Government Conspiracies and Technology

I found the “Harpoon” chapter of Global Frequency very interesting. This chapter concerns the secret US government plan called the “Die-Back Doctrine” that will “reduce the human race to a manageable population”. The writing of Global Frequency coincides with the time surrounding Y2K and the 9/11 attacks. Events such as these always tend to bring out conspiracy theorists that believe the government is responsible for everything or that the world is going to end. This Die-Back Doctrine reminds me of such a conspiracy theory where the US is purposely going to kill 88% of its citizens using a kinetic harpoon mechanism from outer space in order to manage the human population in a manner that they see fit.

This chapter can be related to Frank Kermode’s essay, The Sense of an Ending. This essay alludes to the fact that the end of the world no longer has to be the result of a divine interaction. Humankind now has the power to end the world with the push of a button. This idea is demonstrated by “Harpoon” because humans are able to eradicate 88% of the population with the use of this new technological weapon. While this would not be the end of the world because there would still be 12% of the population left, it shows what humans are capable of. Conspiracy theorists and others continually attempt to predict when the end of the world or the Apocalypse will occur. As Kermode writes, “Consequently the historical allegory is always having to be revised; time discredits it. And this is important. Apocalypse can be disconfirmed without being discredited.” Each time that the end of the world does not occur as expected, history must be revised and immediately new theories are devised as to when the next plausible end of the world or Apocalypse will surely occur. This is why Kermode writes that the Apocalypse is disconfirmed as time passes but not discredited because there will always be another predicted time for it to occur in the future. However, now humankind has the power and technology to prematurely end the world before that time of divine interaction ever comes.

Utilizing an episodic graphic novel to convey the ideas of politics, military, and terrorism has its advantages and disadvantages. An obvious advantage this medium has is the fact that it uses very detailed and vivid imagery to strengthen the story so that not as many words are required to convey its points. Additionally, Global Frequency demonstrates how the entire world is currently connected by the growing use of technology in the 21st century. The majority of the text in the novel is conversational between people of all races, genders, and cultures from all over the world. For Warren Ellis to use women and people of different races as main characters in his novel was a large step for graphic novels of the time period. In contrast, Frank Kermode does not utilize a visual medium in his essay so he must write a lot more words to properly inform the reader of his viewpoints. A disadvantage of Global Frequency is that it can be mistakenly taken purely as a fictional comic to readers if they do not take the time to connect the images and words and interpret the meaning of each chapter to relate it to the world today.

Warren Ellis did a great job writing this graphic novel while addressing many of the issues and current events of the world today in the 21st century. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Global Frequency.

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5 Responses to Government Conspiracies and Technology

  1. rivaiheichou says:

    I feel like your description of 12% of the human population made it sound not as devastating as the numbers show. Twelve percent of the current human population is 875,000,000 people, or 1.2 times the population of Europe! And your “disadvantage” of Global Frequency isn’t as half bad as it seems, books don’t always need allegory and analogies for everything, the fact that it is a graphic novel means that it can be taken for face value if the reader so chooses (e.g. a young teen)


  2. adeledazeem says:

    I like your analysis about Willis’s character choice. Being diverse, and progressive in this genre, increases the accessibility of the work to readers.

    Also, I’m not sure I agree that Global Frequency, as a fictional comic book, is a disadvantage. I think by choosing to write a comic, Willis is making a deliberate decision. It would be rather difficult for the reader to miss the political tones and commentary on 21st century life.


  3. spelunkingseahorse says:

    I agree with both of you that being a fictional graphic novel is not necessarily a disadvantage. That was poor wording on my end. It certainly does increase the audience of the book being the medium that it is. What I intended was that if you were looking for a text on current issues like political, military, terrorism, and etc. you would not immediately think to look for a graphic novel or at least I would not because this was the first one that I ever read. Instead I would look for different mediums like novels and essays similar to that of Kermode, Heidegger, and Haraway first.


  4. smaugonthewater says:

    I agree that the Global Frequency comics are attempting to make a point about political issues and such, but I also agree that using a comic as a medium could be a disadvantage. Unfortunately in today’s society certain forms of media are looked down on as less worthy of making important points. Comics and video games are seen by many as “nerdy” and therefore unworthy of certain people’s time and attention. I hope this position will change with time and they will gain a wider audience and acceptance.


  5. danwillisdan says:

    It’s worth noting that Harpoon was released in late 2004. By that time, many conflicting conspiracy theories had developed, interconnecting the events of 9/11, clandestine government operations, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Just as those sites of confusion and chaos are given purpose, ethical and karmic values through conspiracy theory, so does the constant revising of apocalypse, the constant uncovering of the engines of our destruction by the Global Frequency give meaning to existence.


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