We Interrupt This Meme

Hi. Just wanted to share a strange little moment with you. Let me tell you about the pieces that built this moment.

1) In the course of writing this set of literary entries to my blog, I was reminded of a wonderful little bit where C.S. Lewis describes the way a mirror on a wall can unexpectedly look like a window into some fantastic place--one that seems somehow deeper and richer than the real world, even though it's just the real world reversed. It's not a great alteration in the way the thing looks, but the reversal transforms it purely because it alters our viewpoint slightly. I can't remember what work Lewis wrote it in, but it has certainly stuck with me.

2) I recently watched the trailer of the upcoming movie SHAZAM!, and that got me wandering down the rabbit hole of the comics universe, surfing from site to site and studying up on how a character named Captain Marvel got published by Fawcett Comics, purchased by DC Comics after they won a lawsuit against Fawcett, and replaced with at least three different characters (one alien guy and two terrestrial women) of the same name by Marvel Comics. Moreover, the original Captain Marvel spawned the British rip-off superhero Marvelman, who would later be brought into the modern world by Alan Moore and have his name changed to the legally-more-acceptable Miracleman when his story got published in the U.S. I was a big fan of Miracleman, and I remember well how Moore set up his return after decades of inaction: reporter Michael Moran, who doesn't even remember being MM, is reporting from a nuclear power plant and sees a vaguely familiar-looking word painted on an office's glass door... from the wrong side. The word is "ATOMIC," which Mike reads aloud backwards as "KIMOTA," which just happens to be the magic word that transforms him into a superhuman.

3) This morning, heading to the upstairs bathroom, which is right next to my study, I grabbed something to read from the mass-market paperback SF/fantasy shelf. In this case, the book was The Tolkien Reader, a compendium of short works composed by JRRT, one of which is his masterful essay "On Fairy-Stories." This is a work I have read before, and which I even taught as part of the curriculum on the Woodberry in Oxford program in 1999. When I cracked it open to read Tolkien's thoughts on the different varieties of fairy-story, however, I was surprised to see him mention this kind:
[T]here is (especially for the humble) Mooreeffoc, or Chestertonian Fantasy. Mooreeffoc is a fantastic word, but it could be seen written up in every town in this land. It is Coffee-room, viewed from the inside throught a glass door, as it was seen by Dickens on a dark London day; and it was used by Chesterton to denote the queerness of things that have become trite, when they are seen suddenly from a new angle.

That was the moment when all these things clicked together. What Lewis was talking about (and had almost certainly read about in Chesterton) was a form of Mooreeffoc. Michael Moran is transformed, physically and mentally by spotting a literal Mooreeffoc. And the writer who transformed him (and for that matter saw how he might transform Moran's alter ego from a stodgy Captain Marvel ripoff to a postmodern Nietzschean example of the Superman) was named Moore.

It's possible that I read too much.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on July 29, 2018 7:03 PM.

The Book Meme: Day 23 was the previous entry in this blog.

The Book Meme: Day 24 is the next entry in this blog.

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