If you’re not all caught up: here be aliens, creatures and spoilers.
Sure, X-Files rebooted with a conspiracy-mythos that links all the worst events in the world to all the biggest public and private organisations and governments…in order to take over America. Right.
Actually no. I’m with Scully here. It’s too much.
But then, I got to thinking. Why just America? The first return episode referenced Julian Assange and a Victorian mystery, so why not a global conspiracy? The kind of corporations that crave that much power do span continents. Corruption in governments means they involve themselves in other nations for all sorts of mayhem. And surely alien tech and DNA means anyone can be a target or victim? Yet, despite Sveta, it’s all about Murica.
How lacking in ambition.
But it always had to be. It’s the FBI, not the CIA. It’s missing persons and weird murders, not alien Bourne. Maybe, instead of reporting back to an age defying Deputy Director Skinner, the X Files should have become the X-Leaks, with our slightly daunted and dented duo holed up somewhere fighting the future.
Or, they can be who they always were.
What I preferred and still prefer, it seems, are stories like that of Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster. They play up our heroes foibles, but also don’t dial up the evil secret empire so much as conjure the suburban, or rural idyll, weird. These are stories where Mulder and Scully set aside the baggage of their psychological and medical scars, and revel in local mysteries they don’t yet, and may never, fully comprehend. They work best for me. Plus they are full of call backs I could spend days enumerating.
In these episodes, Mulder and Scully get to explore both the light and shade. They can be playful, amusing, snarky, competitive and present. Since they’re not dwelling on their personal tragedies, these are reflected in tangential ways, so the story can be more layered, and experimental. Enter Rhys Darby’s tragi-comedy Guy Mann.
Ostensibly, this episode is about rekindling the fire about all we don’t understand in the world, with Mann quoting Hamlet. But it’s not just about Mulder questioning tilting at windmills – this is for all of us. Mann gives us the wonder and Mulder returns to himself. Scully speaks on behalf of all us when she says this is how she likes her Mulder. This is how we like our X Files.
But Were Monster does so much more.
Darby’s Mann (or Everyman) tells us at least part of the story of Minor Literature.
In becoming human Mann is thrown into the experience of deterritorialization, which is the eradication of social, political, or cultural practices from their native places and populations. Separated from his community, out of his native habitat, our creature becomes something new. Then, in his new form, he experiences reterritorialization. He is catapulted through his new human innateness, into language and awareness, but also into a modern capitalist system, where he is a success in the reverse of Kafka’s creature in Metamorphoses. The socio-politico-economic system presents no barriers to his new Darwinian ability to BS, which I bet Kafka, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their interpretation of Kafka, don’t address. But success, like much of everything about being human, is difficult. Mann realises this despair and adopts Doggou. In struggling with his identity he turns to a ‘witch doctor’ for medication and a dose of the talking cure. Mann, alone, cannot come to terms with his transformation.
Deterritorialization is described by Deleuze as the “impossibility of not writing.” It is tied up with issues of finding a voice within a language that is both alien and familiar.
Mann doesn’t write but speak. As the only member of his species who has experienced what he has gone through he finds what he needs in saying things he only half understands. He is both alien and familiar in this way.
…language is more important here as it refer to this notion of revolutionary becoming that involves one or several people to create continuously a resistance against the standard…
Mann’s resistance to his new humanness becomes physical, when he becomes violent, and emotional when he rails at the alarm clock, but is ultimately best served by his becoming, which is actually, a returning, to what he was before. He might always have to resist the transformation into human. However I suspect, in communicating with Mulder, he has shed what held him back.
Of course this episode is Minor Literature in the sense that Guy Mann’s story is from a minority (of one) and Mann demonstrates through his new language abilities in English, the theory that a minority constructs within a major language. Mann certainly does that, with his pixelbitz, saying things he barely comprehends.
Yet, it is also minor in that Mann’s story is not the central mystery. In fact, his story will never be told to anyone beyond Mulder. It is a murder mystery. Scully caught the murderer, and that’s the only point for the FBI. And she’s right, it is a see one serial killer, seen them all, central narrative.
My point is these major stories of murders and global conspiracies have their place in the X Files, but we want the Minor Literature. We want to believe, as Mulder does, in the minor stories, fairy tales, myths, the rumours, and in the places on maps where it says, Here Be Jackalopes.