Sunday, October 18, 2009

God and Crumb

R. Crumb illustrates the Book of Genesis but it's still a grim tale.

Crumb himself has written: "I am constantly disgusted by reality, horrified and afraid. I cling desperately to the few things that give me some solace, that make me feel good. For me to be human is, for the most part, to hate what I am. When I suddenly realize I am one of them, I want to scream in horror."

Not unlike the God of Genesis beholding the depravity of his children, even his greatest servants. Abraham pimps his wife, Sarah, Jacob cheats his brother, Esau. How very Old Testament. Faults are very few in the heroes of the New Testament. And an angry, smiting Jehovah is transformed by the Christians into a god of love. There are times when Genesis reads like a tell-all, one of those enraged bits of revisionist history that tell us George Washington was actually a drug-addict or Emily Dickinson was into sadomasochism. Except nobody revised Jewish history to make it the way it is in Genesis. And it has remained not as a guide to transcendence into heavenly realms, but as a description of life as we see it every day in our neighborhoods and newspapers.

Genesis doesn't need an R. Crumb to provide perversity and failure. It's got enough all by itself. This is one reason that Crumb could play it straight with his art, no cloacal Snoid comedy, no gratuitous sex. Yes, there is sex -- men and women are shown discreetly coupling. But no irony, no joking around here. Just one pen-and-ink panel after another until Joseph -- he of the coat of many colors -- dies and the book ends.

How strange it all is, how ordinary. How biblical, how Crumb.



Blogger Lisa said...

It is odd to think that Crumb is a good match with Genesis.

Lest any good Christian wonder if people are animals, they need only take a gander at their own Good Book.

6:06 PM  

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