J3.01 Clouds Unfold

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 3 – Vernall’s Inquest – Clouds Unfold

Page 804 – photo

Page 805 – quote

Page 806 – blank

Page 807 – titled Clouds Unfold

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7 thoughts on “J3.01 Clouds Unfold”

  1. First off – here’s Alan Moore himself reading this chapter! [While posting this I see that you already have this linked in your annotations – nice!]

    That clip was released in 2012 (when Jerusalem was, y’know, due out within a year or so haha). I was very conflicted at the time as to whether I wanted to watch it. I mean, I WANTED to watch it, but I didn’t want to have a chapter from the middle of a book I planned to read spoiled.

    So I made somewhat of a compromise with myself: I’d just get super stoned before I watched it! That way, I could enjoy the language as read by Moore, but hopefully my mind wouldn’t necessarily realize and/or ascertain any plot spoilery aspects.

    My plan worked a little too well, as I had forgotten that I had even watched it until I started reading this chapter the other day. The minute I read the “Whooomff. Whooomff. Whooomff” part I remembered, “hey that’s right, there was a Jerusalem chapter Moore read aloud years ago – and I think it’s this one!”

    DATE = “Always now and always here and always me” (page 807, par 1).

    • Many different time periods are featured, including defining-to-mundane moments from the lives of the characters seen previously throughout the novel.

    P.O.V. CHARACTER = The stone statue of the Master Angle Michael (a picture of which can be seen opposite the title page for Book 3).

    • He is one of four Master Angles (aka Master Builders) and “each of us has his corner, his pocket” (page 808, par 3). Great line describing them: “We are crowbars of creation.”

    • He is the Master Angle who appeared on the ceiling and spoke to Ernest Vernall in Bk1 Ch2 “A Host of Angles.”

    • He is the Master Angle who fights with another Master Angle (Uriel perhaps? He mentions calling Uriel “a cunt” on page 812, last par) in regards to the trilliards game involving temporarily-dead Michael Warren throughout Book 2.

    • He is the Master Angle who flattened Asmodeus into a two dimensional existence.

    OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS:

    • The Einstein quote starting off Book 3, stating that “the distinction between past, present and future is only stubbornly persistent illusion” is something Moore has discussed numerous times in interviews, often in regards to Jerusalem, and, I would guess, is one of the biggest single influences on not only Jerusalem, but all of Moore’s work dealing with the concept of time.

    • Page 807, par 4: “They fold up into you. You fold up into us. We fold up into Him.”

    This phrase was previously said to Philip Doddridge by Mr. Aziel (a builder) in Bk2 Ch8 “Malignant Refractory Spirits” in regards to “how the different entities related to each other, all the devils and the ordinary people and the builders, and how all of these connected up to the mysteries ‘Third Borough’” (page 676, last par).

    • Page 808, par 1: “I know I am a text made only of black words. I know you are observing me.”

    And also, on page 824, par 1: “I know I am a text. I know that you are reading me. This is the biggest difference that there is between us: you do not know that you are a text.” (Also the following few paragraphs on this page as well.)

    I believe that this is the first chapter in which the text of Jerusalem has slipped into second person narration (AKA using the word “you” as referring to the reader).

    This means that Master Angle Michael is directly addressing…well, not ME, per se, but you know, the reader. By the way, that reader is actually Steve. Don’t ask me how I know this, but it’s true.

    …Okay that was just a dumb attempt at a joke that has taken up way more space than anticipated, but I’m too lazy to hold down the delete key. …Plus, wouldn’t it be funny if there is someone named Steve who read this paragraph I’m writing now and, just for a split second, had a holy shit moment and thought “hey, I’m Steve! What?”

    …No? Okay, I’ll stop with this tangent. I just read it back and it’s not even that funny. Fucking Steve, always shooting down my jokes, you dick!

    • Page 808, par 4 – Asmodeus to Master Angle Michael as he is driving Asmodeus into the “low geometries”:

    “Brother! Fellow builder! How is it you treat us thus, when we are but unfolded leaves of thee? It is thine own selves that are trampled here into this dark, into this worldly muck!”

    Master Angle Michael notes that “the words he speaks are true.” It was established in Bk2 Ch2 “An Asmodeus Flight that devils, such as Asmodeus, are “essentially, a field of living information” and are therefore “more or less compelled to answer any direct question and to do so truthfully” (page 414, par 4).

    The idea that Asmodeus and the devils are “but unfolded leaves of” the Master Angles who punish them brings about the idea of free will, fault, and blame. This is implying that Master Angles punishing/banishing the devils (or fallen builders) would be like using your right hand to punish your left hand – they’re both controlled by the same brain!

    Biblically (and I don’t really know much about biblical stuff), I believe that this parallels Lucifer, formerly an angel, being cast down into hell [for something(?)]. But if God/Yahweh/Jesus’ dad/whatever is all-powerful and everything happens according to his plan, then clearly it’s unfair to blame Lucifer for whatever he did, since he really had no choice anyway. Like he was “text” already written by the god who now punishes him.

    In the 1970s musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas is actually the main character, not Jesus, and he has this awesome song where he’s pissed against God for casting him in the roll of he-who-will-be-hated when he doesn’t really want to screw over his friend Jesus but apparently has to. (Also, Jesus has a great song as well, where he is also angry with his dad – like “why the hell did you send me down here just to die? What’s the point of that shit?” (paraphrased).)

    • Page 809, par 1: The builders not only build, but also demolish, and this is a good line about that: “I am but a builder. What am I to do when rubble and demise are in the diagram?”

    • Page 809, par 2: “The spot is marked. The rood is in the wall.” This refers to Peter, the monk who brought the stone cross from Jerusalem to Northampton in Bk1 Ch 5 “X Marks the Spot.”

    • Page 809, par 3: “In Tennessee I seize a drunk plantation-keeper’s hand/Curl it to scrolls and triangles as he designs the brand.” This refers to Henry from Bk1 Ch7 “Blind, But Now I See” being branded as a child, at which point he was still a slave.

    • Page 809, par 4: This is Master Angle Michael’s POV of visiting Ernest Vernall in Bk1 Ch2 “A Host of Angles,” which he seems pretty amused by, noting “how comical it is when I explain the shape of time and drive him mad with chimneys.”

    • Page 809, par 5: “Ah mad John Vernall, furious Snowy; when I’m you, it near to frightens me.” So Master Angle Michael perceives pretty much everything at once – all existence and/or everyone’s perception of existence – but it looks like Snowy Vernall throws him for a loop just by being his weird self! You do you, Snowy. You do you.

    • Page 810, par 1: This is a powerful line about baby May from Bk1 Ch10 “The Hand that Plucks Her Apron”:

    “[The deathmonger] takes the lovely newborn from its mother’s gaping and tormented birth canal, carries it eighteen months and some few steps into the grainy light of a front parlour. Here she sets it carefully in a small coffin, and May Warren brushes out the golden hair her child has grown in it’s brief passage from the living-room through to this dying-room.”

    • Page 810, par 1. As adult May is dying, the last thought she forms is: “Charlie Chaplin! That’s who that man was! I talked to—“

    She did talk to Charlie Chaplin in Bk1 Ch6 “Modern Times,” when he was known as Sir Frances Drake, before he was famous. It’s like there was something she had been missing about that brief encounter she had all those years ago, some itch that had been on the back of her mind for most of her life, that she was able to finally scratch in the last moment of her life. This is maybe somewhat of a trivial memory-itch to scratch (as compared to the love and tragedy she experienced in her life), but it is somewhat comforting that she went out with that pleasant tickle of a feeling when one’s brain pulls up the missing synaptic-connection-memory-file after years of knowing it was there somewhere, but just not sure where.

    • Page 811, par 2: At the “Night of the Living Warrens” party, Michael Warren’s “sister Alma is there and has a friend of hers in tow, another lady artist: an American girl called Melinda.”

    Melinda Gebbie!

    • Page 813, par 1: “Francis Bacon.” Okay, another tangent here, but Francis Bacon always reminds me of one of the funniest memes that I’ve ever seen:

    • Page 813, par 3. Throughout this chapter, Master Angle Michael keeps mentioning horrible things in the same breath as beautiful things, to emphasize that the builders are behind all the good and the bad simultaneously, perhaps suggesting that the “persistent illusion of time” is what causes people to consider things either “good” or “bad,” and no event itself is inherently “good” or “bad” on its own. I think this line quite powerfully demonstrates this:

    “We bomb Guernica just to create that painting, and the bursts of smoke and scream beneath us are our brush-marks.”

    • Page 813, par 4: “We are in every second of a billion trillion lives. We’re every any, each microbe and leviathan. Of course we’re lonely.”

    Wow, yeah, if you consist of all experiences at once, how could ever hope to enjoy the insight or opinion of another sentient creature? Lonely indeed.

    Imagine coming home to your lover and saying, “honey, you’ll never believe what happened to me today!” And they respond, “yes I already know because I’m omniscient, remember?” “Yes, of course I remember you’re omniscient, because I am also omniscient.” “Okay fine, want to hear a joke?” “Why the hell would I want to hear a joke when I omnisciently already know the punchline?” “Dammit, I knew you were going to say that!” “This sucks being omniscient.” “Yeah, tell me something I don’t know.”

    • Page 813, last par: “Everything swirls in my eye. If I but blink, all of existence breaks down to an alphabet of particles and thence to only numbers, to an endless sea of values circling in radiant symmetry about their axis, which reside between the figures four and five. When multiplied with their resultant digits added, these reflect each other perfectly, as do the three and six, the nine and zero, ten and minus one. Sixteen and minus seven, on to positive and negative infinity alike. There at the centre of the numerical hurricane I stand. It’s eye is mine.”

    This calls back to the mathematical pattern Snowy Vernall drew and showed his grandson Tom Warren (Alma and Michael’s dad) by placing these numbers on a torus (in Bk1 Ch11 “Hark! The Glad Sound”…the title of which is also stated somewhere in this chapter).

    • Starting on page 814, we get a handful of paragraphs checking in on our various Jerusalem POV characters, but from Master Angle Michael’s POV. These include, Marla Roberta Styles, Freddy Allen, Peter the monk, Charlie Chaplin, Henry George, Benedict Perrit, and Thomas Warren.

    We also get quick glimpses of Doreen Warren, Jim Cockie, Tom Hall, fat Kenny Nolan, Roman Thompson, Thursa Vernall, Audry Vernall, Thomas Becket, and Kaff.

    • Page 817, par 1-3. Why is it trilliards that the Angles play? The first three paragraphs on page 817 provide the answer, and include this line:

    “At the very start there are a thousand planets racketing about the solar system, ricocheting and rebounding. Pulverizing one another in a pinball free-for-all, and this is where we get the idea for our trilliard table.”

    • Page 818, par 4: Darek James Warner, a 42 year old husband with kids, uses meth and drives a Ford Escort. This must be the guy who attacks Marla in Bk2 Ch10 “Forbiden Worlds.”

    • Page 820, par 2: This paragraph about Intelligent Design is funny, but I don’t think I fully get what Moore is saying here. It ends with “I’m just saying.,” which makes it seem that Master Angle Michael is making a point (and, likely, Moore as well), but for some reason the point he’s making is going in one eye and out the other for me. I feel safe in assuming that Moore believes in evolution (and not Intelligent Design) – but I’m just missing something here. I’d love some interpretations if anyone’s got them.

    • Page 824, par 3. The narration gets heavily back into the second person voice, stating that during your life “there is a dawning apprehension, a sense that the tale might not be in the category you have previously supposed, that of the picaresque adventure or sex-comedy. Alarmingly, the narrative progresses past the reassuring borderlines of genre into the unnerving territory of the avant-garde.”

    This reminds of an Alan Moore quote about genre from a while back (one of the best things he’s ever said, in my opinion):

    “My experience of life is that it is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you’re lucky.”

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1981-my-experience-of-life-is-that-it-is-not-divided

    Also, this calls back to Michael Warren seeing himself as a character in a story he had been enjoying when his consciousness starts drifting off as he choked on the cough drop in Bk1 Ch12 “Choking on a Tune.”

    • Page 824, last par: “Not until you’re more than halfway through the tome, near the two-thirds mark, do the earlier, seemingly random plot points start to make some kind of sense to you.”

    We are, as readers, literally “near the two-thirds mark” in Jersualem at this point.

    • Page 826, par 1 – great line: “Civilisation is your earliest science-fiction story. You come up with it so that you’ll have something to do, something to occupy yourselves during the centuries to come. Don’t you remember?”

    THESE LINES MADE ME LAUGH:

    • Page 824, par 3 – following the metaphor of one’s life being a book, “urged on by that cover blurb that says: ‘if you only read one book in your life then make it this one.’”

    • Page 825, last par: “The several billion apes with improved posture that cavort across the planet’s surface…”

    • “hovercraft”

    Like

      1. Oh my god, you’re absolutely right! I just picked a random common name. That’s a trip!

        Now I feel bad for calling Steve a “dick” haha.

        Like

      2. That’s a fair point. But, based on how Alan has described him, I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve is pulling a Marjorie Driscoll – still reading and writing somewhere in Mansoul 🙂

        Like

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