Saturday, March 27, 2010

John Hicklenton: Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!

I was sad to see that John Hicklenton (wikipedia) the creator of the likes of Judge Dredd has taken his own life after a long battle with illness.

Hicklenton was part of a team that helped create a bleak, if artistic, form of social criticism.

As a teenager I was particularly fond of the Nemisis / Torquemada episodes where an alien freedom fighter battles the religious zealotry of a human militaristic empire that sought to exterminate everything not like itself.

It played into my growing awareness of racism, religious dogma and political violence - although whether it really helped my understanding is another matter. Whatever its utilitarian value the stories were glorious.

By placing the focus on the psychology of discipline and order Hicklenton and others teased out how the desire for perfection was intrinsically linked to the desire for death.

Where change and chaos occur it is the product of life, which is naturally ambiguous, complex and difficult. By attempting to wipe out those ambiguities the forces of law and order become forces for death itself.

Makes sense to me anyway.

Torquemada in particular relied upon the artificiality of 'the other'. Those elements that seem alien are often only different because of the conditions we have placed upon them because of their alienness.

Years before I started thinking about these things possible I began to understand how creating enemies can serve a purpose quite at odds with the propaganda that supports conflict and hate. I'd like to thank John Hicklenton - he'll be missed.

1 comment:

Kamal said...

Don't forget the Dark Judges who decided that life was the original crime....

Alternatively, as Goethe said, Es irrt der Mensch, so lang er strebt (While Man aspires, he errs), so maybe the Dark Judges could have just put everyone into suspended animation?