|January 1985: Another Thing Coming|
|Backgrounds & Tone||Gerhard|
|Assistant to the Publisher||Karen McKiel|
|Cover Separation||Mark Spencer|
|Church & State I|
Cerebus climbs up a multitude of stairs from the hotel on the side of the tower to the Regency Hotel, guided by telepathic instructions from the "Elf" (but not THE Elf.) Cerebus has to keep reminding himself, "don't get mad at an elf." The "Elf" warns Cerebus to stop what he's doing, without being able to elaborate. Cerebus agrees, but he's realized it's not the Regency Elf he's talking to.
- Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing (last seen in issue 69; next appearance in issue 73)
- Cerebus (last seen in issue 69; next appearance in issue 71)
- Unnamed maid (only appearance)
Cerebus Biweekly Church & State #20
According to Dave's notes the original story title was "Elf Request".
Q: Before you decided that the Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing was YoohWhoo, who did you intend the two voices to be that we heard when Cerebus climbed up to the Regency to talk to (what turned out to be) the fake fake Regency Elf?
DAVE: Yoohwhoo isn’t a term that I use, personally. I see no reason to be consciously impolite, so I always call he/she/it YHWH. In conversation, literally, Why Aitch Double You Aitch.
Well, the answer to that is “how many adjectival ‘fakes’ belong in front of the term Regency Elf in your sentence?” You would have to answer my question before I could answer yours. Remember that what you think of as the Regency Elf is an internal construct of Cerebus’, whose only existence is as a mirage partway between Cerebus and the real Regency Elf, assuming that the Regency Elf actually exists. Do you believe in fairies? If you don’t believe in fairies, personally, then add some more layers of adjectival “fake” to your question. If you do believe in fairies, personally, then subtract some layers of adjectival “fake” from your question. Given that I am now addressing two different systems of belief, which question do you want me to answer? Now one or both of you can say “you’re being evasive”. Am I? “Well, yes, we’re asking you a question about your story: what was your intention?” That subdivides as well. What was my intention at the time? At the time I was foreshadowing and laying the groundwork for breaking the news as gently as possible to my readership that the Regency Elf as known by them doesn’t exist. Which at one level is silly—you shouldn’t have to explain to grown-ups that elves don’t exist. You should feel silly for having to have that explained to you. At the same time, I was trying to depict as accurately as possible what I think the nature of that human impulse towards belief in fairies is all about. It’s amazing how far people will go in response to their personal fairies if they’re fairy people (on as real a level as possible, I’m forced to draw an analogy to feminism here, at the risk of offending all you feminists, because in a “what was Dave thinking of here” sense it really does apply. At this point in my life, my marriage had broken up and, now that I was on my own and no longer having to accommodate another system of belief and now being able to return to my own intrinsic nature, a person who believed in the truth and perceiving accurately, I had at two levels—love and feminism—come to the conclusion that I had just taken an awful beating in a number of ways for having made the mistake of allowing myself to be gulled into believing in those two present-day societal fairies.
In retrospect, in the sense that the Dave Sim you are asking this question today who has consciously chosen not to believe in those two societal fairies, as with much of the Cerebus story—prior to reading the Bible and the Koran—I think I was enacting on paper parts of the debate between God and YHWH which I think it’s kind of impossible to avoid for human beings given that I think that’s a big reason that we were created by God. So, as I look at the two voices on page 391, what I see, now, at the highest level of metaphor is the voice of YHWH (black lettering white balloons) and God (white lettering black balloons). Which always sustains itself down and up through all other levels of metaphor, including my creation of their dialogue. I tend to see God, or the nature of God as always engaging YHWH’s attentions in whatever way possible, using people as metaphors and the stories people, like myself or any writer, write as metaphors. So, please bear in mind, that this is pretty much my answer, today, to most questions, both about the Cerebus story and about life in general. If you consciously believe in fairies and you’re a guy, you’re asking for trouble.
So that cautionary note being struck, meanwhile back at my intention back in 1983, Cerebus doesn’t have the belief in the Regency Elf in Church & State at the required level that he had in High Society and that makes her transparently false to him. If you believe in fairies in a psychological or biological sense (Alan Moore’s mythopoetic regions of the brain stuff) then Cerebus is just responding to that part inside of him that is a magnifier and that is dealing with super-reality(ies). Does the magnifier believe that Cerebus is infallible because Cerebus is the Pope? Cerebus consciously believes that he is infallible because he is the Pope so that sets up an internal war to which both the magnifier and the his genetic aardvark nature would respond (are responding). The magnifier has no concept of the scope of its own magnification on the Papal level as Cerebus consciously perceives it (what is the equivalent of a Pope in the realm of pure spirit?). So through the Regency Elf, the magnifier is asking (him/her/it?) self if this is true. Is the world going to come to an end because there’s no way to get all of the gold coins and because Cerebus is infallible in his pronouncements? At one level the only hope is that Papal infallibility is fake in the same way that the Regency Elf is fake, that “fakeness” is the abiding condition on all relevant levels between Cerebus’ perception of reality and the magnifier’s perception of reality. The question for the magnifier would be “which world?”. If it’s just the world that Cerebus knows, that could be fine, as long as the magnifier exists in its own reality and not just in Cerebus’. If Cerebus and the world disappear, is the magnifier still going to be there? At that point it was worth the magnifier really stretching a point with the false Regency Elf construct as a means of communicating an idea to Cerebus that Cerebus would be hiding from himself. Given that the magnifier is a super-reality construct in the story, I thought it was funny to have Cerebus worrying the next level up and the next level up from that just because Cerebus is so intrinsically simple-minded on these things. Being infallible is a great way to get people to give you their gold, if you threaten to destroy the world but it does, I think, call a lot of realities into question simultaneously.
- The story is introduced as "Cerebus in... Sane As It Ever Was", perhaps implying "insane as it ever was".
- This is the last issue with a "Note From the Publisher" by Deni.
- At the end of the issue the Elf turns into an object that looks like the Big Round Glowing White Strange Thing but talks with two different voices.
- p. 3 - 5: Their are faces on the inside of the mountain as well as on the inside. We cannot see if the stairway that Cerebus takes is in a cave or if the tower is partially hollow. One would think with the Upper City on the top of the tower, that they are caves.
Back up material
- A Dick Mallet Adventure, "The Jade Princess," pt. 3 (Cherkas) (4 pages)
- Cerebus Jam - Splash for Cerebus/Spirit story (Sim/Ger/Eisner)