Saturday, 12 March 2016

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. 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 entry is dated 21 January, 2006, and deals with my having started proofreading Dave’s Collected Letters, Volume I. FWIW, I’m not sure about the italicized part of Dave’s letter, as to whether he is quoting someone else or just for some reason decided to italicize his views. Maybe Dave can shed some light on that if he see’s this post.

Dear Dictionary Boy:

Thanks for the latest batch of corrections. I should probably have mentioned that I don’t actually read them since I’ll just have to read them again when/if it comes time to do a corrected second printing (still a pretty remote possibility, although Diamond has agreed to do an ‘offered again’ listing in the next Previews).
[Ed: Italics by Dave begin here.] As I see it, 9/11 has compelled those of us on the right to ignore the fence-sitters and the Neverland-bound and start moving back to positions that make a certain amount of common sense and which have some relationship with reality, even as 9/11 has compelled the liberals to head out for parts unknown somewhere over the rainbow, leaving those of you who were, prior to 9/11 astride the fence between the two camps; a) torn, b) lonely and c) alienated, as everyone [else] disappears over their respective horizons. [End italics.]
[Ed: Okay, I think the above was Dave quoting himself from a former letter to me or, more likely, from some public statement he made about 9/11 shortly after it happened. But, I’m just guessing.]

(Dave:) I’m not sure that I have much to add to it. Maybe a further distillation?
[Begin italics.] There is no middle ground. What used to be described as the political center is now home to those who just want to talk about things and not do anything. “It’s a very complicated issue” is a euphemism for this trait. You could see it evaporate in the latest Canadian federal election (going to the polls on Monday) with the shooting death of Jane Creba, 15, on Boxing Day--the day after Christmas--in Toronto’s downtown core, caught in the crossfire between rival drug gangs. Both the leftists--Liberals--and socialists--New Democrats and Greens--switched to Social Sciences 101 lecture mode. How complicated the whole issue is and the root causes of poverty and social exclusion and this and that and the other thing. A whole segment of the population who are a good deal less philosophical about the theoretical nuances attached to the shooting deaths of teenage girls whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time realized that this was all they were going to get from the leftists and socialists. They would talk about it as a Petri dish social engineering concern and throw money at it in a programmatic sense but they would never come within a country mile of thinking that the answer is longer jail sentences for people who do things like that.

If you don’t stop the bad guys and punish the bad guys, the bad guys will keep doing bad things vs. there are no such things as bad guys--there are only misunderstood and disadvantaged guys who need our help. There is no middle ground on that. Either you believe that shooting an innocent teenaged girl on Boxing Day is bad and needs to be punished or you admit that you don’t think it was a bad thing to do. Not admit that it was a tragedy--leftists treat evil as if it is an unfortunate naturally occurring event like getting hit by lightning or a car accident--but to admit that it was evil. The real awakening came when everyone realized that Canada’s media, academic world and political worlds are controlled by people who didn’t see that act as evil. One of God’s wake-up calls. If they don’t think that was evil and they just want to stand around and talk about it and be philosophical about it, what level of production are they willing to afford you as an individual and society in general? The answer is: none. Their idea of integrity is that if their own teenaged daughter got shot to death just for being in the way of a drug gang’s turf war that they would just say it was a tragedy and be philosophical about it and want to help the guy who shot her, make sure he gets a fair bail hearing and can be back out on the street in three months if he’s found guilty, with triple credit for time served, subsidized housing, a scholarship and whatever else. Well, see, that’s depraved. And that’s what the left and the now vanished middle is all about. Depravity as a substitute for clear ethical sense. [End italics.]
Thanks again for the corrections. I phoned Titan Comics [Ed: In Dallas] to offer to do a “Cerebus as Robert E. Howard character” for the winning bidder in their Cross Plains [Ed: Texas, boyhood home of Howard] relief benefit, so thanks for the heads-up. Hope it was in time.




Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Dave has objected to people mischaracterising his arguments, or putting words in his mouth. He said that you can't prove you're right by changing his argument into your argument (and he's quite correct). If he were to apply these same standards to himself, people would be less able to dismiss him. His portrait of "the left and the now vanished middle" is every bit as profound and accurate as that "Long hair is communism" photo that's been circulating lately. Alas, it's a frequent Simean rhetorical tactic: create an army of straw men, charge bravely into battle against them, and declare himself the victor (see his "14 / 15 / 16 [which is it currently? Is there a canonical version online?] Impossible Things" for further examples).

Cute sketch! For some reason, Cerebus wearing lipstick always looks horrifying to me.

-- Damian

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

(Oh, and I am aware that there is a "15 Impossible Things" posted here on AMOC. Is that the canonical version? Non-snarky question; I don't want to waste anyone's time debunking outdated thoughts. Thanks.)

-- Damian

Jeff Seiler said...

It started out as 14, IIRC. Which, I guess, would be the canonical version.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Well, thanks, Jeff, but "I don' thin' that word means what you thin' it means." Perhaps I should ask, "What's the most current version?" Is it the version linked to on this blog?

-- Damian

Jeff Seiler said...

Damian, that's...inconceivable!

My dictionary defines canonical (as applied to a writer) as, "5. Of or relating to a literary canon." Canon (as applied to a writer), is defined as, "5b. The works of a writer that have been accepted as authentic." So, in that sense, I was correct.

But, I can see how, in a sense in which the word is colloquially utilized, you were going for something else. No harm, no foul.