Church & State II

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Phonebook Volume #4
Collects Issues: 81 - 111
1st Printing435 copies
Date of 1st PrintJuly 1988
# of Pages592
Current Printing9th

Daves Q&A

Q: Why/how was Astoria transported to the Lion of Serrea? What made her kill the Lion?

DAVE: Mm. I would have to reread that part. It was very much of a piece with the hall of mirrors effect of Cerebus and Astoria locked into their dichotomous relationship of Pontiff and Prisoner. The point I was making was that if the situation was immediately reversed she was going to condemn the Pontiff to death even though, in this incarnation she was definitely the prisoner. It was a sophomoric viewpoint that I had at the time. Would Jesus have killed Pilate if he had the chance? Would John the Baptist have killed Harrod if the roles were reversed. The answer is of course not. But at the time all I knew was that Jesus looked like the guy who played JFK in the "Missiles of October" and Pilate looked like David Bowie. Sounded like about an even match. The President of the United States versus Ziggy Stardust.

Q. Spheres: Weisshaupt left a flawless gold sphere for Cerebus. Why was Weisshaupt able to make a flawless sphere, when, apparently, no one else could do so?

DAVE: It was kind of an esoteric point, but I assumed that these Ascension rituals had been going on for some thousands of years, always with the gold sphere being needed to trigger the event. Weisshaupt just added his own innovation of determining and/or having revealed to him that the size of the sphere was irrelevant. It didn’t need to be the size that Cirin was later attempting, which I assumed would be the norm, it just had to be a gold sphere. The idea being that because of the extended period of time over which these Ascensions were taking place various innovations would be incorporated (“let’s try a larger sphere”) and gradually become the new norm (“the sphere has to be larger”). It would depend on what you blamed the failed Ascension on. The sphere wasn’t big enough, the sphere wasn’t perfect enough. God only knows what it was when it started or what it was that actually would work. Of course judging by the result—Cerebus’ tower actually got off the launch pad—you’d probably be safe in assuming that Weisshaupt was onto something. Which would have been disastrous had the city of Iest actually survived. Anyone capable of making a gold sphere could initiate the launch sequence. A flawless sphere of the size of Weisshaupt’s wasn’t any big trick. A flawless sphere the size that Cirin was attempting was a virtual impossibility.

Q1: Did it have something to do with the gold that was used (i.e., gold from coins struck by Tarim)?

DAVE: Again that was kind of an esoteric point that I never resolved, being in the same category as “something fell”—it was lost to the ages. Presumably the perfect gold sphere at some time in the distant, distant past was either made by the coin-maker Tarim (the human individual whose relationship to Tarim was analogous to Jesus’s widely accepted relationship to God) or incorporated coins that that same Tarim had made.

Q1: Was his posthumous aid to Cerebus mystical in nature? Or did he have accomplices?

DAVE: I would imagine he had accomplices. He was like a spider at the middle of a web of his own devising with a pretty fair grasp of how everything was going to unfold (and with all the arrogance that tends to engender). Cerebus was one of the few variables that his multi-levelled calculating mind just couldn’t get “on top of” and which, consequently, proved his undoing. My own view is that spiders tend to attract exactly those sorts of incarnations, er, like flies.

Q1: If so, anyone we know?

DAVE: It was a, wattayacall, very large web.

Q1: Finally, why did the sphere Cerebus held turn back into coins (and why did it turn into a sphere in the first place when Cerebus touched it)?

DAVE: Another esoteric point having to do with Cerebus’ magnifier nature and the uncertainty of how far back it goes, how efficacious it is, the extent which it incarnates things on its own depending on its own level of gullibility. You saw Cerebus’ reaction to the coin when Bran told him that it had been minted by Tarim. My best guess would be that that was an identical reaction on the part of the magnifier effect which inhabited him on the “next level up”. You just don’t muck around with anything having to do with the earthly Tarim, in the same way that even an atheist is going to be subdued around the Shroud of Turin. My best further guess would be that there was a magnifier nature of which the magnifier nature itself was unaware on the next level up from it as it was from Cerebus. And who knows what powers there were “up there”. Or, viewed perversely, what sense of humour. The higher nature would regard the degree to which the lower nature had been spooked and basically pull a practical joke by having the coin minted by Tarim attract all of the gold coins and form itself into a sphere. Why? Because BOO is very funny. Ask any brother who scares crap out of his sister by doing it. It’s hilarious. Or, it could have been an actual effect that was predestined because the human incarnation Tarim was actually an aardvark or part aardvark, so when Cerebus picked up the coin, it initiated the same launch sequence that it had originally been designed to initiate. Since all of that was taking place on upper levels of reality, I never settled the question for myself anymore than I could give you a definitive answer as to whether guardian angels exist or if I have one.

Q2: What is the meaning of the faces on its tower and how did they get there?

DAVE: I always wondered about that myself. Again, one of those things lost to the ages. Trapped souls from some mystical war in the distant past? Sculptures? Sculptures inhabited by the souls of the dead? Picture the Ka’aba in the Grand Mosque in Mecca. We know that people have been circling the Ka’aba every Ramadan for, at the very least, two thousand years. If you believe Islamic history, they’ve been doing so since Adam first built it and since Abraham and Ishmael rebuilt it. It’s reasonably certain they’ve been doing so since Muhammad helped rebuild it in the seventh century. Now, what’s the idea behind it? Why do people circle the Ka’aba seven times? Do you think that someone said six to ten thousand years ago, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Check this out.” Or do you think it goes much deeper and much higher up than that? My guess is the latter. That would be the same answer I would give to “the meaning of the faces on its tower”. I’m sure there is a very deep, deep meaning to it. But it goes back too far to even begin to speculate upon successfully.

The fact that I introduced the wall of faces way back in the early part of High Society has always interested me because I really didn’t have a story attached to them and no one even remarks on them until Prince Mick pages and pages later. Of course my suspicion now is always that anything that I can’t account for as coming out of my own imagination I always figure was a “plant” by God to try to “fish in YHWH,” something that I wasn’t remotely aware of in a conscious way, something that came from my being “tapped into” a reality that I was only vaguely aware of. Certainly the idea of rock having a personality which would be implied by all the faces, I imagine, would be very appealing to YHWH since that was supposed to be the Big, Shock Surprise Ending—it turns out that YHWH was Mother Earth all along! Gasp!

And the fact that this personality filled rocks which were in a cup-shaped, vaginal opening motif surrounding the Upper City like labia and then WHOOSH they would grow into this giant penis shape. Yeah, I can see how, conceptually, that would get YHWH a little runny between the legs.

I know most of you aren’t remotely interested in the Torah, but—since this ties in with one of my theories that I’ll probably never be this close to, again, I might as well do an Oh, That Reminds Me:

I don’t know what the best current Orthodox Jewish thinking is on why Moshe had to die instead of going into the Promised Land and what, exactly, was his big deal crime in in Meribah in Numbers 20, I’m sure I could look it up in the Talmud if I was interested, but really I’m not. See, my theory is along these lines. Starting at verse 2:

And there was no water for the Congregation: and they gathered themselues together against Moshe and against Aaron.

And the people chode with Moshe and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the YHWH.

And why haue yee brought up the Congregation of the YHWH into this wildernesse, that we and our cattell should die there?

And wherefore haue ye made vs to come vp out of Egypt, to bring vs in vnto this euil place? It no place of seed, or of figges, or vines, or of pomegranates, neither is there any water to drinke.

And Moshe and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly, vnto the doore of the Tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell vpon their faces: and the glory of the YHWH appeared vnto them.

And the YHWH spake vnto Moshe, saying, Take the rodde, and gather thou the assembly together, thou and Aaron, thy brother, and speake yee vnto the rocke before their eyes, and it shall giue foorth his water, and thou shalt bring foorth to them, water out of the rocke: so thou shalt giue the Congregation, and their beasts drinke.

And Moshe tooke the rod from before the YHWH, as he commanded him.

And Moshe and Aaron gathered the Congregation together before the rocke,

Okay? You got the set-up? Remember. It’s my theory that YHWH is the living thing inside the earth and inside every rock. “…speake yee vnto the rocke before their eyes, and IT shall giue foorth HIS water…”

…and hee said vnto them, Heare now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rocke?

And Moshe lift up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rocke twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the Congregation dranke, and their beasts.

See, I think God must’ve just cracked up at this point. Just killing Himself laughing. YHWH is sitting there waiting for Moshe to ask YHWH nicely in front of everyone to give him water. And what does Moshe do? He gives YHWH two good smacks in the face and says to the crowd, “Heare now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rocke?”

And of course YHWH who has NO sense of humour, immediately reacts with

And the YHWH spake vnto Moshe and Aaron, Because ye beleeue me not, to sanctifie me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this Congregation into the land which I haue giuen them.

This is the water of Meribah [that is, Hebrew for “strife”] because the children of Israel stroue with the YHWH…

I may be reading it wrong, but that to me is one of the great punch-lines in the Bible. I wouldn’t be surprised if three to four thousand years later, God still has to stifle Himself when He pictures Moshe smacking YHWH in the face. I also think that that’s what the gig is with Balaam and his talking donkey two chapters later.

And the YHWH opened the mouth of the asse, and shee saide vnto Balaam, What haue I done vnto thee that thou has smitten mee these three times?

God really trying to patch things up as best He can, but undoubtedly knowing that Moshe is still Moshe Toast at this point because of YHWH’s hurt feelings.

Anyway, I have trouble keeping a straight face whenever the Sunday comes along that I’m reading Numbers 20 aloud. SCHMECK SCHMECK “Heare now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?”

Moe Howard couldn’t have done it any better.

Q3. Moved to issue 89 as it dealt with Cerebus' dream in that issue.

Q4: Breaking glass: When the piece of glass corkscrewed into Cerebus' chest during Church & State, did you put that in as descriptive prose, or did you see it as having a symbolic resonance? And does this glass also connect with the piece of glass that appears in Bear's hand while Cerebus is breaking through the window?

DAVE: I think you asked me about this before and I was too lazy to go back and actually take a look at the sequence itself. I apologize. Part of what I was dealing with in the super-slow motion of Cerebus bursting through the window was the sheer implausibility of it as a movie cliché—I mean, what are the odds of going through a pane of glass and not even getting a scratch?—and trying to address that in some way. “The glittering rectangle shape of a splinter, cork-screwing from the point of impact, leaves a nearly imperceptible trail across the sweat-slickened fur of the Earth-pig’s left breast.” Well, there to me is exactly the problem. If you can get all the glass shards going straight out and perpendicular to the point of impact, you’re laughing. But that seems really unlikely because of the amount of force being generated and the “spin” that’s going to result as soon as the splinters are behaving independently in reaction to the force generated at the point of impact relative to their now considerably lighter and independently moving selves. All you need is one “problem child” shard and you might as well be trying to burp a live chainsaw. So what I did was attempt to introduce a mystical event at the microcosmic level, taking the assumption that whatever is in control of Cerebus at this point—realizing that a successful Ascension may be at stake—was sufficiently engaged and sufficiently efficacious to be watching for exactly that “problem child” shard. That the thing in control of Cerebus was efficacious enough even at the speed with which things were happening to essentially be able to relocate the glass shard through space/time, functioning within the physical properties of the higher realm where the relocation can only take place if there’s a plausible recipient who will accept the relocation on the paranormal terms necessary. Which was why Bear got it, because it was predetermined that he would blame it on “the little people” and his own nature would take it as a given that he would “take one for Cerebus,” another criteria that needed to be established in the elongated micro-second where the shard is either going to cut a major artery in Cerebus’ chest or it’s going to go elsewhere. (C&S II)

Q4: And is this connected to Cerebus’ mysteriously cut thumb in the hotel? (#112/113)

DAVE: Yes, yes exactly. It was too big a stretch of reality to relocate something that large without there being a recoil effect. And however long Cerebus was gone, the recoil was right there waiting for him when he got back. I’m not sure that what we call the real world doesn’t operate on exactly that sort of basis and that there is no such thing as an inexplicable event. Everything happens for a very good and a very specific reason, it’s just that we’re not privy to the logical outcomes that are taking place within those microcosmic time spans and the trade-offs being enacted. As an example, I can picture God and His adversary negotiating every bullet trajectory in a major battle, the disposition of all the grenade fragments at a superhumanly accelerated pace and with exactly these kinds of dislocations being added up and compensated for even as they’re taking place. Only at the time I wouldn’t have thought of it as God and His adversary. More like ‘the powers that be,’ or ‘whoever is in charge of the Universe.’

Q4: Does this connote a connection between Bear & Cerebus that is not apparent? (i102)

DAVE: Only insofar as these are the kind of connections that I see as being extremely likely in our own reality. What the nature of those connections are or the equivalent-of-physics that’s at work or the properties of Higher Reality Laws of Motion, I couldn’t even hazard a guess. The sequence of Cerebus going through the window after running from the Throne Room was, I think, unconsciously based on the Cowardly Lion fleeing from the Wizard of Oz and crashing through the window. Which was always where they put the commercial break and it was time to put my pyjamas on and brush my teeth.

Q5: The Judge sees all and knows all (but his perception is colored by his own personal bias, his "love" of Terim). So why, when he's already explained Tarim and Terim and said that that's it, that's the story, does he say "Thank God" on (I believe) more than one occasion? It's the first time that God is mentioned in the book. Everyone else says "Thank Tarim" (or some other deity). If there was only Tarim and Terim and the Judge knew this, why would he say "Thank God."?

DAVE: Because that was what Jules Feiffer wrote in the Judge’s monologue in Little Murders. It had to be two syllables or it would undermine the whole rhythm. “My mother, thank God she’s not alive today.” It’s the most amazing monologue I’ve ever seen as delivered by Lou Jacobi in the movie version. When I met Feiffer years later he told me that it was the first thing he wrote, that it was originally going to be the core of a novel and only later became a play. He wasn’t that fond of Jacobi’s performance. He said the guy who played it in the original Broadway run was much better. “Three families…and what they had in common was…PER…SE…CUTION (pause) PER…SE…CUTION…(pause) So they weren’t so GLIB about God.” What an absolute joy it was to go over that and over that and over that and to mimic the run-on sentences and the sudden peculiar interjections. I don’t know when I’ve ever worked harder or had it feel less like work. Just an amazing piece of writing. So, yeah, the “God” didn’t fit, but neither did “I was cheering for Weisshaupt myself” coming from a supposedly omnipotent being. One of those times my own story had to scootch over a bit and make room for Feiffer.

Moved question about the glowing ball in issue 91 to the article for issue #91.

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