Do You Remember Who You Were in the Previous Universe? : Alejandro Jodorowsky – “The Incal”

ABOVE: Mellow yellow

After “Before the Incal” but before “After the Incal” comes, in its logical place in the space-time continuum, “The Incal.” It’s hard to calculate the influence that artist Moebius and writer Alejandro Jodorowsky have had on the looks and ambitions of epic, philosophical sci-fi in the last forty years. You know Moebius, whether it’s through “Heavy Metal,” or “Blade Runner,”  or through blatant replicants like “The Fifth Element.” (The last book of “The Incal” is even called “The Fifth Essence.”) Outside of cult circles, Jodorowsky is not a household name in America, (and many might have trouble pronouncing the name altogether) but show a few clips from “The Holy Mountain” and people will nod: “AH, like a Ken Russell movie!” (if they’re old) or “AH, that’s what Kanye was ripping-off referencing in the Yeezus Tour!” (if they’re young.)

ABOVE: Yeezus!

“The Incal” is best seen as the melding between creative forces that had been hankering for such a collision. Jodorowsky and Moebius had worked together before (the haunting, nearly wordless “Eyes of the Cat”) but this joint opus came from the ruins of the “Dune” movie that never happened, the 14-hour version that Jodorowsky meant to direct, starring Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, Gloria Swanson, with designs by H. R. Giger, a soundtrack by Pink Floyd, and a  cameo by God playing against type. The recent “Jodorowsky’s Dune” documents the grand disaster that had to befall a movie with such hubris.

Well, someone had to do something with all that rubble lying around. “The Incal” is the story of the Taromantically named John Di Fool, who transforms from a low-ranking gum-shoe to his own triumphant avatar. Jodorowsky based his major characters on Tarot Arcana, and in real life uses card divination as a sort of therapy. He’s also a dedicated practitioner of psycho-magic, which, like everything in the Jodoverse, is to be taken very seriously with a side of self-aware laughter. In this he’s like Philip K. Dick, another amateur mystic who absolutely believed his own bullshit, while giving you free realm to shrug it off, should you disagree.

ABOVE: Playing with a Fool deck

Jodorowsky piles up the factions on a grand existential war between the aristocracy, the military, the bourgeoisie, the clergy, the rebels… and other forces that are cosmic and far less tangible. Moebius keeps his end of the bargain by providing eye-popping visuals on nearly every page – a sustained vision that’s all the more admirable considering the whole project took over a decade. The characters are memorable: Deepo, Animah and Tanatah ( borrowed from Carl Jung’s theories), the Metabaron, the androgynous Solune, Killwolf – all mates on John DiFool’s journey, one so epic that, like Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower,” it pretty much offers only one pleasing possible conclusion.

Hint: Moebius probably smiled when Jodorowsky first suggested the end.

ABOVE: Strip tease.



One thought on “Do You Remember Who You Were in the Previous Universe? : Alejandro Jodorowsky – “The Incal”

  1. Pingback: How Close Wonder is to Horror : Caroline Hagood’s “Making Maxine’s Baby” | THE PAGEAHOLIC

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