Alan Moore offers a diagnosis of reality that portrays misogyny, homophobia, racism, classism, and governmental tyranny as demonic forces. Moore uses the graphic narrative medium as a means to communicate the demonic nature of these systems of power. In Moore's work on Swamp Thing, he created monstrous personifications of the ills of America, with werewolves expressing repressed feminism and zombies rising from America's fetish for guns. Alan Moore shows the ritual engagement of the phallocracy and its religious fervor for power over women in From Hell. The narrative is set in Victorian England, and the character, Dr. Gull, is portrayed as Jack the Ripper. Gull desecrates female bodies at specific phallocentric sites in London to bring about a twentieth century centered on reason, order, control, all under male rule. From Hell shows the power and demonic nature of the phallocracy, as well as the constructed genealogy of power and order. The work of Irigaray and Foucault interpret the textual meaning of From Hell, and help expose the nature and means that power and control use to objectify women in the modern age. Cultural critics speak of the evils of hierarchy, and the shadow side of ontologies of violence, but From Hell offers a chance for the reader to experience the brutal nature of the Western metaphysical tradition.
[...] The best of rhetoric will not move the reader to feel the power of phallocracy the way Alan Moore's From Hell allows the reader to experience phallocratic violence. What rises from the images in the narrative and the discourse between Gull and his audience is a mirror of the twentieth century, holistically diagnosing power dynamics across the gender divide. Jack the Ripper lingers in cultural memory, a trace of a time where women were used regularly for sexual pleasure but who also had some level of autonomy. [...]
[...] Gull takes pride in this observation, noting that civilizations erected obelisks, phallic symbols denoting the sun, both symbol of the male principle; of man's ascendancy. It also symbolizes man's left brain, our rational, apollonian side.” Gull points out that the architecture of London contains many such obelisks, claiming the architect Hawksmoor built them as “another altar to the sun, and masculinity, and reason, with its cold erection stabbing at the sky.” As Gull and Netley continue their journey, Gull explains that obelisks marked points in London where references to ancient sun gods such as Bel and Baal, Belinos and Atum, Helios and Apollo. [...]
[...] Some trigger in the brain, as if . As if it were . In the midst of this monologue Gull has a vision of the twentieth century, with its antiseptic offices full of light and women's sexuality openly on display but only as object of male desire. As he places the heart of the final woman in the fire a light erupts, shining out the broken window and keyhole of the room the victim and Gull are in. As Gull approaches Netley to depart this last slaying his face is half hidden in black shadow, a new depiction for a character that previously in the narrative had a face always lit. [...]
[...] Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press The Mindscape of Alan Moore, directed by Dez Vylenz Douglas Wolk, Reading Comics (Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press, 2007) Phallocracy is more than just patriarchy, since it is not only male control of society, but also subjugation and objectification of women through the power of the phallus. Douglas Wolk, Reading Comics Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Random House, Inc., 1978), 3-5. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 13-16. The Mindscape of Alan Moore. [...]
[...] In contemporary reality, systems of the phallocracy have sanitized the ways the phallocracy disciplines and inscribes the population to continue the slavery of half of the population, but in From Hell, the brutal inscription of society is shown. The inscription on society through the murder and desecration of women in From Hell is similar to the illustration which begins Discipline and Punish, where Damiens the regicide is drawn and quartered. Brutal descriptions of the torturous execution are provided, mentioning the rending of living flesh and the desecration of the body as a public spectacle of power. Society is disciplined into control through brutal inscription, but then the inscription is maintained through more sanitized punishment. [...]
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