Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On Reverence

So over at Postmodernbarney, I was being terribly irreverent about the Bible, and maybe offended some people (I don't know), but it got me to thinking about how much I actually do respect the Bible as an important work of literature. We can laugh at outdated bits that are funny to us without disrespecting a body of work as a whole, right?

This is a comics blog, so let's take the Fantastic Four as an example. That's a huge body of work as well, a long story that's been going on for decades. It's been written by a plethora of different hands, and most of that story is canon. In spite of continuity clean-ups over the years, there are no doubt conflicting -- even contradictory -- plot points within the accepted canon. Human error demands it. Fans will find them, point them out, and choose to accept them, reject them, or explain them away. It's par for the course.

Fans will also find lots of goofy, dated material to laugh at. The humor may or may not be intentional, but in the end, it really doesn't matter because the people who take the time to read and find the goofy stuff probably have at least some respect for the work as a whole. They know that they'll read stories that are perplexing, pulse-pounding, poignant, even downright poetic*, and it's all worth it. (Well, most of it.)

The Bible is kind of like that. The multitude of writers; the contradictions; the cool stories; the poetry; and the laws about stoning oxen. Yes, the Bible is a million times more important than the Fantastic Four, but it seems to me this mindset works, or can work, whether you're tackling King James or King Kirby.

Seeing as it comes down to the ability to laugh at things, it might even be healthy!


*And they won't agree about the designations.


Ragnell said...

I never thought of the Bible that way (although I've complained about it for the reasons you noted).

The parallel I always drew with literature and comic books was the King Arthur Saga.

(Thankfully, they're just now retconning away the stuff that made Gawain into a jerk)

Canton said...

Are the parallels you draw between comic books and Arthurian legend structural (multiple writers), or are they more Hero's Journey thematic? Or both? ...

(By the way, I'm honored you took the time to look at my blog, much less comment on it. 'Specially since you have so much keeping up to do with your own!)

Ragnell said...

Mainly structural, since the thematic elements are a given. Also, character types are very similar, and plot elements. I started drawing the parallel when I first read the story where Lancelot climbs a tree to rescue a caught pet (a falcon caught to the branch by a ribbon). In his underwear.

(Hehehe. I've been visiting here for a while yet, most of of my blogging time is actually spent reading other people's blogs, looking for WFA links. I'm a shameless lurker, though)

Canton said...

Even "givens" can worth exploring, considering they haven't always been "given," and they aren't necessarily as "given" as they seem. There's always something more, isn't there?

When you drop an object on Earth, it falls towards the ground. That's a given, but contemplating the mechanism behind the fall can still be worthwhile.

(WFA links?)

Ragnell said...

*Nod* True.

Which means I need to break out my Joseph Campbell stuff.

(When Fangirls Attack links)

Canton said...

And I'll have to break out my copy of Cliff's Notes on Mythology.

(Ahh, okay.)