~post by Joe T.
“It’s the same old song, but with a different meaning.”– The Four Tops
“It’s different every time.”– King Mob
It’s March and I’m watching and obsessing over the HBO series True Detective whilst attempting to reduce the most important books in my life down to five for inclusion in BookPeople’s official 100 Best Books list. Somehow, both these two circles overlap, forming a venn diagram with Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles in that place where those universes cross. For 20 years The Invisibles has been a secret handshake, a shibboleth, that has defined me and expanded my friendship circles. So, it was with great awe and recognition when I heard Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) tell the detectives interviewing him (and through them, the audience):
“It’s like, in this universe, we process time linearly. Forward. But outside of our space-time, from what would be a fourth-dimensional perspective, time wouldn’t exist. And from that vantage, could we attain it, we’d see our space-time look flattened, like a seamless sculpture. Matter in a super-position—every place it ever occupied. Our sentience just cycling through our lives like carts on a track. See, everything outside our dimension—that’s eternity. Eternity looking down on us. Now, to us, it’s a sphere. But to them, it’s a circle.”
As I said above, Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles acts as a certain shibboleth (“a word or saying used by adherents of a party, sect, or belief and usually regarded by others as empty of real meaning” – Merriam-Webster) Rust Cohle or, more accurately, Nic Pizzolatto just announced himself as a member of the cult.
But, where Cohle interprets this concept through his anti-natalist philosophy and feels pessimistically that “…death created time to grow the things that it would kill and you are reborn but into the same life that you’ve always been born into,” that the world is dominated by an Outer Church and we are only so much sentient meat, Grant Morrison takes the opposite track. One of an Invisible College that is using time to help us grow and evolve into a better lifeform and that we are just immature larvae with our hurts, joys, setbacks and successes.
The Invisibles comic book series, 60 issues that ran in fits and runs from 1994 to 2000, is one of top 5 books ever written. At it’s most basic level, it is like The Matrix (which borrowed heavily from it). The story of a group of rebels waging a Manichean war against the forces of evil/order. But it is so much more than that. It is dense with references and influences, from Philip K. Dick to Kurt Vonnegut, from Aleister Crowley to Robert Anton Wilson, from 60s/70s British television to the X-Files, and everything inbetween. For some, like myself, it was a life changing work and, for Grant Morrison himself, fiction became reality was literally life changing. It’s been collected into 7 trade paperbacks (graphic novels) and one $150, 1200+ page omnibus edition which I just purchased. So come join me next week as I begin, in earnest, my first reread in a decade of Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.
Time is a flat circle, but Cohle was wrong, it’s more of a placenta than a prison.
“And so we return and begin again.”– Elfayed