Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More response to "Life After God"

From classfellow J.L:
The idea that an act of human goodness was rewarded by god with the gift of animals directly contradicts the order and (according to my own textual interpretation) spirit of the story of Eden. The naming of the animals takes place before the fall- in fact before the creation of Eve. Coupland's vision of an act of goodness in this time frame makes a substantial change to the story, and the fact that such a huge idea is left as a conspicuous loose end makes me wonder if there's a deliberate literary function for it or if it's just a beautiful thought that made it into the book and just didn't tie neatly into other things. It's quite profound either way. Also, my brief reading on biblegateway.com reveals what may be another direct (though subtle) biblical parallel (and not necessarily a deliberate allusion): 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Genesis 2:1 15-17 This is the first time that death is mentioned anywhere in the old testament. There's an odd starkness to this explanation; Adam has no knowledge or experience that could inform him of the nature of death, and God talks about it as if he (Adam) should know. The way that Coupland talks about understanding death- when he compares it with recycling for instance-strikes me as being expressive of what me may infer Adam's understanding of death to be. In scripture we need to see someone die- Abel, at the hands of Cain,before we can grasp the concept in this literary form. Coupland seems to have expanded this dynamic. We are first treated to various views of the Flash, always quite removed from it. We know intellectually what it connotes but it is divorced from the visceral response that comes from confronting death. And then in The Dead Speak we witness death first hand and it becomes real.


retrodeathpixie said...

Maybe as humans, and as Coupland characters, we need to believe that the dead speak. Regardless of what they say, it's easier than believing that they can't speak at all...

Anonymous said...

As Coupland characters perhaps this is true (I believe he uses the same device in Hey Nostradamus). As humans, there is certainly a widespread desire to hear the dead speak. I wouldn't call it a need.

You bring up an interesting point in any case- maybe the only way we can make death "real" for ourselves is to imagine the thoughts of the deceased.

As for the human "need" to believe anything, I will say simply that in general I am unconvinced that desire is ever a suitable motivation for belief.