Thursday, December 24, 2020

(3)







I thought I knew how this essay was going to start.

I thought I was going to say “The problem with Cerebus does not come where I expected it to come. The problem with Cerebus is not Dave Sim’s sexual politics: the problem with Cerebus is Dave Sim’s chronic inability to stick to the point.”

And indeed: the problem with Cerebus—what makes it a difficult, and for many people, an unreadable book—is Dave Sim’s chronic inability to stick to the point.

Put another way: it’s the form, not the content, that defeats people.

But every time I typed my opening sentence, I found myself needing to qualify it. I could hear the voice of the Reader.

“Oh—so you think Dave Sim’s sexual politics are PERFECTLY OKAY? You don’t have a problem with him saying that women shouldn’t have the vote, or that men need to be taught how to spank their wives and children without injuring them; or that the female demiurge gave men cocks so that women could control them?”

He really says all of this, and that’s only the very beginning of it.

So let me qualify my opening sentence.

The biggest problem with reading Cerebus is not Dave Sim’s sexual politics—even though they are obviously toxic.

The biggest problem with reading Cerebus is Sim’s chronic inability to stick to the point. When he gets the narrative bit between his teeth, he cannot let it go. Or perhaps what The Author thinks the story is about and what The Reader thinks the story is about are at odds. Perhaps what we see as digressions are really the core of the narrative, and the core of the narrative is really a digression. There is no clear path through the text. You get long, static passages followed by exhilarating bursts of action. You struggle your way through twenty pages of dense text and then find that you have consumed fifty pages of wordless visual narrative without noticing.

It is hard to know if this is intentional. Did Sim consciously decide to have passages where Cerebus’s life-story moved forwards; interrupted by passages of farce and passages of exposition? Or did he sketch in a basic structure—fifty issues of Cerebus as Pope, twenty issues of Cerebus running a bar, forty issues of Cerebus and Jaka on a journey—and embark on a twenty-six year NaNoWriMo exercise in filling space?

I don’t accuse him of padding. But I kept thinking of the moment in Waiting for Godot when Pozzo and Lucky interrupt the tramps’ ruminations. “Reinforcements!” cries Vladimir “Now we’ll be able to see the evening through”.

If the Grand Plot calls for three Rabbis to argue about theology, and it occurs to Dave that the three Wise Fellows might look like the Three Stooges, then Dave will riff on Three Stooges routines for pages and months and years. How funny you find it depends on how well you remember the Three Stooges. My heart sinks whenever the Fleagle Brothers or Princes Mik and Keef come into the story.



After becoming Pope and meeting God (kind of) Cerebus becomes a bartender, and after several years, meets up with Rick, who was formerly married to Cerebus’s one true love, Jaka. Unexpectedly, they get on really well. Due to a plot device I may not entirely have understood, Rick still believes that Cerebus is the True Pope and therefore a kind of Avatar or Incarnation of Tarim (which is to say God, kind of). As a result, Cerebus’s most trivial remarks are interpreted by Rick as having divine significance. This is represented by a series of full page, double column, black letter pastiches of the King James Bible (with seventeenth century spelling) and stained glass window style tableaux.

This is not unfunny. Sim can do funny. Sim can do pastiche. Sim has studied the Bible closely, and the clash between form and content works pretty well:

“And Cerebvs grew wroth and spake angrily, inquiring of mee, Art thou a foole who following Cerebvs, knowest not where Cerebva doth go?

If Cerebvs shouldst peraduenture walke off a talle cliffe, wouldst though follow Cerebvs in walking off that same talle cliffe?

And I answered unto Cerebus saying Yea; even of a truth; it is the desire of Rickes heart to follow Cerebvs euen off the tallest of tall cliffes…”


But Sim keeps this joke going: not for one page, not for three pages, but for twenty pages. Twenty pages of Biblical pastiche.

Are we even intended to read it? He would hardly be the first person to incorporate a page of text into a piece of visual art. On pages 9 and 10 of issue #225, Rick starts to describe Cerebus’s very ordinary bar as if it were a temple or sanctuary

“and there were two chairs over against the windows of the west wall. To the north side going northward of the table of the west wall was one chair…”

This is obviously a joke at the expense of the notoriously unreadable book of Leviticus. (Is there something faintly anti-Semitic about poking fun at Jewish scripture without showing much sign of having asked an actual Jew what the temple passages are all about? * ) On pages 11 and 12 of the same issue, the Biblical text is substantially obscured by comic book art; which means (obviously) that you couldn’t read it even if you wanted to.

An unreadable text followed by an unreadable text? Dave Sim likes to mess with our heads.

Three volumes further down the line, Rick’s account of his time spent shooting the breeze with Cerebus in a bar has literally become the sacred scripture of a new Cerebite church. Indeed, it is one of the texts which the Three Wise Fellows endlessly argue about. The joke isn’t that far from Monty Python’s Life of Brian—very ordinary words appear to have massive significance if listened to with the ear of faith.

Rick’s Story represents a formal high point in Sim’s development as an artist. It contains some of the very best individual pages in the history of American comic book. The Bible passages are part of the collage. But they make the volume very hard to get through. 


It is not possible to talk about Cerebus without talking about Dave Sim’s sexual politics. Of course it isn’t. And he wouldn’t want us to. By the end, he talked about Cerebus as if it were an argument, or a thesis, rather than a work of art. He said that he said what he wanted to say in the way that he wanted to say it.

And this is an irreducible problem. As a work of art, Cerebus is worthy of our very close attention. It’s as serious and complex as Ulysses or Les Miserables. But as an argument, it is not even worth considering. Women like lovely little houses with pretty curtains; men like to get drunk in the pub with their male friends. Men like building houses; women like living in houses. Men talk about facts; women talk about feelings. Men like sex more than they like babies; women like babies more than they like sex. Men are inclined to think with their cocks and women know how to exploit this. A happy marriage—“merged permanence” between two different beings—is an impossibility.

As the basis for a slightly reactionary romantic comedy—as something for a slightly bitter divorced man to ramble about in his cups—it’s relatively harmless. But as the book goes on, it becomes a theory. Women are purely emotional beings. Women are “female voids” who suck energy from “male lights”. This is all revealed to be the literal truth in the book of Genesis (which Sim is the first person ever to have understood) and by physics and the big bang (the theoretical problems of which Sim has definitively resolved).

As the novel proceeds, the narrative gets nastier and narrower. Jaka goes from being the one truly good person in the story to being a spoiled harlot princess. Cerebus’s city is invaded by fanatical matriarchal fascists. By the final volume, the Cirinists have been eclipsed by a new even more extreme cult which permits abortion. Legalised paedophilia and bestiality follow as a matter of course.

*
Some Jews won’t listen to Wagner: I get that. Wagner was strongly anti-Semitic, and he was idolised by the most anti-Semitic person in history. (**) The question is not “Is the Ring Cycle anti-Semitic?” Of course the Ring Cycle is anti-Semitic. The question is: is the Ring Cycle reducible to anti-Semitism; is anti-Semitism the only thing we can talk about when we talk about the Ring?

Do we have to say Dave Sim’s bizarre—let’s be honest here, Dave Sim’s completely fucking deranged—theories exhaust what it is possible to say about Cerebus the Aardvark? Or can form be separated from content?

I remember a long time ago the late, great Jeremy Hardy saying  “People tell me that the Daily Telegraph is a pretty good newspaper provided you ignore its politics. I don’t agree: I think it is an excellent newspaper, provided you keep its politics in mind at all times.”

James Franco’s very good film about Alan Ginsberg showed an essentially circular argument being hammered out in an American court room. Howl! can’t be obscene, because it has redeeming artistic value. Howl! cannot have redeeming artistic value, because it is obscene. A great poem is permitted to contain the word “fuck”. A poem which contains the word “fuck” can’t be a great.

How many times have we been round this circle? Talons of Weng Chiang can’t be a great Doctor Who story. It’s racist. Talons of Weng Chiang can’t be racist; it’s a great Doctor Who story. Othello can’t be racist, it’s part of English literature. Othello shouldn’t be part of English literature, it’s racist.

Or, worst of all: since Othello is part of English literature, it doesn’t matter whether it is racist or not

I think Dave Sim is wrong. I do not think that being wrong is the worst sin an artist can commit. I think that we can forgive a writer for being insane or absurd or even evil. The only unforgivable crime a writer can commit is to be boring.

A Merchant of Venice is a blatantly, shamelessly, intentionally, offensively anti-Semitic story. It is also a bloody good play. (***) Both these things are true. Move along.


It is possible to exaggerate the extent to which Sim’s theories impinge on the novel (as opposed to the critical apparatus which is mercifully omitted from the compiled volumes). Certainly, from Church & State onwards, Cerebus’s major antagonists are an extreme matriarchal cult. But during Jaka’s Story and Mothers & Daughters, it is pretty hard to read the Cirinists as a parody or critique of real-world feminism. They are pretty much generic religious fanatics: indeed, it wouldn’t be too hard to read them as an all-girl Al Qaeda tribute act. (This was before September 11th.) In the final volumes Cerebus becomes the inspiration for an equal and opposite masculinist cult, which is presented as equally dystopian and ludicrous.

There is, from the beginning, a strong streak of boy versus girl comedy. But the men are just as silly as the women. Often more so. That’s the joke. One of my favourite one-liners comes while Cerebus is hiding out in a girls’ school—in a story which starts out as a parody of the Beguiled (sort of) and ends up as a parody of the X-Men (kind of). It also incorporates a parody of Man-Thing, called, inevitably, Woman-Thing. Cerebus, in the Clint Eastwood/Colin Farrell role, is making small talk with the schoolgirls.

“He’s probably rescued simply thousands of women from death—haven’t you?”

“Actually, no. Cerebus did use one as a shield once.”

“Surely you jest?”

“She was the only item at hand.”

“Have you never heard of the code of honour? It plainly states that women are not to be harmed in any way!”

“That is why they make the best shields.”


And later:

“You didn’t really use a woman as a shield, did you?”

“No. Cerebus was just making a point about the code of honour.” [And Cerebus didn’t have the nerve to tell you about the one he used as a battering ram].


This is definitely a joke about male violence towards women; and it is definitely “sexist”, in the sense that it contrasts the cynical, battle hardened male barbarian with the naive school girl. The central joke is Cerebus’s frank admission that he is a dishonourable fighter. Humour frequently comes from the processing of contradictory signals: I think that our reaction to Cerebus’s flawlessly logical “that is why they make the best shields” is to think “What a dude!” and “That’s a terrible thing to say!” at the same moment.

And then there is Red Sophia.

Red Sonja was a female counterpart to Conan the Barbarian: if you can visualise Conan, you probably picture him with a red-haired warrior woman at his side. She wasn’t part of Bob Howard’s mythos, but was incorporated into the saga by Roy Thomas. It’s Thomas’s comic-book Conan that provided Dave Sim with his template in the early days. So Sim’s Conan analogue met a Red Sonja analogue in issue three.

Pretty much the entire joke is that Red Sophia looks like the Roy Thomas swords woman, but talks like a stereotypical all-American bimbo. To a tiny degree, Sim may actually be pushing back against the dubious notion that the original Sonja would only have sex with a man who has bested her in battle. Cerebus is quite capable of besting anyone in battle, but he is relatively uninterested in sex. Sophia is on the other hand, a nymphomaniac. So when Sophia tells Cerebus that she is his to command, Cerebus orders her to carry his baggage. Eventually, she simply exposes herself to him:

"Enough talk, you short, grey celibate—what do you think of THESE?”

“They’d probably heal if you’d stop wearing that chainmail bikini.”


“Chainmail bikini” was already in use as a fan-expression to make fun of the implausible and impractical armour that Barry Smith and Frank Frazetta were inclined to dress female heroes in: Cerebus is very aware of the genre he is inhabiting.

It is subsequently ret-conned that Cerebus does, in fact, like sex very much indeed, but as an orthodox Tarimite doesn’t believe in doing it with anyone he isn’t married to. This makes a lot of sense but spoils the joke.

Some issues later, Cerebus wakes up after a particularly drunken night and finds that he has married Sophia. This occurs in the same issue that Sim announces that he and his wife Deni are getting divorced. While there is some low comedy involving Cerebus discovering a copper breast plate in his bed, any idea that Sophia is Sonja rapidly falls away. Her father may be a wizard, but her mother is the scary Granny out of the Giles cartoons. Cerebus has long-since ceased to be Conan. The joke is simply one of character: a cynical, taciturn, soldier unwisely married to a trivially minded chatterbox.

It’s a bit sexist, and quite funny.

This is, in fact, how most of Sim’s early comedy works. Elrod the Albino comes on the scene in the issue after Sophia’s first appearance, and for the same reason: Michael Moorcock’s hero implausibly guest-starred in an early episode of Marvel’s Conan. Where Sophia looks like Sonja and talks like a schoolgirl, Elrod looks like Elric but talks with a Texas accent. You don’t need to have read Elric to understand the character: Dave Sim hadn’t. You don’t—I say, you don’t—need to have seen a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon to understand his dialogue. I never have. The joke is that Elrod turns up at inopportune moments and irritates the hell out of Cerebus.

Cerebus and Sophia; Cerebus and the schoolgirls; Cerebus and Jaka: there is a hell of a lot of comedically exaggerated gender essentialism. You might well call it “not very PC” or “a bit sexist” or “unreconstructed” or “problematic”. But there is not much sense of all-out anti-feminist misogyny in the text itself.

There are some overtly toxic passages, which we will come to eventually.

One of the running gags is that bars are all-male environments. The Cirinists allow men to continue to go to bars; and oblige landlords to provide free food; with the proviso that men are not allowed to go home drunk: they have to sober up before they leave. If a man remains in a bar for three consecutive nights, he is automatically divorced from his wife. Men get to drink and women get protected from drunkards.

Two entire volumes of the comic—Guys and Rick’s Story—are set in a bar room. Quite a lot of men are fairly happy with the Cirinist arrangement, and Sim seems to think that this is how you would expect “real men" to feel: sport and alcohol and the company of other men is much better than domesticity.

Guys drink too much. Cerebus consumes whiskey by the bucket. They make jokes about pissing. They get into fights. The flick nuts into buckets and obsess about a violent squash/baseball hybrid called Five Bar Gate. (Sim describes the rules in rather more detail than the reader can probably take in.) Certainly, some of the female characters are clever to the point of being cunning and manipulative; and certainly, some of the female characters are chatty, flighty and over-concerned with nice clothes. But the male characters—including the ones we are meant to like and approve of—are characterised by straightforward macho vacuity. Cerebus himself is strong and brave, but also rude, vulgar, ignorant and dishonourable.

“Women are sneaky but men are idiots” may be sexist, but it doesn’t quite amount to full on men’s rights misogyny. I don’t even think that “…and that’s why all married men are miserable” is quite extreme enough to deserve the opprobrium which has been heaped on Dave Sim. But in the latter volumes—in two or three specific passages—Sim raises “Jaka and Cerebus can never be happy together” to a universal cosmic principal from which can be deduced the true meaning of the universe.



Please understand I respect and admire the frailer sex
And I honour them every bit as much as the next
Misogynist.…

Jake Thackray





(*) I am no longer a member of the Labour Party

(**) Apart from Jeremy Corbyn

(***) I am no longer a member of the Labour Party











Friday, December 18, 2020

(2)



In 1982, Andrew bought three copies of Cerebus the Aardvark from Forbidden Planet. Andrew couldn’t understand them. Andrew liked the idea of a comic with such a ridiculous title, possibly because Andrew had seen the John Cleese /Marty Feldman bookshop sketch. Andrew had bought Howard the Duck from the import spinner at the Sugar and Spice sweetshop on East Barnet Road, along with the Human Fly and the Eternals: but Andrew didn’t really understand that either. 

A bit later, Andrew tracked down copies of Swords of Cerebus (reprinting the earlier, funnier issues) and the High Society graphic novel. Andrew understood those and found them very funny indeed. 

Andrew bought every monthly issue from #80 onwards. 

At college, everyone Andrew knew read Cerebus. They wore t-shirts and had photocopies of their favourite pages on their walls; they referred to each other as Most Holy. Andrew’s flatmate Eddie made Andrew a life sized Cerebus stuffed toy for his birthday. 

Andrew even took to referring to himself in the third person. 

Some people feel that Cerebus the Aardvark was never as funny after it stopped being a parody of Conan the Barbarian and became a political satire. 

Some people stopped reading during the two hundred page digression about the death of Oscar Wilde. 

Very many people stopped reading after #186, when writer/artist Dave Sim explained his interesting theories about feminism. (SPOILER: He’s against it.) 

Andrew’s own attention wavered during Cerebus’s extended journey back to his home town, during which he is distracted by thinly veiled caricatures of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemmingway. 

The final volumes of the three hundred issue graphic novel involve ex-barbarian-turned-messiah Cerebus explaining the true meaning of the Torah to Woody Allen, in very small print. Dave Sim once claimed that only seventeen people had read that volume right the way through. Andrew knows at least three of them personally. 

When Cerebus came to an end in 2003, Andrew wrote a very detailed appreciation of the final issue. It really did seem, at that point, that Andrew was the only person who had stayed faithful to the Short Grey Fellow; and that Andrew was reading it in the same spirit that Andrew might visit a once-beloved uncle who had been jailed for sex-offences. 

Andrew always intended to re-read the entire three hundred issue, six thousand page novel to see how it stood up, but Andrew never quite got around to it. 

During lockdown, Andrew re-read the entire three hundred issue, six thousand page novel. 

This is Andrew telling you how well Andrew thinks it stands up. 

It is not a commentary or an exegesis. It is just Andrew’s thoughts. It is long, rambling, unstructured, and frequently wanders from the point. And so does Andrew’s essay. 





Cerebus is not a comic book. 

Cerebus is not a graphic novel. 

I am not even sure if Cerebus is a novel. 

Cerebus is a montage. 

Cerebus is a mixed media work of art. 

Cerebus is a multi-media narrative 

Cerebus is a vast, audacious, formal experiment. 

Reading Cerebus is like being assaulted from different directions by different kinds of text. 

Found objects. Literary pastiche. Diagetic text. Film and play scripts. Essays. Prose novellas. Biblical exposition. Comic strips. Traditional American comic books. Manga style cinematic decompression. 

There are pages of text with illustrations on the facing page. There are surreal wordless dream sequences. Decades may shoot past in a single page; or it may take Cerebus several issues to get out of bed. One issue demands to be cut up and pasted together so it forms a single huge figure. There are realistic characters who talk like cartoons and cartoon characters who talk like real people. The central figure is a funny animal who is treated as a fully rounded character with a complicated interior life. Movie actors and pop stars and political figures and famous writers and friends of the author keep appearing in pastiche. The fourth wall is frequently smashed into tiny little pieces. But there are maps and floor-plans and a very detailed pseudo-history. 

The comic never settles down into a single style. In the final volume, Woody Allen appears (presumably because he is a well known Jewish celebrity) to discuss the Old Testament with the central figure. Of course he does. When he first appears, he is a photo-realistic representation of the film actor: but as the story (or, as we are compelled to say, the “story”) proceeds, he morphs into a Hunt Emerson style caricature of himself. He ends up wearing a mask; transforming himself into one of the Jews from Maus. 

If you are incredibly irritated by this kind of thing, you will find that this is the kind of thing which irritates you incredibly. 



You meet people who think that John Steinbeck intended to write a melodrama about the Joad family’s ill-fated journey to California; and due to a catastrophic editorial blunder, accidentally put a series of essays about the dust-bowl migrants in alternate chapters. You meet people who think that Moby-Dick is a collection of witty and informative essays about the whaling trade which got hijacked by an irrelevant melodrama about a crazy sea captain and a verbose harpooner. 

On a first reading of Les Miserables it is easy to be shocked at how little of the novel is about Jean Valjean and how much of it is about the Battle of Waterloo, or the slang used by Paris thieves, or the philosophical idea of a nunnery. It is tempting to imagine that Victor really wanted to get to the last reprise of Do You Hear The People Sing and due to a terrible fault as a writer kept wandering off the point to talk about Fontain’s daughter’s foster brother. But the text of Les Miserables exists and the digressions are part of it. A Les Miserables which stuck to the point would be a different book. 

For all I know, a better book. But it is always better to read a flawed book which exists than a flawless one that doesn’t. 

You are entitled to be puzzled when a romantic comedy about a barbarian mercenary and a princess-turned-dancer is interrupted by a memoir of a hunting expedition in Africa. Particularly if the story is taking place in a fantasy world where Africa doesn’t exist. But you are not entitled to say that if you ignore or skip the embedded narratives you will arrive at some truer or better or preferred version of the text. 

We have to read the book Dave wrote: not the one we wish he had written. 

Books are not “what happened”. They are a set of choices the author has made about how he wants to tell us what happened. What matters, in the end, if the cumulative emotional effect those choices have on the reader. 

Books sometimes have irrelevant passages. My copy of Don Quixote has an introduction which very sensibly advises me to skip all the sentimental shepherds in the first half. 



Cerebus is very long. It ran to three hundred issues all but three of which are gathered together in a series of seventeen graphic novels. Back in the eighties we used to call them Phone Books. The idea of publishing a collection of back-issues in a single volume was rather a whacky innovation. It may not literally be the longest sustained narrative in human history (as Dave Sim likes to claim) but it does have an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the most consecutive issues of a comic book created by the same writer/artist. (Dave Sim wrote and pencilled all three hundred issues: Gerhard supplied phenomenally detailed backgrounds for every issue after #65.) The record was previously held by two little known superhero creators named Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It is believed that Eric Larsen may usurp the crown some time in 2023. 

Sometimes, a long book is the same as a short book, only with more chapters added on. If fifty pages of D’Artagnan getting into sword fights and preserving the Queen’s honour is fun, then five hundred pages are ten times as fun. If you like that kind of thing, you would be happy for the story to carry on more or less indefinitely. But if you found the first fifty pages a drag, then there is very little point in persevering. 

But some very long books have to be very long because they have a complex structure that can’t be done in less than a trillion words. You can’t possibly know what kind of a book you are reading until you get to the end of it, any more than you can possibly know what kind of a painting you are looking at if only the bottom left hand corner is poking out of the brown paper wrapper. 

And thus everything gets terribly polarised. 

Those of us who got to the end of Knausgaard’s My Struggle or Don Quixote or The Silmarillion are by definition, the kinds of people who can be bothered to get to the end of those kinds of books. If you aren’t disposed to like them you won’t read them and therefore won’t be able to find out if they are the kinds of books you would have liked if you had finished them. 

The world is not divided into people who have read the Lord of the Rings and people who are going to read it some day. The world is divided into people who have read it and think it is the bee’s knees, and people who are offended by its very existence without having got past Tom Bombadil. 

Not reading things you don’t think you’d like is a perfectly valid choice. 

The Guardian does a little feature called “Books that made me” in which people who deal in words respond to a questionnaire about their reading. What’s the first book you remember reading? What was the last book which made you laugh? What book couldn’t you finish? 

You could probably form a support group for the famous writers who say they have never got to the end of Moby Dick. On the whole, they are defiant, even proud of not having done so. “Life is too short! Four hundred pages in and we are still nowhere near the bloody whale!” People who haven’t read Middlemarch are much more apologetic and really want to get around to it one of these days. Ulysses is more like a mountain to be conquered. Knausgaard seems to elicit anger and resentment from people outside the cult. They are especially angry about his ethnicity. (“Why should I want to hear about the life of a straight white guy?”) 

I have read Moby Dick: several times: I understand it more each time. I have read Middlemarch—only once, but it blew my mind, in an appropriately provincial way. I raced through Knausgaard in one go, knowing within ten pages that I had discovered my new favourite book. I even got right to the end of Proust. I didn’t love it but I didn’t feel I had wasted my time. 

But I don’t love Jane Austen quite enough to have quite got around to the three I haven’t read. (Persuasion and Sensibility, I think? I started Emma once. But the Mr Darcy one made me laugh out loud in a cafe.) I will probably go to my grave without having done the full Dickens canon. I got right through Malory (while I was still at school) and Spencer (on my own time, in the days when Borders bookshops still had Starbucks in them) so I really ought to give Walter Scott another go. I don’t feel guilty that I have never got passed page 50 of Tristan Shandy, but it does make me feel a bit sad, because everything I know about the book makes me think it is the kind of thing I ought to like. I am within fifty pages of having read Ulysses. Indeed, this afternoon, it is a toss-up between Molly’s soliloquy and the last couple of volumes of 1980s Teen Titans. 

When I said during lockdown that I was going to try and tackle James Joyce at the rate of, say, five pages a day, one of my Fanbase asked if I was actually enjoying it. “It’s a great work of literature”, I said: “You aren’t supposed to enjoy it.” I was only half joking. When it comes to Herman and Karl Ove and Marcel you just have to throw yourself at them and let them take you wherever they are going: today it might be fifty pages of bloody French landscape, Catholics talking about being Catholics in a brothel, or another trip to the supermarket to buy prawns: but tomorrow it might be an aphorism or a piece of description or a conversation that you will carry around with you for the rest of your life. 

Perhaps it comes down to whether you are a book-addict or a story-addict. If what you want is story, narrative, fiction, stuff happening, then you obviously aren’t going to survive Proust. Or Moby Dick. If you read Cerebus to find out what happens next, you would go insane with frustration. These massive huge books have a gradual, cumulative, impact: they need five hundred or a thousand pages to do what they are trying to do you. 



The designs of My Struggle on us—with Boyhood Island as its most vivid example so far—are much less rhetorical than they are cognitive. The question that ensues, and that readers of Knausgaard in English will have to wait for subsequent volumes to fully answer for themselves, is whether hypnotic immersion on such undiluted terms is as genuinely nourishing as it sometimes can feel.

Nicholas Dames








Thursday, December 10, 2020

When Did You Stop Reading Cerebus?

 


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7



(1)




Cerebus, in shadow, and with a pile of dust behind him, rides into town. Two hairy chested ruffians look shocked. In shadow again, he walks into the Tavern
“where a man, or Aadvark is measured by his ability to reach the bar unscathed”. Someone pulls his tail. Cerebus cuts his hand off. 

It is 1977, and this scene very immediately calls to mind Ben Kenobi chopping the arm off Walrus Man (Ponda Babba) in the Tatooine Cantina. I don’t know if Dave Sim had seen Star Wars. He never parodies it, so far as I can recall. But that is how we would have read it at the time. 

We were all playing Dungeons & Dragons and we were all used to picking up Patrons in violent taverns. In one scene—in one page—Cerebus establishes himself as the cool Player character we would all love to be. 

The artwork is so much a homage to the Marvel Comics version of Conan the Barbarian that it makes my eyes hurt. There is no sense that Sim is exaggerating or parodying Barry Smith’s very detailed figure work for comedic effect, in the way he will exaggerate and parody Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns in Church & State. The joke, if there is a joke, depends on the art looking as much like Smith’s as it is possible for art to look. The town, the bar, and the supporting characters look like characters from a serious swords and sorcery comic book. Cerebus looks like an Aardvark. He has a long nose and tail. At this stage in the proceedings, he is naked, apart from a helmet and some medallions. He is drawn differently from the other characters. He is shaded differently: he moves differently. His eyes are cartoon eyes. Everyone else is a line drawing: he is consistently shaded in grey. Dave Sim must have kept the Letraset company solvent, drawing Cerebus for twenty six years. 

Howard the Duck had been a duck in a world of humans—hairless apes, as he called them. But he followed the same narrative logic as Spider-Man and Man Thing and the other characters he bumped into. He was a chap who happened to be shaped like a duck, or a duck who happened to be able to walk like a man. Cerebus is Bugs Bunny on a horse. A cartoon character in a realistic world. (This was before Who Framed Roger Rabbit.) 

Sim is closely engaged with the formal possibilities of the comic book medium. He isn’t just telling a story in a series of pictures. The (admittedly fairly slender) joke arises from the construction of a comic book page: the shape of the panels, the sound effects, the lettering. What is not shown is as important as what is shown. We see Cerebus walk to the bar. We see Techot pull Cerebus’s tail. We see a single panel containing no artwork, but a single sound effect: “HACK”. And we see Techot’s hand lying on the bar room floor. The whole force of the scene comes from us readers inferring what the “HACK” sound effect represents. 

Sim repeats the gag in the next issue. A Borellian warrior is making a speech about how Cerebus will undoubtedly want to spare the life of a vanquished foe, while a single caption saying STAB appears across the panel. A lot of writers eschew sound effects because of their connection with the infamously camp Batman TV show, but they are part and parcel of Sim’s story telling technique. 

STAB! HACK! Comics aren’t just for kids. 

At this stage, Sim is pencilling and inking and writing the comic himself. The backgrounds may not be as perfectly rendered as the ones Gerhard would supply from 1984 onwards, but they are very pretty. Sim also lettered his own work. Even at this stage, the lettering is a big part of the story telling. The white on black word “hack” with liquid—presumably blood —dripping from it. The shifts between italics, regular and bold lettering telling us how to read the text. The barman speaks in larger letters; unshaded outlines; with a wobbly splashy speech bubble: 

“I can’t serve you here... YOU’RE A....” 

and then, in the next panel, small letters dwarfed by a big balloon. 

“...guest..and...er....I always serve my guests at their tables.” 

The lettering allows us to hear the barman’s voice. 

And finally Cerebus speaks. And for all that he is the funny animal in a world of humans, with eyes that meet in the middle and a silly long nose, he doesn’t make a wise crack or a joke. He sounds cool: cooler than Conan ever did. 

“I admire your cowardice obese one.” 

Comic book Conan’s first words are 

“My life is for me to give, not for you to take, and I do not choose to give it.” 

Roy Thomas was Stan Lee’s protégé and Conan always sounded a lot like Thor. 

It is sometimes said (not least by Sim himself) that the first 25 issues of Cerebus are primitive; that in reading them we are basically watching an amateur teach himself to draw in public. It is true that the art gets tighter and cleverer as the comic goes on: and that it takes Sim some issues to work out what the main character is meant to look like. But a very large amount of what made Cerebus the Aardvark great is already present in these opening pages, if only embryonically. A cartoon character in the real world. Cerebus’s ultra-cool voice. A huge facility with pastiche. A constant clash of registers. The best lettering in the business. And a wish to exploit and push the boundaries of the medium. 

Pure comics.



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Friday, December 04, 2020

Britannia perdere!


Some people believe in conspiracy theories. Probably we all believe in them to some extent: we’re all inclined to say that The Tories; or Momentum; or the BBC are more to blame for the vicissitudes of life then is literally plausible.

The Government makes decisions which effect the economy; those decisions make things easier or harder for businesses; some businesses may have to close in hard times. If I say “The bloody Tories closed my favourite coffee shop” I am not telling the literal truth; but you probably understand why I said it.

Suppose someone says “The park bench has been removed by the fascist Tories who hate working class people sitting down”. Or suppose they say “The park bench has been removed by the Commies who think everything pleasant and enjoyable is inefficient”. Or maybe they say “The park bench has been removed by the forces of Political Correctness because Common Sense that parks should have benches and the Political Correctness Brigade always do what is contrary to Common Sense.” In each case, they are using “Tories” “Commies” and “Political Correctness” to generically mean the “wrong people” or indeed “other people”. It is very unlikely to have been fascists, commies or the Frankfurt Group who decided to rearrange the furniture in St Andrews Park. That the bench has been taken away remains a literal fact. That it would have been nice to leave it where it was is a perfectly valid opinion.

If a man says on Monday that the coffee shop was closed because of the Bavarian Illuminati, and on Tuesday that the bench was taken away by the Bavarian Illuminati, and on Wednesday that all the surgical masks that should have gone to nurses have been requisitioned by the Bavarian Illuminati, I should be inclined to think that he believes in the existence of the Bavarian Illuminati. But I would probably give only a limited amount of my time and energy to telling him that the Bavarian Illuminati, though real, were a seventeenth century masonic club with no actual power.

Is the man who attributes everything which annoys him to the Bavarian Illuminati annoyed by the same things which annoy everyone else? Does he see eye-in-the-pyramid where the rest of us see cock-up? Or does his belief in the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria determine the kinds of things by which he is annoyed? Do his fellow Illuminati Conspiracy Theorists share the same concerns? Does, in fact, his belief in Illuminati affect his behaviour in any way at all?

You meet a certain kind of pentecostalist Christian who sees the Devil wherever she looks. But that can go in two directions. She may believe that Satan has given her a migraine; and that the tablets the doctor gave her will make Satan go away. She may say that the very serious conversation she had with her teenaged son has temporarily driven away the demon that was tempting him to take marijuana. “Satan” is the word she uses to talk about illness and destructive behaviour. It is pretty much just her word for “bad thing”.

On the other hand, she may believe that Satan specifically manifests himself in candle flames; so that when she discovers a scented candle in her son's bedroom she destroys all his possessions and calls in a team of pastors to perform an exorcism. She may think that same-sex attraction is caused by Satan, and the way of driving the gay demon out of a teenaged boy is to hit him, over and over again, terribly hard. In this case “Satan” is a specific belief which drives her to do things that people who do not believe in Satan would regard as eccentric or harmful.



A thing is not necessarily true because the D**** M**** opposes it.

A thing is not necessarily false because the D**** M**** supports it.

It’s a good rule of thumb, though.



There are legitimate differences of opinion within the Great Virus Discourse. Two sensible people may disagree about the facts: how much good do face-masks do? Are children contagious? Can a person who has had the Virus once catch it again? Even when there is a general agreement about the data, there can still be a legitimate difference of opinion about how you balance two or more competing goods and how you assess complex risks. Some people will always say “I would rather accept a small risk of getting sick and dying than accept a large curtailment of my freedom — particularly if it is not me personally who is taking the risk”. Other people will always say “I am prepared to sacrifice some freedom in order to reduce my risk of getting sick and dying — particularly if it is not me personally who is having my freedom reduced.”

The Woke Utopia and the Political Correctness Brigade and the Social Justice Warriors are every bit as fictional as the Bavarian Illuminati. (The Devil I will leave strictly alone.) Does a person’s belief in one of these fictional entities affect where they place themselves within the Virus Discourse? Or are their beliefs only a habit of speech? Is the man who says “Face masks are Woke” or “Face masks are Political Correctness Gone Mad” saying anything more than the man who says “Face mask make my glasses steam up”?



P**** H******* has written extensively in the D**** M**** about The Virus.

I have picked two of his essays, more or less at random, as a sample.

I fully accept that I may have picked two unrepresentative weeks, and that the rest of the time he may be the very embodiment of sweet moderation. These are the two texts I have chosen.

May 23rd: “The New Authoritarian State’s Dream Has Come True Thanks To the Repulsive Word Lockdown. They’ve Made Us All Prisoners.”

June 14th: “From the lockdown to the destruction of statues, these febrile weeks show the pillars of our freedom and civilisation are rotten. As the Left now controls every lever of power, we face nothing less than regime change.”


As I say: his other essays may be the very embodiment of sweet moderation.

Both articles make some fair points which anybody might make. The May 23rd article eventually gets round to saying that the rules during the first wave of lockdown were a little ambiguous, and the police were at first rather officious and arbitrary in the way they enforced them. The June 14th article reaches the conclusion that Boris Johnson has not handled the crisis terribly well and that he has not performed well in parliament and as a result may lose the 2024 general election to Keir Starmer. But these banal claims are supported by a complex superstructure of conspiracy theory and magical thinking.

There seem to be three core beliefs.

1: Language has magic power. Names reveal the true nature of things; things’ nature can be changed by giving them new names.

2: Behind every event, there is always malign intent. There is no cock-up: there is only conspiracy.

3: At the heart of every conspiracy there lies, er, Tony Blair.



If there is a riot or other emergency in an American prison, the inmates may be confined to their cells. This is described as “lockdown”. The term is also used during a terrorist incident at an airport, or if a man with a gun is threatening school children. (It can also be used to mean “stop gap measure”, as in “try and lock down the engine until we get to the next garage”.)

H******* believes that the original meaning of the word reveals its true meaning, and therefore the true intentions of those using it. (This has been called the etymological fallacy.) Since the coronavirus quarantine was widely referred to as a “lockdown”, and since the term “lockdown” originates in the prison system, it follows that quarantine has turned citizens into prisoners. The people who introduced quarantine consciously intended to turn citizens into prisoners: the pandemic was a pretext to do what they wanted to do in any case.

The use of the word has changed reality: because we have accepted the use of the word “lockdown” we have accepted our new status as prisoners. This change is irrevocable. Even if the lockdown is eventually lifted, we will by definition only be like prisoners on parole.

“We will never get out of this now. It will go on for ever. We will not be free people again. Even when we seem to be free we will be like prisoners on parole, who can be snatched back to their cells at a moment’s notice.”

A claim that the centre ground of British politics might have shifted somewhat to the left in the last twenty five years might not be all that controversial. But H******* describes this shifting of the Overton window as “regime change”: the expression used to describe the military overthrow of a dictator by a foreign power. A change of prevailing opinion is therefore transformed into a coup.

Most of us would think that, if some angry demonstrators were threatening to destroy a statue, then putting barriers around the statue so they can’t get near it would be a sensible idea. H******* magically transposes this into an act of tacit approval: comparable to Neville Chamberlain’s attempt to contain and placate Adolf Hitler.

“This is why the memorial to Winston Churchill, and the Cenotaph itself, were shamefully boarded up on Thursday night – an act of appeasement if ever there truly was one.”

Poppies, Easter Eggs, the words of the National Anthem, the term “Happy Christmas”: left versus right politics is often fought out through the medium of symbols. I don’t know how “face masks” became the current locus of the struggle between liberals and conservatives; but they have.

There are some substantial points to be made about mask-wearing: but H******* doesn’t make them. Instead he says that masks “have been described as being as much use against a microscopic virus as a chain-link fence would be against mosquitoes.” Yes: and leeches have been described as a sovereign remedy against the pox; and seaweed has been described as an infallible means of forecasting the weather. But has it been described as such by anyone remotely qualified to have an opinion? The claim that masks are no help because a microscopic virus could jump through holes in the fabric is risible. If you sneeze or cough or shout you might propel drops of saliva into the air; the virus can inhabit the water droplets; wearing a mask reduces the risk of that happening. It would be like using a chain link fence to protect yourself from mosquitos if the mosquitos were all driving tractors.

But H******* does not speak of masks. He says “users of trains will be compelled to wear muzzles”. He isn’t particularly complaining that masks are uncomfortable and inconvenient. He isn’t asking for the science to back up the wearing of masks. He isn’t questioning if the laws are proportionate to the danger. He is worried about the symbolism.

“We have become muzzled, mouthless, voiceless, humiliated, regimented prisoners, shuffling about at the command of others, stopping when told to stop, moving when told to move, shouted at by jacks-in-office against whom we have no appeal.”

If we call the quarantine a “lockdown” then citizens become prisoners. If we call a shift in the Overton window a “regime change” than the country is under attack. If we frame “putting up some barriers” as “appeasement” then the government is capitulating with our country’s enemies. And if we are told to cover up our mouths in confined spaces to reduce the risk of coughing on other people, we have had our mouths and voices removed.

It is as if we are all wizards in the Alan Moore mould, and a battle is being fought out in Idea Space.

Who are these appeasers who have made us prisoners and deprived us of our mouths? H******* talks of a group called The State, The Strong State, The Authoritarian State and The Elites: this seems to be distinct from Mr Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. The Elites (lets call them that) regard quarantines and masks as good things in themselves. The new rules represent the way this organisation has always wanted the country to be run: they positively want to impose curfews, ban gatherings, and place people who haven’t done anything under house arrest. The coronavirus has provided it with a convenient pretext. The quarantine, he says, is an “induction period” to familiarise citizens with the idea that they are prisoners; as a preliminary stage to an even more drastic loss of freedom.

This is, he argues, the Same Kind of Thing as the restrictions which followed the terrorist attacks in 2001 and 2005. The anti-terrorist laws were the kinds of laws which The Elites wanted to bring in any case. Al Quedia was only ever “a bogeyman”: a fictional being who parents use to encourage young children to behave.

He does not go so far as to say that coronavirus is a mere bogeyman. He does, however, put scare quotes around the word “emergency” and talk about the “fictitious R number.”

Who is this Elite, and what is its reason for wanting to stop people going to parks and sneezing on each other? It is not Boris Johnson or the Conservative government. It seems to be a force in and of itself. It is envisaged as an Enemy Within which has been “growing in our midst for decades”.

People sometimes live together without getting married. Middle class people who have been to college sometimes find it hard to get jobs. The Church, the Opposition and the Queen are weaker than they were 50 years ago. This has allowed The Elites to finally show their hand. It isn’t clear what he thinks that the Queen was doing to Ted Heath in 1970 that she isn’t doing to Boris Johnson today, or in what way Harold Wilson was doing a better job than Kier Starmer.

“But now the new Strong State, growing in our midst for decades, has finally become powerful enough to emerge in all its naked nastiness. Or rather, all the proper institutions of a civil society have grown so weak that the Strong State can now get its way….The married family, the independent middle-class, able to make a decent living on the basis of hard-won qualifications, the political parties, Parliament itself, the Opposition, the Monarchy, the Armed Forces, the Church (pathetically anxious to close itself), the Civil Service, most of the media, the BBC, are just husks of what they were 50 years ago.”

Perhaps The Elites is an endless chain of masters and apprentices who are at this moment recruiting a clone army.


One concrete allegation is that the police have been illegitimately used to impose government policy during lockdown, rather than simply enforce the letter of the law. Well: it has always been the job of the police to encourage civil behaviour — to represent “order” as well as “law”. If P.C Plod sees some children being naughty he tells them they mustn’t and sees they get home safely, even if strictly speaking no law is being broken. “‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello let’s be ‘avin yer, you know it ain't safe to ‘ave more than three people at a picnic, I’m going to be back in ten minutes and gawd ‘elp yer if your still ‘ere” seems to be very much in the realms of what we expect British Bobbies to do. There are anecdotal claims that, back in March, some officers were not that clear where the line between “what the government advises” and “what is against the law” was drawn. But is it true that The Police, as a homogenous blob, have been “shouting angrily and menacingly at innocent citizens that they must go home, and that if they do not, they are killing people”? One high court judge, Lord Sumpton, likened the government’s use of the police in the early days of the quarantine to that of a police state: but he was making a very specific claim that police were being used to enforce policy which didn’t have legal force behind it. The government were in that specific respect acting as if we were a police state. We do not become the thing simply because someone has used the word.



A person might kneel down for any number of reasons. Anglicans kneel to receive Holy Communion; Muslims kneel and face Mecca; people learning Judo kneel out of respect for the dojo; men sometimes kneel when they want to ask ladies to marry them. People also kneel down to paint the skirting board or look for a lost contact lens.

Anyone can find out that in the modern political context taking a knee is not an act of worship, but an act of defiance and resistance. Some black American athletes chose to kneel, rather than stand, during the National Anthem as a protest against racism in the United States. That is what taking a knee means because that is what people who take a knee mean by it.

Contrary to what Matt Hancock believes, the term taking a knee does not come from Game of Thrones: the expression used in the TV show is very specifically bending the knee. I have only ever heard the term take a knee — as opposed to kneeling down or on bended knee — used in this specific political context.

H******* choses to imbue the action with a different meaning. His own meaning. He has unilaterally reframed an act of resistance as an act of submission.

“That is why police chiefs kneel like conquered slaves to the new gods of woke, and the leaders of the Labour Party do likewise”

(L******* F**, who Jonathan Pie doesn’t believe for one moment is a racist, similarly says that “anyone who asks you to take the knee wants power over you, nothing more.”)

Taking a knee does not mean what the people who take a knee say it means: taking a knee means what I say it means.

But what does woke mean? No-one can tell me. When I say “Woke means being insufficiently racist” they say “No, no, no it doesn’t mean that at all.” Sometimes they say that it means that anti-racism has gone too far. We used to be too racist; then we were just the right amount racist; now we are not racist enough. This sounds racist to me. Sometimes they say that it is a form of insanity. Sometimes they say it just means being a bit patronising. The word Orwellian is much overused. But being very strongly against a thing without being able to say what that thing is seems to me to be the very definition of Newspeak.

The Alt-Right are much concerned with what-they-call Political Correctness and Cultural Marxism. They weirdly connect it with Critical Theory and Deconstruction: modern literature departments, they say, think that words can mean anything they want them to mean. Taking a symbol which means one thing; coming up with a different thing which it might mean; and asserting that all the people who use that symbol believe in the new thing you just made up is a disconcertingly post-modernist tactic. .



If I said that the Cornish Nationalists wanted to abolish Britain, I guess you would know what I meant: they think that the nation of Britain should be dissolved into a number of smaller countries — Cornwall, Yorkshire, Wales, and so on. It is literally true that the Confederacy wanted to “abolish” the United States; and since “the U.S” and “America” are often used interchangeably, you could, without sounding completely mad, say “people who wish that the South had won the Civil War want to abolish America.” If I say that one side in the Referendum wanted to abolish Europe, you would understand me to mean that they wanted to dissolve the European Union, not that they hoped that the whole landmass would sink beneath the waves.

But what could it possibly mean to say the Black Lives Matter protestors are “ignorant armies who seek the final abolition of Britain”? (The final abolition: we have already gone part of the way to abolishing it.) The reliably unhinged M****** P******* said that the Black Lives Matter movement is dedicated to the “destruction of white society”. 

White society!

In certain kinds of pagan practice, a Priest-King was believed to literally be a god; and the god was believed to literally be the land. The health of the Divine-Priest-King and the health of the land were therefore the same. This is one of the things which the legend of the Holy Grail may originally have been about. The land is infertile because the King is infertile: find the Grail and the King will get his bollocks back. (This theory was one of the chief causes of T.S Eliot.) Some people feel at some gut-level that Winston Churchill is Britain; and that by desecrating the statue of Churchill you are slaying the god-king and bringing Britain to an end. Certainly some people act as if they think the existence of Bristol is mystically bound up in the statue of a particular seventeenth century businessman. Remove the statue of Colston a Bristol comes to an end. 


More prosaically: Britain and the history of Britain are indistinguishable. If any part of the country’s history is criticised or regretted or reinterpreted the country has come to an end. You can’t say the Colston was a slave trader without dissing the whole of history, the whole country, and anyone who has ever lived here. You can’t say that Winston Churchill had appalling views about Imperialism and lessor nations without spoiling the spirit of the Blitz, Vera Lynne and V.E Day. This is consistent with the idea that taking a knee is not a political protest, but an act of idolatry.

“That is why these strange crowds have begun to gather round ancient and forgotten monuments, demanding their removal and destruction. They do not know what they want, or understand what they are destroying. But that no longer matters. They think their moment has come, and they may well be right”

think I can now have a go at articulating how the theory works. 

Stay with me.

1: The movement to remove monuments to supposedly racist historical figures and the Coronavirus quarantine are the same kind of thing.

2: Everyone was much sadder than they should have been when Princess Diana died. Everyone was much more frightened than they should have been when the Twin Towers were destroyed. Being too sad when a celebrity dies and being too scared of terrorists are the same kind of thing.

3: Being too scared and too frightened are the same kind of thing as political dictatorships: both involve telling other people what to do. Everyone was forced to be sad about Princess Di and everyone was forced to be afraid of terrorists whether they wanted to or not.

4: So we can refer to these metaphorical dictatorships as the Dictatorship of Grief and the Dictatorship of Security.

5: We are more scared of The Virus than we need to be. This is the same kind of thing as being too sad about Di and too scared of terrorists. We could refer to this as the Dictatorship of Fear. So by the laws of magical thinking, we can say that we are now living in a Dictatorship.

6: Being told that you have to wear a mask or you will get fined is the same kind of thing as being told you have to wear a school uniform or you will get detention. Schoolboys dislike uniforms; dogs dislike muzzles: by the law of magical thinking, the new rules about face masks have reduced us to the status of children or animals.

7: This is intentional: The Virus is a pretext to (symbolically or magically) remove our freedom.

8: This symbolic or magical transformation of citizens into prisoners, dogs, or schoolboys has been perpetrated by The Establishment; The State or simply the Government.

9: However, a separate group, called The Radical Left or Forces Hostile To This Country have exploited our new symbolically servile status. The FHTTC have (by means of further magic) converted American anger at the killing of George Lloyd into outrage against the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol.

10: The police could and should have done more to stop the destruction of the statue.

11: Since they did not, the police tacitly approved the destruction of the statue.

12: It follows that the Police are controlled or infiltrated by the FHTTC.

13: The destruction of the statue demonstrates the weakness of the Old Establishment and the strength of the New Establishment. At the beginning of the essay, the baddies were the government and civil service who insisted that people wear masks on trains. Now the enemy are young black people who want to destroy racist symbols. But destroying statues and wearing masks are the same kind of thing -- part of a symbolic/magic attack on Britain.

14: Some people were quite cross when J.K Rowling apparently endorsed the view that trans women were not really women and shouldn’t be allowed to go to the lavatory in restaurants. This proves that it is no longer possible to say that trans women are not really women...even though she did.

15: Some people say that when they stop reading someone on Twitter, they are “cancelling them”. By the law of magical thinking, we can say that “cancelling” someone on Twitter is the same thing as literally destroying them or obliterating them in real life.

“Anyone, as she learned last week, can now be ‘cancelled’ – the new radicals’ chilling word for the obliteration they like to visit on their victims.” (J.K Rowling still has 14.2 million Twitter followers, so she can’t have been as obliterated as all that.)

15: The FHTTC do not, in fact believe that trans women are women; or at any rate it is not possible to find out if they do. You can’t ever know if you are saying the right thing or the wrong thing: obliteration and cancellation is an end in itself.

16: To summarise: the Elites turned us all into mute, childish, servile, prisoners: the FHTTC exploited this by destroying Britain and obliterating J.K Rowling. But this is only a stepping stone towards the final phase of the masterplan. Behind the FHTCC lurk…The Blairite Legions.

17: Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson were “eurocommunists”

18: Kier Starmer has joined the taking a knee protests. It follows that he is a Blairite, and therefore a communist, because taking a knee is about begging for favours from the most recent versions of the accepted creeds: he “kneels in supplication to the New Orthodoxy.” It isn’t quite clear what the New Orthodoxy is, but Kier Starmer supplicates the hell out of it. Note how, once again, we can magically make symbols mean whatever we want them to mean.

“I pointed out that Labour’s smoothie Mandelsonian and Blairite Eurocommunists were far more dangerous than Jeremy Corbyn’s crude and obvious Marxism....Now, when Sir Keir Starmer (another one of those who dallied with a Trotskyist sect in the 1980s) kneels in supplication to the new orthodoxy, who wants to tell me he is a ‘moderate’?”

19: Boris Johnson is weak and incompetent and will certainly lose the next election. Kier Starmer will not be as cautious as Blair was: as a result, in 2024, there will be a full-on communist coup, comparable to Russia in 1917. Since the police, the schools, and the civil service are already controlled by the Left, there will be no resistance, and this new Starmerite Euro Communist State will remain in power for at least two generations.

“The Johnson Government is now just keeping Downing Street warm for Sir Keir and his Blairite legions. But this will be far worse than 1997, when the Blairites moved softly and cautiously, nervous that they might rouse the Forces of Conservatism. For the past few weeks have also demonstrated that all the pillars of British freedom and civilisation are hollow and rotten, and that we are ripe for a sweeping cultural revolution as devastating as the one Lenin and Dzerzhinsky launched in Petrograd in 1917.”

And all because some people find that breath masks make their glasses steam up.


Do you disapprove of gay people because you believe in Satan: or do you describe gay people as Satanic because you disapprove of them?

Does your fear of Political Correctness cause you to object to providing wheelchair access to theatres; or do you call wheel chair ramps Politically Correct because you disapprove of them?

Do you hate the government because they are hiding the evidence for Flying Saucers; or is the Roswell Cover-Up really just a metaphor for your intrinsic distrust of government?

Do you find face masks annoying and decide that the people who want you to wear face masks are deliberately trying to annoy you? Or are you annoyed by face masks because you already believed that the government likes annoying people?

If you believe that the Illuminati are running the world, then you see the Illuminati everywhere. If Kier Starmer is doing well: Kier Starmer must be an Illuminati. Contra wise, if Jeremy Corbyn did badly: Jeremy Corbyn cannot have been an Illuminati.

Mask are annoying: masks must be an invention of the Illuminati. 

Why do the Illuminati want me to wear masks? It must be because they don’t like free speech. Or want me to look like a dog. Or a slave. Or maybe there are mind control drugs in the material.

The precise enemy changes. The Jews; the Commies; the Gay Agenda. The telepathic alien lizards. FHTTC; SJW; PCB. 

The exact chain of control changes.

But always. Malign intent. They are out to get you. Civilisation is about to end.

But they never are. And it never does. It never, ever does. 






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