Thursday, December 31, 2020

31 Days Of CCS, #31: Aaron Cockle

Aaron Cockle continued to roll on with three new issues of his enigmatic series Andalusian Dog in 2020. Ostensibly about the development of and playing of an apocalyptic video game, Cockle's comics dig deep into the relationship between capitalism and metaphysics. In the January issue, Cockle makes notes that seem almost autobiographical at times in recalling hearing about a Samuel Beckett story involving artificial intelligence and reading about them on comics-futurist websites. This was all while working a strange receptionist job in New York that also involved oversight in moving from building to building. This framework was built over a series of neon Risographed pages that discussed superpositioning. The back half of the issue discusses various kinds of player traps in the game that are mostly conceptual, as well as a history of player dwellings. All of this makes a great deal of sense if you have any experience playing free-flowing, world-building games like Minecraft, only with a far deeper degree of ontological power. 

In the February issue, dreams and diagrams take center stage. This issue is super text-heavy and surprisingly sexual, as the dream diary often refers to unspecified sexual relationships and masturbation. The text is over more of that pink and blue neon Risographed coloring, adding dissonance to the storytelling even as Cockle adds "panels" to each page over the text, even if they don't conform to typical panel-to-panel storytelling. That makes this comic especially difficult to parse, although I think the information-jamming is part of the point. In all of the Andalusian Dog comics, Cockle is deliberately playing with the concept of how the brain is unable to comprehend multiple streams of information. 

In the October issue, Cockle used a slightly more straightforward approach as he imagined a scenario influenced by the science-fiction writer A.E. van Vogt and his novel The World Of Null-A. Van Vogt was a big influence on Philip K. Dick precisely because his scenarios did not quite add up. They had a mysterious, evasive quality that appealed to him, and it's clear that van Vogt influenced Cockle here, along with Dick, Borges, and others. One of the stories seems to be related to the project/video game and is related to astral projection and time travel, and how they are related. The stories relate to the plot of van Vogt's novel, and to how having an "extra brain" makes him an ideal detective in a world without crime. In general, van Vogt's project was talking about intuitive leaps in thinking rather than deductive reasoning, and all of that is very much in line with Cockle's project. He keeps coming at the reader at oblique angles, where it's difficult to determine how much of his project is carefully-planned and how much is not only improvised but entirely random, like a Dada performance that relies on the subconscious. There is a game and a meta-game, a story and a meta-story, and Cockle is deliberately cagey on how the two are to be sorted out. 

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