13 August 2011

Eros/Thanatos

The L: Volume One (of three) is coming to an end, hopefully by the end of August. I've been working on it since February 2008. Once Volume One is complete I would like to take a break from The L to persue other projects. Integral Politics II just needs a few charts drawn up before it's complete; Why Study History is slowly being worked out in bits and pieces; I've got a video on the First World War recorded that just needs editing for 11 November and a six part series called "The Divine Paradox" being scripted (1/3 complete).

In the works for comics is an idea being called "Eros/Thanatos", that has an interesting genesis, that looks as if it might be the next comic project I take on. It started as a story called "Monster" about a serial killer who targeted homeless people. Then I got the idea: "what if he didn't have to kill them directly? What if he had devil powers?" This moved on to something called "Angel" like "Fallen" + "Predator" where the serial killer with devil powers became an angel who possesses people and then goes hunting. Briefly there were two angels fighting each other, then back to one. The basic idea was that the angel couldn't kill anyone directly, but had to trick them into a deadly situation, like spooking them into stepping into traffic or something, only more carefully thought out. Then I got to thinking: "how exactly are the people being hunted supposed to win? They're being hunted by an angel. It can't die and they can so they're pretty much screwed from the beginning. Also, why exactly is the angel hunting people?" I decided to make the story about the psychology of the people being hunted instead of the angel. The final version of the story, now titled "Eros/Thanatos" deales much more with the psychological aspect, ignoring the whole angel idea almost altogether. Now a detective investigating the peoples' deaths has to decide whether they are actually being hunted by something or whether these are clever suicides or just random accidents, with the issue not being resolved by the end. Here is the introduction:


At the end of the Nineteenth Century Sigmund Freud pioneered the study of the human mind. Equally revolutionary as his psychotherapy was another of his practices: Freud actually listened to women. Rampant misogyny and antisemitism caused the intellectuals of Europe to disregard Freud's theories as "Jew science." While he has been largely supplanted today by the likes of James, Skinner, and the Gestalt psychology, Freud was essential to the initial development of this most important of Western sciences.

Disillusioned by the destructiveness of the First World War, Freud added to his model of the unconscious processes of the mind. Aside from the desire for life and construction, Eros, Freud included the death drive, later to be named Thanatos (although Freud himself never used the term). Seeing the millions sent to die for ideas of nationalism and patriotism, his growing pessimism led him to believe that people unconsciously desire self-destruction more than sexual pleasure. For Freud, Thanatos, the drive toward repetition, aggression, and eventually one's own death, was more powerful. The human mind is a battle between Eros and Thanatos: a battle Thanatos inevitably will win.

However, it is not that simple. Eros is not completely powerless. Eros, the desire for life, seeks not to defeat death but to control it. Eros serves as a means of cheating death so as to die in the way one most desires. We might join Lord Kitchener's army to die on the fields of Flanders. We might drive a fast motorcycle through red lights or jump out of airplanes. We might ignore obvious warning signs like a dripping wet floor or walk into oncoming traffic. Whatever the reason, according to Freud, our desire to die is the primary driving force in our lives, and a desire we wish to direct toward our own ends. But, except for the suicide, we can't choose our own deaths. Can we?

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