Tuesday, 22 December 2015


(from Following Cerebus #7, February 2006)
...This is definitely a situation of me against the world. Everyone besides me accepts the fact that passion is an inherent good, and I see it as an inherent evil. It represents extreme emotion, and to me, emotional extremes are the root of most of society's problems. Letting emotion rule your life, or, even worse, letting extreme emotions rule your life, is a very unwise choice. It was something that I learned from doing Cerebus, actually. Anytime I had an idea that I was passionately enthusiastic about, I'd end up doing a half-assed job because I was too ardent about it. I was trying too hard. The more I slowed down and just solved the individual creative problems in sequence and with as much patience and as devoid of emotion as I could be, the more effectively I could communicate what I wanted to communicate. I could write a book - and have, in fact, written several books - about the undesirable baggage that comes with passion, but I have yet to find any flaw in living a passionless life...


Tony Dunlop said...

Oh for heaven's sake. Dave Sim is the only person in the world for whom "passion" is a vice?


I'm sure other spiritual traditions have their own vocabulary and techniques for tearing out the passions at their roots. This is what happens when you make up your own religion - to the extent that there's any "there" there, lots and lots of folks have been there before you, you just don't know it.

Sandeep Atwal said...

Oh for heaven's sake, another deliberate attempt to misinterpret what he said? Do you honestly think Sim has no idea who the Stoics were? You probably do. He's obviously talking about contemporary society, where it's pretty clear that "get in touch with your feelings" and "Stretch out with your feelings!" is considered sound advice. This is what happens when your only goal in life is to prove Sim wrong on everything, all the time, always.


Try again, Tony.

eric fennessey said...

At first I disagreed with what Dave had written, because I would have said that he was passionate about Cerebus of most of his adult life and passionate about self-publishing for most of his professional life, and both of those are very good things indeed. So I thought about it and I think maybe it's that Dave and I have different 'meanings' in mind for the term 'passion'. I have always taken it to be great enthusiasm, and Dave seems to take that slightly further and has it mean such a great enthusiasm about something you're no longer a good judge of its worth or accuracy; in that sense he's right. What a slippery bugger language can be!

Tony Dunlop said...

Combox Smackdown! :-)

Dave isn't wrong about most things, and I'm not trying to "prove" him anything. He is wrong in saying that nobody else in contemporary society (quote: "Everyone besides me accepts the fact that passion is an inherent good...") (emphasis added) sees the need to fight against letting human emotion distort their interactions with the world. It's a minority view to be sure, but very far from a minority of one.

For the record, I respect and admire Dave Sim a great deal; otherwise I wouldn't read this site every day and comment as often as I do. OK?

Sandeep Atwal said...

Hey Tony, I get it, I'm not trying to come on too strong. When he says "Everyone besides me," I don't believe he means "everybody in the history of the world and every single individual on the planet currently alive." I think he means everyone in the way you would say, "Everyone loves the new Star Wars" or "Everyone loves chocolate ice cream". It's a generalization for the sake of argument. I think we can extend him that point the way we would extend it to anyone else. Language is indeed a slippery bugger. For the record, I think passion can be an extremely useful tool, I think you just have to be careful about being ruled by your passions.

Steve said...


As a husband and father (of one wife and with two daughters) I shouldn't have or express passion about my family?

You see, there's men out here, Dave, who've had very different lives than you (in, I'm sure, both beneficial and detrimental ways).

Perhaps if you had enjoyed a healthy marriage and home life with kids you'd understand healthy passion.

And it seems to me that the regrets you've come to have about the excesses you pursued in your youth (and the guilt you came to experience) are very much a catalyst to how you've come to view experiences like 'passion'.

It seems to me to be entirely too broad a statement that 'emotional extremes are the root of most of society's problems'. And I doubt anyone could really let 'extreme emotions rule your life' - it'd simply become too difficult to hold a job, for one.

Or even hold on to friends.

Like when you get passionate about defending your point of view.

To the end that you offer to box a few rounds with one who disagrees with you.

But I could be wrong about that.


Erick said...

No need to bash Dave over this. I do not agree with it and this very website is proof to the contrary about passion after all why would a fan create a website to a comic book if it was not for passion?

Jim Sheridan said...

sigh. It sounds like what a 14-year-old would write after getting dumped. It's the same fantasy that made Mr. Spock and also The Vision from the Avengers so appealing to teenaged boys. Obviously, being completely ruled by passions would be dangerous, but a complete cessation of them seems hollow. It seems that the most productive people channel their passions rather than obliterating them.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone besides me accepts the fact that passion is an inherent good..."

Um. Maybe it'a the eleven years' distance between now and when this was written, but I don't "everyone" (in any sense, literal or otherwise) accepting this fact. I don't doubt that this attitude exists, but it doesn't seem to be the conventional wisdom in 2015.

"Letting emotion rule your life, or, even worse, letting extreme emotions rule your life, is a very unwise choice."

I literally (and I'm not using the word as an intensifier here) don't think I know anyone who disputes this.

I think the only thing that makes Dave particularly unique here is his view of it being a zero-sum same - how it's either complete disconnect from all emotion or complete surrender to the passion of the moment with nothing in-between.