Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Davewatch

"The strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force are irreconcilable, in my view. That’s the whole point of the debate. The weak nuclear force (YHWH, he/she/it, Marxist-feminists, the Feminist-Homosexualist Axis) wants to be the strong nuclear force (God, masculine men) and can’t be and therefore everywhere across time and space is doing what he/she/it has been doing in our own society since 1970. Screwing things up. The science isn’t suspect, I don’t think. The he/she/its don’t like it because if follows the evidence and concludes that he is preferable to he/she/it. Strong instead of weak."

12 comments:

Lirazel said...

Rather a pity that words don't fail him, innit?

(Mean Lirazel, no biscuit!)

American Ronin said...

In a world full of uncertainties, it's nice to know that Dave Sim is still batshit insane.

Andrew M said...

Delurking . . .

Andrew Rilstone, you read the Yoohoo commentary so that I wouldn't have to. Thank you.

I read it anyway.

Is this from the book, or a recent interview?

If I am following this logic (or Logic or "logic"), 'she/he/it' is a nuclear force that has been screwing things up everywhere across space time; owever, in our own (assuming here U.S./Canadian?) society, 'she/he/it' has only managed to do this as of 1970 or so?

Have I got this right? I can't have that right. Because that would make no sense.

'Gravity has been wreaking havok in Tibet since 1987, when I broke up with my girlfriend. I'm pretty sure the science is not suspect here.'

Sheesh (or sheesh or "Sheesh" or SheSheesh).

Sam Dodsworth said...

I'm wondering about gravity myself - is it even more feminist-homosexualist-Marxist because it's weaker than the weak nuclear force? Or is it really the same thing, thus proving the scientificness of Dave's reasoning by allowing him to unify gravity with the electoweak forces?

(I also think Dave Sim has gone well beyond 'batshit insane' and into 'genuine and pitiable mental illness', so I'm a bit conflicted about weather it's OK to mock him. Although it does help to remember that he wasn't a very sympathetic character back when he was sane.)

Andrew Rilstone said...

The passage quoted came from Dave's commentary on the "Last Day" for the Yahoo Cerebus mailing list.

Andrew -- As near as I can understand it, Dave Sim believe that the whole of human history is a debate between YHWH and God. YHWH, it will be remembered, is the inferior demiurge which "split off" from the true creator. She needs to believe that small, subordinate things can be equal to large, original things. So, God created the obviously inferior Eve from Adam's rib to indicate how silly is the idea that a small thing split off from a big thing can be the equal of the big thing; YHWH immediately started telling Eve that she could, in fact, be Adam's equal. YHWH gave Adam a penis, to represent the fact that a little thing dangling off a big thing could, in fact, nag, cajole and ultimately control the big thing: God responded by showing that men could ignore the demands of their penises if they wanted to. And so on. Presumably, Dave thinks that the last 30 years have been a very temporary blip in which YHWH has got the upper hand in the debate, or (more likely) God has said "OK, I'll let women run the world for a while, and you can see what a mess they will make of it."

Sam -- It depends what you mean by mentally ill. Presumably, you would claim that it is mad to believe that a wafer is the body of a Jewish revolutionary; or that Jewish temple regulations can be read as a template for 21st century middle-east policy; or that the positions of yarrow stalks, playing cards or stellar objects can be a useful guide to day-to-day behaviour. But if these are examples of genuine and pitiable mental illness, then we would have tosay that there are very few people in the world who are mentally healthy. (A feasible view, I suppose.) Sim's religion boils down to a bog-standard magical theory of microcosm and macrocosm; instead of saying "the rise of empires is both reflected by and a reflection of the movement of the stars", he is saying "social conflicts are both reflected by and a reflection of sub-atomic phenomena (which are themselves reflected by and a reflection of the cosmic conflict between God and Demiurge.) You could perfectly well define "madness" as "belonging to a religion of which you are the only member"; or religion as "a madness shared by lots of people"; but I am not sure how helpful that is. Granted, Sim's theories, though relatively self-consistent, are completely impreganable to reason: introduce any new fact, and he will say either "That is what they want you to believe", or else he'll rebuild the entire edifice on the spot and claim that that is what he has always believed. But you could say the same thing about Catholicism, or, for that matter, New Labour. Granted, his whacky theories involve a very strong anti-femminist component and a fairly strong homophobic component, which makes them very aesthetically displeasing to most people -- but then, you could say that about Catholicism, too. We could define mental illness such that Dave Sim, Alan Moore, Phillip K Dick, William Blake, and Tony Blair are/were mentally ill; or we can define it such that they are not. I don't know what follows. Some people have said "Now I know that William Blake was mentally ill, it follows that "The Four Zoas" is not worth reading", but surely we don't need to go through the whole "does the madness invalidate the work?" argument again.

Andrew M. said...

Andrew,

Thanks much. Yes, that sounds like a sound reading of the original Sim. We're in a God-permitted, 'YWHW on top' phase.

How convenient, to read the Bible in such a way that it supports your already-existant world-view.

Which should give me pause when I read the Bible, I suppose. I have to reckon I've done the same. So, is Sim all that different from the rest of us in the way he reads the Bible, or is the jarring difference only the singular views he chose to bring to it in the first place?

And I just today got to the bit where Sim matter-of-factly equates women as metaphors and co-equals not of men, but of penises. At which point I had to put the thing down for awhile, because, damn.

Lirazel said...

Well, let's see.

Having dealt over the years with a number of people whose schizophrenia took the form of believing that they, and only they, really understood what God was doing, saying, and wanting from people, and having on a number of occasions had to deal with the resulting cock-ups when people actually ACT on these ideas, I don't have inhibitions about saying, "Yes, Mr. Sims appears to be nuts." This is not based on the way he interprets Scripture or the moral code he espouses, but on the reports of other people about how he treats those who would otherwise be close to him, and how he treats himself. The bit about rewriting his entire cosmology to deal with an inconvenient fact or two and then claiming to have always believed the new version is a pretty clear indicator as well. Sane people are ok with being inconsistent, and more or less comfortable with paradox.

But then, I have no trouble saying the same thing about some people who are venerated in various branches of different world religions. St. Rose of Lima, for example, was a self-mutilating, bulimic recluse.

And I also have no problem saying that in the areas where our social constructs, such as churches, exhibit the same symptoms--a need to control all manifestations of pleasure, for example, as signs of weakness--then these constructs also are ill, and in need of healing. But I don't believe that I, individually, am called to heal people or society, alone and unaided. That would be another sign that the bats had taken up permanent habitation in the belfry.

Mr. Sims is a creative genius who is also a very ill man. The illness does not obviate the genius; nor does the genius obviate the illness. Whether he would be as great a genius without the illness is unknowable.

But I am reminded of a close friend who desparately wanted her depression to have spiritual rather than medical roots, so that it would be unique to her, and not a boring, treatable thing.

Sam Dodsworth said...

I was composing a reply, but now I can edit it down to: "What lirazel said". :-)

There's a continuum between eccentricity and mental illness, of course, but Dave Sim seems less self aware than post-stroke Phillip K. Dick and more isolated in his beliefs than David Icke, to choose two examples of borderline cases.

steveyb said...

In an attempt not to go through the 'does madness invalidate the work?' argument again, I'll just thank Andrew for posting another installment of 'Davewatch'. After reading Cerebus myself, thought I didn't have to, I have no desire to read the newsgroups; but I gain some strange comfort in knowing Dave's still out there somewhere as mad as a hammer.

Kevin said...

Hi Andrew, I've been reading your site for years. I love it when you post a "Davewatch" (or davewatch or Davewatch or...)

I liked what you said about Dave rewriting history at his convenience. I once saw an interview with him where he talked about the old TV show "ALF", and how a lot of people had told him that it was a ripoff of Cerebus, and he should sue over it, but he never took them seriously because he's above such things. Later on I came across an earlier interview from when ALF was still on the air. Sure enough, there he was going on about what a bald-faced ripoff of Cerebus it was, and one day the public at large would realize it and beat a path to his door and oh yes, then the day of reckoning would be upon us...

I like to imagine that his whole descent into madness started because some woman hurt him and he consequently had a bad day and wrote one slightly-unhinged essay. He couldn't have gotten his heart broken, he told himself, because Men Don't Have Emotions.

I always thought that the best thing we could have done for him when he started going off the rails would have been to shrug and say, "yeah, that's Dave, wotta riot" and forget all about it. That might have allowed him to creep in off the ledge with some dignity intact. But instead everyone jumped all over his ass, and he wasn't about to back down. What might have been a momentary flight of fancy suddenly calcified into a fixed system that had to be defended at all costs. Pretty soon it wasn't just some women he was mad at, it was all women, then femininity itself, then all men because they were brainwashed by women, then the female aspect of God, ad infinitum. The more cornered he feels, the farther out he has to go to prove he's right and everyone else is wrong. And of course it can't be done without cutting himself off from the sorts of human relationships in which one might run the risk of getting called on one's bullshit.

How is it that I find his work so boring but he still fascinates me so!

Phil Masters said...

Reading the quoted passage as a complete Sim outsider, it struck me that, if I knew nothing at all about the author or the context, this could be a case of a metaphor being taken too literally. This does happen, after all; people perfectly sensibly use terms from physics or spiritualism or sports metaphorically or as meditation aids, and other people say "Hah! He really believes X! What a loon!", and the conversation goes downhill from there.

(Case in point; a few years back, Hillary Clinton said something about talking to the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt that seemed to me at the time to be a pretty harmless way of stepping back from a problem and taking a new viewpoint - certainly not obviously more mad than asking "What would Jesus do?". But this lead promptly to a lot of nonsense about seances in the White House and Hillary thinking she could speak with the dead - and to be honest, the precise techniques involved were perhaps a little flaky. But the moral seems to be that public figures should avoid metaphors.)

If I thought that was the case here, I'd merely think that Sim held some ideas about human relationships and gender roles that were reactionary and vicious and, well, wrong, but not actually mad. But, from all else that's said, it seems that he actually thinks that all this gibberish about weak and strong nuclear forces is literal fact. At which point, the subtitles start blinking "He's a Loony!"

Whether a significant proportion of rambling madmen actually start out with metaphors that they know are such, and end up forgetting the difference between metaphor and literality, may be an interesting question. Whether a lot of theology develops the same way may be another one. Metaphors may be more dangerous than they look.

Infradog said...

Isn't making the concept of God fit into our own world views what everyone does, to some extent? Isn't that basically what latter-day Catholic dogma is? Isn't that what Shariya law is?

If it's all so wrong, why is nobody saying why it's wrong? I agree that much of what Sim writes and says is outlandish, but why must everything conform to some arbitrary universalist standard? More relevantly, why is nobody contradicting Sim instead of castigating him? Slagging him without refuting him is only proving him right (especially to him!).

To someone like me who has swallowed whole neither feminism nor religion, it looks more like you're all just saying he's crazy because you, like Fox News, need to repeat these things enough times for them to be true. Show us some substance to back up YOUR revulsion to HIS revulsion.