Thursday, April 03, 2014

Staging Job

Not a huge number of people showed up for my rescheduled talk at the Princeton Public Library tonight (this picture was taken before they showed up), but it's always fun to have a chance to share ideas with people. And since I'm incapable of giving the same talk twice, it's always an opportunity to hone language, deepen an argument, or, more likely, stumble into a new insight. Tonight I worked the big insight from the talk at Monmouth College last week (whose structure and slides I used again tonight) - that imagining (or actually) staging the Book of Job changes how each speech is understood as we need to determine who's being addressed and who's hearing it: a speech needs an audience.
 
I used some more images from different iterations of Blake's "Illustrations of the Book of Job" (Blake's a sure hit when you're showing images) to set up the question, and I found this new one - an early sketch (c. 1785!) now at the Tate, which frames the story of Job's friends interestingly: they are clearly friends, part of a community of care. This scene doesn't make it into the final engravings 40 years later, but clearly Blake was attentive to the real and tested relationship of Job and his friends. They are on the scene throughout Blake's retelling - included/excluded in different ways. These scenes are familiar.
Here the friends aren't in the same mindspace as Job. But look at these:
There's a story here - one I think I can connect to the really important question: where are we in this? When and how are we being addressed?

Fun, fun! And there's always an unexpected question at any of these presentations. Tonight's came from one of the young people manning the desk for Labyrinth Books. Had I come across anyone who regarded Job's scraping himself with a potsherd as a form of self-harm? Um... not before tonight!

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