White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. In other words, the signal's power spectral density has equal power in any band, at any center frequency, having a given bandwidth. White noise is considered analogous to white light which contains all frequencies.

Who am I?

Neo-hippie cinephile. Follower of the great Jim Morrison who once said "If the doors of perception are cleansed, everything would appear to man as it truly is, infinite."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Who Watches the Watchmen?

Mandrake the Magician - that was the name of the last comics I enjoyed. Also, read a few of the Tintins. However, these were around 18-20 years ago. Pop culture graduated me to adventure stories, and finally, "more mature" literature over time. Recently, through peer pressure, and aggressive movie marketing, I ended up reading Watchmen and discovered that there is a whole parallel universe out there for the adult comic book reader.

Written by Alan Moore, Watchmen is essentially a tale of morality at the end of the day. It questions our act of handing power to the watchdogs of society. Set in NYC in the simmering political period of the Cold War - 1985, with Richard Nixon leading the country, everyone is convinced that the world is pummeling towards World War III - Armageddon. The events are observed by a group of middle-aged ex-crime fighters from the background in their own individual homes and perspectives. And then, one by one, the "watchmen" start dropping dead like pins. The conservative ones among them, start extremely private investigations, and over time, uncover the monstrous truth.

There is the Comedian, whose name and character combo itself, is a not too funny joke. He is the all-knowing street smart, who is smart enough to know, but too lax to do anything about it. There is the unlikely Silk Spectre II, who reluctantly joined the line of work after her mother. She feels used by the system. The Night Owl is the technical guru. Along with Silk Spectre II, he represents the naive common man on the street. Rorshach is a conservative like the Comedian, but doesn't know as much, and his curiosity actually starts the investigation. Dr. Manhattan used to be a man, but again, got taken advantage of by the system, and was turned into a warhead and a bargaining chip in the Cold War. He is going through a midlife crisis, so to speak, and is fed up with the vagaries of the human nature. Finally, there is Ozymandias, my favorite character. Initially, much isn't explained about him, and he seems to be a flame in the past, misusing his fame to collect fortune in the present. Later in the book, his whys are explained. He is the Comedian's adversary, possibly because they are the same people with exactly opposite political alignments.

Brilliantly written, Time magazine calls it one of the top 100 novels of all time. There are a lot of passages in the book where the writer uses literal parallelism to get his point across, which can be a little confusing, but all ties in together at the end. There are also visits to the past, and various mediums other than comic strips - like newspaper articles, letters, journal entries and excerpts of autobiographies, used to convey the back story and thus the mental state of the protagonists. I believe the writer is telling us that it is the system we need to change, and that all human beings are not white and black characters, but essentially gray. The most important thing in the world is the human element, and thus, can be molded like clay, to profit. Some readers will find the end very preachy, but I didn't have a problem with it and actually loved it. It identifies the greatest problem today, and provides a very unlikely solution, again taking advantage of the human element.

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