Friday, 29 January 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Hello, everyone out there in AMOC land! Per a joint decision by Dave Sim and myself, I would like to humbly request feedback on the following question:
Would you rather see these weekly posts of Dave Sim letters in chronological order (as they more or less have been posted so far), or would you rather see random posts from any place throughout the 11-year correspondence?
Argument for chronological:  It gives a glimpse into the evolution of a long-term relationship as it unfolded over time, and it is posted as that evolution occurred--sequentially.

Argument for random:  Randomness keeps things hopping and we don't have to wait it out through three or four weeks of posts of letters that are all about the same thing/s.

So, please, everyone who could give the hindquarters of a rodent, please vote here in the comments section to this post -- vote early and vote often. Once a week's worth of votes are in, I'll let Dave know. We now returned you to your regularly scheduled programming...

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. 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 each week.

Today’s letter is from Dave to me is dated 12 April, 2005. It does not have a postmark or stamp on the envelope because Dave delivered it by hand, along with some others he also delivered by hand to other Cerebites, at the S.P.A.C.E convention in Columbus, Ohio, in late April that year. It was my first year of attending S.P.A.C.E. If memory serves, that was also the year that I witnessed him handing off several of his notebooks to Margaret for scanning, some pages of which you have seen and more of which you will continue to see every Thursday, here at AMOC. Okay, on to the letter:

12 April 05

Dear Jeff:

Thanks for your letter and enclosures of March 27. I’m afraid I’m a little “under the weather” and trying to stay pasted together long enough to make it through the S.P.A.C.E weekend, so this is going to be less thorough than I would’ve liked.

The Sally Quinn column [Ed: a clipping I sent him]

Yes, it seems to me just basic embarrassment at how the whole thing is hatching out. It seems to me that it is one of the givens of gender relations that we’ll just have to suck it up and not make a big deal about the waste of thirty-five years of human civilization (or however many years it takes) while we all tried to glue together this complete feminist misapprehension. It also seems to me a bad sign the she refers to men as “poor devils”. The feminists are completely wrong [she writes], that doesn’t mean they’re going to give up without a fight. Exactly the opposite. The profound level of feminist chauvinism means at least another ten or fifteen years of exactly this pendulum swing from resignation to harpy-like defiance and back again. Whenever we finally do get clear of this, it is going to be one of the most thoroughly documented and least appealing chapters in human history.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles: Science marches on [another clipping, all of these are from the Dallas Morning News]

Good light-hearted piece. It always astonishes me the things that people anguish over.

Visit Dallas Central Mosque, and you’ll find tolerance and faith [clipping]
“Do we condone hate or extremism in our mosque? Absolutely not. Nor do we think in terms of ‘killing the infidels’ or ‘avoiding friendship with Christians or Jews’ as some ignorant writers suggest based on out-of-context interpretations of the Quran.”
I would take issue with Nabil Sadoun here because I don’t think there is a context to the Quran, per se. I see it as a twin monologue conducted by God and YHWH and there’s no doubt in my mind that YHWH is in fine form with his/her/its Jew hating. I see the Koran (my preferred spelling) as a litmus test, actually. Who do you think is talking here? God or YHWH or, as they’re called in the Koran, Allah or Eblis/Satan? There are some borderline instances, but there are also glaringly obvious YHWH assertions: malign, hard-hearted and mean-spirited. A portion of the Muslim world seems to be coming around to a recognition that it is not only impossible but evil to institute every aspect of the Koran as divine law. I assume that’s the point of the debate. WIll Muslims ultimately follow the malign, hard-hearted and mean-spirited verses or the enlightened ones, like ‘you to your religion and me to mine’? I’m sure God is betting that they’ll all ultimately come around to the enlightened view and Eblis is betting they’ll destroy the world trying to fulfill the Eblis inspired verses.

Out of bounds [clipping]

Yes, the unhappy result of the largely optimistic decision to create the United Nations. Democracy doesn’t work among nations, largely (I suspect) because of the Arab and African Bloc voting. Marxism hadn’t fully hatched out by 1945 and will be flourishing in those two blocs for some time to come, as well as infecting countries like Canada that should know better but don’t seem to. It’s the primary conundrum. A free country is free to choose to become Marxist but a Marxist country isn’t free to choose to become free except in extremis (witness: Ukraine). It’s only because of the United States that there is light at the end of that tunnel, so all eyes are on the land of the free and home of the brave to get us out of the mess we’re in.

[End of responses to clippings.]

You are certainly free to post our correspondence to the Newsgroup. Legally, I can’t do that with all of the correspondents, so it seems unethical to pick and choose, but if you want to post the whole thing and scan in my answers, you’re certainly free to do so. At this point, it looks as if we would have two full volume of Collected Letters ready to go. Depending on the reaction to the first we might do the second through one of the on-line print-to-order houses just to keep our own printing obligations to a reasonable seventeen volumes. I say this so you have an option--my responses will see print up ahead, but if you want the correspondence posted you are welcome to do so. I’m sure Margaret will be glad to include them at

I suspect the propensity for “off topic” can be attributed to the fact that everyone is still responding reflexively to discussions of feminism by the tried and true feminist method: changing the subject. I’m also a little suspicious of your survey because it asks people to assess themselves and I’m not sure--post 9-11--how accurate most self-perceptions are. I think most liberals see themselves as something in between liberal and conservative. In my own case, I see myself as liberal but realistic, whereas most other people would see me as extreme right wing. Although I think it was valuable as a piece of information where there had previously been a void, my own view it that the critical importance--and only “way forward” remains ideas and the free and open discussion of those ideas. Labelling tends to be evasive of ideas. If I point out that standards need to be skewed in order to achieve numerical parity between the genders, it’s easy to avoid the core idea presented by labelling me as a misogynist or asking me if I consider myself to be a cynic. What someone calls me or what I call myself is irrelevant in the realm of ideas. Let’s stick to perceiving reality accurately and skip what we call aspects of it in favour of examining the ideas.

My ideas are definitely in the “this is a hard saying and who can hear it?” category. I suspect that your brother agrees with me far more than he lets on. Otherwise, where’s the girlfriend? Where’s the fiancee? Where’s the wife? You can drink heavily and curse the name of Dave Sim and the star he was born under, but if you’re living in his construct--marriage as constituted is untenable--then it rings more than a little false. Prove me wrong. Go out and marry someone.

Personally, I’m very much at peace with the way things are hatching out since all of the linked entities which are not based upon reality--Marxism, feminism, academe, the United Nations, et. al.--are suddenly falling on hard times. They represent a temporarily effective series of basic tricks, but the problem with basic tricks--like fundamental evasiveness, labelling and changing of the subject--is that once they’ve been identified they quickly become useless. As long as those of us opposing the malignancies can stay on topic and continue to ask the same basic questions about the forces which continue to dominate our society, they really aren’t long for this world--whether that’s in a human frame or reference of another decade or so or a societal frame of reference of another century or two. In either case, I consider it worthwhile (and a privilege!) to have been an early proponent of accurate perception and have no regrets whether I live to see the dawning of a new age of accurate perception or whether it arrives fifty years after I’m dead.

Thanks as always for writing.



A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Let me jump in ahead of everyone here with a big vote for "random". I think one of AMOC's strengths is the scattershot nature of the daily posts. If you're not interested in today's subject, well, never mind, there will be something different along tomorrow. If you need a complete sequential set of Dave Sim's letters, buy the digital downloads of his "Collected Letters" volumes from the Kickstarter campaigns.

Dave Kopperman said...

I'm in favor of a modified random approach - jump around in time, but post letters that might reflect in some way on recent news events. For example, Dave lives very much at the intersection between religious conservatism and the unvitiated right to free speech, so his Muslim essays from the immediate post 9-11 era (as well as his recent open letter to Scott Adams) really offer fascinating insight into the engines behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

As always, I'm also in favor of including excerpts of Jeff's original letters to Dave and/or increased biographical data that might give context to some of Dave's more specific comments (the aside a few weeks back about Jeff's posting of Dave's letter at his then place of employment was tantalizing yet maddeningly vague, for example). In particular, it would illuminate the advice that Dave is giving to know the what or why or Jeff's soliciting of it in the first place.

And thanks to Jeff (and the usual thanks to Tim) for putting in the effort to keep the content on here fresh and interesting.

crazyyears said...

I'm with Dave Kopperman on this one. Random with a little more context.

Unknown said...

Agreed, go random.

Dave Sim said...

Jeff and I discussed this on the phone. RE: context, Jeff doesn't have copies of his earliest letters, so I said if that comes up again give me a call and -- if the letter is relatively accessible -- I can get Sandeep to scan it and e-mail it to Tim.

Also I'm a big champion of "chronological" because that's really a central point to my life: pre-1994 and then the Drop Off the Feminist Theocracy Cliff.

We seem to be STARTING the inevitable head-on collision between the Feminist Theocracy and monotheism but -- even if I live to be 100 -- I don't think that will be very far advanced before I'm gone.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Dave / Jeff,
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't all the letters to Jeff post-1994? If so, I'm not sure I understand the need for strict chronological order in this context.

Jeff Seiler said...

Yes, Tim, except for the six letters of mine that were printed in Aardvark Comment, all of Dave's letters to me are from 2004 to 2015. None were before 1998, IIRC. Of course, last year there were only one or two, for obvious reasons.

And, lately, I have been trying to insert editorial explanations as to what it is Dave refers to in his letters. If people want to see my letters to him (the source material) I can go back to posting those, too. Or, I could just do a Pontius Pilate and wash my hands of the weekly postings and, instead, publish a book of all of it.

But that's gonna cost ya...

Steve said...

I prefer chronological with some editing to weed out the repetition.

...uh oh...

Only Dave and I have voted so far in this direction.

Could I finally be breaking free from the melted mind warped by feminism that I've been so lulled into oblivion by?

Sorry for the sarcasm but it's simply a frame of mind I have little frame of reference for.


CerebusTV said...

The Book Deal would be amazing.

Dave Kopperman said...

I think the root question is "what function does A Moment of Cerebus serve?" If it's an in-depth, quasi-scholarly dissection of the work and its creator, then the chronological presentation of correspondence makes sense. If it's more an organ of news, ephemera and nice sound-bite-sized chunks of insight and analysis that can taken as a whole be a useful organ for promotion to a wider audience for Dave (and Gerhard's) past and future work, then the random, on=point excerpts work best to further that goal.

I already said which I think it is (the latter), but I think the real decision lies between Tim and Dave.

The ideal solution, of course, would simply be to set up a site dedicated solely to Dave's complete correspondence (basic Wordpress template would do it) and just upload all the letters there, tagged and posted by subject, year, correspondent, etc. I'm sure '' is available. Would be a cost of $15-20 a year to run it. No doubt there are myriad and convoluted reasons why it's an unworkable idea, but, really, the market has proven that no-one is interested in laying down money for print volumes of the letters AND YET there is still the general scholarly interest of getting them all available while Dave is still alive (and after, of course). Then AMOC could simply excerpt the most 'entertainment value' letters and can best serve its function of promotion, celebration, and discussion.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be better if the posts were by topic, rather than chronological. I think when you say "random", you mean "by topic".

In keeping with posting by topic, I think the posts could be pared down. Two or three interesting paragraphs from one letter about one topic would be more digestible I think. Or simply a one paragraph quote or explanation of what you said, followed by one paragraph from Dave's letter that responds.

To be honest, I often do not read the "Dave Sim & Me" posts. I can think of three reasons for this off hand: (1) it is difficult to discern what the topic of the letter might be; (2) the letters are often presented in huge unsightly blocks of text, and (3) the annotations break up the text and are also unsightly.

I think these problems would be solved by presenting material by single topic and editing it down. However, if you felt a longer post on a topic was justified -- for instance in a longer letter that stuck to one topic -- I would vote for liberally hitting the return key to create additional paragraph spacing, even if that differs from the paragraph spacing in the original.

Of course, if you actually mean "random", as in lengthy correspondences culled from random time periods, I think you would just exacerbate the problems described above.

I anticipate Dave would object to presenting the material edited down and by topic on the grounds that this would amount to misrepresenting Dave's views or Dave himself.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Reginald P. in that I would like to see the letters whole. They're very interesting, like reports from a guy who lives in a reality that isn't this one, about what he finds there and how he feels about it (this letter is a minor example). But I agree with Reg's reasons that some people might skip them.

I agree with Tim, Dave K., and others that a random sampling seems more in keeping with "AMOC" itself, but I like Dave K.'s idea of a complete archive of the correspondence. That could even be done on "AMOC" with proper tagging. An online archive of all the "Cerebus Foundation" material would serve future Cerebus scholars (if there are any) more than Dave's "Museum of Me" monument to himself.

I think it would be most helpful if Jeff contextualized the discussion -- either presenting the letter that Dave is replying to, or interpolating annotations. A while ago, I asked Jeff to clarify a comment Dave made about a survey of readers' political values, and his answer cleared up the point for me and gave me insight into both Dave and Jeff.

-- Damian

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

"...or, I could just do a Pontius Pilate and wash my hands of the weekly postings..."

That would be disappointing. You and Dave asked for opinions, so that's what is being expressed here. There is no right or wrong in this context. Listen to the views expressed, and Dave and yourself can accept or reject them for what they are worth. No big deal really. I hope you decide to continue to post Dave's letters on AMOC in what ever format you feel comfortable with.

Jeff Seiler said...

I'm going to refrain from commenting on these comments for a week, except to say to Tim that I was mostly being facetious about the Pontius Pilate thing.

Erick said...

I like the chronological. It allows us to see the evolution of the thought processes.
Also, and I admit this is a selfish reason, it almost functions like a time machine back to the point where Dave had just stopped producing Cerebus, so it does not feel so long ago. If that makes any sense.
I miss that anticipation of finding a new Cerebus on the racks

Eddie said...

I like the idea of being able to purchase the Jeff Seiler /Dave Sim collected letters in chronological form (perhaps off the Cerebus downloads site, although ideally I would prefer a physical book, but I know that's not economically feasible. I'd probably print them out after downloading them), and then using random or slightly random sequences of letters posted here as a means of advertising for the collection.

But if there's no intention of doing that, then I think it does come down to what Dave Kopperman says regarding the intention of AMOC. I think it would make sense to continue posting them chronologically, since then they would automatically become "digitally archived in chronological order" on AMOC as a resource (in addition to being available physically in chronological order in the Cerebus Archive).

Personally, I'm not too bothered by the lack of context or the original letter from the letter writer; it didn't really bother me when I read the letters in the first 2 Collected Letters, but that might be because that's a common situation with reading the Collected Letters of Authors (like Margaret Mitchell, Oscar Wilde, etc.) I did think the way Jeff put context in this week's post regarding the clippings was helpful though, which is probably a luxury and opportunity that other authors didn't have.

And a Big Thank you to Jeff for posting the letters and Tim for maintaining the site!

Jeff Seiler said...

Eddie, a big you're welcome from me (and, I'm sure, from Tim)! And, while we're at it, a big Thank You to Dave for giving me permission to do this!

Jeff Seiler said...

Er, make that You're Welcome!

Travis Pelkie said...

Boxing Day was a month ago and I'm still waiting for the response from the head of that college...

I'd vote for mostly chronological, but if there's a theme or continuation from an earlier letter (like the Imprimis related letters I just mentioned), perhaps group those ones together in a several week feature. Also, the contextual info helps as well.

Margaret said...

I just wanted to chime in - it doesn't matter which way you post them, just please continue to post them. I'm enjoying reading the letters. Sometimes I'd like to see the other side of the conversation and other times (two women grinding) I *feel* like I've already seen it before (::coughyahoo!groupcough::) and don't need a revisit of it. But yes, please continue posting the missives!

Jeff Seiler said...

Okay, everybody, whether they get postedchronologically or no, Queen Margaret has chimed in (finally!). The postings shall continue, every week on Saturdays. Stay tuned to see in what order: you still have five and a half more days to cast your vote, either for chronological or random.

Tony Dunlop said...

Well, Dave seems to want chronological…so that's my vote.

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, voting has slowed to a crawl--that damned rush-hour time of day, so to speak, but the polls are still open. So, vote late and vote often: chronological postings or random postings. It's your choice, America (and, um, Canada, England, Europe, Australia, Africa, China, Japan, Russia, and, um, Antarctica [?]).

Daddy Rich said...

Another vote for chronological, if you please. Also, thanks very much for the hard work on this site and the invaluable sharing of the correspondence.

Jeff Seiler said...

Well, thank you very much, Rich Daddy, (and, please, at your earliest convenience, adopt me).

I live but to serve.

Er, that is, I live but to type out and send in the old letters.