J2.01 Upstairs

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore

Please note: All page and chapter numbers refer to the UK Hardcover edition, published by Knockabout Limited, 2016.

Book 2 – Mansoul

Upstairs

Editor’s note: each ‘block’ of conversational dialogue within the text will be treated as a single paragraph

Dramatis Personae

Michael Warren

Phyllis Painter – Leader of the Dead Dead Gang.

Page 349

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Page 350

Photo of a door, set in a wall.  This is the door which is set in the wall of Philip Doddridge’s church, more formally known as Castle Hill Church, in Northampton.

Page 351

Book Two – Mansoul – see note, Page 347, paragraph 2

Page 352

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Page 353

Excerpt from poem, “Continuity” (‘Fungi from Yuggoth‘, stanza XXXVI), by H. P. Lovecraft

Page 354

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Page 355 – titled Upstairs

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael, having died, tries to orient himself, tries to remember who he is. He sees a ‘corner-fairy’ gesticulating towards him.

Page 356 

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  • ‘..Corona bottles back for the deposit.’ – “Corona” was a brand of fizzy soft drink, the bottles in which it was sold, once emptied, could be returned and a small deposit refunded. Before supermarkets became widespread in the 1960’s it would be often be sold door-to-door.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: The ‘corner-fairy’ is described and Michael’s memory of his family begins to return.

Page 357

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  • ‘…candyfloss…’ – Candyfloss is the British name for what is known in the USA as cotton candy and is a confection of spun sugar, with small amounts of flavouring and colouring added.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: The corner-fairy is described in greater detail, with especial attention being paid to her stole fashioned from the eviscerated corpses of twenty-four rabbits.

Page 358

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  • ‘..carbolic soap..’ – Carbolic soap is a mildly antiseptic soap containing phenolic derivatives which give rise to its distinctive smell.
  • ‘…Parma Violets…’ – Parma Violets are an iconic British brand of violet-flavoured sweets made by the Swizzels company.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael, puzzling over the situation he finds himself in at present, comes to the startling realisation that he has, in fact, died.

Page 359

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  • ‘…Tizer…’ – Tizer is a red-coloured carbonated soft drink with a citrus flavour, made by the A. G. Barr company, Scotland.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael becomes increasingly frightened by his change in corporeal status and starts to panic. In the course of his thrashing he becomes aware of the trail of images left behind by the passage of his movement, characteristic of the ghost-seam. The corner fairy speaks to him.

Page 360

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael, taking the hand of the corner-fairy, is pulled up/down out of his frame of reference until his is perched above/below the lower dimensions in which his corporeal self lived. He notices his senses are considerably keener than when he was alive.

Page 361

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  • “You who,” – This has the double meaning of ‘Who are you?’ and the colloquial greeting of ‘Yoo hoo’.

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  • ‘…, throttles happy tune me?’ – This translates as ‘what has happened to me?’ but also contains encoded information pertaining to choking (throttles), the sweet upon which he choked (tune) and, possibly (tenuous?) Blake and Parry’s song ‘Jerusalem’ (happy tune). A more lengthy and slightly different analysis is given in the text a few lines later.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael speaks to the corner fairy and is alarmed to discover that his spoken words do not exactly correspond with what he is attempting to say; instead they contain unintended levels of enfolded meaning. The corner fairy introduces herself as Phyllis Painter.

Page 362

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  • ‘Know eye doughnut! Late me grow black square eyewash be four’ – This translates as “No I do not! Let me go back where I was before’.  Within this are enfolded references to: seeing/knowing (know eye); a torus (doughnut); Michael’s currently deceased state (late me); his current knowledge of his four-dimensional self (be four); his transition between corporeal and corporeal states (grow black). The meanings of ‘square eyewash’ are unclear, at least to this editor, at this moment in time.

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  • ‘..Lucy-lips..’ – This slang term employed by Phyllis seems to refer to the mode of speaking and thinking employed by Lucia Joyce (see J3.03 Round the Bend) and is typified by an inability of newly-deceased spirits to fully control their speech.
  • ‘…spooking properly’ – This has the double meaning of both ‘speaking properly’ and referring to ghost speech.
  • ‘..wizzle..’ – This is a hybrid term which encapsulates the multiple meanings of past, present and future tenses (e.g. was, is and will) within a single word, alluding to the illusory nature of time perception.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: After a short conversation with Phyllis, Michael pauses to contemplate the very peculiar way in which he now perceives the corporeal realm, having the appearance of a viscous, translucent ‘fluid’ within which jewelled tunnels appears.

Page 363

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  • ‘..aspic of the hours..’ – Aspic is a foodstuff containing ingredients (typically meat, fruit or vegetables) which are set in gelatin.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael comes to the realisation that the ‘tank’ into which he is looking is actually a 10-second time-slice of his living room, through which his mother is moving.

Page 364

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael puzzles out that he has just witnessed, in the colourful, shifting brilliance, his own death.

Page 365

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  • “Wiz this play seven?” – This translates as “Was/is this place heaven?”. Other, additional, interpretations of ‘play seven’ are welcome.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael, in conversation with Phyllis, wonders at his lack of family come to meet him upon his passing Upstairs.

Page 366

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  • “Only when we’re reading…” – In this paragraph, Phyllis attempts to explain to Michael how a lifetime is viewed differently between three- and four-dimensional perspectives.

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  • “..Malteser brown,..” – “Maltesers” are a British confectionery consisting of a malted milk centre surrounded by chocolate.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Phyllis explains to Michael the difference between three- and four-dimensional time perspectives and wonders why he has no family present to greet his arrival.

Page 367

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  • “..infantoms…” – This is particularly nice word-play as it conjoins the meanings of ‘infants’ and ‘phantoms’ alluding, of course, to Michael being the ghost of a child.

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  • “..Esperanto…” – Esperanto is an invented language, constructed with the aim of being politically neutral. It is the creation of the Polish ophthalmologist, L.L. Zamenhof, and was first detailed in his book “Unua Libro”, published in 1887.

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  • “..Attics of the Breath..” – Also known as the ghost seam, this is the realm inhabited by non-corporeal entities who have not yet ascended to Mansoul, for whatever reason.
  • “..Mad Apples..” – This is another name for Bedlam Jennies (see note for page 347, paragraph 2)

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  • “..the Works…” – This is an area of Mansoul inhabited by builders.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael and Phyllis continue their conversation. Phyllis is of the opinion that no mistake has been made and that there is a deeper reason for Michael’s unheralded arrival.

Page 368

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  • “…Weight..” – Of course, this means ‘wait’ but it has interesting overtones of solidity, of bulk, of the three-dimensionality that Michael is at this moment reluctant to sever his connection with.

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  • “…pigeons nesting…” – Again a reference to pigeons. Pigeons appear often in the text, usually in conjunction with angels.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael, following Phyllis, climbs up and out of the ‘tank’ that was his living-room in the last 10 seconds of his life. For the first time he perceives the lay-out of the Attics of the Breath.

Page 369

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  • “..Emporium Arcade..” – The Emporium Arcade which opened in 1901, containing approximately 150 different shops, was demolished in the 1970’s. A Google image search will yield several (copyrighted, hence not linked) images of this iconic Northampton building.

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  • “…children’s annuals..” – The term ‘annuals’ is used to denote a type of book that is published once per year, often omnibus (or expanded) editions of more regularly-published periodicals.
  • “..Dinky cars.” – ‘Dinky’ was the brand name for die-cast zinc alloy vehicles produced by the Meccano Ltd. company.

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  • “…ash-fleck pigeons…” – Again, pigeons; this time to give a sense of scale to the massive trees which irrupt into the Attics of the Breath.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael pauses to examine the spectacle of his surroundings.

Page 370

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael marvels at the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional nature of his new surrounding.

Page 371

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  • ‘..Bugbrook..’ – Bugbrooke is a small village in Northamptonshire, about 4km SSW of Northampton.

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  • ‘..Russian dolls…’ – This refers to the type of dolls, of Russian origin, known as Matryoshka dolls. They are wooden in manufacture, of decreasing size and are nested inside one another.

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  • ‘…Maypole swirl…’ – A Maypole is a large wooden pole, erected vertically, and used in many European folk traditions. Typically it is the centre focus of a dance as part of a celebration, often held on the first day of May or at midsummer.
  • ‘…higgledy-piggledy…’ – This is a British idiomatic phrase denoted a state of jumble or disorder.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS:  Michael continues to take in his new perceptions.

Page 372

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  • “…Dandy…” – ‘The Dandy’ was a British comic for children published by DC Thomson and was one of the best selling comics of its kind in the 20th century.

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  • “…fourever…” – This has the doubly-enfolded meaning of both ‘forever’ overlayed with the notion of the fourth dimension, e.g. time.
  • “Reternity…” – This enfolds the meaning of both ‘eternity’ and the notion that a lifetime is an infinitely repeating loop or string.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael pauses to examine the next time-slice of his post-death living room, then questions Phyllis as to the nature of his surroundings.

Page 373

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  • “…probably a pigeon…” – Again, the harbingers of the numinous.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael becomes entranced with the detail afforded to his new senses.

Page 374

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  • “..in the twenty-fives…” – This is referring to the year 2025.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Phyllis encourages Michael to get moving and answers some of his questions regarding his surroundings.

Page 375

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  • “…Pearl & Dean…” – Pearl & Dean is a British cinema advertising company, founded in 1953.

PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael follows Phyllis across the Attics of the Breath, looking down at other houses on his street.

Page 376

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  • “…religature…” – This is a combination of ‘religion’ and ‘ligature’, the latter giving overtones of binding and restriction. It also contains elements of ‘literature’, alluding to the narrative nature of religious texts.
  • “…Pearl & Deany gates…” – For ‘Pearl & Dean’, see previous page. ‘Pearly Gates’ are a common way of describing the gates of Heaven, originating in the Book of Revelation 21:21 – “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, with each gate consisting of a single pearl.”

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  • “…two grown-up men…” – This is our first glimpse, at least in the Attics of the Breath, of Mighty Mike and Asmoday.

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  • “…looked as if he’d just been in a fight.” – This is the Archangel Michael (aka Mighty Mike), shortly after his fight with Uriel.
  • “…held a long staff…” – This long staff is, in fact, his trilliard cue.
  • “This second person…” – This second person is the greater Demon, Asmoday (sometimes known as Sam O’Day).

PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael questions Phyllis on the nature of his surroundings, wondering at the ‘entry requirements’. High above, he observes two figures in conversation.

Page 377

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael and Phyllis continue their journey through the Attics of the Breath, Michael hurrying to keep up for fear of being left behind.

Page 378

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  • “…Realist chanes..” – This is an anagram of ‘Chasterlaine’s’.
  • “…Hail’s ancester…” – This is also an anagram of ‘Chasterlaine’s’.

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  • “..Euphorium…” – This enfolds the double meaning of ‘Emporium’ and ‘euphoria’.
  • “..Choke & Joy shop.” – This is a play on words, enfolding ‘Joke & Toy shop’ and alluding both to Michael’s cause of death and euphoria (as per the previous note).

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  • “..The Snail Races?” – This is another anagram of ‘Chasterlaine’s’.
  • “..Matchbox cars…” – This is a brand of toy, die-cast model cars currently owned by the Mattel company. They were originally sold in boxes of a size and style comparable to matchboxes.
  • “Pickford’s” – Pickfords is a removals company based in the UK. It is one of the oldest companies in the country, being believed to have been established some time in the 17th century.

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael spends some time examining a building (and its window display) which seems to be an Attics of the Breath analogue of downstairs premises.

Page 379

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Phyllis explains to Michael how the landscape upstairs is formed from the substance of the dreams of those residing Downstairs.

Page 380

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael follows Phyllis in their journey to the Works, fearful that she might leave him behind.

Page 381

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PAGE SYNOPSIS: Michael, in an effort to not lose sight of Phyllis, begins to run with the result that he trips and falls. When he regains his feet he discovers, to his dismay, that she has disappeared. He tries to reason out where she has gone.

Page 382

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4 thoughts on “J2.01 Upstairs”

  1. DATE = 2005

    • This chapter takes place immediately after the last chapter, Book 1 Ch12.

    P.O.V. CHARACTER = MICHAEL “MICK” WARREN

    • He is also the POV character for Book 1 Ch12 and part of Book 1 Ch1.

    OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS:

    • Page 367, par 4: “…in much the same way that those tricky pictures that you found on school chalk-boxes did, with all the cubes stacked in a pyramid, but so you couldn’t tell if they went in or out.”

    Here’s an example of what (I believe) Michael’s referring to:

    • Page 372, par 3: “He held himself as still as he could manage and, after a moment or two, was relived to learn that all the extra elbows, knees, and slipper-covered feet would gradually fade away to nothing if you gave them enough time.”

    Michael seems to be in a similar physical state as Freddy (POV from Book 1 Ch4), but Michael still sees in color, while Freddy only saw in black and white.

    • Page 374, par 2-3: Michael’s statement seems to “unfold and unpack” in a similar way that the angel’s statements did to Ernest “Ginger” Vernall (in Book 1 Ch2).

    • Page 374, par 5: Phyllis Painter was previously mentioned in Book 1 Ch4 when Freddy saw her “skip past across the recreation ground,” and who’s “gang ran wild across the Boroughs’ length and breadth and depth and whenth” (Page 109, last par).

    • Page 374, bottom: “Mansoul’s the Second Borough.”

    • Page 374, bottom: It’s cool how Michael’s language is tweaked, so he means to say “No I do not! Let me go back where I was before!” but it comes out of his mouth as “Know eye doughnut! Late me grow black square eyewash be four!”

    Incidentally, the traditional doughnut shape is the same shape as a torus.

    • Page 376, par 3: “It was as though while people were still living they were really frozen motionless, immersed in the congealed blancmange of time, and simply thought that they were moving, when in truth it was just their awareness fluttering along the pre-existing tunnel of their lifetime as a ball of colored light.”

    Michael is definitely seeing his living room and family members as a chunk of Einsteinian Block Universe right there!

    • Page 382, par 2: “Because this regular and neatly-ordered pattern covered all the terrain between him and the far, invisible horizon, the most distant trapdoor recesses were shrunken to a screen of close-packed dots, like when he held his eyes close to the printed pictures in the comics from America his sister saved.”

    This observation echoes John “Snowy” Vernall’s observation of himself being a “pointillist dab fixed and unmoving” on an “immeasurable canvas” from Book 1 Ch9 (page 261, par 2).

    • Page 381, par 4-5: Michael describes a 2-dimensional square turning into a 3-dimensional cube, then into a 4-dimensional shape, which would be a tesseract:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract

    • Page 384, par 2: Michael sees the clouds as “crumpled balls of paper,” which recall’s Peter’s view of the clouds right before he dies in Book 1 Ch5.

    • Page 390, penultimate par: “’All the religatures are right in parts, which means none of ‘em are ‘cause they all thought as it was only them knew what wiz what.”

    Assuming “religature” means religion (possibly “religion” + “architecture”) (cool word!), then this sentence reminds me of the story of the “Blind Men and an Elephant,” an old fable where some blind men come across an elephant, each with a different interpretation of what it is because they have each touched a different part of it. They argue about what it is, and the point is that each is slightly correct, but all are wrong because they’re missing the bigger picture.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant

    • Page 394, par 5: “If yer see someone up ‘ere who looks hypnotized, walkin’ abayt in just their underpants or night-things, it’s a safe bet that it’s someone who’s asleep and dreaming.”

    The guy in his underwear that Freddy frightens in Book 1 Ch4 is likely one of these dreamers that Phyllis is referring to.

    • Page 399, last par: Fun musical fact – “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” has the same exact melody as “Bah, Bah, Black Sheep” and the “ABCs” song!

    • Page 401: The devil guy that Michael runs into at the end of the chapter, with his “flapping rags,” “dark green britches” and “horns” is likely the guy on the bottom right of Jerusalem’s cover, standing on the building holding a baby (and Michael is likely that baby).

    CLEVER WORDS/TERMS:

    • Page 380, par 6: “infantoms”

    • Page 381, par 1: “cemetery Esperanto”

    Esperanto is language developed in the late 1870s by L. L. Zamenhof, in an attempt to create a universal language enabling people from all over the world to be able to communicate without having to translate (although I suppose one would have to initially translate their original statement into Esperanto first haha).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto

    • Page 386, par 3: “Reternity”

    • Page 387, par 3: “time-gravy”

    THESE LINES MADE ME LAUGH:

    • Page 386, par 5: “He’d had a sister, Alma, who would make him laugh or badly frighten him at least once every day.”

    • Page 390, par 2: “His mum had told him that he wouldn’t go to Hell except for something really bad like murder, which had seemed to him like manageable odds, assuming that he could get through his whole life without killing anybody. Luckily he’d died when he was three, and hadn’t had to put this to the test for very long. If he’d lived to be older, he’d consoled himself, he might have murdered Alma once he had the strength.”

    • Page 397, par 2: “’Munch, munch, munch … creep, creep, creep … munch, munch, munch … creep, creep, creep.’”

    • Page 398, par 1: “At least he didn’t have a sore throat anymore, he told himself consolingly as he began to climb the stairs. That had been really getting on his nerves.”

    Haha so the cough sweet may well have killed him, but at the same time, it technically did work to cure his sore throat!

    Like

  2. “The guy in his underwear that Freddy frightens in Book 1 Ch4 is likely one of these dreamers that Phyllis is referring to.” — This is the retired councilman Jim (?) Cokey (?). This incident is referred to several times, notably by Perrity when he drinks with the councilman in a pub…

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