Friday, October 31st, 2003
Susan wants me to answer her assertions about Dr. Manhattan. Here’s a summary of the disagreement. She asserts that DM reveals human qualities. I argue that while he tries to fit in, he can’t, because the distance from his humanity is too great: here’s Susan’s argument:
I am still convinced that Dr. Manhattan is more human than you think. Although this viewpoint was established on the same day my alter ego has reflected on her own lack of emotion, it is not made in the vein of comparison, which might make Dr. Manhattan look like an effincrybaby. It is through evidence within the Watchmen itself, both visual and textual.
Chapter 3, p. 16both visual and textual, an obviously upset Dr. Manhattan says, I said to leave me ALONE! (surprising with that much angry emotion that he didnt burst his blue text bubble!)
Chapter 3, p. 5, middle row, lst panel on leftwhere you can see both Dr. Manhattansand both are wearing different expressions, one of pleading and concern, one with brows knitted in concentration with his work.
Chapter 3, p. 20,21p. 20, lower left, bottom row, sense of change or loss, and p. 21 top row, upper right: Just look at that face and tell me he talks like a robot!
There is much, much more to substantiate his human responses. Though I wouldnt call him sensitive either.
My theory? He was blasted to atoms, reconstructed himself by gathering atoms from here and there, with evidence of human sexual need stolen from some poor men, why not atoms of the limbic system of the brain that controls emotion as well?
I have nothing to contradict any of this really. I’m not disputing that DM doesn’t react or act in human fashion. He does deside that he must exile himself to Mars, reasoning that he’s a danger (which is, of course, a reactive choice and the “wrong” decision, but since his action had already taken place, it doesn’t matter). He shows remorse; he shows concern for Laurie and the need to explain himself; or is he just “letting” things occur because for him they already have occured.
Problem is he is “beyond” human by degrees. He’s a superman, not quite close enough to Laurie, and not quite able to change because “things have already happened.” He can go to Mars in a snap. Normal people can’t. He can’t resolve this. The logic of this character dictates that he will know how Laurie will react to his two selves, how things will happen, which leads me to conclude that we have to read him as Susan does, as a struggling man, but not quite able to synthesize the past, present, and future. He may feel but he doesn’t understand those feelings, because he never has the time to do this: he has no “fixed” position by which to reflect, because the time for reflection has already past. Note that as he “flashes” back and provides backstory, he never emotes: he relates events, and then he analyzes their significance as they relate to time and proportion.
Manhattan would never speak as Lear or Gloster would in King Lear.
To the gods we are as flies to young boys, Gloster says in paraphrase, they kill us for their sport.
Manhattan is totally beyond human concept; this is the source of his wretchedness: metaphorically, he can never touch Laurie. He “feels” yet he can never “touch.”