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Christian

One In A Milligan

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Christian    782

I mean, sure, critiques of the influence of the media on the masses can be traced back from Pohl to Huxley's Brave New World. I wasn't saying that Burroughs was the first name to offer such an insight.

OK, except you're undermining your own point. The discussion was meant to revolve around Milligan's Kid Lobotomy, not Ballard and Burroughs. Your above comments seem to put Milligan's influences far more on the side of Burroughs than with Ballard.

As far as Burroughs being one of the main influences on post-modernist literature, considering he was one of the earliest names writing in that type of fiction, sure.

You can trace the lineage from Joyce and Beckett, to Flann O'Brien, down to Burroughs, then to names like Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Pynchon, pretty much all of the New Wave science fiction names. He's a very important name in the formulation of post-modernist fiction.

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dogpoet    487
11 hours ago, Christian said:

I mean, sure, critiques of the influence of the media on the masses can be traced back from Pohl to Huxley's Brave New World. I wasn't saying that Burroughs was the first name to offer such an insight.

OK, except you're undermining your own point. The discussion was meant to revolve around Milligan's Kid Lobotomy, not Ballard and Burroughs. Your above comments seem to put Milligan's influences far more on the side of Burroughs than with Ballard.

As far as Burroughs being one of the main influences on post-modernist literature, considering he was one of the earliest names writing in that type of fiction, sure.

You can trace the lineage from Joyce and Beckett, to Flann O'Brien, down to Burroughs, then to names like Robert Anton Wilson, Thomas Pynchon, pretty much all of the New Wave science fiction names. He's a very important name in the formulation of post-modernist fiction.

Pointing out that Burroughs wasn't much of an influence on Ballard undermines the debt that the end of KL#1 owes to The Man On The 99th Floor how, exactly?

The approach to psychiatry and psychiatric surgery in Milligan's comic is a lot more akin to Ballard's fixation with radical therapies (particularly narcotomy) than anything in Burroughs, and I'd be surprised if there was a single reference to a benign psychosis in the whole of Burrough's ouevre. That just wasn't how he saw the world.

As for the lineage you're proposing, it's full of holes. Apart from anything else, Joyce and Beckett are modernists rather than post modernists, and are a big part of what the '60s po-mo novelists were retreating from. Pynchon seems dubious as somebody who was massively influenced by Burroughs, as while h ha's often cited Kerouac as an influence, Burroughs seems less germane, and most of his other influences are more in the Joyce and Beckett (and Fitzgerald and Nabokov and everybody else who was famous for writing artsily posh during the '60s) line. A big part of what gives Pynchon's work its appeal is that you've got somebody who sees himself as part of the highbrow tradition in letters indulging his taste for the trashier side of low brow pop culture and having a lot of fun doing so: there's nothing like that in Burroughs, who appears to have held the whole of pop culture in utter contempt, and resented the fact that he was forced to go slumming with media sorts in order to make a living.

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Christian    782

You seem to be mixing personal aesthetics for actual literary output on the page, as far as influences.

Joyce and Beckett were late-modernists, yes, but Joyce has had a very important influence on post-modernism (especially through Finnegans Wake), hence your referring to Pynchon using Joyce as an influence. Robert Anton Wilson also cited Joyce as an influence. Flann O'Brien listed Joyce as his most important influence.

Beckett is a seminal figure in post-modernism, because he falls within both catergories. Some of his work was considered late-modernism, but other of his work was considered early examples of post-modernism. He is considered an important figure in the history of post-modernism.

Burroughs' influence is clearly evident in Pynchon's writings with the vast conspiracies, satirical style, and the dissecting of language. You certainly don't see those grand conspiracies hidden in history in the works of Joyce, Beckett, Fitzgerald, or Nabokov. Also (nothing to do with Pynchon), I'd hardly compare Fitzgerald's work to the same style as Joyce, Beckett, or Nabokov. One of those names is not like the others.

As far as the actual conversation, Milligan has had a fixation with pop psychology for years now. It's not like it suddenly appeared in Kid Lobotomy, out of nowhere. Many authors do share the same type of interests, just because you see a theme pop up in one book it doesn't count towards proof that the author is consciously tapping in to a different authors' writings. Some things do exist outside the realms of literature for a writer to discover independently and use in their own way. Milligan is planning to write the Legion comic at Marvel soon, because Legion is another character where he can explore psychological issues, in his own way. Milligan seems to have a fixation with the concept, honestly, that I would have to argue would place it outside the realm of "he read some JG Ballard and is trying to emulate him".

Your main reference to the association between Kid Lobotomy and Ballard is one short story by Ballard which you aren't even positive that Milligan ever read.

Meanwhile, your description of the difference use of medical techniques between Ballard and Burroughs' Dr. Benway, would seem to put Milligan's usage much more firmly on the side of Burroughs than Ballard. "Absurd, over-the-top, grotesques" versus "Realistic and grounded"....which one better describes Milligan's usage?

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dogpoet    487

Neither describes Milligan's first issue very well: that's part of the problem with the comic. If KL was a grotesque like Benway rather than a whiney little git, you might have a point with that argument.

Milligan's long standing fixation with psychology is why Ballard is far more relevant to Kid Lobotomy than Burroughs, just as Ballard is more relevant to a lot of his other work. (So's Joyce, come to that. Burroughs, not so much, on the other hand.)

I do like you claiming that I'm "...mixing personal aesthetics for actual literary output on the page..." as an opener before you go off on one about Joyce, Beckett and Pynchon in a manner which involves you doing that yourself, though. :tongue: 

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Christian    782

Well, if "Milligan's fixation with psychology" is all we're going on, we might as well just say that Milligan is robbing Philip K. Dick, since psychology was such a large part of his fiction too.....

Yes, Joyce can be relevant to some of his other work, considering that Milligan has made the influence of Joyce known on his work in the past.

Anyway, I feel that I've earned my $500 from Peter Milligan. He paid me to do everything I could to hype his new series, and I feel that comparisons to literary icons such as Burroughs, Ballard, and Joyce will do enough to peak peoples' interest in this book. This should do the job, thanks Mr. Milligan! If you ever need my help again, you know where to forward the cash.

Good thing that second issue is coming out this coming Wednesday! Everyone should rush out to the comic store to see if Milligan goes in a Burroughsian, Ballardian, Kafkaesque direction....or if he'll swerve us all, and emulate Georges Bataille instead! You never know with Milligan, you just have to buy the comic to see for yourself!

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So....was Oscar Zeta Acosta showing up as a ghost of himself, or as the ghost of Dr. Gonzo?

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dogpoet    487
47 minutes ago, Christian said:

Anyway, I feel that I've earned my $500 from Peter Milligan.

He might be after a refund given this showing, so don't spend it yet, eh? :tongue:

Ixnay, you'd probably be better off just reading some Ballard and/or Burroughs than most of the above (or Kid Lobotomy, come to that...)

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Christian    782

Hey, a conversation about a comic book like Kid Lobotomy that revolves around William Burroughs and JG Ballard seems like good value for money.

Probably most of the reviewers online either wonder why Kid Lobotomy doesn't feature more superheroes or revolve around the fact that women, minorities, and gays are ruining the comic book business, so Milligan should be pleased where this one went!

My main point being that it's usually best to trust a writer's own given influences, rather than guessing at whose influence the writer is working under. We might see great similarities between two writer's work, and feel that the newer copies from the older, but then the writer may reveal that they have never even read that author and/or book. You might see similarities with Ballard in Kid Lobotomy, but that doesn't mean that Milligan is consciously working under the influence of Ballard on this book. Milligan listed quite a few influences for Kid Lobotomy, he isn't making the claim that the series is completely his own original ideas. However, Milligan has never listed Ballard as an influence. I would assume that he has read Ballard. It's a valid argument that Milligan may be falling short of his own given influences (Burroughs, Kafka), but I don't think he was purposely lying to obfuscate the issue by listing Burroughs as an influence on Kid Lobotomy to draw attention away from the influence of JG Ballard.

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dogpoet    487

I didn't say that he was, just that I failed to detect any influence from Burroughs anywhere in the comic. None of Burroughs fiction ever concerned itself with the question of creativity (Cronenberg's film of Naked Lunch did, which has led to some people thinking that's in the original book) that's a big part of Milligan's first issue and there isn't an all male cast (Burroughs might well have been a misogynist, but his issues with women took a very different form to Milligan's). I can't think of any other Burroughsian tropes or ticks that turn up in the tale anywhere.

As for trusting a writer's cited influences, pull the other one, it's got bells on. If they think they can get away with namedropping somebody a bit snazzier than who they're actually trying to do, then they will. 

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Christian    782

Yes, but I explained that I felt Milligan's name-dropping of Burroughs had to do with his usage of technique, rather than anything directly to be found in the text. I also said that the intimation may be nothing more than Milligan using word-play, and it's not meant to be read in to further. I'd say the Kafka influence is something that is a bigger hole in the story, considering that Milligan outright named Kafka as an influence on the comic, and put a number of allusions to Kafka in the first issue, yet outside of appearances by cockroaches, the influence of Kafka is even more lacking, so far.

Burroughs and Ballard are pretty equal in today's culture, I'd say. This isn't the 1960s. Ballard has been accepted by the "mainstream", so he has the same credibility as someone like Burroughs. It's not as if we're talking about Henry Kuttner or someone along those lines, who a writer trying to be "literary" would be ashamed to admit they were emulating.

Laughing about the misogyny line....It's something newer to Milligan's writing style. I would have to assume that it's something from his personal life that he's trying to work out. A lot of his recent writings involving women could be believable as an homage to Robert Heinlein, actually. Young girls falling madly in love with know-it-all much older man, references to incest....Perhaps that's Milligan's real secret, he is writing under the influence of Heinlein.

Thankfully, the floating misogyny hasn't show itself in Kid Lobotomy, as of yet.

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dogpoet    487

He'd certainly keep quiet about adopting Heinlein as an influence, that's for sure: Shelly Bond would never speak to him again. Of course, Phillip K Dick had just as dodgy an attitude towards women as Heinlein (the number of nastily manipulative ball-breaking harridans PKD contrasts to much nicer and invariably much younger women in a huge chunk his fiction is a bit worrying), and he's considered an acceptable and classy influence, so maybe RAH is overdue to be spun as the iconoclastic genius right leaning sf nerds have always insisted he is by everybody else, though that isn't really a critical reassessment I'm looking forwards to.

And it wasn't namedropping Burroughs for a pun I took exception to, it was you insisting that if there were any swipes from Ballard in the book, that was just an influence from Burroughs at one remove as Ballard was just a Burroughs impersonator, as was everybody else who'd written a post modern novel since 1959. Those arguments struck me as a little harder to defend, frankly.

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Christian    782

Well, it sounds like you created a nice stawman argument against me there in that last paragraph. That's hardly what I said! I even explicitly stated that Ballard was NOT a Burroughs impersonator, but that I felt he was influenced by Burroughs, as was the whole of post-modernism. I didn't say anything about an IMPERSONATION, at all. I said that Burroughs was a major influence on the direction of post-modern literature, and also referenced Beckett and Joyce as influences on Burroughs and post-modernism.

My statement about Ballard was that we did not know if Milligan was influenced by Ballard at all, as he never mentioned Ballard as an influence, even though he listed other writers as influences on Kid Lobotomy. Then, when you listed the influences you said you saw on Kid Lobotomy from Ballard, I pointed out that couldn't those simply be influences on Ballard from Burroughs. Of course, you pointed out that you felt that Burroughs was not a direct influence on Ballard, which I said was fine.

I never said that everything in Ballard you could find in Burroughs. That's a strawman version of my actual comments.

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As far as sexism in PKD....well, he's hardly alone. Harlan Ellison has the same attitude towards females too.

Their views were almost wholly progressive in the world of science fiction at that time though! Women were pretty much totally absent from the world of most male science fiction writers until well in to the New Wave, to be honest. The fact that women existed and that they might have thoughts and feelings of their own (even if those thoughts and feelings were negative in the eyes of the male) was almost revolutionary for the genre!

The attitude of PKD and Ellison towards females is different from the attitude of Heinlein towards females, just as Burroughs misogyny differs from Milligan's.

PKD and Ellison give females agency. They are their own independent beings. It just so happens that the agency of females is to make men's lives a living hell. Which.....well.....may not be all that far from the truth in a lot of instances! Ha!

Heinlein never gave females any agency. They are objects to be used by men, and that's their whole purpose. Also, remember some of the highly objectionable ideas from Heinlein about rape.....that it's the woman's fault, because she won't "put out", and if every woman would just have sex with any man who was horny, well, the whole problem would be solved! You don't see anything as disturbing from PKD or Ellison.

Yeah, you are correct about the younger female in PKD....but, the younger females are nurturing and caring, as opposed to Heinlein's younger females, which reeks of paedophilia. That younger women are better because they'll listen and be shaped much better by the man in to what the man wants the woman to be.

I'm not sure how much autobiography Heinlein put in to his sexism....and I'm hoping it was more "wish fulfillment" or trying to be "shocking"! But, PKD's work was usually highly autobiographical. PKD was interested in a teenage female when he was a much older man. He wrote respectfully of her though, it wasn't the narcissistic attempts to denigrate and obliterate an external young girl (or boy) through sex of clinical paedophilia.

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dogpoet    487

You're entitled to make allowances for writers whose work you enjoy, but claiming that Dick and Ellison were more progressive than their contemporaries because they were less shitty about their sexism than Heinlein is nonsense: both were writing at the same time as James Tiptree jr, Ursula leGuin, the aggressively feminist Michael Moorcock, Barry Malzberg, John Sladek and Harry Harrison (among others).

(And Dick chased after teenaged girls because he thought that they'd take him more seriously than women his own age. Have you not read any of the biographies?)

Well, it sounds like you created a nice stawman argument against me there in that last paragraph. That's hardly what I said! I even explicitly stated that Ballard was NOT a Burroughs impersonator, but that I felt he was influenced by Burroughs, as was the whole of post-modernism. I didn't say anything about an IMPERSONATION, at all.

Then why did you insist that Ballard's taste for using characters with medical qualifications is merely a tribute to Burroughs' Doctor Benway?

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Christian    782

That's one aspect of Ballard's fiction. He's not a medical fiction writer. There's a lot more substance to Ballard than one theme. You said that Ballard shows an interest in medical technology throughout his fiction, and I said that Burroughs showed an interest in medical technology and dissection of the flesh with Dr. Benway, so I postulated that this was one aspect of Ballard that could have been influenced by Burroughs. You pointed out that Ballard's interest in medicine went much deeper, which I was unaware. All of which hardly sets up that Ballard was a carbon-copy of Burroughs!

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Barry Malzberg? Where did you get the idea that Malzberg wasn't as sexist as Dick or Ellison? Malzberg's usage of women is very much in the Ellison or Dick mould, of existentially alienated males facing relationship break-downs, lacking in ability to feel intimacy, and issues with sex.

Malzberg has developed in to a far more sexist figure than either Dick or Ellison, and is much closer to having views like Robert Heinlein at this point in his life. Haven't you read his screeds going off attacking feminism and political correctness?

Let me add, sadly, about Malzberg, because I was a huge fan of his New Wave science fiction.

I can't really think of many strong portrayals of women in Harry Harrison. I could be wrong about that, but I am wondering which stories you are referring to that showed progressive views towards females in Harrison.

Yeah, James Tiptree Jr, Urusula K. LeGuin, and Joanna Russ....who are all females!

Moorcock eventually developed strongly feminist views, definitely, but his early writing didn't always show the same views of women. If I remember correctly, he had a major fall-out with Ballard exactly because he chose to go back and rewrite some of his earlier fiction because of the "misogyny" he felt it showed, and how that "kow-towing" to feminism really upset JG Ballard.

Like I said, you can give some examples otherwise, but when Ellison and Dick started writing in the science fiction genre, most of the male sci-fi authors had zero time for women, because "women aren't scientists and heroic" like males!

I wasn't making an excuse for PKD or Ellison. I said their sexism was different than Heinlein's. I said that compared to Heinlein and a lot of Golden Age sci-fi writers, PKD and Ellison's women were almost progressive. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment, but pretty much true.

Also, look at PKD's non-genre novels. His usage of females in most of those novels was much closer to a proto-second wave feminist view of women. It always shocked me to read those novels after reading his later work, considering how his viewpoint on female characters had changed so drastically.

Yes, I realize that about PKD's interest in teenage females. That doesn't change the fact that he wrote respectfully about them. Which is what I wrote about his personal feelings about teenage females.

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dogpoet    487

Are you sure you can draw that neat a distinction between the women in Dick's SF and non SF? Thisbe Holt is a very sympathetic character, but the main female character in Confessions Of A Crap Artist is every bit as unpleasant as those in Ubik or The Simulacra.

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Christian    782

Right, but Confessions of a Crap Artist was published during his life-time.

When I said "non-genre", I wasn't thinking about Confessions, which does fall in to his "non-genre" output, true.

There was also Eye in the Sky, which mocked sexists, by showing their exaggerated, menacing, skewered view of feminists.

Obviously, PKD didn't want anyone to know about his secretly sympathetic views of females, so he made sure that those earlier novels weren't published to ruin his reputation amongst sci-fi fans, who are known to be a fearful and cowardly lot when it comes to women! Just the fact that PKD and Ellison had sexual relations with females was intimidating enough for most of the sci-fi hardcore fans!

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dogpoet    487

Well quite: that's why Alice Sheldon had to publish under a male pseudonym.

(You're wrong about Moorcock, btw: the novel he changed because he was worried that it looked like the original ending read like a justification for rape is Gloriana, which is not an early work. I think that one was published in '78.)

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Christian    782

Also, why Andre Norton was able to become popular in sci-fi circles. She was lucky enough to be given a possibly-male name when she was born. Everyone thought that Norton was a man back in the day. Sci-fi hardcore fans went away screaming and ripping at their hair if Norton would show up at a convention.

Oh, I forgot all the details. All I remembered was something about editing....misogyny....feminism.....Ballard and Moorcock having a falling out over it. Yeah, Gloriana was from 1978.

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dogpoet    487

Pen name, Christian: she was Alice Norton on her birth certificate, and published under a couple of other (male) pseudonyms while she was writing thrillers rather than somewhat femdom-y science fantasy.

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Christian    782

Oh, I thought that Alice was her given middle name.

There were some female sci-fi authors around that time who did write under their birth name (Margaret St. Clair, Katherine MacLean, Zenna Henderson, Judith Merrill, etc.). I'm not sure that any of them received the popularity that females writing under pen names or using their initials ended up gaining at that time, with the exception of Leigh Brackett. I always assumed that Brackett was deemed worthy due to being Edmond Hamilton's wife.

St. Clair and MacLean have gotten more attention in recent years for being overlooked.

Merill got more attention as an editor, although her most famous story did get some notoriety at the time of publication.

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dogpoet    487

Alice Somethingorother Norton, I think. I'm positive Andre was a pen name.

I think a big part of why Leigh Brackett was popular because she was one of the only SF writers doing John Carter pastiches during the pulp era (I can't think of anybody else who was writing Burroughs-y SF with a better prose style until Vance and Farmer retooled that stuff as "planetary romance" in the late '50s), and she'd done a nice solid chunk of that type of fiction that could be collected when sword fighting and swashbuckling came back into fashion in SF later on. (She definitely got a second wind in the '60s: just look at The Ginger Star and its sequels.)  I know that Michael Moorcock, who was highly influential as an editor from the mid '60s on, used to talk her up a lot as well, which couldn't have hurt any. It's also been suggested that as Leigh is also sometimes used as a male name, there was a hint of ambiguity there as well. Catherine Moore (the other big pulp era female SF writer) definitely did use her initials, so perhaps that's true. Rather than being married to Hamilton, Brackett might also have got some respect over her part in launching Ray Bradbury's career: it's often forgotten that Bradbury's first fiction publication was cowritten with Brackett.

One nice story I've heard is that by the '70s when SF was starting to take some feminist thought onboard, John "Girls Know Your Place" Norman was uninvited from a couple of conventions because female guests of honour had refused point blank to attend if he was there. (Most famously Ursula LeGuin, but there was a case with somebody else I can't remember as well: possibly Joanna Russ? It'd be better still if it was Brackett or Norton or somebody who was doing the same sources a lot better, of course.) It's something aggrieved Goreans whine about online whenever they start bitching about how their guru's career was destroyed by the feminist conspiracy.

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A. Heathen    1,162
On 10/19/2017 at 6:16 PM, Christian said:

Kid Lobotomy #1 (by Peter Milligan)-This is worth checking out the second issue. Milligan seems to be trying too hard to recapture his run on Shade, at times. Still, looking back to one of Milligan's best comic works isn't the worst thing that Milligan has done. There are some interesting things going on in the book, outside of Milligan (and Shelley Bond) trying to recapture past magic. The references to Franz Kafka are certainly intriguing (the phone call scene), and the Dr. Burroughs' cut-up technique brain surgery is some fun word-play from a writer who excelled at that sort of thing in his earlier comic work.

It's nice to see that Milligan has recovered so well from the trauma of his run on Hellblazer....

I just binge-read the first three issues and really quite liked it.

Definitely more reminiscent of the better moments of  Shade, rather the Abyss of Constantine.

I quite like the look of some of the Black Crown stuff (*Sid Vicious as an imaginary friend and spirit Pooka is amusing and the art looks interesting enough)
and the editor's notes reference Cud. So that's nice.

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