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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:38 am 
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Minuteman

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Hi all,

This is my first post here and I'm sure you will be able to help.

In the graphic novel, what exactly brings Dr Manhattan back to Earth? It seems that Laurie's realisation of her parentage has triggered a new interest in mankind, though what exactly has happened that he didn't already know about? I like the idea that it was the fact that Laurie's mother remained in love with her rapist that made Jon realise that mankind is not so predictible and our emotions are unfathomable (implying that a rape committed 40 years ago in a way facilitates the salvation of mankind in the 80s)...though it seems to be more than that, and presumably Jon could have known he was Laurie's father anyway (it was only Laurie that was deep in denial). Is it just the sight of Laurie having a breakdown that makes Jon realise how unique everyone is?

(In the film as I recall there seems to be an added element that Jon is himself using some trick to withhold the realisation from her)

EDIT: Apologies to New Yorkers for my appauling spenning of 'Manhattan'.


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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:25 am 
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Thermodynamic Miracle
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Location: Between the click of the light and the start of the dream
I always find myself correcting that particular spelling error myself (I'm not from New York either)

Anyway, welcome!

To your question:

Jon says during the course of that conversation, after he tells Laurie he changed mind about life being meaningless, "but the world is so full of people, so crowded with the miracles that they become commonplace and we forget... I forget"
and it is the incongruities in Laurie's story, and her mother's actions, that remind him (as you say).

It seems, then, that it's not that he learns something new but is reminded of something he has always known but has become so detached from life he forgot it.
So even if he knew about Laurie's parentage he may have forgotten or he may just have attached no importance to it until he saw how it affected her.

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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:50 am 
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Ade Bamforth wrote:
This is my first post here and I'm sure you will be able to help.


Hi Ade, welcome to the boards!

Quote:
In the graphic novel, what exactly brings Dr Manhattan back to Earth?


This is a good question - particularly given that, at the end of the novel, he promptly whizzes off again, announcing that human affairs are not his concern. Here's my take. And it will be a long-winded take. I'm just like that.

Central to this is the argument that Jon still cares for Laurie - even if he now struggles to relate to human beings. He still has emotions: he is upset with her for leaving him, angry that she is sleeping with Dreiburg, upset that he is accused of giving his former companions cancer. He leaves Earth because he's angry, and upset. So, he still has feelings - it's just that almost everyone sees him as a god, a weapon, something to manipulate to use. The only person who doesn't is Laurie - more on that later. He lets everyone else make their moves for him, and he's sick of it. In Chapter IV, we finally see Jon deciding to take control of his own destiny.

Let's debunk the predestination angle: Jon doesn't act on what he knows of the future. His reactions are pre-determined, but that doesn't mean he isn't making choices of his own throughout the novel. He just already knows how we will decide. That's significant, because I'm about to ask: why take Laurie to Mars at all?

One argument is that it's because he knows he will do it. But that doesn't explain his motivation: at no other stage is he motivated by his foreknowledge. He's called out by Blake for not caring, for not stopping a murder (a murder he actually had foreknowledge of). He doesn't defend himself by saying; "Well, I knew I wasn't going to stop it.". He explains his thought process behind teleporting the riotting crowd at Washington, and it isn't that he knows he's about to do it. So, the argument that he has come down to collect Laurie because he knows they'll have a conversation in an hour's time doesn't wash. He's waited two weeks, until the eve of whatever causes the future to become vague for him - a nuclear detonation being the most likely hypothesis - and promptly arrives to take her off the planet. He uses the one hold he still has over her to get her to come willingly: that he can stop the nuclear war that Laurie is so terrified of.

The first thing he asks when they arrive on Mars is: "Do you like it?". That's what's on his mind, not their scheduled conversation. This refers back to what he thinks when first starting his creation in Chapter IV: "She'd like it here." It's almost as if he's trying to make a romantic gesture, but he completely blows the moment by forgetting she needs to breathe. And then, look at his creation - he's provided not a static palace, but a means of getting around the planet without the teleportation she so hates. He provides a table with not one but two chairs - presumably he was expecting them to be sitting together at some point - and a bottle and glass, neither of which he needs. He's evidently thought this through: he wants to take her sightseeing. Indeed, she even calls him out on this one.

The actual conversation that ensues is not of Laurie defending Earth, but mostly of Jon trying to argue that life on Earth is meanigless, interpsersed with singing the praises of Mars. It's almost a sales pitch - he wants her to forget about Dan, and Earth and Nuclear War. He's emphasized that she is his one link to the Earth, and he doesn't want to be on Earth any more, so what's more natural than to try and persuade her to leave?

This proceeds until the point where Laurie is persuaded that life is meaningless, but it doesn't have the intended effect: she asks to go home, to fry with Dan and Sally. At this point, Jon very suddenly changes tack: now it is Laurie arguing that life is meaningless, and Jon trying to interrupt her. He starts rooting around for what has made Laurie the way she is - what is it that she's avoiding? When he finds out, he doesn't initially identify humans as unique. After all the odds of Sally having a child of some sort are not of "Thermodynamic Miracle" proportions. He identifies "This precise son, that exact daughter", and Laurie as "So specific a form." So it's not the fact that Laurie exists, that interests him, it's that she exists in the precise form that she exists in.

But why this interest in Laurie's specific form at all? Why is she his "only link to the Earth"? Superficially, he got together with her because she was young and good looking, and because Janey Slater was getting old. She's now of a similar age to Janey when he left her, and while she may be in better physical shape (and she obviously has good genes from both parents), her looks aren't going to last much longer. But Jon seems to have moved beyond interest in sex - what their scene in bed in Chapter III seems to be meant for Laurie's benefit. It is preceded by a commentary from Tales of the Black Freighter, where the sailor reflects on the way the ship's figurehead had kept him from drifting out of reach during the storm. "Her damp embrace had prevented me from drifting beyond reach, yet this small comfort was all I could offer... I could not love her as she had loved me". So, he still loves her. Loves her enough to be upset that she's got together with Dreiburg, loves her enough that he can't bear the thought of sending her back to Earth to die. Why?

In my view, Laurie has one very distinctive feature: she's the only character raised among Superheroes. She sees them as normal, everyday, and consequently she is the only person able to relate to Jon not as a big blue God, or a walking H-Bomb, but as a human being. She isn't scared of him as Janey is scared of him: Janey emphasises his estrangement, where Laurie does not. But Laurie was only raised amongst Superheroes because of Sally's regret over what happened with the Comedian: if she had been the product of the attempted rape, or if she had been Schexnayder's daughter, or Nite Owl's daughter, Sally wouldn't have felt the same urge to protect her, to railroad her into a career as a Superhero. The Laurie that loves Jon, that has kept him from drifting beyond reach would not have existed - Dr Manhattan would have left Earth years ago.

Earlier, he argues that there is no difference between a living and a dead body: both contain the same particles. But faced with the prospect of a dead Laurie, Jon realises that she is not just a collection of atoms: she has a meaning to him that the rocks and dust of Mars, however elegant, cannot match. For her to exist in this form depends on random chance, or the interactions of random particles: it depends upon a quirk of human nature, for her mother to love someone she had every reason to hate. The odds of the stars aligning exactly so that the world would produce someone that could love him are on the magnitude of a Thermodynamic miracle. You just don't get that with atoms alone.

And once you've accepted that Laurie is a miracle, you have to accept that every human being is a miracle in their own way. That these quirks of human nature make life interesting in a way that particles alone can never be.

In some ways, though, I think this is an excuse - from the moment Laurie asks to go back, it is Jon who is trying to persuade her to persuade him that they should save the world. His hopes that she'd like Mars and want to stay there have been dashed - but he can't face the prospect of sending her back to die, so he needs some viable excuse for going back after all.

Notice that, as soon as he's ascertained that there isn't going to be nuclear war - he's off. He's tied up his loose ends: he doesn't need to have Laurie's death on his conscience (at least, once he's murdered Rorschach to ensure that Veidt's plan isn't blown - a plan he personally neither condones nor condemns), she's paired off with Dan, so he's free to go. He's even started to refer to Osterman in the third person: severing his last links with his human past. He's not interested in human life, after all: their affairs cannot be his concern.

That's what I think, anyway.

Quote:
(In the film as I recall there seems to be an added element that Jon is himself using some trick to withhold the realisation from her)


I didn't think this - I thought Jon was using his powers to help her drag out a memory that she was surpressing. It didn't really make sense - in the GN, Laurie hasn't forgotten, she's just refusing to put two and two together.

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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:29 am 
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Last edited by People Must Be Told. on Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:42 pm 
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Minuteman
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Blue_meanie fantastic post!

I would like to add to one of your points however….

Quote:
In my view, Laurie has one very distinctive feature: she's the only character raised among Superheroes. She sees them as normal, everyday, and consequently she is the only person able to relate to Jon not as a big blue God, or a walking H-Bomb, but as a human being. She isn't scared of him as Janey is scared of him: Janey emphasises his estrangement, where Laurie does not. But Laurie was only raised amongst Superheroes because of Sally's regret over what happened with the Comedian: if she had been the product of the attempted rape, or if she had been Schexnayder's daughter, or Nite Owl's daughter, Sally wouldn't have felt the same urge to protect her, to railroad her into a career as a Superhero. The Laurie that loves Jon, that has kept him from drifting beyond reach would not have existed - Dr Manhattan would have left Earth years ago.


I think Jon was also attracted to Laurie because he could see so much in common with her. Here is another young person pushed into a career she would not have chosen herself but goes along with to please her parent. Laure is scared and a little unhappy with the idea of being a crime fighter but doesn’t want to disappoint. I think Jon could sympathize with that a great deal and he could see that she could perhaps understand him a little better for it.

Laurie knows what its like to be pushed into things, Sally lives vicariously through her. Understanding that meant that she was not going to push Jon around, she was not likely to order him to do things the way his father, Janey and the government seemed to.

I think Jon first saw in Laurie a chance to break the rules or follow what he wanted instead of following others’ expectations of him, his way to rebel. But I think it didn’t take long for him to see parts of himself in her and to appreciate that she had no demands or expectations of him.

With Janey, their relationship started because they were attracted to each other, Janey came on to him, took control. After the physical side of their relationship failed and Jon was fed up with doing what he was “supposed” to do, he left.

With Laurie, their relationship started, again based on attraction, but this time Jon could make the first move. And through the years he could see that they had a great deal in common and could respect each other, rather than it being a power game based on fear.

I think Jon before the accident was very logical, mathematical, a problem solver. Its who he’s always been, made more exaggerated by his abilities after the accident. Laurie, whom he loves deeply, is the defiance of logic. By all logic she should not exist, her mother had every reason to hate her father and yet she was conceived out of an act of affection, not rape. Then the further odds that this illogical act made her specific form, not just in the physical sense but that Laurie is the only Laurie in the universe, existing once, with her combination of genes, thoughts, choices, personality and that on top of all that that she loved Jon….that is the miracle that transforms Jon’s thoughts.

At the same time I think he loves Laurie enough to leave and let her have something of a normal life, with someone that could grow old with her. He also knew that if he stayed he would keep being manipulated. He would also most likely be a danger to those he loved again, he would not want someone to use Laurie to manipulate his actions the way they did with Wally and Janey.

So he comes back to earth because he loves her and he leaves earth because he loves her.


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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:04 pm 
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Excellent posts by everyone around. I was going to say something, but everybody explained it so beautifully that I'm left without words. :geek:

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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:46 am 
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Minuteman

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People Must Be Told. wrote:


Yes 'tis I, possibly the comic world's most neglected artist.

Well, that's certainly a thorough examination of the subject, some great observations there Blue Meanie and Twilight Lady!


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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 11:51 am 
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So impotent.

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[NOTE: Found this in the "I'm a Marvel/DC" thread. For lack of a better option, I merged it here. --"Curiosity Inc."]

can dr manhattan really do all these things like create life, walk on the sun, does any1 know the full extent to his power? if so could u explain plz?


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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 6:13 pm 
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He is a G-d, so anything G-d can do, he can do. G-d "created" life, he thought about creating some too.


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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 6:43 pm 
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but if you think about it, Laurie was raised in a time where superheroes became the norm, which explains why she sees jon as a human being.


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 Post subject: Dr. Manhattan
PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:42 pm 
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I have a question on Dr.Manhattan himself, is he so "above" normal humans that he is basicially bored with them and left for Mars to be in his palace? Is Dr. Manhattan truly bored with humans?


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 Post subject: Re: Dr. Manhattan
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:12 am 
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yeah, basically.


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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:13 am 
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^ Merged.

Also, yeah. After being rejected by Laurie and by the United States, Dr. Manhattan basically said "Fine! I don't need you anyway!" and left to take up residence on Mars.

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 Post subject: Re: Dr. Manhattan
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:00 pm 
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Last edited by People Must Be Told. on Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:07 pm 
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well, he already knew that was going to happen, so it's not like he had a choice. and he collected the photo to take the only photograph of him as a human to remind himself of his past life, but then got bored of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 3:50 pm 
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Last edited by People Must Be Told. on Sat Jan 30, 2010 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dr Manhatten
PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:39 pm 
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Dr. Manhattan is considered to be a G-d among mortals but one thing bugs me, we know he used mostly as a pawn but did he know that he wasn't to do anything about it anyway? I read Dark Knight Returns where Superman is used mostly as a pawn but does so only to prevent the war between the superhumans abd the humans, does this apply to Jon where there may not be superhumans among them but he does so purely because he doesn't care?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:47 pm 
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blue_meanie and TwilightLadyII..

Whoa. Illumination. Never thought of some of that stuff. :-)

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