J2.09 The Trees Don’t Need To Know

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 2 – Mansoul – The Trees Don’t Need To Know

Page 679 – titled The Trees Don’t Need To Know

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4 thoughts on “J2.09 The Trees Don’t Need To Know”

  1. DATE: 1959…ish.

    • Multiple eras at once when they’re on the Ultraduct.

    • Also, technically multiple eras at once when they visit the mental hospitals, because the patients don’t necessarily know where/when they are – so that area of Mansoul is “made out of dreams and memories what are wrong” (page 697, par 2).


    • She drowned in the river under Spencer Bridge when she was 9 after diving in to save her dog India. She realizes after jumping in that she can’t swim, and after drowning she sees that her dog ended up doggy-paddling to shore and survived.

    • The Dead Dead Gang save her from the Nene Hag, a water elemental who captures (and tortures) the ghosts of people who drown in that river.


    • Page 679, par 2: “Not that Marjorie could have written The Old Curiosity Shop, if the truth be told. She knew, despite the recent unexpected flattery from Mr. Aziel and the Doddridge family, that she was nowhere near as good as that.”

    So Marjorie is the one writing the stories/chapters of the Dead Dead Gang’s adventures that the Doddridge family reads to each other!

    • Page 679, par 2: “Hardly anybody wrote books after they were dead and even fewer saw their efforts through to ghostly publication, and so she supposed that anyone who did was bound to get a fair bit of attention.”

    Marjorie also notes that she had “heard that Mr. Blake still published from a glowing workshop in the higher territories over Lambeth” (page 679, last par).

    Did you know that little Marjorie and Mr. Blake are not the only ones who have written things from beyond the grave? Here’s a classic Dave Chappelle sketch that makes fun of how many new songs hip hop artist 2-Pac released after dying (2-Pac died in 1996 and this sketch aired in 2006).

    • Page 680, par 1: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is James Joyce’s first novel.

    • Page 680, par 2: Marjorie is able to take as much time as she wants for her writing because “in the ghost-seam, time was something you could dig through. You could leave whatever you were doing, burrow off to somewhere different – say six months haunting a public reading room – and then dig back to half a second after you’d departed, before anyone had noticed you were gone. Marjorie had her own private existence outside of the Dead Dead Gang and assumed the other members more than likely did as well.”

    It further notes that “Phyllis had once said something that had led Marjorie to conclude that she had another grown-up life, or lives, elsewhere within the simultaneous reaches of the afterlife, perhaps a husband in one region and a boyfriend in another. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Phyll Painter had lived to a ripe old age and it was only natural that there were different periods in her life that would be dear to her in different ways.”

    Okay, so this really modifies everything we previously knew about the nature of ghosts! Plus, Phyllis living to “a ripe old age” is confirmed!

    • Page 681, par 2 – good line about the view from the Ultraduct: “Time steamed, and in its vapor-curls fugitive images and instants flared and melted as the past and future churned together, simultaneously and forever.”

    • Page 682, par 1: “Snowy Vernall springs eternal” – that’s awesome, Snowy stole Mr. Aziel’s chisel and carves graffiti on the walls of the Ultraduct as he wanders farther to the future (with little baby May on his shoulders) than Mr. Aziel ever has.

    • Page 687, par 3: Marjorie reflects on how her life flashing before her eyes (which she later learns is called “The Life Review”) was nothing like the “Keystone Kops scenario” she had imagined it would be like.

    Moore riffed on the Keystone Cops style films in his and Kevin O’Neill’s first issue of Cinema Purgatorio, which he has described as their attempt to “transpose the gleeful anarchy of the Keystone Kops onto something with the amoral values of Bad Lieutenant or The Shield.”

    The deeply-detailed Cinema Purgatorio annotations, as well as the above Moore quote, can be found on this phenomenal site:


    The next paragraph notes that “The Life Review” is similar to experiencing the comics-like tiles near Doddridge’s fireplace from last chapter, and informs us that they’re called the “Delft tiles.”

    It’s also interesting how there doesn’t seem to be any moral judgment of one’s actions in a good-or-bad sense, with the emphasis instead placed on “responsibility.” This is exemplified by Marjorie’s powerful memory of eventually convincing her mom to allow her to have a dog – the dog who unwittingly set in motion the sequence leading to Marjorie’s death.

    [Okay, quick joke I just remembered because of noticing a typo I initially made in the above paragraph: What did the dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac do? Stayed up all night questioning the existence of Dog.]

    • Page 691, par 1 – when looking down from the Ultraduct, seeing multiple eras at once over St. James’s End, one of the things they notice is graffiti that reads: “GEORGE DAVIES IS INNOCENT.”

    I’m not sure if this is a typo (possibly deliberate?), but I believe this is actually a reference to George DAVIS, opposed to George DAVIES:

    George DAVIES (based on a quick search just now) is a fashion designer who doesn’t seem to have been accused of anything (which, I suppose, would mean that “GEORGE DAVIES IS INNOCENT” is still a true statement haha).

    George DAVIS, whom I believe to be actually referenced here, was found guilty of committing armed robbery and shooting a police officer in England in the 1970s. He claimed that the police had manufactured his confession and his friend stated that he had seen that Davis was driving a cab at the time of the robbery, but Davis was still sentenced to prison.

    Davis’ friend started a campaign of stunts to create public awareness of the wrongful conviction, which did just that…

    …and, with the help of a reporter, Davis’ conviction was overturned following a new investigation.

    Filmmaker Adam Curtis wrote an excellent article about the public’s growing distrust of authority and uses the Davis case as an example (cool bonus – Curtis also analyzes Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell in this article too!):


    By the way, in my opinion, Adam Curtis is a true visionary whose documentary films are unparalleled. I highly recommend all of his work, including his newest film HyperNormalisation, which can be seen here:

    • Page 691, par 2: “They all looked as if somebody had just dropped one. Marjorie’s own view was that those who decried it very probably supplied it.”

    Haha this is a variation of the fart-accusation phrase that I’m familiar with, which goes “Whoever smelt it dealt it.”

    • Page 692, par 2: “Was the suburban ghost-seam that the gang were passing over occupied by souls that felt they were too good for heaven?”

    Marjorie comes to the conclusion that no, it was more likely that “the well-off phantoms down beneath her shunned Mansoul because one’s earthly status had no meaning there” (page 692, last par). She considers the biblical fable about “the camel squeezing through a needle’s eye and how rich people would find it hard to enter heaven” (page 693, par 2), but ultimately comes to the conclusion that Mansoul is mainly filled with poor people because the well-offs had trouble giving up their property-owning status upon becoming ghosts – noting “No wonder there were so few toffs in Mansoul” (page 693, par 3). Basically, the non-poor have trouble letting go of their material things even after death.

    This reminds of dialogue from the 2009 version of the film The Taking of Pelham 123 (but I’m not sure if it’s only in the 2009 remake, or also in the original film and/or the original novel by John Godey – or if it’s a concept that predates all three (I know I’ve heard the hearse/u-haul line in a song that predates the 2009 remake)):

    “You never see a U-Haul behind a hearse, Ryder. The Egyptians tried it. It doesn’t work. You can’t take the money with you.”


    Also – here is the concept visually represented:


    Then there’s my first introduction to this concept – this very early-1990s No Fear brand t-shirt haha:

    • Page 694, last par: I’m not going to transcribe the whole thing, but starting with “Marjorie wondered what it must be like to be a tree…” and extending over the entire next page is a fascinating exploration of what possible consciousness may exist within a tree.

    Stuff like “an embedded musket-ball, a deadly little iron meteorite surrounded by the thickening of age and time,” mammal activity causing wooded forests to fall while “plagues and decimation yielded welcome human compost,” to the “anecdotal apple tree that Isaac Newton sat beneath while formulating the ideas that would power the machine age.”

    Marjorie concludes that trees must have some kind of emotion/consciousness, “at least in a poetic sense, which was certainly good enough for her.”

    • Page 696, par 4 – when the Dead Dead Gang get to the mental hospitals and we first see that the reality of Mansoul is different there: “Space itself appeared to have been hideously mangled, crumpled up like paper in a giant’s fist, with random fold-lines running everywhere…”

    This reminds me of a page from Moore and Bill Sinkiewicz’s sadly unfinished series Big Numbers (specifically the unpublished #3) where two characters discuss “the second-and-a-half-dimension” through the metaphor of crumpled paper:

    • Page 698, par 3: The Nene Hag – what a sad and utterly terrifying story!

    She was once a minor river goddess named Enula (or Nendra), worshipped by Second Century Roman soldiers. She had a lover once, Gregorious, but has since been deprived of humanity’s praise, which lack of which has transformed her into a giant monster (technically elemental) who captures the ghosts that die in the river. Over the centuries it (“she” when she had a gender) has become bitter and cruel towards these captives.

    God, the thought of fifty to ninety years of one’s soul being “slowly psychologically dismantled, picked apart in tumbling flakes of astral fish-food” only to be “flung away” when one’s soul “went limp” and “there was no longer even Nendra’s dreary entertainment to be had from them” – “mindless husks” left to drift down river (and out to sea?).

    The Dead Dead Gang literally saved Marjorie from a fate worse than death!

    • Page 704, par 1: It’s cool how some of the mental patients’ artwork contain Mansolian imagery “reproduced on some of the canvases, a proof that living people in extreme mental state could sometimes see the upper world and its inhabitants.”

    • Page 704, par 4: Nice, Marjorie’s forthcoming novel is “about Snowy Vernall and his beautiful granddaughter hiking through Eternity.”

    • Page 705, par 2: Marjorie takes “her glasses off to polish them upon one sleeve before replacing them, as if unable to believe what her and her confederates were seeing.” This is funny because it has already been established that she doesn’t technically even need glasses as a ghost.

    • Page 708, par 3 – future-Bill to the Dead Dead Gang: “Listen, everybody, just remember that the devil’s in the driver’s seat. That way it won’t be a surprise when—“

    I think the obvious thought that pops into mind is that this means Asmodeus is orchestrating some sneaky shit behind the scenes?

    • Page 708, par 3 – some more info on Puck’s Hat: “Except the Puck’s Hat wasn’t really a bouquet of pretty individual fairies, was it? That was only what it looked like, so that it could entice ghosts to eat it and spit out its crunchy blue-eyed seeds.”

    • Page 713, last par: So the Ultraduct connects Doddridge Church to Jerusalem.

    • Page 715, par 4: Michael observes that Lucia Joyce’s waddling is “an eerily exact impersonation of the ‘little tramp’ walk first made popular by Charlie Chaplin.” Chaplin was the POV character of Bk1 Ch6 “Modern Times.”

    Also, we find out that Lucia Joyce is where the term “Lucy-lips” comes from, which refers to ghosts learning to control their speech in the ghost-seam.

    • Page 717, par 1 – good line regarding madness: people “whose names no one save for their immediate relatives and friends would ever know, all of them eventually wandering across the unmarked boundary that separated the acceptable and minor madnesses of ordinary life from the more unacceptable behavior and opinions that were classed as lunacy.”

    This recalls the anecdote Moore has told about when he declared himself a magician in the early 1990s. He asked his family and friends to keep an eye on him and let him know if he’s gone overboard with it and seems to be going crazy – to which they replied: “Okay, so how would we be able to tell?”

    Also, Marjorie, in a very personal metaphor (for obvious reasons), observes that “for a great many people, ordinary life itself was something of a surface struggle.”

    • Page 718, par 2: The Dead Dead Gang get back up to the Ultraduct by “dog-paddling up” – it’s ironic that Marjorie is apparently a good dog-paddler now that she’s a ghost.

    • Page 718, par 4: “Our dad used to get into bed with me.”

    This is what some of the Gang overheard Audrey Vernall (previously seen in Bk1 Ch11 “Hark! The Glad Sound,” and now here living in a mental hospital) say. Hearing this makes Phyllis and John feel nauseated and they hurry Michael off before he could hear any more.

    • Page 718, last par: “Oh, and the dog was called that because on its side it had a dark brown blotch that looked a bit like India.”

    This somewhat awkwardly placed closing line sounds more like something Marjorie herself would say or write (perhaps trying to change the subject away from Audrey, or perhaps in a oops-I-forgot-to-mention-this-one-thing-earlier last minute thought), opposed to narration.


    • Page 684, par 4 – remarking on the inaccurate lyrics to the Dead Dead Gang’s song: “Other than manners, tanners, dancing, singing and commanding the respect of others, though, the song was right. They could do anything.”

    • Page 690, par 4: Haha yeah, Marjorie’s writings are literally “ghost-written.”

    • Page 693, par 3: “The vast majority of the people Upstairs were working classes of a dozen or more centuries, with a comfortable rump of middling sorts and then a scattering of isolated Earls, Lords and repentant squires like golden pimples on that rump.”

    • Page 694, par 3: “What does it matter if it takes us ages, you daft bastard? I thought that was what eternity was all about, things takin’ ages?”


    1. Okay so I know this is really old but I thought you might like to know this.

      You say that the line about the dog is random well I don’t think it is. It’s actually quite a funny joke. In the beginning of the chapter Majorie explains how to write a chapter of a book, starting with planting a question in the readers mind then ending with the answer. Well the first sentence is about Marjorie walking with her dog India. My first thought “why is he called India”.


  2. More about the hag — I just came across a poem by 17th century poet Robert Harrick who wrote “The Hag,” which was set to music for chorus by 20th century British composer Havergal Brian. Here is the text:

    The hag is astride,
    This night for to ride,
    The devil and she together;
    Through thick, and through thin,
    Now out, and then in,
    Though ne’r so fowl be the weather.

    A thorn or a burr
    She takes for a spur;
    With a lash of a bramble she rides now,
    Through brakes and through briars,
    O’er ditches and mires,
    She follows the spirit that guides now.

    No beast, for his food,
    Dares now range the wood:
    But hush’d in his lair he lies lurking,
    While mischiefs, by these,
    On land and on seas,
    At noon of night are working.

    The storm will arise,
    And trouble the skies;
    This night, and more for the wonder,
    The ghost from the tomb,
    Allrighted shall come,
    Call’d out by the clap of thunder.


  3. When Lucia Joyce says the phrase, “nor a barnacle” it should be noted that her mother’s name was Norah Barnacle.
    They did not have a happy relationship. Norah was very controlling and unsupportive of her daughter.


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