Monday, March 24, 2008

Spanner: The Identification Crisis

Not many people are probably familiar with the classic 1980s independent comic Mister X, in which the mysterious title character is repeatedly identified as someone, except that every time he is, the man he's supposed to be keeps turning up dead. In the fascist future world of Spanner, it seems the title character, identifiable mainly by helmet, flight jacket, hoverboard, and monkeywrench, pops up everywhere. Someone is identified as being Spanner and killed by the secret police, but (s)he keeps popping up. It's not that Spanner has an identity crisis. Rather, the authorities are having an identification crisis.

So what's going on here? The authorities have two theories on the subject. The first is that Spanner is one person who somehow jets around the world under their noses, thumbing his/her nose at them. The other is that Spanner is not a (wo)man but a group. In either case, the authorities consider Spanner a terrorist (or terrorist gang). But then, they consider anyone who disagrees with their absolute power to be a terrorist, by definition. Needless to say, their bureaucratic, absolutist minds are incapable of distinguishing the merely naughty from the absolutely heinous, so they treat the merely naughty as if it were absolutely heinous. Spanner, the consummate practical joker(s), takes advantage of this and uses it against them. This is the secret of his/her effectiveness against them, and his/her maddening elusiveness.

It's banal to just say that Spanner provokes the authorities to terrorist violence. Actually, the authorities need no provocation; they're too paranoid not to. Whenever they call someone a "terrorist", it's really a matter of what Shira calls "don't call me what you are", or what Freud called projection. What Spanner specializes in, and what Shira excels at, is making the authorities anything they want them to do, specifically by manipulating the hierarchical structure of government. They call this reality hacking. It's the Markoff Chaney principle (Chaney is "The Mgt.", i.e. Midget, from Illuminatus!). That's the other reason why the authorities can't catch him/her: the impersonality of their hierarchy makes it easy for him/her (or just Shira) to exploit it, so they're following orders their superiors haven't even given without any way of knowing that their superiors didn't give the orders. That's another reason Spanner is so difficult to catch.

Shira happens to be a master of misdirection, pointing the authorities toward someone else while doing what she wants with pretty much impunity. Some say she is actually a Discordian; meanwhile, some Discordians insist she is the avatar of Eris, goddess of strife and discord, herself.

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