|Phonebook Volume #10|
|Collects Issues: 187 - 200|
|1st Printing||2100 copies|
|Date of 1st Print||June 1996|
|# of Pages||286|
Q4. You described the creation of Cerebus' Injury to the Eye which through a pinprick of novocaine introduced a "design element into what remains of Cerebus' existence" as "the natural effect" (not a punishment) of his hurting Jaka and Joanne, and that it shows him what he's done to others. (i198-99/Minds). What does this mean? That from that point on Cerebus felt a pain in his eye when he acted in a way that harmed others? Or something else? Can you expand on this concept?
DAVE: That was personal experience. Even before I believed in God, I didn’t believe in a chaotic universe of happenstance and the second time that it happened to me—basically getting a zit on my upper or lower lid—I was trying to understand, Why did this happen to me? My conclusion was that it was because I was hurting people and I was pretty immune to pain myself—emotional pain—so it had to get translated into a physical realm where I could understand, don’t do this. Of course, in retrospect, having been clean and sober for a few years now, I think I was missing the more obvious thing that I was smoking enormous amounts of weed and tobacco, staying up late and drinking like a fish all of which are known to enflame the tissues around the eyes. As Dr. Kiss-Kiss pointed out my last time around, I had about eight of them around each eye: it’s just that the others were smaller and less noticeable. Go home and look in the mirror. GAH. He’s right. Look at that. What am I going to do? Better fire up a doob and whack off to a porno video and try to take my mind off of it. I mean, duh. But that was me.
If you are a person like myself who is always looking for punctuation and living metaphors in life, getting a needle in the soft flesh of your under-lid (you can take my word on this) is not something that you’re going to forget anytime soon when it happens to you. It is a very, very memorable pain which definitely kept me from going for help on my second go-round until way late in the day.
Q3. You've said that Cirinism reflects closely the TRUE human condition - and therefore, Cerebus can never defeat it. (i194/Minds) You also stated that Cirinism is a system that mirrors human nature and, as such, flourished naturally. The movement is solidly constructed. Therefore, Cerebus would never be able to conquer Estarcion. But of course, Cerebus *did* conquer Estarcion -- or did he? The New Joannists won out in the end, didn't they? Please explain how Cirinism reflects closely the true human condition.
DAVE: You’re paraphrasing. What I said was “thoroughly in tune with human nature and human ideals” that’s a very different thing from reflecting or mirroring the human condition. Let’s start with “in tune”. The musical analogy was selected specifically. Take improvisational jazz. All of the instruments can be in tune (relative to themselves and/or relative to each other), but that doesn’t make them the same instruments nor does it mean that they’re playing the same notes. In fact they likely aren’t if they’re “in tune” in the broader sense of “relative to each other”. In that sense, “in tune” means that there is a pleasing auditory compatibility going on. Everyone’s playing and listening and smiling because it’s working. How is it working? Music isn’t like that. It doesn’t lend itself to factual analysis. It sounded good. It was in the pocket, we were popping the gator, etc. etc. Pick your favourite old bluesman phrase. That’s why I find music perverse because it creates an illusion that something has happened that isn’t demonstrable. Which is fine. To paraphrase Woody Allen, music is a perverse enterprise, but as perverse enterprises go, its one of the more harmless ones. Until you have someone like John Lennon being backed into a corner where he has to sing Revolution to try to explain that while everyone is grooving to his beat (The Beatles are more popular than Jesus) that doesn’t mean that they’re likely leadership candidates. Likewise with the Police. “Da doo doo doo Do da da da is all I want to say to you. They’re meaningless and all that’s true.” Well, that’s perverse. That requires a female “brain” to nod sagely and go, “Ah! Yes! It seems like a paradox, but it’s REALITY. It’s both meaningless and all that’s true.” No. It’s meaningless. No ifs ands or buts. You have to stretch meaning to the breaking point and beyond to get any “truth”—let alone Truth—out of Da doo doo doo Do da da da. It’s perverse in the large sense because most of the generation before mine and my own generation did exactly that: formed their political opinions and attitudes around Da doo doo doo Do da da da.
I mean, I was trying to play fair with the material. I don’t think a post-Industrial matriarchy is remotely likely and a pre-Industrial one is only marginally more likely, but let’s completely convolute reason into trying to making something up that sounds good. Let’s try and make some points about women but let’s literally become Devil’s advocate for a few pages. So I did use clever phrasing like the “in tune” thing. Improvisational jazz leapfrogs. The sax leads for a while and then the keyboardist catches a wave and he takes over and then another instrument and then the vocalist and everyone ends of (literally) God-alone-knows-where an hour later. Well, that’s perverse. But for those who like that sort of thing, that’s the sort of thing they like. For people like me who like lengthy conflated and well-thought arguments it sounds like hell on earth. For people who hate anyone who talks longer than thirty seconds, it’s heaven on earth. The danger that I see is that as you allow that female sensibility that sees more merit in a really good band than in, say, a solid military program and begins to supersede those with the latter aptitude with those with the former attitude, well, to me, that’s a recipe for trouble. People who “think” that way are literally going to govern just by being in tune, reading the polls and leapfrogging from what feels good to what feels better and ending up God knows where six months from now with no larger plan than more of the same.
And I also carefully used “human,” because I think human is a perverse concept. I see it as the underpinning of belief that there is no difference between brainless femaleness and thoughtful masculinity. Let’s all just sit around and talk about it and just decide that fighting is bad because it hurts people so, like, let’s just stop. No more fighting. Yes, there are a lot of humans who think that way. They aren’t men or women or boys or girls, they’re just humans and all humans are the same. The development (so far as I know) of the term “Crimes against Humanity” seemed to me the thin end of the wedge on that. To me, the suitable punishment for the Sho’ah, the Holocaust is summary execution. Trying Adolf Eichman? That’s insane. How can you have a trial for an Eichman or a Goerring? You’re implying that what they did might be defensible, so we better ask some intelligent questions. There is no intelligent question to ask someone who gassed six million Jews. You might as well send a rabid dog for psychotherapy. I better stop there before I give anyone ideas.
Question 1a moved to Magnifier effect.
Q1b: Did Cerebus' folks ever come to visit, or were they kept at bay by Magus Doran's "Jedi-like" mind controlling ability?
DAVE: See above. In order to maintain an internal consistency to the story, I could only go with Cerebus’ recollections which are exactly the way that I’ve described them. Had he tried to remember his parents coming to visit, he would remember them visiting as an actual memory and then remember them visiting as an implanted suggestion and would oscillate between the two perceptions until he made the conscious decision not to think about it anymore.
Q2a: There is a certain poignancy to the scene featuring the exchange of painted eggshells between Jaka and Zulli that gives it the ring of truth. Is this based on an actual event?
DAVE: Mm. I’ve answered this before. No it isn’t. It’s my own idealized idea of what a Jackie Kennedy or a Princess Diana could be but aren’t. Women don’t see metaphors and overarching meanings. All they see are their own emotions and the emotions of others. The jumping off point of it was a picture that Susan Alston had taken of herself when she was single and on holiday or a long weekend with a bunch of couples. At one point while everyone was partying, she took her camera and went down to the beach and set the timer and took a singularly mordant picture of herself which I used as the basis of the picture of Jaka in the painting. It seemed a strange and excessively poignant thing to do, to take a picture of yourself alone whose only real point was how alone you were. It seemed to me a Jaka-like thing to do and since Jaka was very much the point of a lot of the story-arc from Minds to the end of Form & Void I was very alert to anything in my vicinity that struck me as Jaka-like. To commission a painting of herself whose only point was how alone she was. Yes, that would be a very Jaka-like thing to do. If it had occurred to Princess Diana, I’m sure she would’ve done the same thing.
Q2b: Is there some special meaning behind it?
DAVE: Apart from “women don’t like to be alone and really, really like to make a point of it to themselves” I can’t really think of anything.
Q2c: Also, if this is "the single most significant episode in [her] recent life" and helps her take "the first tentative step on the road to a brighter future where she will escape the prison in which she finds herself," what happened to so change Jaka by the time we see her in Going Home? (i193)
DAVE: She had just decided not to be alone and for someone like Jaka that’s as close as she’s going to come to an epiphany or even an insight into herself. She enacted this dramatic painting scenario with Zulli and through it decided that the core reason for her isolation was being in Palnu. Palnu was the eggshell that she needed to break in order to go back out into the world. Really all she needed to do was to be in isolation long enough so she could forget the reason for it which was that she had screwed up her marriage by having an abortion. She got out of her mental prison of that unethical choice by deciding it was just a physical prison. And as soon as she went back out into the world she decided she was just going to have fun and not be alone, so that’s what she did. I assume she slept with whomever she wanted to sleep with and avoided any situation that seemed serious or unhappy and just went with those that seemed unserious and happy. She pretended she was just a regular girl who went where she wanted and did what she pleased and ignored that she was the Princess of Palnu and living a completely sheltered and cushy existence—displacing bartenders from their apartments and what-not. She chose a middle-level of perception that as long as she was with people and having fun that she was free. Which is true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far. She was still alone in the sense that everyone is alone. You are the only one inside your head. Anyone can go out and have three glasses of wine and dance on the tabletops and laugh uproariously at lame jokes but that doesn’t make them any less alone, in my books. Quite the opposite. Those are the loneliest people on the planet. That was her delusional perception of life when she ran across Cerebus. “Okay. This will be fun, too.” But, of course, she loved Cerebus and she had a history with Cerebus so the whole thing became a kind of macabre St. Vitus dance toward the inevitable disaster where Cerebus had been persuaded that Jaka’s way was the right way of living. Have fun and if things get to be not fun, then just pretend that they’re fun until they’re fun again. It dropped him into a female construct where you avoid thinking about what you’re doing until the anvil drops on your head and then you say, “What did I do to deserve this?” Well, in Cerebus’ case it was the fact that he never thought about what actually being back in Sand Hills Creek was going to be like until he was actually there. Having adopted Jaka’s delusional state as his own he just figured they would get there and have fun all day with his parents, with his neighbours. Have a few glasses of wine and dance on the tabletops and laugh a lot and if things turned out not to be fun, they would just pretend they were fun until they were fun again.
Q3: Was Dave accurately relaying to Cerebus what Jaka was thinking about their relationship at the time when Cerebus vowed to take Jaka away from Rick and her home? Or was it only what Dave *said* what Jaka was thinking (in essence "pulling a Rick," presenting his analysis of a woman's behavior as if it were in her own words)? (p. 138) In Going Home she says something different. Did Dave change her so Cerebus could be with her? Or did Jaka convince herself that *that's* what she was really thinking?
DAVE: For Jaka, that would be a core part of “fun as lifestyle”. When she tells Cerebus that if he had said “let’s go” she would have up and left Rick just doesn’t ring true for anyone who has been reading the book all along—and notice that Cerebus just turns it into a joke of tickling her until she pees herself—but it would, for her, make being with Cerebus even more fun because it would mean that this was what she had wanted all along only she just hadn’t realized it until just now (isn’t love just the most amazing thing?). For someone as bound and determined to have fun as Jaka was at the time of Going Home, it would just be a given: fun is fun and being in love is fun. Of course in choosing to be with Cerebus she automatically loved Cerebus more than she loved Rick, ever did love Rick or ever could love Rick. But reread Jaka’s Story where she’s talking about being in love with Rick. Does it look to you as if she could ever love anyone else, least of all Cerebus? I mean, I just tend to see love as being like that, especially for women. No woman ever loves anyone the way she loves the one that she’s with right now. I mean, to me you just can’t help but be suspicious of that both in yourself and in others unless of course you’re still in the game in which case one of the core rules is that you can’t be suspicious of that. Did I love Susan more than I had loved Deni? Did I love Judith more than I had loved Susan? Most guys just understand at a fundamental level that it is worth your life to make sure that the one you’re with right now is the one that you love more than anyone else ever in your whole entire life. For me, now that I’ve been out of the game for seven-plus years it just seems part of the core mythology which is about as solid as gossamer and pixie dust, like wanting to sleep with other people but not being able to stand the thought that your girlfriend wants to sleep with other people. Having had a wife I had no urge to have another wife. I seriously think you have to be genuinely afraid of being alone in order to give marriage a fighting chance. If you’re just as happy—or happier!—on your own than you are in a relationship, your relationships aren’t going to go too good or for too long. As much pleasure as you get getting into the relationship, that’s how much aggravation you’re going to have getting out of the relationship.
I mean, it’s difficult discussing these things with people who see what I see as being a nebulous self-deceiving core mythology as instead being a rock-solid core reality. All you need is love! But that’s about the best way that I can answer the question. When Jaka was with Rick she loved Rick more than she ever loved anyone. When she was infatuated with Andrew she loved Andrew more than she ever loved anyone. When she was travelling with Cerebus she loved Cerebus more than she ever loved anyone. I assume that whomever she loved after Cerebus she loved more than she ever loved anyone and whomever she loved after that guy she loved more than she ever loved anyone. On and on and on until she was dead.
It would be un-gentlemanly to do anything but take her at her word no matter how silly the whole thing looks to anyone willing to actually look at it.
Q4A & Q4B moved to the article aardvark
Q4C moved to Sir Gerrik
Q5a: Dave states that Cerebus' destiny has been one of duality: man/woman, captor/captive, ruler/rebel, aardvark/human -- "two incarnations locked into an endless, pointless duality." Does this imply that Cerebus does in fact have a soul that has been incarnating in various roles and physical forms through history?
DAVE: Well, that would depend on your point of view as to whether souls incarnate repeatedly or there are just physical and behavioural similarities which crop up from generation to generation. And it would also depend on whether aardvarks obeyed that rule or were an exception to it. That really comes down to the nature of the soul and what laws it obeys (if any). I don’t know of anyone who has clue one on the subject. As I’ve said elsewhere it seems to me only sensible to believe that each soul is unique and each soul gets its one kick at the can. My soul incarnated inside this body in May of 1956 and departs this body on some date unknown to me. However long a span of time that is, that’s how long I have here to accomplish whatever it is that I’m supposed to accomplish. And then, I assume, I’m done and I either pass or fail on the basis of how I did. If I get another try in a later life in this world or in another world, well, hey, bonus. But I’m assuming it’s do-or-die here. I think a core point of our existence is our complete ignorance of the nature of soul and the realm of spirit. I think you can get ambiguous glances of it by reading between the lines of the Synoptic Jesus (which is what I think I’m reading in Matthew and Mark and writing commentaries on them) but I don’t think those glimpses are anything that can help you in this world. It’s just too different a construct that physical beings are manifestly closed off from, so you’re better off just accepting that and continuing to write your exam here in the Marxist-feminist cesspool.
Q5b: On the other hand, Dave then goes on to say "But of course that would come later" and that "first" Cerebus' success as Pope coupled with a near consensus that he is the ideal aardvark manifested Pope Thrunk who could have successfully completed Cerebus' original destiny. Does this mean that Cerebus' destiny of duality did not occur until AFTER the Pope Thrunk incident? (i196)
DAVE: I would assume that there are always opportunities that if chosen correctly and in a timely fashion will cut through the relentless brainless tedium and slogging futility of our present physical incarnation. I’m pretty sure that if God chose to take command of my soul and specifically tell me to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H over the course of the next two weeks that I could transform my own life and the nature of reality itself. I assume that that was what happened with the two Jesus’ and with Muhammad and God’s other prophets and messengers. But that’s an Age of Prophets thing and, to me, the age of prophets ended in 632 with the death of Muhammad. The point of the Age of Prophets as far as I can see was to give us a fighting chance without handing it to us on a silver platter, precisely measured as only God can measure precisely (as it says in the Koran, He will not wrong you so much as the husk of a datestone weighed in the balance). Now it’s up to each of us to try our best in writing each of our individual seventy- or eighty-year long exams.
I was more trying to point out through Cerebus that the right—or, perhaps, better expressed as “optimum”—choice which is personally transformational and transformational of the nature of reality is elusive and unlikely to be achieved. Our own optimum choices exist, I think, at various points of intersection in our lives and most of everything else we choose and experience is just various kinds of futile duality. What I was trying to do was to address the part of him that was aware of that but which still held out hope that somewhere up ahead it was still waiting for him. It is, I think, a delusional perception characteristic of young adulthood. Because I’m still young, I might yet achieve irrefutable greatness. In terms of the whole Aardvarkian Empire dream of his, what I showed him was the specific off-ramp that he had missed that would have led to the highest plateau in those frames of reference and it was a ways back at the time I was telling him that he missed it: a crushing blow to those, like Cerebus, who never quite manage to move beyond young adulthood.
I still have high hopes that the Cerebus storyline itself can prove to be transformational but right now it’s mostly read by atheists so there’s no way of telling if its transformational, efficacious or merely entertaining to certain numbers of a certain kind of atheist. A part of me thinks, “Well, I’ve finished it, why am I still here? Where’s my metaphorical ride to the metaphorical airport?” It has the same experiential texture as writing and exam and then finding out that as soon as you’re finished you have to write another exam on the nature of writing exams.