Wednesday, 11 March 2009

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Why are insufferable people so predictably unsufferable? Case in point: Paul Gowder. He interrupts the title of his complaint about my recent Watchmen post to slam me in a footnote: Strike one: the middle name. Only super-pretentious lawyers and people who have the same first and last name as someone famous use their middle name in correspondence/generally. What an original complaint!* That I've explained my reasons since Day One of blogging under my own name—check out Rich and I hammering it out the first time I blogged as myself—never satisfies people who uncharitably assume I'm as arrogant as they are. For the record: I chose to be known by full name because in Orange County alone I share "Scott Kaufman" with the designer of "Porn Star" clothing, a bankruptcy lawyer, a prominent architect and a stagehand/grip/actor. So I decided that instead of fielding calls and receiving mail (electronic and otherwise) for three of those four folks, I would use all the names my parents gave me. Of course, I only comment under my full name here and The Valve, and only then because I want to own my Google results. When search committees trawl the web for references to my work I want to control what they see. I don't normally want them to see the sort of petty-ante fisking of the sort Gowder attempts. But Gowder's post is odd. He mocks me for being known as "Scott Eric Kaufman" then writes: The second post in SEK’s Watchmen series starts with one of the most ludicrous tape measure remarks I’ve ever seen . . . If SEK had said . . . This is totally unbearable. Please, please, someone find a way for me to read Edge of the American West without this guy’s posts. It's almost as if he knows that I write and comment as "SEK." Were I so intent on wowing you people with the awesomeness of all my names you'd think I would put a little more effort into wowing you people with the awesomeness of all my names. His second complaint is that I'm guilty of [g]ratuitously name-dropping the top three unbearably hip and unreadable lit scene novels (if we count everything by Gaddis as one) in recent history. As I noted in my response: Your designation of novels published in the ’20s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s as “unbearably hip” points to exactly what’s wrong with people who like novels from the ’20s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s: namely, that they weren’t written in the bearably hip ’00s, ’10s, and ’30s through ’60s. From the faint words I hear from high aloft in my ivory bower, those are the most bearably hip novels ever written, and everyone who loves them has been scientifically proven to be better than everyone who loves books from the ’20s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. I apologize for assuming otherwise . . . or for naming the four novels that anyone who’s studied 20th Century literature (a.k.a. my field) would know intimately. I know I’m lording it over the...
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More evidence Zack Snyder's Watchmen misses Moore's mark. Hunting around for an item required to address the comments on the previous post, I came across a still from Watchmen's credit sequence: As Meredith Woerner writes: The opening shot, with Nite Owl giving a fist full of justice[,] has a big Batman reference. First, check out the posters to the right. Look familiar? And isn't that Mr. and Mrs. Wayne at the back entrance of the opera, being saved from a bloody death? And . . . the opera bills say: "Die Fledermaus" (The Bat). So can we safely come to the conclusion that the original Nite Owl stopped Batman from popping up in their universe? No. If we could, there wouldn't be a poster for a comic book? film? play? radio serial? starring Batman in the background. There is Batman-themed entertainment in this universe. (And if the opera being exited by the Waynes is Die Fledermaus, Snyder alludes not to Batman lore but Batman Begins. Scratch that. The opera in Batman Begins is Mefistofele.) The larger problem with this scene neatly encapsulates the larger problem with Snyder's aesthetic. He is faithful in act but not in spirit. His heart sins. In Watching the Watchmen, Dave Gibbons says outright what every careful reader of the novel already knew: I mentioned to [Alan Moore] the idea of pirate comics, reasoning that a world with real superheroes would have no need of them in comics. Alan later took that throwaway idea and constructed an entire allegorical narrative from it within the main story. So why did Snyder include an advertisement for some sort of Bat-themed entertainment in the credit sequence? Because it would be cool. Who cares if it violates the fundamental narrative logic of the work Snyder purports to love?

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