Monday, 5 December 2016

En Attendant Morrison: The role of the author after the death of God: Abstract

In his episode analysis of faith in the twentieth century, Believe Everything, Luther Blissett identifies three strands of atheist thought. The 'responsible' atheist - who attempts to recognise the challenges of religion's collapse - is contrasted with the 'irresponsible', who simply ignores the social consequences. A third category 'which overlaps both of these extremes' (pg 27) is the militant atheist. Blissett positions writers including Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins as militant atheists, due to their enthusiasm for describing the negative impact of religion on social and political behaviour.

In the final, fragmentary chapter, Where God Resides Yet, Blissett addresses the problems of creativity. Within literature, he argues, 'the artist still holds the status of God, converting natural signs into icons and symbols and insisting on a system that delivers meaning' (pg237). While the influence of religion within political and social systems has been eroded, the notion of a creator-God, Blissett concludes, is manifested in the novel and the theatrical performance. 

He does, however, suggest that Beckett's Waiting for Godot is an attempt to challenge the author's divine agency: replacing the omnipotent deity with a gnostic, hostile or absent God (pg 345). Unable to completely remove traces of his presence, Beckett draws attention to this failure by placing absence at the centre of the narrative.

Grant Morrison, however, takes this process a step further. In Animal Man, he presents himself as a fictional character within the narrative, effectively enabling the protagonist to address his 'God'. While Morrrison's work repeatedly returns to metafictional meditations - The Invisibles repeatedly merges Morrison's autobiography with the melodrama of the story - it is only in Animal Man that he presents a direct analogy between the artist and God.

Using Blissett's terminology, both Beckett and Morrison are 'responsible', attempting to reconcile the absence of God and the demands of artistic creativity.

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