The Merged Void


1. Writings from "Reads"

2. "Tangent" (in HTML, or PDF)


Introduction

Dave Sim is notorious as the patron saint of independent comics publishers, having written, illustrated and published Cerebus on a monthly basis since the late seventies. He plans to continue doing so until issue number 300. [update: series now completed]

For several years Sim used Cerebus to explore issues concerning women. Sim's self-proclaimed "misogyny" (To quote: "It wouldn't be that big a stretch to categorize my writing as Hate Literature against women . . . in this Fascistic Feminist country." ) reached a crescendo in issue #186, in which Sim dropped his fictional shell entirely and spoke in the first person. Sim described what he sees as the archetypal male-female relationship, in which the "Female Void devours the Male Light."

But let's hear Dave Sim speaking for himself . . .


 

- Quotations -

"Emotion, whatever the Female Void would have you believe, is not a more Exalted State than is Thought. In point of fact, I think Emotion is animalistic, serpent-brain stuff. Animals do not Think, but I am reasonably certain that they have Emotions. 'Eating this makes me Happy.' 'When my fur is all wet and I am cold, it makes me Sad." "Ooo! Puppies!'   'It makes me Excited to Chase the Ball!' Reason, as any husband can tell you, doesn't stand a chance in an argument with Emotion... this was the fundamental reason, I believe, that women were denied the vote for so long."

"Behind this...lies the Greater Void, the Omnivorous Engine which drives every... institutionalised waste of human time and energy, which drives, in point of fact, our entire degraded society. The wife and kids."

"In one of those Poor Us studies for which the Emotional Female Void is notorious, it was pointed out that after a divorce, the average male standard of living rises... the average female standard of living drops... I think the...explanation is that the excision of a five-to-six- foot leech from the surface of a human body is going to have more of its own blood in its own veins. Unless the leech finds another body, it is going to go hungry."

"In labouring to fill the insatiable Void Need for material possessions at home, his time and his energy and his spirit disappear into the Vaginal Bottom Line of the workplace."

"The Male Light and the Female Void: Seminal Energy and Omnivorous Parasite."

"If you look at her and see anything besides emptiness, fear and emotional hunger, you are looking at the parts of yourself which have been consumed to that point."

"It wouldn't be that big a stretch to categorize my writing as Hate Literature against women . . . in this Fascistic Feminist country"


- Source texts follow -

Writings from "Reads"
by Dave Sim

Available from Aardvark-Vanaheim Inc.
P.O Box 1674, Station C, Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4R2, Canada
By phone: 519/576-7820 or 519/576-0610 Fax: 519/576-0955
© 1995 Dave Sim

(Extract included here with the permission of Dave Sim)

Journalism had been an early casualty in the war between the Female Void and the Male Light. "How do you feel?" had virtually replaced "who, what, where, when and why" as the journalistic cornerstone. "What are you feeling right now?" Every once in a great while, the Female void would run afoul of some military figure or a police captain or a fire marshal: some male who had not been devoured whole, who still had something of himself left to call his own. His answer would begin, "I think . . ." or "I believe . . ." and he would proceed to enunciate a belief, a principle, an ideal which was, to him, fundamental. The Female or Male Feminist (they differ only cosmetically from each other) interviewing him would be dogged in his or her pursuit: "But how do you feel as an individual, as a person, as a human being?" The interview subject would invariably look confused, discomfited at this. After all, he had just answered the question. He would paraphrase his belief, his principle, his ideal. "I think . . ." "I believe . . ." At this point the he/she interviewer switched, invariably, to another satellite feed: to another journalist or a psychologist or a social worker. Reasoning, Thinking Males with Systems of Belief, made for very bad television.

I watched an interview the other night on CBC Prime Time with a nineteen-year-old girl from an old-fashioned (which is to say "principled") Vietnamese family. She had gotten pregnant during her last year of high school. She knew that she had brought "shame" to her father, to her family. "But this is a free country, isn't it?" she asks the camera. "That means you can do whatever you want, doesn't it?" The camera was indulgently mute on the subject. The girl moved on. She felt scared that she was going to be a mother. She felt unhappy that she had been disowned by her father, but she also, you know, felt happy when her mother called to tell her that she would answer any questions that she had about pregnancy. She felt most enthusiastically about her school guidance counsellor because he had, you know, just listened to her "spill her guts" and hadn't tried to, you know, make her feel bad. At no time, needless to say, did the word "think" cross her lips. There is, of course, no need for her to think. The taxpayers of Canada will pay for all of her baby's needs. She didn't need to be made to feel bad. All that she needed was someone to direct her to the appropriate agency. The rest of it was just paperwork. It's a free country, isn't it?

That means you can do whatever you want.

Doesn't it?


 

Unbidden, the image of the Cerebus Theatre swam to the surface of Viktor Davis' awareness. He turned away from his typewriter and allowed the picture to coalesce in his mind's eye.

The Cerebus readership was there, composed in some (small? large?) measure of females with their male housepets. He squinted, endeavouring to see if any male was chafing at the invisible conduits and metaphorical tubing which drained his life, his essence, his energy as surely and as effectively as any fictional vampire. Cats' eyes gleamed in the darkness, filled with malice. A couple of rows back an obese brunette was stripping away chunks of brain tissue from a thin, pale youth with a spotted face. His head lolled against his shoulder in her direction, his face radiant with ecstasy. He turned to her, his eyes half-lidded. He smiled and mouthed, "I love you." She smiled back at him, indulgently. His eyes closed once more. She stuck out her sandpaper tongue, dotted with brains and blood, in Viktor Davis' direction and then cackled loudly. The youth giggled quietly to himself.

To the far left, in the front row, the white husk of a heavy-set man in his early thirties squirmed in the direction of his Lady and Master, his features reflecting pain, confusion and fear. She held his forearm in front of her as if they were bound, one to the other, but in such a way that she was also holding him slightly apart from her. Viktor Davis could see that the fellow had been a quick meal - little more than a snack, by the looks of things. Traces of dried brain-matter, hard and uninviting, encrusted what little there was left of the top of his head. She looked very, very hungry. Every few seconds she turned around in her seat, the hunger in her gaze sweeping across the rows to her immediate rear. Females touched by that insatiable stare hunched a little closer to their own housepets, a menacing growl rumbling low in their throats.

Viktor Davis turned back to his typewriter.

"There is no cure for willful stupidity," he typed and then sat back, cigarette in hand, to contemplate the words.

He thought of the scene in Cisco Pike where a character played by Harry Dean Stanton worries aloud to the title character (played by Kris Kristofferson) that he doesn't think he will be able to "get it up" with one of the two women they have picked up for the evening. "Man," says Kristofferson, "it's not your body they're after, it's your goddamn soul." Stanton blinks several times and a look of relief crosses his features. "Thanks, man" he says.

There is no cure for willful stupidity.


 


Yes, said Viktor Davis, I am being brutal here.

In contemplating the full weight of popular culture, television, movies, magazines and newspapers, I see the completely unopposed advocacy of Merged Permanence and I think that a definite brutality is called for. The Male Light is jeopardized on all fronts, in my view. The Devouring Rapacious Female Void is not a thing to be taken lightly, to be explained away, to be rationalised into neutrality. I'm not here to make you feel good. I am here to make you think. And to make you think, I have to make you see.

Emotion, whatever the Female Void would have you believe, is not a more Exalted State than is Thought. In point of fact, I think Emotion is animalistic, serpent-brain stuff. Animals do not Think, but I am reasonably certain that they have Emotions. "Eating this makes me Happy." "When my fur is all wet and I am cold, it makes me Sad." "Ooo! Puppies!" "It makes me Excited to Chase the Ball!" Reason, as any husband can tell you, doesn't stand a chance in an argument with Emotion. There are no rules to Emotional Argument. You simply wander around in rhetorical circles until you feel Happy again, and then the argument is over. This was the fundamental reason, I believe, that women were (rightly) denied the vote for so long. In order to move a civilisation forward, an overview is required. You have to be able to step back and examine the structure of a problem. This is what Thinking, Reasoning, is. Every political campaign waged in the G-7 countries has as its centerpiece Job Creation. Polls give the politicians a list of voter concerns. Job Creation is at the top of the list. Ergo, the politicians promise Jobs. Because the Female Void dominates proceedings (simply because the Female Void dominates everything), a candidate is elected based on how he or she makes the electorate Feel. We Feel we can Trust this candidate. No effort is made to step back and ask, "Isn't the whole point of technology to eliminate work?" Reason would tell you that you can either eliminate (or limit) technology or you can eliminate (or limit) jobs. It is not possible to have it both ways. The Female Void Emotional response is that we have to have it both ways. And so we do. And so the problem gets worse instead of better.

I think of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, the Continental Congress, Illuminated Thinking, the Finest Hour of the Male Light, dealing with the specific problems of Independence. What did they want to do? What did they not want to do? What innovations had past cultures brought to bear on limiting the ability of government to interfere in the lives of its citizens? Where had other cultures gone wrong and what could be done to prevent and correct those mistakes? They did brilliant work. Brilliant work. I am reasonably certain that such Male Light yet exists in our day and age, and I am equally certain that it avoids the political arena like the plague. In our Female Void Age it is the sole job of elected officials to make the electorate feel good about them frequently enough to get re-elected. Re-election is largely a matter of provoking a positive emotional response within a narrow time frame through televised portrayal, the raising of sufficient funds to make that televised portrayal ubiquitous, and (apart from that) having the good fortune to have no deviations from the Female Void Emotional Perception of Merit (drugs, boozing, women on the side) come to light at an inopportune moment. We do not elect leaders. We elect televised portrayals of Husbands of Fathers. Women (because of the double standard of Female Void Emotional Perception) are elected as televised portrayals of Good Career Women. If she looks like she would be a Good Boss, it is not necessary that she be a Wife and/or Mother. Thinking, the ability to Reason through a problem and put a solution into effect, is very low on the list of priorities, if it is on the list at all. Legislative Assemblies are filled, throughout the civilised world, with televised portrayals capable of provoking an emotional response in their respective constituents. We have been treading water for some time and show no indication of endeavouring to swim any time in the foreseeable future. Political positions are judged on the Emotional Basis of whether they are Popular or Unpopular. Popular is good. Unpopular is bad. Most political positions based on Reason are Unpopular. Most political positions based on Emotion are Popular - provided the Emotion provoked is happiness; if the Emotion provoked is unhappiness or anxiety or uneasiness, then that political position is Unpopular and therefore bad.

Does this make any sense to you? Or does it just make you feel bad?


 

Male Light does not Merge. Thinking, Reason, is best served by solitude, isolation. Intellect "works through" problems, changing impediment into insight, oversight into overview, stalemate into solution. A "Big Picture" emerges at the "end of the day", but the day itself is long, composed exclusively of examination and re-examination. History is filled with examples of Great Minds being brought together by the Merged Void's emotional and idiosyncratic belief (or, rather, feeling) that "two heads are better than one". On occasion, they are able to "strike sparks" off one another or they manage to trigger mutual or complementary insights in their respective fields of endeavour through interaction. It is far more likely that they will pass a pleasant hour or two exchanging small talk on a variety of mundane subjects and then go their separate ways, none the worse for intellectual wear and tear, much to the collective disappointment of the Assembled Voids who are without a glimmer of understanding of intellectual processes and who assume that the Male Light is the same as the Merged Void, "only different". More than one Society Hostess having brought together (say) a Nobel Prize-Winning Author and a Critically Acclaimed Playwright at her dinner party (after the fashion of breeding one thoroughbred horse to another) has been disillusioned to find, upon their return, no shining literary offspring in evidence, their conversation dominated instead by the Yankees' chance of holding first place in the American League East.


 

Light does not Breed. Only Jackie Onassis (and like-minded Voids) could perceive her Arrow Shirt Ad Son as having anything in common with his late father, apart from a weakness for blonde actresses.


 

"Two heads are better than one" has much in common with "two can live as cheaply as one". It represents, at its core, the Merged Void raking the Male Light with its Emotion-based fingernails. There is little empirical evidence to support either statement. As the Emotional Female Void devours what is left of the civilisation which has been built by the Rational Male Light, it has extrapolated the former maxim into Larger and More Efficient Voids ("If two heads are better than one, think how good a dozen heads will be!"). Study Groups, Steering Committees, Regional Advisory Boards, Crown Commissions, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. While it is a basic truth that Light does not Merge, that Light does not Breed, Voids do nothing else. The Merged Void represents Consensus. It is a purely Emotion-based belief (or, rather, feeling) that through Consensus, one arrives at "Truth" (or, rather, Truth).

In a recent interview, Eddie Campbell, a Considerable Male Light in this Age of the Female Void, discussed his experience as a brief (and much amused) participant in the creativity-by-committee of "Comic's Greatest World" (hyperbolic nomenclature being a hallmark of the Merged Void). He observed that the family cat in the Campbell household had been named by committee and that it had taken a full quorum of family members the better part of several hours to arrive at "Puss". If one looks closely at the work that is done by the Merged Voids which are devouring our culture, much of it could most charitably be described as "naming cats". The period of time it takes to arrive at "Puss" is directly proportional to the number of "heads which are better than one" assigned to the task.

As a parenthetical aside, several meetings were held at Dark Horse to determine whether or not there would be an apostrophe in "Comics' Greatest World".


 

What motivates this behaviour? What informs the sensibilities of those who sit tapping pencil against pad, looking thoughtful, portraying themselves as the Good and Dutiful Committee Member? What keeps them from standing up and raising the point of order (Mr. Chairperson) that if brains were dynamite, there wouldn't be enough in this room to blow up a paper bag?

Patriarchy? The imposition of Male Power which restrains and endlessly postpones the Dawning of the Glorious Female Golden Age?

I beg to differ.

Behind this Lesser Void of White Collar Make-Work Programs, the stultifying sameness of ass-covering and ass-kissing, the endless postponement of decision-making in favour of "further study", "further discussion", lies the Greater Void, the Omnivorous Engine which drives every committee, every study group, every institutionalised waste of human time and energy, which drives, in point of fact, our entire degraded society.

The Wife and Kids.

If we're going to be able to afford that new dining-room set. I'm going to have to get that raise. If I'm going to be able to get enough money for the down payment on the house, I'm going to have to pull a lot of overtime. If I'm going to pay for the new living-room furniture and the ballet lessons and the tuition at the private school, I'm going to have to get that promotion.

In one of those Poor Us studies for which the Emotional Female Void is notorious, it was pointed out that after a divorce, the average male standard of living rises by (pick you own ungodly number) percent. The average female standard of living drops by (pick your own ungoddessly Poor Us number) percent. This was presented (of course) as living proof of the unfairness of the Global Economic Structure. I think the more rational explanation is that the excision of a five-to-six-foot leech from the surface of a human body is going to have more of its own blood in its own veins. Unless the leech finds another body, it is going to go hungry. (Please don't call us leeches, huffed the leeches, we prefer the term "asset-challenged".)

Corporations, a living example of the Merged Void if ever there was one, always show a preference for the Family Man when it comes to promotions and positions of responsibility. In the case of Merged Voids, as with most other permutations of existence, It Takes One to Know One. Corporations (or companies of any size, really) wink knowingly at the Little Woman and Her Brood. Once the Male Light has disappeared over the Event Horizon, once the manacle of gold has been pounded into place on the ring finger of his left hand, he is, indeed, a Wage Slave. What goes unsaid (or, rather, what has gone unsaid until now) is that he serves Two Mistresses, Twin Voids. As he labours to make his mortgage payments, pay for groceries, little Axelrod's College Fund, the new sofa, the new drapes, the bigger house, the Company can rest easy. In labouring to fill the insatiable Void Need for material possessions at home, his time and his energy and his spirit disappear into the Vaginal Bottom Line of the workplace. Divorce, once badly thought of, has yielded even greater benefits. The employee with a Wife and Mistress, and later a Wife and an Ex-Wife (and still later a Wife, an Ex-Wife and a Mistress) is very much rocking to the beat of the Merged Void. Assuming he's going to get a little ahead of himself, the Bank Void steps in with an easy-payment schedule.

Ah, success.


 


Viktor Davis smiled to himself.

He had been fascinated by power all of his life, and in the Wife and Kids he had found its greatest manifestation in human society. He turned and regarded his readership once more.

A bright-eyed fellow in a dark-blue suit - his shirt lightly starched, his red-and-black-striped tie neatly pressed - locked eyes with Viktor Davis. He smiled and in his smile there was great pity. Over his shoulder there was visible a slim, young woman with green eyes. She lapped delicately at the open wound within the desiccated remains of his temple. "I understand what you're talking about," he said. "We know this couple, see? Man, they are just the absolute picture of what you described. What you don't realise is that there are good women in the world. You just haven't found the right one, yet. That's all."

Viktor Davis took a drag from his cigarette and expelled a series of small smoke rings. The bright-eyed fellow and Viktor Davis stared into each other's eyes for a period of several seconds. One corner of the bright-eyed fellow's smile twitched slightly and the merest trace of anxiety crossed his features. The slim, young woman took a deep bite from the wound. He closed his eyes and the smile broadened. "You'll see," he said, leaning towards her. "You'll see."


 

Viktor Davis turned back to his typewriter and his pile of notes, which he began thumbing through absent-mindedly. One of the scrawled observations on a torn piece of yellow-lined notepaper caught his eye. The Male Light and the Female Void: Seminal Energy and Omnivorous Parasite. As ancient as the sacrifice of a Corn King. As ubiquitous as a hundred generations of Roman Catholics eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a Great Prophet.


 


Paper-clipped to that one:

What was the essence of Jesus' philosophy but the reformation of Judaism as constituted in his time? "You consume an elephant and excrete a gnat," he scolded. In regarding the centuries-long work that Merged Voids had committed upon the Word of God, layers of interpretation on layers of interpretation, the Word itself so obscured that little remained but the Profession of Interpretation itself, he had attempted to inject a note of sanity into the proceedings. "You know, if you just say do unto others as you would have them do unto you, you could probably knock a good four hundred pages out of the rule book right there." What he failed to recognise was that the Letter of the Law is the province of the Merged Void. It is only the Male Light that is concerned with its Spirit.

Too sensible.

Too much Light.

Bang Bang Bang


 


I am alone, said Viktor Davis. I am not lonely. There is a big difference.

I have not had a Merged Permanence in my life for five years. It took at least three of those five years for my brain to start functioning properly again. In the aftermath of being part of a Merged Void, all that is left for some time is Void Residue: Emptiness, Fear and Emotional Hunger. It is these three and the endless, fruitless search for a Permanent Cure that the Emotional Female Void calls Love. If you merge with that sensibility, you will share in its sickness. No matter what you pour into it, it remains empty; no matter how you reassure it, it remains afraid; no matter how much of yourself you permit it to devour, it remains hungry. If you look at her and see anything besides emptiness, fear and emotional hunger, you are looking at the parts of yourself which have been consumed to that point.

The ability to be alone, to have isolation as your primary state of existence, will serve you in good stead in any situation in which you find yourself. The ability to live in Merged Permanence teaches you only how to function within the context of Another's neuroses, inadequacies and failings. It teaches you how to use your own neuroses, inadequacies and failings as both cudgel and petition. When the Merged Permanence ends, whether next week, next year, five years from now, ten years from now, you are left with completely useless life skills, emptiness, fear and emotional hunger.

Fuck dancing. Let's talk about Art.


 

While, for Viktor Davis, it was a source of great amusement to watch Captains of Industry, Pillars of the Community, the Suit-and-Tie Brigade devoured by the Emotional Female Void, their resources, lives and energy disappearing over the Event Horizon of Merged Permanence, the Joke, to put it mildly, lost something of its flavour when it came to Artists. Would that he could conjure a podium, a venue, and assemble all the creative Male Light in one place.

Women, he would say, are not Muses. Muses are Muses. To confuse one with the other is to mistake the Devouring Void for the Seminal Light. Earthly Women and the Muses are ancient, sworn enemies. The battlefield is the Creative Male. On the one side is the encampment of Discordia, of Diana, of Venus located in his Heart and in his Groin. On the other is the Bastion of Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia and Urania, in his Brain and in his Mind. The Muses are tolerant and understanding of border raids, skirmishes, and harassing maneuvers. Throughout the history of the Male Light, there have been few painters, few writers, who have not had a She Who Must Be Accommodated. For some it was their mothers. For many their wives, their mistresses, their girlfriends. For many it was their daughters, a favourite waitress, a stripper, a whore. To the Muses, they are all one. Mother, whore, wife, daughter, stripper, waitress, mistress, girlfriend.

Women inspire men to do great works
And then distract us from carrying them out

Oscar Wilde

It is up to each individual Male in whom the creative fire burns, in the words of Pater, "as a hard, gem-like flame" to decide whether to maintain that radiance, whether to settle for a wavery, uncertain light, or whether to extinguish it altogether. The individual Male decides for himself which side in the ancient battle is the better armed, who gets the best reinforcements, the most effective weapons, whose barricades are solid and well-fortified, and whose are makeshift and ramshackle. John Lennon maintained through his House-Husband years of baking bread and minding the baby that he had "lost his Muse". Untruer words were never spoken. He drove his Muse from him. The forces within his Groin and his Heart, armed to the teeth, legion upon legion upon legion, surrounded those forces in his Brain and in his Mind, and the battle was lost. John Lennon was a triumph for the malignant forces of Discordia, of Diana, of Venus.


 

In my view, it comes down to which you think is Paper Currency and which you think is Gold. To women, to the Emotional Female Void, their emotions, their feelings, are the Gold at the center of their economic system. Sex is the Paper Currency which represents one aspect of those emotions. To me Sex is the Gold, female emotions the valueless bits of paper interposed between myself and the treasure. As the Emotional Female Void has become pre-eminent in our age, men have been offered two choices: either perceive Emotion as Gold or do without the Paper Currency. Of course, for men, the proposition becomes: "Either acknowledge that Paper Currency is more valuable than Gold, or do without the Gold." The majority of men have capitulated happily. Yes, yes, Paper Currency is more valuable. Can I have some Gold now? The answer, of course, is no. Why do you want Paper Currency (Gold) when I'm offering you all of this Gold (Paper Currency)? Women in the context of Merged Permanence develop a profound jealousy of their own bodies. For most men, the great myth of Merged Permanence is that you will "get it whenever you want it". Over a period of time, this becomes adjusted to "getting it regularly". Inevitably, this declines into "getting it on the rare occasions when she'll let me have some". There have been many historical precedents for women withdrawing sexual favours in order to assert their Power. Today, it is a worldwide, firmly entrenched phenomenon. "Women Who Refuse to Have Sex With Their Husbands" is not a topic that you are going to see documented in the Void-dominated media; it certainly is not going to be the subject of a week-long series on Oprah or Donahue. I venture to say if you want to find the leading cause of Domestic Violence, the subject is worth a second look. It is an intrinsic part of the Emotional Void's nature to focus on Symptoms when examination of the Problem is what is called for.


 

Viktor Davis thumbed through the now-diminishing stack of papers. He finds himself drawn to several sheets of white notepaper torn from a small pad. "Coco Chanel", "Colleen Doran". He scans the ensuing sentence fragments quickly and then reviews them more carefully. "There are exceptions." The "are" is underlined several times. "Sensibility is an altogether different matter from outward manifestation. In seeking to identify and characterise the Female Void, Viktor Davis was attempting to show his reader that there was a much larger game afoot. What appeared to be Male Dominance of the global village amounted to pay no attention to the Wife and Kids behind the curtain. In a genuine Patriarchy there would be no such thing as marriage. In point of fact, in a Patriarchy, Merged Permanence would probably be illegal in a contractual sense. The Wisdom of Fathers (contemplating the inevitability of the Male Heart and Groin compelling their owner to capitulate to a Devouring emotional Void) would mandate that no monetary resources could be sacrificed on the alter of the Would-Be Venus." This was followed by several false starts which were crossed out. Beneath these, Viktor Davis had written "get to the point".

Indeed.

The point, of course, was that the Male Light was not the exclusive property of Men. It was very close to being the exclusive property of Men, but as Viktor Davis had reminded himself, "there are exceptions". In the case of self-publishing (Viktor Davis' idea of self-publishing was best summed up by Don Simpson's promotional slogan: "One Comic Book. One Universe. Why Pay More?"), there were the indisputable contributions of Colleen Doran and Teri Wood. The problem, of course, in acknowledging exceptions in the Female Void-Dominated Age, was that exception was always extrapolated into being a Universal Truth. This was the shaky foundation upon which Feminism was (and is) built. There were (and are) women who begin their sentences with "I believe . ." or "I think . . ." And they do think. They have reasoned and coherent world views. They realise that inspiration is simply the starting point, that without dedication, hard work, and an avoidance of the Rapacious Voids which dominate our civilisation, the "hard, gem-like flame" becomes wavery or is extinguished. This sensibility occurs more often - far more often - in men than it does in women. This is not bigotry, this is not sexism, it is a fact which is supported by empirical evidence. The Bronte Sisters are not William Shakespeare, Madame Curie is not Albert Einstein, Florence Nightingale is not Louis Pasteur, Penny Marshall is not Orson Welles, Joan of Arc is not Jesus Christ. The Male Light is not a genderless thing, but it occurs where it occurs and sometimes (not often) it occurs in women. Where the Male Light occurs, it must overcome all manner of adversity, not the least of which is the war between the Heart and the Mind. The mistake Feminism makes is in thinking (or, rather, feeling) that legislation can be passed to eliminate adversity and, in this, it has been quite successful, to the general detriment of society. The Founders of Feminism, those with Good Brains and the ability to Reason and Contribute, in regarding the babbling cacophony of the "I feel . . ." Brigade they have unleashed upon the world in the name of numerical parity in all areas of human endeavour, have much to reflect on. I doubt that they do (or will). But I think they should.


 

Viktor Davis reread the passage about Patriarchy and sat staring out the window for some time. The balancing act in which he was engaged was a delicate one. In trying not to belabour his points, there was a real danger of passing over salient arguments too quickly. The Emotional Void relied almost exclusively on contradictory anecdotal evidence. "Not all women are like that: I have a friend who . . ." Overarching beliefs, large verities, universal truths were dismissed as generalisations. Viktor Davis stared out the window for several more minutes and then began typing.

"Men like Cars. Viktor Davis doesn't like Cars. Viktor Davis is a Man."

These observations were all true statements. Was it a syllogism? Or was there another name for it? Viktor Davis was uncertain. To the Reasoning Mind and to the Emotional Void, the fundamental structure was sound. They were all true statements, though they appeared contradictory. Using those three statements as a template, Viktor Davis had spent much of his adult life attempting to Reason with the Female Emotional Void. In each case, whatever success he had had (and he had had very little success) had been temporary. He considered his lack of success to be central to the Issue at Hand. Within the context of the Female Emotional Void, no general observation could be considered sound if there existed an anecdotal refutation.

Birth and Death.

There is too much Birth in the world and there is not enough Death.

How can you say that? wails the Female Emotional Void. Just the other day in the newspaper, I read about a family of four who were . . .

I'm not saying, interrupted Viktor Davis, that people don't die. What I am saying is that there is not enough Death. I'm not saying, he added, that babies don't make people ecstatically happy. I'm saying that there is too much Birth. Those are two very different things. If you could create a four-dimensional model consisting of two spheres, one representing Birth and the other representing Death, the former sphere, observed over the last four hundred years, would be growing larger and larger, faster and faster. The latter sphere would be growing smaller and smaller, faster and faster.

Our planet will double its population in the next ten years. Given that it is our society's collective Emotional Void Response that we are not overpopulated, my Reasoning Mind is moved to ask, when does overpopulation occur? If eight billion is not overpopulated, then what is? Fifteen billion? Eighty billion? One hundred billion?

I'm trying very hard to paint you the Big Picture. Patriarchy, to me, is a red herring, a false premise. Which is more successful, Birth or Death? I'm asking you to picture the two as Organisms. The individual, lower-case births and deaths which make up those two Organisms are like molecules. A molecule within an elephant is not an elephant. Birth is Female. Death is Male.

Which is more successful?

If you are unable to see what I'm saying, then I think that proves my point. The Emotional Void is winning. This is not a Patriarchy. It is a Matriarchy. If it ever was a Patriarchy, it was in a time and place where there was a balance between Death and Birth. You'd have to go back a long, long way to find a civilisation and an era where that was true.


 


Life out of balance.

We are already past the point of no return. I think it is no coincidence that the last organized attempt in this century to institutionalize genocide (the Nazi Death Camps) constituted little more than a flesh wound inflicted by the Death Sphere upon the Birth Sphere. Word War II ended with the dropping of two Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don't, for one minute, deny the human suffering involved, the families and cultures which were decimated by the conflict. What I am saying is that We Have a Problem. We seem to be unable to confront the fact that Death has become impotent. Even if we applied all of the resources of technology to building Space Age Death Camps, even if we could arrive at a consensus of Who has to Go (everyone with blue eyes, anyone over the age of twenty-five anyone under six feet tall - I'll use three examples which would include myself in the hopes that you can understand my point, here), it would take several generations before we could even make a dent in the overwhelming advantage that Birth holds over Death.

Instead, we apply the enormous resources of the state of Michigan to stopping Jack Kevorkian from assisting terminally ill patients to commit suicide.

Life out of balance.

WAY out of balance.

WAY WAY WAY out of balance.

The Universal Mother, Birth, has an agenda. It is a very short agenda, consisting of two items: One, childbirth is an inherent right. Two, absolute safety for everyone is the goal of human society. On both counts, She is doing very, very well. In considering a worldwide population of eight billion people, the relative number of people who are dying in wars (or "wars", rather) is very, very small. The relative number of people who are dying from diseases is very, very small. The relative number of people who are dying from famine is very, very small.

The only answers to these points are Void Emotional, Void Anecdotal. "How would you feel if your family died in a war? How would you feel if a friend or relative of yours were dying of AIDS or leukemia? How would you feel if everyone in your neighbourhood were in the grip of famine?" To me, these are not answers. The very underpinnings of the questions imply the Problem. It is Feeling, rather than Reason, which has brought us to this situation.

I'm pointing out to you that we are in the back seat of a car (ALL of us). There is no one in the driver's seat. As a matter of fact, the steering wheel fell off a few decades back. The accelerator is glued to the floor. The doors are welded shut. We are going faster and faster and faster. Take offence, if you will, at my impertinence in pointing this out. Call me heartless, a cold fish (believe me, I'm used to it). Ostracize me and form a worldwide We're Just Out For a Sunday Drive in the Country organization. Print up Faster is Fun posters. Hug and Kiss each other and Feel Good about yourselves. The Problem is Still There.

Here we go, eh?


 

Fear. Our Merged Female Emotional Void Heritage is nearly universal. We are being made afraid of everything. Bad things do happen. Bad things happen to everyone. When was the last time a Bad Thing happened to you? Not a bad thing, a Bad Thing? The best part about Fear and Lifestyle is that you will eventually be proven right. It may take a few weeks, it may take a year, five years, ten years, but if you face each day Numb with the Certainty that Something Bad is Going to Happen, it eventually will. I knew it. I just knew something Bad was going to happen today.

A Coward dies a Thousand Deaths, the Hero dies but Once.

I agree with that sentiment, except for the "Hero" part. I'd replace that with "the Thinking Person".


 

During the great polio epidemics of this century, whole neighbourhoods were scrubbed clean. Pesticides were sprayed on every tree, every inch of lawn. Whole communities mobilised in a concerted effort to eliminate any likely or even remotely possible source for the pestilence. When the polio vaccine was discovered, it was found that the source of the disease was a bacteria found in raw sewage, to which humans had previously been immune because they used to be exposed to it in trace amounts over extended periods.

No! Bad! That's dirty!

DIR-TEE!


 

Reason can't defeat Emotion in an argument because in an Emotional Argument you just go around and around in rhetorical circles until you become Happy again and then the argument's over.

Check-mate.

Merged Permanence, the Emotional Female Void, surveyed the chess board uneasily. The Universal Maternal Visage brightened.

What about . . .?

The Brightness vanished.

Oh. Right

Viktor Davis took another drag from his cigarette. There was a great serenity in his level gaze.

Maybe you could move your . . .

The two were silent for a time. Viktor Davis calmly smoked his cigarette. The Emotional Female Void looked up at him and flashed a friendly smile which Viktor Davis did not return. The Emotional Female Void returned to studying the situation on the board. The corners of Her mouth twisted downwards, frustration and misery etching long, hard lines in Her features. Tears started from Her eyes.

Without looking up, she asked:

What should I do?

Viktor Davis continued to smoke, drawing out the moment, increasing the tension in the air. At last he said: "You won," and then he added, "you tell me."


 

Viktor Davis, pushed back from the chessboard. He stood up and took a last drag from his cigarette. He expelled the smoke in a small series of concentric rings. He reached across the board and lightly flicked his cigarette. Swirling ashes fell like the first winter snow on his opponent's queen, catching here and there in her crown and in the moulded curves of her majestic form, settling onto the black square she occupied and the white and black squares adjacent to her.

He turned and walked towards the door.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

It was a plaintive cry of a wounded animal, a frightened child lost in the woods.

WHAT SHOULD I

Viktor Davis closed the door behind him, cutting off the piercing crescendo of the Voice which was breaking, overtaken and consumed by Emotion, which the Voice was incapable of restraining, before which the Voice was as helpless as a sapling in a tornado.


 

Cerebus is a very weird little commodity in the context of the Female Emotional Void Age. It's too small to pay attention to and too big to ignore. It wouldn't be that big a stretch to categorize Reads as Hate Literature against women. All it would take is for one woman to be disturbed enough by Reads to file a lawsuit, or a women's group to file a class-action suit, in this Fascistic Feminist country and that would be the ball game, wouldn't it?

Does that worry you?

Not especially. They could ban the book, seize the house and all the inventory, all the artwork, and burn it. Copies of it would still be out there. As long as I can have a pad of paper and a ball-point pen in my prison cell, I'll be happier than a pig in shit. Clean and sober, three square meals a day, an exercise room to work out in. No monthly deadline. Sounds like a lot less pressure to me.


 


Viktor Davis grew serious.

Don't ever be afraid, he said. FDR was right. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I might get to the end of Cerebus and I might not. I could get hit by a bus, I could get cancer, I could lose my right hand, my eyesight, I could fall in love and get married.

Exception was unable to conceal profound astonishment.

Viktor Davis laughed. I'm not immune, you know. All of those things have happened to better men than me. If you look at the casualty figures in any creative field, the odds are pretty good that I'll die in poverty, the work itself completely forgotten. The other option, if you're talking about house odds, is that I end up married to some tyrannical Queen of the Circus. Love is blind. It's also deaf, dumb and stupid. If what we are talking about is a very large and determined Force of Nature. You can walk as carefully as you want through a mine field; it is still a mine field. But it's also true that if you step up to the plate worrying that you're going to strike out, the odds are that you're going to strike out. Not doing a large ambitious work because you're convinced that Danger Lurks Around Every Corner, the old "I might be dead this time next year", is a waste of the Inner Radiance that found you. It's like life insurance. It's betting against yourself. It's blowing out your own flame before someone beats you to it.


 

Remember that you're just a custodian for It. You can be a good custodian, a so-so custodian or a bad custodian. You can make It a pile of smouldering twigs or you can make It a bonfire. The Male Light or the Female Void. I'm telling you that you have to choose. I'm telling you that if you think you can have both, you are mistaken, that you have already made your choice in that case.


 

Consensus and Exception merged once more. Rather, Consensus and some Exceptions merged. Other Exceptions, feeling the first icy brush of the Merged Void against them, edged slightly apart from it. As they felt the weak gravitational tug, they moved even further from it, compressing their own awareness within themselves. Several hard, gem-like flames flared into new existence.


 

"Shine on,
You Crazy Diamond."

           Pink Floyd
   Wish You Were Here


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