Criticism. Essay. Fiction. Science. Weather.
1As the maps to our official past, monuments and memorials literally set our history in stone. 2Civil War Re-enactments and the Bradley Fighting Vehicles that Love Them. 3One whatever's perspective on
American/Iranian relations 4Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming - Or -
Delaware is the geographical center of Ohio 5This is not about Terri Schiavo.
We promise. 6Stick it to the Gideons. 7California increases its prison population six-fold and strikes a blow for the union man. 8It's not you; it's me... 9What's the Christian Coalition going to do with this one? 10Corporate nonprofit? Isn't that an oxymoron? Jed Emerson doesn't think so. And neither should you. 11You heard it here first:
Michael Jackson, not guilty! 12What's good for GM is good for GM. 13The Quaterly Review continues...
...with 2 Essays from the archives. 14What's that smell?
Saying no to the post-expiration date Nation-State. 15An antidote to the All-Star Break: Life before
the homerun call was on steroids. 16An antidote to the All Star Break: Life before
the homerun call was on steroids (cont.). 17Riding the city at night with a radio. 18Why shampoo really is the key to global economic development. 19Goat meat and digital watches: how to lay down the law without writing down the rules 20The control button is right down there. Next to the Z button. 21Clear Channels and
Herfindahl-Hirschman Indices 22Le Corbusier, meet Dr. Livingstone: using blank spots on the map to plan urban development. 23Sunk before it started raining: how the Army Corps of Engineers dammed Louisiana. 24The Carceral Continuum: I got my diploma from a school called Rikers, knowhatimsayin? 25Hey Betty and Veronica, let's find out
who wrote the Book of Love. 26The quarterly reviews go marching two by two, hurrah! hurrah! 27It's a mosque; it's a church; it's ... a museum! 28We're back for seconds, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet. 29The only thing standing between you and free Internet is the Titanic. 30Capitalism: the worst economic system,
except all the others. 31All the cool kids are doing it... 32In America you get food to eat; won't have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet. 33Q-Tip never wanted Tommy Hilfiger
to be his friend. 34I am what I am not, even if it's only because
that's what people think I am. 35From Good ... to Great! 36Daylight makes these cities shrink. 37¡AGUANTALA! 38A chicken in every pot and
a deed to every garage. 39Celebrate the seasons with the Quarterly Review! 40The jig is up, Mr. Nobel. 41Will the circle be unbroken?
By and by, Lord, by and by. 42There's nothing to figure out, General Turgidson. This man is obviously a psychotic. 43It's the Buddhists and the Communists
in a fight to the death. 44Yes, this Essay is about
Punky Brewster. 45This article isn't just about being a bad friend. 46Something has gone wrong with the bathmat. 47It's more of a suspended state of poverty. 48Politics has always been complicated, I guess. 49The Cuyahoga Daily Mirror, this ain't. 50If Air America couldn't do it
maybe Al Jazeera can. 51Bzz, Bzz. Who's there? A culture of transparency. 52RVs (but no propane) in the R.V. 53Adding ads ad nauseum. 54Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains: Peru's election goes to a runoff. 55The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid;
the second is pleasant and highly paid. 56Prison continues, on those who are entrusted to it, a work begun elsewhere... 57If versimilitude can be lost, then it must exist. But how can it exist in a world of irreconcilable inconsistencies? 58Certain young, beautiful, economically powerful women please take note. 59Bugs. On drugs. 60Progress. Genuine progress. 61Electricity and music. 62Garcia in; Chavez out. 63I thought globalization was
something we did to them. 64Twenty-three days, 189 bicyles.
Could there be anything better? 65The First Quarterly Review:
Taste it again for the first time. 66An undersized, ill-dribbling twenty-something
feeling jealous. 67Wal*Mart goes organic. Right. 68Stop us before we pollute again. 69Yes, they actually measure that. 70Even the Amish guys are cheating?
Not so fast... 71What Jeffrey Sachs would proclaim if he spent all day sitting on his tuchus. 72Blueberry or coconut infusion? That'll be extra. 73Point being: ride your bike. 74If it's still broke, don't fix it. 75If Judd and Sam can do it,
so can I. 76Grandma Kenya's new cell phone
package totally rules! 77Two bracelets and two necklaces?
That'll be $20 and your manhood. 78What Jeffrey Sachs would proclaim if he spent all day sitting on his tuchus. 79The elusive fall season... 80Kenneth Pollack gets no respect. 81900 is the new 300. 82That's affirmative. Or, at least, it ought to be. 83Where's the outrage? 84Saddam Husseing - not a good person. 85Headaches call for leeches on the temples. 86Less than nine months behind schedule
and OK by me. 87We may not know all the words,
but we know when it's done wrong. 88Nephrons. And Frank Ghery.
You make the call. 89All these activist legislatures are enough to make you miss Samuel Alito. 90See it again, for the 90th time. 91A Seventh Quarter Two-fer. 92The man they called Body Love. 93Five years old is far too old for a federal law. 94Being Very Professional 95Not a single loaf has left the building
for over a decade. 96An Absentee article. 97You're less than nothing.
You're dirt. 98Get down to the basics.
The basic basics. 99You can almost understand
why Britney shaved her head. 100April's coming.
Here's what's in store. 101The coolest thing ever. I think. 102Not only are we going to grow mangoes, but we'll sell them, too. 103Famous for being famous. Just like Paris Hilton, but less trashy. 104Fourth Quarterly Reviews bring spring
showers and 90ways anniversaries. 105There's a new bunny in town. Just in time for Easter.
106Dream small. 107If Hillside won, then I was Truckzilla. 108Disco boys on bicycles.
Archie and the Gang: A Politics of Desire, part 2
December of 1962. Jean-Luc Godard in an interview with Cahiers du Cinema, a journal he and the other members of what is now called the French New Wave helped launch and bring to prominence and which, in turn, helped launch them, as film directors, and bring them to prominence. Speaking of himself as a filmmaker, he says: "I think of myself as an essayist, producing essays in novel form or novels in essay form: only instead of writing, I film them." What more profound statement of the importance of the evasion, as it were, of the authority, the need of the artist or thinker to go elsewhere in order to escape or evade the jurisdiction of that authority which might otherwise have the right to assess, to judge him. As a filmmaker, he is a writer. And if he is a writer, then how can film, as it were, judge him? But as a writer, rather than writing he films, and therefore how can writing, as it were -- the authority, real or imagined, to which the work of a writer is exposed -- judge what he has done. He does not even write. In either event, he defines this thing he does -- written film or filmed writing -- in terms of two genres, as it were, of writing: the novel and the essay. But here, again, he evades, or articulates the need to or the importance of evading. If he is producing essays, they are in the form of novels, and in that way evade the judgment of both the essay and the novel: how can the essay judge an essay which is a novel and, therefore, outside of its jurisdiction, and similarly how can the novel judge the novel which is actually an essay, and, therefore, outside of its jurisdiction? And, if he is not producing essays in the form of novels, he is producing novels in the form of essays, and in that case we ask, essentially, an inversion of the same two questions, and arrive at the same answer: it cannot.
This, then, gets back to why, when I was younger than I am now, in the institutional context of a master of fine arts program in creative writing, I envisioned myself writing what might be called critical theory, or in any event coming to my fictions from the perspective of critical theory, but when I imagined myself writing critical theory, entering that other discourse from which I would be able to come at my apparently chosen discourse but in a way that would allow me to remain outside of the jurisdiction of its authority, I imagined myself writing critical theory about something which should not, properly, be the object of critical theory: Archie comic books. Or, at least, this explains all of it in part. This also explains, in part -- or gestures at such an explanation -- something about what Girard is suggesting about desire and love and hate, the way that desire is triangulated by love, or perhaps more to the point by hate, or perhaps more to the point by hate which is actually just an attempt to evade love, or love which is in fact just an attempt to evade hate. I have loved certain young, beautiful, economically-powerful women, I am convinced, precisely because I thought that by possessing them, I would prove to those I hated -- people to whom such young, beautiful, economically-powerful women were destined -- that I could be them, and therefore did not hate them simply out of insufficiency, because my only other choice was to try and fail to be them; proving, in other words, that I didn't just, in my hatred, desperately want to be them.
Except, of course, that I did.
Which isn't to say that none of these young, beautiful women -- there have been, let's see, at least two -- wasn't worthy of being loved in her own right, but simply that I did not love them in their own right. I loved them because of the right that the person -- the mythical person, the kind of person, the imagined person, my rival -- I hated had to them, or something like that.
Originally, I imagine -- it's hard to put myself back where I was when was significantly younger than I am now, which was, now that I think of it, pretty young -- I conceived of the Archie world's ability to contradict itself and still maintain a verisimilitude in pretty simplistic terms: the postmodern, in the clunkiest sense of the word, and the end of Truth, with a capital T. Just because Archie is the worst baseball player on the team today doesn't mean that he can't be the best tomorrow. After all, nothing's true: Disneyland and Baudrillard and the end of the end of the paroxysm before the end and all of that. That would have been step one, and I imagine that I probably would have advanced beyond it pretty quickly, even while I remained very much within the institutional context of my master of fine arts program in -- I'm still loathe to say it -- creative writing: to attributing this possible impossibility to something akin to the power or magic of narrative, which is to say that truth or verisimilitude is determined not by the presence of this sort of superficial, almost mathematical consistency, but rather by something more like the functionality of the narrative, the notion being that narrative is a phenomenon which obeys its own laws, having nothing to do with the laws of physics or mathematics or optics or anything else, and that a narrative is either true or untrue according, therefore, to its own terms. Then, I imagine, having, by the time I was in the second year of my institutional situation within a master of fine arts program in -- it hurts, really to use these words -- creative writing, more or less deconstructed those initial notions of narrative as a specific and particular thing, subject to a kind of physics even if its physics isn't physics, per se, I would have taken yet another step; or, rather, I did take another step, and this line of thinking I remember with some specificity: more specifically, I began to think -- and perhaps the reason I remember this line of thinking with so much more clarity, and without the need to speculate, is that I still maintain a certain faith in it, even today, older than I was when I was younger and outside of that institutional context to which I've made repeated reference -- that perhaps it was the reader, more than the writer, who created the sense of narrative coherence. This notion, originally, must have had something to do with my voracious reading, at the time, of Roland Barthes, a period of literary consumption which remains close to my heart and indelibly tied, in many ways, to my work and my ideas about text and literature and language. The death of the author: the writer simply executes language, and the reader imposes his, and the, entire history of reading simply by reading; that is to say, the reader reads into what the writer has written all of the narratives he has read before. The reader simply takes the raw material offered forth to him by the writer and, with mostly sub- and unconscious leaps of intellect and wit and imagination -- something like the youngster reading the Archie stories which from time to time appear at first glance nonsensical or anachronistic -- constructs narrative of it. I continue to be very fond of this kind of an idea but -- and perhaps, therefore, unfortunately -- I have begun to see beyond it. If the text can disrupt our sense of verisimilitude -- and indeed we have seen that it can (or, rather, I have had my sense of verisimilitude disrupted) -- then mustn't it also act to create and maintain that sense of verisimilitude?
Perhaps not. It is possible, after all, that it could disrupt what we ourselves create, and perhaps to some extent that is what's going on, here, but I'd prefer to not be so simple, nor, in this particular instance, since I am already writing about what perhaps I've thought more about than anyone else, at least in a theoretical sense, to take the easy way out. That is to say, I think that despite all of its liberties and superficial or mathematical or technical internal inconsistencies, the Archie text -- even taken as a whole -- does act to create and maintain itself in a condition of verisimilitude, and I think we can make certain efforts to understand how it does so.
First: there are two things, I think, that, although everything else can change, never change. The first is economic. No character in the Archie world may be permitted to significantly change his economic situation. That's not to say that the family which cannot afford a new television in one story must not be allowed to have a new television in a different story. Rather, it's more a matter of class. Veronica must be wealthy. Archie and Betty must be a very middling sort of middle class. Reggie must be upper middle class -- often, his father is editor of Riverdale's newspaper, but he could as easily be a doctor or a lawyer -- and Jughead, of course, must be a bit lower, in his middle class standing, than Archie, somewhere below the most middling middle class. There is, of course, something relational in this economic permanence -- as there is always a significant relational element to class -- and there was a time, not more than a couple of weeks ago, when I would have stopped there: not with economics or class but, rather, with something of which economics or class can be considered a manifestation or an aspect or an iteration: relation. Just a couple of weeks ago -- it can't be more than a couple of weeks ago, three at the most -- I had situated myself on this whole issue such that I would have been prepared to insist that what created not so much permanence as verisimilitude -- a base against which verisimilitude could be established and maintained -- in the world of Archie and the gang was nothing more and nothing less than the relation of the characters to one another; that, in other words, everything in the world could change, but it would still remain that world, true and true to itself, without manifesting itself as false (in the absence, of course, of mitigating interference such as rewritten passages of dialogue), suddenly and all at once, as long as the relations between the characters, or their relations to one another, remained consistent; or, in other words, perhaps it would be as simple as saying that no character in the world of Archie or any other literary world -- and perhaps, even, in the world at large, although I wouldn't go so far as to say this, would prefer not to be so bold -- exists except as a relation to every other character. In this way you could essentially turn character linguistic: in the same way that no signifier signifies, or produces a signified, except within an almost infinitely complex web of relations to every other signifier in the system, no character has a meaning, which is to say, a character, except within a system of relations.
There is, I'm sure, some truth to these claims; but I also think that there is something more complex at work, that there is something other than relation -- which manifests itself, to use one example, in the permanence of economic class -- that creates, out of these characters, even as their characteristics may change, a permanence, and out of them, a world which can have verisimilitude: desire. Because even relational characteristics change: for instance, in one story Archie can be a better baseball player than Reggie, and in the next -- and this is generally the more likely scenario -- Reggie can be a better baseball player than Archie, and this is, after all, a relation -- one that I could dismiss as superficial and therefore not significant or telling, but I think that would be too easy an out. I think that, discounting economic class, aspects of relationability, as it were, can change between these characters, without a sense of permanence being lost, and without the verisimilitude of the world in which they are permanent, being sacrificed, as long as desire remains consistent.
What does each character, then, desire?
To be happy, perhaps.
But beyond that:
Archie desires, Veronica. That's what Archie wants. He wants Veronica to love him. Beyond that, I would argue, he wants to possess her.
Betty, of course, desires Archie. There's not much to contend with, there: there are no exceptions to this rule.
Jughead becomes a little more complicated, but most superficially, and since that's the level we're operating on right now, Jughead desires food. Properly speaking, he has a food fetish.
Reggie becomes a bit more complicated still, which is to say that there isn't really a surface level of desire with Reggie. His big characteristic is that he's an egomaniac, but behind egomania -- Reggie's kind of egomania, which involves things like calling himself the great one and gazing at his reflection in any available surface -- lurks, always, a fear of rejection, which is, that is to say, a desire to not be rejected.
Veronica is a bit complicated, as well, even on the surface. She is wealthy and beautiful, but what accompanies that wealth and beauty is a paralyzing fear that those who love her love her only because she is wealthy and beautiful, and so, perhaps stated most simply, she desires to be spoiled, because only in this extreme form of its expression can the affection of others convince her.
But, as always, desire is more complicated than it first appears. It can be deconstructed or perhaps, more importantly, psychoanalyzed, and there's even a text out there in the world of Archie which corroborates this claim. In a Jughead's Double Digest released in April of 1992, in a story called "Secret Pals," Jughead, psychoanalyzing himself, reveals to Archie, that he doesn't really like hamburgers (his favorite food), but that rather those hamburgers, he claims, are a symbol he has used in place of girls, primarily because an affection for girls turns one "emotionally twisted." He protects himself from becoming emotionally twisted, he says, by substituting hamburgers for girls. Hamburgers aren't complicated. They don't double-cross you or play with your emotions. They always taste good, every time all over again. Archie shrugs, walking away, and wonders how his good friend could be so "mixed up," but from there the story complicates. Archie runs into Betty, who, we know, is in love with Archie, and she compliments him, and fawns over him, and he's feeling very very good, until, suddenly, it occurs to him that there is something more important for him to do, which is to find Veronica. He does, but when he finds her she is cool and cruel toward him, eventually storming away in something of a huff, leaving Archie feeling crappy, first of all, but also, in light of his recent conversation with Jughead, reflective.
Cue Jughead, and here, perhaps, it would be easiest to simply reproduce the conversation:
Archie: I'm happy with Betty, but when I'm being happy with Betty I yearn for Veronica, who makes me miserable. When I'm being miserable with Ronnie...
Jughead: You yearn for Betty, who makes you happy.
Archie: Right. Then, when I'm happy with Betty, I yearn...
At the end of the story, Archie joins Jughead in a hamburger, for a moment, at least, buying into Jughead's preference for replacing women, symbolically, with hamburgers, which are simpler.
It's a rare glimpse into the guts of the matter, but it's a starting point, particularly in relation to Jughead, who comes right out and admits to a fetish. Of course, any amateur psychoanalyst would very quickly point out that though he comes close, Jughead misses on one key point, which is that he is not replacing a desire for girls with a hamburger (or food) fetish, but rather a desire for Archie. Jughead is in love with Archie but, of course, he can't be in love with Archie, for a lot of reasons that hardly need to be elaborated here, and so he has replaced Archie with a fetish, in his case for hamburgers. It should come as no surprise, in that light, that this particular story appears in an edition of Jughead's Double Digest since it ends with what must, all of that considered, be Jughead's ultimate fantasy: the two of them, he and Archie, playing this fetish together. Eating a hamburger with Archie is, symbolically-speaking, having sex with him, from Jughead's point of view.
Jughead is a homosexual. I'm not saying I necessarily believe this -- in fact, I really don't -- but it's there all the same. It's one of the desires on which this world is built.
Archie, then. Archie is a middling middle classer and so, of course, he is tempted by Veronica, not simply because she is wealthy and beautiful but because she belongs to wealth. Most particularly, in this case, she belongs to her father, Mr. Lodge, an extremely wealthy businessman who, throughout the history of the Archie lexicon, has probably owned just about every kind of business there is on this earth to own. He is Veronica's owner but Archie, like any very middling member of the middle class, knows that the upper class, wealth, looks down on him, sneers at him, assumes that he wants to be them, and so he is driven to possess what is rightfully theirs to prove that he is as good as they are, or that the reason he does not want to be them rather than who he is is not simply because he cannot. If he can possess Veronica, he has proven himself: he can have what they have, and if he chooses not to be them, it is because he prefers to be himself. There is something quite typical, in this, of the middle class, oppressed when they are reduced to an aspiring upper class, intent on convincing themselves, first and foremost, that there are things in this world that are more important than what you have and how much. But Archie also wants Betty because it is easy for him to be with Betty. Betty is meant for him and he for her, but, on the other hand, this is exactly why he doesn't want Betty: because he doesn't want to simply fall into line, because he doesn't want to simply take what is made available to him. He wants to take what is supposedly not his, to prove that it could be, before he can feel good about fulfilling his own destiny, and it's for this reason that the moment that he settles into feeling good with Betty, he reacts with an impulse almost like fear. Has he accepted his failure? No, and so he must set out in search of Veronica. I also think that it's more than Veronica's inevitable rejection of him that sends him back, again, to Betty (who sends him back to Veronica, and around we go): it's, as well, the guilt. Guilt that comes with disappointing himself by being dissatisfied with himself, so dissatisfied that he must pursue a possession of what is not rightfully his. But also guilt before the father, I think: by wanting what is Mr. Lodge's, he is, of course, transgressing against his own father, and what more powerful guilt than transgression against the father?
Archie, no doubt, hates Mr. Lodge. That's why he's always "accidentally" destroying his things, breaking Ming vases and nine irons and the like. The way that the middle class always hates the upper class, one could argue, or perhaps it has something, again, to do with the father: he hates Mr. Lodge because Mr. Lodge, who is wealthy, looks down on his father, who is not, and so he wants to become Mr. Lodge in order to, as it were, defeat or neutralize Mr. Lodge, in order to seek vengeance in the name of his father, and there is, in the lexicon, no shortage of episodes in which Archie fantasizes himself a wealthy and manipulative businessman having literally reduced Mr. Lodge to rags, and Mr. Lodge begging him for mercy, for a job, for charity. In any event, one could also argue -- Girard might -- that it is precisely because of this hatred that he wants to be Mr. Lodge, to validate his hatred, perhaps, or simply to, out of hatred, take from him what is rightfully his, and what Archie wants to take, in this case, is Veronica, and Mr. Lodge knows it, and for this he doesn't simply hate him back but he defends himself against him militarily. There are tons of these symbols, as well -- these symbols of militaristic defense -- in the lexicon: guard dogs and video monitors and electro-shock administrators and lighted signs saying "go away," and so many other things of that nature, designed by Mr. Lodge, or for him, to prevent Archie from penetrating his territory -- or, for that matter, his daughter.
Betty: Well, Betty is deceptively simple, I think, in her single-minded desire for Archie. Betty, like Archie, is middling middle class, but she is a woman, which is to say that she can't possess, anyway. A man can possess a woman -- according to the terms of gender -- but a woman cannot possess a man, although she can capture him. Betty, first of all, wants to capture the man who aspires to more for the same reason, one could argue, that this man aspires to more in the first place. But beyond that, we can understand why Betty doesn't simply desire Archie, but -- and this is the particular nature of her desire -- desires him obsessively. She literally worships him; because an Archie is the best that she can hope for, but this is hard to live with. He's mediocre. Middle class. Not brilliantly good-looking. Not brilliant. He's his father, which means, in short, that he is her father, and it must be hard to accept that your lot in life is a status quo which is decidedly unspectacular. So she reifies him: more properly, she deifies him, by an act of almost religious faith converts him into a god, something worthy of worship, and now he is both something she can achieve and -- by a fairly artificial but nonetheless psychologically effective process of conversion -- a god worth aspiring to. His Archie-ness alone distinguishes him from the status quo he embodies, and now there is something heroic in her otherwise banal desire for him.
Reggie, naturally, as a member not of the upper, or wealthy class, but of the upper middle class, is terrified that he is in fact not superior to or inherently more desirable than members of the middling middle class -- because, of course, the irony of the different levels of the middle class is that he is not -- and therefore, to save himself from having to discover what he is so terrified to discover, mercilessly and publicly inflates his own ego in such a fashion that: a. nobody else can possibly compliment him, since he has already complimented himself first, and b. people must be critical of him simply to counterbalance his own rampant egomania, and c. he repels people himself, almost intentionally but in any event through a purposeful exercise of character, and therefore will never have to find out whether he would repel people more, for example, than Archie, naturally. Reggie likes Veronica, but it should come as no surprise that he loves Big Moose Mason's girlfriend, Midge, who is not free to love him back because she is possessed and dominated by the physically powerful and violent Moose.
Which brings us to Veronica who, of course, as I mentioned already, is terrified that people only love her because she is wealthy and beautiful, which is to say that she desires to know that people love her not simply because she is wealthy and beautiful, but because she is so afraid of finding out the opposite, she has turned herself into such a rage-filled and demanding lover that no man could possibly live up to the expectations she has set for him; or, in other words, by establishing impossible expectations, she prevents herself from having to find out whether men, of their own accord, would satisfy average, or reasonable expectations.
This is all rather low-grade amateur psychoanalysis, and the point isn't really whether or not I am correct in all of it; the point is that, whether I've pinned an initial analysis of it or not, there is a permanence of desire which establishes the possibility of an overall internal consistency in a world which can otherwise, in so many other respects, change freely, and also that this desire, thought not inseparable from economics, is certainly intimately wrapped up in it.
The point is that desire, like discourse -- like the love, or hate, which according to Girard always triangulates it -- will always make this sleight-of-hand move to evade itself, to free itself from the judgment of the authority of its own fulfillment, as much in Proust or Quixote as in Archie comic books. Insofar as we want we are afraid we will fail, and insofar as we are afraid we will fail we will desire to escape the possibility of that failure by desiring otherwise.
Which is to say that desire, like discourse, or like love or hate -- or perhaps they are the same, in the end, or inversions or perversions the one of the other -- will always make this shift away from itself, go elsewhere or toward the other until, one day -- the day, for example, that Archie marries Betty -- sadly, melancholically, having given up the fight once and for all, it comes home again, and this time for good.
For me, Archie comic books are a kind of home, and this is not simply because whenever I go home, literally, to my parents house, I also go home to the two hundred or so digests with which -- or whom -- I grew up; not simply because, in particular when I am sleeping alone, I often cannot get to sleep without first setting my eyes against an Archie comic or two, reading stories I have read before -- barely even reading them, really, because I have read them so many times before -- until, finally, my wrist goes limp against the weight of the little book, and eventually flops, and the little book falls over the edge of the bed and some minutes or hours later I wake up and, still three-quarters sleeping, reach to turn the light off. They are home because it is toward them that the trajectory of my life has always been aiming. I never knew which I was: Jughead, because I'm skinny and have a big nose, or Archie because I, too, desire to be the title character, or desire the freedom of residing at the center, or even Reggie because I have my moments of egomania? Nor did I ever know which girl I loved, Betty or Veronica, but then again, no reader ever does. That's part of the reason Archie's eternal conundrum works. So no, the trajectory of my life has not, since the third grade, been aiming toward being any of them, or even having of them, but rather toward something more like becoming the whole of them. Because in the end no more can you separate each character from his desire than you can separate the desire of any character from the other characters, and their desires, and perhaps it is toward this that the trajectory of my life has been aiming: toward that place in which I can step back out of the Heideggerian nothing into a social present that is always entire unto itself.
Which is simply to say: deep down, like everybody else in this world, and ever since I started reading Archie comics one day when I was home sick in the third grade, I've really just wanted to be a part of the good old gang.