365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

T-shirt #79 - The Planet of the Apes: Evolution

 T-shirt #79 - The Planet of the Apes: Evolution

Today's topics include pride, time loops and paradox, and how T-shirts come to be featured in this blog. Today's blog also features one of the best movie franchises of all time: The Planet of the Apes films.

Film first. Other nonesuch second and third.

The original Planet of the Apes movies introduced me to the ideas of the time loop, paradox, and the unsolvable question of the chicken and the egg.

Between 1968-1973, 20th Century Fox released five movies that comprised a cyclical story about an apocalyptic future ruled by apes and how that future came to exist. Fox followed with two TV shows: a live action show (1974) and an animated show (1975, though the animated series is not considered part of the films' storyline) to further develop the story and its associated characters. Since then, there have been two remake/reboot movies and plans for a third due out in 2014.

The original Planet of the Apes movie came out when I was just six years old. It's possible that my parents took me to see the film as I was a big fan of other science fiction or related genres TV shows and movies, such as The Time Tunnel, The Land of the Giants, Star Trek, Batman, and Lost in Space among others. My first viewing of The Planet of the Apes film is lost in time. I asked my father, and he distinctly remembers seeing it in the theatre.
As Planet of the Apes came out in February of 1968, we were still living in Traverse City at the time, though he thinks he saw it in Kalamazoo, which means I might have seen it during several re-release periods. I have seen the film many times since then, so tracing back to my original viewing is difficult.

The Village playset.
My first clear memory of the Apes films was seeing Beneath the Planet of the Apes, which I may or may not have seen before I saw the original Planet of the Apes movie. I am reasonably certain I saw this in the theatre upon its release. I remember being very disturbed by the nuclear bomb worshipping cultists in the underground remains of the old New York City subway station with their deformed faces and telepathic powers. This film is truly creepy.

A great deal of my playtime as a young boy involved The Planet of the Apes franchise. As seen here, I had many of the figures and playsets. I wrote stories about The Planet of the Apes. I wrote synopses of all the episodes of the 1974 TV show. I collected and read the comic books published by Marvel Comics about the apes and all the movie novelizations. I devised my own stories of time loops and paradoxes during years of play time during which I was as obsessed with the Planet of the Apes as I was with other great and inspirational TV shows and films, such as Dark Shadows, which is one of the few I did not mention in my list two paragraphs previously.

The idea of paradox fascinated me. In the five-film  Apes story, during the first iteration, two of the key players, Zira and Cornelius, are born in a future version of the Earth circa the 3900s. After Taylor (Heston) and his astronaut crew are flung into Zira and Cornelius' future (Planet of the Apes), Taylor and an astronaut from a second ship, Brent (Franciscus), play a role in the destruction of the Earth (Beneath the Planet of the Apes). But before, the planet is destroyed, Zira and Cornelius launch Taylor's space ship and journey through a time warp back to 1973. In what was the near future to this film's present (Escape from the Planet of the Apes was released in 1971), Zira gives birth to a child (monkey) that grows up to be Caesar the leader of the ape revolt that culminates in the use of nuclear weapons and Earth's partial destruction (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes). The fifth film (Battle for the Planet of the Apes) takes place at least twelve years later in a world post-nuclear holocaust and chronicles struggles between humans and apes, raising the question as to whether apes and humans can co-exist in peace or in a state of constant war.

The stories create a time loop. In the first iteration, in which Zira and Cornelius are born in the earth of the 3900s, Caesar is a historical figure who started the ape revolution against the humans, though by this time the original human society is much forgotten by the majority of apes, who believe that they have always been the dominant species on the planet. And yet, Caesar is Zira and Cornelius's son, who does not exist until they go back in time, and Zira gives birth to him. And yet, he cannot exist until Zira and Cornelius are born 2000 years in his future. I use the term "first iteration" because from our perspective in learning the story, it begins for us with Planet of the Apes and a version of Zira and Cornelius before they go back in time and before Zira gives birth to Caesar. And yet, Caesar has already been born. Hence the "paradox," and my introduction to the chicken-egg conundrum. Though I should not say that this was my first introduction to such a puzzle, since many of the SF related shows I listed dealt with similar time paradoxes, especially the TV show The Time Tunnel.

And yet, the time paradox from The Planet of the Apes is the one I remember best as having the greatest impact on my own sensibilities as a budding writer. As I mentioned, I wrote many Planet of the Apes themed stories and studied the entire set of tales closely with detailed synopses that I kept in a notebook. Shortly thereafter, I started my first major SF story epic, which I wrote in a series of notebooks from around 1974-1977. I called this story "Zeroes," and it dealt with a time cycle paradox and the idea of infinity. In my estimation, I could not conceive of something that continued without end that was not a circle. At some point,  one must come back to the starting point. I also grappled with the idea of multiple universes, multiple realities, and the atomic and subatomic foundations of our universe, which provide structure to the multiple universe idea: one universe after another universe consisting of a base level, atomic level, subatomic level, which is a new base level that has its own atomic and subatomic levels, and so on. I know these ideas did not originate with me, but Planet of the Apes was one of the principle and germinating sources for my own exploration of the ideas of paradox, cycle, and infinity. I mixed "Zeroes" with some other fictional elements. My play world of small woods, fields, fences, ponds, hills, and trees formed part of the story, and, also, I was inspired by the aliens of Jim Starlin in his 1970s Marvel Comics work. I invented a little, pointy-eared alien whom I called "Grok," not knowing that the word had entered my consciousness because of the Heinlein book Stranger in a Strange Land, which I had not read at that time.

DEAR READERS, Were you drawn to this entry because you also have a strong connection to The Planet of the Apes saga? Please share in the comments box at the bottom of this blog entry. I am sure my experiences share commonality with yours.

Yes, I also own the Treehouse. Pictures of toys courtesy of http://www.toysyouhad.com/Apes.htm

T-SHIRTS: As I have written about from this blog's inception, the original idea for this blog came from the simple question: do I have enough T-shirts that I could wear one every day of the year and never repeat? I have written already about how I originally rejected featuring this preoccupation as a blog from the first dawning of the notion because I might be branded as narcissistic. I am sensitive to name-calling. Childhood phobia. But also I rejected the idea because I did not really want to wear some of my T-shirts just once in the year. 

I like some T-shirts enough to wear them multiple times a year, and, as I have already explored, some become current favorites (such as T-shirt #19), others remind me of ways I have to be or things I have to feel (such as T-shirt #5), whereas others are very timely and are worn once or twice and sometimes for the first time in years (such as T-shirt #33). But the original idea confined my work here to the T-shirts currently in my possession or ones I would buy in a typical year, instead of a year  in which I am featuring daily shirts  in a blog. However, as I began writing this blog, I began to think about the things in my life that I love and realized that I did not own a single T-shirt to be able to display this love to the world as a walking billboard, a walking advertisement for the thing.

After starting the blog, I found myself engaged in serious inventory of the list of "the things that I love." As I wrote previously in T-shirt #45 and T-shirt #50, I realized that I had no Star Wars shirts when I started this blog. So, I bought two of them. Likewise, I realized I had no shirts for The Planet of the Apes, and so I bought the T-shirt featured here, which uses the same clever evolution motif as the Darth Vader shirt for T-shirt #45. After buying several new T-shirts in a flurry of spending inspired by writing the blog and especially by finding out that people READ the blog, I slammed the door and exercised some caution. Purchasing some T-shirts is just a normal thing for me. I like them. I buy them. This is how I ended up with so many that I may have 365 or more. But I could see myself going hog wild on T-shirts for things I loved that I did not own. I had to keep it in check or all of my disposable income (and the not so disposable income meant for paying bills and buying groceries to feed my family) would bleed out of every budgetary orifice in T-shirt purchasing. MAKE IT STOP.

Or, a quote that may have more resonance with this entry though less direct application: "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

I refuse to pledge a T-shirt buying boycott between now and March of 2014 (the 365 day mark), but I am going to keep it limited (though some may be received as gifts).

The reveal at the end of the Planet of the Apes was a great mind bender.

PRIDE: The last subject for today's blog entry deals with pride, which is a core motivation for creating this blog in the first place and a theme that I plan to return to many times. The reason for owning these T-shirts is pride. Each shirt declares a cool factor: "I am a Planet of the Apes fan, and I am proud!"; "Proud to wear a replica of the Star Trek Science Officer uniform!"; "I know what this cool logo represents, and you may not, so I feel proud and cool"; "I saw this band on this tour in this year, and the T-shirt is aged and threadbare proving that I have been cool enough to like the band for a long time." And more. You get the idea.

The surface idea of displaying pride on a T-shirt for loving a sports team or a comic book only scratches the surface of the real motivations a person would have to choose to be a walking billboard advertisement for some product produced by our culture. In the weeks to come, I will dial this idea back to its roots. Why these choices? Why this pride? ("Why this mountain? Why this sky?" - Laurie Anderson)

- chris tower - 1306.08 - 14:39