I liked Dave Sim better when he thought he was God

I liked Dave Sim better when he thought he was God

wow…until a couple of days ago, I truly believed that I could handle this Cerebus thing (reading all 300 issues I mean)… I was doing fine too (the lettercol shenanigans/advent of strident anti-feminism that originally alienated me back in the late eighties still don’t convince me, of course, but I was able to get into it, as performance art + the metafictional elements remained fascinating), going through the series(including all of the lettercols and text pieces at the back of the issues) at a record pace–until I reached the Hemingway storyline (“Form and Void”)… since I ran headlong into that atrocity, I’ve been reduced to taking two/three hour breaks between issues…and, you know, it’s not the misogyny (Sim calls it “anti-feminism”) that ruins it (“Reads” is as anti-feminist as it gets, and it’s still interesting–even though Sim really isn’t much of a prose stylist)…it’s the way this zealous new convert has yoked his feelings about gender (and everything else–from economics to literary criticism) to his “daddy’s boy” metaphysics that has transformed him into a droning bore…


the thing that set me off, more than anything (because I wasn’t prepared for it) is the “writer” vs. “typer” distinction that Sim introduces in order to voice his (“brave”) dissent from the consensus that Ernest Hemingway was a master prose stylist (well, colour me “duped” Dave–I’ll bet you think Dashiell Hammett “phoned in” his novels too!)… if you’ve read this stuff (“To Ham or Not to Ham”), you know what I’m talking about–if not, well, I’m tellin’ ya, the argument is roughly analogous to the ol’ “my child could’ve painted that piece of modern art” chestnut (in fact, Sim makes this association himself, opining that Norman Rockwell is a far greater artist than Picasso)… As I say, I was NOT prepared for this… Sim’s tendency to conflate “floweriness” with “prose artistry” has been evident from the get-go…which is why his comics tend to work better when he lets the pictures and the dialogue do the talking…but, in terms of narrative construction, he is–or was–one of the greatest… the craziest thing–to me–is that he seems to have been headed toward a moment (Jaka is the “perfect” woman for Cerebus–and yet–perhaps for precisely this reason–they can’t live together) very similar to the one that I placed at the center of my novel… Who knows where Sim the secular humanist would’ve gone from there? One thing’s for sure–he wouldn’t have blamed Jaka for distracting Cerebus from the “one true path” to God… Maybe–just maybe–he would even have allowed his protagonist to recognize that the fact of intersubjectivity (as opposed to the lurid result of ontological speculation) is the only reasonable (as opposed to “rational”) ground upon which to base one’s ethical (not to mention aesthetical) decisions… which makes it all the sadder (again, to me) that, five sixths of the way through his opus, Sim traded in his “writer” gig for a job as “God’s” “typist”…

more later (I’m not going to stop reading at #270, no matter how much I’d like to!)

good afternoon friends!



One comment

  1. Just to state the obvious, someone who believes half the human species is inherently evil (and corrupting!) is going to have problems with intersubjectivity.

    Throughout history it has been common for men (and women, sadly) to view women as somehow “less” than men, or even actively evil (though usually in a religious context), but I’ve never been able to understand that viewpoint. Nothing in my interaction with women has ever led me to believe that they are somehow “less” or unequal to men, much less inherently evil.

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