Wednesday, April 01, 2009

quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Russell Blackford's excellent blog inadvertently links two of my TLBIR posts together by comparing Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen with Winston Niles Rumfoord from The Sirens Of Titan. Well, strictly speaking he's talking about having just watched Watchmen the movie, but I gather that the movie is a very faithful adaptation of the book (and, as I said in the book review, why wouldn't it be, since you've effectively had the storyboarding work done for you).

There are of course a number of similarities; both were formerly relatively bog-standard humans and were then instantaneously discorporated by some quantum catastrophe or other - an "intrinsic field subtractor" and a "chrono-synclastic infundibulum" respectively - and reformed into something resembling their original form (a nude blue version thereof in Dr. Manhattan's case) but with some added extras, most notably being pretty much omniscient about past and future events. Crucially, though, while Dr. Manhattan is pretty much omnipotent as well (instantaneously teleporting anywhere he likes, for instance), Winston Niles Rumfoord doesn't seem able to exert much influence over events - one assumes his strict adherence to the schedule of appearing to his wife for an hour once every 59 days isn't voluntary, for instance. There's a world of difference between knowing what's going to happen and being able to do anything about it.

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