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Friday, July 20, 2007

Narrative Ressentiment

posted by on July 20 at 14:59 PM

What Islam and Christianity have in common is narrative ressentiment toward their parent, Judaism. At one point, The New Testament attempted a complete break from its parent book, the Bible. But what would it be without the great stories of Noah, Abraham, and Job—the greatest story ever told? Jesus walking on water was nothing compared to Moses parting the sea. Instead of a cut, it decide to turn the Bible into an amazing map (an amazing story) leading up to its own realization. The New Testament is a coda, a tail. This is why it’s saturated by the end of Jesus, his death.

As for Islam, it practically kidnapped Abraham and took him to Mecca. A gap in the Bible—what happened to Hagar and Ismael, Abraham’s lover and son?—was enough to build a new narrative passage to the oasis of Islam. In essence it was a narrative theft. And the Jews of Medina didn’t hide this judgment of Muhammad’s scheme. They rejected him on the spot (“Give us back our story! You thief you!”). That rejection politicized what would become Islam.

But what do you do if all the great stories have been told—and only a great story can establish a religion, a state, a race? You take, borrow, steal, and become resentful.

RSS icon Comments

1

is that why you are so grumpy with narratives this week--becuase all the stories have been told and you're a writer, so you are basically out of a job or just a recycling agent...

Posted by ddv | July 20, 2007 3:23 PM
2

is that why you are so grumpy with narratives this week--because all the stories have been told and you are a writer--so you are basically either out of a job or reduced to a recycling agent...?

Posted by ddv | July 20, 2007 3:24 PM
3

Is that why they're always trying to kill us Jews? Cause our stories are so badass?

Posted by Gitai | July 20, 2007 3:29 PM
4

I found bible stories to be convoluted, nonsensical, and generally lacking in coherent points. At least when read in the bible. The distilled children's book versions or the campy movie renditions are a whole different bag of tricks. Been reading The illustrated Children's Bible have we Charles.

Posted by Giffy | July 20, 2007 3:39 PM
5

What about the mormonz?

Posted by Jude Fawley | July 20, 2007 3:44 PM
6

The New Testament is saturated with Jesus' death because that's the part that Paul (WAS: Saul of Tarsus) thought was the most important part of Jesus' life. Here's a bit of information about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_of_Tarsus

This view was cemented by the Council of Nicea and is why now Christians are more interested in Jesus' death than what he had to say while he was alive.

Christianity was a religion of the people, by the people and for the people, until Saul felt it was more important to use as a tool to control the masses.

Posted by TacomaRoma | July 20, 2007 3:44 PM
7

the truth abouth the bible.

warning, spoiler alert!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v252/tfinsea/spoiler.jpg

Posted by Tiffany | July 20, 2007 4:25 PM
8

You need to do a little more research on this one. Christians believe Jews are God's chosen people. And that Jesus was scattered all throughout the old testament. He was in fulfillment, not in resentment towards.

So basically your little thought bubble here is ignorant and trite. Sorry - your thoughts aren't as important as you think they are.

Don't worry it happens to all of us.

Posted by Ryan | July 20, 2007 4:48 PM
9

ryan, you are wrong, wrong, wrong. i'm right, right, right.

Posted by charles | July 20, 2007 5:09 PM
10

But how does Chewbacca relate to Jesus in the context of this narrative construct?

Posted by Dan | July 20, 2007 8:19 PM
11

So Bush meets this Marine who lost both his legs in Iraq and says \"Good Man, We\'re Gonna Get Him Some New Legs...\" Bush is the guy Dan Savage supported to start a war in Iraq. The Marine is the guy who is paying the price for Bush\'s stupidity and incompetence.

Excerpts below from Dan Savage\'s \"Say yes to war\" piece Oct. 2002

\"While the American left is content to see an Iraqi dictator terrorizing the Iraqi people, the Bushies in D.C. are not. \"We do not intend to put American lives at risk to replace one dictator with another,\" Dick Cheney recently told reporters. For those of you who were too busy making papier-mâché puppets of George W. Bush last week to read the papers, you may have missed this page-one statement in last Friday\'s New York Times: \"The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein.\"\"

\"In the meantime, invading and rebuilding Iraq will not only free the Iraqi people, it will also make the Saudis aware of the consequences they face if they continue to oppress their own people while exporting terrorism and terrorists. The War on Iraq will make it clear to our friends and enemies in the Middle East (and elsewhere) that we mean business: Free your people, reform your societies, liberalize, and democratize... or we\'re going to come over there, remove you from power, free your people, and reform your societies for ourselves\"

Posted by A story not told enough | July 20, 2007 10:19 PM
12

But what do you do if all the great stories have been told—and only a great story can establish a religion, a state, a race? You take, borrow, steal, and become resentful.


Or, if you're Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, you become filthy stinking *rich*, is what happens here.

Posted by Suzi | July 20, 2007 10:56 PM
13

"And that Jesus was scattered all throughout the old testament."

hehehe that just sounds kind of dirty for some reason. Is 'that Jesus' a euphemism for semen? If so I want to stick my God the father in her Holy Ghost so I can shot that Jesus into her heart.

Posted by Giffy | July 21, 2007 8:56 AM
14

"But what do you do if all the great stories have been told—and only a great story can establish a religion, a state, a race?"

I'm unsure about the idea of "great stories." Narrative has too many permutations to be exhausted, see the Library of Babel.) I am convinced, though, about this idea that narrative does this, that it creates identity: religion, state, race, tribe, region, etc. For instance, L. Ron Hubbard was able to create a religion with a story. Not a great story. Just a story. Star Wars has created something ... an international geek culture ... I suspected that the anti-narrative post was an attempt to get at the function of narrative in globalism, right? Most criticism frames the study of narrative in terms of nations, religions, race, or international movements like Modernism / Communism (but these seem like echoes of essentially political/commercial structures like global capitalism.) In Modernism/Post-Modernism there are only a few players and a huge, distributed audience. There has been a shift since the 1990s, with many players and many audience members in terms of cultural production/consumption.

So what do these stories look like that are no longer interested in telling the stories of New York, London, Paris, Peking, and the kind of people who live there? I do not belong to a clearly defined ethnicity or religion and to say "Culture of the United States" is kind of a joke.

But there are "chosen people" who do tell stories about themselves that are global in nature. There are the new(ish) narratives of people (somewhat) free from the constraints of geography, religion, ethnicity, etc.: Geek stories (Star Wars, Philip K. Dick, Star Trek), gay literature, and the catch-all of counter-culture lit. Do these literatures operate any differently then, for instance, post-colonial lit? I think they do -- they are constructive and optimistic (utopian) for the most part (even if dystopian) because the imagine a future in which the old lines of power have dissolved. Of course there are always new sources of oppression. A story has conflict. Maybe it is the past -- but I think a difference might be that these literatures are future facing (to generalize).

Posted by Matt Briggs | July 21, 2007 9:54 AM
15

July 19, 2007
Cpl. Brandon Craig, a 25-year-old Fort Lewis soldier from Earleville, Md., died Thursday when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle in Husayniyah, Iraq.

October 2002
\"Say Yes To War\" Dan Savage

Posted by In other news | July 21, 2007 11:48 AM
16

if it were my choice, i'd edit that fucking bible down to the 4 gospels, and cut those down a la thomas jefferson.

the new testament isn't a coda, its the old testament that's a curse on civilization.

Posted by maxsolomon | July 21, 2007 12:05 PM

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