There Is Nothing Left to Say (On The Invisibles)
The Dead Weight
by Travis Hedge Coke
I worry we can never escape classism. We can change its target, its face, but we appraise, valorize, valuate people. Part of doing so is unfair of us.
Early in The Invisibles, Mister Six, in his guise as a history teacher, Brian Malcolm, tells a young, troubled student, Dane (later to be Jack Frost), that he should rethink his friends and not to let the “dead weights” drag him down.
As I said earlier, when I was ten, our teacher bought us to visit juvie because, “most of you are going to be there eventually.” Or, some such quote.
I do not have patience for such talk. For the idea that anyone or any group are predetermined for criminality or waste or to be a detriment to society.
I return, in my soul, to Patrick Meaney’s book on The Invisibles, and the argument that no matter how much torture and abuse a reformatory prison engage in, they serve a good purpose.
Castration and lobotomies for teenagers who had a beer and stole car trying to be cool.
Harmony House does not destroy Dane/Jack, but his friend who stayed? He was not broken free by a well-armed adult fairy godmother in black fetish gear? His life was ruined by that place, by that stay.
Harmony House turns its charges into blank, servile, confused, eager to please myrmidons and beggars, hopeful of bosses, mothers, and eight-fold names. Desperate for messages and orders.
Harmony House, very clearly, never ever ever helps any one of the children imprisoned there.
I do not have patience for the idea that any individual, group, or cultural or social type has a predetermined need for a place like Harmony House. I understand what laws say, and I know we can find outlier cases, dramatic anecdotal evidence that some kids are pure bad and need whatever. You and I know the outliers are unfair examples and that anecdotal evidence can be, and is by nature, misleading, as soon as you have to ignore or erase the bulk evidence that runs contrary.
I think that The Invisibles makes a misstep in the suggestion that, in order to truly progress, we need everyone onboard. It is a great sentiment. It is very kind. At the same time – and let me say this loudly – fuck Nazis.
There are people who cannot come, or at least, who do not need to be waited for or waited on.
And, as soon as I have said this, I worry and I take it back. Everybody in.
We may feel good believing that King Mob shooting armed guards or soldiers or hitmen is the same as Sir Miles kidnapping children who will be raped and/or murdered. We may take comfort in equating characters stealing cars or swearing with hunting homeless people as ritual sport on horseback with pistols and rifles.
These are not the same. That comfort, if found, is wrong. It is wrongly placed, wrongly found, wrong.
Class is oftentimes a fan club. We in; they out. We knowledgable. Those mundane. Us sanctified. Them, per selected.
Classism is often misapprehended racism, misogyny, morphism, religious intolerance, intolerance of sexuality. Classism is a safe-feeling catchall. And, in that way, I misapprehend The Invisibles, in my notion that it can have a universal or central message.
In Pascale Renaud Grosbas essay, From Chaos to Cosmos, our crafty author tells us, “If one may reproach Carroll with anything, it is his failure to renew his inspiration in the genre he did so much to validate. But he is quite clear on this point: He had no intention of following the path he himself mapped out.” Yet, assaying from us, may be a feeling that the antisemitism of the experimental two-part novel which the essay is most concerned with, Sylvie and Bruno, genuinely and of necessity outweighs any perceived failure to renew one man’s inspiration.
To this day, if we like to feel counterculture off-the-beat in the Beat flavor, edgy intellectual in the comfort zone, we bury William Burroughs’ antisemitism and misogyny as somehow, even in his oldest age, his parents’ fault and some will blame is parents being “Southern-transplants” to this mythic, un-racist, un-bigoted North United States. We pretty up Jack Kerouac in a similar way. Lord Byron. Alice Walker. Madame Blavatsky. Walt Disney.
Gnosis meaning never having to say you are sorry. Gnosis meaning never having to show your work. That you cannot be asked. Divine right. The blessing of lineage. The idea that the less evidence, the more true.
Man is not that important.
There are calculated attempts to restrain us by presenting virtuous, divine small groups fighting Big Mandate, because we are prone to identifying as the small group. Narrative and narratology overtake lived practice, living experience. Big Mandate, sometimes, turns out to be a minority or oppressed people simply standing up for themselves, instead of going through a majority-power intermediary. This is when you see white British offended at Black women standing their own ground while championing Black women in their own words, or cishet Americans or Brazilians supporting trans people with banners, but deriding their protests as gauche or obnoxious.
I know what it is to feel a burden. Or, to be one. It becomes hard to say if you truly are a burden because burden, essentially, like offended or offensive, is nebulously reflexive and real in moments more than with permanence.
The Invisibles was almost more psychic boy scouts along the line of pornographic gags in a later Grant Morrison comic for Heavy Metal, or in the way of William Burroughs’ Wild Boys and other humorous larks.
Everyone in comics, as everyone in history, from William Burroughs and Rachel Pollack, Grant Morrison and Ramona Fradon, The Question to Superman, Garfield to Doraemon, is Invisible; is a magician; is a helper.
Brian Malcolm is an elitist. In his guise as Mister Six, this is taken to parodic – and thereby often potentially less-harmful – avenues, but as a schoolteacher, Mr Brian “Big Malkie” Malcolm is directly shaping children whom he, in cases, appears to fully dismiss. Malcolm is not only a teacher to recruit for the fraternity for futurity, but he might as well, as quickly as he refers to his own kids, his own students, as “dead weights.” Class act, Big Malkie!
In Volume Three, when King Mob says everyone should be like Jack Frost, Six – having given up Brian Malcolm to save the world – sharply remarks, “More like you, you mean,” connecting Mob and Jack’s blondness, Britishness, their aryanicity to a statement which Mob meant in other ways. But, fair is fair.
We do not know if Mister Six is Jewish, but he is likely bisexual, or homosexual, depending on how you interpret his relationship to Helga, and his icon is clearly Jason Wyngarde. His Six persona is based on Wyngarde’s television character, Jason King, but his fandom extends to the entire Peter Wyngarde oeuvre, and Wyngarde was Jewish.
Brian Malcolm is not Mister Six is not necessarily Jon Six is not the other Six, or this other Six. He holds many identities, many truths, in one body, sometimes with the same name.
The fan club for The Prisoner, on which Wyngarde featured, is Six is One.
Mister Six, last of the dandies, late international stately homo playboy, history teacher in Liverpool, swinging London police, is a big nerd.
Big nerds can make the best elitists. Or, the ugliest.
As, teachers, too.
All of us who are Invisibles, who are magicians, who are storied, storying, are teachers, too.
Does not matter the wisdom, gnosis, magick art or spells they have to impart, if they will, some avocations and vocations are, the mystery school motif, the affectation of peeling back layers of knowledge you need to live or breathe, on the basis of when your betters decide is always a shell game. Always a con.
Six knows it for the con it is, but his profit may not actually in pulling off the con, but when anyone sees the table is rigged and looks apart the rigging. His ascended mastery and status as one of the most dangerous men in the world may be dependent on fourteen year old’s being able to kick him in the head.
It is possible, our elegant turncoat is an elitist because an elitist is something to rebel from. Mystery in the religious and political sense is only framework, a control mechanism if that is desired and a control mechanism to fight against when that is desired.
Mister Six is a toiler in the vineyards, well dressed. A fancy house brand. He knows it. He owns it. He knows when you strip it all off, you can go health and efficiency or you can go hardcore.
NEXT: Fantasy Fanny
- Prologue/Series Bible
- Chapter One: I Was a Librarian’s Assistant (Pt. 1)
- Chapter Two: I Was a Librarian’s Assistant (Pt. 2)
- Chapter Three: Robin Roundabout
- Chapter Four: How Did Helga Get in Here?
- Chapter Five: Boy Our Embarrassment
- Chapter Six: Once I Was a Little Light
- Chapter Seven: Sacrificial Greed
- Chapter Eight: Dreams Like This
- Chapter Nine: Whose to Tell
Nothing in There is Nothing Left to Say (On The Invisibles) is guaranteed factually correct, in part or in toto, nor aroused or recommended as ethically or metaphysically sound, and the same is true of the following recommendations we hope will nonetheless be illuminating to you, our most discriminating audience.
The Six of One Guestbook. <https://sixofone.co/guestbook> 2023.
Jason King. Created by Monty Berman & Dennis Spooner. Starring Peter Wyngarde, Anne Sharp, et al. 1971. ITV.
The Gnostic Faustus: The Secret Teachings behind the Classic Text. Fradon, Ramona. 2007. Inner Traditions.
The Dead Weight
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