Friday, July 27, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter VII - the back-matter

The Back-Matter 

Again, Moore offers readers a very different piece in this chapter’s back-matter.  This time we delve more deeply into Dan’s background – appropriate considering the content of the main chapter.  Next to his love of costumed adventuring, Dan’s appreciation of birds, particularly owls, is probably what motivates him most in life.  In that regard, this short piece of prose mirrors the main text of the chapter.  In both instances, as Adam Murdough pointed out in the aforementioned CGS Footnotes episode examining this chapter, it is “all about the rekindling of passion for one’s favorite pursuit through personal hands-on experience.”  In the main narrative, Dan Dreiberg is rekindling his passion for costumed adventuring, while in the back-matter, he is rediscovering his love of owls and ornithology. 

The title of this article, “Blood From the Shoulder of Pallas,” is appropriate, as Pallas Athena – better known as Athena – is celebrated, among many attributes, as the goddess of wisdom or war or justice.  Owls are her sacred birds, in keeping with the attribute of wisdom, and the blood represents her warlike aspect.  This all links in nicely with Dan’s history as a costumed adventurer.  Taking the guise of Nite Owl is appropriate, as he was seeking justice while finding it necessary to utilize the war tactics to take down the criminals he face. 

Within this text, we are able to discover a bit more about Dan.  The most obvious nod to his costumed adventuring life comes in the remark that he was in Maine to visit a sick acquaintance. Cross-referencing this with Sally Jupiter’s offhand remark, “…poor Byron Lewis, in the bughouse in Maine…” in Chapter II, it is safe to assume that the sick acquaintance is Mothman, who, from the little we see of him, was a terribly nervous man, who eventually succumbed to his demons and was admitted to this mental hospital. 

More importantly though, we are able to see, through Dan’s writing, the passion he so rarely exhibits.  His love of owls comes through in this article, and it helps us to better understand how someone such as he might plunge into the tense and adrenaline-filled “occupation” of costumed adventuring.  And, as described on the third page of this article, Dan’s appropriation of Nite-Owl is wholly appropriate.  Like the owl that patiently waits in the dark for its prey, Dan, as we will learn in subsequent chapters, is methodical, willing to follow any line of inquiry to its end in order to learn the truth behind the conspiracy.  And like the owl, Dan is currently hidden from his ultimate prey, Ozymandias, who believes him insignificant.  It is that apparent irrelevance that cloaks him like the darkness does an owl.  And it is that fact that allows him to achieve as much as he does.

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