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Comic Books & the Plane of Occult Possibility

Ass-kicking? Great.

Hot bods in spandex? Count me in.

Witty repartee? Bring it!

Superheroes, supervillains, super-tight graphics – there’s a lot to love in comic books and manga.  But what is it about these overheated, hyperbolic booklets that truly beguiles us? Fun aside, there’s something primal at work here.

Author and comic book artist Christopher Knowles goes for the gut in Our Gods Wear Spandex, taking an esoteric approach to the whole question of what superheroes mean to our collective culture. “Superhero,”  Knowles argues, is a bit of a misnomer.  There is something closer to divinity in these figures – idealized versions of our best (or worst) possible selves – powerful, immortal, magical.

It’s that last  word that most intrigues me. These narratives present an alternate (but familiar) reality in which everything and anything is possible – much like the occult world of directed dreaming or transcendental experience. Here the supernatural finds form and expression on the page. The characters, unfettered by laws and conventions of the natural world, are able to manifest every intent. Yet despite the violence and chaos that inevitably rise from such freedoms, there is a narrative drive toward resolution and order. Comic books grip us because they satisfy our need to believe that even in a world of endless, mystical possibility, there is something that resembles moral order.

Christopher Knowles has written a wonderful post for Patheos.com that addresses the rapidly changing world of technology (specifically gaming) and how it allows users to enter this realm of diminishing restrictions. There, actions are guided by (well… programmers, and…) lessons learned from these myths of the modern age. Students and practitioners of the esoteric arts may find much to admire in Knowles’s insightful and entertaining works.

Check Christopher’s blog, The Secret Sun for more on this man of mystery, magic and manga.

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