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July 10, 2004


Kip Manley

No time; no time. Working an extra shift today, or I'd sit down at some point with the ideas banging about in my head, since I saw Spider-Man 2 yesterday. —I'm seeing this Morrison interview as an opposite pole to the Fanboy Elite (not to knock fanboys, or elites) who are currently crying out in delight that they've finally been given the apotheosis, or something approaching an apotheosis, of the superhero movie. I just have no clear idea yet of the continuum these poles book-end. Hence the need for time.

Well, it makes a nice excuse, anyway. (It's working for my lack of an attempt to tackle the good, rich Walton stuff, anyway.)

But! I will offer up (to y'all, at least) this amazing Spider-Man story I've been reading. It's a series of columns that start out to summarize the long and tangled saga of the Spidey clones, which dominated the Spider-Man books in the '90s. (If you're not familiar with the story, you'll pick up enough to follow it as you go along. I did. I never was a Spider-Man fan; Batman was my go-to guy. Even though these days I realize a working-class kid doing his best to live up to a crippling sense of responsibility is a better role model than a brooding rich guy working out his inner demons by beating down the lower classes. But I digress. —You know the barest bones of the Gwen Stacey clone? You'll do fine.)

Anyway. It starts off with a sort-of insidery perspective, and draws in interviews and comments from editors and writers working on the Spider-Man books at the time. It's a fascinating train wreck. It's the long-form maxiseries soap opera of the anecdote Samuel Delany tells at the start of "Politics of Paraliterary Criticism," about the up-and-coming genre writer who tries his hand at a Batman script, gets schooled in the craft of (industrial) comics writing as a result, and quits in disgust. Rich, pulpy, fascinating stuff. It's not fiction, but it ends up being a much better story than the fiction it summarizes. (Obligatory attempt to tie it all back to the topic at hand.)


Kip, I'm up to part 11, 'maximum clonage'. It definitely gives you that Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast - "Oh, so there are TWO Confusatrons!" "Exactly!" - Barton Fink feeling. But to judge from the interviews, just about any professional comic book writer can give me that feeling. Sweet sainted Aunt May, shouldn't these people feel more giddy than they seem to? Maybe you can get used to anything.

Kip Manley

Me, I'm still staggered by the Zen beauty of this one sentence, from Part 15, re: (one of the) Gwen Stacey(s):

He apparently discovered that she was no clone and was in fact, nothing more than a successful genetic duplicate.

This is getting away from things, but I read that the etymological root of "imagining," "imago," and its root, which I can't remember but which is also the root of our "imitate," were used to denote the imitation-through-fashioning-of-3d-objects type activities of artisans--the doing of sculptures, carvings, engravings, and whatnot--up until the Renaissance, and then, with the Renaissance and particularly the advent of Cartesian mind, then imagining evolves into the idea of being a kind of registrant of "mental pictures." One thing that's striking in view of the pre-Renaissance use, it seems to me, and this seems to crosscut issues of how imagination is metaphorically construed (as a faculty, property, container, mental-film, etc.), is the way that ordinary contemporary use so often connotes contraries of "likeness." When we say that such and such a thing is very imaginative, we obviously sometimes are implicitly saying that something is a poor likeness; but, even when we don't mean to say that, we are saying something to the effect that it is novel or incredible or "other-worldly." I.e. does-not/does-not-intend-to track reality. In verb use too, it seems to me that an ordinary sense is that imagining involves entering or activating something other-worldly, where in the pre-Renaissance use, in my understanding, it would have denoted the actual activity of fashioning likenesses. It's weirdly interesting, I think, how extensions have been built from a concept involving likeness that emphasize un-likeness and other-worldliness.

Anyway, thanks for the great, fascinating, thought-provoking, posts on Walton and fiction.


Thanks, Spacetoast. I sort of knew that, but it's useful to be reminded. 'Imago', in Latin actually covers the allegedly post-Cartesian stuff. (I'll just google and cut and paste from a handy Latin dictionary: "imago -inis f. [an image , copy, likeness; any representation, portrait, statue]; in plur. [waxen figures, portraits of ancestors; the shade or ghost of the dead; an echo; a mental picture, idea, conception]; rhet., [metaphor, simile, image]; abstr. [mere form, appearance, pretence]."

So you see it's all there already. You can say you have an 'imago' in your head. But you are right that there is a lot more emphasis on 3d statuary, but maybe that's just a cultural thing not a conceptual thing. (Those little household gods are very important.) We still have a hint of this in 'graven image' which we sense means both pictures and statues and such. And I think you are right that the root suggested the process of shaping and forming. (I'll have to quiz Belle about that. She's the classicist of the family.) What this goes to show is how intertwined the senses of 'fiction' and 'imagine' are, via their etymologies. We say that you can imagine a fiction, i.e. cook one up. But you can also fashion (same root) an image, i.e. cook one up. Both terms concern both process and product.

I think the 'bad likeness' sense is there too with the possible meaning of 'mere form' or 'pretense'. Not sure about that.

Anyhoo, glad you enjoyed the posts.


Hm, that's very interesting. Are you sure that definition doesn't antedate "mental picture" w/respect to the Renaissance/Descartes though? It seems like there's a good bit more metaphysics in that one than most of the others.


imagination include everything...... sometimes were keep on imagining things to our day busy.sometimes its just wasting our time.but its good to imagine good memories...........

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