March 2012 Archives

Alain de Botton notes that "in many Western countries, the priesthood is now a shadow of its former self," and comments that "a key question to ask might be: where have our soul-related needs gone? What are we doing with all the stuff we used to go to the priest for? Who is looking after it?"

The secular response to the needs of the soul has tended to be private and informal: we find our own solutions, in our own time, we construct our own salvations as we see fit. Yet there remains in many a desire for more interpersonal, structured solutions to help us deal with the serious issues life throws us. Probably the most sophisticated communal response we've yet come up with to the difficulties of what we might as well keep calling, with no mystical allusions whatever, "the soul" is psychotherapy. It is to psychotherapists that we bring the same kind of problems as we would previously have directed at a priest: emotional confusion, loss of meaning, temptations of one kind or another and, of course, anxiety about mortality.

He suggests that "society would benefit if therapists were more explicitly reorganised along the model set by the priesthood; that therapists should be secular society's new priests:"

Modern psychotherapists' understanding of how humans work and what they need to cope with existence is, in my eyes, immensely more sophisticated than that of priests.

RIP Moebius

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The multi-talented artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud has died. Unlike his pseudonym, there were many sides to Moebius, and he seemingly excelled at all of them. io9 looks at his film work:

It's pretty hard to overstate the hand Moebius had in some science fiction's most phantasmagoric films. You know his work even if you've never realized it.

In addition to providing concept art for such films as Alien, Tron, The Abyss, Masters of the Universe, The Fifth Element, and Willow (which was awesome albeit unused), the artist provided concept art for El Topo director Alejandro Jodorowsky's neve-realized Dune adaptation, which was to star Mick Jagger and boast a soundtrack by Pink Floyd.

Neil Gaiman provides a sad anecdote from the world of comic books:

We wanted to work together. I wrote the Sandman: Endless Nights story DEATH IN VENICE for him to draw, but his health got bad, so P. Craig Russell drew it. Half a year later Moebius's health improved a little, and he asked if I could write him a very short story, perhaps 8 pages, and make them all single images, so I wrote the DESTINY story in Endless Nights for him. His health took a turn for the worse, once more, and Frank Quitely drew it. And both Craig and Frank made magic with their stories, but somewhere inside I was sad, because I'd hoped to work with Moebius.

And now I never shall.

For anyone unfamiliar with Moebius' work, check out this gallery. Here's a fitting image of his character Arzach:


Here's another gallery, and Matt Seneca's comments that "His death is sad news, to be sure, but the note of triumph it carries should not be overlooked:"

So many of comics' great artists die penniless, uncared for, forgotten, ruined physically or spiritually or both by having given so much of themselves to an ultimately uncaring public. Moebius was that most important and valuable of rarities: the recognized great cartoonist. His books sold millions of copies, providing him with a comfortable lifestyle and the luxury to put out work when and how he wanted as he grew into old age. He died shortly after a massive exhibition of his work at the Fondation Cartier Pour L'Art Contemporain in Paris, which devoted vast stretches of museum space to his art. Moebius was treated, by and large, as great artists should be, and the outpouring of emotion that has already begun to greet the news of his passing is a fitting capstone to a career that touched so many so profoundly.

update 2 (3/11):
Sean Witzke offers these beautiful remarks:

No artist, let alone a comics artist, has been as singularly influential on the way we as a species see ourselves moving forward. [...] We must not forget that Moebius not only reinvented how science fiction could be drawn, but also placed an indelible stamp on westerns, fantasy art, metafiction, autobio comics, humor strips, and in one instance American superhero comics.

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