Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Single Man

Cerebus: The Women
Art by Dave Sim
(from an interview with Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Journal, 1996)
...I noticed in my life, going through the various romantic permutation - in a relationship, and then out of a relationship - that there were two different ways of thinking for me. I would think one way on my own, and I would think another way in a relationship. The conventional thinking about that, and the thing that really stuck in a lot of people's craws when it came to [Cerebus issue] 186 was, "Well, yeah, of course you think that way when you're alone because you're not supposed to be alone, you just haven't found the right person. As soon as you find the right person, then you become the right you." And the single you is just this victim of past experiences, a person carrying along resentments - the whole victim infection that makes up society at this point. "If you're not like us, the only reason you're not like us is this horrible thing that happened to you when you were growing up. We just have to go back and find out what this horrible thing was, pat you on the back and say, 'It's okay, the bogeyman's gone,' and you'll become like us." Because that's viewed as a universal truth - that a single man is half a couple, a couple with a person missing - it seemed worthwhile to show the view from the other side of the fence. The merged male being devoured psychically by his mate and to do it in such a way that it had the same patronising, pitying, wiser-than-thou quality that a single man gets from the "Don't you worry - someday you'll find the right person and you'll be able to be good and happy like we are." No one likes to be patronised or pitied or talked-down-to. So, as a single, unencumbered, undevoured male, I decided turnabout was fair play - husband as pitiable victim rather than single man as pitiable inadequacy.

To me, there is worth - as a distanced observer, as an uninvolved spectator - in commenting on something which a husband or boyfriend is not at liberty to comment on and is probably unable to perceive anyway: what merged permanence is like. To say that wives devour husbands is no greater an exaggeration than to say that husbands suppress their wives. In each case, I would say, the participants are the last ones to recognise the reality of the observation. The man just examining from a distant perspective, I have no vested interest. I don't have to worry about, "Oh, what's the wife going to think about when she reads this?" So it struck me as a good counter balance point. There's so much on that side, we should have a little weight to it over on this side...

1 comment:

Eric Hoffman said...

This interview is reprinted in DAVE SIM: CONVERSATIONS, out now from University of Mississippi Press, available from or any fine brick and mortar! (Shameless plug).