines to read between. In her article on the second b ook of the series, J. Brooks Bouson comments specifically on this issue of intra textuality: Even as Year provides intratextual commentary on and even a re visionist reading of Oryx by centering on the violent and degrading pleebland world inhabited by Ren and Toby it also, like Oryx and Crake and like apocalyptic fiction in general, writes toward the ending as readers are urged to speculate on the future by asking, at the end of Oryx if Jimmy Snowman will survive and, at the end of Year if Ren and pandemic virus created by Oryx Bouson accurately conceives that, although Atwood's readership will certainly be inclined to make connections between the novels, The Y ear of the Flood still stands alone as an exemplary piece of apocalyptic fiction. In this way, however, Atwood's sequel nevertheless reaffirms the importance of Jimmy/Snowman's documentation of events; Ren replicates his impulse, in her case documenting an other path taken in the novels' shared reality. That the final section of both novels involves the two narratives' characters
22 ending of Year even as it writes beyond the ending of Oryx also leaves the reader in a state of unknowing, a gesture meant to compel, as many Atwoodian novelistic closures 12). In other words, and especially considering that Atwood created The Year of the Flood as a res ponse to her readers' petitions surrounding Oryx and Crake Atwood's two novels highlight intra textuality as a site of the reader's engaging with the text. One potent site of interaction found between these texts is in Crake's involvement. traumatic event compels a retelling of the events that led up to and that follow it, so Atwood feels compelled to retell the before and after events of Oryx in Year especially in telli ng the story of Glenn scientist Crake is a central character in Oryx and is the agent of Year story and presence in Year son here identifies the series' use of circumlocution; because the characters in Year do not know Crake like Jimmy/Snowman does, their perception of him is limited to mundane experiences. In Ren's story, for instance, she interacts with him when host ing hi m as Pillar's courier and later as his friend inside the to informed readers of Year humanizing role for Ren and the G ardeners. That Zeb turns out to be MaddAddam, the head of a radical sectarian eco outfit, only enhances the avid reader's conception; Atwood's characters in Year (excepting Zeb) are unaware of the actions undertaken by Zeb's network of anarchistic scientis ts. Read as such, The Year of the Flood recapitulates the theme of a necessary readership which Oryx and Crake in different ways, introduces.
23 Bouson concludes her article by linking Atwood's text and their author to the socio historic moment which produc ed them both: Seeing her cautionary tales, Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood as a form of environmental consciousness raising, Atwood seeks a wide public readership for these works as she challenges her readers to think the unthinkable. Atwood, who has long talked of the moral imperative that drives her work, also believes in the transformative and ethical potential of imaginative literature, and indeed, Year like Oryx is a feminist, anti corporate and radically ecological work in which Atwood in sharing her fears of and outrage against current trends in contemporary society, also wishes to prod her readers to meaningful political thought and action. (23) By juxtaposing the author with her texts, Bouson accentuates the ways in which Atwood's u nfinished trilogy, along with expressing culturally shared anxieties, stems from an entrenched position, one that responds to extant problems by framing them within the post apocalypse. In this sense, Bouson identifies Atwood's need, much resembling that o f her characters, to impact her readers and to cause them to act. This notion positions speculative fiction as on par with eschatological proselytizing; like doom sayers of the past, present, and future, Atwood's characters invoke an authoritative stance which, ideally, compels its witnesses to further the spread of its message. Jimmy/Snowman's everyman role recapitulates a thematic drive in the post apocalyptic sub genre. Juxtaposing his character with Doris Lessing's nameless protagonist in The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) reveals what the post apocalyptic position connotes; she makes this explicit in the opening lines of the novel:
24 We all remember that time. It was no different for me than for others. Yet we do tell each other over and over again the pa rticularities of the events we shared, and the repetition, the listening, is as if we are saying, 'It was like that for you, too? Then that confirms it, yes, it was so, it must have been, I wasn't imagining things.' [. .] the protracted period of unease and tension before the end was the same for everybody, everywhere [. .] this is what, looking back, we acknowledge first 4) Lessing's narrator protagonist here argues that hers is an immutable position. Her memo irs are about an unidentified apocalypse which has led to ubiquitous social socio historic moment and to any other moment when a society fears an imminent threat. Mor and social realities. In short, Lessing's protagonist's memoirs lay the groundwork for Atwood's protagonist's imaginative leaps. In contrast to Oryx and Crake The Memoirs of a Survivor is (like the majority of post catastrophe narratives) written in a limited first person perspective. Lessing's narrator has lived through and is now (fr om an unspecified time afterwards) reflecting on an apocalyptic event which has left her city crumbling and largely abandoned. While the event itself remains obscured, it nevertheless leads to a decline in social (and psychological) order. Perhaps to assua ge only herself, Lessing's protagonist observes what changes have occurred in society since the apocalypse and extrapolates on society's role in issuing its own decline.
25 Like Atwood's narrator, Lessing's survivor splits her narrative time between identify ing new patterns in the decay (esp. migration patterns, viz. (35)) and blurring the boundaries between her physical and mental realities (i.e. when she divulging how she goes to the hidden place, she admits that it is difficult to describe: closely connected [but also excluded each other] and I did not expect [the m] ever to link ward Emily's lives; as the life she leads in the hidden place versus in her house; as the life she lived before the apocalypse versus after; and as her li fe versus the reader's. These two lives also signify the bifurcated nature of her survival; she must go on (reflecting on) living. Read as such, the survivor's journeys through the wall function as moments in the creates an imaginative time space that informs her and her readership simultaneously. Also, perhaps more willingly than Jimmy/Snowman, Lessing's survivor has tasked herself with comparing emergent conditions t o those beforehand. She understands that where nothing could happen but what one saw happening, where the air was tight and limited, and above all where time was a strict unalterable law...with no escape but the 42). Considering her experiences
26 collapse together; the progression of personal time emulates that of real time. While her reflection purports a linear teleology, Lessing's protagonist inevitably concedes to the fragmented nature of time in the post apocalypse. Toward the end of the [ultimately] no 'right' place or time, since there was no particular moment that marked 'its' beginning...[merely an emergent] period when everyone was talking about 'it' (150). This, of course, incites her to think: [Is] it possible to write an account of anything at all without 'it' in some shape or another being the main theme? Perhaps, indeed, 'it' is the secret theme of all literature and history, like writing between the lines in inv isible ink, which springs up dimming the old print we knew so well, as life, personal or public, unfolds unexpectedly and we see something where we never thought we could we see 'it' as the ground swell of events, experience [indeed,] I am sure that ever since there were men on earth, 'it' has been talked of precisely in this way in times of crisis since it is in crisis 'it' becomes visible, and our conceit sinks before its force. For 'it' is a force, a power, taking the form of earthquake, a vi siting comet distorting all thought by fear 'it' can be, has been, pestilence, a war, the (151) Lessing's protagonist identifies the intricate nature of expression. the imaginary yet palpable apocalypse, demonstrates an inherent connection between apocalypticism and human history: Here, our unprecedented predictions sync with our
27 emergent concerns. Paul Auster's In the Country of Lost Things (1987) also depicts one (in this case named) woman's documentation of a city's infrastructural collapse; in contrast, however, writes the story as a letter to an un find her brother, a journalist who immigrated to the city before her. Traveling to the ( as in Lessing's work, unnamed) city, Anna quickly experiences the dominant social strata; those who wish to stay al ive scavenge for the supplies (and thus energy) to stay alive; those who have had enough of this life choose from a myriad of more or less expensive make t he best o f things as they are [. .] [you will inevitably have to kill] off all those things that once made y ou think of yourself as human [. .] [that is, in] order to live, you y dead, both physically and spiritually. While she never finds her brother, she eventually falls in love with Sam, a fellow journalist and the only person in the city who knew him. Together, they document a history of the city since the start of its demis e. Perhaps appropriately, their work is cut short when the couple is separated and the library in which they (and the manuscript) live burns down. After this episode, Anna finds herself (and eventually Sam) working at a halfway house; a center where surviv ors can get proper bed rest and two meals a day, provided they contribute to chores and the center's general well being. The center was started by a (now late) philanthropist and continues to fund its efforts exclusively by auctioning off his possessions. Eventually, all their resources are drained and Anna and
28 company decide to leave the city, once and for all. Anna considers leaving the city at several points in the story, but finally resigns herself because of the legal challenges present at each border Indeed, she discovers that entering the city is not half as hard as leaving it. Nevertheless, when the house all agrees to emigrate, they attain (through bribery) the proper authorization and have only to wait for winter's snow to thaw. Referencing that the story's entirety is in fact her letter to an (which, she acknowledges, the r ecipient will probably never receive): I've been trying to fit everything in, trying to get to the end before it's too late, but I see now how badly I've deceived myself. Words do not allow such things. The closer you come to the end, the more there is to say. The end is only imaginary, a destination you invent to keep yourself going, but a point comes when you realize you will never get there. You might have to stop, but that is only because you have run out of time. You stop, but that does not mean you ha ve come to the end (183). By acknowledging her letter's ending as illusory, Anna complicates how her reader should receive her decision to abandon the city. Over the course of Auster's novel, she rrors living through her text; by writing down her experiences for an imagined reader, Anna leaves the parts of herself that are human on the page. On a large enough time scale, her (mis)adventures in the city are but one feature of a life lived outside of life. Every single character analyzed in this chapter is concerned with representation. More directly, the protagonists of each of the works analyzed are concerned with
29 representing their situation to an untold, unfathomable reader. This breakdown in the relationship between author, text, and reader is crucial for unpacking (or, better yet, being impacted by) the meaning of and calls to action presented by the narratives. In the next chapter, I will continue to explore the ways in which this breakdown fun ctions as a literary device, specifically focusing on Grant Morrison's comics series The Invisibles (1994 2000). As I will argue, Morrison's characters, their constructions and interactions, reaffirm the motif of a narrative structure which hinges on its b eing read (or, more precisely, the experience of its being read).
30 CHAPTER II: I NIVISIBLE TIME, INVISIBLE LANGUAGE, INVISIBLE AUTHOR(S) but instead as a live even t a fleeting conduit between the lived and the potential hidden -Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects (2007) world. We need to use, to u se, all the all the skills all the spills and thrills that we conjure, that we construct, that we lay out and put together, to create life as beautiful as we thought it could be, as we dreamed it could be, as we desired it to be, as we knew it could be, be fore we took off, before we split for the sky side, not to settle for endless meaningless circles of celebration of this madness, this madness, not to settle for this r smiles to open roars of joy, meet you on the battlefield they say, they be humming, hop, meet you on the battlefield they say, meet you on the battlefield they say, what i guess needs to be Representing what comes after the end functi ons as a theme in and of itself in contemporary literature. The post apocalyptic scenario question s traditional narrative form s; it challenge s modes which, in effect, stem from the very syste m(s) that usher the endings it exist s in relation to and after. T he comics form enables this narrative self consciousness on a level which experiments with comprehension. In particular, Grant Morrison's influential graphic novel The Invisibles complicates its characters' sens es of time, language, and authority such tha t its narrative structure becomes open to interpretation. In doing so, Morrison envisions the breakdown in comprehension entailed by the a pocalypse. The post apocalypse, then, becomes the space in which authors', narrators', characters', and readers' roles are compromised; in which modes of
31 representation that substantiate reality make as much sense as glossolalia; in which attempts toward determinate ends peter out, leaving only the present moment. In this chapter, I will demonstrate how Morrison's graphic novel interrogates the very modes of representation that the post apocalyptic position deconstructs. Furthermore, I will explore how, by directly involving the reader, the comics form anticipates its own re creation. The Invisibles ran from 1994 to 2000, periodically. At the end of the first issue, Grant Morrison reflects on what led him to create the comic and what the comic itself is about. After urging readers to destroy the comic once they are finished reading it nyway, and chances are your memories of this The Invisibles is what I'm going to be concentrating on for the foreseeable future, and I think I've at last found a concept wide ranging enough to accommodate all the ideas I've had which would otherwise be spread through a succession of one shot books and specials. Although we have a core group of characters, anyone can belong to or oppose the Invisibles, giving me the opportunity to tell stories ranging across time and genre, stories that will eventually come together and be revealed as one large scale, shimmeringly holographic tapestry. Generally, the longer stories will feature the activities of our five principal players, while one shots will explore the lives of various ordinary and extraordinary folk drawn into a web of conspiracy that extends from the back streets of your home town to the dark blue green planet circling Alpha Centauri and beyond, out past the horizon of the s pacetime supersphere itself. This is the comic I've wanted to write all my life a comic about everything : action, philosophy, paranoia, sex, magic, biography,
32 travel, drugs, religion, UFOs you can make your own list. And when it reaches its conclus ion, somewhere down the line, I promise to reveal who runs the world, why our lives are the way they are and exactly what happens to us when we die. (1.1, 41, emphasis in original) t, provide some background material on the c reation you now hold in hands conscious impulse (41). The author of the series posits an overarching connection of characters, events, and settings to their (and our) reality. This furthermore connects these characters' aspirations to their mode of representation; the comics form emulates the socio historic context which produces them. the fate of hu manity; the final battleground of which takes place on December 21 st 2012. This battle has already been fought for ages. The narrative, however, begins with Jack do well L iv erpudlian teenager with a knack for sabotage and resisting authority figures. He is brought into the group by Tom O'Bedlam, an older agent who seeks to transfer his powers so as to finally retire. Once initiated, Jack Frost joins a cell comprised of King M ob, the veritable leader (who also serves as an analogue of Morrison); Lord Fanny, a trans* gendered Mexican witch (who harnesses the powers of Gods from eons past); Boy, a black, female (form er) NYPD officer (whose entire family was disappeared by the gov ernment); and Ragged Robin, a harlequin (who eventually is revealed to be an alternative and arguably truer author of the series). The Invisibles' narrative is comprised of the experiences that lead each of them to become Invisibles and of their collecti ve
33 struggle against the Other Side. Invisibles operatives work and communicate between the lines of reality. First and foremost, their mission is to defeat the O ther S ide and thereby liberate humanity from itself. The representations of spectacle and consumption in contemporary society legitimate the Invisibles' concern for humanity's future. Throughout the novel, central and auxiliary characters describe how cultural systems /institutions serve to advance the other side's agenda. These characters l (esp. government and corporations). However, Morrison illustrates how high echelon dimensional beings whose presence in their (and our ) reality (/ies ) creates everything that's wrong with it (/them) Mr. Gelt, the Warden of Harmony House, represents the hierarchy which the Archons strive to preserve have pride in [their] role as a cog in the great machine of furthermore Undead. Accepting of 33). After the Warden welcomes Dane (and before Dane realizes what, quite, goes on King in the inter di mensional chain of command. When The King in Chains asks Mr. Gelt to I not give you new eyes to see? Did I not take your sin away and leave that bea utiful ruin between your H ere, Morrison illustrates the corporeal nature of power in The Invisibles universe; the Archons grant high echelon agents transcendent facilities (e.g.
34 sight and desire) in exchange for castration and undying subservience. The Invisibles struggle agains t the hie rarchy which The King in Chains, Mr. Gelt and Harmony House embody reflects the comic s rejection of representational limitations. Time within the narrative, for instance, functions similarly to our reality; characters evoke cultural motifs which gives them meaning. However, any and every way of reading The Invisibles chronology succeeds ; space time functions, as Morrison illustrates with Takashi s time machine, like origami paper. Moreover, utilizin time in The Invisibles serves to: [Build] an idiosyncratic map of connections between a series of singularities [. .] pointing always outward to an ordinary world whose forms of living are now being composed interiority or riding a great rush of signs to a satisfying end ( Ordinary Affects 4 5). fragmented time line demands a concordant breakdown of language and ending; narrative s elf consciousness demands that speech bubbles disintegrate, that communication between members of the Invisibles appear only in brackets; it demands that the apocalypse these characters combat must elide realization. By challenging traditional conceptions of time, language, and authority Morrison s The Invisibles creates a unique context for examining narrative expectations within a shared literary imagination. By creating this context, Morrison undermines the reader s expectations such that, as per Tom O Bedlam of power. In two worlds at the same time. And [that] there are more
35 (1.16, 5). In this sense, The Invisibles grants its reader an affective stance in relation to t to subvert or invert the traditions and clichs of the mainstream; it s to revel in them and amplify their power through art, with the ultimate goal of making his readers wo rld reading The Invisibles becomes an emergent experience in questioning authorship, representation, and reality. Morrison provides his readers with a complicated menagerie of conceptions, all o f which juxtaposed create a map of his narrative s world (s) But understanding precisely how reality functions in the narrative is confounding. Verano explains how: In [ The Invisibles for instance,] comic book characters are survivors of [when] a higher dim ension [. .] collapsed [them] into a fictional reality within ours [so as] to esc ape their own doomed universe [. ] His characters return the panoptic 2 gaze that has kept them under constant surveillance and reduced their lives to spectacle to be consumed for entertainment. Theirs, like ours, is a virtual universe an other space beyond a Cocteau like mirror. (319) Throughout The Invisib les then, there is a sense of singularity; no matter what set of actions is taking place before the reader s eye, Morrison s characters hint about borders, s universe); no matter what point in the series time line the reader finds themselves, his characters describe 2 son in which a guard can see all inmates simultaneously, was coined as a theoretical concept by cultural analyst Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish (1975). Its newer meaning typifies, for instance, the hyper vigilant security culture of post 9/11 Ame rica; every citizen is responsible for watching and for being watched, so as to ensure domestic tranquility (read: social control).
36 their (past, present, and future) situation comprehensively. The construction of t ime in The Invisibles largely depends on its graphic form. In form], by its very nature, is a form of sequence and time [consisting] of images introduce the element of time to call into question time honored distinctions between spatial and temporal modes of representation. 3 Singer identifies this problematic as essential to Morrison s n hide comics formal complications of narrative time, Morrison highlights them in order to foreground the unique narrative possibilities of the [Indeed, while] The Invisibles may not send shockwaves through time...it is a text in Morrison s universe, and can be bent or folded just like a book or t his may be misreading, since it stems from a three dimensional perspective. A more accurate reading of time, according to Morrison, erases distinctions between past, present, and future. [T heories ] chronological order to time have little meaning [in this narrative] because any order of events, any way of arranging the discourse, is an accurate representation of a timespace in which all events happen at once. (38) Singer s notion of time s variable constructions within Morr ison s arch narrative provides 3 Such distinctions can trace their heritage back to G. E. Lessing's Laocoon (1766) and Leon Battista Alberti's On Painting (1436), both of which deliberate the representational limits of and between the visual (and thus spatial) and verbal (and thus temporal) art s
37 a basis for examining internal characters experiences. The members of the Invisibles are more and less aware of this variability; nevertheless, each inevitably realizes it for them self. Singer draws his conclusions primari ly from a single issue of The Invisibles ; Frost and Lord Fanny rendezvous with the curious agents of the Harlequinade in order to acquire the Hand of Glory (which both sides seek and which proffers its wielder the ability to open rifts in space time) 4 ; King Mob visits and reminisces with a lover on their life together before his initiation; Ragged Robin travels to San Francisco, where, thanks to the millionaire Mason Lang s l ongstanding sponsorship of the collective, Takashi believes he has invented a time machine. Although separated in space by the physical pages of the issue, all of these stories necessarily occur simultaneously. As Takashi implores Lang and Ragged Robin: Th ink of timespace as a multidimensional self perfecting system in which everything that has ever, or will ever occur, occurs simultaneously Timespace is a kind of object a geometrical supersolid it may even be a type of hologram in which energy and matter themselves are by products of the overlapping of two higher systems. (2.5, 16) Takashi s blueprint for the time machine is literally an origami shape, folded by his grandfather in Hiroshima in 1945, its significance left for him to inherit and discover (see fig. 1). His explanation of time, then, resonates with Singer s explication; juxtaposed, 4 Morrison implies in several key episodes that the Harlequinade manifests humanity's collective unconscious. De Sade's role in this organization emphasizes its subjacent relationship with the hyper reality of the narrative. In accordance, the Hand of Glory becomes the vacated symbol of pursuit; both sides seek its power, despite its function (and their intentions) r emaining mysterious.
38 they impose a discursive conception of space time s place and function within the narrative. Douglas Wolk also picks up on the narrative s relationship to spacetime. He notes how: A lot of The Invisibles is explicitly concerned with the way that time and space can be represented on a printed page, and the idea that if time is the province of language and space is the province of visual art, then the relat ionship of the two is the province of the comics medium. It also addresses the question of visibility and invisibility (key words: seeing, representation, presence, existence), beginning with the paradox of the series title (always represented as negative space) and its medium (which is all about visibility). And it s got magical rituals, monsters from another dimension, schizophrenic time traveling cyborg bombshells, the end of the world, and pacifists with really big guns. (261) Space tim e in The Invisibles relies on the traditional yet complex relationship between narrative and its representation. Furthermore, and as Wolk s conception illustrates, spacetime is merely one of many gestures expressed by the narrative which corroborates its ow n internal (and external) realities. The relationship between language and visual art itself creates both a context for Morrison s characters to exist and a medium through which time, language, and narrative can be interrogated. Time manifests in several ways: While Takashi s (inheritance and creation of the) time machine certainly takes a central role in this issue, the Hand of Glory, the Roswell fluid, and character s memories all engage with the narrative s meta construction of space time. King Mob best encapsulates these thematic elements. As he relates to Jolly
39 base There was stuff down there I can t walk away from...that thing from Roswell Berkley and updatin g Jacqui on his (in her mind mis ) adventures, King Mob reports that re all staying in the Marriott on Market, courtesy of Mason Lang the new age billionaire. He reckons one of his people has figured out how to make a time machine (10). In the nex subsequently tosses a book he s been reading aside (10). The book he is reading reveals the intricate layers o f his involvement with the text: Its cover distinctly resembles the precedi ng issue in Morrison s series, positioning him as the proverbial reader. As such, King Mob s knowledge of events matches ours. The Invisibles themselves are well aware that they are being watched; who is watching them, however, remains the question. After the debacle at the windmill (their time traveling headquarters) with Orlando (a shadow being from a former eon whom is employed by the Other Side), re going to have to consider the possibility that someone s giving the enemy info Most immediately, he is referring to the enemy that coordinated Orlando s attack. However, in effect, he is also implicating the reader; the ability to track the group s movements is a crucial aspect of reading thei r story King Mob s remonstration of Jack Frost a few panels prior substantiates this notion: group. By invoking the titl e, however, he also refers to the (reader s expectations for the) novel itself. King Mob s fear of surveillance resonates as a motif throughout the novel. Verano
40 ties this concern to the novel dossier that frag ments time into static images to put a fictional life on display, for the viewer to The reader is the all seeing, all knowing eye; because he lives outside the dimensions of the comic book, time and space mean nothing he can easily flip ahead or return to a key point in a character s life. The reader is a watchman whose gaze forever ensures the image s imprisonment in the panoptic structure of the comic book. (324 25) Given this sens e of the novel s form, the reader is implicated as the enemy s informant (and perhaps even the enemy itself). The Invisibles trials and tribula tions serve as an expansive yet contained story arc, encapsulating sentiment and experience simultaneously; the freedom this group strives for is, in effect, freedom from this mode of representation. In several instances throughout the narrative arc, characters evoke a panoptical relationship between theirs and the reader s worlds. Arcadia pt. IV for instance, beg ins with a n orgy scene hosted by the Marquis de Sade, wherein a gimp reflect s on the trajectory of the 20 th crash barrier of the 21 st century and suddenly you think who s driving this fuc ker? You the reader; by evoking this apocalyptic concern, he ties the reader s world to his own. This notion is made perfectly clear when, in the last panel on the page, after being remonstrated by his mistress from outside the frame s speaking. What did I tell it? Jesus you
41 you. Sorry if I got carried away s mine). In his terms, getting of representational boundaries. And, as a subservient actor, the gimp is well awa re of contextual power dynamics. A s such, his awareness of the reader implicates the extant dynamic bet ween the reader s and his worlds. By tying these worlds together, the gimp makes his concern the reader s. And the reader s world is necessarily linked with his as well The series structure obfuscates who is telling the story of The Invisibles and to w hom. King Mob s conflation has a kind of avatar within the story: King Mob, aka Gideon Starorzewski, who writes horror novels under the name Kirk Morrison and is drawn t 19), the Other Side probes this conflation by surrounds Gideon Stargrave s (or, Starorzekski s alte r ego s) adventures, but is (visually) interrupted by Sir Miles efforts at extracting information out of (who he suspects is) King Mob whom he has captured Reporting on his condition to Miss Dwyer, his superior in the Archon s hierarchy and the King of A ll Tears right hand contact in this reality, Miles is unable to answer her repeated he can only determine that: His name is Kirk Morrison He writes horror novels; the sort of illiterate trash one finds in airports and supermarkets. That, or his name is Gideon Stargrave and not only has he traveled here from a succession of parallel realities, he s also resurrected himself on more than one occasion. Occam s Razor not to mention common sense, favors t know. Not y et. (12 13 )
42 As a result of his misgivings, Miss Dwyer ushers the King of All Tears into their reality and assumes a monstrous form on his behalf, so as to finally discover King Mob s true identity (and thereby d estroy him ). Miss Dwyer s intercession notwithstanding, Sir Miles failure to certify King Mob s identity (and thereby authority) resonates with the comics lack of authorial focus. Morrison translates this authorial decentralization as the complication o f how language constructs reality. Douglas Wolk claims that Morrison s chosen mode of ted polyvalent; they are arbitrary signs for a thing and (when written) not perceived as projections of the thing onto the plane on which they 72). Word s function outside of the representational limits of the visual plane; they invoke the invisible aspects of the narrative (and its internal realities). Words cannot, however, successfully describe the overarching systems which constitute the narrative s re ality. dimensional construct from the outside, because language use causes reality rather than representing its surfaces and is open to 73, emphasis in o The Invisibles is language use, because it s s position illustrates (no pun intended) how language, despite being (at least according to his terms) unable to exceed the representational boundaries of the comics, nevertheless signifies a desire to do so. The Invisibles language asks its observer to imagine a space beyond description, for which
43 the image language collage of the narrative lays the groun dwork. In this way, authority appears in The Invisibles as an inconceivable by product of representation. The ways in which time, language, and authorship are challenged in The Invisibles become a thematic arc in and of themselves. By complicating these a spects of the narrative, Morrison produces a work which asks the reader to join in the battle against the Other Side. The reader, however, simultaneously gives meaning to and comes to represent that Other Side Nevertheless, Morrison s motley of characters and events becomes a door through which the reader intersects with the narrative s reality. As the end of the world is a crucial motif, Morrison s complications instantiate a post apocalyptic position, to be inhabited by whomever sets upon telling, repres enting, or experiencing The Invisibles To understand Morrison s project is to engage in his characters eschatology. For example, as Dane observes on December 21 st 2012, the it ast Temptation o it in question is the imminent apocalypse, represented by the physical panel s coming apart (see also fig. 4) Considering how time functions throughout the narrative, however, Jack s observation applies to the entire series; every moment, whether focused on characters lived realities or the representation The Invisibles becomes a record of living up to and through the end which as a narratological device, the titular group and their adversaries both seek to encapsulate.
44 C HAPTER III: POSTAPOCALYPTIC FILMS -Georges Duhamel, as quo (1936) This time he is close to her, he speaks to her. She welcomes him without surprise. They are without memories, without plans. Time builds itself painlessly around them Their only landmarks are the flavor of the moment they are living and the markings on the walls. Later on, they are in a garden. He remembers there were gardens. She asks him about his necklace, the combat necklace he wore at the start of the war that is yet to come. He invents an explanation. -Narrator of La jete (1967) Contemporary cinema avails the world to representations of film makers' socio historic standpoints. Every aspect, from production value to methods of distribution, remarks discursive ly on cinema's conceptual circumstances. Despite differences in examine in this chapter, namely Chris Marker's La j ete (1967) and Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys (1995), demonstrate this notion aptly: Gilliam, an ex pat American director from England, produces a film in Hollywood which, he purports, is directly inspired by the Swiss d irector Marker's earlier French film. Furthermore, both of these films pay explicit homage to the British born Hollywood director Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo (1956): in Gilliam's case, going so far as to precisely mimic shots and staging present in Hit chcock's work (which, in turn, attributes its source as Boileu Narcejac's
45 1954 novel D'entre les morts). When juxtaposed, these films reveal a nexus point within cultural production that, conversely, ameliorates the ir socio historic significance. In this c hapter I will focus on Chris Marker's La j ete and Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys and examine how their post apocalyptic settings influence the significance of their inter textually linked use of time travel. I will attend first to Marker's film, deriving a notion of filmic temporality, in order to pay special attention to Gilliam's cult classic. I will thereby argue that, in particular, Twelve Monkeys evokes a breakdown in space time which mirrors the state of American cultural production; as Gilliam and h is contemporaries approach the second millennium, they construct narratives which create a piecemeal, do it yourself system of signification, thereby proffering dystopias which, at least, comment on and, at most, criticize the socio historic context that l eads to their production. In this way, and especially in relation to Gilliam's intertextual strategies, Twelve Monkeys comes to represent a fictional moment which retains the characteristic of already having been lived. In the introduction to Crisis Cinem a (1993), Christopher Sharrett notes how cinema as the exemplary mode of represen tation in contemporary American culture. This apocalypticism of the postmodern moment simply because the horrific nihilism of cultural production indeed has a relationsh ip to measurable, material circumstances of authors have (always) sought to represent, in their novels, the sense of a moment
46 (however fictional they seem), so too do dir ectors. In this way, Sharrett collapses such conceptions of catastrophe and the postmodern; his anthology of cultural critics, in accordance, demonstrate through specific, influential films of the late twentieth century this link between cultural productio n, reception, and criticism. One of the authors in Sharrett's collection, James Combs, in supporting Sharrett's modernism is our new intellectual myth, putting us on the side of new gods as we witness the twilight complementary empires, the shift of power and wealth elsewhere, and the prospect of bewildering, and highly temporary, political coa unduly, Sharrett believes this nity). Tracing recent motifs in popular predictions of the 'last days,' Presidential musings on the apocalypse, [and] books on an imminent world wide depression, were [each and all] searches for signs and wonders his analysis of cultural motifs as juxtaposed with contemporary filmic projects, he correctly identifies the source of Sharr ett's collapse of post modernism and apocalypticism: Movies of recent times have treated dystopian themes But they have amended dystopian narratives in post modern terms [thus,] it might be useful to make some political sense out of thes e varying dystopian images and themes in
47 the movies, since they offer us evidence of how popular art imagines our political future. (27) Here, Combs points to cultural production as a site of common anxieties. The political aspect of contemporary dystopian cinema, as he sees it, functions through the themes and confusion of narratives that charac also give fearful imaginative form to possible dystopian futures which might flow from dystopian cinema attends to feeling s which directors, as part of a cultural heritage, feel obliged to address and play out before our eyes. Although these critics' arguments thus resonate with the more recent Twelve Monkeys before observing for these feelings in Gilliam's film, I will bri efly attend to Marker's earlier avant garde work so as to guide my analysis. Specifically, I will examine how La j ete 's use of sequential frames and exegetic narration, in contrast with the mass Twelve Monkeys nevertheless influences its successor's construction of narrative time. Tracing the ways in which Marker's film inspires Gilliam's is a complex endeavor. As Elena Del Rio notes in her own comparative analysis: Despite sharing an ostensibly similar plot, the formal differences between these two time travel narratives are remarkable [Whereas] Twelve Monkeys presents no substantial deviations from classical narrative cinema [and whose] moving images goal oriented hero [and] strong de gree of closure [erase] the most
48 disturbing aspects of its own circular time frame La Jete by contrast, breaks with most of the normative expectations and conventions of narrative cinema through the static quality of its images [In this way,] La Jete conceives of human desire as a rigid fixation whose reality is anchored in the past (the temporal mode of loss) more firmly than in the future (the temporal mode of fulfillment). Here, Del Rio emphasizes the differences in each film's underlying aesthetics. Her argument favors Marker's film over Gilliam's because, whereas the former addresses time travel without resolving consequent paradoxes, the latter positions them as containable. Later in this chapter, I will attend to how Twelve Monkey 's treatment of travel travel complicates this notion by anticipating a differently informed audience. For the time being, however, I will use Del Rio's notion of La j ete 's subversive construction of narrative as an entry point for my own analysis; in particular, her link between La j ete 's exegetic narrator (voiced by Jean Ngroni) traces the story, first, of the annihilation of Paris and, consequently, of the necess ity for the few survivors to move time thereafter follows the Man's journey through time, but, as the scientists of the underground would contend, not space. As the limits. The only hope for survival lay in time functions outside of space. The ending (or rather, the beginning, as seen from an older
49 version of the Man's perspective) reveals this, appropriately, in full: the Man's ability to time travel stems from his f ixation on an image/moment that the Experimenter plants in his memory; that of the image/moment when, as a child, he seems himself, as an adult die while running towards the Woman's embrace, only to be foiled by the Experimenter, whom has followed him into his memory of said moment in order to terminate him In Experimenter] had trailed him since the underground camp, he understands [that] there is no way to escape Time [and, furthermore, that] the moment he is obsessed with is the 26:20). The ending of La j ete produces for the viewer a parallel insight: like the Man, audiences fixate on and recreate moments in their respective memo ries; thus, they link themselves with the protagonist through time and outside of space. This temporal connection hinges on the film's very reception; Marker's narrator's story about this Man and his realization are only significant in terms of interpretat ion. Precisely because the film can be interpreted, however, the Man's story subtends his parallel position with the viewer. Between the image in the Man's head (that also appears on the screen), the images of him on the screen, and the composite image tha t the viewer draws in their memory of the film, there exists a latent yet potent relationship; by its design, this relationship demonstrates how Time functions outside of (or, perhaps, between ) space (or, perhaps, reality). Time's construction in La j ete dislocates the relationship between character, narrative, and viewer and serves as a conceptual foil to the Man's fixation on the memory
50 movement and life, exclusively, nor immobility and death, but rather both simultaneously [so as to reinforce a] resistance to ontological fixation which bring into the present the temporal mode of that which 'has been,' affirming presence while pointing towards something irrevocably a movement situated between precisely the reason that, in contras Marker's photo roman nature of each of [its] acts of bracketing [which consequently subtends that] it is impossible for representatio n ever to reach the status of truth as a fixed wholeness or La j ete 's narrative necessarily complicates both the construction and reception of its content. The relationship between the film's time tra veler and its viewer further complicates the nature of the memory image and its effect(s) on the film's narrative views as an arch motif (388). She notes how time tra involve any geographical transportation, but rather a coming and going of that the traveler has also already (and perhaps always) inhab ited these moments. In terms of the film's reception, and as the moment which reveals itself as both the first and final moment(s) implies, the Man necessarily exists in every moment of the narrative simultaneously. The moment when the viewer apprehends th is narrative fact reaffirms his character's omnipresence; re conceptualizing the Man, as concurrently himself and his
51 former childhood self, predicates his existence within Time. That the narrative does not predicate his existence as also within Space, how ever, reemphasizes what the narrator states plainly at the film's end; that he is and forever will be trapped inside Time. Since Time does not connote place in La j ete then the traveler exists purely due to his audience's reception of him; his existence, invariably, functions only during the space in historical time when the viewer apprehends Marker's film. As such, La j ete presents a subjective experience of Time that, like memory, reduces space and narrative progression into composite images. The proc ess of representing time travel in La j ete 's teleology reveals, at its conclusion, how the Man's character reflects the viewer's own image moment fixation. In Twelve Monkeys reflects ou r culture's undisputed reliance on an instrumental, productive, quantitative technology fully transparent and self eye testifies to the fundamental continuity between the founding premises of metaphysical ugh Del Rio posits that Gilliam's adaptive strategy, because it was produced by a major Hollywood studio, subtly dilutes the experimentation which Marker's film strives to create for its viewer. Here, I question Del Rio's flippant conception of Gilliam's p artial adaptation. I believe, instead, that Twelve Monkeys exhibits a tendency toward homage and, as a result, retains a sense of dislocated temporality. Not merely bo wing to
52 an intertextual tone; his heavy handed use of mediums within the medium (e.g. TV commercials in every scene, newspapers lining the walls of every building) inci tes the viewer to see James Cole (Bruce Willis) as couched within his own parallel socio historic moment. Furthermore, the historical distance between the releases of La j ete and Twelve Monkeys highlights how cultural context affects narratological strate gies. Regardless, reading Marker's film against Gilliam's adaptation reveals a dimension of intertextuality which configures both the newer film's cult status and its construction as time travel narrative. I find Alain Cohen's framework for analyzing Twel ve Monkeys helpful. His conception of Gilliam's text, and in particular his micro La Jete and [Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 classic] Vertigo, g of how, from a narratological perspective: [Twelve] Monkeys is constituted by the interlinking and evolution of six narrative programs (or NP) (1) the constr uction of a film within a film (FF), which takes the form of a dream fragment that becomes transformed into a parallel dimension in the mise en scne ; (2) the deployment of time travel (TT); (3) an amusing and sometimes aggressive program of animal liberat ion (AL); (4) a threatened and later realized program of Apocalypse (APO); a counter program to APO, the vain effort to save humanity (HUM); (6) the evolution of a love story between the two principal protagonists, Cole and Kathryn (LOV), played equally be tween these interrelated programs. (158)
53 Twelve Monkeys does with its filmic predecessors; indeed, as the various thematic elements of the film weave together and influence one another, so too doe s Gilliam's homage to Marker's and Hitchcock's texts simultaneously infuses its own narrative with literary connections and grants new dimensions of interpretation to its predecessors. However, relief) I will not employ Cohen's coding in my analysis; instead, I will utilize his focus on how the film's narrative constructs myth (and thus culture) through time travel, paying particular attention (as Cohen does) to Cole's revelation as it is woven though his dream sequences and their evolving integration with his linear time line. Like the Man in La j ete Cole's story begins and ends within a fixated upon close up shot of the eyes of a young boy whom the narrative reveals to be a young Cole witnessing his own end. As La j ete 's viewer comes to understand the memory image's capacity to trap the Man inside an externally conceived time, Twelve Monkey 's viewer comes to understand the bookending image of young Cole's eyes' capacity to do the same for the Cole of the present. This moment drives the narrative's thematic arc and, more directly, challenges the viewer's notions of temporality: it takes place just prior to (and, in fact, hastens) Dr. Peters' world wi de tour to disseminate a virus that destroys ninety per cent of the human population; it is in the past in relation to Cole's literary present. As like Marker's traveler's desire to return to a moment image, is both his own and his according to the narrative's terms. Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) plays an integral part in James Cole's
54 revelation. Unlike the Woman in La Jete Kathryn engages with Gilliam's protagonist, going so far as to experience her own revelation. Until Cole comes back in November of 1990. Importantly, however, the potential for her revelation has always been present; from the first time Railly and Cole interact, she s (13:40). She even reiterates this in front of her colleagues during Cole's 1990 panel examination; and it is precisely this feeling of recognition that leads her to allow him to ll reveal, is an essential motif of communication in Twelve Monkeys ). Between when Cole escapes from the mental hospital in 1990 and when he reappears in 1996, Railly becomes inspired to research apocalypticism. In the 1996 lecture that preludes her kidnap ping, she indexes a concept. Later, however, a s she increasingly believes Cole's story, this concept weighs more on her character. As Dr. Peters (David Morse), who first appears at her book presentation and alludes to the need for humanity's destruction, asks Dr. Goines Since Dr. Goines is not aware of the content of her book lecture, and as the confusion on his face when his assistant opines this implies, Dr. Peters' question becomes primarily directed toward the v iewer. Dr. Peters' question provides a node in Dr. Railly's overall
55 character development: because she calls Dr. Goines laboratory to warn him (mistakenly, shows how s he has reached an apocalyptic fever pitch; thus, Dr. Peters' question represents the viewer's linear apprehension of her. When Dr. Goines (mostly) dismisses the idea, Railly defaces the facade of the pet shop and headquarters of the Army of the Twelve Monk eys with spray paint. Although, in this scene, we barely see what she actually writes, the camera alternating between a long shot of her writing and Jeffrey author of Cole's st ory. H owever, she has always had the capacity for co authorship. When Cole is in her care in 1990, her colleagues look to her (literally, for example, when Cole asks to use the telephone (24:04)) to decide his fate. That she consistently suspects that she she eventually begins researching apocalypticism demonstrates both her s kill for synthesis and her susceptibility to Cole's literary form. In effect, both Kathryn's and La j ete was] to send [emissaries] into time, to summon the Past and Future to t he aid of the Present The inventors were not concentrating on [persons] given to very strong mental images [ and the idea went that] if they were able to conceive or dream another time,
56 7:50, my em phasis). Here, Marker's narrator describes a scenario which suits both James Cole and Kathryn Railly: If only images, connecting over the course of the film the various im ages presented to him by the characters have a hand in revealing Cole's fated end as his story's initiatory event; moreover, because this events appearance as both beginning and end, perhaps conversely, justifies the narrative's linear form. Despite the fact that Cole and Railly exis t in different time spaces, together their interactions (both imagined and real) nevertheless produce a time line for the viewer to apprehend their narrative significance. Railly's interest in apocalypticism, her capacity to imagine other worlds, does not mission in the film's beginning sequence, the shot shock cuts to a close up image of a mural of an ancient Roman city center, voiced over by (what first sounds like apoc alyptic Rubiyt which Railly is attending (11:00 11:22). Although a call from the authorities alerting her of Cole's arrival suddenly interrupts the reader and Railly excuses herself, we can still hear, behind These words predicate the importance of Cole's and, eventually, Railly's capacity for foreknowledge; both come to realize how
57 aggregate interactions and observations will determine what that tomorrow holds. This scene also intr oduces a motif of communication ( or the i nability thereof ) : just before Railly's cell phone interrupts the presentation, the reader is analyzing The Rubiyt (11:23). This staging of interruption mirrors Cole's th warted desire to use a telephone to report to the scientists that they sent him back to o far. Just as the interrupted reader message. As Jeffery Goines muses when Cole not es this desire, telephones can only be supersedes Cole's privileged stance as time traveler. As such, the reading sequence and Cole's stint in the hospital that follo ws introduces Railly's interest in and capacity to understand Cole's (post) apocalypticism. Despite the fact that, after finding evidence of its veracity, Railly eventually believes Cole's story, Cole is nevertheless plagued by his own time traveling. Towa rd the end of the film, when the pair is on the run together, they duck into a movie theater to put on their new disguises. This sequence is essential to Railly and Cole's relationship as co authors. The film being screen ed is none other than Hitchcock's V ertigo specifically, the ames Stewart) asks his time fluid counterpart Judy Barton/Madeleine Elster (one is pretending to be the other, but both are played by Kim Novak) when she was born. Here, with Cole watching, Sco anxiety in Cole, whom Railly then has to console, reminding him that their lives are not entwined with the film being screened. Her notion here, however, is poignantly
58 inaccurate; she is just not aware of Gilliam's intertextual machinations. As it happens, the La j ete ; Marke r provides a set of still images of his couple pointing at the rings with no accompanying narration (19:35 21:05). This sequence in Twelve Monkeys is certainly a nexus point: Hitchcock's film, which influences both Gilliam's and Marker's, is screened for t wo of Gilliam's characters under a narrative pretense derived from La j ete taking Vertigo 's lead. In the case of Twelve Monkeys recurrent dream, the one of a (still for him unknow n) man being gunned down at the as an intertextual position; since he has t he capacities of foreknowledge and analysis, he broadens the significance of both. Moreover, by foregrounding the importance of critical viewership, he justifies these intertextual connections being made in the first place. Twelve Monkeys incorporation o f shots, story arcs, and even lines of dialogue othe r films confirms its intertextual status. Gilliam's film's cultural moment, much likes its and its predecessors' central characters, is temporally fluid, yet distinct. Indeed, Twelv e Monkeys was created for an audience that Railly's book on scenario is considerably more compelling when reality supports it with a [slew of] virulent [diseases, such a speculative, in nature, this observation affects the viewer on levels in and outside of the film: her observation reminds readers of the potentiality of believing in apocalyptic
59 prognostications; her ch aracter, thereafter, begins down her course of believing more and more Cole's story. By juxtaposing her speech with her story arc, Railly's role reveals itself as representative of the viewer's process of apprehension. In this way, and given also her autho rial relation to the film's narrative, Railly incorporates the time of the viewer's apprehension as similarly co authoritative. The viewer, then, serves as an integral part of Cole's post apocalyptic position obtaining meaning in either Railly's pre pandem ic world or that of the film's inaugural audience in 1995.
60 CONCLUSION This means that cultural analysts participate in the production of cultur e through their inquiries. It also means that culture can never be pinned down, but is always becoming, catalyzing, amassing new -Kim Fortun, from the Foreword to Writing Culture (2009) t extend and a hand must receive. We must both be -Claudia Rankine, from (2004) and its first line goes something like this: the world was Despite contrary efforts, these texts (and this one) all must, inevitably, come to an end. But do they definitively end? questions that the post apocalyptic moment inhabits; narrative can and, at least according to the texts examined in this thesis, must continue. But what is left to document after the end (of the end) and who is left to document it? These, in turn, are precisely the questions that sync these texts with their respective socio historic contexts. As such, authors and their characters document not what comes after, per se, but what is perceived to come after; w hat is perceived is precisely what is feared in a given cultural moment. In this way, post apocalyptic texts come to represent the relics of culture. Furthermore, by to the post apocalyptic space, thereby highlighting the crucial role played by cultural contextualization; the reader sees themselves in the none too unfamiliar details of a parallel history.
61 Each chapter of this thesis explores, but does not exhaust, the myriad ways of representing what comes after. Since these ways overlap and intersect, I have organized the chapters by mode of representation; this is not to say that the post apocalyptic moment appears differently in each of these modes, but rather that it is created in accordance with their perceived boundaries. In doing so, each chapter reveals facets of a post apocalyptic moment that, viewed compositely, transcends such traditional boundaries; telling the story of what comes after necessitates deconstr ucting the relics of ined narratives each, in nuanced ways, use s such boundaries as a thematic concern, mirroring a cultural fear of entropy. In effect, these works challenge the very modes they employ to reach their audiences. Margaret Atwood achieves this in the MaddAddam series by breaking down the presumed and perceived relationships between author, narrator, character, and reader. colla pse of his none too dissimilar experience of American society. This complicates, for Memoirs of a Survivor and In the Country of Last Things Both of these stories are first pers on accounts (the former, a diary; in the latter, an epistle). Both thus rely on their Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood both delineate the sam e s little in this case; other perspectives invariably enhance Grant Morrison challenges The Invisibles nar rative vehicle, the graphic novel
62 form, by creating a narrative and characters devoted to escaping its confines. Both the Invisibles and the Other Side seek, among other tools, the Hand of Glory, which bestows its wielder with the ability to transcend and thereby control space time. The Hand has cultural roots; it and the head of John (the very same author of the Book of Revelations) implicates their need for their form ; in order to transcend time and space, both sides of makes this characters to major the matic events, is present simultaneously. Thus, the Roswell The Invisibles reveals the power obtained through visibility: the liminal, titular group faces an enemy which is, like the gods will continue to be) the reader and, more directly, their reality. Terry Gilliam challenges the filmic mode of Twelve Monkeys by meticulously Twelve Monkeys recreates La jete Vertigo it functions as a litera ry nexus, reaching outside its own filmic construction to other influential and historically situated narratives too dissimilar time traveler(s) experiment with their (respective) desire(s) to communicate. The ir stories (or, more accurately, their recursive experiences) reveal how contextual limitations affect desire. For instance, when Cole is sent too far back, into the custody of Railly and her colleagues in 1990, even though they permit him to make a
63 call t gets closer to both of s ntists and in turn, newfound ability to communicate is encapsulated within the moment harnessed by his desire; the first and last moment of the film, which appears throughout as h is dream As image, which to change time precisely because he must experience it in order to obtain a desire to change it thereafter When examined together, these texts add to an already unfathomably vast narrative tradition. And while some thematic elements, such as time travel, are not as (recycled) apocalyptic anxieties and desires; the po st apocalypse persists in the literary imaginary because apocalyptic speculation persists in literature (and politics). This relates representational modes that proffer t hem, these narratives shift from being singular and containable toward being critical and communicable.