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About Literature / Student sean j. dillonMale/United States Recent Activity
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A Romance by Sean Dillon

“Last time, I tried not to love you,” he said solemnly as I put the bandage around his arm, “I thought, maybe if we didn’t fall in love, it would stop.”

“Obviously, it didn’t.”

“Heh, yeah, obviously. I tried to look at all of you’re worst traits. How you need to be the smartest person in the room, how you like to keep me out of the loop on the whole magic thing, the fact that you snore-”

“I do NOT snore!” I interrupted, “I preform a vast nightly series of interconnected and high level vocal spells in my sleep.”

“Right, snoring.”

“Nrrh. So what stopped you from not loving me?” He paused. I never knew him to pause when he was on a role about how right he is. I waited for him to tell me what I already knew.

Finally, he said, “It didn’t feel right. Every time I tried to deconstruct you, demolish you, hate you, I just found a million more reasons not to. Your dry wit, your lovely singing voice, the way the sun glistens on your eyes. And I realized something.”

“What?” I asked as I placed my hand on his broken knee.

“I would rather go on with this whole loop for all eternity than to not love you. Maybe were not meant to be, and all of this is just the universe telling us so. Maybe some force is trying to keep us apart because of some magic stuff you’ve done, I don’t know. But what I do know is how much I love you.” We sat there in that dimly lit hotel room with only the stars in the sky and each other for company.

“Hmh. Maybe it’s not how much you love, but how much you are loved.”

“I love that song. Where did we hear that one?”

“I think it was on our third loop, when we went to Earth.”

“No, no. I remember that loop. That was the one where we just stayed on Jupiter. You remember, the quiche shop where we had fun for a little while before that kid walked in on us.”

“taHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I remember that one. Hahaha! Oh man, that kid must have been scarred for life because of us.”

“Well, either that or aroused.”

“Oh god, you think?”

“Well, I have no idea what goes on in the hearts of man. For all we know, that kid was really into freaky magical alien sex.” For some reason this made us laugh really hard, like an in-joke that nobody remembers the source of.

Eventually, we calmed down. When we did, we realized that the sun had finally risen on the fields of Jupiter. I looked down at the man I loved and held dearly. The day must have tuckered him out, as he was sleeping on my lap. As I looked up at the sunrise, a memory snapped into focus from long ago and far away. It was from one of my childhoods. My first one, I think. I was living with my mom for the month, so I was probably eight. We had this gorgeous farm where the fields went on and on for years. I always knew when dinner was. My gran would always yell “Steve, it’s time to eat”, to which I would always correct her by telling her my name was Andy, not my brother’s. My family did that a lot.

One night, as memory serves, I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t that I was excited for anything or stressed out, I just couldn’t sleep. So I decided to go on a stroll around the property and play Spider-Man.

“Pt-choo! Pt-choo!” I went around the house as I pretended to swing the streets of New York. Eventually, I left the house to play outside, despite my mom telling me not to do that at night. But I knew the area like the back of my hand, so I was fine. Eventually, I found myself in woods, where I was hunting down the evil Doctor Octopus in hopes of foiling his evil schemes of world domination. I never did find the bad Doctor, but I did find something I had never seen before. It was a small lake in the middle of the forest.

There was something off about it, some sort of feel it gave, like watching the moon landing for the first time or going into space. And there was something in the lake, something wrong. Something that didn’t belong but was still there. A shadow creature, slender and dark, and as I reached out to it, I saw that it was trying to grab me. But before I could pull away, the sun burst out and destroyed the beast, leaving only my reflection.

And I looked up at the sun, and I saw, perhaps for the very first time, it in all of its majesty. I saw colors come out of it that I had never seen before, reds bluer than blue, oranges mixed with violet and amber, greys made gold, and so many others. I nearly cried as the sun continued to rise and rise above the lake. I let its glow consume me with its brilliance. It was then, that I decided to become a magician.

Eventually I heard my mom call me for breakfast, and I left that wonderful place. I swore that one day, I would come back. Yes, I would go back to that lake.

I never found it again. Not even in later cycles. The sunrise before me didn’t have my memory’s majesty, but it was nevertheless beautiful. I looked down at Tyron, still sleeping, and I thought ‘yeah, this one’s better.’ Eventually, the alarm went off playing a song I swear I’d heard before.

From the SEAS where we RAN and the water that’s bluuuuuue,
All the PLAINS where I fell asleep NEXT to yooooou.
And maybe this will KILL us,
And mAYbe this will KILL us,

Suddenly, the power went out, and I wondered what the next lyric would have been.

“There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.”
-Václav Havel
Logline: The Newtonian Magician wishes to bring about single vision across the world; Jane/Peter, our genderfluid protagonist, concludes their apprenticeship with the Newtonian Magician; and Joe is on the verge of madness as he attempts to study for finals.

Overview: Ever have that one teacher you just don’t get on with?  That one person you’re stuck working with despite the fact that they are clearly an awful human being and you should probably stay away from them?  Well, that’s the situation that Jane/Peter, a gender fluid student concluding their freshmen year at college, is stuck in.  Specifically, as a freshman, the only magician they are able to learn under is the Newtonian Magician, an old man who views magick and the world through the lens of single vision; specifically, a single vision that is filtered through the politics of the far right.  So imagine how he reacts to a person who identifies with multiple genders (short answer, he thinks Peter is a demonic entity trying to overtake Jane’s soul and prevent his glorious vision).  In addition to this, the Newtonian Magician’s philosophy in magick is rather limited.  He views the concept of magick through a bad reading of Clarke’s Third Law (any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic) as meaning that magic works similarly to science rather than advance science having the appearance of magic.  So naturally, he’s plotting to force the world to bend to his vision.
Of course, this isn’t what the story is about.  Sure, this is a plot point, but stories are far more than just plots. And this story is about Jane/Peter.  It’s not about how they come to terms with their status as gender fluid, they are perfectly happy within the story.  Rather, it’s about them.  As people living in this mad planet we call Earth.  It’s about them having a low period where all seems lost.  Of having their friends yell at them for seemingly unjustifiable reasons.  It’s their high moments and their low moments.  It’s about trying to find time to be there for their friends.  But perhaps most of all, it’s about a silly, slightly shy person with a big mouth and a bigger heart trying to fit into this strange world of ours.  And boy is it strange.  In addition to Jane/Peter’s story, there’s also the back up feature about their roommate Joe.  And while that narrative is far less meaty than Peter/Jane, it still fits with the theme of trying to deal with the world, albeit in a more mundane way than with magic, and how the world sometimes flips what you expect to go on its head.
This is not a story for children.  I do not say this in the sense that this is a dour grim and gritty tale of how Peter/Jane’s identity makes them a loner (it doesn’t, at least in the environment of the story) but rather, this is a story meant for people going through/are just about to go through college and represents that experience.  There is swearing, drinking, and the final issue is about our hero getting what one might consider as high.  But beyond that, it, like most good stories, takes its audience seriously.  Also there will be jokes.  I cannot guarantee they will be funny, but I will try.
-Sean Dillon
Outline: The following is an issue-by-issue outline of the main plot of the series. It assumes that I only get twenty-two pages for the story to be told, but it remains loose enough to be able to be adjusted later.

#1-…disbelieving it is too awful to imagine. -On Monday, Jane, a gender fluid student at college (Peter; they, them, their), is starting their finals.  Of the finals they have to complete, the one we will be focusing on in the series is one on the subject of Magick.  Unfortunately for Jane, their teacher, who goes by the name The Newtonian Magician, is… not in favor of their identity.  This is seen not just in his demeanor when interacting with Jane, but also in his philosophy in magick, Newtonian Magic.  This method highlights things having a single state of being and anything that disproves his single vision, is evil.  Furthermore, the Newtonian Magician views Magick through the lens of a bad reading of Clarke’s Third Law. Most good readings of the third law view it as being about how science would appear to a person of a less technologically advanced society. Whereas the Newtonian Magician’s reading concludes that magick is just an advanced form of science.  As such, his tests for Jane revolve around things that do not rely upon symbolic logic, but rather through means with seemingly scientific explanations.  In the case of Jane’s first test, they must bring someone back to life with electrical means.  This issue will act as an introduction to the world in which this comic takes place (which is a mixture of real life, science fiction, and fantasy) and the people who live in it (including vampires, noir detectives investigating missing ghosts, and non magical or scientific people who just try to get by in our mad, mad world).
Two Page back up-On Friday, Joe, Peter/Jane’s roommate, awakens in his dorm room.  He goes about his typical morning routine, including listening to his alarm, which is currently playing William Bolcom’s interpretation of “London” by William Blake (I know Blake is in public domain, so since this isn’t an auditory medium, we’re good).  As he is looking at his phone, he realizes to his horror that today is when he has his sole final, of which he has not studied (as we shall see in the background of the main story, he spent the week partying and generally wandering around campus).  Outside the window of his room, we see a giant being lying dead.  This will be explained in the final issue.

#2-…these things did occur? -On Tuesday, Peter must complete their second test.  In this test, Peter must travel with the Newtonian Magician to another dimension.  There, Peter must contain a gem of vast powers (which the Newtonian Magician is planning to use for his nefarious deeds).  This issue, as with all the issues, is less about the overall plot of the series and more about the character interactions.  In this case, we see just how horrible it is for Peter to be with the Newtonian Magician and why this relationship is unhealthy.  To be more specific, the Newtonian Magician is frank about his disgust for the Peter identity and views it as a demonic presence infecting Jane.  The Newtonian Magician, as we have seen in the previous issue and will see in the rest of the story, has no respect for the Jane aspect either, having the kind of views towards women that would be expected of someone who longs for a golden age where these things didn’t occur.  These attitudes do not help Peter either as they are feeling anxiety due to the background radiation of our society making them feel like they aren’t really gender fluid; that they are just confused.
Two Page back up-After discovering the dreadful news that his final is today, Joe runs quickly to the library to study for his final.  In this back up, we see the aftermath of the events from the previous week including another angle of the giant from the previous back up, newspaper clippings of a riot that recently took place over whether or not the police have the right to punch people they don’t like (with the newspaper siding with the police (it is a Murdoch newspaper after all)), the remains of Thursday’s giant robot war, a bunch of drunk people staggering back to their dorm rooms, and countless other events.

#3-…into the world itself. -On Wednesday, Peter/Jane have just completed their third test with the Newtonian Magician (what it was isn’t really all that important to the issue (or the series for that matter)).  As such, they decided to spend the time they have after they complete the finals for the day with their girlfriend Zoe, a political activist and alchemist.  Some time passes, and they meet up with Zoe.  Initially, their conversation is casual (how was your day, how are finals coming along, is there a giant spider on my back and will it try to kill me), but then Zoe brings up a protest she is planning on going to the next day.  This leads to the couple having an argument about their political activity, how Zoe keeps putting herself in positions where she might die (the police tend to have this habit of getting away with killing black people), how Peter/Jane don’t seem to care about anything in the outside world beyond the boundaries of the college campus.  Zoe says it in such a way as it comes off harsher than she intended it to be.  This leaves Peter/Jane agape and the couple to be within a moment of awkward silence.  Eventually, as the couple think over what they have said to each other, Peter/Jane admit to Zoe that she’s right.  They have been too apolitical in their views of the world.  Zoe admits that she was being a bit too harsh on her lover and they both apologize.  They then try to figure out what to do with the rest of their night before deciding to just simply watch the stars in the sky.
Two Page back up- As Joe is in the Library studying for his Final, two nearby people wont shut up to let him study in peace.  In their conversation, they discuss their what they should do in the wake of the giant robot war that they where on the losing side of.  Given that the war caused large amounts of property damage, they fear they will be unable to pay the price of damages in addition to their student loans.  In addition to that, there were rumors spread that any survivors on the losing side, regardless of how much agency they had in the war, would be murdered in their sleep by Graduation (Sunday).  But before we can hear any more of their discussion, Joe tells them to groans in aggravation before leaving to study his heavily dull material somewhere with less people talking.

#4-…“to die” means “to go back.” -On Thursday morning, Jane/Peter prepare to do their next test.  For this test, they must complete a ritual that will “cure a poison of which our world is beset”.  For this, they will need to collect supplies, which they do.  This issue is really one of getting around the campus to see what else is going on. Much like the Doctor Who episode “The Pandorica Opens”, it’s just a stretch of stalling until the cliffhanger at the end of the issue (stalling is only an issue if the story is about the plot).  In the end of the issue, Peter/Jane complete the ritual.  As the energies of the ritual surround them, they see a vision of the Newtonian Magician.  Here, he explains to them of some “good news”.  As it turns out, he was able to find a spell that could remove the invading force that is consuming Jane’s soul: the spell that they just cast.  When the spell disperses, Peter/Jane still look the same, however they soon begin puking blood and screaming bloody murder.  It is only stopped once they put on the gender performance of Jane.  In other words, the Newtonian Magician, like all men of power and with beliefs like his throughout history, has forced the undesirable aspects of society to act the way his singular vision permits them to act.  The vision then proceeds to conclude their monologue with the statement that he will bring up society back to the golden age (which only existed in his vision of history, a whitewashed tale without people like Bayard Rustin, Grace Hopper, or Pamela Colman Smith in it).
Two Page back up- As the dull nature of the course work begins to overtake Joe into falling asleep, our protagonist daydreams of his fears for what is to come should he fail the final.  These fears, as with most fears we have at this time period, are largely overblown including being disowned by his family for failing this secondary general education course, being compared to his older brother who was able to pass the course with ease, and being forced to retake this course in the fall semester.  As his daydreams end, he is alerted to his phone alarm going off.  He pulls out his phone and we discover it is too late: he has fifteen minutes to go to class and take his final.

#5-…this book isn't actually about Sir Isaac Newton… -On Thursday afternoon, Jane is horrified by what has been done to them (it even hurts them to think of them as “them” rather than “her”) and foolish for being so easily tricked by someone as obviously cruel and monstrous as the Newtonian Magician.  Nonetheless, they still go about trying to stop their former teacher.  But beset upon their way is a war between two factions of giant robots fighting each other with no regard of who they step on (Jane does the sensible thing of tearing down both sides, making it seem like the other side won), the police beating anyone up within the radius of the protest Zoe is at (Jane, of course, makes a detour in their quest to defeat the Newtonian Magician to help the people being beaten by the police by shifting the symbolism of the situation into one of a fascist regime going up against a plucky rebellion and allowing the narrative logic of that scenario to play out (they are really a natural at this magic thing)), and their roommate Joe drunkenly trying to get back to their dorm (Jane just teleports him to their room).  Inevitably, Jane reaches the Newtonian Magician, now a colossus with a design akin to Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus.  The Newtonian Magician, with his magic eyes, is undoing the progress that Jane has wrought throughout the issue.  The Giant Mecha War rages on, the protest ends as it would “realistically” turn out, and Joe is staggering his way to certain doom.  As this is happening, Jane is climbing up the colossus, eventually reaching the cranium.  In the center of the empty husk, is a tree with an apple dangling upon it. Jane, with no other option left, eats the apple.  The bells strike midnight, and time stops.
Two Page back up- Joe hurries to reach the classroom where the final is meant to take place, only to discover no one there.  When he checks his email, he finds that the final has been canceled on account that the teacher has died and since he was the only professor who taught the course that semester (all the other teachers who teach said course are only available in the fall semester and there were no TAs) the final was canceled.  After he finishes reading the email, Joe promptly faints, ending the issue.

#6-The whole point of magick… -On Friday at midnight, time stops.  Or rather Jane’s perception of time stops.  For Jane is currently within a state of symbolic logic, wherein no one would notice time.  In other words, Jane is high on the apple of Eden and is listening to the Songs of Experience.  This experience explored in the issue is separated into four five-page parts (assuming I am given 22 pages per issue (including back ups)).
Section 1-Nigredo: As with the four sections within this issue, this section is created differently from the rest of the issues.  In the case of the first section, the paper used is black instead of the typical white.  In this section, the Newtonian Magician offers Jane a place by his side, as his consort. (if I may remind you, the Newtonian Magician is a deluded, terrifying, and horrible man, the worst of the worst people. He would be a puppy if he felt literature was worth reading. His views on women include “be seen, but not heard” and “the only true place for a woman is in the bedroom”. Fuck this guy.)  Naturally, Jane rejects the creepy old man hitting on them.  They do this by spray-painting the words “NEWTON WAKES!” upon the ideascape they find themselves in (this being a reference to the Blake quote where the Newtonian Magician gets his name “May God us keep/From Single vision & Newtons sleep”).  They then proceed to jump into the abyss.
Section 2-Albedo: In the second section of the issue, the artist should draw it with focus upon the white negative space, i.e. highlight what isn’t in the scene rather than what is.  Here, Jane finds a symbolic representation of their masculine performance and joins together with them.  To do this, they must first reach them within a storm of pure whiteness and are beset upon by metaphorical representations of Jane accepting the ideology of the Newtonian Magician and their own anxiety.  However Jane is able to defy these ideas and becomes one with Peter.
Section 3-Citrinitas: This section is inked with yellow ink rather than black ink.  Here, Jane/Peter fight off against a symbolic representation of the Newtonian Magician represented by numerous masculine figures of authority ranging from Scout Leaders to Space Captains, until all that is left is a basement dweller who hasn’t seen the sun in years.  Naturally they bring it right to him, defeating him once and for all.
Section 4-Rubedo: The sections in the symbolic state are all drawn in red ink, the rest are drawn with the normal ink.  As the titan crashes down onto his face, within the symbolic state Jane/Peter celebrate by dancing with their symbolic selves.  They then, in the real world, open their eyes, with a look of enlightenment and understanding.
After this, there is a brief epilogue where Peter/Jane return to their dorm room to find Joe reading an article on his computer.  Following their entrance, Jane/Peter ask knowingly about how Joe’s final went to which he explains that it was canceled.  He then proceeds to ask about their finals to which they close the series with the line ‘Eh, they were surprisingly easy.’ 
Sample Script:

Scene one- Context: This is from the third issue, wherein Zoe, an alchemist, activist, and Peter/Jane’s girlfriend, and Peter/Jane have met up after Peter/Jane have finished their test for the day.  Recently (like the scene before this one) the couple has just had a fight about how little Peter/Jane seem to care about the world outside of the bubble that is their college life.  Now is the winter of their content.

Page 1 Panel 1: The scene takes place outside of the student center (a brick building with a faded “Circle V” (I know damn well Warner Brothers does not have copyright over that symbol despite the Alan Moore comic it was popularized in recent memory (although if it is held under copyright, use the typical Circle A anarchism symbol)) on the visible wall, as if to symbolize that the problems being discussed prior to this scene have been there for a long time.  Beneath the circle “V” and slightly obscured by our characters is a quote.  Although we do not see the full quote, it reads thusly:
“People in this world
are getting organized!”
(I checked and these lyrics are in the public domain).  Recently, someone tried to remove the faded graffiti completely, but he was stopped.  You can still see the white paint and blood on the bottom of the wall.  Directly behind them is a wooden bench with enough room to sit three people) at around sundown (the whole scene takes place as the sun sets, so make sure to keep check on the lighting and color hues as the sun sets).  On the left side, is Peter/Jane who are wearing their hair in a ponytail, which, if one looks at it in a certain angle, looks like a men’s simple casual.  They are wearing a casual red t-shirt and blue jeans.  Peter/Jane are shocked by what Zoe has said to them.  While their jaw hasn’t dropped to the ground, their eyes show what has been said to them has really affected them.  On the right side of the panel is Zoe.  She is dressed in a denim jacket with a white button on the left lapel, a black tee shirt with bold white text on it which reads “#BLACKLIVESMATTER!” and cargo shorts.  She has her hair done in dreadlocks.  On her left cheek, she has a scar that is recent enough to be visible, but old enough to have healed.  Zoe is very cross at the moment, having just exploded at her lover in the previous scene.

Panel 2: Peter/Jane stop looking shocked and are about to respond to at Zoe’s criticism (no doubt with something they would both regret later), but inexplicably don’t.  Zoe is still angry, although less so.  In the background, one of their fellow students is staggering on the left side of the wall, drunk.

Panel 3: Peter/Jane gain a more contemplative look on their face, as they ponder what Zoe has just told them.  Zoe is beginning to consider that her words to Peter/Jane might have been a bit harsh.  The student in the background reaches the other side of the wall.

Panel 4: Peter/Jane sit down on the bench, still contemplating their girlfriend’s words.  Zoe turns to look at them.  Her body language speaks where her face cannot, and it tells us that she’s concerned.  The student in the background begins puking from presumably a night of drinking and partying as his semester is finally over.

Panel 5: Zoe joins her lover on the bench.  While Zoe looks guilty over what she has said, Peter/Jane are caught up in their head, thinking if Zoe was right about them being caught in their head too often.  The student in the background blacks out.

Page 2 Panel 1: Zoe puts her left hand on her chin and being to take a contemplative pose.  Behind them, two men in black suits and ties enter the panel.

Panel 2: Zoe looks at Peter/Jane (who are still in thought) with a longing sad look, as if they don’t see each other as often as she would like them to.  And she doesn’t like it.  Behind them, the two men notice the unconscious student.

Panel 3: Zoe reaches her arm out to Peter/Jane, wordlessly asking them to take it.  Despite being in thought, Peter/Jane have been looking at Zoe the whole time (albeit with their eyes and not with their head).  The two men get into position to move the body.

Panel 4: Peter/Jane do not reciprocate at this time.  The two men lift the body up.

Panel 5: Peter/Jane look at Zoe’s outstretched hand.  The two men begin to move off panel.

Page 3 Panel 1: In a more intimate view of Peter/Jane, they begin to consider whether or not to take the hand.  This is represented by two smaller four-panel comics behind them, akin to a Peanuts strip and done in that art style.

The Top Comic: Panel 1: Peter/Jane take the hand.
Panel 2: Peter/Jane and Zoe kiss in love
Panel 3: Half of this Panel shows Zoe teaming up with Peter/Jane in defeating demons and whatnot.  The other half shows Peter/Jane teaming up with Zoe to change the material world.
Panel 4: Peter/Jane look up at the night sky with Zoe, content.

The Bottom Comic: Panel 1: Peter/Jane do not take the hand.
Panel 2: Both Peter/Jane and Zoe are heartbroken
Panel 3: Half of the Panel shows Peter/Jane being an awesome magician, fighting demons and whatnot.  The other half shows Zoe changing the world through material means (protests, revolutions, and overall change).
Panel 4: Long after all is said and done, Peter/Jane and Zoe ponder what could have been between them.

Panel 2: A closer look at Zoe’s hand.  It has been bruised numerous times and is sporting a bandage on her middle finger and palm.

Panel 3: Back to the view of the panels prior to the ones on this page.  The two men in the background are gone, replaced by a spray paint artist creating her own masterpiece.  Zoe looks like she’s about to pull her hand back, dejected.

Panel 4: Peter/Jane hold Zoe’s hand.  They don’t look directly at her yet, but there’s the beginning of a smile on their face.  Zoe’s face is also beginning to smile.  The spray paint artist moves one, having finished her (partially obscured by the panel size) artwork: a simple phrase, which reads “God Hates Pigs” with each word beneath the next one.

Page 4 Panel 1: Peter/Jane turn their head to look directly at Zoe.  They have a giant goofy smile on their face that is all teeth.  Zoe is also smiling, although her smile is a softer one, a Mona Lisa smile.

Panel 2: Peter/Jane’s smile begins to shrink into one closer to Zoe’s.  The world is beginning to fade away from view as the couple gazes into each other’s eyes.

Panel 3-6: They look into each other’s eyes with a loving look that begs for them to just kiss already.  Each panel begins to more and more fade the background into more and more of a haze of nothingness.  All that matters in this moment is that they love each other.

Panel 7: Suddenly, reality crashes back to us, as Peter/Jane make a confession to Zoe.  They say this with the kind of look on their face, which tells us that this is something they just realized and need to tell Zoe.  Zoe meanwhile, is mildly surprised by their revelation.

Peter/Jane: You’re right,

         I am a bit of a shit.

Scene two- Context: This is what happens after the scene we have just read.

Page 1 Panel 1: Peter/Jane and Zoe sit awkwardly together, having lost the romantic mood.  To highlight this, we are further away from them than we have been in this sequence of scenes.  Where before, we could see their waists up (when they were sitting), now we see their whole body.  Neither one of them is looking directly or indirectly at each other.

Panel 2: We are the same distance away from them in the previous panel.  The couple is slightly more comfortable with each other (they can at least look indirectly at each other).  Zoe is rubbing the back of her neck with her left hand and has her right hand on her lap.  Peter/Jane are looking down at their feet, dejected by what they have said.

Panel 3: We are closer to the couple now (we can no longer see their feet, although we can see their legs).  Zoe is looking a bit embarrassed by what she has said and Peter/Jane is trying to defend her words.

Zoe: Well, to be fair, I was a bit harsh.

Peter/Jane: I’d go more with blunt than…

Panel 4: We are looking at Peter/Jane and Zoe as if there is a third person watching them, standing close to Peter/Jane, so that we see their upper body.  Peter/Jane have their eyes closed, their body language evoking a sadness emerging from words people not within this conversation have said to them.

Peter/Jane: I know I can talk without knowing what I’m saying.

         I know I can be manipulative,

Panel 5: In this panel, we see both Peter/Jane and Zoe.  Our view of them is of their upper body.  Zoe is paying attention to what Peter/Jane is saying.  Peter/Jane have their arms outstretched above them.

Peter/Jane: I mean, good God, I’m doing a “Woe is me, I’m terrible!” speech!

Panel 6: We are looking at Peter/Jane and Zoe as if there is a third person watching them, standing close to Zoe, so that we see their upper body.  Zoe wants to say something, but knows from experience that Peter/Jane need to let this all out.  Peter/Jane are putting their hands through their hair.

Peter/Jane: And that’s not even the worst part.

Page 2 Layout: The following page has two layers. On one layer, we have a close up of Peter/Jane. On the other, we have a 3X3 Panel grid.

Top Layer: In the bottom left hand corner, Peter/Jane have their hands over their knees.  Their head is slightly down while tilted towards her left.  We see them as if we were standing right in front of them.

Peter/Jane: All the things you’ve said to me.  The things you didn’t.

I always know them.  I’ve thought about them over and over again, and I’ve promised myself I would change.

         But I don’t.  I’m always the same.

         I can’t change.

Bottom Layer Panel 1: For the next seven panels, color them with darker hues.  In this panel, Peter is reading a book while a protest is going on outside of their room.

Panel 2: Jane is listening to Zoe go on about something or other.  We cannot tell what she is saying because three text boxes (which each say the word “Blah!”) are covering what she is saying.

Panel 3: Jane/Peter talking on their phone in the middle of a movie.  The movie is some generic action film about something or other (it’s probably superheroes).

Panel 4: Peter, age 5, is crying to their parents.  A word balloon with an image in it indicates that they want a toy in the shop window.

Panel 5: Visually, the parents indicate that Peter cannot get what they want.  This only makes them cry harder.

Panel 6: Peter is seen playing with the toy in their backyard.

Panel 7: Since it is most likely that Peter/Jane’s body will be covering this panel, how about we put in a tarot card, just for funzies.  In this case, how about the reversed version of the World, which symbolizes inertia, fixity, stagnation, and permanence.

Panel 8: We are looking directly at the couple, from an angle that shows us their upper body and nothing beneath them.  Zoe is looking directly at the reader (though not knowingly).  Peter/Jane have their face cradled in their hands

Panel 9: Zoe is looking directly at Peter/Jane, with a smile on her face.  Peter/Jane tilt their head out of their hands to look at Zoe.

Zoe: Well now I know you’re full of shit.

Peter/Jane: What?

Page 3 Layout: Much like the previous page, there is a two-layer structure.  On one we have a closer look at Zoe, on the other we have a 3X3 panel layout.

Top Layer: In the bottom left corner, Zoe is sitting.  She is looking to her left with a sly knowing look on her face.  She is smiling her Mona Lisa smile and has her left hand reaching towards Peter/Jane, as if offering her hand to be held.

Zoe: Look, I know you’re not perfect. I ’ve pretty much said as much.

But the fact is, you have changed.  And not just on the outside.  I’ve seen you become a better, more thoughtful person.

But more importantly, you’ve tried.  You’ve tried to change.  And in the end, I guess that’s what’s important:

That you want to change.

Bottom Layer Panel 1: For the entire panel layout, use brighter hues. I n this panel, Jane and Zoe are having a conversation with other people at a Pro-Choice rally.

Panel 2: Peter and Zoe are talking at a restaurant with some mutual friends.

Panel 3: Zoe is cradling a beaten and crying Peter/Jane.

Panel 4: Jane/Peter and Zoe are at a protest.  Zoe’s sign reads, “We all bleed red!” Jane/Peter’s sign reads “Oh no, Not again.” with a crudely drawn picture of two white police officers standing above a black man lying dead in a pool of his own blood.  There is a large contingent of cops with batons and teargas, ready to beat the crap out of them.

Panel 5: Jane/Peter produces a magical shield to protect as many protesters as possible.  It is starting to fail.

Panel 6: A mildly bruised Jane/Peter is cradling a beaten and stoic Zoe.

Panel 7: Zoe is talking to Peter/Jane about the way racial profiling works (symbolized in picture form in a word balloon).  Peter/Jane are silently listening.

Panel 8: Zoe is laughing as Jane presents to her a sign they made which reads “Down With This Sort of Thing!”

Panel 9: Since this panel will also be covered by one of our characters, let’s put another tarot card.  This time, how about The Lovers, which is perhaps the most obvious one to pick when doing a conversation between two lovers.  It symbolizes attraction, love, beauty, and, fittingly, trials overcome.

Page 4 Layout: This time, the layers are a set of panels in a manner similar, but not quite, like the 3X3 Panel layout and a picture.  The page in question is inked with orange shades of color.

Top Layer Panel 1: On the upper left corner, we see a profile of Peter/Jane showing from their neck up.  They are smiling softly.  There is a romantic look in their eyes.  They are looking towards the right.

Panel 2: On the upper right corner, we see Zoe from a profile view.  She has a goofy smile on her face full of teeth and joy.  Her eyes have a fierceness to them, as if she knows what’s about to happen (which, to be fair, she does).  She is looking to the left.

Panel 3: On the second row of a 3X3 layout, about half of a 3X3 panel from the edge, Peter/Jane, in a profile angle, is smiling while looking towards the right.  A left hand with numerous bruises, scars, and bandages is caressing their face.

Panel 4: On the second row of a 3X3 layout, about half of a 3X3 panel from the edge, Zoe, in a profile view, has her lips and eyes closed.  Her face is being guided to the left by right hand caressing it.  The hand in question has a small mark that looks like a bug bit, yet looks old enough to show that it is clearly not a bug bite.

Panel 5: On the bottom row of a 3X3 panel layout, Peter/Jane and Zoe kiss.  The real world is still behind them; we can still see the brick wall behind them: graffiti, paint, blood, and all.

Bottom Layer: The 4th print of William Blake’s Jerusalem: The Emanation of The Giant Albion.  The line “I am in you and you in me, mutual in the love divine:” is underlined.

Page 5 Panel 1: Peter/Jane and Zoe are still kissing.

Panel 2: Zoe and Peter/Jane are letting go of their kiss.

Panel 3: Peter/Jane are satisfied with the results of the kiss.

Zoe: Wow.

Peter/Jane: I know.

Zoe: So…

        now what?

Panel 4: Zoe is pointing with her right thumb behind her to a crowd beginning to come together.  There is a makeshift ticket booth with the word “TICKETS” on top of it.  Next to it is a fan made poster for The Wicker Man (1973) on a wooden easel.  This is clearly not what Zoe wants to spend her night doing, having more sexual ideas in mind.

Zoe: I heard it through the grapevine that they’re showing The Wicker Man on the clouds tonight.

Panel 5: Peter/Jane is rocking their hand back and forth while having a knowing look on their face.

Peter/Jane: Ehhh, I’m not in the mood for English movies.

Panel 6: Zoe is looking at Peter/Jane with a seductive gleam in her eye.

Zoe: Well then, I suppose we could go to my room and have a little fun of our own.

Panel 7: Peter/Jane are toying with Zoe’s desires for fun, although they to want to have fun.

Peter/Jane: Eh, maybe in a few minutes.

Panel 8: Zoe is looking rather confused, though not angrily so, at Peter/Jane’s aloofness.

Zoe: So what do you want to do now?

Panel 9: Peter/Jane look directly at Zoe (who is in off panel in a way that looks like Peter/Jane is looking directly at us).

Peter/Jane: Honestly, I just wanna hold your hand.

Page 6 Panel 1: Zoe is looking at Peter/Jane, mildly shocked.

Panel 2: Zoe closes her mouth, replacing the O with a U.

Panel 3: A horizontal panel (as are the rest of the panels on this page) of a close look at Peter/Jane and Zoe holding hands.

Panel 4: A further back look at Zoe and Peter/Jane holding hands.  We only see them sitting on the bench, not much else outside of our aerial perception.

Panel 5: Further up from where we were before, we now see a crowd is gathering in the area next to the student center, presumably to see a movie.  Peter/Jane give Zoe a peck on the cheeks.

Page 7: Peter/Jane and Zoe are looking up at the night sky holding hands.  They are both happy and content.  Sure, in the future they might argue about something or other, as all couples do, but right now they are starwatching.  Nearby, a group of people is gathering round to watch a movie to be projected upon the clouds themselves.  This page has an almost painted quality to it.  In the bottom right corner, is a text box which reads “Next Time: On LOST…”
“…The Music of the Universe…”
An Album by Sean Dillon

“The whole point of magick of course, is to bring about change. But it's got to be the change that's right for you and right for everyone and everything else in the rest of the universe. How do we know what that is? We don't, really. We can't. Well, we sort of can. If we listen, we can hear the music of the universe, and if we *really* listen, we can hear it talking to us. What is it saying? What is it trying to tell us? That's the journey, you see. That's why we travel through space and time.”
-Josh Marsfelder

i. Because by The Beatles
Both Wallace Stevens and the Beatles are interested in changing the world with poetry. The latter expresses this desire through the implementation of transcendental themes, such as ascending from the universe, within their songs, whereas the former does this through the concept of Supreme Fiction, wherein one embraces the artifice of ideas like God or poetry and believes in them regardless. In particular, Stevens uses the poems “A High-Toned Old Christian Woman”, “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”, “Angel Surrounded by Paysans”, and “Anecdote of Men by the Thousand” as a magical attempt at altering the world into one where love and artifice reign forevermore. Given this, “Across the Universe” would have been Wallace Stevens’ favorite Beatles song.

ii. Do You Believe in Magic by The Loving Spoonful
When Aleister Crowley was coining the term “Magick”, he wanted to differentiate the term from magic (i.e. stuff like pulling rabbits and cutting people in half) from the serious magic. Specifically, Magick “…may be defined as any event in nature which is brought to pass by Will” (Crowley, 127) meaning that anything we do that affects the nature of the universe is, in of itself, a magical act. There is no specific way in which one becomes a magician; however, one can use magick if one understands oneself fully.
One such method of obtaining this understanding is known as Transcendental Meditation. This practice requires a person to meditate twice a day for fifteen to twenty minutes with one eye closed while repeating a mantra. The aim is to provide the practitioner with a feeling of nirvana, as if ascending from the universe while remaining still. Its connection to “Across the Universe” comes both from the imagery of lines like “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup/They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe” which evokes the feeling described of Transcendental Meditation, the repeated mantra of “Nothing’s gonna change my world” which can be used as a calming mantra to show that the person is still in control of what is going on around him, and the fact that The Beatles were known to be practitioners of Transcendental Meditation. This can be seen in the song with the other mantra repeated throughout “Jai Guru Davi”. The line roughly translates to “All glory to Guru Dev”, a phrase typically spoken by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who taught The Beatles about transcendentalism, in relation to his teacher Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, a major leader of the Hindus who earned the nickname of Guru Dev: “divine teacher” (Wood).

iii. Giorgio by Moroder by Daft Punk feat. Giorgio Moroder
Late one evening in 1967, a thought came into the mind of Beatles member John Lennon as his then wife Cynthia Lennon was going on and on about something or other. As he thought more and more about this idea that had invaded his mind, the words “…turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song, rather than a "Why are you always mouthing off at me?"... [The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don't own it you know; it came through like that” (Sheff, 265; 267). The line in question was “Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” which continues throughout the song with the unspoken indication that all the pools of sorrows, waves of joy, and shades of life are based out of these words; that these words are the source of all things.
One might recognize this summation of “Across the Universe” in Steven’s concept of Supreme Fiction, a more postmodern reaction to the failings of religion. These failings are heavily explored in Steven’s poem “A High-Toned Old Christian Woman” which invokes the concept of Supreme Fiction via its first line: “Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame”. The poem itself is a satirization and rejection of organized religion through the usage of Christian iconography. One example of this is the term “nave” used in the second and third lines wherein Stevens suggests to the Christian Woman “Take the moral law and make a nave of it/And from the nave build haunted heaven”. The word “nave” refers to the part of a church where the congregation sits to listen to the religious leaders perform their sermon. However the term can be punned into being “knave”, meaning a dishonest person. This indicates that the “moral law” created by those who wish to abuse them for their own ends. Next, there’s the line that follows “The conscience is converted into palms”. By using the term palm (which, in Christianity, is meant to symbolize peace, victory, and eternal life) in this stanza, Stevens is indicating that those who follow the dogma of this belief system are giving up their awareness of what is around them in exchange for the promise of a paradise that Stevens is wary of from naves. After several more invocations of Christian iconography, Stevens then proceeds to contextualize it with a universal system similar to that described in “Across the Universe” through the use of the phrase “Squiggling like saxophones”. Given the previous line’s expansion of the critique to a cosmic scale, the word “squiggling” refers to a squirming motion, implying a fluctuation within the universe via the music as connected via the usage of the word “saxophone”.
The key word from the poem’s last line “This will make widows wince. But fictive things/Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince” is “fictive”, which refers to things originating from the imagination. Thus the poem ends as it began, with the conceit of Supreme Fiction: unlike the atheistic movements that popularized the modernist era that rejected the concept of gods because they did not exist, Supreme Fiction embraces the artifice of fictional ideas and believes in the idea regardless. This is further highlighted in the poem in the “jovial hullabaloo” the widow’s unable to see. The word “jovial” comes from the word “Jove”, another term for the roman god Jupiter indicating that Stevens’ critique, despite the title, goes further back into history than mere Christianity. Whereas the fictional truth is able to “Wink most when widows wince” indicating its superiority.

iv. Atom Heart Mother Suite by Pink Floyd
In order to get into a transcendental state, wherein one enters the realm beyond the real, one must repeat an idea. For Stevens, this idea can be found in one of his later works fittingly titled “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”. Given that the “paramour”, a lover in a forbidden relationship, is described as “interior”, the poem could be referring not to a specific person in forbidden love, but the idea of forbidden love within us. This soliloquy can be seen as a form of recognition of this; the acceptance of this love as seen through the eyes of the one who feels it. But who does the poet love, why can’t they be together, and what is the next step?
The answer is, as with all stories, within the tale being spun. And this tale opens with “Light the first light of evening, as in a room/In which we rest and, for a small reason, think/The world imagined is the ultimate good”. There are two keys within this stanza in understanding the answers to the questions posed. The first comes from within the first line. Or, to be more precise, within the first word “Light”. The light is an image that is seen throughout the poem as “…a warmth, /A light, a power, the miraculous influence”. That last part ties in with the other key to the poem “The world imagined is the ultimate good” as we return to the idea of Supreme Fiction. The idea of Supreme Fiction is continued beyond those two lines with quotes like “It is in that thought that we collect ourselves, /Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:” (the thing being implicitly stated to be the light), “We say God and the imagination are one…/How the highest candles lights the dark” (wherein Stevens explicitly connects the ideas of Supreme Fiction and the light), and the implied moment of transcending the world around them in “Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves./We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,/A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous./ Within its vital boundary, in the mind”. But what words did Stevens say to transcend? What is the light?
The specific answer does not come directly from “The Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”, but rather from an idea within the margins of the soliloquy. The Beatles on the other hand made it, arguably, one of their most famous lyrics.
In the song “Across the Universe”, there is mention of light such as in “Images of broken light, which dance before me like a million eyes” which invokes eyes in relation to a dance, typically preformed on a stage upon which a soliloquy is delivered. There is also talk of the importance of ideas such as in “Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box”. The usage of letter is a pun on “leather”, which implies the importance of letters, words, and poetry. But Supreme Fiction isn’t directly involved within the form of the words, but the belief in the words being spoken. But it does help us find those words within the soliloquy. Throughout the Interior Paramour’s final words on the matter, paramour refers to himself with the pronoun “we”. “It is in that thought that WE collect ourselves… a single shawl/Wrapped tightly round US, since WE are poor… WE forget each other and ourselves. /WE feel the obscurity of order… WE say God and the imagination are one…” etc. As such, there really is only one thing he could be saying to transcend.
But first, there is one last “we” in the poem that we must address in order to understand what Stevens’ mantra is. It comes from the final stanza: “Out of this same light, out of the central mind, /We make a dwelling in the evening air, /In which being there together is enough”. All three of the ideas toiled within the poem come together in this stanza. The source of the light comes from a specific part of that imagination: the part that feels love, the part that doesn’t need more than just being with the other person. The undying love that, while unobtainable, is still there. There is even a line from “Across the Universe” that describes this feeling that Stevens is expressing: “Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns”. And thus, there is only one thing Stevens could be saying to transcend. One simple five-word phrase:
“All You Need Is Love”

v. God by John Lennon
To add to Stevens’ idea of Supreme Fiction as being a belief in God while accepting the artifice of it, there is his poem “Angel Surrounded by Paysans”, a piece of dialogue between a countryman and the angel of Reality. Many elements in this poem confirm my previous arguments, including the Supreme Fictional nature of the angel who talks as if in the transcendental state described in “Across the Universe” saying things like “Rise liquidly in liquid lingerings/Like watery words awash…” whose “L” and “W” sounds evoke the lilting and swooning tempo of the Beatles song. But why else is this poem a key to my argument?
The answer comes from near the end of the poem and reads “…like meanings said/By repetitions of half meanings. Am I not, /Myself, only half of a figure of a sort, /A figure half seen, or seen for a moment”. Obviously, Wallace Stevens is dead. He died before he could hear any of the Beatles work or most of the magical ideas I’m claiming he’s using. All things considered, given Stevens’ Supreme Fiction, the quote is referring to the margins of a work. The things not quite seen within their time, we only notice the connections in hindsight.

vi. The March of the Sinister Ducks by The Sinister Ducks
Much like “Across the Universe”, “Anecdote of Men by the Thousand” is about a moment of transcendence.  Much like “Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour”, the mantra is not included. But unlike the Soliloquy, the Anecdote is not about getting to that moment, but rather the moment itself.  So what does it feel like to transcend reality?
Much like a drug trip, the feeling depends on whom you ask. If, for example, you ask The Beatles, then you would get something like “Across the Universe”. The song itself has a soft melody, like a frozen moment in time that will never end. It is a peaceful moment with details believed seen only from outside what we know as reality: the dance of stars, the flow of words, the shades of life, the eternal shine of love, and many others. This feeling is further highlighted by the decision to use mostly string instruments in its production and the tone of John Lennon’s voice as he sings the song, which is akin to that of a lullaby. The lyrics themselves are full of “Ll” and “Ww” sounds like “Words are flowing out like endless…” and “They slither wildly as they slip away…” which gives off the felling of a serine wind caressing a person’s face. The song doesn’t really end so much as fade out of existence, like the end of a dream.
While Stevens does not have the luxury of musical accompaniment to extenuate the feeling he gets when he reaches nirvana, the prose is nonetheless helpful. Much like “Across the Universe”, “Anecdote of Men by the Thousand” also uses “Ll” and “Ww” sounds, indicating a similar tone in both pieces. However another sound used in the Stevens poem not used as frequently in the Beatles song is the “Ss” sound. This can be seen within the lines “There are men of the East, he said/Who are the East” and “The dress of a woman of Lhassa,/ In its place,/ Is an invisible element of that place/Made visible” which both highlight the serine feeling one gets outside of their body. However, given the additional “Ss” sound, Stevens is implying a dreaming to his nirvana experience given that “Ss” is akin to a snore.

vii. The End by The Beatles
In their song “Across the Universe”, The Beatles claimed that “Nothing’s gonna change my world”. Conversely, Wallace Stevens seems to view the concept of a single vision of the world to be patently absurd and has embraced the notion that love can save us all. Given these too conflicting ideologies, we must decide which one is true and which one is false. For we can’t believe in things we know are false, that would be absurd. As such, when looking at the world as it is today, The Beatles are right. We are mere drops in the ocean of the universe. We can change ourselves and parts of what surround us certainly, but we can’t change the universe. There's nothing you can do that can't be done, no one you can save that can't be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It's easy.
(…2, 3, 4)

Works Cited:

Bravo, Lizzie, Gayleen Pease, and John Lennon. By John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Perf. George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Across the Universe. The Beatles. George Martin, 1969. CD.
Crowley, Aleister, Mary Desti, Leila Waddell, and Hymenaeus Beta. Magick: Liber ABA, Book Four, Parts I-IV. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Lennon, John, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. By John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Perf. Ringo Starr. All You Need Is Love. The Beatles. George Martin, 1967. CD.
Sandifer, Philip, Jerry Snook, Chris O'Leary, Jack Graham, Anna Wiggins, Josh Marsfelder, Jed A. Blue, Andrew Hickey, Allison J. Campbell, Abigail Brady, Unnoun, Caitlin Smith, Richard Jones, Jill Buratto, and James Taylor. "A Mild Curiosity in a Junkyard (Silence in the Library/The Forest of the Dead)." Philip Sandifer: Writer. Blogger, 9 Feb. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
Sheff, David, Yōko Ono, John Lennon, and G. Barry. Golson. All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2000. Print.
Stevens, Wallace. The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. New York: Knopf, 1954. 51-52; 59; 496-497; 524. Print.
Wood, Elaine. "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; Founded Transcendental Meditation Movement." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles
...The Music of the Universe...
In which I analysis the work of Wallace Stevens through the lens of Magick and The Beatles
How are you doing?


sean j. dillon
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
Current Residence: America
Favourite genre of music: Classic Rock
MP3 player of choice: i pod
Personal quote: Aww Fuckballs.

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Ka-ren Featured By Owner 1 day ago
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