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The Nature of Reality and Doom Patrol


Ethan is a scriptwriter, novelist, and essayist who has experienced phenomenal metaphysical occurrences and seeks to understand the truth.


One late night, I was editing my sci-fi manuscript and watching some drama show, and out of nowhere, I thought of a black dot and I wanted to see it. There was no real reason behind it, I pulled it out of thin air and I asked to see it in the show I was watching. I even wrote it down on the notes app. I had been experiencing some instances where the things I thought and read were manifesting, so I figured I’d try to focus it more specifically. I expected to see something about a black dot in the show, but it never came. I was only slightly disappointed and I quickly moved on.

That week, I was reading the comic book Doom Patrol, a series written by Grant Morrison, metaphysical writer extraordinaire, and it was nothing short of amazing. The storylines are trippy as the band of superpowered misfits transcends worlds in their many existential adventures. All the while, it makes poignant philosophical inquiries about the nature of reality. Somehow, the nonlinear story never felt haphazard. There was a natural chaos to it, where it wasn’t trying to subscribe to making sense, it wanted to reveal truths in its purest form.

The Blank Space

In this particular issue, it showed the origins of Mr. Nobody, the main antagonist of the series. Before he becomes the villain, he’s an ordinary man named Eric Morden. He gets experimented on in Paraguay and put in a chamber, surrounding him completely in white and creating the illusion of endless space. He was injected with a powerful epidural and he started to lose his mind. Within this space, time unraveled and it felt like billions of centuries had passed. It brought him to enlightenment and then he saw it: the BLACK DOT.

Eric begins to theorize about it; in this infinite blank space, the black dot could represent anything. It could be close and small and harmless, or it could be a whole universe. It could be a dark energy that’s coming to kill him, or it could be a harmless speck. He’s driven insane by his thoughts and rebukes the idea of reality as we know it. After the experiment is over, he becomes Mr. Nobody, a surreal shadow with the ability to warp reality.

The Meaning Reveals Itself

This information had taken me off guard; that the black dot had truly manifested complete with its own meaning. I wanted to dig deeper in case there were any other connections I could make and I studied the cover. It was issue #26 and it made my think of Chapter 26 in my manuscript titled “Fade To White” which in my story, also happens to be about the main character waking up in a white room.

As the series goes on, Mr. Nobody forms the Brotherhood of Dada, a team that uses and promotes dadaism in their villainy. Dadaism was a concept that emerged in the early twentieth-century art world that praised irrationality over the elitism of the modern age. It was an artistic revolt against art, designed to be misunderstood and completely random. This included gibberish poems and subverting classical works.

Some of the exploits of the villainous Brotherhood of Dada included absorbing the city of Paris into a psychoactive painting and using lysergic energy to run a presidential campaign. Their main goal was to turn the world upside down and they came close to succeeding many times, proving that it’s irrationality that rules the world.

Black Hole Information Paradox

What’s most fascinating about Grant’s works is that every seemingly mind-boggling concept he creates is based on a truth. The painting is recursive and swallows the real Paris within it. This would appear to violate the conservation of information principle based on the fundamental physics alone. One could argue that the amount of information that the entire city of Paris has could not be consumed by your average painting just based on mass even when it’s densified. Then I started to consider black holes and the holographic principle. In this principle, the event horizon of a black hole is a 2D representation of a 3D object at its center. This would solve the problem of information loss if the painting is analogous to a black hole. Paris’s information would be at the central mass of the black hole painting and on the shimmering hologram, i.e. the surface of the painting.

While all this is unlikely to happen, it doesn’t change the fact that technically, this can happen. There’s reason to believe that we’re existing in a 2D space right now: the holographic universe. Physicist Leonard Susskind stated that a volume of space can be thought of as encoded on a boundary and therefore needs one less dimension than it appears to need. In this theory, it’s the universe can be interpreted as a 2D information structure that’s "painted" on the cosmological horizon. Because of the description at low energies, we observe it as three dimensions.

Chaos Out of Order

Grant Morrison used a form of dadaism himself, randomly associating words and putting them in his stories, like the poet Tristan Tzara, cutting up words and putting them in a bag to spill them out and create his poems. While many like to point out his use of recreational drugs has been the source of his inspiration (and I’m not saying that it wasn’t) he also tapped into intuition by using dada, meditation, and other forms of enlightenment. It’s all about chance and the nonsense replicating the randomness of life, and if we dig deeper into that. By using this method, art becomes more “lifelike” than that of traditional art. Life isn’t orderly, it’s chaos and we put order to it, and that’s how Doom Patrol communicates with the reader.

Much like Eric Morden, I pulled out the black dot without having any prior context of its meaning. The image came into my mind and I wanted to see it. The next day, it appeared in a comic book written in the 1980s with a deeply meaningful concept behind it. After all, our universe might be more like the pages of a comic book than we think.