Adrian Veidt’s Gordian Knot

Continuing in my reading of my well-thumbed copy of the graphic novel (trade paperback collection of the 12 issue comic book miniseries) of Watchmen.

There exists in the Watchmen universe a company of locksmiths called the Gordian Knot Lock Co. which may or may not be owned by Adrian Veidt, Ozymandias. Veidt owns pretty much all the companies depicted in the book so it is a safe assumption yet given Veidt’s fascination for Alexander the Great its name would seem like an ironic joke.

The basic plot of Watchmen is Adrian Veidt’s solution to his Gordian Knot, the intractable problem of the world’s slide into nuclear warfare. The horrifying result of the world’s smartest man thinking laterally, conceiving of an unconventional solution and making the bold stroke to prevent war.

In contrast to Alexander, whose cutting of the knot was widely proclaimed so as to give legitimacy to his conquest and reign, Veidt’s actions must remain hidden and unknown by the world at large.

Fearful Symmetry

The trailer for Watchmen inspired me to reread my well-thumbed copy of the graphic novel or to be more precise to assuage the fanboys in the audience the trade paperback collection of the 12 issue comic book miniseries.

I have read it many times though it has been years since I last did, but it still manages to surprise me and I spot details that I hadn’t before. One example is the sheer amount of symmetry in Chapter 5 Fearful Symmetry. There are obvious examples of symmetry such as all the panels whose content is pretty symmetrical (windows or faces centered in the panel) or the panels which feature reflections. But Fearful Symmetry also contains far more subtle examples such as numbers and letters used for background elements deliberately chosen to be symmetrical or panels which are similar to earlier panels the protagonist of The Black Freighter comic gnawing on a gull and Dan in the Gunga Diner eating a chicken leg.

This latter example of symmetry then led me to notice a symmetrical element that had escaped me all these years. The entire chapter Fearful Symmetry is symmetrical (or as near as it can be) page 15 mirrors 14, 16 mirrors 13, 17 mirrors 12 and so on.

Also of course the entire book of Watchmen outside of chapter 5 features symmetry both in the visual elements and metaphorically.