Friday, September 01, 2006

Davewatchwatch

As long as we speaking in the Vulgar Tongue, I have no problem in saying that Mr. Dave Sim is crazy, cracked, loony, potty, insane, several land cards short of a Magic deck, nuttier than a fruitcake factory which is hosting the annual convention of the Cashew Appreciation Society. I have said so myself on many occasions. My only problem is with people who use 'He's mad' as shorthand for 'I can form a critical judgment about Cerebus the Aardvark without the bother of actually reading it.'


Earlier this year, Steve Bolhafner, stalwart of the Cerebus mailing list described me as:

The conflicted Andrew Rilstone who I think loves and hates Cerebus in equal proportions more strongly than almost anyone (there are those who love it more and hate it less, and vice versa, but he is very strong and articulate about both positions).

I believe that this was intended to be a flattering remark, and I took it as such. But I think that there is something a little off-the-wall about needing to describe me as 'conflicted'. I think that Cerebus is a masterpiece and Dave Sim is an idiot. What is 'conflicted' about that? 'Greatest living comic book creator and total asshole' is a sentence I am still rather proud of.



Having read Cerebus the Aardvark and the associated essays notes and letter columns and commentaries, I tend to experience Sim as a series of gobbets of total lunacy strung out like idiotic pearls on a string of interesting, creative and verbally inventive writing. People who gave up on Cerebus after Melmuth have largely experienced mad-Dave only via his most extreme and therefore most widely quoted remarks. (The Victor Reid material in Cerebus #181; 'Tangents', the bonkers interview in the Onion.) Obviously, my Davewatch thing contributed to this tendency. I don't say he doesn't believe the madstuff; but I do say that that isn't all he ever talks about.

It's a bit like discussing the Ring Cycle, the Silmarillion and the Bible. Long, inaccessible works: people who don't like them tend only to know them from a few isolated passages for the very good reason that the only people who can be bothered to encounter the complete work are those who are fairly sympathetic to it in the first place.



'So Andrew, what you are saying is 'I'm the only one round here who's slogged through Sim's writings, so I am the only one who is allowed to slag him off.' '

'You could put it like that, I suppose.'



When we go beyond this and describe Sim as mentally ill we appear to be talking about his behavior: his asceticism, his celibacy, his reclusiveness, as opposed to his gnosticism, his extreme anti-feminist theories and his alleged personal misogyny. (*) Of course, many respectable religions have a tradition of hermits and anchorites, to say nothing of vows of poverty and clerical celibacy. But I am happy to grant that cutting off your links with your family is not widely regarded as normal behavior. 'Dysfunctional', 'maladaptive' and 'unable to function in society' might be apt descriptions. This may be one of the things which is meant by 'mental illness'.

How is this 'mental illness' related to his strange theories? Without the whole case history before us, we can't know. Perhaps Dave came up with the idea YHWH was a ball of fire at the center of the earth and therefore ostracized his mother. Or perhaps it just so happened that he developed a bizarre theological theory, and quarreled with his mother at the same time. Or maybe the experience of living alone without any human contact caused him to produce these rather elegant and ingenious but entirely self-referential religious models.



The commentary on 'The Last Day' for the Yahoo mailing list was, I think, the single nastiest thing which Dave Sim has ever written. The commentary takes the form of a heavily moderated Q & A session. Someone implies that they think that Dave regards Cerebus' 'gospel' as a genuine addition to scripture. Sim responds:

'Also, nice try from the he/she/it side of the fence: slipping an accusation of blasphemy against me in under the fence. Obviously I don’t think 289-290 is divinely inspired.....Yes, I know you didn’t mean to accuse me of blasphemy, but that’s the nature of atheists. You’re empty vessels wide open for demonic possession 24/7.'

Someone else asks a rather geeky question about the dates of Cerebus' world and how they relate to real history. Sim's answer is that it's a mistake to assume that Cerebus' story is taking place on our earth. But it comes out as:

'My assumption is that everywhere in the universe planets roughly the size of YHWH all enact their various tantrums and plodding resistance to the truth and infantile he/she/itisms in roughly the same way (and for all I know bigger planets are no different in the same way that all he/she/its are the same), so Cerebus’ story could probably have been enacted on any of a trillion times a trillion little blue balls that think they’re God just as there are probably a trillion times a trillion of each of you everywhere in the universe all behaving exactly as you do, each of whom has chosen to turn his/her back on God. Or maybe out of the trillion times a trillions versions of you there might be one or two that are actually God-fearing, but that would surprise me if it was true.'

So: Sim is no longer the only Real Man in Canada or the only man on Earth who is not a feminist: he is now possibly the only God-fearing man in the universe.

A question about the politics of Cerebus' world leads to a rant about terrorism:

'In order to sustain itself as a political movement, he/she/itism in our society needs to convince people that the proper reaction to killing Islamist Muslims who are plotting violence against civilians is grief at their death and/or fear of the people killing them. The proper reaction isn’t grief and/or fear. The proper reaction is relief coupled with determination to kill as many more as it takes until Freedom is the universal condition of man.'

Note the straw doll. Who are these liberals who express grief when Islamist Muslims who are plotting violence against civilians are killed? What Dave has in mind is liberals who express grief when innocent Muslim civilians are caught in the cross fire; or else liberals like myself who are concerned when individuals who may or may not be plotting violence are arrested, imprisoned or killed without having been given a fair chance to defend themselves. If we could win the warren terra simply by shooting a few easily identifiable and clearly labeled Bad Muslims, then life would be much simpler. In Dave's world, you can, and it is.

And in passing:

'Guantanamo Bay doesn’t actually bother Democrats but they do see it as the way back into the White House (mistakenly, in my view).'

We then get on to theology. Apparently, you can still be tempted to sin after you are dead. In order to be on the safe side, when he gets to the Afterlife Dave will do nothing but recite his prayer until the Day of Judgment. He concludes:

'I think unconsciously I was documenting the loss of my soul which was pretty much a given until I started reading the Bible. It’s one of the reasons that concepts like “fun” really don’t resonate with me at all anymore. My only interest at this point is Not Blowing It Big Time and making it to the grave and Judgment Day without any serious slip-ups. Like allowing people to accuse me of blasphemy without refuting the charge. I am on high alert 24/7 for exactly those sorts of things. '

Now I can think of a lot of words to describe this writing. 'Fanatical' and 'Puritanical' come to mind. It's the kind of Bad Religion which sees life as an inconvenient distraction you have to get through in order to reach heaven, with all pleasures and human interaction being temptations which are best shunned. But it doesn't have any of the joy of the Lord or the sense of being part of a positive, self-assured community which can make both puritanism and fundamentalism very positive forces in some people's lives. I might also describe the writing as 'mean spirited' or 'just plain nasty'. But mad? The product of mental illness? I think this lets him off the hook too easily.

I still don't quite know what follows from any of this.

* I say 'alleged' because there is a widely disseminated tradition that he behaves as a perfect gentleman towards his girlfriends, and is quite charming towards any other women he happens to bump into.

26 comments:

Dr Moose said...

Sorry Andew, you have completely lost me on this one! I trust your other readers will be more clued up than I!

Andrew Rilstone said...

Cerebus the Aardvark is a comic. The writer, Dave Sim, underwent a conversion and or nervous breakdown while writing it. He now claims to be a Jew, a Christian and a Moslem simultaneously, adopting a gnostic synthesis of the three religions in which God is in conflict with a demiurgic female principle which may or may not be identical with the YHWH of the Old Testement. He also thinks that the world is run by a cabal of Marxist Feminist Moslem Homosexualists. Many people think that he is not very sensible.

Dr Moose said...

Thank you Andrew. 'nuff said! Once I have finished the list of other tasks in hand I shall re-read the original post with a degree more understanding.

(Thinking about it I'm sure I'd heard of Cerberus the Aadvark before, but God knows where, and he ain't telling!)

Andrew Rilstone said...

By the way: everyone agrees that the first four Cerebus graphic novels are classic; and nearly everyone likes the change-of-pace volume 5. It's after that that opinion starts to divide radically, and my advise is always "Start at the beginning, and read up to the point that you lose interest, and one volume thereafter." (Because the comic has so many style-shift that you might very well hate vol 8 and love vol 9.) The really wierd religious theories only come in during the last two volumes, (15 and 16.)

vol 1 -- "Cerebus" Cerebus as a parody of Conan.
vol 2 -- "High Society" Cerebus accidentally becomes Prime Minister.
vol 3 and 4 -- "Church and State" Cerebus accidentally becomes Pope
vol 5 "Jaka's Story" -- Cerebus goes to live with his one true love, who has married someone else.
vol 6 "Melmuth" -- Oscar Wilde dies in poverty and disgrace. The madness begins to set in.

I still regard issue #36, (in the "High Society" arc) as the single best issue of any comic book drawn by someone whose name doesn't begin with the letter K.

The volumes get shorter as the comic proceeds, so vol 1-5 amount to slightly less than 50% of the 300 issue saga.

Sam Dodsworth said...

I decided Dave Sim might actually be mentally ill when I heard that:

(i) He had been dignosed as borderline schizophrenic sometime in the 1970s.

(ii) He explained at one point that he had stopped fantasizing when he masturbated because the spirit world is telepathic.

Some of what you report in 'Davewatch' worries me because it reminds me of what I've read (mostly in secondary sources) about actual paranoid schizophrenics. In particular, it's the way he seems to spin out endlessly complicated and ever-changing theories that both reduce everything to the action of supernatural forces and (somehow) revolve entirely around his own life. I'm perfectly prepared to believe that I'm seeing only his least-lucid episodes, but I still think there's more to this than simple metaphor abuse.

I don't think that's a reason to dismiss his work... although it might be a reason to dismiss his opinions, or some of them. I also think late-period Cerebus is weaker for becoming a pulpit for those opinions, even when it has some of the best panel composition ever seen in comics. I'm also out of time, so I'll leave it there for now.

G T Kingston said...

About Dave Sim:

1) I do think he is genuinely mentally ill. Along with all the stuff here, and much of what Andrew has observed, here is a quote from the annotations for 'The Last Day' (Pages 70-77) "It didn't take me long to realise in some way my mother had invaded me and forced me to add those three words". This is known as 'theory of control' and is a symptom of paranoid scizophrenia, I belive.

2) He holds reactionary and (very frequently) reprehensible views. His gleeful description of the invasivness of the placenta (again, from the Last Day) was particularly nasty.

3) Cerebus is still a very good comic, although with significant weak patches.

4) There is an interesting comment in the commentary for Page 188 of the Last Day, where he states that he is attracted to much younger women. I think this helps make sense of much of his behaviour towards them (and some of his attitudes - regarding them as immature and silly).
From this point of view, his shunning of women can be seen as a moral response to this incination.

Anonymous said...

Who are these liberals who express grief when Islamist Muslims who are plotting violence against civilians are killed?

*Raises hand* I'm prepared to express grief at any human death, no matter how bad the person concerned. (Admittedly I care a lot more about innocent bystanders.)

Although I wouldn't use "liberal" as my primary identity I'm sure Dave Sim would seem me as one.

Phil Masters said...

It really seems that the answer to Andrew's old question "Is Dave Sime mad?" is a simple "Yes" (or possibly "Well, duh"). He may have been formally diagnosed, and his comments and actions seem to fit various recognised medical criteria for mental illness, and are certainly what most casual observers would call barking.

At which point, further discussion by outsiders of this specific topic is really pretty futile. It's doubtless tragic for his family and fans, and may be of some technical interest to academic critics, but circling round the ramblings of a sad case doesn't achieve anything more. And madness notoriously starts out exciting and ends up very boring. Judging by the latest quote Andrew posted, Sim's own lunacy has certainly reached that stage; integrating Gnosticism, radical anti-feminism, and jargon from nuclear physics might have a certain wacky amusement value for the callous observer, but re-inventing the "Substituted the Wrongdoer on the Cross"/Priory of Sion stuff would have been very old hat even before The Da Vinci Code.

So I think I'd suggest to Andrew that any further Davewatch entries would be otiose.

Andrew Rilstone said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Rilstone said...

Andrew Rilstone said...

Yes.



Do you know, i actually got to the end of Phillip K Dick's "Valis" (Horselover Fat, and all that) which a lot of people regard as the worlds most unreadable book; and would quite liked to have seen more of his invented gnostic gospels. Theology, including invented off-the-wall theology is quite interesting to me. I also read nearly all of Christopher Tolkien's footnotes. So I confess that if Dave publishes his commentaries on the New Testement, I will be inclined to read them.



All scholars agree that Genesis is made up of two documents, the "J" text (where God is called YHWH) and the "E" text (where God is called Elohi.) Harold Bloom argued that the J text was written by a woman, and proved to his own satisfaction that the authoress was Bathsheba.

Sim's Torah commentary pictures Genesis, not as a contradictory redaction of two works, but as a debate between two literally existing gods "I made the world like this"; "NO, I made the world like this."

Similarly, many people have spotted that there are differences between John's pictures of Jesus and the one in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Since Dave is careful to talk about the "synoptic" Jesus, I think that he is going to reconcile the synoptic Gospels with John by postulating two Christs -- the synoptic Jesus who was led astray by Mary Magdalene and therefore didn't go to the the Cross, and the Jesus of John who wasn't and did.

Because the French royal family is descended from the Jesus who went agaisnt God's instructions, France is fundementally tainted, as most recently exemplified by their unwillingness to join the war against feminist Islamofascists in Iraq.

In the end, the French royal family, although they had escaped crucifixion, were guilitined -- you can only run away from God for so long. (Sim actually says this.)

Genius. Total genius. Bonkers, but still genius

Gabe said...

I'm going to disagree with the charge of otiosity. At this point, diagnosing Dave Sim is pretty much redundant, but having someone else to work his way through the dense coils of lunacy and pick out the really juicy nuggets (as you've done here and elsewhere) feels like a very useful service.

Sim is interesting in a way that most schizophrenics are not interesting, because (a) as you point out, he's very clever; and, more importantly, (b) we've watched his madness progress -- in parallel with his cartooning abilities -- over the course of a fascinating and masterful work of art. So I think it's worth talking about beyond the diagnosis.

James said...

'Dysfunctional', 'maladaptive' and 'unable to function in society' might be apt descriptions. This may be one of the things which is meant by 'mental illness'.

This is certainly the definition we learned in my high school psych class. And I think it would not be hard to argue that hermits, anchorites, and so on were in fact somewhat mentally ill by the modern, inherently secular definition of the term. After all, if someone comes into a hospital claiming that God talks to them, verifying the claim is no part of the process, historical precedents or not.

Sam Dodsworth said...

A sudden thought - if you're serious about liking Philip K. Dick's post-stroke gnostic writing then you can probably find selections online. Search on 'Philip K Dick Exegesis' and the like.

There was also a book of selected writings, but a quick look at Abe Books shows it going for silly money as a collector's item:

In Pursuit of Valis: Selections from the Exegesis

Andrew Rilstone said...

Well, I think that Valis has two semi-sequels that I haven't read, so I'll give them slightly higher priority.

The movie version of "A Scanner Darkly" was quite good, by the way.

emjaybee said...

I suppose I should be grateful for Andrew and others' willingness to pick through Sims' ravings for us, though to be honest, I didn't find his first four works all that compelling as stories (artwork discussions I leave to the artists and art lovers). And no, I didn't know much about his misogyny beforehand, though I did notice the typical comic-book lack of interesting (to me) female characters.

That's as far as I went or am likely to go with him. Wading through his vitriol for the occasional interesting thought is akin to wading through acid for gold. I experience quite enough run of the mill sexism every day without adding the extra-loony kind.

Greg said...

But I am happy to grant that cutting off your links with your family is not widely regarded as normal behavior. 'Dysfunctional', 'maladaptive' and 'unable to function in society' might be apt descriptions.

Maybe Sim is heeding Jesus' words:
"If any come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14: 26

Kevin said...

I agree with Phil Masters that it's not at all useful to keep picking through the latest on Dave's ever-accelerating mental condition.

What it is is tremendous fun!

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Dave Sim himself would think of his writing and ideas if someone could convince him to go on anti-psychotic medicine for a month or so. It would be so nice if we were able to get the "old" Dave Sim back... Or at least someone who can be vaguely rational.

Despite all the materials about Cerebus out there, on the Internet and in Following Cereebus, I still wonder what how the comic book would have unfolded over the last 150 issues or so if Dave had managed to keep his head on straight.

- Mark

Greg said...

What evidence is there that Sim is not even vaguely rational and that his head is not on straight?

NFN said...

"3) Cerebus is still a very good comic, although with significant weak patches."

you may find weakness with the philosophy of the author but who the hell exactly are you to judge the strength of the structure?

Andrew Rilstone said...

My name is printed in large, friendly letters at the top of the page.

If I wasn't allowed to make value judgements about a comic book, then my reviews wouldn't be very interesting, now, would they?

Infradog said...

Mr Rilstone, I can't see that your comments are anything but what Dave Sim expects. Sim has said that the marxist-feminist side of any argument is an emotional one, and that's all I see here. You prattle on and on about how Sim is insane and list the things he's written and said. And yet, you never take the time to actually refute any of it.

To be taken any more seriously than a mewling cat, why not explain how Sim is wrong? What is wrong about reading the major works of the Abrahamic religions and poring through scientific journals to look for parallels? Is his view of embryology intense? Yes it is. Is it wrong? I've heard nothing in all I've read casting Sim in an unfavorable light that suggests it.

It's perfectly legitimate for you to dislike Sim's point of view. However, Sim has done extensive research and read many volumes of religious and scientific works to come to his conclusions. You? Not so much. You only serve to illustrate Sim's assertion that the Marxist-feminist camp chooses not to think when presented with tings that don't please them or fit into their paradigm.

If you really want to seem like (and read like) more than just a feminist with a penis carping from the sidelines, then wade in and refute Sim's ideas. If you can't (and from what I've read, you haven't), then the real insanity is why anyone would bother listening to you at all -- just another whiny voice in the chorus.

Andrew Rilstone said...

Just to be clear: when someone says that the Asian Tsunami was caused by a sentient demiurgic force at the center of the earth expressing he/she/its displeasure at the final issue of a comic book; when they claim that if God hadn't intended a wife to be beaten by her husband He wouldn't have given her a bottom; and when he says that 1960s pop music was an allegorical debate between God and the demiurge (and that George III was the last king of England with the name "George").....you think the burden of proof is on ME to prove he is WRONG?

How much of my extensive writings about Cerebus have you read, incidentally?

Infradog said...

So far, I've only seen this blog and its links to peripheral stuff. I just finished reading the whole of Cerebus and was looking for what the fuss was about.

Without a doubt Sim has said some ridiculous things (I hadn't run into the tsunami-as-commentary bit yet -- holy yipe). But his satire within Cerebus and writings without it about the stranglehold of how-dare-you-question-it feminism strike me as, at least, legitimate concerns.

I try to maintain as objective a standpoint as I can, being "the demon" -- a white male. When he asks, for example, why perfectly attractive young women and men seek to pierce the living shit out of their faces and bodies (Last Day annotations about the day scene at the Sanctvarie gate), I find myself asking the same question as I stroll through the streets of Seattle.

When he claims that the more militant feminists seek to squelch any dissent to their point of view, I simply have but to recall conversations had at a Capitol Hill coffee shop where I likened my then-girlfriend's cute new hairdo to the adorable ears of my family's former cocker spaniel (meant and explained as a similie and compliment, as I love dogs), and was roundly shouted down by her skin-headed, multiple-studded, tattooed co-worker (who, as it turned out had a big-time lesbian crush on my ex). "YOU DON'T COMPARE HER TO A DOG!" she yelled, no matter what I said or how calmly I said it.

She reminded me, down to the saw-point teeth, of Ziggy, Bear's domineering harpy girlfriend.

So as I read more about Sim's take on feminism, the more I was reminded of incidents like that. And while Sim's annotations of the Torah and subsequent scriptural adventures are, to say the least, challenging to read and understand, I have to wonder why much of his less outre commentaries are lumped in with the psychoses as if they had no value whatsoever.

It's almost like he's become a favorite toy for a host of ravening dogs -- dogs needn't ever explain why they like the toys they like, they just chew.

Another example -- I think he's on the money when he talks about the 13-year-old girl in Australia being allowed a sex change operation because she believes herself to me male in a woman's body and not a lesbian. It's also not an illogical conclusion to draw that this level of "progressive" thought MAY have stemmed from the whole abortion-on-demand debate from the early 70s. I'm not saying he's right, but why dismiss it out of hand without sincere analysis? Just because it offends women?

I think Sim's on to something with the carte blanche feminism receives in most Western cultures now. I'm more of the view that women taking on the worst characteristics of men is not equality and that there are some things for which either men or women are unsuited. Equality doesn't mean vaulting over and seeking revenge. It does make me wonder if Sim's assessment of cultures which became progressively more female dominated (I think he mentions Egypt at the time of Moses as an example) imploded. Do I think he's right? I don't know, but I'm not going to dismiss it out of hand merely because it goes against currently popular thought.

I guess I read here a lot of name-calling and outright character assassination, and it seems to me that this does nothing to diminish Sim's arguments (some of which, I'll readily admit, take care of themselves), and makes those casting such aspersions seem rather petty.

Andrew Rilstone said...

OK

On page 105-106 of the Collected Letters, Sim writers the following:

"Oh yes, I was quite in earnest about saying that female buttocks were made to be spanked."

He means "created by God with express purpose of..." not "suitable or appropriate for."

1: The teleological fallacy: granted that you believe in God, does it follow that everything was made for a purpose, and one purpose only? Should we say "Hair was made by God in order to be worn in bunches" or "Feet were made by God in order to kick footballs?" How would we know?

2: How does it follow from "adult women have bottoms" that "adult women ought to be beaten (by their husbands)"? Adult males also have backsides, I believe.

3: Chimpanzees have bottoms. So far as I know, male chimps do not beat female chimps. What was God's purpose in giving female chimps bottoms?

"....over here [i.e in Canada] corporal punishment was the norm up until recently and the laws specified children, wives and employees."

1: Assertion without evidence. It would be interesting to know when Canadian law permitted employees to smack their staffs bottoms.

2: The website of the "National Center for Effective Discipline" states that corporal punishment is still practiced in Canadian schools (up to 2002), although the norm was to smack children's hands. Adult males and females often have hands, so does it follow that God intended them to be strapped?

"If you know of a way to get through to emotion-based unreasoning beings which doesn't include corporal punishment, I'd sure like to hear it because the "anything goes" approach to marital relations and child-rearing isn't getting us anywhere, I don't think."

1: Women (and employees and children?) are "emotion-based unreasoning beings". The claim is not "women, on average, are ruled by their emotions more than men are" or "most women are more emotional than most men": the claim is that women are "unreasoning beings". I, unlike Dave, have met some women, and I have had reasoned conversations with several of them. Indeed, the second and third cleverest people are know are of the female persuasion. They certainly appear to use reason when I talk to them, so the Turing test requires that I assume that they actually are.

2: You have to use violence to "get through" to unreasoning beings? I would have thought that the response "If a steal a cookie, I will get hit; I dislike being hit more than I like cookies; therefore, I will not steal the cookie" is just as much a reasoned response as "If I steal a cookie, it will make mummy sad..." "If I steal a cookie, there will not be any for supper.." or "If I steal a cookie, I will have to go to my room..." People who believe in slapping slap six year olds and ten year olds -- surely, not infants?

3: "If you know of a way..." Most of my friends who have children would not think of hitting them -- certainly not the violent beatings envisaged by Sim (see below). Most of their children are well behaved. I think they "get through to them" by leading by example: if Mummy and Daddy have nice table manners, than little Jimmy picks up the idea that nice table manners are normal.

4: "The anything goes approach...." Note the slippage: we have gone from "parents and teachers discipline children without hitting them" to "parents and teachers do not discipline their children in any way". The buried assumption is "smacking is the only possible form of discipline". He is assuming the point that he is attempting to prove.

"At the macrocosmic level, you have 9-11 and all the liberal perplexity about why the United States hasn't been attacked again."

1: Assertion without evidence. Are liberals really perplexed about this?

"Why? Because the US made sure that there were severe enough consequences that their adversaries now think twice and decide that discretion is the better part of valor. Discplining wives and children falls into the same category."

Claim: There have been no attack on America since 9-11, because America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Therefore, fear is an effective tool; therefore, beating wives and children must be effective.

1: Do we know that the terrorists have stayed away from America because they are scared of the consequences? Might it not be because greater vigilance and security has made it too hard from them to do so. It wasn't the smack that stopped me stealing the cookies, it was that Mummy had put them on a higher shelf.

2: England participated in the Iraq war, and England has been targeted by terrorists. Some people think that England's participation actually encouraged the terrorists.

"Unless you give them a good reason to reconsider, they're just going to go half-cocked in ever direction every time the whim takes them. You have to spank them hard enough so that the spanking comes to mind first if they think of doing anything they know you're going to disapprove of. As I said in the piece in question: it has to be hard enough to sting for an hour or two without leaving a mark."

1: "A good reason to reconsider" -- Again the buried assumption is that pain is the only conceivable "good reason", and that the other kinds of sanctions which parents use, aren't.

2: It can be observed that at least some of the children of non flagellatory parents do not in fact "go half cocked in every direction ever time the whim takes them". You can, of course, point to criminal adults and say "If only their parents had beaten them, they would not have grown up to be criminals." But everyone agrees that it is a criminal minority who preys on a law abiding majority -- so whatever non violent discipline parents now use appears to work in the majority of cases. And anyway, there were still naughty children and criminal adults in the Good Old Flogging Days.

3: "things you're going to disapprove of." Note that it is the authority of the male that is being asserted: we aren't talking about punishment for immoral behavior or disobeying some rule book -- do something that the alpha male doesn't like, and you'll get hit.

3 "For an hour or two". That would go way beyond what would have been considered acceptable, even when schools were allowed to beat children with sticks. "Short, sharp shock" was the order of the day.

The unquestioned assumption that goes throughout the letter is that whatever is true of children is true for adult women: that husbands are responsible for making rules for their wives and punishing infractions much the same way that parents are responsible for imposing rules on children. I personally regard this as a self-evidentially ludicrous statement: but the key point is that Sim never argues for it or attempts to prove it: he merely assumes it, based on his crazy mythological belief that women can't think.


OK: Now, do you propose that I give all 600 pages the same treatment?

Infradog said...

No, that won't be necessary.

What a shame that what kernels of truth or good ideas that might be present in Sim's mind are so inconceivably outnumbered by...by...whack-a-loonery. Sorry. Couldn't think of a better word.

Thanks for taking the time and the effort. I appreciate it. It hasn't ruined Cerebus for me, but it's certainly re-cast it.