36: Explosions in a desert


(Warning: if you don’t want to know the terrible secret, don’t read this.)



iT’S AWFUL !..” wails Orne Batmagoo. “I’M GOiNG TO DiE.

     He and his guide are plunging through the air toward the surface of a desert, so his expectation is far from unreasonable. But the guide tells him it’s “iMPOSSiBLE !... THE TAR’Aï WORLD iS WiTHOUT DEATH 



They land rather explosively, throwing up a lot of sand, but they survive. It’s 1994, and this is one of the pages Giraud added to the first sequel to the Garage, ahead of its publication as L’Homme du Ciguri in 1995.

     While this landing in the desert had a rather more spectacular precedent in “Absoluten Calfeutrail” (Metal Hurlant #16), it may also be considered as the first in a series of such non-fatal landings. Repeated by the Major in 2001 (in a strip confined to Giraud’s notebooks until ten years later) it would also become a recurring motif in Inside Mœbius.

     Three observations:

     The first is that the deathless region of the Tar’aï is a region of magic; which is to say, of psychic plasticity below or behind the more rigid and ordered world of rationality. It might also be identified, in part, with what Jung called the collective unconscious, if that may be understood as the common inheritance to which each human being, individually, falls heir; but it’s also a region of unbridled powers, preposterous exaggerations, dangerous and disruptive impulses. As Batmagoo is later allowed to explain—in one of the uncollected chapters of the sequel’s abandoned continuation—it’s “WHERE FOSSiLiZED DESiRE EXiSTS iN iTS PUREST STATE, UNSTABiLiZED ViRTUAL SEX...

     The second thing is that this desert may be recognized, with hindsight, as the region occupied by Gruber in Le Major. It may be objected that Gruber spends his time in an oracular cabin that, perhaps, is not such a long walk from Armjourth, which is on the second level. The level of the Tar’aï, on the contrary, is the lower level, the third. Yet Gruber, in Le Major, has dealings with Tar’aï magic. He is also under the illusion that the desert he occupies is his desert, though this turns out not to be the case. It is, strictly speaking, neither on the second or third level; rather, it’s the desert belonging to Mœbius—Desert “B”. Is Batmagoo’s crash landing in 1994 the occasion on which this supplementary desert begins to emerge from behind the surface of Giraud’s various fictions?

     A third observation: when Batmagoo finds himself alive, after landing with an explosive crash in the desert, his guide tells him that “iT’S ODD AT FiRST, BUT ONE QUiCKLY GETS USED TO NOT DYiNG BECAUSE OF ONE THiNG OR ANOTHER.” There is a realm (with which we’re familiar) where this is how things are, and Batmagoo is a denizen of that realm. Like Wile E. Coyote, like Tom and Jerry, like Bugs Bunny, he’s a cartoon character in a world of cartoon characters. Like Mickey Mouse, he lives such life as he has within a “petit mickey”—a cartoon strip. This is the terrible thing the President glimpsed in episode 27 of the Garage, hidden in the picture of the Major.

     For us it’s not such a terrible thing. After all, we have our own problems. But one of those problems isn’t how to find our way out of the Garage. There are many exits. This has been one of them.