Beneath the Panels #4 – Nameless and the Place of Fear

B7KljFICYAA8_veBeneath the Panels is my ongoing effort to catalogue/analyze the Occult correspondences I posit Grant Morrison has built into the underlying ‘code’ of Nameless, his new comic collaboration with Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn. Before proceeding with this fourth and final iteration pertaining to the first issue of Nameless, I should point out for new readers that the research and subsequent outlining of this stuff has been an involved, ongoing process and as such if you’ve not read the first three iterations of Beneath the Panels you would be best served to go back and do that. Below are links to those columns, the first of which is on my personal blog and the subsequent two here on Joup:

Beneath the Panels #1

Beneath the Panels #2: The Enochian Themes of Nameless

Beneath the Panels #3: Nameless and the Tree of Life

That said, before Nameless #2 hits shelves this coming Wednesday, March 4th, so we’re finishing up on #1 just in time. Today I’ll begin where I left off last week, namely with the Maya mythological Place of Fear, Xibalba.

Grant Morrison is no stranger to Mayan themes. His series The Invisibles used as a crux Terence and Dennis McKenna’s Timewave Zero theory; a theory that juxtaposed the ancient Mayan calendar, DMT’s effect on the Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) of the human brain and the I Ching in a complex paradigm that predicted an end to history and a massive paradigm shift on December 12, 2012. As the date of the eschaton approached at the end of the previous decade the McKenna’s theory was eventually adopted and distorted by everything from Hollywood to the mainstream new age movement and was thus cheapened with a frenzy of books and films aimed at exploiting the encroaching date’s tension as one more in a series of pre/post millennial apocalypse fads. However, before the Machine got ahold of it, the idea of a point of maximum novelty and its yield of a new paradigm was a fascinating example of daring twentieth century molecular biological research. The McKennas developed the theory after an expedition to the Upper Amazon Basin in 1971; their work yielded a variety of information culled from ingesting several species of psychoactive plants, which was first written about at length by the brothers in the 1975 publication The Invisible Landscape: Mind hallucinations and the I Ching. That work was not only an influence on Morrison, but on global Occult theory – particularly the strain of Chaos Magick that developed as a result of the work of both Austin Osmin Spare and the Illuminates of Thanateros, both major influences on Morrison.

i-ching-king-wen-arrangementBut I digress.

The idea that GM would turn back to Mayan mythology is not surprising at all; his publicly acknowledged association with Chaos Magick means he was well-versed in not only the connections the McKenna’s drew to the Mayans but also shamanism in general. In fact, one of the things Morrison is so good at is juxtaposing seemingly contradictory or unrelated theologies/mythologies. I think that’s probably what we’re seeing in Nameless, a sort of reiteration or second, updated pass at one of the themes of The Invisibles, namely that of global initiatory experiences.

Paul Darius’s act of recruiting Nameless to help save the world may be disingenuous. Last week I wondered aloud whether or not Morrison might be building a superhero metaphor that sets up the “heroes” of Nameless with the powers of wealth, as wealth allows one to do things no one else can and thus, in a manner of speaking grants them superpowers. However another possibility here is that Darius and his Billionauts may have slightly Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 5.11.45 PMdisingenuous motivations – certainly the idea that they’ve already retreated to an outpost on the dark side of the moon – a superhero enclave seen in other books such as The X-Men, only here it is not mutant abilities that allow the heroes the use of this otherwise deadly environment, it’s their wealth – points to the idea that Darius’s cabal may in fact be working to usher in a trial for humanity and the Earth. From the interview with Morrison in the back of Anarchy for the Masses: The Disinformation Guide to The Invisibles:

I’ve come to the conclusion that the world is tested through activations. I’ve been influenced by Terrence McKenna’s Timewave theory. I saw these activations. I began to see the Dark Ages was a kind of huge dark night of the soul for that period of history… I think we keep going through these initiated experiences, which is the moon experience form the tarot card, which is good through darkness. Through the worst experience, actually the darkness is just some part of the light. The two things define each other. Darkness and light are just things on a spectrum. Good and evil are on a spectrum, they’re on a line.

Now, granted I’m taking a lot of liberties right now, but with all the information we’ve strained from this first issue of Nameless that’s really all we can do with it. The asteroid Darius tells Nameless is on a collision course with Earth is named Xibalba, other than this and the above ties for previous Morrison themes I can find no direct corollary between the Occult correspondences in this book and the Maya Underworld. However, we only have three days and some change to wait to see if any new connections are revealed in Issue #2!

Until issue #2, make mine Morrison!


NOTE: all images and any text accompanying them do not belong to me. Most herein are from the comic Nameless, published by Image Comics and created and owned by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham. I am reposting material found freely online via reputable (ie not torrent or other illegal download sites) journalistic/critical sources and using here only for my own analytical purposes.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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