PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Use Your Allusion: Exclusive Preview of “Unwritten Apocalypse #9”

Three dramas become entwined in the breathtakingly micro-epic folds of “Inklings.” But the one that ultimately makes the difference is the fourth—the drama you bring with you to these pages.


Think back some two years ago to The Unwritten: On to Genesis, because that’s where this issue of Unwritten Apocalypse picks up in Wilson Taylor’s timeline. Wilson had just done some dirty work for the Unwritten Cabal in New York and more or less invented the comics industry’s business model. He’d just barely ducked out from being tracked by the Cabal’s vicious hitman, Pullman (vicious, ostensible hitman, because in a few short chapters Pullman will be revealed as the secret director of Cabal’s activities).

Now, Wilson resurfaces in wartime England, and as a friend and confidant of the Inklings, the famous literary group that included JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis and Dorothy Sayers. But it would be The Unwritten if the story ended there.

What makes this story so completely exceptional (exceptional, or expected? The Unwritten has played these games of literary allusion since its inception, and the quality of its brinkmanship has only grown over the years), is how creators Mike Carey and Peter Gross leverage the literary politics of the era to expand on Wilson Taylor’s story.

More than just a group interested in perfecting the art of telling a fine tale, the Inklings were deeply involved in the philosophical aspects storytelling, among these investigations into mythopoetics and mythography—the politics of story making as much as storytelling.

Take as example, Tolkien’s work with philology, more or less a practice of literary archaeology; the study of the way texts summon up prior linguistic forms or cultural ideation transmitted from earlier civilizations. Understand Tolkien’s ardent championing of philology, and it’s easy to understand how The Hobbit becomes his most sublime work—a grand geopolitical tale set in a fantasy world, told in the form a children’s tale. And it becomes even easier to understand why Tolkien sought to return to The Hobbit and rewrite it with all the weight and circumstance he wrote into The Lord of the Rings.

It’s exactly these rarefied notions Gross and Carey use to animate Wilson Taylor’s quest to both survive, and leverage control of stories back from the Unwritten. But even that’s only half the tale.

The other half goes around the 60 or so years prior to the Inklings, when Nietzsche himself waded into the murky waters of the politics of literary criticism. Nietzsche posed the idea that all art is a war between the Apollonian (the necessary illusions we grant ourselves to make sense of the world, like, in literature there must be characters, plot, drama) and the Dionysian (the unbridled, id-raging, chaotic mass of pure existence). Nietzsche felt that there can be no art without this opposition. And, moreover with the popularization of the reasoned thinking of the Socratic Method, art ultimately lost its power to enlighten humankind. But, in an unexpected turn, the age of Modernity might actually bode a return of the inherent opposition.

Pay careful enough attention, the power of both the Inklings, and the world left in the wake of Nietzsche’s championing of literary criticism become vibrant threads in the drama of Unwritten Apocalypse. But even that is not enough. Think of the drama you can bring for yourself. For me, that comes in the form of Metallica’s sublime Garage, Inc. album, the most philological of metal albums. An album wherein classic rock tracks like Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” or Euro folk tunes like “Whiskey in a Jar” are subjected to a heavy metal treatment.

Please enjoy our exclusive preview of Unwritten Apocalypse #9, “Inklings.”


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.