J1.02 A Host of Angles

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Book One – The Boroughs
A Host of Angles

Page 40 – photo

  • As mentioned in the Acknowledgments:

    I have once again to thank Joe Brown for his image manipulation skills in the montage of the Destructor looming over Bristol Street (no clear available images existed of the local chimneystack, necessitating the import of an identical model from, appropriately enough, Blackburn)

This description is possibly misleading. Assuming that the Destructor is where it’s described in the text (and displayed in the map included in the book), the view is looking eastward down Fort Street (which is L-shaped). The eastern branch of Fort Street ends at Bristol Street, so there are in fact some Bristol Street houses barely visible beneath the Destructor’s chimney. The depicted section of Fort Street has been thoroughly redeveloped and built over, so no modern version of this view exists.

Page 41 – title, quote

Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1929
Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1929

Page 42 – blank

Page 43 – titled A Host of Angles

  • The title can be read as “An army of angels” or “One who hosts angles” (that is, a higher-dimensional being).

paragraph 1

  • October 7th, 1865 was a Saturday. The modern notion of the five-day work week was only beginning to take hold in Britain at this time, and may not have applied to contract laborers like those working on St. Paul’s.
  • Ernest  John Vernal (also called “Ern” and “Ginger“) is Alma Warren’s great-great-grandfather. He is mentioned in the first chapter Work in Progress on p12: “…Snowy’s father Ernest, Alma’s great-great-grandfather, had lost his mind and had his hair go white while he was working on St. Paul’s Cathedral as a painter and restorer down in London in the 19th Century.”

paragraph 2

  • “The latest baby” is Thursa, named on P45, p4. Hence, she was probably born earlier in 1865.
  • First appearance of Ern’s wife Anne “Annie” Vernal and their son John Vernal. (John is later known as “Snowy“.) John being 2, he was presumably born circa 1863.
  • spendings” is a (now rather old-fashioned) term for the residue from orgasms.
  • Lambeth” is a district in central London. See also notes to P61p7 below.
  • “Already bracing to receive the boulder of the world” suggests the mythological characters Sisyphus and possibly Atlas.

paragraph 3

  • “To say his prayers, the way he’d last done as a seven-year-old child a quarter-century ago.” – This suggests that Ern is no longer very religious. Also, that Ern is 32 years old (confirmed P45, p3), suggesting he was born in 1833.

paragraph 4

  • A “jerry” is British slang for chamber pot.
  • Sienna and blood-orange” – Sienna is a reddish-brown color. The use of highly specific color words is a nod to Ern’s profession as a painter.
  • The dream that Ern recalls is a foreshadowing of his experiences later in this chapter, from another point of view.

Page 44

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • No notes.

paragraph 2

  • Pantomime” – Pantomime, in Britain, refers to a kind of comic children’s play, usually performed around Christmas.
  • “A white-haired old pensioner but still young-looking in his face” – As we shall see, this is actually a relatively young person gone prematurely white-haired.
  • First mention of Ernest’s father, John Vernall. Ernest’s son John is presumably named after Ernest’s father. He is also mentioned briefly on P47, p1.

paragraph 3

  • Po” is s dated British term for chamberpot.

paragraph 4

  • Mutton-chops” – Sideburns.
  • “How Ern thought he might appear in later life, a scrawny tabby” – The use of “thought he might” is subtle foreshadowing that Ern is quite mistaken.

paragraph 5

  • These stairs are described in terms very like those of a Jacob Flight; see chapter Rough Sleepers, P115p3.

Page 45

paragraph 1 (cont.)

  • “A cowering, curtain-twitching tenant when the rent-man called, his luck was always out.” – This is a rather complex image. Ern is comparing his luck to a tenant (presumably one without enough money) hiding from the rent collector, and peeking through curtains to see if the rentman cometh. Hence, Ern’s luck is without resources, and often hiding from Ern himself.

paragraph 2-3

  • No notes.

paragraph 4

  • Sleeve-board” is a small ironing board used for ironing sleeves. The metaphor appears to be of flatness (and possibly small size). Anne is herself sufficiently undernourished that she does not have breasts full of milk with which to feed her children.
  • Thursa Vernall was mentioned (unnamed) on P43, p2, and earlier in WiP page 12, p2.

paragraph 5

  • No notes.

paragraph 6

paragraph 7

  • Umber” is another fairly specialized color word, a shade of brown.
  • Making a pig’s ear” is a British idiom for “making a mess”.

paragraph 8

  • “I don’t know what there’ll be when you get ’ome.” – In case any readers think Anne is merely being indecisive, this is not the case. The family is in such dire financial straits that there may not be any food available tonight.

paragraph 9

  • No notes.

Page 46

paragraph 1 (cont.)

  • Dripping” is animal fat, traditionally collected from dripping off roasting meat. While there is some fat in the kitchen, helping to suggest this image to Ern, there hasn’t been meat there in a few days now.

paragraph 2

  • Hob” is a British word for stovetop.
  • Noggins” is slang for “heads”, probably referring to the fact that these are the ends of the loaf.
  • Bubble ’n’ squeak” is British for cabbages and mashed potatoes, fried together.
  • Aspic” is a sort of jelly made from meat stock.

paragraph 3

  • “Carrot-top” – John, like his father, is red-headed.
  • “that turned out to be the last time that his family could honestly say they’d seen Ginger Vernall.” – See P65p3, below.

paragraph 4

  • Walworth” is a district in South London, part of Lambeth.

    "East" Street to St. George's Circus (Google Maps 2020)
    “East” Street to St. George’s Circus (Google Maps 2020)
  • “East Street” has since been renamed Lollard Street. See map, right. Like the area around Moore’s childhood home, this lower-class region appears to have been largely demolished and replaced with grassland.
    • I can find no documentation that Moore’s ancestors lived here, but they do seem to have moved frequently, so I can’t rule it out.

Page 47

paragraph 1 (cont.)

  • St. George’s Circus” is a road junction in London.
  • “On his left he passed Hercules Road” is a slight exaggeration. Unless Ern went rather out of his way, when he came onto Lambeth Road, Hercules Road would have been about 150 yards to his left, with a warren of smaller streets in between.
  • “The poet [William] Blake” is the author of Jerusalem, the anthem from which Jerusalem takes its name. Blake’s home on Hercules Road is now a landmark.
  • “The fairy-painter Mr. [Richard] Dadd” was a painter, who suffered from mental illness, and created famous works while committed in Bethlem Royal Hospital, known as Bedlam. Bethlem was, at this time, located roughly at the site of the park underneath the distance marker in the map above.
  • “Had been until a year or so before” – Dadd was moved from Bethlem to Broadmoor Hospital circa 1863.
  • “Getting on ten years ago” suggests that the elder John Vernall died circa 1855, though the reference to Crimea (see below) suggests a year or so later.
  • “Back from Crimea” suggests that Ern fought in the Crimean War, which ran from 1853 to 1856, between Russia and a group of allies which included the UK.

paragraph 2

  • “Down St. George’s Road” is slightly confusing. Ern is not heading down this road, but passing (and presumably glancing at) it, on his way to St. George’s Circus.
  • Elephant and Castle” was (and remains) a major street junction at the end of St. George’s Road (now the A302).
  • “Blackfriars Road” is a major street heading due north from St. George’s Circus, ending at Blackfriars Bridge across the Thames.
  • “Train-lines running underground now, out from Paddington” – Per Wikipedia: “The world’s first underground railway, it opened in January 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives.” While Farringdon is not far from St. Paul’s, Paddington is also north of the river, so this line goes nowhere near Ern’s home.

    St. George's Circle (Whitbread's Map of London 1865)
    St. George’s Circle (Whitbread’s Map of London 1865)

paragraph 3

  • “He crossed Waterloo Road” – Possibly a slight error/exaggeration. The 1865 maps we have found do not all show Waterloo Road reaching St. George’s Circle, so Ern might technically have crossed Westminster Bridge Road.

Page 48

paragraph 1 (cont.)

  • “Old news from America about the blackies having been set free” – The Emancipation Proclamation had been in 1862, but effective freedom required the end of the American Civil War, which ended in May 1865, five months prior to this scene.
  • “The American Prime Minister had been shot dead” – Abraham Lincoln‘s assassination occurred on April 15, 1865. He was, of course, a President, not a Prime Minister, but Ern’s knowledge of world politics is slight.
  • Spencer Perceval” was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the UK from October 1809 until his assassination in May 1812.
  • “As Ern recalled it, Perceval was from […] Northampton” – Ern appears to be quite mistaken. Per Wikipedia, Perceval was born and raised in London.
  • “Boot and shoe town” – Northampton was a major manufacturer of footwear for some centuries, as will come up throughout Jerusalem.
  • “The awkward corner with its little spike of waste-ground where the angle was too sharp to fit another house” – While the 1865 maps we’ve found are not completely consistent, all of them do show buildings on that corner.

    St. George's Circus to St. Paul's (Google Maps 2020)
    St. George’s Circus to St. Paul’s (Google Maps 2020)
  • Southwark” is the area of London south of the Thames and east of Lambeth.

paragraph 2

  • “Some three-quarters of an hour” – Google Maps agrees with this estimate of the total walking time from the location of Ern’s home to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

    Approach to St. Paul's (Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge map 1865)
    Approach to St. Paul’s (Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge map 1865)
  • “Ludgate Street over the Thames’ far side and the approach to the West Front of the cathedral.” – See map at left
  • “Marx the socialist and his First International” – Karl Marx was an influential figure in the development of the ideas of Socialism and Communism. The First International was “an international organisation which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist groups and trade unions that were based on the working class and class struggle. It was founded in 1864 in a workmen’s meeting held in St. Martin’s Hall, London.”
  • Lord Palmerston” was Prime Minister at this time, though he would die 11 days from now, on the 18th.
  • “It was Lord Palmerston who’d held back the reforms” – Per Wikipedia:

    When in May 1864 the MP Edward Baines introduced a Reform Bill in the Commons, Palmerston ordered Gladstone to not commit himself and the government to any particular scheme. Instead Gladstone said in his speech in the Commons that he did not see why any man should not have the vote unless he was mentally incapacitated, but added that this would not come about unless the working class showed an interest in reform. Palmerston believed that this was incitement to the working class to begin agitating for reform and told Gladstone: “What every Man and Woman too have a Right to, is to be well governed and under just Laws, and they who propose a change ought to shew that the present organization does not accomplish those objects”.

  • “Crimea” – See note at P47p1.

    Mother Seacole
    Mother Seacole
  • Mother Seacole” – was a black “British-Jamaican businesswoman who set up the “British Hotel” behind the lines during the Crimean War. She described this as “a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers””

paragraph 3

  • “Did they brand kids as well, Ern wondered, and at what age if they did?” – Ern is here recapitulating Moore’s own thoughts, as related in a 2006 interview, while talking about Black Charlie (about whom much more in the notes to chapter Blind, but Now I See):

    And on his shoulder he had the brand of the slave plantation in Tennessee that he’d been liberated from in 1863. When, by my estimate, he would have been thirteen. I figure he must have been born about 1850 from the date on his death certificate. I hadn’t actually known that the plantations used to actually brand the slaves. That was a new one on me. And I found myself having to wonder at what age they did it, if he was already branded by the age of 13. When would you brand a child? It’s funny the things you have to consider when you’re writing a novel. What would be a good age to brand a child? You know, you wouldn’t want to do it at two; that’d kill them, wouldn’t it? But you wouldn’t want to leave it too late in case they ran away, or fought back, or something.

West approach to St. Paul's (c.1865-1895)
West approach to St. Paul’s (c.1865-1895)

Page 49

paragraph 1 (cont.)

  • “The majestic hymn-made-solid of St. Paul’s” – See image.

paragraph 2

  • Closes” – Dead end streets.
  • “Amongst the prostitutes and the pornographers”:
    • The original St. Paul’s Cathedral’s actually had prostitutes operating inside it in the late 16th century!
    • In 1865, police were aware of 5,911 prostitutes in London; actual numbers may have been much higher. Among the traditional centers of prostitution were Covent Garden, about 1 mile to the west of St. Paul’s, and Granby Street, about 1.5 miles to the northeast.
    • During this period, the center of London’s pornography trade was about a mile to the west of St. Paul’s.
  • Hosanna” – “A cry of praise or adoration to God.”
  • Surplice” – “A liturgical vestment of the Christian Church.”

    Classical column types
    Classical column types
  • Doric columns” – Columns typical of a certain school of Greek architecture. Sadly, Ern (or Moore) is mistaken here; the columns in question are unquestionably from a different Greek school, the Corinthian.
  • “billowed folds, unlaundered in the city’s bonfire pall” – Presumably referring to darkening from Industrial Age air pollution. An article largely about modern restoration efforts notes: “By the mid-1800s, the Portland surfaces flaked and darkened with age. An 1870s restoration project removed the flaking; the archives record this as having been done with “an immense amount of labour, elbow grease and caustic paste.””

    Statue of St. Paul atop west facade
    Statue of St. Paul atop west facade
  • “Two hundred feet or more in height” – Per Wikipedia, the towers are 221 feet high.

paragraph 3

  • “Stone apostles, with St. Paul” – From left to right, Matthew, Mark, Peter, Paul, James the Greater, Luke, John.

    St. John
    St. John
  • “a disciple […] who had his head tipped back” – This is St. John.
  • Cheapside” is a major street leading east from St. Paul’s.
  • Aldgate” is a Ward of London, east of St. Paul’s.

paragraph 4

No notes.

Page 50

paragraph 1 (cont.)

  • For details of Ern’s trip through the cathedral, see the map below.

    Detail of St. Paul's map, 1908
    Detail of St. Paul’s map, 1908
  • Nave” – The central part of a church. See map above and picture below.

    img_7846
    Nave of St. Paul’s Cathedral, c.2019 (Photo by Nomadic Niko, used with permission)

paragraph 2

  • Transept” – Per Wikipedia: “In churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform (“cross-shaped”) building”.  The map above shows the “North Transept” and “South Transept”. The Dome between them is the Central Transept.
  • “lavishly-carved choir-stalls bossed with grapes and roses at the far end of the quire” – See picture.
    lavishly-carved choir-stalls
    “lavishly-carved choir-stalls” (2017, photo by Aidan McRae Thomson )
    • bossed” – Here in the sense of embossed.
    • quire” – An old-fashioned spelling of “choir” (see map above). Here used to refer to the space the choir singers will sit.
  • spandrels” – Spaces near the top of an arch. Ern’s use of this technical term reinforces our impression of his knowledge of architecture.
  • “the Whispering Gallery” – A balcony circling the dome are at a height of 30 metres (257 steps).
    A whispering gallery is a place where one can easily hear whispered speech from a distance, due to curved walls reflecting sound. The phenomenon was apparently first studied in St. Paul’s Cathedral, c.1878.

    Spandrel of Daniel
    Spandrel of Daniel (2017, photo by Aidan McRae Thomson)
  • “other fellows, giving the mosaic prophets and four Gospel-makers something of a wash and brush-up.” – This seems to be a slight anachronism, as the mosaics in the spandrels had only started to be installed in 1864, and were not completed until 1893. (But see Closing Remarks.)
  • “the nearly hundred-foot-wide area immediately below the yawning dome” – Per Wikipedia, the interior diameter of the dome is 102 feet.
  • “the most ingenious thing” – I am sad to report that after days of searching, I can find no pictures of this mechanism, nor even any documentation that it existed.

paragraph 3

  • “more then twenty storeys high” – Per Wikipedia, the inner height of the dome is 225 feet, and a “storey” is typically 14 feet. That’s for a modern building, however, and 150 years ago it might well have been shorter and/or Ern might be exaggerating.

    Floor beneath dome Aidan McRae Thompson
    “the decorative solar compass” today. Photo credit Adrian McRae Thompson.
  • “hawser” – A thick rope or cable, usually used to tow a ship.
  • “the decorative solar compass in the middle of the transept floor” – See image.

paragraph 4

  • No notes.

Page 51

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • “Conté crayon” – Per Wikipedia, ” a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a clay base, square in cross-section. They were invented in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté”.
  • “stairs from the triforium gallery above” – On the diagram of St. Paul’s above, these stairs are at the SW corner of the dome area, labeled “Staircase to Library, etc.”
    • triforium” – “an interior gallery, opening onto the tall central space of a building at an upper level.”

paragraph 2

  • No notes.

paragraph 3

  • Kennington is a district in south London, England. It is mainly within the London Borough of Lambeth.
  • “two campaigns – in Burma and Crimea” – These would have been the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852-1853,when Ern would have been abou 19-20) and the Crimean War (1853-1856, when Ern would have been about 20-23).

paragraph 4-8

  • No notes.

Page 52

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • “Close to, that twenty floors of scaffolding was more like thirty, from which he inferred that he’d be at his job two or three hundred feet above the ground” – As mentioned at p3 above, the inner height of the dome is 225 feet, less than 20 floors by modern standards.

paragraph 2

  • Centaur Street is in Lambeth, off of Hercules Road (see P47p1).
  • A “navvy” is a manual labourer working on major civil engineering projects.

paragraph 3

paragraph 4

Cornwallis Monument Picture credit Adrian McRae Thompson
Cornwallis Monument (Picture credit Adrian McRae Thompson)
  • “between the statues of Lord Nelson and […] Lord Cornwallis” – The statue of Lord Nelson is against the west side of the south transept; Cornwallis is against the east side., both just south of the dome area.
  • “Lord knows why they should want to give him such a grand memorial.” – While Cornwallis failed to subdue the American colonies, he had subsequent great success as a colonial administrator in both India and Ireland.
  • “separating eggs” – See P56p2-3, below.

Page 53

paragraph 1

  • Rembrandt” – Extremely famous Dutchpainter of the 1600s.

paragraph 2

  • No notes.

paragraph 3

  • squirrel brushes” – Squirrel hair is used to make paint brushes to this day.
  • “Ern didn’t expect that he would need these colours” – Indeed he wouldn’t, see note at P56p2 below.
  • “gypsum” — See notes to P56p3 below.
  • “glass paper” – Aka sandpaper.

paragraph 4

  • “Mother of Churches” – While this term has been fairly widely applied, I don’t find any association between it and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
  • “the Lord as someone down-to-earth” – Fitting in with the image of God in the dream which opened Work in Progress.

Page 54

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • No notes.

paragraph 2

Dome Aidan McRae Thompson
St Paul’s Dome (Photo credit: Aidan McRae Thompson)
  • “Sir James Thornhill’s eight vast frescoes” – Thornhill won a competition to decorate the dome of St. Paul’s with a proposal for eight frescoes depicting notable scenes from the life of St. Paul. The painting was done from 1716-1719.

paragraph 3

  • piles” – Hemorrhoids.
  • “the death of Nelson at Trafalgar” – Possibly referring to a famous (and very large and complex) painting by Daniel Maclise, see image below. Nelson’s statue was mentioned earlier (P49p4), and his tomb is also located in St. Paul’s.

    1920px-daniel_maclise_-_the_death_of_nelson_-_google_art_project
    Daniel Maclise – The Death of Nelson
  • “the corner of the Kennington and Lambeth Roads”  – Ern walked past this corner this morning. See P46p4 above.
  • The Napoleonic Wars ranged from 1803-1815. If Jackie Thimbles is in his 60s in the 1840s, he would have been in his 20s-30s during the Napoleonic Wars.
  • “marvellous new oil paints” – While Oil Paint as a medium goes way back, oil paint in tubes was invented in 1841.
  • The Victory was the ship on which Nelson died, see above.

paragraph 4

  • “Episodes from Saint Paul’s life surrounded Ern” – A rather odd use of the word “surround”, as the frescoes are all at the same level, and completely above Ern for all but the last few feet of his trip.
Thornhill, James, 1675/1676-1734; Shipwreck at Malta
The Shipwreck at Malta (Photo credit St Paul’s Cathedral CC BY-NC)
Thornhill, James, 1675/1676-1734; The Conversion of Saint Paul
The Conversion of St Paul. (Photo credit St Paul’s Cathedral CC BY-NC)
  • “the Damascene conversion” – Probably the most famous episode in Paul’s life, where Paul received a vision of Jesus while traveling to Damscus. (See image.)
  • “a vividly depicted shipwreck” – The Book of Acts tells how Paul was shipwrecked on Malta while traveling to Rome. (See image.)

Page 55

paragraph 1 (continued)

Dome Aidan McRae Thompson (detail)
Detail from photo of St Paul’s Dome (Photo credit Aidan McRae Thompson)
Thornhill, James, 1675/1676-1734; The Conversion of the Gaoler at Philipi
The Conversion of the Gaoler at Philipi (Photo credit St Paul’s Cathedral (CC BY-NC)
  • The fresco that Ern is to work on today, featuring a “gaol” (jail), must be “The Conversion of the Gaoler at Philipi“. (See images. The pictures from St Paul’s eliminate the fake painted pillars and other architecture surrounding each scene, so I have also included a detail of a visitor photo to show more context.)
  • The fresco described in Jerusalem differs significantly from the one in reality. None of the real frescoes depict any angels at all (there are no angels in St Paul’s story), nor any figures with halos.

paragraph 2

  • Southwark Cathedral is almost exactly 1 mile away, to the ESE, on the South side of the Thames.
  • “a whole swathe of border detail at the bottom of each fresco had been covered over in stone-coloured paint, no doubt to easily and inexpensively mask water-damage that had been discovered during earlier renovations” – Per an article in The Guardian:

    in the 19th century […] the damp-damaged lower part of Sir James Thornhill’s vast gloomy frescoes in the dome had to be extensively repainted, and the decorations above the Whispering Gallery -swags, crossed swords and fluted columns visually linking the nave and the dome – were painted out completely.

    Another article, on building.co.uk, refers to

    a “missing” section of the painting in the tambour between the Whispering Gallery and the dome. The Victorians painted over the decoration in this area.

paragraph 3

  • “he had been able to perceive the destinies of land-bound people moving back and forth on their flat plane from the superior perspective of a third dimension up above theirs” – This foreshadows the ability of angels and ghosts to perceive our 3-dimensions from a “higher” dimensional space.

paragraph 4

  • No notes.

Page 56

paragraph 1 (continued)

Thornhill, James, 1675/1676-1734; The Conversion of the Gaoler at Philipi
Angel or not? (Photo credit St Paul’s Cathedral CC BY-NC)
  • “a halo-sporting figure in the picture’s upper left” – Again, there is no halo in the real fresco. There is a figure at upper left, carrying a torch and spear, representing the gaoler who St. Paul is about to convert.
  • “the small lips pursed in that same smugly knowing smile” – This could be argued, but I do not see such a smile.

paragraph 2

  • “mixing up a shade that would exactly match the holy being’s weathered peach complexion.” – From Moore’s description, you might have imagined these frescoes as being in color, rather than the monochrome they actually are. Thornhill was using a technique called grisaille, which uses paint to imitate stone sculpture or architecture. Moore does not actually describe any colors on the fresco which are out of place, though Ern uses many brighter and more interesting colors mixed together to make the (rather dull) tones used on the fresco itself.
  • Mixing egg yolks with pigments to form paint has been done since at least the 16th century.

paragraph 3

  • “preparing his light skim of gesso, shaking the blanched gypsum from its bag into a little water and then pouring his flesh tempera to colour the thin plaster.” – Gesso is made from gypsum, usually mixed with animal glue. It normally is used as a white or off-white base coat, which is then painted over. But perhaps Ern is saving a step by mixing the pigment in directly? [Would this work?]

Page 57

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • No notes.

paragraph 2

  • “Ernest waited until it was dry” – Tempera paint apparently dries very quickly.
  • “lantern-Morse of lightning” – The lightning is flashing light and dark like the clicking of Morse code. More than just a neat literary image, it implies that there are hidden messages in nature, which is one of Moore’s magical beliefs.

paragraph 3

  • No notes.

paragraph 4

Page 58

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • No notes.

paragraph 2

  • The simplest way to read this Angel-speech is “This will be very hard for you.” However, this simple sentence has been complicated in a Joycean manner (see chapter Round the Bend). These complications are unfolded for us in the next paragraph. The simple version of the sentence will recur in the chapter Do as You Darn Well Pleasey.

paragraph 3

  • “unwrapping of a children’s paper puzzle” – Unclear what is being referred to here. Possibly something like a paper fortune teller, though than doesn’t seem to have existed until 1928.

    su_hui_with_a_palindrome
    Portrait of Lady Su Hui with a Palindrome (public domain)
  • “or a Chinese poem” – Possibly referring to a style of Chinese poetry where the characters can be read in different directions to form entirely different meanings. The first (and largest!) such poem is Su Hui’s “Star Gauge“, which can apperently be read over 3,000 different ways.
  • “spiralling away in countless fainter and more distant repetitions” – Moore seems to be comparing the sound to a fractal such as The Mandelbrot Set (which was also the working title for Moore’s unfinished project Big Numbers).

paragraph 4

  • No notes.

paragraph 5

  • “Magic Lantern […] the pictures cast by such devices do not move” – A magic lantern was an early form of slide projector used for public entertainment. In actuality, the images in a magic lantern show frequently did move through a variety of ingenious mechanisms.

    800px-peppers_ghost
    Pepper’s Ghost (public domain)
  • Pepper’s Ghost” is a kind of stage illusion using a large sheet of plate glass, named (somewhat unfairly) after an early popularizer of the effet in the 1860s. It is still used to this day.
  • “Highbury Barn […] the shade of Hamlet’s father” – Highbury Barn was at this time a performance building in Highbury, a district of North London. In 1863, scenes from Hamlet were performed there using Pepper’s Ghost, to “great attraction“. Moore previously referenced this as part of his performance piece The Highbury Working in the track “Pepper’s Ghost“.

paragraph 6

  • No notes.

Page 59

paragraph 1 (continued)-2

  • No notes.

paragraph 3

  • The simplest version of this sentence “Justice above the street” will recur several times throughout Jerusalem. See the chapter Mental Fights for more discussion.

paragraph 4

  • the heavens where the doves and pigeons fly” – See notes to Work in Progress, P7p5.
  • hierophant” – Per Wikipedia “a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy.” “The Hierophant” is the name of the Trump V in most Tarot decks, though some older decks refer to this card as “The Pope”.
  • Hierusalem” – The name of Jerusalem in Latin and Old English.
  • aether” – An old spelling of “ether“. The word has several relevant meanings.
    • “The substance formerly supposed to fill the upper regions of the atmosphere above the clouds, in particular as a medium breathed by deities. “
    • “The medium breathed by human beings; the air.”
    • “The sky, the heavens; the void, nothingness.”
    • “a substance once thought to fill all unoccupied space that allowed electromagnetic waves to pass through it and interact with matter, without exerting any resistance to matter or energy”
    • “A particular quality created by or surrounding an object, person, or place; an atmosphere, an aura.”
    • A liquid once used as an anesthetic. (Or by alcoholics desperate for a fix…)
  • tribunal” – Another word with many meanings. Here it seems to be a meaning that is uncommon in modern English; approximately “a platform from which judgment is given”.

paragraph 5

  • “as if the rays had swerved around these obstacles by some route Ern could not determine” – Probably literally true, as the angel is a higher-dimensional being.
  • “his father’s madness” – See P47p1.

Page 60

paragraph 1

  • Most of this paragraph is about the mathematical idea of self-similarity.

paragraph 2

  • “a set of scales hung up above a winding band of road” – This image is consistently associated with the phrase “justice above the street”. It physically appears as an illustration in the chapter Mental Fights, where the notes discuss it in more detail.

paragraph 3

  • “branded children” – The centrality of this memory is not accidental; see notes for Mental Fights.

paragraph 4

  • No notes.

Page 61

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • No notes.

paragraph 2

  • bouillon” is made of foodstuffs that have been “mangled and compacted”, much like the angel’s words.
  • Foure lerlaytoernings maarcke iyuour entreanxsists” – Some of the other words packed into this phrase include: four (dimensions), relay, learnings, early, lay to Ern, earnings, toe-rings, Mark (apostle), mar, arc, ark, key, your, enters and exits (recalling Ern’s dream of a theater, see P43p4), exists.

paragraph 3

  • “the quartet of archangels picked out in blue and gold upon the skullcap of the dome above the frescoes” – In our reality, there are no archangels visible on the main dome. It is possible that there are some at the top of the spire which continues upward from the summit of the dome, but I have found no evidence of them, if so. (“archangels picked out in blue and gold” do appear in many places in St. Paul’s, just not on the main dome.)
  • “have his heart pack in and die” – We don’t know how Ern eventually dies, but his great-grandson Tommy Warren does die of a heart attack (P15p4).

paragraph 4-7

  • No notes.

Page 62

paragraph 1 (continued)

paragraph 2

  • “variations on this basic form” – The mathematical field of topology cares about the properties of things that stay the same no matter how they are squished and stretched.
  • “an inverted smokestack” – An image that evokes The Destructor.
  • “in either earth or sea, in anything save sky” – Mentioning three of the classical elements in quick succession brings naturally to mind the fourth: fire. Moore’s previous novel, Voice of the Fire is greatly concerned with the fires contained in humanity, both metaphorical and otherwise.

paragraph 3

  • “with Joy” is repeated 5 times. This might perhaps be meant to evoke the end of James Joyce’s Ulysses, with its repetition of “yes” several times.

paragraph 4

  • No notes.

paragraph 5

  • “bit o’ bup” – Various websites attest “bup” or, more commonly, “buppy” as an old-fashioned term meaning “bread“, or by extension, “bread and butter” or “sandwich“.

paragraph 6

  • No notes.

paragraph 7

paragraph 8

  • “polished checkers” – The bulk of the floor of St. Paul’s is checkerboard tiles.

Page 63

paragraph 1

  • “’E’s ginger and ’e’s barmy and ’is dad’s still in the army.” – Possibly an old children’s rhyme (see “ragamuffin taunt” in next paragraph)? I have found several references to children’s rhymes which seem related. Wikipedia claims the rhyme(s) are inspired by a 1910 music-hall song, “Ginger, You’re Barmy”, but they cite no references. It seems equally possible that the song was inspired by an already-existing rhyme.

paragraph 2-3

  • No notes.

paragraph 4

  • “back-or-forth ” – The more normal phrase is “back and forth“; perhaps this is a 19th century lower-class variant? Here it is probably used in the sense of “dialog”.

paragraph 5-6

  • No notes.

Page 64

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • No notes.

paragraph 2

  • ruction” – Commotion.

    editorial_cartoon_depicting_charles_darwin_as_an_ape_28187129
    1871 cartoon of Darwin as an ape-man (public domain)
  • “his beard like Mr. Darwin’s and that same gent’s monkey mouth” – Presumably referring to Charles Darwin, famed for his 1959 book On the Origin of Species. This was widely caricatured as claiming that mankind was descended from apes or monkeys.

paragraph 3

  • “the word TORUS, that Bill knew to be a term come from astrology by virtue of the fact that he himself was born in May.” – Bill is mistaking “torus” for the similarly-pronounced “Taurus“.

paragraph 4

  • No notes.

Page 65

paragraph 1 (continued)-2

  • No notes.

paragraph 3

  • While the text here doesn’t explicitly say so here, he won’t be called “Ginger” because his hair is no longer ginger, but white. This was earlier mentioned in Work in Progress, P12p3.

paragraph 4

  • “Blackfriars Bridge” – See note to P47p2.

paragraph 5

  • “some years later, when his son was ten years old and Thursa only eight.” – So, in approximately 1873.

paragraph 6

paragraph 7

  • “the foot of Ludgate Street” – That is, just before reaching St. Paul’s itself (se P48p2 above).

Page 66

paragraph 1 (continued)

  • “Except his eldest children, no one ever found out what he’d meant by the word TORUS.” – See chapter Do as You Darn Well Pleasey for more on this.

Closing Remarks

I have strong reasons to believe that this chapter’s date and protagonist are (at least in some senses) mistakes on Moore’s part. For details, see the “Who’s Ginger” section of the Genealogy Notes page. To summarize: I think that Moore’s ancestor who worked at St. Paul’s was not his great-great-grandfather in the 1860s, but his great-grandfather in the 1890s. By the 1890s, the Vernon family had moved to Northampton, but Moore emphasizes many times that Snowy Vernall repeatedly walked between London and Northampton for work purposes.

Now, none of this changes the fact that the fictional Alma Warren definitely did have an ancestor named Ern who worked on St. Paul’s in 1865. This can only be considered a “mistake” by a historian, not by a literary critic or ordinary reader.

6 thoughts on “J1.02 A Host of Angles”

  1. Below are the thoughts I posted on Reddit the other day regarding chapter 2:

    • I agree, scott_speaks, that it is disturbing that the angel is responsible for Ernest’s mental breakdown, not his brain chemistry. However, perhaps it could be argued that the unique chemical balances that were present in Ern’s brain are what allowed him to see and hear the angel in the first place? Or maybe it’s a chicken-or-the-egg thing? (Or a pigeon-or-the-egg thing, sticking with a current theme.)

    • The long description of Ern’s morning piss and the chamberpots being emptied at the beginning ties in later with the human as a “chimneypot turned upside down” revelation on p62 (or maybe that’s a stretch).

    • First mention of William Blake on p47! (And it notes that he had previously lived on Hercules Road, which Ern walks past.)

    • This line made me laugh: “Ernest had to chuckle at the irreligious notion of the statues intermittently producing liquid marble stools, Saints’-droppings that embittered parish workers would be paid to scrape away” (p49).

    • The discussion halfway down p50 re the “mast-like central pivot” and the overall dome structure seems to slightly parallel what the Third Borough and his colleagues were building in Alma’s dream from chapter 1.

    • I didn’t know they used egg whites as an ingredient for paint (p53)! That’s cool.

    • It’s a clever idea how the angel spoke only the last few words of each statement, yet the full statement “unfolded and unpacked” inside Ern’s head. Also, the full statements by the angel are written in italics without quotation marks – the same way the Third Borough asked Alma if she knew who he was in chapter 1!

    • From the angel’s statement on p59: “around a veer or corner in the heavens where the doves and pigeons fly.” Both the “corner” theme and the “pigeon” theme collide in that line!

    • Ern fears, after thinking that he may be insane, that in fact he may NOT be insane, and this animated angel he experiences may actually be real. This mirrors Alma’s response to Mick regarding his sanity in chapter 1.

    • The entire paragraph starting at the bottom of p61, discussing the angel’s lecture to Ern, seems almost like a compact thesis statement regarding four-dimensional spacetime. Especially these sentences: “He was invited to consider time with every moment of its passing in the terms of plane geometry, and had it pointed out that human beings’ grasp of space was incomplete. An emphasis was placed on corners having unseen structural significance, being located at the same points on an object whether realized in plan or elevation, constant though they be expressed in two or three more dimensions.”
    Additionally, Ern gets an earlier glimpse of this concept while he’s being hoisted up on p55, when he notices that from his elevated vantage point he can see two clerics waddling “unaware towards each other along the adjacent sides of an enormous pier,” soon to unknowingly bump into each other.

    • Ern recalls his father had stopped talking because he feared “their conversations were being overheard by ‘them up in the eaves.'” Earn wonders if his dad was referring to the pigeons, and if that’s where the term “eavesdropping” came from. (This also mirrors Mick’s ceiling experience in chapter 1.)
    I’d also add, that if it is pigeons on the eaves, then “eavesdropping” could also mean bird shit (which would obviously be less sacred than marble “Saints’-droppings” haha).

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  2. I’ll put my dramatis personae and index lists here.
    NOTES:
    Page referrers are for 3 volume paperback edition by Knockabout.
    Dramatis personae-characters in brackets are only mentioned but not in scene.

    Dramatis Personae
    • Ernest Vernall: restorer, painter, POV
    • Anne Vernall: Ernests wife
    • John Vernall: Ernests son
    • Ernests mother
    • Thursa Vernall: Ernests baby daughter
    • (John Vernall: Ernests father)
    • (Robert Vernall: Ernests Cousin)
    • Billy Mabbutt: foreman of restauration of St. Pauls Cathedral; Ernests quatermaster in Crimean War (1853-56)
    • Albert Pickels: workman, brawler
    • (Jackie Thimbles: street artist, painter; Ernests teacher and mentor 1840)
    • Strawberry Sam: young apprentice
    • Another, slightly older apprentice
    • An Angel (Michael)
    • Old Danny Riley: worker
    • Appelina Vernall: Ernests daughter
    • Messenger: Ernests son

    Index
    • St. Pauls Cathedral: whole chapter
    • Paulus von Tarsus (c 5-c 67), Saint, apostle of Jesus, considered most important figure of Apostolic Age: whole chapter
    • William Blake (1757-1827), English poet, painter, draughtsman and visionary: 54
    • Richard Dadd (1817-1886), English painter, famous for The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke (1855-64): 54
    • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) as ›American Prime Minister had been shot dead‹, American republican politician, 16th US-president: 55
    • Spencer Perceval (1762-1812), English Prime Minister, assassinated 11. Mai 1812: 55
    • Karl Marx (1818-1883), German philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist: 56
    • First International Workingsmen’s Association (1864-1876): 56
    • Henry John Pemple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865), English Prime Minister (twice): 56
    • Mother Seacole, Mary Jane Seacole (1805-1881), Jamaican war nurse, traveller, writer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Seacole : 56
    • Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), British navy officer: 59
    • Charles Cornwallis, Viceroy of Ireland (1738-1805), surrendered 1781 in Siege of Yorktown in American War of Independence: 59
    • George Washington (1732-1799), Comander-in-Chief of Continental Army during American Revolutionary War, 1st President of United States: 59
    • Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Dutch painter: 60
    • Sir James Thornhill (1675-1734), English painter : 61
    • Pepper’s Ghost, illusion technique, popularized in England by John Henry Pepper in 1862: 65
    • Charles Darwin (1809-1882), English naturalist and geologist: 70

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  3. At page 58, “Pepper’s Ghost” is mentioned. This 1800’s invention, developed by John Pepper (from whom it takes its name) is a further development of Henry Dirks’ “Phantasmagoria”, an optical illusion that exploits a sheet of glass to make transparent figures appear on a stage. The two men supposedly met at the Highbury Barn in London and their story has already surfaced in another Alan Moore project, the performance piece “The Highbury Working”. The “Pepper’s Ghost” trick is still used today in haunted house attractions and allowed director Michel Gondry to achieve, without further digital manipulation, the effect of a ghost Nathalie Portman appearing in Paul McCartney’s video “Dance Tonight”

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  4. Just wanted to mention that the quote from Wittgenstein that begins Book I, was also used to begin the immortal James Burke’s landmark BBC series ‘The Day The Universe Changed.’ To my knowledge, Moore has mentioned Burke’s work before.

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