Thursday, December 26, 2019

31 Days Of CCS #26: Aaron Cockle

Aaron Cockle continues his series about a video game called Andalusian Dog with the fifth and sixth issues. Like much of his work, this is an oblique, culture-jamming satire of capitalism, technology, and utopianism. The title refers to a video game, which may or may not be responsible for global catastrophes. After a lot of activity and commands in the first four issues, this issue takes a step back to observe and talk about observing. Indeed, the theme of the issue is phenomenology, that tool of philosophy used to observe and describe. In this case, what is sought to be described is the relationship between insight and understanding. "Understanding of insight is insight of understanding," summed up this description, and this began a series of circular arguments that ended in a Sculpture Garden with no sculptures and which wasn't a garden.

Insight is often considered to be intuitive and immediate, whereas understanding is the endpoint of a process. Cockle gets at the argument that underpins existentialism here. Language is the tool of understanding, but language is inherently corrupt because it fails to address the idea of being. Insight goes beyond language; it can be described by language but it isn't the same thing as the experience. By using paradox to link them, he negates them both, creating that state he describes at the end: the sculpture garden with no sculptures that isn't a garden. It both is and isn't, just as in the last panel he describes the game-makers' place: "Our place being this place, this place being a place, a place being no place." In other words, it begins with a solid description of something we can perceive, then reduces it to its linguistic underpinnings, then takes those away because language is corrupt. It's a lot of conceptual rug-pulling.

The sixth issue is a juxtaposition of a phenomenological description of the game with raw images and neon-bright Risographed colors. Phenomenology asks that we put aside our everyday understanding of an object and its use-value before describing it. Hence, the description here is of shapes, figures, and maps. It's also a massive change from the previous issue, which used phenomenology on a conceptual level instead of a material level. I'm still not quite sure where Cockle is going to end up with all of this, but he always provides surprises in even the most conceptual of his comics.

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