J1.07 Blind, but Now I See

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Book 1 – The Boroughs
Blind, but Now I See

Page 175 – titled Blind, but Now I See

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2 thoughts on “J1.07 Blind, but Now I See”

  1. Powerful chapter. The last page literally made me cry, thinking of a 7 year-old kid going through that, and being been born into that life.

    OBSERVATIONS & QUESTIONS:

    • I believe either Bill “Buffalo Bill” Cody or Wild Bill Hickok (both mentioned here) appeared briefly in From Hell, though I can’t remember which one of them.

    • p177, par 3: St. James’s End (commonly known as “Jimmy’s End”) is likely the same bar Moore and Mitch Jenkins used for their short film by the same name?

    • Why do various people (like Bob on p180, par) call Henry “Black Charley?” I understand the “Black” part, obviously, but why “Charley?”

    • Amazing Grace is a beautiful song which I have loved since I was a kid (I play piano, and it’s one of the earliest songs I ever figured out).

    It’s written in the pentatonic scale, which uses only five notes (hence “pent”), which are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th notes of the seven-note natural major scale (and can be represented as Do, Re, Mi, So, and La, if looked at through the lens of The Sound of Music haha).

    The pentatonic scale can be played using only the black keys on the piano (of which there are five, again hence “pent”).

    Here’s a video of a minister (reverend, preacher? I don’t know, I’m not religious) beautifully and bittersweetly explaining the pentatonic scale as the “slave scale,” discussing Amazing Grace and John Newton being a slaver, and then performing the song for his flock of churchgoers (oh hey, I just realized there was totally a “flock” of sheep in this chapter!).

    The video is well worth the eight minutes it takes to watch, and is very relevant to this chapter.

    And this may be super obvious, but this chapter’s title, “Blind, But Now I See,” is a line from Amazing Grace (a line that actually rhymes with the line “that saved a wretch like me”).

    • p184, last par: The ship on which Henry and Selina travel to England is named “Pride of Bethlehem.” Bethlehem is a city in JERUSALEM, known as David’s hometown in the Old Testament and the birthplace of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus was born in a barn, and that parallels this great line on p199, par3:

    “Could be that in future Henry might go back to saying prayers in sheds and barns, wherever it was quiet, the way him and his folks had back in Tennessee. When you was kneeling in a barn you knew as God was there, the same like you was in a church. The difference was that in a barn you could be sure you didn’t have a devil in the pulpit.”

    • p198, par 2, a quite moving description of the treatment of African-Americans following the Civil War: “The old plantation bosses liked to say how all the slaves was happier before hey got set loose, and it was the plantation bosses and they friends made sure as that was true.”

    • p200, par 2: This confirms that Ch7 takes place on the exact same day as Ch6 (in September, 1909). This is Henry’s point of view of Drake/Chaplin watching him ride his bike past the Palace of Varieties.

    This is further reinforced later when Henry chats with May Warren (carrying May Warren), still on her way home after chatting with Drake/Chaplin.

    • p202: Some insight into Philip Doddridge, as in Doddridge Church (with the weird door halfway up), showing he had a unique take on religion (par 3):

    “When he come here to Castle Hill and started up his ministry, it seems he took on the English Church by saying folks should have a right to worship as they pleased, and not just how they Bishops and that wanted it.”

    Careful there, Doddridge – if you let people worship as they please, it’s a slippery slope that could end up with folks worshiping crazy shit like an ancient Roman snake god or something!

    • p203, last par: Regarding the Warren/Vernall family tree, this chapter notes that Snowy Vernall is May Warren-the-adult’s father, lives next door to her on Fort Street, and is an artist (and a drinker). Also, Ernest from Ch2 is her grandfather.

    • p205: On a similar note, Henry’s kids are Mary (seemingly a toddler, described as having white skin) and Henry Jr. (a baby, described as having black skin).

    “EINSTEINIAN BLOCK UNIVERSE” MOMENT:

    • This is a little bit of a stretch, but p200, par 4: “Dusk played tricks like that all over, Henry knew, though sometimes it would seem to him as if the Boroughs was built crooked specially so’s it could harbour all the gloom and haunts up in its corners; nests where poor and ragged ghosts was bred.”

    THESE LINES MADE ME LAUGH:

    • p177, par 1: “Leather was important to the trade around here and always had been, but it still made Henry shake his head how otherwise the town was mostly bars and churches. Could be it was all that stitching shoes had folks so that they spent they private time in getting liquored up or praying.”

    • p177. Par 2: “He didn’t think Mr. Charles Bradlaugh would approve of that if he was looking down from Heaven…but since Mr. Bradlaugh hadn’t had no faith in the Almighty it was likely that he’d not approve of Heaven neither.”

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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
    • Henry ›Black Charlie‹ George (born approx. 1850), POV, ex-slave from Tennessee
    • (Bill Cody: see Index)
    • (Elvira Conley, black laundry owner in Kansas)
    • feller with cart (chimney brushes)
    • old lady
    • two fellers on way to work
    • sleeping drunk at Bradlaugh statue
    (• Mr. Brugger, watch shop)
    • Laughing young boys
    (• Mrs Carter)
    (• Henry Carter, husband of Mrs Carter)
    (• Black Charlies mother)
    (• Black Charlies father)
    (• Mr Bullard, and his rich children)
    • feller on 1st farm wagon
    • red faced farmer on 2nd wagon
    • Mrs Bruce, old lady of school rectory
    (• Selina, Black Charlies wife)
    • Shepherd in Brafield
    (• local feller at Castle Ashby)
    • head driver at gates of Saint Sepulchre
    • children at schoolyard of Yardley
    • caretaker of Yardley school
    • Farmworkers on way to Red Lion pub
    • Dan Tite, old churchwarden in Olney
    (• Old Nick)
    (• old plantation bosses in Tennessee)
    • young skinny feller at corner of Palace of Varieties = Charles Chaplin, see chapter Modern Times
    • May Warren (Vernall) and baby May
    (• Ernest ›Ginger‹ Vernall)
    (• John ›Snowy‹ Vernall)
    • Mr Beery, lighterman
    (• Newt Pratt)
    • Mary (white), daughter of Black Charlie and Selina
    • Henry (black), baby son of Black Charlie and Selina

    Index
    • Bill Cody ›Buffalo Bill‹ and his Wild West Show (1846-1917), American scout, hunter and world travelling showman: 175, 177, 178, 184, 193, 199, 202
    • Annie Oakley (1860-1926), American sharpshooter, performer at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show: 175
    • Jesus: 176
    • Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891), English political activist and atheist: 177
    • Thomas Becket (1119-1170), Catholic saint, Lord Chancellor, Archbishop of Canterbury: 178, 196
    • John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), American composer and conductor: 178
    • James Butler Hickok, ›Wild Bill‹ (1837-1876), American folk hero of the Old West: 178
    • Britton ›Britt‹ Johnson (ca. 1840-1871), legendary African-American cowboy: 178
    • Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (1842-1924), African-American publisher, journalist, civil rights leader, suffragist and editor: 179
    • ›Ruffin’s Relief Association‹ unclear or uncorrect. Ruffins ›Boston Kansas Relief Association‹ was founded in 1879, did not exist in 1868: 179
    The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended: 181
    Amazing Grace, hymn (white gospel) 181, 182, 188ff, 194, 197, 202
    • John Henry Newton, Jr. (1725-1807), Royal Navy sailor, slave ship captain, Anglican glergyman, co-author of Olney Hymns: 181, 188-197, 199, 202
    • George Washington (1732-1799), Comander-in-Chief of Continental Army during American Revolutionary War, 1st President of United States: 181
    • Gog and Magog, enemies of God, Book of Ezekiel, Old Testament, Bible: 185
    • English Civil War (1642-1651): 186
    • American Civil War (1861-1865): 186, 196
    Olney Hymns: 190f
    • William Cowper (1731-1800), English poet and hymnodist, co-author of Olney Hymns: 190-195
    • Bible: 191
    • King David, according to Old Testament 2nd king of united Kingdom of Israel and Judah (reign 1010-970 BC): 191
    • John Newton, Sr., father of John Newton Jr., shipmaster in Mediterrean service: 192
    • William Wilberforce (1759-1833), English politician, philanthropist, leader of anti slave trade movement: 195
    • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), republican politician, 16th US-president: 195
    • War of the Roses (1455-1487): 196
    • War of Independence (1775-1783): 196
    • Philip Doddridge (1702-1751), English Nonconformist leader, educator and hymnwriter: 199
    • Cain, first son of Adam and Eve in the Bible, first murderer: 202

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