Saturday, 14 November 2015

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Dave Sim's Collected Letters Vol 3:
Pretty Girls & Other Subjects
Only $15!

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'll be running interesting excerpts from those letters every Saturday.

This is a letter from Dave Sim to me, dated 20 August 2004, responding to a letter from me of 1 August 2004:

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your letter of August 1. As I told you on the phone, I’m kind of up-to-my-eyeballs in this Neil Gaiman thing at the moment. As Lewis Carroll put it, all the running I can muster just to stay in one place (or, rather, not to fall too far behind too quickly).

There won’t be any response from Mayor Zehr, I don’t think, since it was just a general interest kind of communication. I got a phone call from him when I expressed a criticism of the current council’s generally liberal/profligate (depending on how you look at it) spending ways. The actual answer he gave was kind of evasive, but then he is a politician and that’s one of the job skills. What I was trying to point out was that if you increase the borrowing authority for the City and then increase the capital works projects, what you are doing, in effect, if not literally, is spending the next Administration’s money. If you’re re-elected, that’s fine. But, if you aren’t, you are basically putting your successors at a disadvantage, fiscally, that you didn’t have. I was just wondering if he couldn’t put a cap on it, voluntarily. He’s a liberal, I’m a conservative; he’s going to want to spend more. So his dollar amount is going to be higher, but at least pick the amount and enshrine that in law. He found a nice way of saying it, but basically his answer was that there’s no reason he should tie his own hands fiscally. Basically, the “catch me if you can” approach. You can vote him out of office or try to start a backlash from the citizenry in the media, but it’s up to him to do what he thinks is right as long as holds the officer he won fair and square. Since I’m the only person who shows up to watch the City Council meetings every week, I can’t fault his reasoning.

I’m enclosing my reaction and the reaction to my reaction to Douglas A. Jeffrey’s letter. No response as of this date. Personally, I see “Tangent” as being the core of the common-sense position I hold, not “the outer limits...of any given envelope”.

Karen Redman was reelected in Kitchener Centre and is now the government whip, which means that she is responsible for keeping everyone in line on any upcoming vote when Parliament reconvenes in October. A key role in any minority government and a difficult one for a rookie. I suspect she was tapped because she was both a woman and a Chretien loyalist, both of whom needed to be represented in Paul Martin’s new government. It would be difficult to explain all of the ins and outs of the current political situation. My best assessment is that Paul Martin is still taking the uber Liberal road of being all things to all people. My best guess is that he will avoid tabling any kind of legislation for as long as possible and having Parliament sit for as short a period a possible before rising for the longest recess imaginable as a way of maintaining power and avoiding having to face the major schisms in his own party. It worked for Chretien for years. The tactic the Conservatives have taken (which I was hoping they would) is to say nothing and to nothing and leave the Liberals to tear themselves apart, however quickly or however slowly. Canadians are in denial about the governing party, so they have to see what it actually is before they will seriously consider an alternative. The process could take years, but I think it is worth doing it exactly the way Stephen Harper is doing it.

On to the letter to the editor that you sent. Yes, it’s just something we’re all going to have to get used to, I’m afraid. The idea that the world loves a Democrat in the White House and loathes Republican. It seems to me that it’s really not about being liked or not being liked, it’s about doing the right thing in a time period where everything is very uncertain. The situation in Iran is definitely upping the stakes in the card game. The schism, it seems to me, is who do you want [to be] playing the cards you’ve been dealt in that game? Someone who believes in God and fervently wants God to guide his actions? Or, an atheist who is trying to figure out how to play the hand so [that] everyone ends up feeling good about themselves? It seems to me that the fanatic Muslims would be voting Democrat for the same reason that Republicans are trying to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in every state. Whichever way things shake out, a Democrat is going to give them more wiggle room than a Republican will, just because the Democrats see everything in co-equivalency terms. Yasser Arafat is a good example of why you should never see a fanatic Marxist-Muslim as being the same as everyone else. However, it is a democratic choice. If it is Kerry in November, the United States will still survive and flourish. But, I do think it will look as if the United States flinched at a critical moment and this doesn’t strike me as a time when flinching is a good idea.


Dave Sim

P.S.: The backing boards say Now & Then Books because that’s what they stamp on them at Now & Then. It used to irritate me bit, but I owe Cerebus’ existence in no small part to what Harry Kremer did for it, so I can’t kick very hard at the two being associated. Here in town, Harry is still THE name in comic books. Dave Sim is just someone who used to work for him.


Dave Sim said...

Tomorrow is the 60th birthday of Lynn (Louise) Morrison the "girl" Jaka is based on, born 111555 -- 11/15/55 the one who became a stripper AFTER I created Jaka. She danced under the name "Amber Star". She's six months older than I am, to the day. Pictures exist of her, presumably, in the yearbooks for Forest Hill Public School (1962 to 1966), Queensmount Senior Public School (1967 to 1968) and Forest Heights Collegiate (1969 to 1973). There was also a nude pictorial of her in a motorcycling magazine but I'm not sure what year and/or if she was called "Amber Star" in there or a made-up name.

I wouldn't say that my opinions of feminism haven't changed over the years, but I do think that I've refined my opinions and arrived at a few conclusions that merit society's SERIOUS consideration, foremost among them: that you can't STRUCTURALLY have 86% of women out in the workforce because of what that does to your replacement birth rate. I'm pretty sure that's not a "Well, whatever..." or "Well, BESIDES that..." kind of observation.

AND I'm pretty sure that was "trigger" for the ad hominem attacks of the last week. "We can't deny the reality of what he's saying so we have to frame him as being crazy and evil and hope that works." Which it always does -- so far, anyway -- with the Feminist Theocracy.

Even the self-confessed extreme-left Brit anarchist who posted about his concerns with David Cameron's Conservatives and the U.K.'s "lurch towards Naziism" (as he saw it) would, I hope, admit that that exists WITHIN the context of the Feminist Theocracy. Across the entire political spectrum from Communist to Conservative no one is allowed to voice any criticism of feminism when running for office or when governing. This is particularly pronounced on campus.

A society ignores STRUCTURALLY irrational societal foundations at its own peril. As one of the few people on the planet not STRUCTURALLY under direct or indirect threat from feminists I do think I'm obligated to speak out on the STRUCTURAL problems that I see -- as I did with the 15 Impossible Things To Believe Before Breakfast back in 2002 and as I do now with the "86% and still climbing" statistic.

Matt Dow: So what does the lovely and talented Janis Pearl think of the idea of having a little sister?

Tony Dunlop said...

So you *do* change your mind about stuff! Years ago you said you'd never tell who(m?) Jaka was based on.

Mouse Skull Entertainment said...

Hey Dave,

Janis varies from being excited to SUPERexcited about getting a sibling. (There were a few weeks before we knew the sex where she was SUPERexcited for a brother and merely excited for a sister, she's since changed her mind and is SUPERexcited for a sister.)

Kid two's working name is Natasha Bea Dow. Unless we decide we like some other name better...

Re: Feminism dwindling births, there was just an article in Time magazine about China's official abandonment of the One Child Policy. It seems limiting your offspring AND preferring boys has lead to an estimated deficit of 30 million women. And a phenomenon known as 4,2,1. Whereby 1 adult has to support 2 parents, and 4 grandparents on their limited income. Which would suggest that even if you COULD find a girl and marry her you'd need to support yourself, her, your parents, your grandparents, her parents and her grandparents AND your (now allowed and encouraged,) two offspring.

In an economy that, despite the best efforts of the Communist Party, is slowing down with the drag of it's aging population.

The article made it sound like the new policy was a long shot. A real long shot.

Happy Birthday Proto-Jaka! I hope Ms. Morrison (or Star) is doing well and has found happiness somewhere in this crazy old world.

Matt Dow

Anonymous said...

"The schism, it seems to me, is who do you want [to be] playing the cards you’ve been dealt in that game? Someone who believes in God and fervently wants God to guide his actions? Or, an atheist who is trying to figure out how to play the hand so [that] everyone ends up feeling good about themselves?"

Am I the only one who sees this as kind of a false dilemma? I mean, yes, those are options, but I can't help but wonder, what about people who believe in God, but have deluded themselves into mistaking their will for His? Or an atheist who's not afraid of people feeling bad about themselves as long as it;s the right thing to do? Or do those people simply not exist (or alternately: DO they exist, but simple have a tendency not to wind up in government)?

With regards to the birthrate thing: the assumption here seems to me to be that any downward trend will continue until the number reached is zero - i.e., if the feminists have their way, the birthrate will continue downward until no more babies are being made. Which I don't think is accurate - it seems to me to be akin to saying that a man going on a diet is committing suicide because, if he doesn't stop, he'll eventually lose ALL of his pounds and he'll simply waste away into nothingness.

People who actually go on diets tend to express frustration at the inability for anything like this to happen.

(As an aside, is there any precedent whatsoever for the thing Dave is claiming as possible? That is, a society going extinct through simple failure to reproduce? That's not a rhetorical question, I'd seriously like to know.)

But I think there's another thing to consider here: if we're trying to maximise the number of babies made, then you're going to forcing a LARGE number of men and women into it who simply aren't qualified for the tasks at hand: men who don't have what it takes to be good husbands and fathers, women who don't have what it takes to be good wives and mothers. Just because two people can have sex and make a child doesn't make they can actually RAISE that child worth anything. When you saddle somebody with a task they simply aren't qualified for and which they do not want, chances are they'll screw it up - whether that means abusive, overly permissive, or simply making too many mistakes critical moments. And people who weren't raised well tend not to be the most...functional, shall we say, of adults.

What feminists actually want, as I understand it, is for women (and men) to have the options to do whatever they want -and are qualified to do- in life - which , of course, means that if woman WANTS to be primarily a wife and/or mother (and such women do exist) then they'll be able to do that. Which seems advantageous to me, if only for one simple reason: a person who's actually enthusiastic about the task of parenthood is going to be more likely to actually know what they're doing, and therefore raise a healthy human being.

Smaller population, but in exchange a healthier one? Seems like a fair trade to me.

Anthony Kuchar said...

A quick Google search reveals that Ms. Morrison seems to still live in Kitchener as a massage therapist. Good for her!

What Dave is saying about population and immigration is I think part of the larger discussion I've heard on the way the Developed countries of the world treat the Underdeveloped. 3rd (and 4th)Wave Feminists have launched this criticism of 2nd Wave (60's/70's Women Lib). It's all fine and good for western women to be free and liberated, but they where silent or uninterested in the plight of women around the world. Worse even was the 1st Wave, who made pamphlets complaining that Irish Catholics and Blacks could vote, but Protestant Woman couldn't.

When I see feminism in the west today, I can't help but think that all of their major goals have been accomplished. Voting, Access to Education, Control over their bodies. All of the major battles have been won, so I tend to see a splintering and fracturing of the feminist cause into smaller subgroups. LGBT Feminists, Black Feminists, Asian Feminists, Male Feminists (which is a term I really don't get, if your a man and support feminism wouldn't you just be an egalitarian).

In many of these issues I actually agree with the feminists, on others I disagree. This is the reason I wound never call myself a feminist. It's not enough to agree to the basics of voting, work you have to acknowledge volumes of feminist theory and concepts such as "The Patriarchy" and "Rape Culture". And if you don't agree with these very specific concepts and in the way the scholars say they are happening it's "mansplaining" and my opinion as a male is invalidated.

Dave Sim said...

I'm just saying that equality is a myth STRUCTURALLY. Men are men and can't get pregnant. Women are women and are the only ones who can get pregnant. Even the ideal I support: equal TREATMENT under the law is a myth. The JAKA'S STORY conundrum: what if you impregnate your wife and she decides to abort your child? Equal TREATMENT under the law would dictate the father having EQUAL rights in the discussion. In our Feminist Theocracy that's "off the table". Women own fetuses and babies period.

Fair enough. It's a democracy. We can make it into whatever we want to make it.

But don't claim that you're talking about equality when what you are actually creating and imposing on everyone is a Feminist Theocracy/Dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

"I'm just saying that equality is a myth STRUCTURALLY. Men are men and can't get pregnant. Women are women and are the only ones who can get pregnant."

The second and third sentences don't follow from the first, unless "equality" is being used here as a synonym for "interchangeability". Which is, I guess, valid, but I don't know too many people who use it that way.

"The JAKA'S STORY conundrum: what if you impregnate your wife and she decides to abort your child? Equal TREATMENT under the law would dictate the father having EQUAL rights in the discussion."

Well, I think equality under the law would actually dictate that fathers be allowed to abort their own fetuses as well, but y'know...

And speaking as someone who isn't necessarily pro-choice - when you have a situation that primarily only affects one portion of the population, I don't think it's inequality in any meaningful sense to give more weight to the opinions of that group.

"But don't claim that you're talking about equality when what you are actually creating and imposing on everyone is a Feminist Theocracy/Dictatorship."

That depends on your definition of "dictatorship". Voicing, say, racist views about black people tends to damage one's credibility - does that mean we're living in a "(Pro-)Black dictatorship"? Maybe it does, though I wouldn't have thought so.

And as for a Feminist Theocracy, though it is theoretically possible, I don't think we're quite there yet - I could be wrong, but I suspect that if we were, most of this site's readership would be in jail for hate speech.