Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #117 (January 6th, 2007)


For anyone planning to go to Dave's reading tomorrow, it's cancelled because he's not feeling well. The next one should be on the 21st.


Saturday January 6 –

The Cerebus volume (STAR00070)

Yes, I know I already asked you to check on that one, but how many times did your mother have to ask you to clean your room before you got around to it? Please. When you get a minute. Thank you.

The subject is David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest. It would be interesting to know if McGeorge Bundy turned against the war in his later years as Robert McNamara did. The Best and the Brightest is definitely one of the best books on the subject largely because Halberstam was in Saigon and the countryside reporting for the New York Times from very early on in the American participation, but I don't think most people make enough of an effort to realize that Halberstam had his own point of view which definitely issued from the pacifist anti-war end of things and so skewed his observations. His research is impeccable, as is his organization of his material and his description of the way that "can do" optimism and competence can easily turn to arrogance as I think it did with McNamara and Robert Kennedy more than it did with JFK. I think the issue was more one of "what are you going to do if you do conquer North Vietnam and suddenly find yourself staring into the eyes of the Chinese Red Army across a few strands of barbed wire?" As far as I could see the Chinese would have paid any price to maintain the buffer, as they did—and have done for the last fifty years—in Korea. There was no way to logically move closer than "one country away". The further north you go, the higher the stakes and the more rarefied the realpolitik atmosphere. When you push across whatever the Chinese consider an unacceptable threshold there are only two options: run away from the onslaught of the larger ground force or go nuclear. It got to the point, from what I could see, where Lyndon Johnson, good liberal that he was, was trying to find a middle course between the two with carpet bombing and napalm. That isn't a middle course from what I can see because the question is still "how far north?" You can't sensibly carpet bomb and napalm everything up to the Chinese border and call the resultant defoliated miles of wasteland a buffer zone. So you're still faced with a) run away or b) go nuclear.

That's why I think analogies between Iraq and Vietnam are specious. Metaphorically, Baghdad isn't Hanoi, metaphorically Baghdad is Beijing. It isn't the road to somewhere else, a proxy enemy that you fight on your way to the real enemy. You don't conquer Baghdad on your way to Mecca, as an example or conquer Baghdad as a warning to Mecca. You pick a Psychotic Muslim Country (Syria or Iran would have done as well), you come into the country, you attack the capital, remove the leader, remove the enemy's ability to wage effective war, tell him you aren't leaving until he shapes up and then hunker down and make it stick for at least a decade and more likely two. Something open-ended like the U.S. presence in Japan would make a lot of sense. You will take hundreds of casualties making it stick. You can't eliminate casualties from an occupation but you can certainly…

But, there I go talking about American realpolitik, again when my team lost the mid-term elections and we have all been dealt out of the game for two years. Can't wait to see what the Democrats come up with. You GO, Democrats! Back to Daniel, Daniel Parker, King of the Wild Frontier:

I'm enjoying The Blog and Mail—thanks for the recent mention of the King and Queen of the Wild Frontier. I hope it continues to juice sales, as a daily dose of Dave has been quite a treat. The recent Ditko stuff has been outstanding.

Well, I'm almost out of room. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you both (Oh! And a Happy Boxing Day!) and I hope we'll see you sometime in 2007. Take care.

Thanks for the kind words and hope to see you two as well in 2007.

And speaking of the Ditko coverage, I got a letter from Robin Snyder dated 10 December

Dear Dave,

I've read and read again your blogs of November 23-25. You have a way with words, yes?

Do you really not understand what Ditko is about or are you playing the Devil's Advocate? Or simply making unique observations? Yours is certainly one of the more literate criticisms of Steve's work. Who else might have made a connection between Kafka and Orwell and Ditko? I was especially interested in your thoughts on collaboration and your reference to Max Broad, Kafka's friend and executor. What sort of friend and executor was he, Broad? That he purposely ignored the instructions regarding Kafka's writings? I would like to offer just one correction to your review. Our books are published, not by me but by Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko. Here is an early issue of our newsletter you may find of some value. Thank you, Dave, for the unique perspective on my friend's work, and

Merry Christmas

Oh, my pleasure I assure you and a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and Mrs. Snyder, as well. Only one correction? I haven't been this relieved since I phoned Neal Adams—as I had promised to do—a month after issue 9 of Following Cerebus came out to take down verbatim any criticism he might have, however harsh, and transcribe it as I had the interviews with him and run it in the following issue. And he was just pleased that he had had a few compliments on it already, that we had managed to pretty much sell out the print run and that folks at Continuity were still picking up copies in the studio (Craig sent him a hundred at my request) and reading them.

Monday: Still answering Robin Snyder's letter.





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.