Featured Video: Abraham & Isaac

November 9, 2012

Breaking News:  The copyright claim on my video (via YouTube) has been lifted as a result of my protest.  You can view it with full audio.

At last, the long awaited world premier of my retelling of this biblical cult favorite! You can watch it on YouTube, and sing along at the end with Bob Dylan.


Hypnerotomachia encore

February 14, 2010

In an earlier post on the bible illustrated by Lucas Cranach’s workshop, I added this note:

[Feb. 13]  Could it be that this dragon image from Hypnerotomachia Poliphili could be the source of the iconography in the image at the head of this post?  A dragon/lizard in the cathedral/temple?  How odd that would be as a source of Protestant anti-papal graphics!

Further to the Cranach-Colonna-Bomarzo connection alluded to in my earlier post on Hypnerotomachia:

A reclining statue of a sleeping nymph in Bomarzo; Nymph Reclining by a Fountain by Cranach, also derived from the woodcut image and establishing the influence of the work on him;  the likely source of the statue’s form in Hypnerotomachia; elephant statue at Bomarzo probably influenced by the elephant-obelisk in Hypnerotomachia.


A few of my favorite things…

January 25, 2010

See what my new reproduction of the illustrations from Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible has to offer!

  • Apocalyptic rhetoric – in this case, the real deal, the Book of Revelation
  • Reptiles – here we have the Beast from the Pit looking like a Komodo Dragon
  • Architecture – John measures the heavenly temple
  • No-holds-barred satire – The lizard wears the Pope’s hat!
  • Bob Dylan? – Whoa, two witnesses with tongues of fire.  Swear that’s in one of his songs somewhere!

[Feb. 13]  Could it be that this dragon image from Hypnerotomachia Poliphili could be the source of the iconography in the image at the head of this post?  A dragon/lizard in the cathedral/temple?  How odd that would be as a source of Protestant anti-papal graphics!


Chosen few

October 4, 2009

Onan - Genesis 33:8

The Bible, the Book of Genesis in particular, has been coming up in my daily rounds, lately.  I’ve been on a Bible binge of late:  read the King James Five Books of Moses, got the Wolverton illustrated version, and was just looking at some nice linoleum prints of the text in my local library.

And…R. Crumb’s long-anticipated illustrated version of the first book of the Bible, “All 50 chapters!  Nothing left out!” has arrived at last.  For devotees of Crumb or the good book, it’s a happy day.  Crumb has played it straight, so if you are hoping that he has turned the stories into an excuse for weirding us out, you will be disappointed.  If you doubt it, look at his representation of Onan in the leading image of this post:  Who would have thought that coitus interruptus would be treated with such discretion by the creator of the Snoid, Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat, and innumerable other phallic maniacs? Eve and the Serpent

He stays very close to the text, although the words are not my favorites, but a modern translation, and he’s done a lot of research.  He did take a liberty with the serpent – showing him as an upright lizard with legs rather than a snake – or did he?  In his notes, he gives a convincing justification for his change from tradition.

Abraham is the patriarch to whom God makes an offer that he cannot refuse.  He really can’t - Sacrifice of Isaacdeclining an offer from Yahweh is not an option.  Somehow, I feel that the story of Abraham and Isaac is the center of the whole convenant thing between Jehovah and the Jews.  Was it really such a good deal for the Jews to be the Chosen People?  It had advantages, but oy!, in the long-term?  There really wasn’t a choice in the matter, maybe that’s the ultimate lesson of the story.

Which brings us up to the present time:  Marek Edelman was remembered in an obituary in the New York Times yesterday.  Edelman was the last survivor of the Jewish uprising – he didn’t think that word was appropriate – against the Nazis as they moved to destroy the Warsaw ghetto and murder all of its inhabitants…liquidate is the word that everyone uses.  Apparently, he was prone to speaking inconvenient truths, are at least, truths as he saw them.  He dismissed the word “uprising” saying it was simply the desperate attempt by a couple of hundred people to determine when they would die and how.  There was not question of success.  He was not keen on Israel or Zionism.  He decided to remain in Poland all his life, a fact which drove some Jewish scholars of the Holocaust batty.  He ridiculed the notions of heroism that people retroactively assigned to some peoples’ actions, while others, those who went quietly to their deaths, were categorized as passive.  He said they only did what they could to maintain their dignity, to comfort their families for whom there was no hope at all of rescue.

For some Jews, the question of the nature of the deal they got from God rankles.  “If we are the Chosen People, how could you let this happen?”  Which brings up the question – Chosen for what?

For a depressing sample of scholarly venom deployed against Edelman, read these letters in Commentary from the 1980s regarding an article on Poles and Jews.  Commentary is a creature of the Podhoretz gang, a bunch of Jewish former leftists who “got religion” and turned hard right.  The original neo-cons.


MAD about Wolverton

July 24, 2009

From his "Kiss" series

From the collection of Glenn Bray, on display at this Exhibition.

Wolverton wrote for the comics, for MAD Magazine, where most of his fans probably encountered him, and produced an amazing set of illustrations for the Bible published by the California church of which he was a member.  Looking at his images, it’s clear he was a formative influence on many artists in the undergound comix scene, Art Crumb, among them. (See the Snoid  after looking through Wolvertson’s stuff if you don’t believe me.)

revelation_heat


Doubt in Eden

May 11, 2009

from Genesis

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Now, did the serpent mean: It is certain that you will not die? Or did he mean: It is not certain that you will die? Is this a purposeful ambiguity? Funny that there should be this element of doubt right at the beginning, when knowledge is given to man. Skepticism is at the root, shall we say.

Is the serpent inviting Eve into a structured risky venture, this knowlege business? An invitation to risk assessment? Perhaps she did a quick cost-benefit analysis, and it came out positive for benefit.


Matthew 7:26 – Global Warming

May 4, 2009

foundation_of_sand

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

When it comes to projections of global climate change, garbage-in, garbage-out (GIGO).   The foundation of science is sound observation, good data.

  “Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?”

From the Executive Summary, emphasis added:

“Global warming is one of the most serious issues of our times. Some experts claim the rise in temperature during the past century was “unprecedented” and proof that immediate action to reduce human greenhouse gas emissions must begin. Other experts say the warming was very modest and the case for action has yet to be made.

The reliability of data used to document temperature trends is of great importance in this debate. We can’t know for sure if global warming is a problem if we can’t trust the data.

… Until now, no one had ever conducted a comprehensive review of the quality of the measurement environment of those stations.

… In fact, we found that 89 percent of the stations – nearly 9 of every 10 – fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) or more away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source.

In other words, 9 of every 10 stations are likely reporting higher or rising temperatures because they are badly sited.

It gets worse. We observed that changes in the technology of temperature stations over time also has caused them to report a false warming trend. We found major gaps in the data record that were filled in with data from nearby sites, a practice that propagates and compounds errors. We found that adjustments to the data by both NOAA and another government agency, NASA, cause recent temperatures to look even higher.

The conclusion is inescapable: The U.S. temperature record is unreliable.

The errors in the record exceed by a wide margin the purported rise in temperature of 0.7º C (about 1.2º F) during the twentieth century. Consequently, this record should not be cited as evidence of any trend in temperature that may have occurred across the U.S. during the past century. Since the U.S. record is thought to be “the best in the world,” it follows that the global database is likely similarly compromised and unreliable. …


Eat the Book

November 9, 2008

eat_the_book

In the Valley of the Loire, at Chateau d’Angers, the Apocalypse.  A tapistry, image thread by thread, fabric mosaic, here transferred to pixels, and come full circle.  Is it the true color?  L’envers & l’endroit:  I saw the front, faded, old, but now they have revealed the reverse, under the linen backing, and the nearly the full color is there.

The Angel gives the Book to Saint John and commands him to eat it.  The word is digested to flesh, after being fixed on parchment.  Is this why I read?  To eat the book and have it become my reality?  Calvino explains “Why we read the classics,” but why do I?  Escape, guilty pleasures.  Later freshened up with appreciation of literary art.  The Book is OF revelation.  I see it several times a year at the Cloisters.  I’d like to see it every day.

No one will let it go. The Revelation trails us everywhere.  The millenium is always being pursued.  Even in 1944, in Cat People. Revelation 13:2 “And the beast which I saw was like a leopard,” which, as the zookeeper says, pretty much describes the panther in the cage, or the woman who is the star?

Was 2001:  A Space Odyssey a revelation?  …and just what is the connection to Dionysius the pseudo-Areopagite and the Negative Theology?

It is so much easier and safer to read, to flow down the river of words into the pseudo-reality, to avoid the stillness of now.  Reading keeps me afloat, with my head above water…otherwise, what to do with my time?  Aggghh!  I would have to be..here..how?


Are monsters sad?

August 18, 2008

I went to a wonderful exhibit of prints by Albrecht Durer today, including many of his most famous – The Knight, Death, and the Devil, Melancholia, and St. Jerome in his study. Looking at the detail from an image in his Apocalypse series shown above, (full image) I was struck by the forlorn aspect of this beast from hell as he vomits fire onto the world.  He doesn’t want to do it, but he must.  It’s his life.  Laying waste to the world.  Godzilla had his tragic aspect too, no?

I was also struck by the vomit imagery, so much like this visual trope that is to be found in Maakies again and again.  (See the whole strip here.)  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Tony Millionaire were a fan of Durer.

And then, there is that beautiful image of the Prodigal Son at the moment when he is inspired to return to his father and beg his forgiveness.  I can’t help but think that the pigs, on which Durer has lavished so much loving attention, are looking at the wayward son slyly, a little knowingly…”Oh, you’re leaving are you?  Well, be gone with you.  We have eating to do…

I was much taken as well by this image of Christ before Pilate, a woodcut from his Small Passion series.  I love the slightly crazy steps, rendered carefully in perspective but not like any steps I’ve seen lately.  They give it a slightly dreamlike atmosphere, I think.


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