Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Divine & The Infernal

Storyteller #1-9 (Dark Horse, 1996-1997)
by Barry Windsor-Smith
(from Following Cerebus #11, 2007)
...the title of BWS's series Storyteller is so unfortunate. It suggests that BWS is the same as, say, Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore, making things up but not getting attached to any of them. That's why I asked Neil about magic and included the discussion in issue 186. "There's something there." There. Not here. Neil can come up with realities that beggar the imagination, but they're lies. Well, yes, they can be. They can choose to plumb their imaginations and indiscriminately just SAY STUFF for the sake of saying stuff and getting paid for it and have people getting off on their writing. But, to think that BWS is in the same category is to completely blur the distinction between a lie and the truth. BWS only draws and writes what he knows to be true, as he experienced it. But the grail is always Absolute Truth. For Neil and Alan, all stories are true.

It's my addition to the mix to suggest that that's exactly the difference between the Divine and the Infernal. BWS and I may be completely wrong in what we infer, but we infer from experience, and we are concerned both with our experience of reality and Reality and with attempting to communicate it as accurately as possible within our limited  human means even if that means we are seen as the lowest form of human life: lunatics.

If Neil or Alan got a really good idea for a jolly great story that would shake the reading population to their booties and have them wrapped around the block to buy it at Barnes and Noble, that would be an inherently good thing. Write it! What could be better? Whereas BWS and I choose to destroy our professional reputations by communicating the truth as closely as we can convey it. I knew that Latter Days and Rick's Story and The Last Day weren't going to be big box office. Exactly the opposite was the likely result. But it was more important to tell the Truest Story I Knew and possibly destroy the franchise in which I had invested a quarter of a century than to just try and find the biggest box office idea I could come up with and graft that on to what I had so far, To just SAY STUFF and hope that The Last Day would hit number one on the New York Times Best Seller List.

On the contrary, being number one on the New York Times Best Seller List is far more likely to mean that you are a liar, because an attractive lie is always going to be more popular than a hard truth.

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