Friday, 31 July 2015

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Eleven years ago, when Cerebus ended, Dave Sim decided to answer all of his back mail. A month or so later, he had his "Jeff Seiler Day" in which he answered multiple letters I had written over the previous year. After I received that letter, I decided to keep writing, and he kept his promise to answer every letter he received. And now, I have a foot-high stack of letters written and received over 10 years or so. I will be posting full paragraphs or pages of interesting excerpts from those letters every Saturday.

From a letter dated 13 November, 2004, from Dave to me: This one refers to an ongoing series of letters between Dave and I and between Billy Beach and Dave, that occurred at roughly the same time, taking exception to an interpretation of a verse of scripture (you’ll see which one below -- if there’s anyone who doesn’t own a bible or doesn’t have access to one on their Internetty-thingy, let me know in the Comments section and I’ll quote it. For what it’s worth, Dave was quoting from his King James version.). It started out that Billy and I were both writing to him, at roughly the same time, without either of us being aware of the other having done it. Dave initially thought he was being ganged up on, but I quickly reassured him that he wasn’t. Nevertheless, the exchange of these letters went on for some time, with Dave taking a firm stance that he was not wrong and with Billy and I trying to point out, in great detail, why he most certainly could be wrong. This post effectively ended the discourse, which was, for the most part, quite polite:
I intended the accusation of sophistry in the exact way, I think, that you and Billy did vis a vis my original viewpoint. "You can't be serious." Although, it seems obvious to me that we are, each of us, serious about our own viewpoint and incredulous about the opposing viewpoint. The reaction was more to your reaction in saying that my viewpoint on Luke 17:35 made you doubt that I was a serious thinker. I don't think a counter-accusation of sophistry is a disproportionate response in that instance. You left it up to me to choose the extent to which you considered me an "un-serious" thinker; I left it up to you to decide which definition of sophistry and Pharisaical argument you thought I might’ve intended. In my mind, I was responding to a warning shot across my bow with a warning shot across your bow. And we've now arrived at a "let sleeping dogs lie" situation which I think is only sensible. Although, I’m sure we’ll be getting last words after last words "in" at each other, as Billy and I did up until our most recent exchange of letters. That's how those things tend to go, in my experience.


KevinR said...

34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

No room for misinterpretation there...

Jeff Seiler said...

Read it in context, or in the King James version.

"...grinding at the mill..."

Margaret said...

Even before I was KevinR's comment and Jeff's response, I knew what this was to be about. Anyone on the Cerebus Yahoo list at the time knew what this was about - that exchange did go on way too long for what it was.

Thanks for these looks into Dave's letters Jeff - not quite the Collected Letters 3 I was hoping for, but it'll do. :)

Jeff Seiler said...

Yay, M!

Made me laugh out loud!

Sandeep Atwal said...

Some context might make this interesting. What was the interpretation? How did it differ from yours? What was the point of disagreement?

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, Sandeep, after more than a month has passed, I found ur question. The context was Dave quoting from the King James version of the Bible, in the verses cited above, and interpreting them to mean that one homosexual female, or one homosexual male, would be taken to heaven (or, "heaven", or "Heaven"), while the other one would be left behind and go to hell (or, "hell", or "Hell"). All of that on Judgment Day.

Billy (Hi, Billy!) and I both agreed, but not in collusion (at least at first), that it would not have been uncommon for two men to share a bed in biblical times, especially as travelers. We, Billy and I, also agreed, again unbeknowst to one another, in our separate letters to Dave, that "two women grinding at the mill" would not be a reference to lesbian sex but, rather, a reference to women socializing while their crops were being processed into saleable goods.

Thus began the one and only flame war between Dave Sim and Billy Beach, and between Dave Sim and me (well, actually, one of two) that, to my knowledge, ever occurred. Except, can you call hand-written letters exchanged over weeks and months, and courteously, a flame war?

Anyway, all 3 of us agreed, as gentlemen, to cease and desist, and to continue to be friends (or, "friends", or, "Friends").

I think they colluded to decide that I'm Phoebe.