Sunday, 12 May 2019

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part fifty-three

Hi, Everybody!

So, two things:

1, the bizness:
 If you're in the mood to help a brudda out, frequent commentator: Mike Battaglia has a go fund me here.

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Friend to the Blog, and the guy who made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs by cutting through the Gamma Quadrant: Steve Peters has another Kickstarter going. (I have a joke in one panel.)

The remastered Volume 1 is available digitally for $9.99.
2, I ran out of pages from issue 289/290 to run in front of Dave's Genesis Question commentaries. Dave suggested I use Jewish, Christian or Muslim religious images. But then, Superman's Frenemy: David Birdsong sent in a bunch of (so far) unused Cerebus in Hell? images and now I'ma gonna run them. So:
image by Doré, Sim & Birdsong
1 February 15

Hi Troy & Mia!

SuperBowl Sunday again! Happy First GENESIS QUESTION Anniversary!

Psalm 139, I would characterize as more David than YHWH or God.  David doing his best to "put things together" in a period in his life (reading between the lines) where things are more falling apart than falling together:

To the chief Musician, a Psalm of David

O YHWH, thou hast searched me, and known [interpolated: me]

Thou knowest my down sitting and mine up rising: thou understandest my thought afar off

Thou compassest [alternative meaning: winnowest] my path, and my lying down, and art acquainted [interpolated: with] all my ways.

For [interpolated: there is] not a word in my tongue: lo, O YHWH, thou knowest it altogether.

Obviously, I think David is addressing this to the wrong being in a prayerful sense but I don't think his observations are completely inaccurate.  I think, as someone suggested once, that Satan isn't omnipotent, but "very well informed" (which I think itself causes the YHWH no end of troubles because he/she/it tends to extrapolate the latter into being the former).  My own sense and belief is that it comes down to innermost motivation which my own sense and belief tells me is the sole province of God.  Satan/YHWH, I think, can examine the cosmetic facts in any circumstance and draw inferences (and then twist those cosmetic facts to suit his/her/its own prejudices)  -- that is, I believe no PHYSICAL door is closed to he/she/it -- but that falls well short of omnipotence. 

To repeat my own general inference and belief (no more provable than David's own):  I'm not sure that it's of central importance to God whether these sentiments are addressed to Him or to YHWH so long as the correct motivation is there.  I mean, yes, in a larger sense, if you fundamentally believe that God -- instead of the YHWH -- wanted a man stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath then I think God can be forgiven for drawing a negative inference of you from that.  But I do think that it stands to reason for a omnipotent being that innermost motivation matters more than cosmetic mistaken identities.  If the "God" part of you misidentifies God as YHWH and/or vice versa, your behaviours are going to be more important than your identity error is my inference.  Although I think, in that case, if you do welcome the YHWH into your life then I think you also invite all the consequences attendant upon that. As David himself seems to allude to in the next verse: 

Thou hast beset me behind, and before: and laid thine hand upon me.

And then quickly reverses field:

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot [interpolated: attain] unto it.

Which again (personal inference), I think reflects a strong and substantial innermost motivation and awareness:  if you are "beset" "behind and before", there's a good reason for that.  It's either a test or a punishment or both.  If it's a test, you need to pass it and if it's a punishment you need to accept it and endure it.

I would suggest that the rapidity of the field reversal, in itself, is a strong indicator of "God awareness" (although in this case being attributed by David to the YHWH whom he believes to BE God).  The correct reaction to sudden adversity -- the sense of being "beset" "before and behind" -- is the same sense behind the Muslim "Allahu Akhbar"  God is Greatest!  Or as David puts it, "such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot…unto it". 

[the interpolated "attain" seems to me to miss this point because, I infer, it was inserted by someone who doesn't have that innermost "God awareness" which has "gobsmacked wonder" as its default setting.  David doesn't have  an accurate term for his own self-perceived shortcoming, this expression of his natural humility, when it comes to the height of the knowledge he is contemplating: omniscience.  "Attain" is part of it but "approach" "rise to within proximity" "come within a country mile" would be required to get within range of what David is aware is beyond him. "I cannot…unto it." The atheist goes "WTF?" in the face of awareness of being beset.  The monotheist goes, "Allahu Akhbar!" or the equivalent.]

Whither shall I go from thy spirit?  Or whither shall I fly from thy presence?

The implicit idea behind the narrative of Jonah.  There is nothing more foolish than the idea that you can flee from God OR from the consequences of knowingly defying your own innermost inference of Him.  Even, I suspect, if your inference of God and what He intends for you is mistaken or misapprehended, factually (and that would only be known to God), it seems to me an indicator of Hypocrisy on a Grand Scale to knowingly violate that.  

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou [interpolated: art there]

As I read it, this is a good deal more problematic.  I think in terms of just expressing the concept of omnipresence, an attribute of God, you could safely say, "WERE I able to ascend into heaven, would you not be there?"  "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there" strikes me as David getting above his mortal place.  It doesn't sufficiently rule out his own limitations -- you can infer from it that David believes he HAS ascended into heaven -- and seems to me to be YHWHistic in that way.

I also infer that this has immediate consequences, aligned with my previous suggestion that calling upon the YHWH invites the YHWH into your life.  Suggesting, as David does, that the YHWH is both in heaven and hell -- in David's frames of reference both large expressions of omnipresence, which are solely attributes of God -- invites a still more poisonous assertion (I infer) dictated to David by the YHWH.

[interpolated: If] I take the wings of the morning: [interpolated: and] dwell in the uttermost parts of the Sea:

"I take the wings of the morning" .  As in Lucifer, the Morningstar.  The YHWH, as I read it, building on David's thought -- in reverse -- the idea that the YHWH's dominion extends from the infernal to the Sea, the waters, God's medium. The KJV translators interpolate "If", it seems to me, detecting the implicit blasphemy of it.  Having inserted "attain" where it actually limited the meaning of what was being said, here they insert "If" for what seems to me comparable reasons.  And when that leads David to assert:

Even there shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me.

I think to myself, Jeez, no wonder the guy felt "beset" "before and behind".  Generous inferences aside, if you're calling upon the YHWH and vowing aloud that from heaven to hell, the YHWH's hand will lead you and the YHWH's right hand will hold you, at some point, you do (it seems to me) cross a threshold and get yourself into very deep and dangerous and murky waters.  Consciously transferring God's dominion over you to YHWH and specifically saying that.  Let me know how that's working out for you (on second thought, don't). 

David returns, I think, in the next verse (I'm inferring from the reemergent "If").  It seems to me that this is David's God awareness endeavouring to reassert itself and to qualify that his use of "If" in his previous assertion was intended as a hypothetical, not a statement of an actual experience.  That is, I think David sensed, in his soul, that he was going, verbally, off the rails:  seeking comfort from God and a relief from behind "beset, before and behind", I think he sensed that the previous two verses had -- in some way -- made things worse rather than better.  And he immediately (as I read it) retreats into a more definitive hypothetical mode.  But, I infer, not without taking a few minutes to think about it before speaking (or singing):

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me: even the night shall be light about me.

That is, even his saying what he is saying he recasts in hypothetical terms.  He doesn't say, "Lo, when I say…", he (as I read it) offers the first part of a dual hypothetical observation.  He has, I think, sensed that "the wings of the morning" and "the uttermost parts of the Sea" are dichotomous and he offers "the darkness shall cover me" (I would infer, an experience of God's presence) and "the night shall be light about me" (an experience of the YHWH's presence) as his personal experience of a similar dichotomy. 

Which then excites a cacophonous response from the YHWH that, pretty clearly, gives the KJV translators fits trying to make it into something godly that they, as good Christians, can live with: 

Yea, the darkness [Hebrew: darkeneth not] hideth not from thee,  the night shineth as the day:  [Hebrew: as (interpolated: is) the darkness so is the light] the darkness and the light [interpolated: are] both alike [interpolated: to thee]

Extracting the original Hebrew from this dog's breakfast we get: "Yea, the darkness darkeneth not, as the darkness so is the light; the darkness and the light both alike."

Which, it seems to me, is transparently "pure YHWH":  inversion, co-equivalence, usurpation.  And, having enunciated this aloud, I see David as reflecting upon it and thinking, "Well, that's stupid. That isn't what I was talking about at all.  I have experienced darkness as an enshrouding presence, but I've also experienced the night as being 'light about me' .  Darkness DOES darken.  That's what the onset of night IS.  Darkness isn't light and light isn't darkness. Darkness is darkness and light is light."  And suspecting that he is being manipulated by malign presences. And I suspect, David was relieved, as a result, that he had posed the first part of his observation as a hypothetical. 

And then, after some thought, retreats even further to even more solid theological ground: 

For thou has possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

That is, David searches himself, inwardly, to come up with a definitive statement of God's nature as David has experienced it -- something he doesn't need to qualify with "If".  And this is pretty astute:  God HAS possessed David's reins.  David has given himself over to God's control -- that is his innermost intention (as in Islam, submission to the will of God) -- and there are times that God does possess David's reins and other times when He doesn't.  What David, I infer, doesn't understand, is that God has David's reins when David calls upon God.  When David calls upon the YHWH -- as he does for most of Psalm 139 -- the YHWH has David's reins. 

"Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb" is a good "God awareness" observation.  David searching, as I read it, for an analogy for his previous analogy "the darkness shall cover me".  The darkness of the womb is physical, but it does resemble the experience of God's enfolding spiritual presence -- and is quite distinct from the YHWH's attempt to make David's assertion that "the night shall be light about me" imply that "darkness and light are the same thing". 

So far, so good, I think, was David's experience having enunciated the previous thought, so he continues in the same vein.

I will praise thee, for I am fearfully [interpolated: and] wonderfully made, marvellous [interpolated: thy] works: and [interpolated: that] my soul knoweth [Hebrew: greatly] right well.

Extracting the original Hebrew from this, we get: "I will praise thee, for I am fearfully, wonderfully made, marvellous works and my soul knoweth greatly."  It strikes me as a particularly God-worthy assertion -- grasping at ideas that are actually beyond the comprehension of human beings. 

And the YHWH. 

The YHWH could -- aptly and profitably -- be enunciating this same sentiment.  Contemplating the sheer intricacy and complexity of our construction as human beings and the YHWH's construction as a water planet can only lead to the humility of asserting: "I am fearfully, wonderfully made, marvellous works".  And -- even though I can barely grasp that intricacy and complexity and, I would infer, even though the YHWH can barely grasp his/her/its own physical housing accurately -- "my soul knoweth greatly".  

My substance [alternative meaning: strength in body] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret:  [interpolated: and] curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Now THERE's an interesting verse!  It seems to me to continue the idea of David and the YHWH being comparable constructions of God.  David is still talking about being formed in his mother's womb in complete darkness, still grasping at what he can say, definitively, about his own creation and his experience of God as an enfolding presence, while also qualifying that he doesn't believe that light and darkness are the same thing.  The womb was darkness but "my substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret".  That is, God sees IN the darkness.  This tacking so directly into "God awareness" it seems to me that God supplies David with an analogous thought and Large Extrapolation:  both David and the YHWH were "curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth".  "Curiously wrought" being a Hebrew expression of the nature of intricately complex craftsmanship (used in describing the construction of the tabernacle, Aaron's ceremonial girdle, the Temple decorations, etc.).  

Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect, and in thy book [Hebrew: all of them] all my members were written [interpolated: which] in continuance were fashioned [alternative meaning: what days they should be fashioned] when as yet [interpolated: there was] none of them.

Extracting the original Hebrew from this translation, we get "Thine Eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect and in thy book all of them were written, in continuance were fashioned, when as yet none of them."

God speaks through David, expressing perfectly what it is that David has been straining to say.  And there's, again, a dual meaning:  What God is giving to David to say -- and I would guess that the words came out of David unconsciously -- could be said equally by the YHWH, the earth:  "Thine Eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect and in thy book all of them were written, in continuance were fashioned, when as yet none of them."  All of the parts of David were preexistent even when he was formless himself.  They were WRITTEN and, in continuance, were FASHIONED when, as yet, none of them (yet physically existed).  The YHWH, to his/her/its chagrin would recognize the truth of this.  Privy to the creation of man as a being and the creation of David as an individual man, the YHWH -- if he/she/it had a rare honest moment -- would admit to having had the same experience as David.  Inescapably making the YHWH one of God's creations.  David is deeply appreciative of this Godly clarity of expression of what he had barely grasped intuitively -- and this time gets The Identity right:  

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God: how great is the sum of them.

[interpolated: If] I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake I am still with thee.

This profound experience of God awareness, as I read it, clarifies for David that he has been subjected to another awareness which has attempted to steer him in a wrong direction, away from God's Precious Thoughts toward the "wicked":

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me, therefore, ye bloody men.

For they speak against thee wickedly: [interpolated: and] thine enemies take [interpolated: thy name] in vain.

That is, David rightly perceives that the entity that has asserted that darkness and light are the same thing is, like himself, a creation of God, but a wicked creation and a multiplicity ("ye bloody men"). 

Do not I hate them, O YHWH, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

I'm assuming that the YHWH is sufficiently "well-informed" to recognize the "God awareness" in this:  that -- even though it is addressed to the YHWH by name -- it can only be God for Whom David intends it and that David is, unmistakably, expressing his hatred for those who hate God, grieved with those who rise up against God, hates the enemies of God with a perfect hatred and counts the enemies of God to be his, David's enemies.

It's hard not to picture a silence falling at that point.  Into which David adds:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if [interpolated: there be] any [Hebrew: way of pain or grief] wicked way in me: and lead me in the way everlasting.

David is still going to feel himself being pulled hither and yon, "beset" "before and behind".  If you ask the YHWH to lead you "in the way everlasting", the YHWH is certainly going to do his/her/its level best to do so.  Everlasting life doesn't NECESSARILY mean a heavenly reward.

A life in hell is everlasting life, as well.

Hope you enjoyed the SuperBowl!


Next Time: I post some more funny stuff.-Past Matt


Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Has Dave ever said when he was an atheist? Obviously before Issue 24, by which time he was convinced that "there was something out there". And at that same time he had also begun his obsession with coincidence and numerology.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

How utterly embarrassing it is to read this nonsense. You genuinely feel bad for Dave. To go from a lauded, if minor, comic book creator to...this. Each entry further buries any of his achievements and further isolates him from the world. How sad.

David Johnson said...

David Birdsong, peace. I have wrote a reply to Matt Dow, Dave, and you on the earlier phone conversation post here with Dave and Matt, where they discussed me and I thank all of you for that. Concerning my long letters, to all of you, and my comments to all that Matt and Dave discussed, and in relation to you, they are there. I will post pone sending you anything else until I would hear from you otherwise, and the last thing I sent you was your postcard this past Monday. Either way my friend, thank you for what you have already shared with me in Christ, and concerning those things we discussed one on one, I look forward to Christ fulfilling them in you. As for Dave, I just sent him a business fax of two pages thanking him and apologizing as needed and where needed, and I asked him to please accept the fax as such, and not as breaking our agreement to send him non business faxes, which I will not, and I told him that I only sent him the fax because I know God said in scriptures, how important it is to make right with a brother in God's eyes. Thanks and Jesus bless.

Hazel Poni said...

Those rats David Birdsong remind me of The Secret NIMH based on the children's novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Where did you get that art from?

I would say Damian, Dave was a sinner like he's said before before knowing God. Something surely happened to him because he sure did change around 1997. He's a lot more nicer now like some Christians are, who come to God. Does Dave have a story he's shared before about being reborn or anything? I like God too, but I don't share all of Dave's beliefs. I also believe in hell and judgement.

I didn't know Damian Dave was into numerology back then. Good atheist question. That numerology's some way whacked out stuff. Does he still believe in that? What about 666? Has Dave ever covered that in Cerebus? Can you ask Matt on your next phone message with Dave, if he has any thoughts on 666? I don't mean like Marilyn Manson or whatever. I mean Biblically? I once walked into a masonic temple and asked the master mason at the door, what they thought 666 meant. He was pretty glib, but directed me to the book The Man Who Would Be King, and told me to come back and join if I wanted to learn more.

I looked at the book and it talked about the square and circle being the answer to everything. How the square represented the earth and things made by men, and the circle the heavens because it has no ending, but goes on forever because it's of God. It actually kind of sounded like Dave to me, now that I think about it. Dave said something awhile back about, how maybe a mason might know about what Ezekiel's temple measurements meant. Was Dave ever a mason? Any help on 666 would be appreciated Matt. Dave's views or anyone's views. Thanks.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Dave believed "there was something out there" by (at the latest) late 1980. Was it 1997 he became a fervent Believer in his own religion? I'm not sure exactly when he was calling himself an atheist, but he was a religious believer (I can already hear the boneheads crying, "I'm not religious; I'm spiritual!") by 1980. Was he an atheist before that? After that?

Dave sometimes gives me the impression that he believes that an atheist is specifically someone who does not believe in the god of the Abrahamic religions. Dave would not have been unusual in the 1980s and 1990s comics scene to be a New Age pseudo-spiritual type talking about "the Energy". Transitioning from that to the absolute certainty of revealed knowledge (albeit filtered through his own prejudices and his penchant for obsessive but not rigorous thinking; see his Sunday sermons) seems to have had a similarly monumental effect on him as his first nervous breakdown did, but I'm not aware that he had a "born again" moment.

"The Man Who Would Be King"? The Rudyard Kipling novel? I read it again just last year, and still really enjoyed it. I don't think I would invest much faith in it as a religious work, though.

-- Damian

Birdsong said...

Hazel, I wish I had a better answer for you, but I went looking for high resolution images by Gustave Doré and saved as many as I could find. I would guess that it is from one of the many children's fairy tales stories that he illustrated. All of Monsieur Doré's art is in the public domain so that tends to make it harder to nail down just what originally went where all those years ago. I am grateful that we have access to the really nice artwork he left behind.

Hazel Poni said...

I remember Dave saying something somewhere Damian, about how he was once praying his daily prayer during a prayer time or something, and he said it felt like some stuff or spirits went out of him. He'd had difficulty before that, with his voice he said or something right before it, but after that he said it all went away like. He didn't call it being reborn. It would be interesting though I think to hear Dave answer a question regarding it. Matt?

That art by Gustave Doré is beautiful David. I was just looking at it again, and there's so much there to look at. It reminds me of that last scene in Citizen Kane, where one sees all of Kane's possessions. Not too long ago, I watched that scene frame by frame, and there's some really interesting stuff the closer the scene slowly arrives at the sled.

At the tail end, there's something that kind of looks like a comic book or a pulp maybe, and there's this doll with no eyes. I remembered how back when the movie was released, people saw it on a big screen. So whatever I saw or didn't see on a small one, was much better seen on the big.

Just before writing this, I saw that in your picture, that it appears Cerebus is standing in the light shining in. He almost seems to have some virtue, by not being in the dark with the rats. It reminded me of that scene at the end of Cerebus 300, where Cerebus enters the light and goes to hell with the rest of them. But your Cerebus seems not that Cerebus. Looking forward to where he's going to pop up next.

Don't take my parody comments elsewhere here too seriously, about you doing a Cerebus In Hell? story with whoever in the future. It's only, some of us have seen the parody side of Cerebus In Hell? for so long now, that your recent art like this almost kind of stirs up something inside me like, what Cerebus could've been like if he hadn't returned to Jaka towards the end.

I always wanted to see him go back home, see the old Popeye looking dude again, see his Dad, and then end on a good note.