Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

I have just finished reading Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. I have not seen the movie yet, but I am definitely looking forward to watching it now.

Fantastic graphic novel. While it is practically impossible to live up to the hype surrounding it on the eve of the movie, it definitely deserves its’ classic literary status. I am glad to have read this before watching the movie.

Just to give an idea of the plot’s density – the graphic novel took nearly a week of steady reading to finish. I am normally a fast reader and was planning to have finished the whole graphic novel in a night, maybe two. Definite must read.

There were several themes and ideas in the novel that struck me, especially when juxtaposed with real life events that have occurred in our contemporary society. Spoiler Alert.

I found the idea that a massive surprise attack on New York could be used as a way to harness global sympathy and unite humanity against a common threat, as shown in the novel’s climax, eerie to say the least. The 9/11 attacks and results are uncannily similar, you would only have to replace a few exotic items with mundane ones: exchange giant mutant squid with passenger airplanes; exchange telepathic transmission with mundane 24 hour mass media transmission; change the aliens for terrorists; change the casualties from millions to thousands; and finally exchange one arrogant hero with a an arrogant bureaucrat and more or less you have it. The fact that Alan Moore imagined this decades before 9/11 and made the reasoning followed by his character so… believable, it makes even me wonder. Maybe Loose Change isn’t such a paranoid piece of thinking. This moves Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism up several places in my list of must read books.

The other idea in Watchmen that really struck me was Dr. Manhattan’s speech on the incalculable rarity and uniqueness, thus priceless value, of each individual Human life. The incalculable confluence of factors through which destiny makes each individual Human being so unique and so precious, thus giving Human life meaning and value, can only be obscured by widespread violence and mass murder. In the face of widespread death and destruction, an individual life’s intrinsic value and worth as set by each life’s uniqueness, becomes lost in the mass tragedy. In mass carnage it becomes hard to recognize such value, in the same way it is difficult to appraise the value of individual artwork after an art gallery burns down. This interplay is grotesquely displayed through the way in which the amoral characters Ozymandias, Rorschach, and the Comedian deal with the possible Nuclear annihilation of the Human race.

Many Tamils are now struggling to make sense of life in a world where the international community is abetting the Genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils for geo-political expediencies; the direct result of this is the rise in incidents of self-immolation as a form of political protest among Tamils. Self-immolation has come to represent literally the debasement of Tamil life and humanity by the greater international community.

Another face of this degradation is post-modern societies difficulty in promoting the value and meaning of Human existence independent of consumerism or material trappings. This is because post modern society conversely advocates abortion of ‘unwanted’ pregnancies as a ‘wise’ decision, often equating family planning with financial planning. If certain Human lives, in the form of unborn fetuses, are less valuable because of time and circumstance then in conjunction the value of all Human lives begin to lose their priceless quality. Our society has decided that the value of Human life is directly connected with circumstance and convenience.


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