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                         The Annotated Sandman
    
               Edited by Ralf Hildebrandt and largely written by Greg Morrow
      
                       Issue 41: Brief Lives One
              Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, and Vince Locke

Notes:  _Brief Lives_ is in common use as a title, dating back to the
earliest-reported citation, a collection of short biographies by John
Aubrey, published in 1813.
	Probably because of Delirium's presence, there is a motif of eyes
in _Brief Lives_.  The dialog is filled with references to eyes, sight, and
seeing, and the art is filled with closeups where eyes are clearly visible.
	The title _Brief Lives_ gives away one of the themes of the book.
We see explicitly in #43 that even the long-lived have brief lives; as
Death tells Capax, "You lived what anyone gets, Bernie.  You got a lifetime."
Dream calls Orpheus' life short.  We observe the ending of many lives, from
Ruby's short span to Capax and even to the goddess Ishtar.  In a sense,
then, all lives, except those of the Endless, are "brief".
	Yet even the Endless are not so.  Their "lives" have the same
turmoil as ephemerals:  The troubled younger sister, the estrangement of
a brother.  We even learn of the "death" and replacement of a incarnation
of Despair, and we conclude with Orpheus' quietus, in which Dream
effectively summons the Kindly Ones, who are expected put an end to Dream's
own brief life.
	In fact, the briefness of life is an aspect of the larger theme,
which is that of change--change which is personified in the form of
Destruction.  Everything changes; that is natural law.  The change of
greatest concern for the story is the change in the main character, Dream.
The archetype of change even points out the change to us!  _Brief Lives_ 
starts to pull the larger _Sandman_ story into focus, how Dream changes as
a result of his imprisonment, building toward an inevitable conclusion.
	The story arc is divided into two four-issue parts with an epilog.
The two part parallel each other in structure; compare particularly #41 
and #45, where the Endless interact, and #44 and #48, where Ruby dies and
Destruction departs while Dream does nothing.  The epilog in #49 reprises 
the theme of the arc with Orpheus' death, and reprises the events of the 
arc in the "where are they now" segment.

Cover:  Any art historians out there?  Two items that catch the eye are a 
Rembrandt-like portrait and the head of a Greek or Greek-revival statue.

1: Blossom for a Lady

Page 1 panel 1:  The island is Naxos, one of the Cyclades, a chain between
Greece and Turkey.
	Panel 3:  Head of the family:  A pun.

Page 2 panel 4:  The epitaph is from the poem "An English Padlock", by
Matthew Prior (1664-1721).

Page 3 panel 1:  "Driven by dark dreams":  Confirmation that Dream is
responsible for Orpheus's guardians is given in Sp1:48.1 and 49:12.2.
	Panel 4:  Note the gold tooth.  The recovery of Orpheus was
accomplished by Lady Johanna in 1794, in #29, making his loss c. 1764.
The date holds no particular meaning for me.

Page 4 panel 1:  Note that Orpheus' earring has been returned and his
earlobe has regenerated.

Page 5 panel 1:  The house across the bay is, of course, significant.
	Panel 6:  Rhodocanakis?  Rhodo- is a combinational form meaning
"rose".  Note the contrast between Naxos's weather and the next scene.

2: Rain in the Doorway
	Source: _Rain in The Doorway_ is a book by Thorne Smith, which is
described as:

     a really funny (in more than one sense) fantasy novel from  1933. 
     It begins with a man standing in the doorway of a department 
     store to escape a torrential downpour.  Rain dripping down his
     nose, he  feels depressed and dissatisfied... and the doorway
     behind him opens, a hand  reaches out to grab him and he's drawn
     through into another universe.  It  seems much like ours, except
     that people take things much less seriously...  as with all
     Thorne Smith books (he's best known for _Topper_) there is much
     drunkenness and nudity and silly dialog.

Page 6 panel 1:  50p:  p is the abbreviation for pence.  100 pence make a
pound in British money.
	Panel 3:  A good innings:  Innings (singular) is a fragment of a
cricket match.  The word was subsequently adopted in slightly different
form in baseball, but its use here is clearly from cricket.
	Panel 4:  "Hindustrial haccident":  a representation of Cockney, a
type of lower-class British accent, noted for aspirating word-initial
vowels.

Page 7 panel 2:  Natter:  British slang for chatty small talk.  The rhino:
Uncertain slang, probably having to do with the animal's horn.
	Panel 3:  Delirium's eyes should be colored differently (right eye 
green, left eye blue).
	Panel 4:  Aunt Fanny:  An expression of disbelief.  See Appendix.

Page 8 panel 5:  The Wayward Bus:  A 1957 movie directed by Victor Vicas,
starring Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield, a generally dreary adaptation of
John Steinbeck's novel about passengers on a bus.  There is no "Rita
Marlowe" in the novel, and no actress of that name appearing in any major
role in the film.  It is more than possible that Delirium is confused.
Delirium might be thinking of Marilyn Monroe in _Bus Stop_.  Monroe played
a young girl dissatisfied with her life who takes a bus to the big city and
hooks up with a cowboy there.  Del may be mixing Monroe's name up with that
of Rita Haywood, another actress of similar presence.
	Panel 7:  Possibly long-term foreshadowing, given Destruction's
comments in 48:17.4

3: Not Her Sister

Page 9 panel 1:  Warehouse bash:  Another name for a Rave, a all-night 
party attended by teenagers, often dressed much like Delirium is here.
Raves are noted for rampant drug use.
	Panel 3-4:  This scene is reminiscent of similar scenes in comics
and movies, and is repeated by Dream in 45:16.6.  In the 1977 movie _Star
Wars_, Obi-Wan Kenobi uses the "Force" on stormtroopers to convince them
that "these aren't the droids you're looking for".  In _Hellblazer_, 
street magician John Constantine, an expert at instant hypnosis, bulls his 
way into a university club by convincing the doorman that he is a guest of 
a member, and is dressed formally.
	Panel 4:  Note the graffiti:  "pervy" referring to an illustration
of nipple chains; "stop defacing public property"; "Going down" next to
genitals, referring to oral sex.
	Aqueous humor, from the Latin meaning "watery fluid", is the watery,
transparent material between the cornea and lens.  Vitreous humor, from the
Latin meaning "glassy fluid", is the gelatinous, transparent material
between the lens and the retina.
	Panel 5:  The song is "Tear in Your Hand" by Tori Amos, from the 
album _little earthquakes_.  The next line is

     If you need me, me and Neil will be hanging out with the Dream King
     Neil says hi, by the way.

Neil is acknowledged in the liner notes of the album.  The lyrics on page
10 are also from this song.  Note the legal information at the end of the
lettercol this issue.
	"Freddie....":  A reference to Freddie Mercury of Queen, a bisexual
man who died of AIDS in 1991.  One of Queen's most popular songs is "Another
One Bites the Dust."

Page 10 panel 2:  Del's lines here may be a reference to the title song of
Tori's album.
	Panel 4:  Delirium has mistaken Lisa for Death, obviously.

Page 11 panel 3:  "E'd out of her little bonce":  E is British slang for 
the drug Ecstasy, a euphoric hallucinogen related to LSD.  (X is the more
common term in America.)  Ecstasy is a common drug at Raves (see 9.1).
Bonce is presumably slang for head.
	Panel 4:  Obviously, this is Desire, another of Delirium's
siblings.

4: Want/Not Want

Page 13 panel 2:  Note Desire's change of clothing.  It is not normally
so unambiguous in its sexuality.  The clothing appears to date from the
1920's "flapper" style.
	The unusual pattern on the "walls" are the cells of the Threshold,
Desire's stronghold, which is in the form of its body.  What part of the
body are they in?  The cells seems to resemble skin cells, I think.

Page 14 panel 1:  "You used to be":  Presumably when Delirium was Delight.
	Panel 4:  This is an image of Destiny's book.  Compare to #21,
where Delirium confronts Destiny with her knowledge of things that aren't
in his book.
	Panel 6:  "Drop it":  Does Desire regret her plan for revenge on
Dream, now that his captivity has changed him?

Page 15 panel 2:  Delirium is wrong.  Not-wanting is a kind of wanting.

5: The View from the Back of Mirrors

Page 16 panel 1:  "Silver flecks":  "Floater" is the common term for tiny 
bits of matter  which float in the vitreous humor.  Natural floaters are 
flakes of detached retina or the remains of a vein which fed parts of the 
eye during gestation and subsequently withered.  Other floaters are small
parasites who found their way into the eye and couldn't get back out.
Floaters accumulate with age or with physical trauma.
	Panel 4:  A recent Supreme Court case concerned a Nebraska man who
was entrapped (hounded, even) into buying child pornography by agents of
the federal government.  There is probably not a connection.

Page 17 panel 4:  Pets:  Destiny's garden is full of "little flappy
things".  Death has two goldfish named Slim and Wandsworth.  Dream has
ravens, such as Matthew.  Destruction keeps dogs, as we will see.  Desire 
does not seem to have pets.  Despair has rats.  Delirium is acquired by a
pet in #48, and has shown a tendency to break apart into butterflies 
(page 13), or to create frogs (#31, #43) or hummingbirds (page 20).

Page 18-20:  Note Despair's use of pain to distract her from unpleasant
topics.

Page 20 panel 2:  *Blind* hummingbirds:  an example of the eye motif.
	Panel 5:  An extreme example of the eye motif.  (Consider
also _Seduction of the Innocent_, a 1950's, anti-comics diatribe, which
featured much discussion of the "injury to the eye" motif.)

6: Journal of the Plague Year
	_Journal of the Plague Year_ is by Daniel Defoe (better known for 
_Robinson Crusoe_).  Defoe lived from c.1661-1731, so he was a young child 
during the plague of 1665.

Page 21 panel 1:  The plague was actually spread by fleas, which were, of
course, carried by dogs and cats.  Rats, however, are generally credited
with first bringing bubonic plague to Europe.
	There were three forms of plague in the epidemics.  Bubonic was the
most common and the least lethal, with a fatality rate of 60-90% depending
on treatment and surrounding conditions.  Septicemic and pneumonic plague
were both nearly 100% lethal.
	The Black Plague killed about 25 million people, amounting to some
20-45% of the people of Europe in the years 1348-1351; the figure is 
conventionally given as one-third.  Peasants and clergy were the most affected.
	The London Plague of 1665 claimed more than 70,000 lives out of a
population of about 500,000.  The plague had been virtually unknown
in England for more than a century previous.
	Panel 2:  "Lord have mercy upon uf":  The "long s" form of the
letter "s" resembles a lower-case "f".  It is now obsolete.

Page 22 panel 1:  This is a quote from the aforementioned work by Defoe.
	Panel 3:  Wheel:  A symbol from Indian philosophy, representing the
cycle of life: birth, growth, death, decay.  In other words, change.
Note that we cannot see Destruction's eyes clearly.

Page 23 panel 2:  As Dream's domain encompasses imagination and creativity,
so does Destruction's realm include change.
	Panel 6:  This fixes Destruction's departure c. 1695.  Historical
significance?

7: "The Number You Have Dialed..."
	This is a quote from a telephone industry recording informing the
dialer that the number she is trying to reach is out of service.

Release history:              
Version 1.0 released 25 Apr 93
Version 2.0 released and archived 18 Jul 93

Contributors include:
	Joel Tscherne (ac985@cleveland.Freenet.Edu) identified Lady
Johanna's epitaph and pointed out Delirium's matched eyes.
	Joseph Brenner (doom@leland.Stanford.EDU) identified some of the
chapter titles' sources.
	Carl Fink (carlf@panix.com) noted the antecedents of the doorman
scene.
	Roy Daniel (royd@ERE.UMontreal.CA) identified the song playing in 
the B&D club.
	Greg McElhatton  corrected my
misapprehension of Tori's lyrics.
	Tara O'Shea , Kenneth Jennings
(kiii@carson.u.washington.edu), and Michael Gemar (michael@psych.toronto.edu) 
provided information on _The Wayward Bus_.
	Michael Gemar also compared Del's force of will to Ben Kenobi and 
interpreted graffiti.
	Kenneth Jennings also noted Freddie Mercury's sexuality and
identified the wheel and the title.
	One of the Francis Uy's  defined "warehouse bash", 
and confirmed the slang for "Ecstasy".
	Andy D  identified "E" and commented on
graffiti.
	Laura Atkinson  identified "E"
	David James (vnend%nudity@Princeton.EDU) corrected lyrics and 
noted Freddie's bisexuality, and provided the Appendix.
	Bill "Insert Stupid Tank Joke" Sherman 
noted a cricket reference, quoted lyrics, and noted Freddie's bisexuality.
	Susannah Gort  noted that "going down"
also means "going to prison".
	Mason Hart  noted that Capax probably
predates Ishtar, examined graffiti, corrected lyrics, and gave extensive
information on the plague.
	Stephen White  identified raves and "E".
	Si Rowe  noted a pun, Dream's investment
of the priests in the Special, the rhino, and foreshadowing.
	Andrew Farrell (afarrell@maths.tcd.ie) noted Desire's domain.
	David Henry (dhenry@plains.NoDak.edu) noted a possible Tori ref,
and added a kind of floater.
	Carl Fink (carlf@panix.com) noted Dream's parallel use of
compulsion.
	Lance Smith  consulted the OED for fannies,
bonces, and rhinos.


Appendix:  Fannies and Other Aunts

>From the online copy of the second edition Oxford English Dictionary,
used without permission, arguably "fair use":

fanny, sb.[4] slang [Orig. unknown.]
  1 = BACKSIDE 3.  (orig. and chiefly U.S.).
  1928 HECHT & MACARTHUR Front Page II. 115 Parking her fanny in here.
1930 N. COWARD Private Lives I, You'd fallen on your fanny a few moments
before. 1937 T.  RATTIGAN French without Tears II. i. 44 That's it.
Progress. Kit. Progress my fanny. 1946 R. CAMPBELL Talking Bronco 29 Ere
you came back to serenade the sentry, Who thanks you with this bayonet
in your fanny! 1949 E. POUND Pisan Cantos lxxx. 95 And three small boys
on three bicycles Smacked her young fanny in passing. 1953 R. GORDON
Doctor at Sea i. 16 Move over, Second, and let the Doctor park his
fanny. 1959 M. STEEN Woman in Back Seat II. vii. 284 Classy, isn't it
[sc. a cardigan]?-that little roll round the fanny. 1960 N. SHUTE
Trustee from Toolroom iv. 82 I'd never be able to think of John and Jo
again if we just sat tight on our fannies and did nothing.
  2 The female genitals.  (Chiefly British English.)
  1879 Pearl I. 82 You shan't look at my fanny for nothing.  1889
BARReRE & LELAND Dict. Slang I. 354/2 Fanny (common), the fem. pud. 1939
JOYCE Finnegans Wake 204 Two lads in scoutsch breeches went through
her..before she had a hint of a hair at her fanny to hide or a bossom to
tempt a birch canoedler.  1980 E. JONG Fanny I. xv. 120 `Madam Fanny,'
says he, obliging me, but with the same ironick Tone.  `D'ye know what
that means in the Vulgar Tongue?'.. `It means the Fanny-Fair,..the
Divine Monosyllable, the Precious Pudendum, [etc.].'

[From the entry for "aunt"]

  6 Special collocations: Aunt Edna, used of a typical theatre-goer of
conservative taste; Aunt Emma, used in croquet of a typically unen-
terprising player (or play); Aunt Fanny, in various slang phrases
expressing negation or disbelief.
  1953 T. RATTIGAN Coll. Plays II. p. xii, Let us invent a character, a
nice, respectable, middle-class, middle-aged, maiden lady, with time on
her hands and the money to help her pass it... Let us call her Aunt
Edna... Now Aunt Edna does not appreciate Kafka... She is, in short, a
hopeless lowbrow. 1958 N. F. SIMPSON Resounding Tinkle in Observer Plays
241 The author..leans forward..to make simultaneous overtures of sumptu-
ous impropriety to every Aunt Edna in the house.
  1960 E. P. C. COTTER Tackle Croquet this Way 66 Whatever happens don't
become an Aunt Emma player. 1963 Croquet Aug. 3/1 Aunt Emma is banished
for ever. 1967 Croquet Aug./Sept. 13/2 He played too much `Aunt Emma'.
  1945 M. DICKENS Thurs. Afternoons i. 69 She's got no more idea how to
run this house than my Aunt Fanny. 1946 J. IRVING Royal Navalese 24 Tell
that to my old Aunt Fanny. 1954 G.  CARR Death under Snowdon v. 54
`Agree my Aunt Fanny,' retorted the other loudly.

© by Ralf Hildebrandt
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This file was last modified 27. Jan 2007 by root