Dave Sim's blogandmail #168 (February 26th, 2007)
Here we are with The Last of the
Honking Huge Letters than came in
While Dave Sim was sick and the
Unfunny Headers that introduce them:
Letter from Romeo Burruel of Philadelphia. Remember the guy who gave up his job as a chef to do his comics and music full-time? I called him a couple of years back because I was answering the mail on a Friday or Saturday and his was the last one and the phone number was right on it, so I decided to break precedent and just give him a call. As it turned out he was so stunned to hear from Dave Sim that everything I said to him went in one ear and out the other which sort of confirmed for me that it's always better to send a letter. No matter how stunned you are to get a letter, you'll eventually get over it and be able to actually read the damn thing.
I can't begin to tell you what a gentleman you are.
I just happened upon your blog note this morning, (3:00am), and… well, I read it and ran to my sleeping, live-in Asian girlfriend in the next room, woke her up and showed it to her.
And she didn't even complain about being woken up at 3:00 am to read the Blog & Mail. You really should get a DNA sample from her in case we need to clone her in the next fifty years or so. We may not see her like again upon this earth.
She was the one who answered the phone that day. It was after noon, I was on the porch putting gesso on some plywood to paint what turned out to be the most important paintings of my short artistic `career' and my life.
It was a time when I was at my most disciplined, healthy, optimistic and clear and I was definitely rising. I was completely aware of my faults and qualities, how much time had gotten away and how much more I would have to put in to reach the prize. What I didn't know was how close I was.
She didn't live with me then in my tiny studio. Then, I had gotten out of the kitchens, dropped out of art school, and was working as an assistant/apprentice handyman for one dude who bought burned-out houses cheap and rebuilt them himself. He didn't do the prettiest work, but it was strong and sturdy and it worked when he was done, (an ancient Zen quality). I only had to deal with one person, who happened to be a great influence and man himself. I was trying to rid myself of the various defilements, which had plagued me my whole life and kept me from health and happiness, and figure out how to become a stronger and better person. I had given up everything I knew and tried to adopt a blessed simplicity, to begin to listen to the gentle whispers of the perfect wisdom of the Buddhas.
I was reading Buddhist scripture religiously, with love, faith and respect, meditating and doing a series of chakra aligning exercises called `the ancient secret of the fountain of youth', developed by an old mountain yogi long, long ago. No one was calling me because I hadn't cultivated any friendships in the five years I'd been in Philly. I had no flubbed relationships hanging or family that I cared to have contact with. Hell, it was only recently that I'd gotten a phone. I had three issues of a comic under my belt and seven pages of the next, which indicated the quantum leap I had been striving for. I was preparing to paint my first serious series of paintings. My girlfriend was perfect. She demanded nothing, asked nothing, expected nothing. I could go days without contact and she would still be there, (across town), if I needed some contact. I was…happy. Still wrestling with the occasional cigarette and night-of-the-hopeless-six-pack, but for the first time in my life I was happy. Content. In this shoe box of a studio in West Philly, alone, I had attained the Zen "Wabi', the perfection of the calm, quietude of poverty. My cup was beginning to fill and though I didn't know it, it was very soon to overflow.
Your conversion to religion and adoption of the various disciplines, renunciations, prayers hit me fully. With my newfound insights I realized your troubles with women arose from your own mind, but heartily applauded your resolution to formulate and pass on and resolve those difficult things we all wanted to say anyhow. They say a great being will rise to a great height above a great number of people and cut off the delusions of a great number of people. Your struggle and fight was to attain that place where you became your own self-realized being unattached and unaffected. An island that no flood could overwhelm, even the flood of perverted `feminism'. I always saw feminism as women's bid to adopt the atrocious behavior and habits of the most atrocious of the males, not interested in becoming self-realized and teaching others the same, but only to learn how the men `possessed' and `controlled'. Not interested in any real progress but just to secure a place on the boards so they too could play stupid power games. Ah, well. I guess like the Jews when they became Israelis, women too solve their grievances by adopting the behavior of their `tormentors', real or imagined. The slave becomes the slave owner, instead of working to abolish slavery. None of this is my real point or interest, though.
It is the stop after all the worldly ignorance, the true nature of reality. That is what I took from your essays and your life: the practice of giving, morality, patience, vigor and concentration. Those are the perfections of wisdom. Those are what I had realized and was trying to fold into the very fabric of my being when I produced The Quantum Leap Pages. The seven pages that were the hardest, took the longest and were the most rewarding, the pages that brought me face to face with my own limits. Just how long this was going to take, (my life), and just how much I would have to devote to it, (my life). Well…there was the answer, staring me in the face. I decided I would do some painting. And then the phone rang. It was the Master calling and he was looking for Romero. I'd almost forgotten I was using a pen name as I struggled to place the voice…etcetera, etcetera.
Maintaining the discipline was difficult, but rewarding. The universe began to respond in undeniable ways some might call `magic' or `supernatural', but I knew it to be the unveiling, the revelation of the true nature of reality itself. Events corresponded perfectly, completely with the pages I would read in the Prajnapramita, (The Perfection of Wisdom). I had only to turn to a page at `random' and it would be as if the interior monologue that was running in my head and the events of that day up until the very moment my eyes fell across the passage was answered by that passage. I was attaining trances and bliss. VISIONS, man, VISIONS of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas who neither came nor went, but nonetheless, appeared. Appeared in the imprint of a halved potato stuck in a mix of paint and pressed to a sheet of tracing paper, defining the three realms and my unfortunate place therein. Appeared in the patterns of a torn cloth from an old sheet, holding in one hand a jar of red ink, burning and in the other a small light bulb, also burning. Appeared in the morning rays of the sun thru the blinds, moving across the wall to spell out the letter A, which is significant of the ultimate condensation of the perfection of wisdom, with attendant Bodhisatva. Appeared in a series of paintings, painted with the single pointed focus of Zen, unconcerned with any academy lessons, and completely unaware of the personal lessons pointing directly to the soul of this man that they later revealed. Some `miraculous', `magic', supra-normal experiences, Dave, and all the while the books were acting as guide.
Can you imagine it? If you can't then my writing is still inadequate, but that is why it will take a lifetime to show. And why it's so important. The explication of the grand revelation. Thus Spake Zarathustra! Siddhartha!!
So anyway, right after you called, my old man whom I hadn't any contact for thirty years decides to drop by and mooch off me for the next three years, seriously depleting any extra cash I might have had, and any extra joy, or hope, or happiness with his perfect unending ignorance.
Not intending to be too provocative, but I might have been the Master (or "Master") on the phone and I might also have been your mooching old man. I mean, I hope I did all the good for you that you perceive me as having done and that I did it with no negative aspect attached, but (maybe it's just my sense of humour) the sudden appearance of your mooching old man seemed a little too metaphorically apropos for me to at least not offer the suggestion. Don't know how I might be mooching off you, but maybe on a higher plane of reality or something.
He's leaving soon, and I'm picking up the book again and the future seems possible. I think I can make another go of it. It sure would have been good to get that letter you said got sent back.
Actually it was just a printed-out copy of the Blog & Mail entry so there was nothing in the letter you hadn't already read.
But, I'll take the mention of it and milk it for every ounce of inspiration I can now, because that's all I've got. I'll have to sell something to afford a copy of the `…Letters', but it's always great to find out you're still here and working. I think of Bukowski visiting Fante on his sickbed, an old man telling Buk that `bitterness comes to all.'
I dunno, maybe we can keep it at bay. That's the struggle. Where Cerebus ends, I begin. You had your disciplines and qualities long before I ever did. I'm a late bloomer and a newcomer, but I arrive with the revelations you left with. I just have to master the weighty resolve, now. It's my last chance and only hope.
Hey! Maybe you're metaphorically me and your old man is metaphorically you ("I arrive with the revelations you left with"). Maybe you're mooching off of me!
To chisel and dig and chip away at the thing until what you are left with is, as Alan Moore says, "…truth itself".
Knowing you're up there still smiling and still sending out the support is a great thing. A Buddhist mantra attributed to Avalokitseshvara, the Bodhisattva, the Great Being, is, Tadyatha ohm, gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, svaha. Which more or less means, `it is like this; go, go, perfectly go, perfectly and completely go, enlightenment, build the foundation'.
I'll say. We should set it to music and maybe write a separate chorus for "the mooching old man" to sing.
Thank you for the foundation.
John (not-sure-if-he'll-keep-the-pen-name) Frizzelle
4404 Walnut St. #1F
Philadelphia, PA. 19104
Well, my letters keep getting returned but maybe one of you Yahoos will have better luck. Send John a few bucks for some of his comics. They're really good.
REPLIES POSTED ON THE CEREBUS YAHOO! GROUP
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