The Song of Jeremiah Gannon: Third Canto

Start with the first canto, here.
Then the second canto, here.
Then read.

The angel looks up at the wall.


The long climb begins.

He is halfway up the wall, on a narrow ledge, when he meets the swallowing man.

“I eat,” says the swallowing man. “I eat, and I may never have enough.”

“Share,” suggests the angel.

The swallowing man stares at him.

“You are not a thing permissible to Jeremiah Gannon,” he says. “I will devour you. This is the ethics of devouring.”

“Hunger is not an ethic.”

“You protest because you are unethical,” says the swallowing man.

Then he rolls himself up and he rolls towards the angel on the wall; and the angel cups his hands and blows upon them and there is a bomb.

The swallowing man devours it.

And the angel runs.

He runs and he runs, and he leaves behind him bombs.

And the swallowing man devours them and they are gone.

And at last he stands against the very end of existence, where the ledge gives way to sky and endless sea, and the angel says, “Why can I not destroy you?”

“Bombs are food to the swallowing man.”

And the creature charges.

“Bombs are food to the swallowing man. Angels are his meat. The rain and the sea and the sky are food, and the earth,” says the swallowing man.

And as he rolls the angel spreads his wings and draws his sword and rises backwards from the ledge and in that moment he is beautiful and he is radiant and he is joy.

Then the swallowing man rumbles past the angel and down to the tumbling sea.


On the peak of the fortress wall he finds the giant with the serpent hair.

“Not even an angel,” says the giant.


And the giant seizes him up with one great lunge, and pins arms and wings alike to the angel’s side. He drops the angel on the giant’s head among the forest of snakes, and the snakes weave together to seal the sky.

“You will die here, bitten,” says the giant:

“You will die a foul death.”

The angel looks around.

There is hissing all around him. There is the wreckage of a plane. There is the scalp of the giant and the bone of the giant and the brain of the giant beneath.

The angel puts on his heavy iron boots.

He says, “As you have sown, so shall ye reap.”

He stomps his foot and the giant screams. The snakes converge as one. But the sword of the angel is in his hand and the angel jumps and his sword spins round, kyaa! And he lands with the great iron boots of him on the giant’s head.

Everywhere there is the blood and the venom of the snakes.

The angel jumps.

The giant shrieks.

The angel jumps again.

The skull cracks. The scalp yawns open. The venom of the snakes and the bomb gift of the angel pour down into the giant’s brain.


“I am the last,” says the blind swordsman. “I am invincible.”

“All things yield to time,” the angel says.

And they dance with their swords, and again and again the angel strikes the armor of the man. But it does not break.

The angel dives down, he comes up behind the blind swordsman, he cuts at the flexible tubes that hold the armor in one piece.

They do not cut.

“Modern plastics,” says the swordsman.

The swordsman pivots.

The swordsman drives his sword into the angel’s heart. He yanks the heart back. He tastes it with his bloody tongue.

“Candy?” the swordsman asks.

“An angel has many hearts and many faces,” the green-clothed angel says.

And he leaves a bomb at the feet of the blind swordsman; and great smoke rises.

The armor is not harmed.

The swordsman presses him back and they duel in a place of great winds and only the iron boots hold the angel down.

The swordsman presses him back and they duel in a place where spears and fires burst randomly from the floor; and only the wings of the angel allow him to survive.

The swordsman presses him back, back, back, and only the bombs that break the walls save the angel from a cornering.

And even that does not endure.

The swordsman presses the angel back into a place without recourses and he says, “This time, I will take your heart in truth. But tell me your name.”

“My name?”

“I am Zatoichi Boromir Montoya Steampunk Savage, by the will of Jeremiah Gannon, and I am invincible. But no one has ever fought me quite so hard as you.”

“I am Link,” the angel says.


And the last duel comes in that safe and quiet place, and because he has no option the angel takes his final weapon from its place.

“You have a hook shot,” Zatoichi flatly says.

And through the heart of the great machine the hook shot fires, as it fired once before to seize the good lord from his grave; and of Zatoichi Boromir Montoya Steampunk Savage, we will speak no more.

the final canto tomorrow or Saturday.

8 thoughts on “The Song of Jeremiah Gannon: Third Canto

  1. Wow. I had my suspicions as to the identity of the angel, but wow.

    I am impressed. I suppose it makes sense, what with the dude’s name being Jeremiah Gannon and all. It’s a wonder I didn’t figure it out sooner.

  2. But is the video game character really who he is? At some level, sure, the story re-uses the video game in typical Hitherby style. But there’s a lot more classical cultural critique in this one than in most Hitherbies. For instance, the swallowing man is in my opinion a clear figure for market-fundamentalist capitalism, with its active hostility to cooperative values, its self-justification as “ethical”, its attendant ecological destruction, and its ability to be reinforced by violent attacks on it (bombs are food to the swallowing man in the same way that terrorist attacks are food to the military-industrial complex). The warrior made from what Gannon saw on TV, Zatoichi Boromir Montoya Steampunk Savage, is a mish-mash of popular entertainment, and stands for the circuses part of the “bread and circuses” critique. And the whole thing is told through a values inversion, with the ignorant Christian oppressor and the protagonist who is a pretty clear figure for a terrorist (he plants bombs, he injures and kills those who he is trying to liberate, he blows up planes). Note, though, that Link is not an Islamic terrorist, according to the first canto.

    I’m not sure what the final canto is going to bring, but I personally see a certain resonance in Link as symbolically something like the guilt figure of contemporary U.S. liberalism. Conservatives accuse liberals of “wanting our enemies to win”, as if liberals are terrorist supporters, and of course that’s B.S. — but, at the same time, it’s clear that conservatives really are destroying everything that they touch, and the classical modes of liberal resistance look feeble. There is a desire for stronger measures, and a typical liberal fear that anything stronger, even though nonviolent, would somehow make the conservative propaganda true: _Letter From Birmingham Jail_ stuff. So Link somehow embodies this conflict between the desire to resist more strongly and the fear of only counterproductively reinforcing what’s wrong. Therefore this ends up being as much a critique of cultural critique as a use of it.

    Or, I know, it could just be an amusing use of a video game. Just because I like to over-analyze doesn’t mean that everyone wants to.

  3. The angel’s first confrontation is won by virtue of his wings. And the fact that the swallowing man could not stop. I see what rpuchalsky saw of the swallowing man, but he could be something simpler. He could just be the bottomlessness of unrestrained appetite.

    Jeremiah doesn’t believe in limits on himself, and the swallowing man acts as an expression at the outrage of the child at being told no. Jeremiah is therefore like a spoiled child. Violence is useless against bottomless need.

    I believe the wings were his connection with God/Gnosis/Sophia. I believe the swallowing man was Greed.

    The angel’s second confrontation was won by taking on the weight of his own death and his own guilt. Originally the iron boots made him afraid, but by accepting his death he overcame the snake giant.

    I don’t see a clear social implication of the snake headed giant. But I see a personal/allegorical one. He wants people to suffer before dying. He’s a creature of poison and torment. I suspect he represents Jeremiah’s spite, his vindictiveness, his need to lord his power over others, to defeat them.

    I believe the boots were Guilt. I believe the giant was Shame.

    Against the blind swordsman, the angels sword and bomb are useless. His wings save him from one peril. His guilt another. His bombs another. The gift of the candy hearts given by the waitress from another doom.

    The blind swordsman is problematic because he’s the only guardian that doesn’t seem overtly corrupted or corrupting. His power is violence, but so is the angels’. I think he represents the way that strength can be co-opted by weakness. It seems strangely profane that the hook shot that was used to resurrect the ‘good lord’ be used to assume Savage. But he was the only guardian of Gannon that wasn’t gross. He had a touch of holiness to him.

    The Hook Shot is Link’s link. His final recourse was to reconnect the Other with Sophia. Extending the metaphor, his bombs crack the shells of things releasing the divine within them.

  4. Random ramblings:
    I caught the Gannon reference..I’m embarassed to have not connected the green jacket with Link.

    The bombs…now THOSE were fun.

    This Blind Swordsman reminds me of the last fight to get the TriForce of Courage in The Adventure of Link…mostly because those battles frustrated me to no end.

  5. I like your interpretation, mhoram. It’s more complete in that you’ve come up with something for the giant; also, childish greed is a typical representation of market fundamentalism, so there could easily be a connection through use of the same image from different directions. For the warrior at the end, perhaps he would fit into your interpretation as a sort of image of heroism rather than the reality; completing an archetypical set of characteristics as greed, spite, and hypocrisy. His names are suggestive.

    By the way, I’d also guess that Jeremiah Gannon is some kind of reference to “Jeff Gannon”.

  6. Awesome, I guessed Link at the beginning of the Second Canto, but the planes thing sort of stumped me…plus I guess to a lesser degree his being hanged. I am enjoying it anyway, although, as usual I think most is going far over my simple mind.

    By the way, I would like Restricted-Access, but I couldn’t find where to say so.

  7. Hee! :) But where’s the boomerang? And how many angels *can* dance on the head of a giant? (Although if they were in a video game without proper hit detection, I suppose it might run up against hardware limitations…)

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