J2.05 Flatland

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 2 – Mansoul – Flatland

Page 520 – titled Flatland

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1 thought on “J2.05 Flatland”

  1. DATE = 1872 or 1873 for the first part (Reggie’s death/ghost origin), then back to the current adventure of the Dead Dead Gang with Michael.

    P.O.V. CHARACTER = REGINALD JAMES FOWLER (A.K.A. “REGGIE BOWLER”)

    • At 13 years old, Reggie freezes to death in a crate in the Doddridge Church cemetery in 1872 or 1873 and woke “to the sound of oddly-muffled church bells and the somehow worrying realization that he was no longer cold” (page 532, par 2).

    SIDENOTE:

    • While farting around online I recently stumbled upon these beautiful photos by photographer Xavi Bou that feature multiple moments of birds in flight. Here’s an example:

    This immediately made me think of the trailing pictures that follow ghosts in the ghost-seam. Not only is this an awesome visual that parallels how the ghost-seam seems, but the subject is “birds,” which is a pretty heavy theme so far in Jerusalem.

    Here’s Bou describing his motivation behind these photos from a recent article about his work:

    The series of dizzying swirls is intended for us to consider “our perception of time through the birds’ flight,” as Bou told Hyperallergic. “I wished to know what the shape of their flight in the sky would look like if our perception of time was different.”

    http://hyperallergic.com/313459/stunning-chronophotographs-capture-the-patterns-of-birds-in-flight/

    OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS:

    • Page 526, last par: The rough sleepers call the ghost-seam “purgatory,” and they taught Reggie skills like “how to scrape away accumulated circumstance and dig through time, then told him where to find the sweetest Bedlam Jennies, growing in the higher crevices that people with a heartbeat couldn’t see.”

    “Bedlam Jennies” is likely another term for the “Puck’s Hat” that Freddy eats in Bk1 Ch4. It’s also mentioned that the rough sleepers drink “Puck’s Hat stew,” which is probably fermented Puck’s Hat, like ghost alcohol.

    • Page 529-531: Since Phyllis Painter was born in 1920, then she must have traveled back in time to “the great ghost-storm of 1913” to save Reggie. This makes sense because last chapter she dug into the future and everything. Also, this chapter makes it clear that the afterlife “was in some ways also the before-and-during life,” and notes that the Dead Dead Gang can easily dig forwards and backwards in time.

    What I think is interesting, though, is that Reggie is keeping track of their adventures in, what seem to him and the others, chronological order, despite the adventures having taken place back-and-forth in time. For instance, he describes exploring the twenty-fifties “Snow Town business” as an adventure from their past, despite having taken place in the future, and he seems to have no idea how their current adventure with Michael will unfold, despite being able to travel back-and-forth in time at will.

    I’m not sure if that thought was entirely necessary, reading it back, or even necessarily coherent (sorry).

    …Okay, how’s this: it’s funny that the Dead Dead Gang’s current adventure with Michael has been officially dubbed as “The Enigma of the Soppy Little Kid” haha.

    • Page 539, par 1-3: The “’Inton” fellow mentioned is Charles Howard Hinton (who’s theories were explored by Moore and Eddie Campbell in From Hell). He was, according to Wikipedea, “a British mathematician and writer of science fiction works titled Scientific Romances. He was interested in higher dimensions, particularly the fourth dimension. He is known for coining the word “tesseract” and for his work on methods of visualising the geometry of higher dimensions.”

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

    The “Abbott” fellow mentioned is Edwin Abbott Abbott (yep, that’s a double last name haha – perhaps partially inspiring the double first name of the Dead Dead Gang?). He was an English schoolmaster most famous for his 1884 novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, discussed in this chapter, “which describes a two-dimensional world and explores the nature of dimensions. It has often been categorized as science fiction although it could more precisely be called “mathematical fiction”.”

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

    Hinton and Abbott were mathematical pioneers regarding humanity’s understanding of an Einsteinian Block Universe, and are two of the giants on whose shoulders Einstein (and later Picasso (and later Hawking (and currently Moore))) stood upon.

    This fourth-dimension-not-actually-being-time-but-instead-a-further-spacial-dimension can be difficult to wrap one’s head around (at least to me it is). The following video was uploaded by Skin_The-Goat on the “Readers of Jerusalem” subreddit about a month ago, and features a mathematician explaining how shapes exist in four dimensions and beyond. It’s really quite incredible! (And again, thanks to Skin_The-Goat for finding it!)

    So, as Reggie puts it: “time’s not the fourth dimension…passing time’s just how we see the fourth dimension while we’re still alive” (page 538, last par).

    Also, here’s one of Pablo Picasso’s cubist paintings that explore the concept:

    • Page 546, par 3: The “dark-skinned woman with her hair in stripes sat sucking smoke melted grains of glass out of her tin and pasting pictures in her scrapbook” is Marla Stiles (POV from Bk1 Ch3).

    • Page 550: The drunken poet guy who briefly sees the Dead Dead Gang and attempts to communicate is Ben Perrit (POV from Pk1 Ch8).

    THESE LINES MADE ME LAUGH:

    • Page 532, par 2, Reggie’s thoughts on Michael: “The lucky little beggar had already found out he’d be coming back to life again, and then he goes and throws a fit about some buildings that had been demolished. He should try freezing to death inside a crate. As Reggie saw things, all these sissy little modern kids should try freezing to death inside a crate. It’d be good for them.”

    • Page 532, last par, actually Reggie’s reflections here on the 21 Century highrises are both funny and sad: “These days families were all divided up like eggs in cartons, one to a compartment, and folk didn’t hang together in the way they’d done when their untidy streets and untidy lives had all been knotted up in one big ball. It was as if society had finally caught up with Reggie Bowler, so that now the vast majority of people were content to live and die alone, inside a box.”

    • Page 536, par 4: “From the gilt-trimmed shadows of the upper courtyard came the frightened cries of cats and dogs, who were no fools when it came to detecting ghostly presences, and the cross shouting of their human owners, who quite clearly were.”

    • Page 551, par 5: Phyllis implies that “living beings were much stranger and a great deal spookier than ghosts. Reggie agreed. In his experience, dead people were a lot more down to earth.”

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