J2.07 Sleepless Swords

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 2 – Mansoul – Sleepless Swords

Page 598 – titled Sleepless Swords

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1 thought on “J2.07 Sleepless Swords”

  1. DATE: 1959…ish.

    • Also June 16, 1645 during the Cromwell part.

    • And July 2025 during the Kaff part.

    P.O.V. CHARACTER: JOHN (AKA “HANDSOME JOHN” PER PHYLLIS)

    • He died in France when he was barely twenty, killed by a shell during World War II. It seems like immediately after dying in France he “found himself stood in the middle of the green behind St. Peter’s Church, now grey and silvery in the colourless expanses of the ghost-seam.”

    So instead of staying in France, it’s like his ghost was transported back to the Boroughs the moment after dying. Was this because his last living thought was “desperately wishing that he lived to see his home again” (page 600, par 2)?

    It notes that John feels ashamed that he died a “coward” because he had considered disserting battle before being killed in the war.

    • The English Civil war is “John’s hobby in the afterlife” (page 599, par 3).

    OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS:

    • John and Phyllis are pretty damn adorable as a (non-)couple. Bk2 Ch3 Rabbits made it pretty clear that Phyllis has the hots for John, and then in this chapter we find out the feeling is mutual, as John unsuccessfully attempts to kick a pamphlet and hopes Phyllis didn’t notice (page 613, penultimate par). Also when Phyllis gets upset later and John thinks “Phyllis was fuming, which, if anything, made her look prettier” (page 629, last par).

    • I like how Phyllis insists on giving the Dead Dead Gang’s adventures names like “The Subterranean Aeroplane Affair” (page 602, par 3) and “The Incident of the Reverse Train” (page 630, par 7).

    • I didn’t really know anything about Oliver Cromwell before reading this chapter. I mean, I knew he was a famous guy from history – you know, like Napoleon or King Tut haha.

    Drowned Margarie makes an interesting observation about him (page 608, par 3):

    “Well I don’t know. He don’t sound as if he’s all there to me. I mean, he knows how rough this battles gunna be tomorrow, and just look at him: as calm as anything, asking her how the garden’s getting on. It’s like he don’t think any of it’s real, like it’s a play he’s watching through to see the end. You ask me, he’s got summat missin’.”

    John thinks about this in the next paragraph: “Cromwell’s writings were those of a normal man in normal times, and on both counts you couldn’t help but feel that this was knowing misrepresentation.”

    This makes me think of Hannah Arendt’s concept of “the banality of evil,” which posits that people who do terrible things to other people don’t necessarily have the motivations of a mustache-twirling villain. Instead, they rationalize such horrid behavior as either necessary for the greater good or just following orders, etc.

    My interpretation is probably an oversimplification of her concept, and it may not necessarily be the point Moore was making with Cromwell’s writing of a pleasant I-hope-the-garden-looks-nice letter on the eve of what he knew was going to be a super bloody battle (in which his own son in law could die even). It is a funny coincidence though that Arendt coined this term in her book about the post-WWII trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann – the book is called “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil” haha.

    • Page 609, par 2: The lyrics that Bill begins to sing, “…and I would rather be anywhere else than here today” are from Elvis Costello’s 1979 song Oliver’s Army, the chorus of which contains the line “Oliver’s army is here to stay/Oliver’s army are on their way.”

    Critics have interpreted the song as referring to Oliver Cromwell, and Costello himself has said the following about the song’s inspiration:

    “I made my first trip to Belfast in 1978 and saw mere boys walking around in battle dress with automatic weapons. They were no longer just on the evening news. These snapshot experiences exploded into visions of mercenaries and imperial armies around the world. The song was based on the premise ‘they always get a working class boy to do the killing’. I don’t know who said that; maybe it was me, but it seems to be true nonetheless. I pretty much had the song sketched out on the plane back to London.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver%27s_Army

    That parallels the overarching theme of this chapter, which I think can be represented by this line: “All it took wiz a bright spark like Cromwell to work out how all these angry paupers could be put to use” (page 612, par 2).

    I think we can all thank our lord Flying Spaghetti Monster that we no longer live in such a barbaric time where wealthy leaders manipulate the poor by weaponizing their genuine anger and re-aiming it towards a goal that is actually against the interests of the poor and really serves to increase the wealth of said leaders. Can you imagine what that must have been like back then?

    In System of a Down’s 2005 song “B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bombs)” they also address this concept with the much-less-subtle line “Why don’t presidents fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?” Okay, this is just another ramble about a song that popped into my head while writing this – but it’s a brilliant song I tells ya! Here it is with written lyrics:

    • Page 613, par 5: Bill, Marjorie, and Reggie create a whirlwind by “racing furiously in a solid ring of after-images” and, in effect, also create a torus.

    • Page 623, penultimate par – good line: “It came to John that pigeon shit looked no worse in the ghost-seam’s half-tones than it did in mortal life’s full Technicolor. It was one of those things like remorse or unfulfilment that would still get on your nerves when you were dead.”

    • Page 624, penultimate par – John to Michael: “I knew all your dad’s side of family, back when I wiz alive. How’s old May getting on, your dad’s mum? Wiz she still a terror? What about your aunt Lou?”

    It notes that John “still wasn’t sure why he was keeping the full story back from Michael,” and later John trails off after mentioning a bunch of Warren family details to avoid “revealing matters best kept to himself” (page 632, par 5).

    • Page 632, par 6: “Glistening wet like whale-hide in the drizzle, the dark monument appeared to be a war memorial.”

    Michael notices that a name on the monument’s inscription has the same last name as him, Warren. John sees that Michael is correct, which is followed by some awkward silence, and then John suggests they catch up to Phyllis, in what seems like an attempt to change the subject.

    • Page 633: Kaff sounds like a pretty damn cool person – she gets my vote for sainthood!

    Her shirt contains the words “EXODUS” and “MOVEMENT OF JAH PEOPLE,” which are lyrics from Bob Marley’s 1977 song “Exodus.” This calls back to Marla Roberta Stiles (POV from Bk1 Ch3 ASBOs of Desire) being named after Marley (and not liking him very much). It’s also somewhat of a pun because Kaff is in the business of helping refugees – literally the movement of people!

    • Page 635, par 3: Phyllis is playing keep-away with the hat of Freddy Allen (POV from Bk1 Ch4 Rough Sleepers) as part of “Phyll Painter’s ongoing vendetta against grown-up ghosts.”

    This is hypocritical of Phyllis because it has been at the very least hinted at, if not directly stated, earlier in the book that Phyllis herself is much older than she appears, and likely died as a grown-up, since ghosts in Mansoul revert to their best/favorite age upon arrival.

    Plus, come on Phyllis, don’t be a dick to Freddy just because he’s an easy target haha.

    • Page 637, par 1: “Although living people couldn’t physically pass through a time hole in the way a spirit did, one that had been left open could still pose a threat to them. A mortal person’s mind might fall through such an opening although their bodies were not able to, producing the potentially nerve-shattering experience of being in another time. John hadn’t ever heard first-hand of this occurring, but he’d been assured by older, more experienced wraiths that such things were a horrifying possibility. Better to close your burrows off behind you, just in case.”

    Okay, if the law of Chekhov’s Gun has taught me anything, it’s that when you read a passage like the above, it means the thing discussed will DEFINITELY happen at some point in the story. And I look forward to that – cool idea.

    THESE LINES MADE ME LAUGH:

    • Page 598, par 4: Sunday church was where John “had prayed, sung hymns, been taught to march, and learned to see this combination as entirely natural.”

    • Page 600, last par: “He’d chosen the location partly from a sense that proper ghosts should haunt somewhere that looked appropriately creepy like a turret, and partly because his previous choice, St. Peter’s Church, seemed to be overrun by ghosts already.”

    • Page 613, penultimate par: “Scanning a folded sheet already fallen to the floor, John noted that it was entitled Prophecy of the White King and seemingly foretold a violent end for Charles the First, based on astrology and various prophecies attributed to Merlin. Given that the leaflet bore tomorrow’s date and was apparently fresh off the printing press, John smiled and gave the publisher ten out of ten for timing, even if the source of his prediction seemed a little flimsy.”

    • Page 616, par 6: “Magna Farta”

    • Page 618, par 3: “It had been a funny-looking picture, not at all realistic in the style John preferred although if he had remembered rightly it had been a painting by William Blake, who was quite famous and respected even though to John’s eye he drew like a baby.”

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