Dave Answers 6 Questons: Febuary / March 2005
Dave has taken to answering questions for the Cerebus Yahoo!Group. Here are the questions and Dave's answers for Febuary 2005. If you prefer, here is MS Word document with all of the answers and questions. Once again, thanks to Lenny for getting the questions organized, sent to Dave and posted!
Febuary / March 2005 - WOMEN questions & answers
Lenny: There was a discussion on the Board that you may have noticed concerning whether Dave and you would like to set aside some time during that weekend to discuss "Cerebus Policy" and the preservation of the "Cerebus Legacy" as Dave recently presented to the Group. It would be nice to take advantage of the rare time in which we have a significant amount of the core Group together in the same place as you and Dave.
Dave: Personally, I don’t think discussing “Cerebus Policy” and “Cerebus Legacy” in person is a good idea. My own theory is that conversation is to communication what chewing gum is to eating. It becomes particularly disadvantageous when you are in the “minority of one” situation that I’m always in. All conversation in that context tends to skew in the direction of ‘translating Dave’ into more traditional perceptions. One of the big advantages that I see on the Internet is that there is always a paper trail of what has been said. While that won’t eliminate the likelihood of my being misunderstood, it certainly minimizes it which is important to me in the context of the Cerebus Policy and Cerebus Legacy. I do think the yahoos getting together in Columbus every year is a good idea because of the level of importance that most people—that is, everyone besides me—place on personal relationships which, from what I’ve seen, most people only get from face-to-face contact. It also seems to indicate a core level of being the group Most Interested in Cerebus’ future. The fact that you’re using up some of your own (presumably rare) leisure time on getting to Columbus once a year certainly indicates (to me anyway) that out of the whatever-size audience there is for the book, this sets you apart from the crowd and will certainly recommend you as the core decision-makers up ahead. How many times did you go to Columbus? is apt to become a key question some decades down the road. I am hesitant about the effect that might have on people who didn’t make it to the show but who have been genuinely involved in following the process up to now, so my reaction at the show to any discussion of Cerebus Policy and Cerebus Legacy is going to be, “I appreciate the interest, but I think it will be better to post it to the whole Newsgroup and discuss it there.” No offence intended.
Lenny: I think there was acknowledgement that Dave usually goes out with the people exhibiting at the SPACE show on Saturday night - so if he's booked for that time period, it seems like the best alternative time slot would be Saturday morning before the show - perhaps over brunch. Alternatively, we can consider Saturday right after the show before dinner (although perhaps you guys would rather rest up..I recall a decent drinking session ensued last year at that time and a repeat of that sounds just fine to me!). Friday night is a possibility, but some people might be arriving late/on Saturday (but I think most will be in Friday night). Sunday morning is another possibility - but some people need to catch flights, and I'd hate to put it off to the last minute - perhaps better to keep that time as a reserve if the primary time doesn't work out for whatever reason.
Anyway, I'm sure the Group will work around whatever Dave and you think is best - so let us know your thoughts on the matter.
Dave: Actually, as it stands now, traditionally Ger and I go for dinner with the Day Prize Recipient the night before the show. Previous to last year—when the show was held out at the old Fairgrounds—that usually involved finding a nice restaurant somewhere and having dinner there and then going to the Space Blast party at the Laughing Ogre comic-book store which is exhibitors-only and usually goes to around eleven pm after which there isn’t much motivation to find something else to do with an early morning show to be up and awake for. I do think that I’m way too old for the mass pizza and beer party environment so I think this year, we’ll have the Day Prize dinner at the hotel and then just socialize with whoever is in the restaurant/bar area and leave it up to the Day Prize recipient if he wants to head downtown to the store or not. This time of year, the first prayer is around 5:15 am, so 10 pm or so is my usual cut-off for staying up the night before. Assuming Columbus still allows smoking in their bars, that’s a very different situation for Ger—beer and smoking and not having to get up to go outside for the latter. Bonus! Because I’m up around 5:30 I usually spend an hour or two (after I’ve had breakfast) wandering around chatting with the various exhibitors while they’re setting up since it’s the only real chance that I have to “see the show” as it’s being built. If you want to say hello or get some stuff signed or have a one-on-one chat, that would be your best bet. I am there to “meet and greet” the early bird exhibitors, but I’m also trying to stay out of their way while they’re getting their tables ready. Through the hours of the show, I tend to stick to my prayer times and to making sure everyone gets an autograph and a head sketch who came to get one as well as a few minutes of “face time” as those of you who have been at the signings know.
It was much appreciated last year that everyone was agreeable to memorizing whoever they were in line behind and attending the Day Prize ceremony en masse to flesh out the crowd and clap and whistle and whatever else. As I’ve said pretty much every year, for some of these guys, this might be the high water mark of their self-publishing career. Very few stick with it and there’s no way of telling ahead of time who is going to fall by the wayside and who is going to keep going. I’d really appreciate it if you guys could make this an annual must-participate event for that reason.
And I always appreciate it if you can spend some money on the exhibitors’ wares and give them some feedback after the show. Remember that that’s how Cerebus started and, especially at the beginning, someone willing to spend ten dollars on back issues or a sketch means the difference between losing money and breaking even on a show like SPACE and getting a letter or an e-mail commenting on your work after the show can be the difference between “what’s the use?” and “hey, I’m going to make this book happen!”
The night after the show, all of the exhibitors are entitled to a meal in the restaurant on Ger’s and my tab. It’s not really a dinner. I try to get around to as many of the tables and talk to as many of the guys as I can, but it’s very informal. I end up sitting with whoever I end up sitting with while I have something to eat but I’m not really relaxed until the end of the last prayer time (which should be around 8:15). Last year I ended up staying in the restaurant area because it’s bad manners to take up space in a bar if you aren’t drinking. It’s not a hard and fast rule but a Gerhard belongs in the bar area a lot more than a Dave does. By all means come up and say hello. Same deal—I’m usually running out of gas by 10 or 11 because I have a 5:30 prayer time the next day.
Sunday I just stay in my room and observe the Sabbath. The first couple of years, I flew home but it was too weird being out in public on the Sabbath, so now I stay over an extra day and order room service. Ger is flying home on the Sunday and might be up for a breakfast, but that’s up to him.
Lenny: That's all for now...loved the sailing boats on the cover to Following Cerebus 3!....here are the Q's....
Q1. Cerebus dreams and speaks with the Regency Elf who states that the "real" Regency elf has dark hair, pointy ears, and can't leave the Regency Hotel. Is it safe to assume, therefore, that our Elf is a "fake" Elf, and the duplicate Elf of Flight was a fake "fake" Elf?
DAVE: It would depend, I guess on what you think of elves in general. My own supposition, to quote Neil Gaiman, is “there’s something there.” Just as the Church in the upper city is ancient, so is the Regency Hotel at the upper city’s opposite end. What was there before and to what extent does whatever-is still inhabit the grounds and the building? At the same time it is interesting that, while elves—little people—are a universal construct, I can’t remember hearing of elves haunting a building in the way that ghosts are said to do. The omission seems significant to me—a universal construct and no record of any of them ever appearing indoors. If they really are just quirks in people’s minds, presumably they would be seen everywhere that people and their minds are found. Not only are they never seen indoors, but when was the last time you heard of an “elf sighting”? I tried to convey the impression that the Regency Elf was more on the order of something like the Loch Ness Monster—a specif beastie in a specific locale that is, if not widely accepted, at least more widely accepted than generally mythologized creatures. I would suspect that more people believe in the Loch Ness Monster than believe in the existence—generally—of mythological creatures.
Of course it also needs to be born in mind that this was a dream and that dreams in a conventional sense usually don’t mean much of anything. They’re just sensible enough to be interesting but not sensible enough to be the basis of decision-making.
Q1 Con't: Additionally, the Elf says that she was created as a result of Cerebus and Po's FIRST Mind Game, even though it was Cerebus' second - can this contradiction be reconciled by seeing it as the first, from the Elf’s own perspective?
DAVE: Well, this becomes a core problem when you move into the realm of fantastic constructs. You’re trying to apply conventional forms of reason to what an elf is telling you. But, what the heck, I’m game. Who is to say that the fake elf wasn’t created as a result of the first Mind Game which took place a period of time before Cerebus arrived at the Regency? Either she was extruded from Cerebus and inhabited him and only needed a context in which to manifest—which she found in the Ambassador Suite—or she manifested up ahead in Cerebus’ life and was basically just waiting for him to “catch up” to the point in his life where—and when—she has incarnated/will incarnate.
Q1 Con't: Was the real Regency Elf somehow involved in this procreation?
DAVE: Well, that’s kind of funny in retrospect in a YHWHist context. As it says in the Koran about joining gods with God—“those who do not create but were themselves created”—it’s a characteristic vice of such beings to see themselves as both pre-existent and procreative and, of course, like YHWH the Regency Elf is a BRGWST (as long as we’re trafficking in imaginary constructs, let’s pretend that outsiders are actually taking an interest here and explain that that stands for “Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing”). I would say there are characteristics inherent in the condition, one of which is to have pre-existence as a core belief (YHWH creating the plants before they were in the ground is a good example) and the other is to have an obsessive interest in procreation. I think it was Lawrence Summers, the President of Harvard who pointed out that when —in good politically correct interchangeably gendered fashion—he gave his infant daughter trucks to play with, she instantly christened them “daddy truck” and “baby truck”, it’s a good example of that. Everything is procreative on the female side of the ledger. God has a Mother God and a Father God, that kind of thing. It seems to me to be a core self-preservation evasiveness that becomes genetic nature. The only alternative being to see yourself as just so much vibrating pixy dust, no sooner manifested than, poof, you’re gone—which science would seem to indicate is far closer to the truth.
(having invoked the name of the redoubtable Mr. Summers, I thought that I would mention that his vilification and ostracism seemed to bring about a strange “Dave Sim Reconsidered” thread popping up in the comic-book field which vanished as quickly as it arrived—I suspect because of the cautionary note implied: if you dare to even raise the possibility that the two genders are not interchangeable, there is no “going back” no matter how many times you apologize or how abjectly you grovel before the feminists or how many millions of dollars you promise in funding for feminist hallucinations which I begin to suspect was the whole point of the extremist feminist reaction—feminist terrorism, to call a spade a spade , a kind of intellectual Kristalnacht by which totalitarian feminists ensured that the subject could no more be discussed than a Zionist newspaper could be successfully launched in Berlin in 1937. It’s a calculated totalitarian risk, of course, which presumes that the implicit consequences of running afoul of the Marxist-feminist party line supersedes the urge towards free and open discussion, intellectual curiosity and academic honesty. If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life as an outcast—or worse—you WILL believe that the sun goes around the earth, Mr. Galileo)
“Our Elf” (as you so charmingly and possessively express it) I would assume was a creation of that over-arching nature which inhabited and possessed Cerebus all of his life, an extrusion prompted by the Mind Game as, it seems to me, YHWH and all YHWHs in general can be said to be the products of Mind Games. They don’t exist but paradoxically they do, however temporarily.
Q1 Con't: Also, was your choice to reveal all this information in a dream purposeful ambiguity with respect to a definitive statement of the Elf's true origins? (i167)
DAVE: I wouldn’t describe it so much as purposeful ambiguity as an expression of something I was experiencing in my life for only the second or third time at the time which was an over-arching reality that would not acknowledge my existence because I didn’t have a “core woman” in my life. Once you have turned over the determination of the nature of reality to the BRGWST’s as everyone besides me has chosen to do, this becomes a brick wall, a deal breaker. If you won’t get married again, if you won’t have a daughter either by birth or adoption, if you won’t have a female confidant to whom you pour out your heart and soul, if you won’t subjugate your life to your mother’s whims, then you are considered “outside the camp”—unclean. At its most histrionic extremes, the assumption is that Dave Sim will have to kill himself because he doesn’t have a woman in his life. It’s what happens when reality dislocates so completely that the idea of a man living—happily—without a woman dominating his life is viewed as inconceivable and tragic.
In the context of the story, the Ascension was imminent and Cerebus was going to participate unless he could be deflected and he was, therefore, living in just such a context as the one described above. Essentially that “other half of reality” kept trying to hook him up with someone, anyone, as long as they were female. The Regency Elf was manufacturing a context in which Cerebus was her daddy. It’s a level of encroachment I have certainly experienced in my own life and which I have come to see as that opposing force recognizing that unless EVERY man in the world is under the domination of a woman or the domination of a consortium of women, one of those men is apt to see through the illusory construct and persist in identifying it as such. Which, of course, I’m doing. No wife to be suddenly and dramatically taken ill or daughter to suddenly find herself at death’s door because I won’t give up on identifying what I see as reality. No female leverage whatsoever. In the staccato fashion of the storyline at that point, I was trying to illustrate how desperate that opposing force was becoming, something I have again experienced in my life (Well, okay, who did he USE to go out with? Have her contact him and see if she can’t get under his skin and deflect him. It’s a long shot, but it’s all we’ve got. There has to be some woman somewhere that we can find and use to beat him over the head with. There HAS to be.) It was really one of the defining characteristics of Suenteus Po and Cerebus and one of the few traits they had in common: no dominating female presence in either of their lives. Jaka was just too far away and Jaka was the only one who would “work” on Cerebus to the extent that that opposing force required. Had there been a means of getting Jaka to the scene of the crime, Cerebus would never have participated in the Ascension. He’d be off somewhere happily sipping herbal tea and munching on cucumber finger sandwiches.
Q2. We read a letter written by an elderly woman who laments the good old days when men ran the world and women tended the home and raised the children. Their job was to provide comfort for the man so he could go back out into the world to work and rule it. This was life in balance, a hard life, but The Way Things Should Be. It's a much better life than the one where women join men outside the home, strangers raise children, and magic is gone (and elderly women who lament the passing of such days are put to death). These sentiments seem to echo thoughts you have expressed several times over the subsequent ten years (and as recently as your detailed response in a late Latter Days letter column to a colleague’s wife re The 10 Impossible Things). Does it sum up what you truly believe about how society should be constructed and what is wrong with it today?
DAVE: It’s really not in my nature to consider how society should be constructed. That would be conferring on myself an overview that I don’t think anyone holds sufficiently to warrant listening to them in the absolutist sense. Society will be as society will be based on the cumulative decision-making of its participants and (more universally) its abstainers. Everyone has free will. Everyone gets to decide for themselves. I think if you look at the way that society was prior to 1970, it worked a lot better. For one thing, more women got married and stayed married which I think is important to women and important in ways which I think women underrate at their own peril. But, it is their peril. My own view is that the vast majority of women want to be wives and mothers and a minority of women want to be frontier neurosurgeons and are willing to trade marital happiness for career success. I think the evidence supports that view. But women are also intrinsically dissatisfied, in my experience. Becoming Stepford Wives was a conscious decision and “living the female dream”. Each princess has her own castle and her own little plot of grass where she rules all that she surveys. That wears thin because it there’s no social aspect to it. So the dissatisfied princess who badgered her poor husband to buy an overpriced gargantuan house in the suburbs decides, with Betty Friedan’s help, that it was a massive patriarchal conspiracy to oppress her natural blah blah blah. Personally what I think worked best for years is proximity and reliability. If, from the time you’re married, you can walk home and have lunch everyday with your wife and kids and have dinner everyday with your wife and kids, that marriage is going to “take”. If you see your wife every third day and the rest of the time you order pizza, I don’t think that marriage is going to “take”. It is the fact of the princess being alone in the castle for fifteen hours while waiting for the prince to come home—forty-five minutes both ways because the bigger the castle the further it is from any viable workplace—and the gnawing belief that the prince is having a lot more fun having lunch with five other people and talking to people all day: that’s what I think undermined marriage. Men are creatures of habit. Marriage is a habit they can get used to either happily or resignedly. But I think the core thought has to be “This is my family, these are the people I am responsible for,” and a reciprocal response on the other half of the deal. “This is what I’m working for” to have breakfast, lunch and dinner every day with these people—to make sure I’m here and to make sure they’re here and to make sure that they’re cared for. In today’s “gay roommate” construct, women are insulted by the idea of being cared for. Which, as far as I’m concerned, eliminates 90% of the masculine motive in participating in marriage. If you don’t need to be cared for, what am I doing here? If none of you need to be cared for, why would any of us care? You’re all big, strong, independent women—let’s just do the horizontal mamba a bunch of times and then move on. When Family Law has been structured the way it has, I think it becomes ridiculous. What you are saying to men is: “You have to please ME or I’m walking away with half of your stuff. With you or without you, it’s your call. Decide I’m right about everything or I’ll see you in court.” I couldn’t picture being that desperate for female companionship and I think it’s really unfortunate that so many men seem to be that desperate. No one should have that level of control over another person and their worldly goods and their future.
Q2 Con't: And how, if at all, did your religious awakening affect this view? (i169)
DAVE: Mm, no, not really. I mean, in the sense that I was observing a Sabbath and reading Scripture and fasting and then going down to visit Susan and spending Sunday lying around drinking white wine and reading the Sunday Boston Globe and the New York Times. The contrast was pretty self-evident and in a long-distance relationship it really comes down to “God or the girlfriend.” As it does to this day. I certainly don’t know any women or know OF any women who would be remotely tolerant of someone making five specific daily prayer times THE priority in his life. I think in our dislocated society, it’s a given that the girlfriend comes first and God will just have to find a spot wherever He can, which is, of course, repellent to me. I try to keep the occasions when I miss a prayer or I’m more than forty minutes late for a prayer to an absolute minimum. I miss prayer times when I go to visit Chet in Toronto, so I tend to keep the visits to one a month or one every three weeks. But, I can’t say that the encroachment from the other side was something that I associated with my faith in God. I think it was a calculated risk that women took, knowing that they were making marriage repellent to men so they’ve expanded all of the definitions of marriage. You live with someone for a year, you’re married. You live with someone for a year and they have a kid, even if the kid isn’t yours, you’re responsible for him or her. You make more money after a break-up, you owe her on the basis of your improved financial status not on the basis of how you were doing when you were with her. The more repellent they make marriage, the more they have to encroach to keep the revenues flowing to women who are only equipped to be wives and mothers and haven’t the aptitude to provide for themselves. The more they encroach, the more repellent they make marriage, so the more they have to encroach and so on. It’s getting really severe and we’re just getting started down that garden path.
Q3. The Judge, still resembling Swoon, points out that he was wrong and he's sorry. Wrong about what? About Cerebus' fate perhaps?
DAVE: No, he was right about that. Cerebus died alone, unmourned and unloved.
Q3 Con't: Or about his creation tale in which the male void destroys the innocent female light? (i171)
DAVE: Well, obviously that would be my view. Reality is not especially happy but it has to be dealt with on its own terms and seeing femaleness as inherently consisting of the suffering of innocent victims—totalitarian feminism is founded upon the, to me, spurious idea that women are owed all of the monetary war reparations in the battle of the sexes—I think is fatuous and unsupported by the facts and all it does is to generate greater and greater levels of ludicrous misapprehension. i.e. how are you going to portray women as victims in academe when the classes are all 75% women and 25% men? I know a lot more guys who are comfortable in their own skins than I know women who are comfortable in theirs and I think being comfortable in your own skin is a hallmark of being on the right track. It seems to me that women have made their choices and pushed the boundaries where they wanted them pushed and encroached where they thought it was advantageous to them to encroach and I still see mostly guys who are comfortable in their own skins and women who are spending a lot of time freaking out more than they ever have before.
Q4. When Astoria was 9 or 10 she fantasized about building her own church. A man gave her a book called The Kevil, yet another instance of a man bringing a spiritual book to someone. Was this man an ancestor of Konigsberg? If not, who was he? (i173)
DAVE: Well, that would be interesting, wouldn’t it? There’s certainly a relationship of a pebble striking a pond and the ripples you get from that. My own experience with the Bible and the Koran as transformative texts. As if I had been walking around with my clothes on backwards for years and wondering why I always felt so …weird. Put your clothes on the right way around. Oh, hey! That’s MUCH better. Thanks, whoever-you-are.
Didn’t mean to be that jocose about it. Books are very potent items to convey to other people. I might think that Jack Kerouac was something of a bad idea and come down firmly on the side of the viewpoint enunciated by Truman Capote—“That’s not writing, that’s just typing”—but look at the number of lives that On The Road transformed, the number of people for whom it wasn’t just a book, it was a signpost pointing them in a specific direction.
Q5. When Po appears in public, he is immediately recognized by the Iestans. Why? Does he look like he did in earlier incarnations (the only previous hint to his presence was someone saying they saw the pope in town, but he was now over 6 feet tall)? What do we really know about the lifetime deeds of THIS Po (other than his ability to play chess, and traverse the spheres)? How long had he been living in obscurity? (i174)
DAVE: That was something that I couldn’t establish in the context of the story because it was something universally accepted by everyone in the context. Picture if you saw Santa Claus outside the Vatican. “It’s Santa Claus”. Now how did you know that? Uh, he was a big fat guy with a red suit with white trim and a white beard and mustache. Does Santa Claus always look like that? This guy is wearing a red suit and has all those other qualities but you wouldn’t describe him as Santa Claus. The question would just be irritating. Everyone knows what Santa Claus looks like. Don’t talk stupid. He was even more archetypal than that. “Look It’s Jesus.” Well, no one has ever seen Jesus and even the Shroud of Turin would match a lot of folks from Charles Manson to John Lennon and back again. How do you know that that’s Jesus? A lot of it would be context. That’s Cerebus, that’s Astoria, that’s Cirin—you’d be watching for another archetypal figure. The tallness? The white hair flopped over? The gray fur? It gets into interesting areas in the same way that the accepted visualization of Jesus gets into interesting areas. They’re all different but they’re all the same. It’s very rare to see a clean-shaven Jesus or a short-haired Jesus. The Shroud of Turin aside, why is that? Occasionally one of the secular magazines will run a feature on all of the depictions of Jesus. Yep, that’s Jesus. It’s kind of crazy if you think about it. Here’s a guy no one has ever seen and all of the depictions of him differ and yet everyone knows exactly what he looks like and everyone just takes that reality very much for granted.
WILDCARD Q. To what extent (if at all) was your thinking about YooHWHoo influenced by Manichean thought? Are you aware of the parallels?
DAVE: I think my own beliefs tend to be Manichean in nature—that of spirit being trapped in matter, although I tend to break that up into participatory, observational and efficacious declensions. I think there is a whole strata of spirit which is purely observational for the same reason that I hold the views about women that I do. You can try to participate if you want, but they are Bizarro creatures. In our post-feminist age, if you try to help a woman the odds are that you’re just going to get sucked into her inverted and convoluted context and bear the brunt of the consequences she’s called down on her own head. I think from the standpoint of non-physically incarnated spirit—what I would see as “the next level up”—all human beings are like that. You can try to help physically incarnated spirit but we have no concept of the rules and are prone to go in wrong directions, and those who go in right directions—and, obviously, my own perception of that is the Islamic ideal of submitting yourself to the Will of God—don’t need any help. I think we’re a temptation to non-physically incarnated spirit in that way. What would it hurt if I got involved in this guy’s life and lent him a helping hand? I think in the realm of spirit that most often ends in a vow of “never again.” To be physically incarnated is to be implicitly crazy. Pray to God, try to do what’s right and hope you’re getting out of the whole physical incarnation mess soon.
Dave: Late addition, 19 March 05 11 pm.: D.B. Little phoned earlier today to mention that Steve Bolhafner had expressed an interest in any theory I might have as to why the term “elohim” [“gods” as in “In the beginning the gods created the heaven and the earth”] is used in the first chapter of Genesis and do I answer the question anywhere in Collected Letters? The honest answer is that I have answered the question elsewhere and I assume that elsewhere was in one of my letters written sometime in the last year and two months. The problem, of course, is that although Collected Letters is almost six-hundred pages long it only contains the first eleven computer Correspondence files of 50 pages each, January through June of last year. I am now working on Correspondence file #32, so the odds are pretty good that the answer is contained somewhere in the ensuing 21 files which will not be included in the Collected Letters volume. Knowing that such an explanation wouldn’t “wash” with the members opposite and realizing that anytime I don’t provide a direct and immediate answer to any question I stand accused of being evasive, I provide the following:
My best guess is that it is a YHWHist corruption in the text, comparable to what I see as the YHWHist corruptions of Genesis 14-18 and that the term “elohim” is meant to imply that God and YHWH created the heaven and the earth and everything else in Genesis 1, including the “celestial luminaries” of Genesis 14-18. That is, in characteristic he/she/it fashion, YHWH takes joint credit with God for the creations of Genesis 1 and then takes sole credit for the creations of Genesis 2—the plants, the herbs, man, the garden, the four rivers, the gold, the bdellium, the onyx stone, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, etc.
It was a failed attempt, obviously, since Judaism is a monotheistic faith and it is now universally accepted even by the most orthodox of Jews that although “elohim” is a plural form, the reference is to Eloi, The One God.