Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned

    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

- William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"

Bodysurfing offers a disturbing afterlife in the Mogran, one innately tied to human sexuality. In the ultimate irony of the story the Mogran are obsessed with sex, consumed by lust, yet the results of this act consume them to such a degree that it provides their victims with a means of destroying the spirits. Ileana provided an example of a Mogran so engrossed in the act of rape that it did not fight back when it spotted her approaching with a metal pipe. With a lack of a concrete, bound physical association the unsettled psyches of the people become hedonistic pleasure seekers, which is only exacerbated by their former status as "bound" or virginal souls in life.

The Mogran's lot is one of being a free-spirit to such a degree that they can never reap the results of their physical desires– they can only find comfort in perversion and destruction. Unbound from physical bodies they are able to experience a myriad of experiences but they can never find a body that is theirs, that truly belongs to them. There is a tragedy to them that is best embodied in their attempt to beget children, which forms the driving conflict of the novel with Leo coming into conflict with the three products of his life: the child he wanted Jasper, and the two products of his urges Ileana and Q.

The immortality that is offered to the Mogran, those who die "bound" to their physical bodies as people who have not engaged in sex with another, is in sharp contrast to the limited immortality that normal people gain by way of sexual reproduction. The method of creation of new Mogran is actually cast into doubt until the start of the novel's story, and they seem to create a legacy only through their creation of the hunters. Like with normal humans the hunters such as Q. and Ileana are made through sex, they become inhabited once the demons are unbound from their last body and are left changed in the wake of the demon's reaching of orgasm in their body.

Unfortunately for the Mogran the product of their inhabitations, the hunters, are not grateful for the alterations they had made on the people's bodies and use their enhanced physical attributes to slay their makers. The hunters are the husks of former Mogran inhabitants, an unwanted legacy that follows the demons and seeks their destruction. Otherwise, the Mogran want to create another kind of legacy by creating more of their kind, through inhabiting a "bound" soul before its death in order to create another free-floating and capricious entity that would not be so ungrateful for their attention.

Yet Leo proves incapable of having either of his children, Q. or Jasper, either leave him be or follow directly in his footsteps. This eventual betrayal by his progeny extends even to the progenitors of the Mogran, the Alpha Wave. The roles of the Mogran and their opponents in the Legion in controlling the Mogran presence on Earth changes when taking Dr. Thomas/Foras's agenda into account.

The Alpha Wave of Mogran also controlling their legacy in the Mogran they unwittingly created, seeking to cull their progeny "when it became clear that the proliferation of the Mogran was becoming problematic, both for us as well as humanity" (384). Foras's machinations form the backstory of the novel, as Leo mentions Foras as the one who shared with him the secret of reproduction. Foras even implies a more congenial relationship with his "creator" than that of Leo and Jasper, keeping the sigil of Beleth who he describes as a "friend to me. In the same way that Leo attempted to be a friend to you" (399). This suggests that in becoming "unbound" from their physical bodies the Mogran are additionally unbound from forming lasting bonds of emotion such as friendship, which explains their period of lull and frenzy.

Additionally, the most direct example of progeny-progenitor relationship is Jasper and his father John. They may have had their differences, Jasper may have thought his dad was limiting him and his father may have thought everything he had accomplished in life paled in comparison to making Jasper, but they ultimately put themselves on the line to honor each other's memories. John flings himself down the stairs once Leo tries filling his mind with a "sudden, electric wave of hatred for his own son that flooded into him" (345). John may have failed his son in many different ways throughout his life, but when push came to shove he threw himself down three hundred ninety-two steps to prevent a maligned demon who fancied himself Jasper's father from eradicating all he held dear. That's one way to make up for things.

Jasper returns the message in kind. He outright rejects Leo's claim to paternity or authority over his existence when he says, "'No... He made me" (404).  In this way Jasper is placing his own experiences, the one he had as a mortal during his own lifetime, above those he absorbed from others in the process of his extended metempsychosis. The legacy of his life as a living or "bound" soul is thus more meaningful than his experience as an "unbound" spirit. How telling is it that when a Leo-possessed Q asks Jasper what he would do before he died Jasper responds, "I'd tell my dad I love him" (18). What else is this act of defiance but the ultimate affirmation of filial ties and rejection of a false parenthood?

The wheels of conflict between the Alpha Wave, the remaining Mogran, the secret servants of the Alpha Wave's will through the Legion, and the freshly born Mogran Jasper raise questions about legacy and lineage.


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