This post is, in a way, about the last issue of Return Of Bruce Wayne. However, my fantastic filing system (which involves putting comics in random piles around the living room until my wife makes me tidy them up, when I put them into one big pile) has somehow failed me, and I can’t actually find the comic in question.
However, I’m running a fever, I’m mildly hallucinatory, and the comic I remember reading was probably better than the one Grant Morrison wrote and Lee Garbett drew anyway. Fuck the text! Where my interpretation disagrees, the text is wrong!
So, let’s talk about physics. There’s a slight plot hole in the story, one which can be fixed if we look at something that probably inspired Grant Morrison anyway. I make no claim that my interpretation is the one Morrison intended – but it *should* be.
WHAT ARE THE ARCHIVISTS DOING?!
Oh, I know what they say they’re doing, all right. They say they’re dumping all the information of the universe into a black hole, for safe keeping. There are two problems with this.
The first problem is on the meta-level. Throughout Morrison’s DC Mega-story, which he’s been telling for six years now, at least (if you only count this installment, and not his pre-Marvel works) black holes have been symbols of oppression, depression, and crushing futility. Now, all of a sudden, this one represents hope? That works, in the same way that this story is an ‘everything gets turned upside down’ one, but WHY?
The second problem is only for those who read books on physics for fun, and that is – BLACK HOLES DON’T WORK LIKE THAT. You can’t throw information into a black hole and have it be lost from the outside universe. Stephen Hawking once thought you could, but in 2005 he finally got around to accepting what everyone else had been saying for years, that they don’t work that way. To quote from this discussion between Smolin and Susskind:
Anyone who has read the recent New York Times article by Dennis Overbye knows that the ultimate fate of information falling into a black hole was the subject of an long debate involving Stephen Hawking, myself, the famous Dutch physicist Gerard ‘t Hooft and many other well known physicists. Hawking believed that information does disappear behind the horizon, perhaps into a baby universe. This would be consistent with Smolin’s idea that offspring universes, inside the black hole, remember at least some of the details of the mother universe. My own view and ‘t Hooft’s was that nothing can be lost from the outside world—not a single bit. Curiously the cosmological debate about Cosmological Natural Selection revolves around the same issues that came to the attention of the press a week or two ago. The occasion for the press coverage was Hawking’s recantation. He has reversed his position.
Over the last decade, since Smolin put forward his clever idea, the black hole controversy has largely been resolved. The consensus is that black holes do not lose any information…[citations snipped]
The implication of these papers is that no information about the parent can survive the infinitely violent singularity at the center of a black hole. If such a thing as a baby universe makes any sense at all, the baby will have no special resemblance to the mother. Given that, the idea of an evolutionary history that led, by natural selection, to our universe, makes no sense.
This wouldn’t matter so much were this not all once again down to the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, and Morrison’s old frienemy Entropy. We can’t really do away with this without punching a huge hole in Morrison’s themes.
(This also puts a bit of a dent in the cosmology of the Faction Paradox series… but I’ll get to that…)
So what’s actually going on? Let’s find out what *reeeeely* happened…
The clue is in the name of the Omega Sanction, which both Bruce Wayne and Mister Miracle suffered. What is Darkseid’s plan with this? What does it have to do with black holes? Why does it involve a trip to the end of the universe?
The answer comes from a physicist called Frank Tipler. Now, Prof. Tipler is now known for some… odd… views. ( He argues that you can tell Barack Obama is evil because the luminiferous aether exists and the film Starship Troopers has a gory bit, for example). I’ve called him the Dave Sim of astrophysics before now, and with good reason. But, much like Sim, Tipler was a genuinely good worker in his field, doing his postdoc work with John Wheeler and Abraham Taub, not exactly lightweights.
Tipler, though, came up with one idea, his big idea, *RIGHT* at the point where he went off the rails. He thinks he’s proved, scientifically, that God exists and we’re all going to heaven.
In his book, The Physics Of Immortality, he shows that given the right conditions, it is possible for life to survive to the very end of the universe. In doing this, it will collapse the entire universe into a single point, which will be able to run an infinite amount of computation in a finite amount of time. This would allow it to emulate, in perfect detail, every intelligent life-form that has ever existed, and place those lifeforms into simulated environments that they would find perfectly enjoyable, where they could live for an infinite length of time. Tipler points out that this single-point universe computer would be omnipresent (because only one point would exist), omnipotent (because everything that existed would be in its programming) and omniscient (because it would contain all the information in the universe and be able to perform an infinite number of calculations).
He goes on to make a number of other claims, including that any universe where this *didn’t* happen would not exist, and his claims get steadily more outlandish (and go steadily towards attempting to justify a particularly American kind of right-wing fundamentalist Christianity) as time goes on. However, strange as it may seem, the basic Omega Point idea holds up. It’s a proper scientific theory – it makes predictions which can be falsified, and it’s based on taking current science at its word – and while it may well be wrong (I think it is), it’s not *OBVIOUSLY* wrong, in the way that arguments from design or whatever (or Tipler’s later work) are. A number of fairly respectable people like David Deutsch or Marcus Chown think there’s something to it.
Tipler calls this single-point-computer-universe-god-thing… The Omega Point.
It comes at the end of the universe – in fact at the end of the multiverse (Tipler argues that every one of what Morrison would refer to as hypertimelines converges there).
It has all of the information in the uni/multiverse entered within it
It’s the last hope for sentient life to live forever.
It’s the very last spacetime event in the uni/multiverse
It would be the point at which the entire uni/multiverse becomes sentient (and those who know Morrison’s work know how much that resonates with it).
And it looks like… the singularity of a black hole, stripped of its event horizon.
And that brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Wayne Manor and environs. If Vanishing Point is the Omega Point at the last few nanoseconds before it *becomes* the Omega Point, what does Darkseid want with it?
Well, for a start, we know that Darkseid only started his latest planning at almost the precise time the multiverse came back into existence – and the Omega Point requires the multiverse interpretation of quantum physics to be true (this would, of course, mean I was wrong two years ago when I said that the DCU runs on the implicate order interpretation, but I’ve never been totally married to that anyway). We also know that in Final Crisis Darkseid managed to take over a big chunk of the world by use of an anti-life computer virus.
And what does Darkseid want, more than anything? Well, as I put it a couple of years back:
To quote from Rock Of Ages – “I will remake the entire universe in the image of my soul, Desaad… and when at last I turn to look upon the eternal desolation I have wrought… I will see Darkseid, as in a mirror… and know what fear is.”
Darkseid has looked at the Second Law of Thermodynamics and thought “fuck that”. Or, more likely, “Bother not Darkseid with your ‘entropy’ and your ‘universal laws’ Obeisance to laws, made by man or nature, is the morality of the slave. The morality of Darkseid is conquest. Darkseid is all.”
Because Darkseid has taken that childish realisation and decided it doesn’t apply to him. He’s going to be everything. Because this, ultimately, is what an attempt to deny entropy means. It is entropy that prevents any tyranny from being absolute – Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety (one of the fundamental scientific discoveries of the twentieth century, but never as regarded as many others) states that control requires as many options open to the controller as there are degrees of freedom in the thing being controlled, so complete control is impossible. This is because entropy always increases – freedom and death are, ultimately the same thing. You can’t have one without the other.
So Darkseid takes this to its logical conclusion. Remaking the entire universe into himself – getting control over every last quark and meson in it – is the only way he can beat entropy, so that’s what he sets out to do. In this way he’s far more direct than the cheap photocopy Thanos – Thanos *sublimates* his desire – he wants to have sex with Death. Darkseid just wants to destroy death, along with the universe itself, and exist alone, changeless and eternal.
Darkseid wants not just to control the entire universe, but to be the entire universe. And he happens to have in his possession a computer virus that appears to transmit itself instantly, to be architecture-independent (working equally well on human brains and all types of computer invented) and that turns things into avatars of himself.
And Vanishing Point – The Omega Point – is a point where all of creation – the entire whang-dang-doo multeyeverse – exists at a single point, as a computer. If Darkseid can somehow get his virus into that computer, if he can rewrite its operating system with his own mind, then he can become the multiverse.
(I must reread JLA: Classified 1-3 with this in mind, because they’re about the infection of a universe – our universe – with evil from the outside by, if I remember rightly, a virus of some description.)
The Omega Sanction is Darkseid’s way of becoming God, and becoming the culmination and completion of all universal history. And Batman saves the day, by being Batman.
Next: It’s All In Plato…