Coded green.

Tuesday 11 July 2000


Pic of the day: Not sure how symbolic this picture is, but it's pretty, isn't it?

Resurrection men

I woke up slowly. It was too hard to open my eyes, so I just lay there listening to the clock radio spreading the morning news. Politicians disagree again! And high school teachers condemn the plans to let grown-ups attend college without first going through high school. (High school was not compulsory here in Norway until recently, and in theory you can still avoid it, though few do.) The radio went on to the weather forecast, and I quickly turned it off. I regretted it immediately. I should have hit the snooze button instead.

It had been late again. My stomach was only moderatel upset, and I played Master of Magic while I waited for it to decide. It did not, so eventually I just had to go to sleep, my digestive apparatus still arguing loudly with itself. Now I woke up and my eyelids just felt too heavy for me to care to open them. I was awake, sure. It's just that I was unable to leave bed or open my eyes, or to take my attention off the pictures on the inside of my eyes. I saw water, flowing, moving sand and small stones, a small river changing its shape dynamically as it continued to run. It seemed important somehow. It was virtually a replay of what I had seen yesterday, as the heavy rainfall washed away the road before my very eyes. (Not that I have any eyes that are not very. Right now they were very heavy and sort of sand-like.)

Looking at the river inside my eyes, I remember reading several months ago (last year, I think) in Psychology Today (sorry about that) an article about sleep. It was one of the few places I have seen mentioned these "intrusive memories" - memories that play back involuntarily, again and again. They tend to show up particularly after training new skills. I remember them from touch typing, volleyball and the occasional computer game. They are also common after skiing, but not for me. I have skied since my early childhood (albeit clumsily) and this usually only applies to new skills, before they are fully automated.

Of course, this begs the question: Why would water erosion count as a skill with me? Notice that I don't just get intrusive memories from actually doing the thing, but also from looking at others doing a sport that I am a beginner at. My brain replays their moves, presumably to learn how to do the same. Since when have I been aspiring to become a river and learn the skill of soil erosion? Yet this one particular sight from nature tends to replay in me. It is not the first time it happens either. I remember it from years ago. But not so long as the next day.

According to the article, the intrusive memories require a session of deep sleep and a session of REM sleep to process, after which (well under two hours sleep) the intrusive memories will be gone. Useful to know. I guess these were not really memories, then. Still, I did lie there for a while looking at the water changing the shape of the sand as it moved through. Perhaps it was a dream, except I was conscious enough to remember Psychology Today and some such. The memory crawled across the surface of my consciousness and disappeared. Eventually I regained the use of my body, stretching violently and eventually opening my eyes. A new day had begun.


At work I had some time for myself in my office, and so I played a track of the CD that was currently in my workplace CD player. From The Very Best of Elton John I played the track "Nikita". You may say what you will about the lyrics, and you probably do, but it is a beautiful melody. The instrumental part towards the end is particularly hair-raisingly beautiful. Or perhaps it is just me, but in that case I wonder how the guy sold so much.

Anyway, for some obscure reason I have associated that part of the song with resurrection from years ago, perhaps from the first time I heard it on the radio. I am not sure why. The song has no such meaning. I just think that if there is ever made a movie about the Resurrection of Christ, they ought to play that music. To be honest, there is also one piece by Beethoven that is an equally good contender. I guess most people would prefer Beethoven over Elton John when it comes to resurrections. Then again, most people probably don't think a lot about what music suits a resurrection or not. (And to be honest, I too would rather be resurrected to the sound of Dolly Parton than not at all.)


As most of you know, the basic tenet of Christianity is that a certain man named Jesus was killed while innocent and then was raised from the grave by the supreme god. (The sages still debate a lot of other things, such as whether or not the guy actually was the supreme god and as such basically resurrected himself.) But already before this event, a contemporary of Jesus is reported to think that Jesus was John the Baptist who had risen from the dead. (The two were fairly closely related, which may explain the confusion.) The idea being that someone who rises from the dead gets some kind of super-powers.

It is no big surprise then that the comic book creators have jumped on this idea with both feet. Some of my favorite comics are about people who die spectacularly and then return. The most blatant rising god type is probably Solar, Man of the Atom. As the name implies, this guy dies spectacularly in an atomic reactor, is converted to energy or some such, and then returns to life with the powers of a small god. As an exploration of humanity in the transition to super-human power and responsibility, it was quite interesting. Acclaim bought out the series and shut it down, as they did with several others.

One young guy in Legion of SuperHeroes suffered a similar fate but did only return as an energy being. Wildfire, as I think his English name is, needed a containment suit to assume humanoid form and was generally much less godlike than Solar, though still a pretty powerful superhero.

Perhaps the most famous of these Christ clones however was Dr Manhattan. Another eminent nuclear physics researcher, Jon Osterman died spectaculary as he accidentally was in a chamber that separated the intrinsic field from some block of matter. (No, there is no such thing as an intrinsic field. It's comic book science, meant to sound impressive.) The guy, who had wanted to be a watchmaker but was forced into science by his father, proceeded to rebuild himself piece by piece. Presumably because he was in love with this young lady, not that it worked out too well. Osterman returns with unfathomable powers over matter and energy, and the ability to see past and present as one continuum. Sadly his humanity is largely lost in the process. Taking the name Dr Manhattan (on the prompting of the US government), he is the only superhero in the world of the series. The rest of the Watchmen are just deviants who are excited by wearing a costume. Pretty good series.

Finally, there's "Resurrection Man". I think this one is by DC Comics. I once bought the first few issues. A guy named Mitch dies and shortly thereafter wakes up to find that he has some nifty superpower. Problem is, the superpower is not invulnerability, and he dies again. And again. Each time getting a new, random superpower. A fairly solid quasi superhero comic, it lacks the cosmic flair and grandness of Solar or Watchmen. I don't know what became of Mitch, presumably he died from the one thing that can end the life of any superhero. While gods may not die from lack of believers, superheroes do.


All things are connected, you know. Me being me, it could not be avoided that I once upon a time made my own returning hero story - but with a serious twist. I actually made two different versions some years apart of Hecthor, the latter being the more elaborate of course. The main character does not at first die - what happens is that during a secret military experiment, he manages to attune his brain waves completely to the Earth's magnetic field, and his mind is absorbed into it, leaving his body an empty shell. Which the military then burns along with his apartment in an attempt to cover up their failure.

You can't keep a good hero down, you know, so the main character survives as a pattern in the magnetosphere. Eventually he adapts to the new environment, recognizing the swirls and eddies of Earth's magnetic field as conveying information. Using these new senses he grows to eventually take control of and merge with Earth's magnetic field, and concentrate its power locally to do various neat things - like shape a new body for himself. Not too convincing science, but hey, most people are not rocket scientists. :) The fun thing is to see how changed the guy is, and how people react: From trying to ignore, to praying to him for money, to trying to shoot him. (How do you kill a magnetic field?) Another novel I never finished. But I am used to this. Usually someone else writes it eventually, or has already done so. It is hard to be original, though I sure tried. (And I better try hard - blasphemy is frowned upon in my religion.)

While my first, vague attempt was inspired by "Nikita" (and Alan Moore's Watchmen miniseries), the inspiration for my later story came in large part from the ambient song "No Bounds" by G.O.L. (I'm sorry to say I have not found more than two songs by them, both fabulous). The song is quite hair-raising. It is probably meant to be a fantasy about what the soul may experience after death. I personally do not believe such - I believe that souls can not have conscience without a medium - but the song would be very applicable for the fictional consciousness moved from a human brain to a magnetosphere. Allow me to cite a part (as best I can).

But in the void, and in the silence
there was still a kind of knowledge
a faint awareness:
awareness not of name or person
and not of memories of the past;
the awareness knew only itself.

A knowledge reached out into the absence
reached out into darkness
reached out into silence
And there were no bounds.
There were no bounds.

Oh, and of course you have to be a special type of person to handle the transition from human brain to magnetic field. It requires a particular skill of seeing the world as patterns of change. A training that the main character had acquired in part by his scientific training but mostly before that, during his childhood, by his fascination with the way running water works ...

Yeah, you're allowed to believe that I have forgotten my medication. I sometimes wonder, too.

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