Alephing the SITuAtion

The specific moment that I would like to draw attention to from Warren Ellis’s Global Frequency is at the very end of the episode titled “The Run” where Sita took care of the “dirty bomb” that was in the car of the Eye in London.  In Heideggar’s The Question Concerning Technology, Heideggar plays around with a mode of thinking he calls challenging-forth, which allows for the revealing, the un-concealment, the “ah-ha!” moment, of this idea termed “standing reserve.”  The standing reserve as used by Heideggar is a way to think about something not as it necessarily is, but as it could potentially be.

There are continuous confluent representations of Heideggar’s standing reserve throughout the chapter, for example; Sita uses the items in the city as a parkour obstacle course to accelerate her travel speed, and Sita uses the window hammer from the automobile to break into the Eye car.  The graphics that accompanied the text really deepen the notion of standing reserve in that as Sita is running through the city to the Eye, she does not initially think about getting a device to break into the pod.  As she is passing a car she is informed that the pods are extremely tough, so tough that the villain has explosives to release the Ebola from the pods.  In this flash of narrative full of instructions in addition to absorbing the pictures of her sprinting through the crowd, we are given an image of her glancing at a car and noticing a window hammer in the parked car.  It is in this instant that Sita thinks in a challenging-forth manner to see the window hammer as a tool in standing reserve that she can then use to gain access to the Eye car (and accidentally as a weapon to kill the villain.)  This exact mode of thought applies too to the use of the cleaning fluid to kill the Ebola and when Sita was informed that the case was not airtight due to the pressure differences. Sita sees the water beneath her not merely as a lake but as a possible tool. This particular tool is one that would allow for the pressure on the outside of the case to be greater than the inside of the case and ultimately saving her life.  In regards to how all of this correlates to technology, everything around us can be considered technology only if it is revealed as such.  In the sense that water can be used as a form of technology to power hydroelectric turbines, it too can be used in the sense which Sita used it in The Global Frequency as a tool to increase the pressure outside of the case after she realized this aspect of the waters potential.  It is as much the twenty-first technology that Sita possesses as it is her particular set of skills and reaction times that allows this rescue to be successful.  The fact that Aleph can send information to Sita on the move in such an efficient manner in addition to micromanaging any assistants that are called in to help Sita, such as the man with the germ killer, while simultaneously staying with Sita shows the true harmonization that Aleph is able to exhibit through herself to the agents in the field.

This particular point of Heideggar is seen throughout global frequency as the agents have to use tools in extra-un-ordinary ways.  The relationship between the text and the pictures really allows the reader to both explore a possible solution in their own minds to each problem the agent faces as well as discovering the availability of the standing reserve the instant that the agent does.  I believe that the use of pictures in a comic book conveys just as strong, if not a stronger, meaning than if you were to read a novel in the essence of the old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  While it is true that a portion of the pictures have no text on them, it almost becomes easy to insert what one would expect to hear in those situations without the text being present.  As I read that Sita is climbing up the Eye and then exclaims to the villain, “back away from the germs, toerag features” I can hear the unwritten; gasps from the crowd, the swaying of the beams as Sita climbed, and the response of the villain to her saying “you’re too late, you’ll never break through this glass!” all of which was inserted by my imagination.  I really appreciated this element of this piece having never read a comic before, where instead of adding images from my mind to the hundreds of pages of text, I instead got to add text/dialogue/sound effects to the pages of pictures.  This can be described as “viewing the room from the other side of the table” just as an author who is about to construct a novel has a picture in his mind in which he must portray in words, and we now become the “narrative-inserting” authors in that regard.​

This entry was posted in Global Frequency, Narrative, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Alephing the SITuAtion

  1. dfw1alskare says:

    Firstly, I love the post title. Apart from that I also wanted to say that I completely agree with your view on how the graphic novel serves to be a reader’s technology in experiencing a narrative. Like Heideggar states in his essay, it can be persuasively argued that the form in which Global Frequency is presented–comic illustrations, with each episode being depicted by different artists–can be tied into his concept of standing reserve and how it allows the reader to get a particular experience of narrative that is unlike the way a narrative is felt with an epic or even a novel. Especially in an episode like this one with Sita, we as readers can feel ourselves racing through the pages as Sita is racing through London, anticipating the end to this narrative right along with her.


  2. bagelbite13 says:

    I really liked your reference to “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This comic would not have made it to publishing had the pictures not had such insightful information hidden in them. The dialogue was good, but it lacked the depth of a written narrative. The lost information which was needed to create such an interesting comic was found in all the pictures. In all honesty, I think the pictures even added a level of imagery that is only ever found in incredibly descriptive novels.


  3. Mingyue Yan says:

    Nice response. I completely agree with your idea about how technology broaden people’s view and how you relate the Heideggar’s ideas and the content of the “Global Frequency.”. In addition, I like the sentence”This can be described as “viewing the room from the other side of the table” just as an author who is about to construct a novel has a picture in his mind in which he must portray in words, and we now become the “narrative-inserting” authors in that regard.​” Awesome response!


  4. adeledazeem says:

    You analyze many of the resources used as part of the standing reserve, similar to how Heidegger introduces the term. I think Heidegger would think that using the hammer to break the glass doesn’t alter the essence of the hammer. He would, however, question the use of Sita, a human, as a means of a vehicle. She has to use her body to move travel through London, as opposed to Miranda Zero and other agents who are traveling in typical, constructed vehicles. Is using Sita, like many of the agents are used, altering their essence?

    P.S. Your title is awesome!


    • danwillisdan says:

      Excellent point. I think that potentially contaminating a body of water to prevent the release of an airborne pathogen might be seen as enframing the water as waste disposal, but using devices like cleaning fluid or a window hammer don’t necessarily interrupt the essences of their objects.


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