Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #112 (January 1st, 2007)

Make it your New Year's Resolution to

Bookmark the Blog and Mail on

Your computer. The Blog and Mail can only BE HERE for you

If you first choose to BE HERE for yourself.

Or something like that.

Happy New Year! I'd use a smaller typeface in deference to your hangover but I already used that joke a couple of weeks ago.

Still answering the mail:

Our old friend Scott Berwanger—he of the massive "in progress" Anubis graphic novel that won't be published until he's completely finished with it—returns:

I have an unexplainable yet irrepressible urge to try and see into the very ends of my creative path. I want to be able to see what's on the other side of that door, the one beyond the end of Anubis. I'm not sure to what extent this is an advantage or a disadvantage. But it is, as I said, seemingly irrepressible. Based on the fundamental nature of time itself, and how it may wreak havoc with my unquenchable curiosity, I suspect that it will always be something that I am forced to grapple with (hopefully, I will be able to tame my ambitions to at least a certain extent).

Personally, I think that's inadvisable, but then I always saw working on Cerebus as a prison sentence and that there was no good to be served in trying to picture what it would be like when I was out because a) it would take my mind off the book which is where it belonged and b) I seriously doubted that even my best guess of what my post-Cerebus life would be like would be remotely accurate: which turned out to be the case—I had no idea I would be doing any of the things that I've been doing the last two years. I'm still just basically doing what I think the next most logical thing to do is and after I do that, I find out what the next thing is.

Maybe Scott will have a completely different approach.

* * * * *

As I mentioned earlier, Billy Beach got his contribution for Cerebus Readers in Crisis #2 "False (?) Warnings" done and sent me a copy. It's an interesting project because it's basically people who don't really write and draw writing and drawing which really adds another layer of meaning to the title. These Cerebus Readers are in Crisis in no small part because they don't write and draw and they're trying to write and draw (at least I think it's his contribution—he might be talking about doing his own publication). As Billy says:

I am pretty satisfied with the overall look of the thing, despite being fully aware of how amateurish my artwork looks and that I have avoided where possible to draw things that I find difficult, like faces (using, for example, the over-the-shoulder view very often, so I only had to draw the back of people's heads—even then getting the hairstyles wrong!). On the other hand I am Unsatisfied with how it works overall when I read it as a story. But I'm not really willing to do any modification of it, as it has already been too much like hard work to get it to where it is now and to change the presentation of the story would require a complete overhaul. I can only hope that whoever else reads it will think more of it than I do.

I don't really know if they will or not. I've always thought there was intrinsic value in non-artists and non-writers having a try at drawing and writing, just for the experience if nothing else. And it's certainly interesting to see Billy's side of my stay at his place in Italy in 2004. He's certainly critical of my religious views in places here, as I've been critical of his religious views in Collected Letters, but that's more of a "glass half full or half empty" kind of thing. You can look at the differences and see it as indicating any kind of ecumenical spirit is completely doomed because obviously neither of us are going to change each other's minds or you can look at the differences and say, yes, but these two guys spent a week discussing their beliefs and breaking bread together and reading scripture together and came away from the experience completely unchanged personally and completely content within their own beliefs. I certainly didn't expect to change Billy and I don't think Billy expected to change me. I don't think that is or should be the goal of religious belief.

Anyway, he asks about a cover and I'd certainly be happy to draw the interior of the Holy House at Loreto if I can find a clear enough photograph. I'm more interesting in actually drawing the walls of the house that the Synoptic Jesus actually grew up in than in drawing the altar which has been added. We'll leave that one up in the air until I find out if a) this is going to be part of CRIC #2 and b) Jeff thinks this is the story that deserves the cover slot.

Jason Wade gave me permission to print his latest letter which is a very unusual circumstance when the gender opposite comes up, so many thanks and here goes:

The last time I wrote, shortly after March of 2004, I forgot to put enough postage on the envelope and it disappeared into the depths of the US Postal system. The one other time I wrote you was back in 2001 (publishing two years later in issue 294), a typed letter on onion skin paper. At that time I was nearing the end of a relationship and would shortly after meet you and Gerhard for the first, and so far only, time in Chicago at the Graham Crackers signing.

Since then I've let myself get caught up too often with members of the opposite gender even though, thanks to you opening my eyes to it, I realize that I am only truly productive with my filmmaking when I am free of any such entanglements. I think perhaps now, finally, as I close in on my 30th birthday, I have the strength and the drive to steer clear of such relationships and get some d*mn work done. So I want to thank you for helping me to that insight. But there's more.

I also want to thank you for pointing me towards reading the works of authors I might not have otherwise discovered, Mailer being near the top of that list. The process of my discovery was the same as yours, "I like what this guys writes, so who does he like?" You were the doorway to many, so I owe you for that.

Then came the Bible. As I followed Cerebus chasing YHWH, I decided that it meant I needed to finally sit down and push my way through all the seemingly endless overly descriptive sections of the Pentateuch and read the entire thing. While I have made it to The Prophets, I still haven't completed that (and thus I've yet to read the Koran as I intend to follow my reading of the Bible with it). Along the way, though, I have discovered God (who, as I believe you said, was right there waiting for me as soon as I was ready for Him). Though all the thanks ultimately should be directed to Him, I do still want to thank you for this as well, for pointing out that the Bible does have something important to say, that there is a reason—other than just propping up religious institutions—why it has such a central place in our world, and that it can open one's eyes to the Truth.

And final thanks to you for taking time to do the Blog and Mail. Your writing outside of the story (going back to the back of the book essays even) often says exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. For example, I didn't read your post of November 12th until the 14th and your talk of God, His omnipresence and physical ailment cut right to events in my own life that day and clarified my thinking on those matters. Had I read the post a day earlier or later, it would not have struck me as it did. I realize the Blog and Mail will only continue as long as you can justify the time so I wanted to let you know that it is reaching some people (well, someone).

What else is there to say? I am a Yahoo, a lurker primarily as I don't often have the time to keep up with the amount of mail generated by the list. Lately I have found it a bit easier to keep up (and, thus, participate) by forcing myself to ignore any of the off-topic discussions. Sometimes even the on-topic discussions balloon too much thought and I have to just wait for a vote to be called (as I'm doing now regarding our discussion of how we will be changing our rule on For Sale and eBay postings).

Inspired by you, I give $25 a month (for a total of $300 a year) to the Atlanta Community Food Bank. It's an amount I can afford each month and, well, comes out to 300 as something of a nod towards your achievement. I had wanted to make a lump sum donation of $300 when the series ended, but decided this was more financially feasible, even to the extent that I could continue it for the foreseeable future.

Let's see, lastly, I am trying to move towards better (more honestly) expressing my own views of mankind and the world in my films. I'm finding it difficult, though, to balance pontificating and entertaining. The projects I'm working on now actually tilt too far into the latter category (in large part because no one else in my productions group shares my views). I know it can be done, though, having watched you do it so I keep at it.

Now, I'm going to wrap this up. While I only mentioned two times I've written you above, in all honesty those are only the times I've actually managed to get a letter into an envelope. I have quite a few unfinished letters around, so I'll conclude here by just saying feel free to use this letter however you wish and I'll be looking forward to whatever work you have coming.

Your supporter, Jason Wade

P.S. Nearly forgot. As someone who found your theory in 289/290 fascinating, I was wondering what your thoughts are on dark matter in relation to that idea of the universe. Given that how much dark matter there is may determine whether or not the universe collapses back in on itself (and thus comes to an end as we know it) and your thoughts on neutrinos being souls (I forgot if that's the word you used and don't have the issue at hand so apologies if I've misstated) that have rejected the "let's all merge together" concept and if we hypothesize that neutrinos may transform into dark matter, then to me it seems that dark matter extends your theory such that if enough souls reject the perpetual merging concept then the universe will end. Or perhaps dark matter is the antithesis of the souls who rejected merging and represents instead forces seeking to force all of us to merge by causing the whole shebang (heh, there's a loaded word) to merge together. Either way, I'd really like to find out your thoughts on how dark matter fits into how you see the universe.

Of course, every once in a while it seems as if I'm not just talking to myself and reading into the record for generations unborn and this is one of them. Thanks, Jason.

It's an interesting question as to whether the universe "ends" in any conventional sense of the term. If the outward expansion of the universe continues indefinitely—that is, there isn't enough specific gravity in all of the matter in the universe to slow, stop and then reverse the outward expansion—then as far as I can see, basically all of the lights go out, the stars collapsing in on themselves and making black holes or white dwarfs. If the lights go out, then in a perception sense which is based on reality being something you can see, the universe ceases to exist that way. You can't see anything so anything that we would deem to be reality would become theoretical. It's only because radiation and light and illumination exist that physically incarnated beings can know anything is anywhere. Virtually everything the Hubble Space Telescope can tell us is on the basis of the behaviour of illuminated reality. This is a black hole because the light is being refracted around it. This is a planet because the light from this star is illuminating it. This is a binary star because illuminated matter is being passed between the two entities. If there is enough dark matter to slow, stop and then reverse the outward expansion and there is ultimately a Big Crunch then—assuming that means one giant black hole—I assume the net effect is the same. All of the lights go out but the fabric the whole thing took place against is collapsed into one giant pucker (a mother pucker, as it were). In the other scenario there are lots of little puckers. But in neither case is it possible to know because there is no observation possible. Arguably we can only speculate on the amount and extent of dark matter where it is functioning in an illumination context and all reasoning in that direction seems to me inherently flawed because it's pretty obvious how much of the universe is invisible and dark versus the parts of the universe that are acted upon by illumination and participate in illumination. The distance between our sun and Alpha Centauri is not an exceptional distance in astronomical terms but in hard and fast frames of reference, picture how many stars could be fit into the space between our sun and Alpha Centauri in a space where there are exactly zero stars. I think this is the cosmological underpinning of the old joke of the guy who lost his housekey. His friend asks him "Where did you lose it?" and he points vaguely out into the dark street and his friend says, "Well, if you lost it over there, why aren't you looking for it over there?" And he replies, "The light's better over here."

Light is a) extremely temporary and b) extremely aberrational in a cosmological sense, so I think that puts us at a distinct disadvantage given that most of our perception is light-based and I think it's fair that you are what you're based on. If your perception is based on light and isn't possible without light then you are, arguably, by nature extremely temporary and extremely aberrational whether you're talking about individual human beings, the human race, the earth, the sun or anything else. The only hope, in that sense, is the hope that there is such a thing as the human soul, that is, that we contain something which isn't intrinsically temporary and aberrational.

I'm not sure if that answers you question but it maybe provides a different way of looking at the question you're asking.

Thanks for writing and thanks most particularly for letting me use all of your letter. I hope the thought police don't come to get you as a result.

We're exactly halfway through the Blog and Mail experiment. Someone pointed out that I gave Cerebus three bi-monthly issues to prove itself and that was six months, so I figured the least I could do was give the Blog and Mail the same benefit of the doubt. November and December were the slowest months for trade paperback orders in the company's history, so the outlook is not great—based on November and December numbers I would have to conclude that all I'm doing here is killing sales on the books— but I will be here through until at least March 13. And I got a P.O. from Diamond for $3,000 worth of trades today (December 13). Whether that's the light at the end of the tunnel or just as temporary and aberrational as light itself, we'll just have to wait and see.


IN THE 2007 Inexplicably * this turns out to be

The day that you choose of your own free will

To bookmark the Blog & Mail and to resolve to check it on a daily basis.


*you are getting sleepy. Sleeeeepppppyyyy. Your eyelids are heavy. Heavy.


If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:

Aardvark Vanaheim, Inc
P.O. Box 1674
Station C
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2G 4R2

Looking for a place to purchase Cerebus phonebooks? You can do so online through Win-Mill Productions -- producers of Following Cerebus. Convenient payment with PayPal:

Win-Mill Productions

Or, you can check out Mars Import:

Mars Import

Or ask your local retailer to order them for you through Diamond Comics distributors.