Saturday, November 28, 2020

X-Men X-Overs Addendum: X of Swords

X of Swords wrapped up this week, and it was good enough to necessitate a revision of our list of the ten best X-Men crossovers. Fortunately, making space for it is as easy as bumping the Muir Island Saga off the ten-spot.

So now our list looks like:

10. Fatal Attractions
9. The Mutant Massacre
8. X-Tinction Agenda
7. Utopia
6. Messiah War
5. Inferno
4. X of Swords
3. Second Coming
2. The X-Cutioner's Song
1. Messiah Complex

Not that my opinion matters much (and not that X-Men comics are terribly important), but let's call this a tentative ranking. The other stories on this list have all been around for a decade at least and three decades at most, while X of Swords just wrapped up a few days ago. For all I know, it might age as well as John Greycrow's old codename. If anyone is interested in the reason for X of Sword's placement between Inferno and Second Coming, I'll say this: I struggled for a few minutes to decide whether X of Swords or Inferno deserved the four-spot. X of Swords earns most of its points for originality and for its explosive finale, but on the whole it tends to meander, and any story that makes Inferno seem focused by comparison is a story with a pacing problem. In the end, the penalty Inferno incurred by containing the limited series that introduced Wiz Kid allowed X of Swords to pull ahead. However, the points deducted from X of Swords for being a backdoor pilot for a new serial featuring Wiz Kid's comeback prevented it from even contending with Second Coming.

#4: X of Swords (2020)
Titles involved: Cable, Excalibur, Hellions, Marauders, New Mutants, Wolverine, X-Factor, X-Force, X-Men

In brief: Banished to a nether dimension thousands of years ago, Apocalypse's kids are still alive, and they're pissed off. Saturnyne holds a tournament to determine whether she'll allow them to cross the dimensions and bring their hellish, unstoppable army to Earth.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Twelve Rounds with Kant (Part 6)

Ellsworth Kelly, Grid Lines (1951)¹

Today, in my ongoing battle with Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781–87), I would like to spend some time examining the I think.

No, that isn't a typo. What Kant calls "the sentence: I think" (der Satz: ich denke) might be—and I suggest this with no authority whatsoever—treated as the hidden thirteenth item in his catalogue of pure concepts of the understanding. The importance of the I think to the Kantian scheme cannot be understated. All of the other categories are predicated on it; Kant calls it "the formal proposition of apperception."

[T]his concept is the vehicle of all concepts in general, and therefore also of transcendental concepts, is therefore always included among them, and so is itself transcendental; has no claim to a special title, inasmuch as it serves only to introduce all thought as belonging to consciousness.

Kant expands on the importance of the I think in the Transcendental Dialectic (excerpted above), but first introduces the concept in the Transcendental Deduction:

It must be possible for the I think to accompany all my representations: for otherwise something would be represented within me that could not be thought at all, in other words, the representation would either be impossible, or at least would be nothing to me. That representation which can be given prior to all thought is called intuition, and all the manifold of intuition has, therefore, a necessary relation to the I think in the same subject in which this manifold of intuition is found. This representation (the I think), however, is an act of spontaneity, that is, it cannot be considered as belonging to sensibility. I call it pure apperception, in order to distinguish it from empirical apperception, or also original apperception, because it is that self-consciousness which, by producing the representation, I think (which must be capable of accompanying all other representations, and which is one and the same in all consciousness), cannot itself be accompanied by any further representations. I also call the unity of appereception the transcendental unity of self-consciousness, in order to indicate that a priori knowledge can be obtained from it. For the manifold representations given in an intuition would not one and all be my representations, if they did not all belong to one self-consciousness. What I mean is that, as my representations (even though I am not conscious of them as that), they must conform to the condition under which alone they can stand together in one universal self-consciousness, because otherwise they would not one and all belong to me.

Well: what are we supposed to make of this?