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After the Golden Age by Alvin Schwartz
Giving a glimpse into the formative years of comics and beyond.

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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 07/29/2002
Volume 2, Number 42

Something very strange is going on with my column. What's even stranger is that you can't see any signs of it on the Round Table. Instead, I get letters written privately to me. E-mail directed to me at this address: is filled with stories that not only corroborate the events I describe in A GATHERING OF SELVES, they sometimes go beyond them.

In other words, when you look at this Round Table, it doesn't seem to offer much more than nonsense, irrelevancies or plain nothing-like death warmed over. Of course, the letters which I'm usually bound not to reveal or quote or attribute actually explain all that. And it seems that an awful lot of people are encountering beings that seem a lot more than imaginary even though they sometimes appear as comic strip figures or movie characters. I've even begun to realize, after receiving this kind of mail that there's an additional and more interesting explanation for the way superhero comics suddenly took off during the late thirties and the forties. I had already pointed out in the column how the fatal conjunction of depression and imminent global conflict led people to look for other saviors, even imaginary ones, imitation messiahs like Superman. In fact, it went beyond that. For a time, a lot of people pinned their hopes on a social solution. They made Roosevelt a superhero. Then the Marxists came into the picture and attracted a lot of people especially around the universities. And then there was the great hope offered to many by the Soviet Union. Intellectuals all around the world went for that at first, people like Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Jean Paul Sartre. It's a long list, and much more eminent than the halfwits who made up the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. (Note-that's History calling them halfwits. I didn't think it up myself). But suddenly there was the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and there was nothing left-except Superman.

In other words, the only help was to turn inwards to your own imagination and try to flesh that out through whatever superhero or silver screen icon best suited your unique personality. At that time, by the way, there was also a lot of free energy floating around in the form of bootleg money and porn money. But those particular outlets were pretty much closed off by legislation, so the funds and their energy had to seek a different outlet. Where do you think the money really came from to start comic book publishing and movie studios? The banks? Come on. Banks don't invest in off-the-wall untested ventures like that. Certainly not during the Depression. And remember there was a lot of money that went into starting up those early comics and films.

So here I find myself getting all these letters from people who tell me about these not quite imaginary characters based on superheroes and movie types who appear to them and give them advice. And why is it that they don't want to talk openly about it. Would you? Don't you realize that we live under a regime as confining today as Galileo and Giordano Bruno confronted in the church of the middle ages? Only that church has a different name. It's called Science.

All right. Now I'm going to tell you what set me off on this particular rant. It was on the Science page of the New York Times.

"Like the sorcerer's apprentice, who could not banish the spirits that his spells had conjured up, astronomers around the world have been trying, with increasing desperation, to disprove an astonishing discovery announced early last year: distant galaxies are being swept apart, ever faster, by a tide formed of apparently empty space."

The article by James Glanz, the paper's outstanding science reporter, goes on to discuss how scientists always expected the expansion of the universe to be gradually checked by the gravitational pull of the galaxies. Except that this doesn't seem to be happening. And after two years of trying to figure out how "nothing" can be accelerating the universe's expansion, are really desperate because the whole thing apparently doesn't make sense to them.

I won't go into all the details here. I just want to point out that what these scientists are doing is peering out at a reality they themselves decided upon-a universe 'out there' that isn't behaving according to their ideas. In a sense, astrophysicists have set themselves the task of trying to explain the whole universe based on what they find when they peer 'out there'. After all, they've gotten rid of Newtonian mechanism, so now that they know everything, how come reality is still so recalcitrant?

Maybe it's time somebody told them they're only looking at half the universe. Maybe it's time somebody told them that if there's an outside, there probably has to be an inside. And secretly, because I've known a lot of scientists, they really do that, but because if they openly talked about looking into the creative powers of the world of the imagination, the place where things like tulpas come from, they'd get in trouble. No grants, no jobs, no publication. Nothing but ostracism.

So, like Newton, who was also a Rosicrucian regardless of the pure mechanism attributed to him, those scientists are looking inward. But privately. I know. They write me secret letters. About things like tulpas, or near tulpas.

The one scientist who understood all this so well also understood that you cannot pin down the infinite. This was David Bohm. I mention his findings in an early chapter of An Unlikely Prophet. He connects the constant "unfolding and infolding" of the infinite with our current notions of wave and particle. Reality is always present in both forms, one particular and minute, the other-indescribable.

So if you get a visit from your favorite comics character or anyone else special to you, and it tells you things, well-try to listen. It's your own voice, whether you call it conscience, or a tulpa, or whatever-it's very possibly quite real. It's very possibly part of the universe speaking to itself. This has nothing to do with hearing voices. It has nothing to do with abandoning judgment. You always have to judge. But you don't have to prejudge. Listen. Question. And discover. And most of all, when something odd and salubrious happens, don't just let it fade away. Remember all the strange things. Don't let dust gather on these experiences so you finally abandon them and they abandon you.

And don't be afraid to go public. I appreciate your letters, but I think my readers would appreciate your experiences even more. Write to the Round Table.

Enjoy your comics.


<< 07/08/2002 | 07/29/2002 | 08/05/2002 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.

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