“…of all the space unoccupied by familiar material objects not one particle was vacant. Indescribable shapes both alive and otherwise were mixed in disgusting disarray, and close to every known thing were whole worlds of alien, unknown entities. It likewise seemed that all the known things entered into the composition of other unknown things, and vice versa.”
-From Beyond, H.P.Lovecraft
A major theme of Providence or indeed most pieces of Yog-Sothothery is that of the liminal. The bridging of the gap between ourselves and the truly alien or other. Rarely do we see what happens in the immediacy or the wake of the apocalyptic. There are only vivid -though in recollection half seen- visions, fumbling rationalizations, translated prophecy or annihilation in death, madness or sleep.
The final issue of Providence transgresses against that convention quite pleasantly. A sensation felt not only in its style and execution through the art of Jacen Burrows but also its’ content. When I say that this issue and Providence as a whole is enchanting I don’t simply mean to emptily drop some turn of phrase. Presently it feels like a gateway into a state where everything is something more than what it was. The aethyr is alive and we are all happy to accept it. In retrospect, it is a testament to the magical potency of Providence that it ran concurrent to not just the political climate of its publication. Robert Black’s journey and the widening of the world around him reflected the changes in my life. Our narratives both started with a relationship’s end. We both dwelt among eccentric lands and people. we both found a place of study that held potent books of ancient lore. We both met a writer deeply enmeshed with the liminal. We both felt giddy in our meetings from worship and we will both be a party to a great and glorious birth.
So again when I say Providence is enchanting I don’t just mean it’s good. Indeed like Moore’s best work it holds us in its sway and convinces us to reappraise ourselves and the world around us. That’s not just good writing, nor is it just an exquisite and evocative piece of magic. That’s damn good horror too. For some that might mean a simple shudder. For others a pause for contemplative thought. For those that crave the feel of the Old Ones at their throat, it can result in an exultant joy and hilarity. Even now over a year later I love Providence‘s final issue. For me the greatest of all endings, in all forms of storytelling.
The ending of Providence is, in essence, a good beginning. We are deep beyond the liminal. Witnessing the birth of a great dreamer. Indeed like a dream -or also a powerful magical or psychedelic encounter- the world may not remain utterly transformed. That said like any good dream or trip the participants will remain irrevocably changed. Even if the world doesn’t. And isn’t that very Lovecraftian? To have an individual experience of something so profound? The horror comes from the way that it isolates rather than liberates them.
Let us, however, get back to the dismal and chaotic ending of all things on our plane of reality. Things in the US elections did not go very well. We are nearly 18 months into a term that on the surface seems dangerously farcical. However on a very real and day to day level is far from a laughing matter. Then, of course, there is us. The artists, the savvies, the writers, the watchers, the social critics and commentators. Seemingly aloof in our ivory towers.
This was the crux of a conversation I had with Alan when I met him along with his wife; Melinda Gebbie last year. This being at a special performance of Daisy Eris Campbell‘s Cosmic Trigger. In a very fumbling awestruck attempt at conversation, I had framed our current cultural climate Kabalistically. That Malkuth had fallen to the Qlippoth. This being Trump, May, etc. Furthermore, I believed we could and would all just shunt off further up the tree leaving all that repugnance behind. Alan schooled me, quite thoroughly. I loved it. We also both partook in a magical ritual sometime later. A ritual led by Ian “Cat” Vincent. Someone else who I had the very good fortune to meet that day. I may have laughingly screamed something about Shub Niggurath and giant walking vaginas within earshot of Alan much later than even that. However, the aforementioned conversation was about as much as Alan and I talked really. Though Alan downplayed our encounter, for me everything changed.
And goes on changing. A process that began with my writing for Sequart seems to have experienced a brief acceleration. You see through my reading and research attached to Providence I’ve connected with some really quite fascinating people. Many of whom I most likely may never meet. That doesn’t mean anything though. For someone like me what matters is the word. The words of these people matter. Some are people of relative fame and success. I don’t name drop them in the hope of accelerating my own writing or agenda. If you’ve been following this series of articles you may already be familiar with them. I admire and respect them. Just as I admire and respect every other person I’ve connected with since emailing Mike four and a half years ago.
When I spoke with Alan I opened with saying how that just standing next to him, talking was very much like everyday life becoming a living myth. Again I am amazed by his humility in downplaying this matter. However, Providence was released and mirrored my own life and our political climate so well. Therefore it is very fitting that the final issue is about everything becoming a living myth. I find reflections now of that living myth in Mister Miracle. After a solid opening narrative that is a work in and of itself, the narrative of parenthood mirrors a journey of my own.
I met a lady. The only way I can describe her is she is my own Big Barda. She has a golden power rod. I would not bet against her in a fight. Having known defeat at her hands so well. In a roundabout way, this is the crux of what I fumbled to communicate to Allan. The idea that the only way we will weather the absolute shitstorm of affairs in the day to day physical realm is to be carried away by or become a living myth. To collectively ascend to Yesod, to fend off and leave behind those toxic others who would rather dominate and enslave. Choosing to destroy for a sense of control rather than living the chaotic thrill of absolute freedom.
Isn’t this the crux of Providence as well? Of Promethea? The coagulae to the solve of Watchmen? Taking the mythic and making it subject to the mundane now countered by taking the mundane and obliterating it in the grip of the absolutely mythic. That is the very essence of magic. Something that Allan’s enfant terriblé Grant Morrison understands when he posits Life + Significance = Magic.
I guess that’s the core of the issue I have with Doomsday Clock. Viewing it as an attempt to take what is the apparent pinnacle of mundane superhero realism and trying to obliterate it in the mythic vastness of DC continuity. Granted the ending of Dark Nights Metal makes accepting the possibility of Doomsday Clock a little easier. But just because a thing can happen doesn’t necessarily mean it should happen.
Because at the end of the day Watchmen doesn’t need to be obliterated in the multiversal expanse of the DC Mythos. It is and always will be a comment on that. Neither mundane nor myth. This is why when it comes to Doomsday Clock I don’t understand what DC is doing. Let alone why they decided to do it to Promethea and Tom Strong.
That and of course because -having met Alan Moore- I can assure you he is a genuinely nice guy.
“I dream of a day when they may rise above the billows to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted mankind—of a day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst universal pandemonium.”
-Dagon, H.P. Lovecraft