Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is a declaration of war.

This is the response of the natural scientist, who knows the world empirically, based on reason and sound logic, to those who claim to know nothing. This is a rejection of negative, skeptical philosophies who reject the axioms of true, physical reality, in favor of unprovable, unknowable claims about the unreality of nature and the uncertainty of knowledge that are beyond proof and evidence; and an affirmation of empirical truths that appeal to common sense and logical deductions based on sound axioms.

The natural scientist embraces the future and values forward progress and knowledge; the skeptic claims that history is a circle and points to the past. The past is dead, a rotten framework built of driftwood and twigs, around a termite-hollowed core; it is in the future that promise and progress lie.

Thus spoken we turn to the aim of this book: the axiomatization and empiricization of a realm that which was once thought of as the domain of only the philosopher, the artist, and the writer. Here I speak of the world of sequential art.

Let me address the question of why we must axiomatize sequential art. The world of sequential art is a type of craft, hence it lies at the intersection of art and writing, the boundary inhabited by design and technical illustration. Art without writing is static, is frozen: a statue has no movement, a painting has form but does not change in time; writing without art is invulnerable to physical analysis, trapped within a world of symbols, metaphor, language and grammar. Taken alone, each are equally timeless and resistant to analytical techniques, but the demands of craft, when taken together, bring them down to a zone where they are amenable to logical treatment.

Yet in the history of analysis of sequential art, all treatises on the subject have been written exclusively by artists, not engineers nor scientists, and are necessarily comparative, inductive rather than deductive, without the technical vocabulary to precisely define the concepts of which they speak. McCloud comes closest to this, but even he fails at giving a totally empirical definition of the mechanisms which animate comics, and is forced to reason by means of analogies and vague pictures and symbols. The same has happened time and time again in every area of human knowledge.

Like DaVinci, Galileo, and Kepler of the past, the world of physics fully explored the myriad descriptive methods available to science of the time until it ran up against the boundaries of what was possible with their paradigm. With the coming of Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica the world of physics was transformed with a new paradigm; it was given new life and animation by the development of Newton's calculus, which axiomatized the principles of planetary motion and the movements of objects in space, generalizing and abstracting the inductive, empirical knowledge of before with deductive logic. Having the new paradigm of Newton's logic, science explored every avenue of research until it reached its limit in the early twentieth century, where again its boundaries were expanded and generalized further with the quantum theory and Einstein's general relativity.

Likewise, all theoretical developments in any area of human knowledge will explore every possibility, every method of analysis, until they reach the boundaries posed by their current methodological paradigm, at which point progress is impossible without forcing open those boundaries with a new concept, and establishing a new paradigm. And at the core of each new paradigm is a further abstraction, a further generalization, an expansion of the view to encompass larger principles and a more concrete description of the concepts of the previous.

Therefore the agenda of this book is revolutionary. We have currently reached the limit of where earlier theorists have explored and if we are to progress further we must discover new principles. Our aim is therefore to axiomatize the rules-of-thumb that describe the principles of sequential art, outlined by predecessors such as McCloud and Eisner, and create a paradigm where sequential art is enriched by precise definitions and refined by exact, deterministic analytical tools.

And at the core of this agenda, is logic. We will use logic as a hammer to smash down the hand-waving, flimsy architecture of those who came before; we will use our hammer of logic and the raw firmament of the past furnished by this demolition to build a new system on stronger foundations than ever before.

ATD, 2010

1 comment:

  1. I'll start running away when you take on "why does certain music make people happy?".

    Until then, I shall be watching your progress with interest.