The Critics’ Corner
Joe Dasein’s Quest
by Gary Inbinder
“Everybody Is Looking for Janatone” begins in issue 647.
Dasein is an ontological term (see Heidegger) for human existence. The word literally means “being there.” Joe Dasein, an “Everyman,” has an existential relationship to death and an image of transcendental beauty. In other words, he lives in a finite, material world, but he’s looking for something above and beyond it.
They are the ones who have been looking for Janatone since she sought asylum on Earth. And there are those who think she is dead, and those who do not know she exists; and those who love her and those who don’t; and those who know why they are looking for her and those who don’t. She is being sought by entities that have differing ideas about existence, knowledge and love. Janatone herself is merely looking for a place to die.
Everybody is looking for Janatone, and she is looking for a good death. That is quite strange, when you stop to think about it.
Yes, it is strange, all right. Everyone is looking for something that transcends death, and the being they’re looking for is herself looking for a good death. Maybe Joe will realize that his longing for Janatone is futile, in which case he might turn to an alternative such as Diana or Jenny Appleseed.
I’ve called Floozman a Rabelaisian satire, and I believe it is one; but it’s Rabelais updated to the 21st century. It’s well-written and, at some level, interesting, but way too esoteric for most readers. James Joyce supposedly said he spent 17 years writing Finnegan’s Wake; therefore, readers should spend 17 years reading it. I assume he was joking.
Historically, the purpose of esoteric writing has been to preserve the life and health of the writer. If very few people can understand your writing, you’re less likely to be imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed for what you’ve written. Moreover, there are still many places where you can be imprisoned, tortured and killed for what you write, or at least socially ostracized and financially ruined.
Bertrand’s past installments of Floozman appear to be clever satires of the European monetary system, economics, central banking and French politics. I’m not sure where this one is going.
Focusing on Joe Dasein’s existential journey, I’d ask this question going forward: Is Bertrand following the Existentialists in Joe’s metaphysical pilgrimage from Dasein (‘being there’) to Being-Towards-Death and Existenz (Authenticity), culminating in a revelation of transcendent Being?
Or is he mocking over-reaching philosophers, in the tradition of Rabelais, Sterne, and Voltaire? In other words, is he having fun tweaking certain noses and pulling certain legs with a metaphysical-theological story?
The theme of Floozman in Space might be as simple and profound as “Man does not live by bread alone.” What Joe Dasein is looking for is something more than “bread,” e.g. the central bank funds that Fred Looseman redistributed in earlier Floozman stories. That “something” could be the “ends” of a belief system — philosophical, theological, or ideological — that either can be reached by various means or may be unreachable.
Copyright © 2015 by Gary Inbinder
Proceed to Reading Floozman in Space”...