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Watchmen Portraits - Rorschach's Journal

Rorschach plays a major role throughout the Watchmen timeline as one of the Crimebusters. Alan Moore depicts this complicated character's thoughts through the use of his journal which is contained in many passages inside the story.

Rorschach's journal within the narrative is explicitly titled "Rorshach's Journal: 1984-1985", which may imply that he kept previous annual journals.

Just before leaving to confront Adrian Veidt, Rorschach mails the final draft of his journal to The New Frontiersman for safekeeping, in the hope that even if he dies the information within his journal will one day help expose Veidt.

The police report when Rorschach is arrested describes it as, "one notebook, pages filled with what is either an elaborate cipher or handwriting too cramped and eccentric to be legible" - leading to the further ironic implication that the fate of the world's future rests not only on Rorschach's single journal but on his bad handwriting.

In 1995, the NYPD ceded custody of the first journal to the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Division. It is currently in the possession of the Anti-Vigilante Task Force. Despite their best efforts, the journal remains illegible.

WatchmenEdit

March 18th, 1964Edit

This is Rorschach's first journal entry, written in his very first journal, immediately after he finished creating his mask from the Kitty Genovese dress. It is one of three entries written by Alan Moore for the Watchmen Sourcebook, for the Watchmen RPG model released in the early 90s. In this entry, he details that he has finished the face, that he is glad he kept the dress and that he finally has a face that he can stare down in the mirror. He also explains that he has decided to keep an account of all he sees and experiences that could have an effect on his nocturnal mission. It is an account of his mission that he can refer back to, and a voucher of his achievements for when the angels come to collect him on Judgement Day. To end the entry, he writes "I'll start tonight, with the woman and her killers." It is notable that his writing style is much more natural and organic sounding, with full sentences and a very straightforward demeanor.

June 11th, 1968 Edit

In this second Sourcebook-exclusive entry, he notes that his neighborhood is degrading, having spotted 17 transients. He reminds himself to look for a new apartment the next day. He says that the city is changing, and that the few splatterings of black ink will give way to the entire bottle flooding the city. He blames dopers, politicians, preachers, whores, hippies, liars, pushers, poets and thieves for this. He asks whether great men are holding the world aloft and waiting for their successors, or if "the forces of compromise" take a more active role and release their dogs to hunt down each of them, one by one, to open the way for a sinister masterplan. He then ponders that if the latter is true, then when did the hunt begin? Has all of recorded history been a slow, steady slide into the abyss? Clearly, his mental state has begun to degrade.

August 14th, 1979 Edit

In the last of the Sourcebook entries, he notes that he has at least one ally, a cab driver who helped him escape from the police and respects him. He asked Rorschach how he managed to escape from the police, to which Rorschach replies by saying the police don't want to catch him. He elaborates by saying the police protect the public from people the public can never understand. He says that he protects the police from people they can never understand. He says that there is no love between them, nor respect, but there is an understanding of their functions. He says that the day will come where the police become desperate and will lock him up, and they'll realize in horror that his incarceration hasn't pulled them up one rung much less raised them from the entire pit. He ends the entry by saying he has been faithful to his journal... his voucher for when that day comes.

October 12th, 1985Edit

"Dog carcass in alley this morning. Tire tread on burst stomach. The city is afraid of me. I have seen it's true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "save us!"... and I'll look down and whisper "no".

They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father, or president Truman. Decent men who believed in a day's work for a day's pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn't realize that the trail led over a precipe until it was too late. Don't tell me they didn't have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody Hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth talkers...and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say."

—October 12th, 1985 entry of Rorschach's journal

Watchmen Comic -1 Page 1

Excerpt from Rorschach's journal in Watchmen Chapter I.

This entry opens Chapter I: At Midnight, All the Agents..., giving introduction with Rorschach's perception of New York. The Comedian's badge is seen as his blood is washed from the sidewalk below his apartment, and a man walks by with a sign that reads "The End is Nigh."

Rorschach claims he has seen New York's true face and refers to its people as vermin who follow lechers and communists. He says all the liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers will see the end and all of a sudden not have anything to say.

The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "Save us!"...and I'll look down, and whisper "No."

October 13th, 1985Edit

"Slept all day. Awoken at 4:37. Landlady complaining about smell. She has five children by five different fathers. I am sure she cheats on welfare. Soon it will be dark. Beneath me, this awful city, it screams like an abattoir full of retarded children. New York. On Friday night, a comedian died in New York. Somebody knows why. Down there...somebody knows. The dusk reeks of fornication and bad consciences. I believe I shall take my exercise.

First visit of evening fruitless. Nobody knew anything. Feel slightly depressed. This city is dying of rabies. Is the best I can do to wipe random flecks of foam from its lips? Never despair. Never surrender. I leave the human cockroaches to discuss their heroin and child pornography. I have business elsewhere with a better class of person."

—October 13th, 1985 entry of Rorschach's journal

Also in Chapter I, Rorschach investigates Eddie Blake's apartment to discover that Blake was the costumed vigilante formerly known as the Comedian. Rorschach warns Dan Dreiberg about the 'mask killer'. He is seen writing atop a building. He gets down the stairs and enters Happy Harry's, asking questions and breaking one man's fingers.

He talks about his landlady, who cheats on her welfare, and notes how he will investigate the death of the Comedian. After leaving Happy Harry's he writes that he has business elsewhere with a 'better class of person.'

October 13th, 1985, 8:30 P.M.Edit

"Meeting with Veidt left bad taste in mouth. He is pampered and decadent, betraying even his shallow, liberal affections. Possibly homosexual? Must remember to investigate further. Dreiberg as bad. A flabby failure who sits whimpering in his basement. Why are so few of us left active, healthy, and without personality disorders? The first Nite Owl runs an auto repair shop. The first Silk Spectre is a bloated, aging whore, dying in a Californian rest resort. Captain Metropolis was decapitated in a car crash back in '74. Mothman's in an asylum up in Maine. The Silhouette retired in disgrace, murdered six weeks later by a minor adversary seeking revenge. Dollar Bill got shot. Hooded Justice went missing in '55. The Comedian is dead. Only two names remaining on my list. Both share private quarters at Rockefeller Military Research Center. I shall go to them. I shall go and tell the indestrucible man that someone plans to murder him."

—October 13th, 1985 entry of Rorschach's journal

Also in Chapter I, Rorschach warned Adrian Veidt about the possible mask killer. The text is shown while Rorschach is breaking into the Rockefeller Military Research Center and avoiding its guards.

Rorschach refers to Veidt as 'pampered and decadent, betraying even his own shallow, liberal affectations,' and speculates that he might be homosexual, making a note to investigate the idea further when he has time. He refers to Dan Dreiberg as being 'a flabby failure who sits whimpering in his basement.' He also calls the first Silk Spectre a 'bloated, aging whore, dying in a Californian resort.' He reveals the death of Captain Metropolis, who was 'decapitated in a car crash back in '74.' He notes Mothman being in an asylum in Maine, as well how the Silhouette 'retired in disgrace, murdered six weeks later by a minor adversary seeking revenge.' Then he explains that there are only two of the past Crimebusters left to warn. He points out how seemingly pointless this last action is when he says 'I shall go and tell the indestructible man that someone plans to murder him.'

October 13th, 1985, 11:30 P.M.Edit

"On Friday night, a comedian died in New York. Someone threw him out a window and when he hit the sidewalk his head was driven up into his stomach. Nobody cares. Nobody cares but me. Are they right? Is it futile? Soon there will be war. Millions will burn. Millions will perish in sickness and misery. Why does one death matter against so many? Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this. But there are so many deserving of retribution...and there is so little time."

—October 13th, 1985 entry of Rorschach's journal

His last entry in Chapter I follows his confrontation with Doctor Manhattan, and after being teleported outside of the Rockefeller Military Research Center when Laurie Juspeczyk asked him to leave. He walks past a graffiti-filled alley (a poster advertising a Pale Horse concert at the Madison Square Garden, a peace sign, a sports raving, "Krystalnacht", and "Who watches the Watchmen?"), also by a woman and man in a window making love, and then another poster that has President Nixon with 'Four more years' written below it.

Rorschach writes about the death of the Comedian and how he's the only one who cares. He wonders if everyone is right for not caring, since 'soon there will be war. Millions will burn. Millions will perish in sickness and misery.' He asks why one death matter against so many.

October 16th, 1985Edit

"42nd Street: Womens breasts draped across every billboard, every display, littering the sidewalk. Was offered Swedish love and French love...but not American love. American love; like Coke in green glass bottles...they don't make it anymore. Thought about Moloch's story on way to cemetery. Could all be lies. Could all be part of a revenge scheme, planned during his decade behind bars. But if true, then what? Puzzling reference to an island. Also to Dr. Manhattan. Might he be at risk in some way? So many questions. Never mind. Answers soon. Nothing is insoluble. Nothing is hopeless. Not while there's life. In the cemetery, all the white crosses stood in rows, neat chalk marks on a giant scoreboard. Paid last respects quietly, without fuss. Edward Morgan Blake. Born in 1924. Forty-five years a comedian. Died 1985, buried in the rain. Is that what happens to us? A life of conflict with no time for friends...so that when it's done, only our enemies leave roses. Violent lives, ending violently. Dollar Bill , The Silhouette, Captain Metropolis...we never die in bed. Not allowed. Something in our personalities, perhaps? Some animal urge to fight and struggle, making us what we are? Unimportant. We do what we have to do. Blake understood. Treated it like a joke, but he understood. He saw the cracks in society, saw the little men in masks trying to hold it together...he saw the true face of the twentieth century and chose to become a reflection of it, a parody of it. No one else saw the joke. That's why he was lonely. Heard joke once: Man goes into doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says "Treatmen is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says "But, Doctor...I am Pagliacci." Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains."

—October 16th, 1985 entry of Rorschach's journal

This entry is in Chapter II: Absent Friends, after the Comedian's burial and Rorschach's visit to Moloch's he walks down 42nd Street and passes a business called Burlesk, with a sign that reads 'Tonite Enola Gay and the Little Boys'. Rorschach is seen being offered sex from a hooker, however, he refuses and is flipped off. Then he picks the lock to the cemetery and enters where the Comedian was buried. There is a flashback to Eddie Blake's death, and being thrown out of his apartment window, and then Rorschach takes one of the red roses that were lain at his grave.

He notes women's breasts being displayed on every billboard and littering the sidewalk. He suspects Moloch for the death of the Comedian, suggesting it was part of a revenge scheme that was planned during his decade behind bars. He says he pays his last respects quietly, without fuss, referring to the priest's scripture reading. He comments on how Edward Blake was buried in the rain, how there's a life of conflict with no time for friends, and that when it's done, 'only our enemies leave roses.' He notes that masked adventurers never die in bed, 'not allowed,' saying it might be something in their personalities, 'some animal urge to fight and struggle.' He shrugs the idea, saying it's unimportant, 'we do what we have to do.' He believes that Blake understood the world's behavior, even though he treated it like a joke, becoming a parody of it. 'No one else saw the joke. That's why he was lonely.'

He then tells a joke he heard once: "Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says 'Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.' Man bursts into tears. Says 'But, doctor...I am Pagliacci.'" He then calls it a good joke. 'Everybody laugh.'

October 21st, 1985Edit

This entry is found in Chapter V: Fearful Symmetry after Doctor Manhattan's disappearance and Rorschach's questioning of Moloch. He walks out of the Moloch's and starts toward his apartment.

Rorschach believes Moloch knows nothing about the attempt to discredit Dr. Manhattan and that he has only been used. Rorschach suspects the Russians since the Comedian and Manhattan were both key U.S. military figures. He says he hasn't slept since Saturday, and he's too tired to concentrate.

October 21st, 1985 (2)Edit

His second entry is also in Chapter V. Since his last entry he has been asleep. He takes off his mask and looks at a group of knot-tops putting graffiti on a door. He talks with his landlady and sees Dan Dreiberg and Laurie Juspeczyk coming out of Gunga Diner, although they cannot identify him because he isn't wearing his mask. He enters Gunga Diner and puts syrup in a napkin, folding the napkin and taking it a part to make symmetrical splotches, while he stares at his maildrop (the trashcan).

He wakes at eleven because of shouting outside, and says he was disturbed to find he slept with his 'face' on, and that he should be more careful. He then memorized the boys that were defacing the abandoned building's descriptions. He takes off his face and said 'without my face, nobody knows. Nobody knows who I am.' He says the landlady complained about the hygiene and rent, and noted she had purple bite marks on her 'fat white neck.' He then says she reminds him of his mother. He noted that the graffiti on the building was a silhouette, 'man and woman, possibly indulging in sexual foreplay,' and that he didn't like it, claiming it makes the doorway look haunted. He sees Dreiberg and Juspeczyk and wonders if there is an affair, then suspects Laurie of engineering Dr. Manhattan's exile to make room for Dreiberg, noting she also hated the Comedian. He commented on the trash people 'deposited for him'; candy wrappers, newspapers, a pair of keds. animation

This city is an animal, fierce and complicated. To understand it I read its droppings, its scents, the movement of its parasites...I sat watching the trashcan, and New York opened its heart to me.

October 21st, 1985 (3)Edit

His last entry in Chapter V takes place after news of Adrian Veidt being attacked was released. Rorschach lifts a note from his 'maildrop' from Moloch that says 'R- call tonight, 11:30 p.m. Have information. URGENT. Jacobi,' and then walked into an alleyway to grab his hat and mask that were beneath a Nostalgia poster before encountering a rapist in the act.

He recalls news of the attack on Veidt and sees it as proof of his 'mask killer' theory, then wondered again if Moloch was connected. Outside of Utopia he saw police restraining a youth on KT-28s, who was screaming something about President Nixon and bombs. He asks if everyone but him was going mad. Over 40th street he saw an elephant drifting and noted that beyond it, unseen, were spy satellites that could narrow their eyes and kill everyone. He writes about putting on his disguise and becoming himself, 'free from fear or weakness or lust.' He recalls hearing a woman scream, the 'first bubbling note of city's evening chorus.' He noted the disturbance an attempted rape, mugging or both. animation

The man turned and there was something rewarding in his eyes. Sometimes, the night is generous to me.

November 1st, 1985Edit

This is Rorschach's last entry, from Chapter X: Two Riders Were Approaching, in the meantime Rorschach had been captured, blamed for Moloch's murder, broken out and killed The Big Figure, did questioning at Happy Harry's and discovered Adrian Veidt's involvement with Pyramid Deliveries.

'Final entry?' he asks, noting that Dreiberg's convinced that Veidt is behind everything and wants to visit Antarctica. He's not sure if they're ready, and can't imagine a more dangerous opponent. He shows his only admittance of physical weakness with that statement and then following with 'I am cold tonight.' Then claims Veidt may be faster than both of them, and foresees return from the mission as unlikely. He decides to mail his journal to the only people he can trust. He tells the reader directly that whether he is alive or dead, the truth is that Adrian Veidt is responsible. He says he hopes the journal will reach them (The New Frontiersman), but says 'tanks are in East Berlin, and the writing is on the wall.' He completes his journal quickly by adding that he regrets nothing, has lived his life free from compromise and steps 'into the shadow now without complaint.' animation

"Oblivion gallops closer, favoring the spur, sparing the rein. I think we will be gone soon."

Doomsday Clock Edit

November 22nd (or 23rd) 1992 Edit

The first entry in nine years, Rorschach muses on how things have changed, and notes that Doctor Manhattan handed them paradise carelessly and they have now ruined it. He says that if they're going to save the world, they need to bring Doctor Manhattan back, but also conceding that "maybe the world should burn this time".

Legacy Edit

The Rorschach Journal

In 1986 the New Frontiersman ran excerpts from Rorschach's journal along with a summary of its contents. Rorschach hoped that his journal would convince the entire world the real truth of what really happened in New York City. However, it was largely dismissed by the general public and the mainstream media. Most people regarded the New Frontiersman as a little more than an ultra-conservative tabloid, making any story it published immediately suspect. Its editor, Hector Godfrey, had a well-known grudge against Adrian Veidt, and so allegations reeked of bias. Finally, Rorschach was declared clinically insane by the late Malcolm Long. Because Godfrey never proved that the contents of Rorschach's writings were factual, it was hard for people to take Rorschach at his word.

Rorschach’s journal nearly faded into obscurity if not for two events, the “Blue Wave” of 1992 that ushered Robert Redford into the Oval Office, and the arrest of Dan Dreiberg and the Laurie Juspeczyk in 1995 for violating the Keene Act after stopping the Oklahoma City bombing. Their capture re-ignited cultural fascination with masked vigilantes, and to capitalize on that curiosity, New Frontiersman published Rorschach's Journal in its entirety and was eventually retitled The Rorschach Journal.

The bookazine became a best-seller and a counter-culture classic that has appealed to a wide variety of people, including conspiracy theorists and right-wing extremists. Some take it as a history book, others, devotional literature. For them, “Rorschach’s Journal”—and Godfrey’s interpretation of it—challenges the new, heretical orthodoxy that makes them feel marginalized and obsolete, written by a revolutionary they revere as a saint. It rationalizes their conviction that Redford is an illegitimate president, brought to power because of the E.B.D.E., which was essentially believed to be an insidious false flag operation concocted, financed and designed by Adrian Veidt and the embittered "liberal elite", as the ramifications of the Dimensional Incursion Event paved the way for the Blue Wave of ‘92. This belief is the justification for any number of anti-social behaviors, from the formation of drop-out communities known as “Nixonvilles,” to domestic terrorists like the Seventh Kavalry, who protest the president by committing violence against symbols of the executive branch, including law enforcement. That is why the Seventh Kavalry wears Rorschach masks: They idolize the vigilante and believe his journal to be proof that liberal democracy is a lie.

TriviaEdit

  • In Episode 3 of Watchmen, a page of Rorschach's journal can be seen in of the slides during a FBI briefing.
  • The Rorschach Journal - The Turner Diaries
    The front cover of Rorschach's journal, as depicted in "She Was Killed by Space Junk", is loosely based on The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel by William Luther Pierce, published under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald. The Turner Diaries depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the federal government, a nuclear war, and, ultimately, a race war which leads to the systematic extermination of non-whites. The Turner Diaries is probably the most widely read book among far-right extremists and has inspired numerous hate crimes and acts of terrorism enacted by white nationalists, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 1999 London nail bombings, and the 1984 murder of Alan Berg.
  • The Seventh Kavalry's usage and appropriation of Rorschach's journal is similar to the alt-right's use of the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche picked out of context to dilute them and pervert them into something that the original author would've likely been completely against. https://www.vox.com/2017/8/17/16140846/alt-right-nietzsche-richard-spencer-nazism
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