Tuesday, 6 December 2016

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

If Beckett's decision to discuss absence through a diegetic absence provokes questions about God's absence, it does not challenge the position of the author as a divine, creative force. Morrison's arrival at the end of Animal Man throws the author into the action, and thereby undermines his authority.

In this single page, Morrison's character flippantly alludes to Christianity, associating himself with 'The Lord' who gives and takes away, establishes his power ('I wanted to use you'), his powerlessness in 'the real world,(I can't do anything') and the constrictions on his creativity ('comic books are realistic now'). He even identifies a brutal philosophy of 'might makes right' as the moral foundation of human behaviour, dismissing the idea of human superiority ('no more intrinsic right to life than does a white lab rat').

Animal Man meets his creator, only to be disappointed. The creator refuses his prayer on a whim, and claims his creation's emotions merely as an expression of his own. Far from being liberating, Animal Man's meeting with God is another cruelty, following on from the murder of his family.

Undeniably, Morrison represents himself as a diffident and limited deity: he absolves himself of responsibility for Animal Man's experiences, blaming the comic market's desire for realism, while taking credit for the heroic compassion that drove Animal Man to battle cruelty. He appears to share characteristics with a gnostic ideal of the demiurge, without its overweening egotism.

The demiurge is a step away from the Christian ideal of a perfect and compassionate God: Morrison regards the world as savage, and morality a matter of strength masquerading as a spiritual hierarchy. However, Morrison abruptly takes on a more Christian identity: going on to critique the apparent human need for violence, he suggests a moral alternative.

Having introduced himself into the world, and recognising his limitations, Morrison sets himself up as the moral arbiter. Ironically, having expressed anxiety at his 'preachy' attitude within the story, he directly addresses his victim and demands a higher morality.

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