Dave Sim's blogandmail #391 (October 7th, 2007)
Sunday October 7 -
Steve Peters writes 12 July (just in time for the Sunday Edition)
“Finally got COLLECTED LETTERS 2 – my store only ordered one copy, which was sold to someone else. I almost ordered it directly from you, but figured you’d prefer me to order from my store first.”
Yes, definitely, and much obliged for you doing so even though 1) it probably took a lot longer than if you had ordered it from me and 2) it probably won’t compel the store to re-order another copy for the shelf and 3) it probably won’t count towards that stores orders on volume 3. I’m still 100% loyal to the brick ‘n’ mortar comic store model. It’s my equivalent of Jimmy Gownley’s metaphorical block of concrete he kept battering his head against with AMELIA RULES. Except in my case, it’s starting to look as if my head is going to give way long before sales resistance in the comic-book stores does.
“Saw how you commented to DB Little that I’ve been all over the map spiritually, a little bit of Native American, a little Hindu mythology, etc. you were right on the money except for Aleister Crowley. He always gave me the heebie-jeebies, even when I was a teenage Jimmy Page fan. Then again, if you’d said Robert Anton Wilson, you’d have been spot-on…he gives me the willies too, now. You do deserve a gold star in your notebook for helping me get into prayer, submission to the will of God, reading the Bible, and fasting. But I’ve been looking for God for most of my life (see the thank you’s on the inside back cover of AWAKENING COMICS #1 (1997) if you don’t believe me.”
Oh, I believe you. But that was really my motivation when you suggested the panel at SPACE on spirituality and I suggested calling it “Spirituality vs. God” because I do see the two as being diametric opposites whereas our society, it seems to me, has been working to fudge the distinction for some time now.
[When Joe Matt was here, he offered me a book on Zen Buddhism. Pass. I have read about Zen Buddhism (before I met Deni she had been a part of an ashram in the Bay Area and still had her copy of ZEN MIND, BEGINNER’S MIND) but it struck me and strikes me as coming from the “man is the measure of all things” tradition, that you can achieve a state of enlightenment purely through your own efforts and initiative. Even Joe admitted he had trouble with that part of it: how do you eliminate your own ego when the urge to enlightenment is obviously ego-driven?]
To me, you’re either training your spirit or soul in the direction of God, or you’re indulging in masturbatory exercises, looking for fireworks displays on the next level up or “grokking nothingness” or showing how hip and cool and rebellious you are or whatever it is that you think you’re doing.
Of course, saying that I realize that virtually all Jews, Christians and Muslims would view me the same way. Even the most ecumenically-natured are going to think that you have to pick one and pay a lip-service accommodation to the other two. But, then, I’m also the only person I know who sees the Torah, the Gospels and the Koran as a single narrative, who believes that God and YHWH are adversaries and that there are two Jesus: the Synoptic and Johannine. There are a lot of times that I really wish that conventional beliefs made sense to me so that I could pick one.
Along the same lines, I got a copy of Jack Jackson’s COMANCHE MOON from Bashful Bryan Douglas (the guy who does the wonderful ‘Thou Good and Faithful Cerebite” strip in the back of FOLLOWING CEREBUS). He writes:
“Don’t know if you’re familiar with his work or not, but Quanah Parker’s vision on pgs 50-51 (the same one I brought up in one of my “Cerebite” strips) seems so much in line with the sort of thing you investigate I have to be sure you’ve seen it.
“As I suggested in my strip, I originally had (and have) a very positive ‘gut reaction’ to the scene. I still read it as ‘America getting a hug from God’ and I’m curious as to whether you would see the winged buffalo as an angel sent by God, a demon sent by YHWH, a ‘little YHWH’, or YHWH itself. And in the case of the last two, is it a YHWH that’s trying to serve God’s will? Or what?”
Well, you probably aren’t going to be very happy with my answer, I don’t imagine, but I really don’t think about what might be “in back of” North American “First” Nations stories. Thanks for the book, and I read the relevant pages but my own response was the same as Steve outlines relative to Aleister Crowley. Whatever this is, it isn’t good or “good” and it certainly isn’t Good.
To me, the chessboard is God vs. YHWH and it’s contained in all its strange intricacies in the Torah, the Gospels and the Koran and there’s more than enough there to occupy my attentions and my full God-given intellect no matter how long I have left to live. The fact that “First” Nations are so primitive suggests to me that they are outside of God’s context (I mean, unless they, like any other genuinely sentient being, choose otherwise either collectively or as individuals). It’s not as if some of them were riding around bare-assed on the plains and some of them had built proto-typical cities with actual commerce and a mercantile system before the Europeans got here, so it seems to me that wherever they came from (let’s say, across the Siberian Peninsula for the sake of argument) wherever and whenever they started out from they had already decided to separate themselves from God and so they ended up the way they ended up. Terminally primitive. The same way, I dare say, we will end up if we continue to separate ourselves from God. Little more than “scouted apes” as the Koran puts it.
Who knows what it is that they experience and where it comes from? The idea behind animism – that animals and rocks and vegetables all have spirits – is certainly YHWHistic (as would be expected from the “living thing within the earth”) in nature. That’s WAY outside of my field of interest. How fruitful would it be for me to pick a rock out of my garden and say to it, “You know, you fellows are completely misapprehended in believing that YHWH is God.” Or how fruitful would it be for me to find a buffalo and ask, “So do you folks know anything about this Quanah Parker vision in COMANCHE MOON? See, Bryan Douglas was asking me about it and I figured I’d start my investigation with an actual buffalo and see if you know anything about it.”
It’s a rock, Bryan. It’s a buffalo. To me that really should be basic 2+2 equals four stuff. At one time it was, WAY back when we all actually believed in God. Even if the rock or the buffalo knows anything, you aren’t going to be able to get it out of them, so you’re better off recognizing that as an inescapable fact and shifting your attentions to more sensible areas as far as I’m concerned. I’m interested in God vs. YHWH but I’m not at all interested in YHWH per se. He she it is what he she it is. Are the multiplicity of “gods” and “goddesses” in Hinduism manifestations of YHWH? I would assume so, but the question doesn’t engage my attentions for the same reason that I have no interest in analogies between Egyptian myths and Judaic apocrypha or what the Incas believed. If I wanted to end up bare-ass out in the jungle living hand-to-mouth and with a 37-word vocabulary, I’d study the Incas. I want to find favour in the sight of God, so I study God’s word. Can I rule out that the flying buffalo in the vision was sent by God? No, but whatever length of time I might expend examining the question, to me, is better served by focusing on Luke chapter 14, determining first of all what it says and second of all what it means. Matthew, Mark and Luke have led us to the apex of civilization that we’ve achieved. They were relevant to God-fearing Christian gentlemen in 800, 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800 and they are relevant in the year 2000. Think how different each of those years was and how exponentially each successive one improves on the previous one (and compare that to the non-progress over centuries by pagan civilizations)
Because in each century, faith in the God of Abraham and Moshe and Jesus was a given. This is what we have to go on. This is our most precious resource. Everything else is a temptation or a distraction or a cul de sac. It was each man’s job to find favour in the sight of that God and in so doing, in so aspiring and to the extent that they achieved that favour they were blessed by God, individually and collectively.
I’m well aware that we, as a civilization, are running as far away from that idea as fast as we can. The vast majority of us have decided that some pagan’s vision of a flying white buffalo in the 1880s is infinitely more important than the revelations that gave as a dramatically more advanced civilization than that pagan had and which continued to advance our civilization and, God willing, will continue to advance our civilization. How does looking for answers from the flying white buffalo follow? Where do you think looking for answers from a flying white buffalo leads? Where did it lead the pagan? Where did it lead his descendants? Why do you want to go there, even temporarily?
See I told you, you wouldn’t like my answer. Thanks again for the book and I’ll answer your other letter when I get there.
Tomorrow: Wrapping up with Steve Peters and then on to Randy Reynaldo’s Rob Hanes Adventures
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