Monday, 15 August 2016

Jaka's Story #7

Cerebus #120 (March 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER 5:
A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel

7 comments:

Dave Kopperman said...

I hadn't ever noticed before that there's a kind of narrative on the covers - static, observed scenes of each character from a middle-distance, and then the Oscar cover which makes it seem as though he's the one doing the observing. Fits in perfectly with the character and story, and I'll bet dollars to donuts that the effect is intentional.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Dave! Give this man some donuts!

Tony Dunlop said...

Hi AMOCers,
Off topic, but I didn't know where to put this and didn't want to hijack Carson's threads. I'm reading St. Gregory of Nyssa's treatise "The Life of Moses." St. Gregory lived in the second half of the fourth century AD and was a bishop in the Christian Church (back when there was only One). Much early Christian interpretation of the Old Testament was highly allegorical. This one views the life of Moses, as related in the books now known to Christians as Exodus through Deuteronomy, as representing the journey of the soul as it seeks ever greater purification and union with God. An early comment in the exegesis seemed like it might spark some discussion here; or, even if not, I thought it would be fun to share.
According to Exodus, chapter one, Moses was born at a time when the Egyptian Pharaoh had decreed that all newborn Hebrew boys be immediately put to death, but girls were to be permitted to live. Here's how St. Gregory interprets this in the "spiritual sense," regarding the beginning ("birth") of the soul's striving for virtue:
"The narrative is to be understood according to its real intention. For the material and passionate disposition to which human nature is carried when it falls is the female form of life, whose birth is favored by the tyrant (e.g. Pharaoh). The austerity and intensity of virtue is the male birth, which is hostile to the tyrant and suspected of insurrection against his rule." A little later: "We are in some manner our own parents, giving birth to ourselves by our own free choice in accordance with whatever we wish to be, whether male or female, moulding ourselves to the teaching of virtue or vice."
I'll just add that it is a common image in Orthodox Christian spirituality (and others? not sure) to view Egypt/Pharaoh as representing the "passions;" that is, the fallen man's tendency to fill his life with sensual and material pleasures which take the soul away from God's Kingdom.

Tony again said...

DAMN! That should've been "i.e." not "e.g." - "(i.e. Pharaoh)".

Dave Sim said...

Tony - Well, not just the passions, but also evil. Revelations refers to "Sodom and Egypt" as opposed to Sodom and Gomorrah in what is widely believed to be a reference to Rome. Egypt was a pagan -- that is, evil -- environment and is now a monotheistic (Muslim) -- that is, good -- environment. Although I think you'd have to say it's still "in play" (like Turkey) in terms of HOW good or bad it is in any era. From our Western perspective a military dictatorship isn't Good. At best, it's "good". But, when compared with a failed (?) state like Somalia (?) or Libya (?), and depending on how extreme a military dictatorship it is and what it dictates and what it doesn't dictate, you'd probably have to rate it as somewhere between "good" and good.

Cairo is phonetically Chi Rho which is associated with the cross as a Christian symbol. Which strikes me as Good. Now, we're just working on the details. :)

The Hebrew people did that as well -- at the YHWH's behest when they crossed the River Jordan into the Promised Land -- as ISIS is doing with the Yazidis: kill all the men and save the women alive. Usually "one who has not known a man" being a criteria. You can make THEIR women into YOUR women by killing THEIR men.



Dave Sim said...

One of the few real meeting places of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is Sura 18 "The Cave" in which Moshe figures prominently. It centres on The Seven Sleepers which was either a Christian myth or a Christian historical miracle depending on your point of view. I infer that it was a test that one of the Jewish tribes in Medina put to Prophet Muhammad after the emigration from Mecca to test whether he was who he said he was -- God's Last Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets -- or a fake. Basically: "How many sleepers were there in the cave?" The idea being that if he was God's prophet he would know the answer without further elaboration of the question but probably only IF he was God's prophet because, historically, it had only happened two or three hundred years before. "Some say they were five, their dog the sixth, guessing at the secret..."

If you read the part AFTER the Seven Sleepers section, the part with Moshe and his unknown companion and their shared metaphysical (?) journey, it definitely aligns with St. Gregory's theology as you've related it. And St. Gregory would have been writing roughly between the Seven Sleepers incident and when the Jewish tribes were asking Prophet Muhammad about it.

I think "The Cave" is a VERY elaborate extrapolation of the answer the Medina Jews were looking for. Prophet Muhammad probably didn't convince his interrogators, but I think he probably knocked the socks off of their "higher natures" (which was, I think, God's plan: just that kind of profound schism between the worldly reaction and the extra-worldly reaction)

It's a creepy one (YHWHistic, I think) and -- like Sura 12 "Joseph, Upon Him Be Peace" --I'm Ichabod Crane-like about it: I never like to leave off in the middle of it when I'm reading it aloud before a prayer time. Either stop at the end of "The Night Journey" or get through to "Mary".

Dave Sim said...

One of the other questions posed to Prophet Muhammad, I infer, was "How long did the Seven Sleepers sleep in their cave?" because there's a line in Sura 18 that says "They slept for 300 years and nine years over." Which is followed by "God knows how long they slept" which I take as a God/YHWH conflict (that is, that we're supposed to figure out who -- or Who -- is speaking in any Scriptural passage: it could be either). The 309 years definitely doesn't match the dates traditionally believed by Christians.

I also read somewhere that the Vatican has distanced itself from "the Seven Sleepers" in the last century or so. Not sure why that is.

Sura 18 is also the source of "inshallah" -- God willing -- because Prophet Muhammad is admonished for saying "I'll do it tomorrow" when it came to answering the Jewish authorities questions. That is, God will reveal the answer IF He wills and WHEN He wills, not when one of his messengers SAYS He will.