J2.10 Forbidden Worlds

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 2 – Mansoul – Forbidden Worlds

Page 719 – titled Forbidden Worlds

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3 thoughts on “J2.10 Forbidden Worlds”

  1. DATE = 1959…ish

    • 2006 when Marla is being attacked

    P.O.V. CHARACTER = BILL (PAINTER?) A.K.A. “BERT THE STAB”

    • He is Phyllis Painter’s son.

    • He knew/knows Alma Warren well (as did Phyllis), and is aware that Alma’s 2006 art exhibit consists of paintings based on Michael’s current Dead Dead Gang adventure.

    • He has had “more experience with rough pubs than the rest of [the Dead Dead Gang] put together” (page 749).

    • He died in his forties(?) from Hepatitis C, which he transmitted from a friend while doing “smack” (heroin) for the first time as a seventeen-year-old “freshly expelled from school” (page 762, last par).

    Incidentally, Alan Moore was also expelled from school at seventeen (so it’s likely that Alma was as well).

    • The “Bert” part of Bill’s nickname comes from a forgetful P.E. teacher, and “the Stab” part comes from an “unfortunate teenage incident” (“there had been extenuating circumstances”).

    • Bill wasn’t born in the Boroughs and instead lived in Kingsley, but his mother’s side of the family is from the Boroughs and he would visit his grandparents there (page 758, last par).

    OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS:

    • Page 719, par 2: “Forbidden Worlds” (the title of this chapter) is mentioned by Michael as a comic that Alma reads. Looking it up now – this comic debuted in 1951 but changed its name to “Young Heroes” for a year due to pressure from the 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings on the dangers of comic books. That last part’s not really relevant here, but it just makes me chuckle to type “Senate subcommittee hearings on the dangers of comic books” haha. There’s also an irony that the comic was apparently “forbidden” to use the word “forbidden” in its title.

    • Page 720, last par: The “Porthimoth di Norhan” project is “a tribunal at which boundaries and limits would be finally decided, where a judgment would be handed down once and for all, and this would all take place during the early years of the twenty-first century.”

    • Page 721, par 1: “Vernall’s Inquest” is a preliminary investigation that precedes the Porthimoth di Norhan, described as “a full and rigorous inquiry, also instigated by Mansoul’s mysterious management.”

    • Page 722, last par: Bill recalls seeing Alma’s 2006 art exhibit and, despite not having paid much attention to it, describes some of the pieces:

    “…a wall-sized board of tiles that looked as if it was swiped from M.C. Escher…”

    M.C. Escher! This is likely describing a depiction of the tiles on the floor of the Builders’ place in Mansoul(?), as seen in Bk2 Ch6 “Mental Fights.”

    “…another terrifying large piece that had been like looking down into a mile-wide garbage grinder that was in the process of devouring everything noble or dear in human history.”

    This is describing a depiction of the Destructor. This is a good line later in the chapter describing the Destructor as represented by industrial factories: “Was it any wonder, Bill had mused, that present-day English society should start to fall to bits, start to unravel, as the burn-hole in the middle of its painstakingly-woven fibers had begun to spread, to gradually unpick the whole of the material?” (page 738, par 2). Bill also explains that the Destructor is “the annihilating thing in everybody’s lives, regardless of what form it took” (page 762, last par).

    Other art includes “charcoal drawings…reminiscent of…rough sleepers,” “jeweled acrylic studies of immense interiors that may have represented Mansoul,” and “the piece that Phyllis and Bill had found the most impressive…a scaled-down papier-mache model of the Boroughs.”

    This leads Bill to contemplate the importance of Michael returning to life with memories (the right ones) intact of his current adventure so that he can relate them to Alma and Alma can turn them into art. (Hmmm…this scenario somewhat parallels Providence, where it’s like Michael is the Herald/Messenger and Alma is the Redeemer!)

    • Page 734, last par: “As for the toddler himself, he’d nodded wisely too, while obviously having no idea what Bill was on about.” Also, on page 743, last par: “…Michael Warren had sniggered along with them without having the first idea what he was laughing about.”

    Haha Michael gets this character trait from his cousin baby May! In Bk1 Ch4 “Modern Times,” Charlie Chaplin and adult May are laughing together, with baby May “joining in as well, not wishing to appear as if she didn’t understand” (page 165, par 5).

    • Page 735, last par: Roman Thompson appearance! He is described as “a fearless union fighter and a celebrated all-round nut job…who’d always taken reckless courage to the point of death-wish.” It notes that he and Bill were friends when Bill wiz alive.

    • Page 737, par 2: “Circling faster and still faster, their pursuing after-images had fused into what must have looked from the outside like a grey and spinning giant doughnut made of blur: a torus, as Bill had heard this apparently important shape described by Mansoul’s brainier inhabitants.”

    This is how they alter the drum that ultimately knocks adult Michael out – so Michael is an unwitting accomplice in causing his own future injury!

    • Page 738, par 2: Bill accidentally walks in on adult versions of Phyllis and John putting their clothes back on, post-coitus haha. But hey, at least we find out that Phyllis is considerate enough to remove her stinky rabbit scarf for hanky panky!

    • Page 745, penult par: It’s a “dark-shelled Ford Escort” that abducts Marla, which is perhaps somewhat of a gallows humor/throwing-testicles-at-your-fellow-tannery-workers pun because “escort” is another word for prostitute.

    • Page 745: The last two paragraphs both start with a sentence insisting that Marla’s plight was “none of their business,” which seems like Bill trying to convince himself or to justify not helping her shorting before his and the gang’s conscience kicks in.

    • Page 746, par 4: The man who rapes Marla is described as “babyish-looking…black curly hair already graying at the temples” who punches his “ring-decked fist into the woman’s forehead just above her eye.”

    What a horrifically brutal scene. There’s nothing worse than what people do to other people. Humanity is fucked up.

    As Reddit user obiwanspicoli has predicted in prior discussion, Marla and Kaff (the woman the Dead Dead Gang observe in 2025 in Bk2 Ch7 “Sleepless Swords”) may be the same person, and this seems to be a big clue as to this being the case, since Kaff is described as having a scar above her eye.

    So Asmodeus is LITTERALLY the “devil in the driver’s seat” that future-Bill and future-Reggie warned the Dead Dead Gang about last chapter.

    • Page 751: Tom Hall, with his “hairstyle of the gods” mullet, is quite the character. Hall recalls knowing Alma, notes that she spoke at his funeral, and had even met toddler Michael at a Warren birthday party for an “aunt, who’d died the day before and couldn’t make it” (page 754, par 3). It also notes that Hall has a walking stick, something that Moore also uses.

    Reddit user Sam_O_Day posted this cool video a few months back on the /r/ReadersofJerusalem sub of Tom Hall performing outside the Black Lion pub in 1989:

    This doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, I just think it’s funny: at 11:59 in the above video, Hall takes off his hat and places it on the end of his guitar, and then a few seconds later flicks it into the air in what looks to be a choreographed attempt for the hat to land back on his head. It doesn’t, and he has to catch it and place it back on his head with his hand, causing the brim to awkwardly fold up so it doesn’t quite fit right. Then the hat falls off of his head and he kind of shakes his head like “eh, I didn’t even want the hat on my head anyway.” None of this, however, disrupts the actual song he’s playing and singing haha. A true showman.

    • Page 755, par 2-4: We get a look at the ghost patrons of the Jolly Smoker, including George Blackwood, Mick Malone, Jem Perrit, Mary Jane, some Cluniac or Augustan monks, and Tommy Mangle-the-cat, whose face is somewhat, uh, mangled – he has an ear where his nose should be and his eyes are “slithering” up his cheek.

    There are also two wooden people(?). One of them is emerging from the floor boards, or at least trying to, as Jem Perrit keeps kicking it back down into the floor. The other is sitting at the bar in anguishing pain as Mary Jane is holding it down and carving something into it. This reminds me of the awesome page about trees and potential tree consciousness from last chapter (page 695), but then again at the same time…what?

    • Page 759, par 2: Bill’s childhood memory with his father killing the eels in the kitchen calls back to the Nene Hag story from last chapter because the eels were from the Nene River and the Nene Hag was described as being somewhat of an enormous eel (although she had arms and hands).

    Also, as far as Alma and Bill swapping childhood stories about seeing animals in their respective kitchens – Bill wins!

    • Page 762, par 6: Freddy rushing off to save Marla is ironic because he previously thought of attacking her himself in Bk1 Ch4 “Rough Sleepers.” He also seems to realize this, and is perhaps partially motivated by feelings of guilt.

    • Page 763, penultimate par: Bill, while reflecting on his first time doing “smack,” thinks of Phil Doddridge’s and Mr. Aziel’s conversation about predetermination and the absence of free will and concludes: “It was sort of comical, Bill saw that now, but he still found some solace in the thought that in a predetermined world, there was no point at all in fretting over anything, nor any purpose to regret.”

    THESE LINES MADE ME LAUGH:

    • Page 722, par 2: “It was Mission: Impossible over again, only without the handy get-out clause of “Your mission, should you choose to accept it…”.”

    • Page 725, par 2: “With his imagination perked up by the Puck’s Hats, he’d wondered at first if there was some way that he could be instrumental in positioning the iron bar that would knock Michael out, but as with all the profit making schemes he’d once come up with after a few joints, the obvious dead-ends in his blue sky thinking had swiftly revealed themselves.”

    • Page 735, par 2: “Bill had begun to realize that accepting the idea of Fate could actually remove some of the burden of responsibility. You could delegate upwards.”

    • Page 742, par 4: “Good old Phyll, as swift as Bill himself when it came to shirking responsibility. Now that he’d thought about it, that was more than likely where he’d got it from.”

    • Page 752, bottom: “The Dead Dead Gang, the Dead Dead Gang, so bad they killed them twice!”

    Like

    1. “Marla and Kaff may be the same person”.

      That’s correct, they’re the same person. Check out my comments on chapter J3.11 (“Go See Now This Cursed Woman”) and J3.06 (“The Steps of All Saints”) for more about the transition from Marla to Kaph.

      Like

      1. Yeah, it really makes perfect sense, huh. What a powerful character arc.

        I’m glad to hear that Book 3 goes into her transition, and I look forward to reading your thoughts when I get to those chapters!

        Liked by 1 person

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