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 Post subject: Deconstructing 'Doggerel'
PostPosted: Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:30 pm GMT 
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We've never had a Rocky take up an entire extra-long, surreal page with his winding lyricisms before, certainly not in this fashion. While many of Rocky's word jaunts before have been flowery chest-puffing, I believe Doggerel to be the most important poem of the comic yet, and a not-so-subtle summary of the plot and themes. I haven't actually seen anyone dissect any of Rocky's poems before -- with good reason, because most are probably babble -- but I thought this one deserved a light treatment.

I didn't actually like it at first, because the way it was totally unstructured and seemingly metre-less left a bad taste, but upon rereading a few times it grew on me. Especially the very first verse, which though simple in meaning is pretty bad ass. Shoutout to whoever first uses it as a caption for some trippy fanart.

May post this on tumblr later, but for now here's an amateur's take on Rocky's wordfall.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


"DOGGEREL"

These molecules on their return
You might not recognize:
They've undergone a secret turn,
They've been transmogrified.


Characters, and their perception of events, as we'll talk about later, change along the course of (good) stories. As Gandalf once told a twitchy Martin Freeman, sometimes they are scarcely even recognizable by the end. Rocky has changed considerably since our first impression of him as a barely competent bag of wayward limbs and odd wit. Or at the least, he's been revealed. Other characters have changed too, or revealed their more innate selves, and I'm sure we'll see more revelations before the end.

The ether sipped them a story you -- yourself -- supplied.


Perhaps a little meta directed at us, the readers, who very literally make the comic possible since the introduction of Patreon. Less fourth wall-y it could be a statement about storytelling in general: that each character, trope, event is merely a reconstitution of things humans (or cats) have done, told, retold. Every story is a re-configuration, a coming together under different circumstances, snowflakes unique yet all the same. Or in this case, water drops. This notion of repeating history is important. More simply, it could mean that the events and transformations in this story are driven by the characters themselves, which is also important. Framing Lackadaisy as a Grecian narrative, where the elemental traits of these characters ferry them along converging paths that could only end in one way. And as this page so crisply renders, Rocky is nothing if not elemental.

From toil-sweat and tempest tears
Pooled together through the years:
From each ripple and each tilt
On each outboard wave of guilt:
By every deep-dive ponderance
Of every choice and every chance:
By each oblique reflection formed
Then looked upon askance:


The choices and happenstances that fuel these characters' respective narratives. We are given words to put these white lines of fate into perspective: sweat, tears, guilt. In larger terms, struggle, pain, and regret. These aren't happy paths followed but dire ones borne of consequence and character, ones perhaps the walkers wished they didn't take. Survival in the form of a gun left on the seat of a train; a future entertaining a ball room where your former lover kisses another man; a career gunning down other criminals, far from what the SLMPD or your mother would have wanted. Culminating in a present that you couldn't foresee but now cannot change.

All this deals with memory, which is incredibly important to Lackadaisy. It informs characters, and defeats them. Everyone in this story is either running to or from something in their past, some dark inescapable moment or some shining one that like Jay Gatsby they think they'll be able to reclaim if they only reach far enough.

Memory is waterborne...

Like recordings made in wax,
But more protean an act,
Mutable after the fact.


It's true, memory is not immutable. Neurons are ever-changing, organic rather than solid-state. A memory is recreated each time it is remembered, not recalled like an archive, and so it is vulnerable to warping. Bad memories fester like cancers, good memories blossom into the unattainably picturesque. The characters are not only beholden to the power of these memories but subject to their instability and subjectivity. Their perception of certain memories may shift, and strengthen with time. They may remember certain events or certain people differently from someone else. These incongruities and conflicts are central to the mythos surrounding the late Atlas and will prove key in events to unfold, not to mention relationships like Rocky's and Freckles, or Viktor's and Mordecai's.

Those laden droplets then --
Ascended to the skies
Drop back down, down the line,
The whole thing in reprise.

However much in disguise,
All of it's in reprise...


History repeats itself; history informs the present; a pattern of events emerges. The choices these characters made in the past -- whether or not these choices reflected their immutable character or were the unfortunate product of circumstance -- will reflect and support the choices they make now. As Serafine says, the path you choose you are obliged to, and all other paths are lost. Some of our beloved characters, like Ivy, are still in the process of making these life-altering choices. Others made them before we even came on the scene.

Like how a silky mist recalls the kiss
That once had graced your brow.
And remembering this leaves you remiss
To the one who holds you now


Explicitly calling up images of lost love, and estranged loved ones -- and as the last line would have it, new loved ones who are forsaken in favor of an obsession with the haunting past. Zib, despondent after facing the facts with Mitzi; Rocky, manipulating Freckle into his life of crime with the thin excuse of familial bonding; Ivy, who rejects Viktor's hypocritical attempts to protect her; and of course whatever nonsense is going on between conniving Mitzi and poor Wick. Love is a large part of the twisted motivations driving the cast, but no one is actually pursuing what can reasonably be called love. Past deeds and past affections have ahold of them, and everyone is too imprisoned by their own vices to really consider what's best for anyone else.

Or how the slant-wise rain drives a train
Of thoughts of things long lost,
But there's a liquid remedy to calculating costs.
It dutifully derails the train,
And in refrain: evermore is lost.


In context the 'liquid remedy' is the rain, rain which in literature and art is both a purifier and a muddler of things, a balm and a torrent to drown in. Of course there's a far more obvious liquid remedy at the heart of this story which everyone is so focused on attaining, and controlling. Booze is oft a symbol for forgetting or inundating oneself with the past, and can be seen in Lackadaisy as a blunt Macguffin representing what it is everyone wants: to escape or reclaim the past. It's not unintentionally ironic that if things go sour for our non-heroes it will be the liquid remedy that kills them, albeit not as liquor traditionally kills. Thus the "train of thoughts of things long lost" would be derailed, a fruitless endeavor to begin with.

Or how a deluge rent the earth beneath you
And down some blind alley sent
You fleeing from the altercation
For relief, but all it truly meant
Was a cold redesignation:
A long monsoon spent indigent:


Simply the second type of nostalgic suicide, as discussed. Running from past tragedies or crimes rather than searching for a bygone Eden. Running from something intangible that cannot be escaped, therefore relegating oneself to the brand of desperation so common among our melancholy cast.

So you, darting eave to dorm
Till every refuge sopping, went
Back into that conjured storm.

And there's no sign it's stopping.


The actors of our story aren't pulling back. They're plunging headfirst into this maelstrom of misguided efforts and malformed relationships, surrendering to their flaws and desires. Despite the obstacles and dangers that have escalated since the beginning, everyone is even more committed to their own Loa paths of ruin. Even Zib, who while sitting the action out for now is steeped deeper than ever in a despair he fashioned for himself.

These molecules on their return,
I surely recognize.

It's a sort of circle-stream,
A water clock, a time machine:


Everything is circular, fated. Rocky is (unwittingly) likening the water cycle to the events and choices which have shaped them all, things years past that have come back to rain on their perverse parade. If Rocky's rhyming ramble is taken in any sense as diagetic, not merely meant as a medium for us to see this poem, than it could imply an odd Homeric awareness of his own intransigent fate, his unchanging nature. Or as I prefer to think of it, a desperate excuse for his irrational and feverish behavior. Asking for nature to forgive him his indulgences, his crimes of passion as it were.

Lean counter-current, fight the tide:
It's a straight downriver whirlpool ride.

And whatever form that memory takes,
We drift and swim in our own wake.


Drawing from the conclusion of Nick Carraway's final words to the reader, to return to The Great Gatsby for a moment. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past--" and here facing similar imagery of battling the tide, the current -- what could be construed as the natural kinetic force of all living things, moving forward, moving on with life -- after all the tide is a natural thing. Which creates a paradox since Rocky's entire analogy conflates the rejection of this forward motion with a natural force, the weather. In the penultimate stanza he's pitting two supposedly natural elements against one another, the rain beating on the ocean tide. Perhaps to draw attention to the parallel conflict within himself: the fight for freedom and self-preservation, and the fight to conquer the past. In any case, "swim[ing] in our own wake" is clear enough. Rocky and company are chasing their own ghostly tails, phantoms of the past which leave mere ripples without substance at their source.

Oh, storm!
We are the self-same water-wheel:
What turmoil becomes, trouble begets:
The echoed pitch, the answered keel.
So take my behest, at your behest
And charge up my electric ghost!
I'll pay returns with interest!


And his own conclusion: Rocky is asking the storm -- perhaps fate herself -- to lend him power to complete his mission, which the story has made quite clear by now is hardly just about winning Mitzi May's affections. Rocky is, like every person caught up in this storm, in it for himself; whether those needs are understood, or not, willed, or not.

Rocky will pay his debtor, with interest; and the devil always takes his due.


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 Post subject: Re: Deconstructing 'Doggerel'
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:20 pm GMT 
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Fascinating.

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 Post subject: Re: Deconstructing 'Doggerel'
PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:08 pm GMT 
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:'O


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Pure mediocrity since 1998.
 Post subject: Re: Deconstructing 'Doggerel'
PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 9:47 am GMT 
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Joined: Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:16 pm GMT
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Custom Title: Pure mediocrity since 1998.
I can tell you worked really hard on this. It really seems spot on.


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