“And so we return and begin again.” I was probably as surprised as anyone to hear that Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles (1994-2000), a 1990s era comic that is, quite frankly, more than just a comic (it’s more accurate to call it an initiation into High Weirdness) is getting its own T.V. adaption. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, we live in a time that is increasingly taking on the characteristics of alchemical quicksilver. Between the climate crisis of coastal fires and super storms and the political crisis of the alt-right (not to mention the meme magicians) everything is taking on the uncanny quality of unreality (this of how many times do we see friends nervously joking online about being in the bad timeline). Mercury meltdown. Maybe planet Earth is some kind of vast planetary alembic, distributed across time, and producing… what? Chaos, catastrophe, or perhaps metamorphosis? Is this birth, or death? Or something wrapped up in between?
The Invisibles, Grant Morrison’s comic book magnum opus, explores all these questions. So much that was solid is falling away these days, so it really shouldn’t be any wonder that magic—humanity’s de-facto being animism for the majority of our evolutionary history—is on the rise in popular culture. It began with comic book movies like The Avengers showing up as the planetary myths for a world in crisis. Then it became the rise of occult practitioners and the “Esoteric Renaissance” in indie publishing, “magical resistance” against the Trump administration, and gnostic “pop-occultism” (The Matrix, a gnostic tale, is heavily influenced by The Invisibles) in our cinema and T.V. shows, so it was only a matter of time until The Invisibles got queued up. As Morrison writes for this interview on the timeliness of The Invisibles right now,
“I think what’s going on now is kind of more suited to the magical and occult ideas in The Invisibles because we’re in the time of meltdown as far as the boundaries between reality and illusion is concerned. They have dissolved quite considerably over the past few years. And I think where we are now is a very pliable, weird, bizarre time.”
For anyone who hasn’t read The Invisibles, I recommend preparing for the show and reading it now. It’s a story about a gnostic superhero team who uses astral time travel, cosmic initiation, and even Buddha-nature to fight demiurgic powers and avert planetary disaster. It wraps up in a hypertext gossamer all the pastiche of the consciousness culture’s 2012 intrigue into mind-blowing mashups of H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horror and Philip K. Dick’s postmodern gnosticism. It’s difficult to explain. The story was designed to be a pop-culture hypersigil, a kind of magic bomb tossed into the bowels of culture, saying: “you can write your own reality, you’re more than you think you are.” What’s this more? A planetary mythology that sees the kind of crisis we’re in right now as part of what Morrison calls the “Supercontext.” Maybe, after all, we’re like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s been one, big, evolutionary journey of a single super-organism, stretched through time from the first cell to us (and if you’ve seen the recent film Annihilation you’ll know what I mean). Maybe comics and superheroes remind us we need to—or rather, we are—gods in the making. The things is, Morrison detonated this hyper-sigil in the 90s, back when very few of us realized that a mere 25-30 years later, reality would be melting down. Now that it is, the message is clear: to survive, we must leap into tomorrow with our evolutionary potential. For Morrison, we’ve already got it. We’re are the Supercontext. It’s time we claimed our power started acting like it.
Check out my earlier essay on Grant Morrison’s comic book bibliography, pop-gnosticism, and postmodern evolutionary futurism.