We draw back out to see the whole of Tungaske in “Neither Atlantic Nor Pacific”, the 20th collage of the Boos series. The title refers to the town’s 2 avenues featured in the miniatures of “Atlantic” and “Pacific” — 2 apiece. And we will return to the same Pacific Avenue house currently for sale in the next set of miniatures coming up. In “Neither Atlantic Nor Pacific”, we continue to evolve the various stories building up in the village. An image of Ohio’s former Great Black Swamp has been inserted in its center, roughly situated between the two avenues in question. Boxy Brown with see-through hair is positioned on its upper end from the picture’s perspective, opposite fellow Aqua Teen Hunger Force character Master Shake, also appearing as partially transparent.
This is yet another yin-yang reference, since Shake is very white and Boxy Brown is an abstract representation of an African-American (“black”) man. We’ve seen these same two characters placed on opposite sides of another body of water in the Stonethrow collage “Animation Station”, the first part of the ending tetraptych of that May 2015 series.
Also returning from the May collage is homeless man, already used in collage 09 of the present series (“Goodwater Goodland 01”). Here he is detached from Boxy Brown’s hair and appears below him instead. The sewer top he holds down with one hand now marks the exact spot of a Tungaske labyrinth also referred to in “Wrong Way Whales”, and likewise circular in form. Then opposite homeless man in the the upper left corner is flying Superman from “Superman III” holding Richard Prior in his arms. And then the last collaged-in element to the aerial photo of Tungaske in “Neither Atlantic Nor Pacific” is a central slice of the book cover for “The Ordained”, a mystery novel by Terence Faherty. It appears nearer homeless man in the lower right corner, and in the exact spot of the house featured in “Hucka Homebee”, collage 11 of the Boos series.
The image of the Great Black Swamp is also featured in another Stonethrow collage called “Beware (The) Healers” that we’ve already examined in reference to collage 12. This swamp use to exist just beyond the western edge of Lake Erie. In connection with the present collage’s title, this is then neither Atlantic nor Pacific but more toward the center of America, in the Great Lakes region.
A description of “The Ordained” from Terence Faherty’s site:
The residents of the isolated town of Rapture, founded by an Adventist sect, the Ordained of God, are disappearing one by one. The Ordained believed that the world would end in 1844 and that they would be taken bodily into heaven. Now, one hundred and fifty years after their rapture failed to occur, something very similar is happening to their descendants.
Another small town, another one that’s “losing” people. Only Owen Keane, the book’s protagonist and an ordained minister himself, can save the town by solving its central mystery. I think this ties into art being able to save Tungaske. The fellow “junk” artist who lives in the house of collage 11 becomes the savior archetype, and in synch with fellow deity Lisa “The Vegetarian” Simpson. The overlaid swamp symbolizes the morass, the abyss, a kind of mass grave like a cemetery but also a stand-in for hell, perhaps. Door to The Abyss, then. Richard Prior is black like the swamp, but also he is a “prior”, or one who is stuck in time. Rescue by Superman represents ascent to heaven, or perhaps rapture. The swamp is no longer a threat. All these pictorial elements tie together to present a scene of hope beyond despair, eternity beyond earthly bondage. The town can be saved. The world can be saved. Like the labyrinth, a satisfying mystery novel directs a plot line into and out of a core dilemma.
(to be continued)