Monday, May 09, 2016

Job's ladder

And here's another of my students' brilliant final projects for "Performing the Problem of Suffering: The Book of Job and the Arts." This student designed a jacob's ladder, a book whose panels cascade and invert as you turn the top. She explains: "The imagery of the ouroboros at the top of the panels, along with the disorienting, flipping structure of the book is meant to represent the cyclical and changing experience of the Book of Job. God is the equivalent of the unending, unrelenting cycle of nature, while man tries painstakingly to stop the cycle." It's a really beautiful way of representing the narrative power and push of the book. She's chosen a passage from her favorite novel, Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, about the impossibility of a full life without shadow, and painted scenes of light and dark between them.
The words are spoken by Woland (Satan) to a follower of Jesus, but she thinks it functions much the way God's speeches to Job do in the Bible: No sooner do you appear on the roof than you blab nonsense, and I’ll tell you what it is – it’s your intonation. You pronounced your words as if you refuse to acknowledge the existence of either shadows or evil. But would you kindly ponder this question: What would your good do if evil did not exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. Here is the shadow of my sword. But shadows also come from trees and from living things. Do you want to strip the earth of all trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light? You’re stupid. Up and down, light and dark, God and Satan - amazing!

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