For a freshman course on Introduction to Philosophy, I was assigned to write a paper on the question of whether the universe was based on a tangible reality, or only ideas and internal perceptions. I dismissed the question as simply being unanswerable. Rather than utilizing the analytical tools the course was intended to teach, I cut it like the Gordian Knot. The thrust of my argument was a glib, wise-ass dismissal of the exercise. I compared the eternal question to a debate over who would be the winner in a fight between Frankenstein and the Wolf-man. For many years afterward, I regretted the lack of seriousness I had brought to that particular question, and to much of my formal schooling. I often thought of that paper, completed during an all-nighter before the day it was due, as being a prime example of many wasted opportunities.
And yet, that freshman philosophy course had provoked a lifelong interest in that and other questions I had sought to dismiss as unanswerable, and that interest led to the discovery of the answer to those questions, which I’m setting forth, in summary fashion here. The answer lies in the fact that ideas and the tangible world are made of the same constituent self-contradicting bricks, which means the answer actually does lie in its unanswerability. That old philosophy paper drew upon a cultural artifact I have since recognized as part of an American mythos, an embedded folklore consisting of, among other things, genre fiction, old horror films, pulp magazines, and comic books. The battle between Frankenstein and the Wolf-man is itself an iconic representation of the conflicting methods of reasoning that make the question unanswerable—the conflict between science and magic.
The Conflict between Magic and Science.
The science of Anthropology had its origins, in part, in a classic work by Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, which was a study of ancient ritual and religion, a kind of an encyclopedia of magic.
Frazer wrote, “Hence the strong attraction which magic and science alike have exercised over the human mind; hence the powerful stimulus that both have given to the pursuit of knowledge. They lure the weary enquirer, the footsore seeker, on through the wilderness of disappointment in the present by their endless promises of the future: they take him up to the top of an exceeding high mountain and show him, beyond the dark clouds and rolling mists at his feet, a vision of the celestial city, far off, it may be, but radiant with unearthly splendor, bathed in the light of dreams.”
All of human perception is based on a combination of Magic and Science. The two work together in tandem, in paradoxical and complementary fashion. This site explores the relationship between the two, through art, essays, fiction, and myth.
THEY LURE THE WEARY ENQUIRER…
MARTIAN PUPPET SHOW
THE MOUNTAIN CLIMBER
THE LIBRARY OF SOULS
I was formally trained in writing fiction, which is the art of lying convincingly; in literary criticism, which is the craft of finding truths contained in obvious lies, and in the practice of law, which is the mechanics of dealing with facts without regard to whether they are actually true. I practice law in the healthcare industry, so that I continually have to deal with the interface of opposing disciplines, those of law and medicine—the intersection of science and magic.
THE RANDOMNESS OF THE UNIVERSE AS PROOF OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN
To escape the boredom and harassment of 4th grade, Stuart Hopen wrote and illustrated a science fiction and fantasy short story collection that began with a work titled “Me, Temporary Teenager.” He’s been escaping into his writing and art ever since. A graduate of Princeton University, he has written comic books published by D.C. Comics, Marvel, Fantagraphics, Eclipse, and Amazing Comics. His critical writing has been published by Rain Taxi Review of Books and the Comics Journal. He married a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the cover painting on the first edition of his novel, Warp Angel, and they have three children. Though he has traveled extensively across galaxies and dimensions, he has spent most of his life in a small town mantled with its unfulfilled dreams of becoming the east coast motion picture capital of America– Hollywood, Florida.
My artistic heroes, heroines, and influences (in no particular order):
Thomas Pynchon, Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, Jack Kirby, Tanith Lee, Phillip K. Dick, Brian Aldiss, J.G. Ballard, Roger Zelazny, James Ensor, Jules Bissier, Gunter Grass, James Joyce, William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Hand, Jeff Jones, Alan Moore, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Davies, A.S. Byatt, Anais Nin, Ingmar Bergman, Barrington J. Bayley, Stanislaw Lem, Angela Carter, Michael Kaluta, William T. Vollman, China Mieville, Herman Melville, Eudora Welty, Robert E. Howard, Mike Carey, Will and Ariel Durant, G.I. Gurdjieff, Winsor McKay, Neal Stephenson, Toni Morrison, Arnold Drake, Kin Platt, Thomas McGuane, Patti Smith, William Faulkner, Michael Moorcock, Herman Hesse, Lester Dent, Marisha Pessl, Steve Ditko, Maurice Ravel, Ken Russell, P. Craig Russell, Cormack McCarthy, Samuel R. Delaney, Vladimir Nabokov, Colin Wilson, Dashiell Hammett, Donovan, Raymond Chandler, Lon Chaney, Tod Browning, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Norman Spinrad, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Flannery O’Connor, John LeCarre, Don Delillo, Neil Gaiman, Ian Fleming, Bert Jansch,Gardner Fox, Robert Stone, Norvell Page, Bob Dylan, and…
Site Contents: Writing, Paintings, and Drawings ©Stuart Hopen 2014, 2015 (or earlier as noted on individual works), excluding quoted material, Whisper, Delta-Wave, and Daemon Mask Art by Russ Martin, Delta Wave Art by Albert Val and Kenneth MacFarlane, and Cyril Knight Art by Mike Hoffman.