Friday, March 10, 2006

Escaping the Life Trap

"Swirling fog. Bizarre, inhuman cries. A mystery for Frankenstein!"

So begins the continuing adventures of our favorite undead Sheeda killer. Frankie's mini has been without a doubt the most fun of the final three Seven Soldiers miniseries. In contrast to the grueling Mister Miracle, which has been a bit too abstract (not to mention the artistic nightmare of issue 2, after Pasqual Ferry left the series to do Wolverine vs. Hulk part 157 or whatever); the bloody, gory fun of Frankenstein was refreshing.
I read Frankenstein 3 and Mister Miracle 4 in one sitting. As Seven Soldiers draws to an end, Grant Morrison is putting all his cards on the table. It's a recapitulation of his entire life's philosophy, echoed through the Invisibles, Seaguy, even Animal Man. The notion of a world beyond our senses. A deeper reality at the edge of our human consciousness.

Mister Miracle 4 is a never ending labyrinth of life; the endless parallel choices that Shilo cannot escape. He must live his life over and over again, like in Matrix 2 where Neo meets up with The Architect only to find that he has tried, and failed, a million times over already to defeat him. Shilo is caught in the eternal cycle of death and rebirth: the Life Trap.
This, then, is what life and society do to the human soul (compare to the Invisibles, where society is a virus). The only hell is that which keeps us seperate from the creator.

Shilo, then, is Jesus the escape artist. Or more accurately, Buddha. Only by accepting his role as savior can he deafeat his unchained destroyer. Like Job, he calls down the whirlwind.
In his suffering, detatched from time and space, Shilo ranges through the whole of human experience. The "Forever Flavored Man", cursed with eternal life. His soul is shattered like a mirror, reflecting infinite images of himself back toward him.
After reading MM4, I returned to a book I've been reading this week: Hidden Wisdom, a guide to the Western Inner Traditions. By mere chance, the chapter I was starting at that point was on Shamanic rites and here's what I read, specifically about shamanic initiation rites:

"...The actual initiation can be equally excruciating. Most initiations in most cultures involve a symbolic death and rebirth: the candidate 'dies' to his old identity and is reborn to a new one. Shamanic initiates often experience this resurrection in gruesome ways. When the rai (spirits) make a shaman in western australia, they take him to their home.
'There they cut him up and hang up his insides...his body is dead, but his soul remains there, and on the order of the rai to look steadily at the part hanging up, he recognizes [his organs]. His body is put over a hot earth-oven, with magic cooking stones in it, and covered with paper-bark. The perspiration streams down. The rai replace his insides and close up the flesh. He is told that he can henceforth travel in the air like a bird or under the ground like a goanna..."


Now, let's return to Frankenstien 3.
"I'll leave you with the story of Marsaru Emoto and the memory of water. Doctor Emoto found that whenever he labelled a beaker of water, the crystal sructure of the liquid inside changed accordingly....We tried to make a weapon out of water. The water fought back. Scratch one more big, dumb idea."
So says the agent of S.H.A.D.E. after their giant mistake has been dealt with (according to this anyway, he's right).
Again: The Life Trap. The water monster has been bred to destroy, that's all it knows how to do. Now consider the only words the monster speaks: AUUU
This is the call, also, of the Grundy-men in Klarion's village waaaaay way back in Seven Soldiers: Klarion #1.
Why the same call for creatures that should not posses a consciousness?

AUM. You may know it better as Om, the mantra chanted in many meditation techniques. It's a four syllable word that is meant to fill the whole mouth with sound:
A stands for birth
U stands for life
M is death
and the silence before you start again signifies the rest between death and rebirth. But the Grundy men, and the water monster, can have no peace. All they can know is life, never death, never rest. Like Shilo, they are caught in the life trap.
But so, remember, is Frankie:

"Therefore I grant you the sweet remedy I am denied, monster. The solution to the suffering of self-awareness in a hostile world. OBLIVION."

The Grundies, denied eternal rest to work the fields for their offspring; the water monster brought to existence only to kill; and Shilo Norman, trapped in his own consciousness.
Only Shilo, the shaman of the New Gods and the Christ of the Seven Soldiers; has escaped the Life Trap. And having reached enlightenment, having escaped the Black Hole, only Mister Miracle can free not only Metron and crew but stand up to the oncoming war with the Sheeda.

Mister Miracle #4: A+
Frankenstein #3: A-


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