(urth) OT: watchmen on trial

James Wynn thewynns at earthlink.net
Sat Apr 9 18:48:08 PDT 2005

>I don't condemn you but . . . don't you read Gene Wolfe?  I admit that I
>never assumed that the author was speaking through the characters
>because the characters presented such a bleak view of morality and
>humanity, but those are the same reasons I assumed Orwell wasn't
>speaking through O'Brien.  Maybe it didn't come across as
>well in comic book format, but if Watchmen were transcribed in prose I
>imagine that the scenes with Ozy lecturing to those guys at his stronghold
>would have read much like O'Brien defeating each of Winston's
>arguments through cold-blooded logic.  The great tragedy of Watchmen
>is the triumph of that logic over our own humanity, just as it was in 1984.
>The arguments are different, as the regime in 1984 was pursuing
>power as its own end, but the tragedy is the same.

Well, of course I do read Wolfe but he takes a *lot* of pretty obvious steps
to signal that his narrators are unreliable. First, he tells the story in 
person, he sets up the narrator so that he is clearly insane, stupid,
clearly covering some awful truth, or some combination of the three. In the
case of "1984", Winston is defeated and his arguments do not win over
O'Brien, but Winston *does* carry on a quite adamant argument which he never
concedes ~ even after he betrays his sweetheart. Night Owl does not put up
much of an argument to Ozy (if he put up any at all) and in the end he
concedes that he cannot *condemn* the argument...that it is somehow beyond
conventional morality (just as Commissioner Gordon absolves Batman and FDR
for their actions, and I *still* believe that viewpoint in the "Dark Knight"
series was influential to "The Watchmen").

Despite all this, Dan'l suggests that Moore did not intend Night Owl's
concession to be his own, that he intended Rorschach's diary to expose
Ozy's plan in the end. Hm...maybe. I'm not convinced, but I can see
that one could take that stance if he were strongly so inclined.

Sooooo.....the question is, how do we know when an author POV is coming
through such as, say, is Silk's attitude on gun-control Wolfe's view as
well? Or does the revolution in Dorp reflect Wolfe's own view of the current
temperament of the American Judicial branch? What is Wolfe's attitude toward
Severian, the Hieros, and even Typhon.  The last question it is difficult
to answer because Wolfe has taken so many steps to separate himself from
the story. But there is even lots of room for argument in the other two for 
same reason.  I took it that Night Owl's final conclusion on Ozy's plan was
the one Moore would have adopted in his place because he didn't have Night
Owl put up much of an argument against it (implying he didn't see a serious
argument against it) and because of the point in the story at which Night
Owl comes to that conclusion. I could be wrong. But I'm far from convinced 
that I am.

~ Crush

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