J3.02 A Cold and Frosty Morning

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 3 – Vernall’s Inquest – A Cold and Frosty Morning

Page 827 – titled A Cold and Frosty Morning

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3 thoughts on “J3.02 A Cold and Frosty Morning”

  1. “One of her two almost-murders had occurred here, the attempted strangling in a dustbin cul-de-sac” – p.824 (UK single hardback edition)

    Can anyone recall when Alma’s “almost-murders” were previously referred to? I’m guessing that one of them was the kidnapping incident from a few pages before, but I’m drawing a blank for further explanation of the strangling in Greyfriars Flats.

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  2. DATE = Friday, May 26, 2006

    • The day before Alma’s art show.

    P.O.V. CHARACTER = ALMA WARREN

    • Alma Warren is Jerusalem’s version of Alan Moore.

    • This chapter is damn cool. It’s basically a day-in-the-life of Alan Moore (minus the beard, of course). I would guess that this chapter is the closest to an autobiography that Moore will ever write (s/he even contemplates the idea of writing an autobiography at some point in this chapter).

    On second thought, this whole novel itself is autobiographical to a very large degree, but this one is just really neat being from Alma’s POV.

    OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS:

    • Page 829, last par: It’s fun to see Alma’s flowing stream-of-consciousness thoughts throughout this chapter (although now that I think about it, every chapter has had a stream-of-consciousness style, just from a range of different consciousnesses). Here, she starts thinking about it being “Friday, Freitag…a good female day in all”… “it’s perfume is attar of rose”…to memories of roses at a funeral, to roses having originated in Turkey, to it becoming the symbol of the Houses of Lancaster and York… “Blood and roses, a repetitive motif across the printed fabric of Northampton’s muddy skirt.”

    In the next paragraph, literally (page-wise) “a little further down are Alma’s feelings, her emotional component.” These are either dreams or memories, such as when she was nine, seeing a single caterpillar dangling, which turns into quite an overwhelming forest-for-the-trees moment for her.

    In the next paragraph, again literally (page-wise) “under all of this is Alma’s soul, the Real of her that cannot be expressed…Essentially, it is that of a serious-minded yet imaginative and very clever seven-year-old girl.” Later in the chapter it mentions that she gave up on learning to properly tie her shoelaces, “stubbornly resolving that she’d come up with her own approach to things and stick with it, even if it was obviously wrong. This is the formative decision, made when she was seven, that has shaped her entire subsequent existence” (page 835, par 1).

    • Page 830, last par: “…settling into her armchair and beginning the construction of her first jazz cigarette.” Using “Rizla papers” she adds tobacco and “cooks the blunt end of a bar of hash over her Zippo lighter.”

    You can see Moore puffing one of these torches at the beginning of this video interview:

    • Page 831, last par: So according to the May 4th issue of New Scientist magazine, physicist and “beautifully-named Gerard ‘t Hooft…has formulated a hypothesis which would, if proven, finally resolve the quandaries of quantum indeterminacy; would resolve them right out of existence, if Alma is reading it correctly.”

    This is explained as there possibly being “a deeper and more fundamental level, as yet undiscovered, underlying the mysterious quantum world.”

    Hooft thinks that if humans are able to invent “tunneling microscopes” that can reveal this, it would prove that “Heisenberg’s idea of particles existing in a wide variety of states until observed is an illusion based on misunderstanding.”

    Okay, so that’s trippy as all shit, but here’s something even trippier (in the immediate sense of these words on this page). This may just be a coincidence, but bear with me.

    Hooft’s idea of “a deeper and more fundamental level” underlying the quantum world sounds to me like what Moore may consider Ideaspace – a concept he’s talked about so many times in interviews that I’m not even going to find one to link haha.

    Ideaspace manifests itself in various incarnations throughout Moore’s work: “Mansoul” in Jerusalem, “The Immateria” in Promethea, “The Blazing World” in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (I think – I’m not sure I fully understood The Black Dossier haha).

    But here it’s described as a “deeper and more fundamental level,” but the word “fundamental” gets chopped in two by a hyphen, so the “funda-” portion is left stranded on page 831, leaving page 832 to start with “mental level.”

    “MENTAL level” …as in, Ideaspace!

    “a deeper and more funda-MENTAL level, as yet undiscovered, underlying the mysterious quantum world.”

    That’s got to be on purpose, right? If anyone would micromanage words on a page like that it would be Moore!

    • Page 832, last par: Alma considers that “our perception of free will depends upon the scale at which we view the issue.”

    She explains that using the narrow scope of looking at a single person over the course of five years, it would be impossible to accurately predict what happens to them. But if you use the broad scope of an entire city’s population, then predicting “how many people will get sick, get stabbed, get pregnant…then our prediction become frighteningly easy and precise.”

    She realizes that “this is the same quandary faced by the physicists, translated into a context of sociology. Why is free will, like quantum indeterminacy, only evident when we look at the microcosm, at a single person? Where does free will disappear to when we turn our gaze upon the larger social masses, on the populations that are the equivalent of stars and planets.”

    Well damn.

    • Page 838, par: Part of the reason Alma liked the comics character Herbie as a kid was because of his eyes – “the heavy-lidded bored look that she knows from her own baby photographs.”

    One of Moore’s earliest creations was the comic strip Maxwell the Magic Cat (which he produced under the pseudonym Jill de Ray), a comic strip he wrote (and drew!) for a Northampton newspaper starting in 1979. Maxwell’s eyes also have “the heavy-lidded bored look”:

    In the final issue of the newspaper (in late 2016), Moore returned to Maxwell, writing and drawing a bittersweet farewell to the paper. In it, Maxwell has aged, looking a lot like a modern day, sunken-eyed (and still “heavy-lidded”) Alan Moore:

    https://g1rm.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/maxwellthemagiccat30yearslater.jpg?w=584&h=458

    • Page 840, par 4 – Regarding the many giant rings Alma wears: “One slap and an assailant’s features would be hanging off in strips of soggy wallpaper. She’d do it, too. She once informed her brother Warry that although she almost thought of him as family, she’d open him without a second’s hesitation like a tin of Hoola Hoops.”

    Note to self: don’t pick a fight with Alan Moore.

    • Page 842, par 2 – Regarding the Einsteinian Block Universe/Eternalism: “The idea, once fully formulated, was so dazzlingly obvious that she remains amazed at having reached the age of fifty-something without clearly understanding it: time as an everlasting solid in which nothing ever changes, nothing dies.”

    This is somewhat odd, because Moore has been writing about this concept long before his fifties (he turned fifty in 2003), including works such as From Hell (1997) and Watchmen (1987). In fact (and I just learned this the other week discussing Halo Jones and Moore’s early work with the fine folks at /r/AlanMoore), one of Moore’s earliest gigs was a story for Doctor Who Weekly in 1980 called “The 4-D War,” in which he “introduces a concept which, to modern Doctor Who viewers, sounds rather familiar: the Time War.”

    http://www.tor.com/2016/05/24/black-holes-and-4-d-wars-the-doctor-who-stories-of-alan-moore/

    I haven’t read that comic, so maybe it’s just standard time travel stuff, but…the ”4-D” in “4-D War” means that Moore was at least THINKING of time as the fourth dimension as early as 1980. I suppose in Jerusalem he’s just saying that he doesn’t think he FULLY understood the concept until into his fifties.

    • Page 846, par 2 – As she walks around the Boroughs (finally, we get a chapter where a character walks around the Boroughs haha), she reminisces of the people who have existed in these various areas during various eras, noting:

    “She felt protective of these vanished people, insufficiently noteworthy or attractive enough for the sepia retrospectives; these anonymous dust-bunnies who get lost forever underneath the huge, immobile wardrobe of the twentieth century.”

    This “protective” feeling was a key motivation for Moore writing Jerusalem, as he’s said previously in interviews (although, dang it, I can’t find one now). At the very least here is an (excellent) interview in which he speaks about one particular Boroughs resident in this way:

    “The book is dedicated to Audrey,” he says. “The whole book was an attempt… an attempt to rescue her? A particularly futile and belated attempt, but the best I could do. The only way that I could rescue her was in a fiction.”

    https://londonhollywood.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/if-you-read-only-one-alan-moore-jerusalem-interview-make-it-this-one/

    • Page 848, par 2: “By pedestrianizing one end of this east-west passage, the town council have effectively stitched up a major vein, inviting gangrene. She can see it setting in already…If this persists, Alma predicts, the town will turn into an economic crater, where the money only circulates around the rim, through retail parks and giant chain-stores, where the center is abandoned to the tumbleweed of repossession notices.”

    Okay, that’s some heavy imagery of the Destructor right there!

    • Page 849, par 3: Alma walks past “the library, the only building in the street that hasn’t changed since Alma was a little girl. She joined up at the age of five and visited the library several times a fortnight for the next ten years.”

    Here’s Moore speaking out against the closure of St. James Library in 2011, a library in Northampton (that might be the same one referenced in this chapter?).

    • Page 850, par 2: This is Alma’s POV of her meeting up with Ben Perrit (POV from Bk1 Ch8 Atlantis).

    Alma thinks of when she and Ben were eleven, playing tag at night on the rooftop of a junkyard. She credits Ben with jumping across a previously-avoided gap containing deadly scrap metal beneath, which, in turn convinced Alma to jump across as well. Alma feels that this experience allowed her to “overcome psychological impediments,” setting her free from all fears and limitations, and feels indebted to Ben.

    This is sadly ironic, as adult Ben here in 2006 is struggling to overcome such impediments, weighed down by the fears and limitations of actually get himself to start writing again (as we saw in his POV chapter). However, that chapter ends somewhat open-ended, as (if I remember correctly) the last page consists of him holding his pen, staring at the blank page of his notebook.

    • Page 856, par 2: Actor Robert Goodman played a character in Moore’s and Mitch Jenkins’ series of short films Show Pieces from a few years back.

    And hey, it mentions here that he also played the role of “Second Scar-Faced Thug” in the 1980s film A Fish Called Wanda. It’s been way too long since I’ve watched that, I think it’s time for a reviewing – especially since I now realized I completely overlooked Goodman’s performance (although I have to admit I did find the actor who played “First Scar-Faced Thug” to be phenomenal!).

    • Page 855, par 3-4: In solidarity of Moore’s refusal to shop at Sainsbury’s, I too shall never set foot in that store! (Living in the US will make this little protest quite easy but, you know, it’s the principle of the thing.)

    • Page 857, par 3: Alma stares down Tony Blair for selling out the Labour Party and tacitly supporting various laws like Clause 28, which was Thatcher-era anti-gay legislation.

    In the late 1980s Moore and collaborators published a comic called A.A.R.G.H., which stands for “Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia,” in direct response to Clause 28.

    http://sequart.org/magazine/65260/aargh-resist-a-retrospective-and-a-prelude/

    • Page 858, par 2: I’ve always had a slight suspicion that George W. Bush was a little bit shady. I suppose I may have been onto something.

    • Page 864, par 1 – This is a terrifying sentence about heroin addiction, which Alma saw some of her friends fall victim to: “Alma can remember scabby ghouls who held up their collapsing veins with safety-pins, a pre-punk gesture, or who’d ruefully announce that they were “forced” to shoot up in their eyeball or their cock.”

    • Page 868, par 1 – regarding the poor’s lack of recognition by the rest of society: “Where are the Spielberg films? Part of the problem is, no doubt, that poverty lacks a dramatic arc. From rags to rags to rags to rags to dust has never been an Oscar-winning formula.”

    This reminds me of one of the best films I’ve ever seen, The Saint of Fort Washington from 1993, in which all the characters are homeless. I can’t recommend it enough. However, it turns out rags to rags is indeed not a successful formula – I’ve never known anyone else who’s even heard of it. Here’s the trailer:

    THESE LINES MADE ME LAUGH:

    • Page 827, par 3: Alma, after climbing up on the edge of the bathtub, acts like she’s about to dive in, but then appears to change her mind, she thinks: “This strange pantomime is something she does each day without having any idea why. She only hopes that nobody will ever find out.”

    • Page 828, par 3: “Oh, and shop for food in town, because there’s nothing in the fridge except for weird, exotic relishes and dips she’s bought while in an altered state.”

    • Page 830, par 4: “It’s half-past seven in the morning and time to commence her hectic and demanding schedule of attempting to intimidate the planet’s other occupants. It’s not that Alma finds this wholly self-imposed task difficult, especially. It’s just that there’s so many of them, and so little time.”

    • Page 835, par 1: “In a recent interview, when asked if the political upheaval of the 1960s had caused Alma’s fiercely individual approach to life, her puzzling response of, “No, it was those fucking shoelaces” apparently became a subject of much speculation on the message boards she never saw but only heard about.”

    • Page 836, par 1: “…oversized seal of approval from the once-important Comics Code Authority…”

    • Page 848, last par: “What in the name of fuck is wrong with pigeons?”

    • Page 849, par 2: “Alma recalls the rumor of an entire cyclops-village somewhere out near Towcester, full of Cyclops postmen, Cyclops publicans and Cyclops toddlers, then remembers it was her that started it.”

    • Page 868, last par: “At which point, a policeman had rushed up to Roman and informed him that he couldn’t say that, to which Roman had replied by pointing out, with logic that was unassailable, that he already had.”

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  3. Does this preview of Alma’s paintings have any parallel to Alan’s real life? It is such a central piece to a novel built on historical evidence…

    It can’t be about the real book launch ten years later, can it?

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