Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dr. Manhattan and a Mouse, who knew?

Spieglman’s Maus, a fantastic graphic novel, touched me with its depth and symbolism. This book was not first my graphic; my first book being Watchmen. In many ways, Watchmen and Maus make the same argument about human nature. It is a fact that the two graphic novels talk about two completely different events in history; however, together serve as a lens into viewing human nature at its core.
First, how can two graphic novels, one from DC and another from Art Spieglman, be related in anyway? First, both novels intend to show human nature when it is separated from society. Many philosophers such as Thomas Hobbs believe that human nature is evil and it is society that keeps us in check. When the German Gestapo, under Hitler’s command, were gathering Jews and placing them in concentration camps, they were working outside society’s norms and showed the evil that was within them. Spieglman did a great job of illustrating that hatred by first drawing the faces of the Kapos and the Germans with expressions horrific and almost demonic. When the SS troops are ordering Jews around and beating them, you see evil at it’s purest. Watchmen did a great job of illustrating human nature at its worst through nuclear war and the almost imminent destruction of humankind with nuclear wars.
In both novels as well, the authors lay out the ignorance in human nature as well. For instance, Spieglman shows himself not really understand the story of his father and all that he has been through. Even when his father is admitted into the hospital and is then cleared to come home, he is upset and is not happy because he cant stand dealing with him. His father is difficult, but all Spieglman cares about is getting the story for his book and anything that prevents that from happening is annoying him and proving to be difficult. In Watchmen, characters prove to be ignorant to the situation around them. One of the characters Rorschach understands that you cannot compromise even in the face of annihilation; but, other characters can not understand that point. They refuse to adapt the same way Spieglman is unable to adapt to his father. In many ways, his father, despite the terrible event he has gone through, has succeeded while Art has failed. Vladek did a great job of surviving the most horrible event in history, but his son can’t even get by with his demanding father. This illustrates the ignorance that humans have at times and how they cannot fully adapt and evolve in certain aspects of life.
To close out the year, I must say that I have been touched in this class. I had been pushed to limits that I never really thought were completely possible. In a class where the readings were hard and draining (with exceptions of course such as Dr. Ellis’ book no doubt), I was surprised that I came out alive. This is coming from a kid that has made it to round 23 of Nazi Zombies on Call of Duty Black Ops by himself (clearly, no one will get that). But, at the end of the day, I must say, it was a class well taught, and a class that I much appreciated. There were things that did push my out of comfort zone, but we can not become better people, better humans, without being stretched, twisted, tangled, and then stretched again. I want to take the opportunity to end with a quote (Yes, I am stealing the idea from another) from one of my favorite movies, Inglorious Basterds, “Well, if this is it, old boy, I hope you don't mind if I go out speaking the King's” This may be the last class where every single one of us will be together, but it could have been only this class that all of us could grow, learn, and love the fine work we all did together and the beautiful work Dr. Ellis did for us. So, I bid all of you adieu, adieu. But never, ever say goodbye. Goodnight and Good Luck, everyone. This is Anthony Santiago, signing out.

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