C-Realming with Dermot O

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In fine C-Realm style, Dermot O’Connor and I wiled away over four hours discussing the overlooked primacy of class in politics, the dark side of “meritocracy”, American and British elections, how identity politics is a much shallower layer of the shit lasagna than class, and finally the progress on his upcoming comic novel on the history of inquiry and scientific though.

At some point, we ordered more coffee.

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Dermot was rocking an amazingly convincing Peter Capaldi/David Tennant Doctor Who look, and it was instantly great to see him again. Dermot and I met when I gave him a ride to KMO’s Portland leg of the 2013 C-Realm Manifesting in Meatspace Tour, which I covered here.

We’ve both been on the show more than once, but have only exchanged a few words about our mutual interest in comics and illustration in the intervening years.

It was really refreshing to have conversation with someone as well-researched as Dermot, and he also brings a working-class viewpoint that helps fill in gaps in my middle-class experience. These kinds of talks make me realize how seldom I participate directly in the kind of deep conversations I want. Going deep in that way is, of course, a major reason I listen to the C-Realm in the first place, but having another guest around to talk to is even better!

The fun really went off the rails when Dermot asked if I’d like to see his progress on Continuum, his truly staggering comic book history of scientific thought and inquiry. These were his notecards for one small section of the project!

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Even Dermot finds this overwhelming!

Talking to Dermot is a lot like I imagine talking to John Michael Greer must be — a constant state of amazement at the research, thoroughness, focus, and sense of humor. Not only are his illustrations amazing, fun, and clear, they’re also meticulously researched, frequently debunking conventional wisdom about scientific history. The idea that a single person could embark on and finish such an epic projects completely blows the mind of a dilettante like me, but, like KMO’s work on the C-Realm, inspires me to step up and do better myself.

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In a wild synchronicity presented itself when I mentioned how much I liked the arty Arabic astronomy diagram on the wall behind Dermot. It looked vaguely familiar, but I figured it was just a pop-art appropriation with fake Arabic designed to look cool on a coffee house wall.

“Oh no!” said Dermot. “That’s Al-Biruni! I can show you the original!” He then proceeds to regale me with relevant history while bringing up THE SAME FUCKING DIAGRAM ON HIS COMPUTER that he’d used for researching his project.

This moment may have been my favorite in an afternoon of pleasures. 🙂

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My cursory comparison revealed a near *exact* match in the characters that could only have come with knowledge of the language or a slavish devotion to precise copying.

Although I asked Dermot for suggestions about where to hold the meetup, he gave me several choices, and I was the one who picked Caffe Vita. Amazing.

We were hoping maybe another person or two, including the supposedly local Douglas Lain of Zero Books, might show, but while several other regulars said hi to Dermot in passing, I pretty much had him all to myself for over four hours.

And I’m ok with that.

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