The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
06th of July, 2014

Page Out of My Book

That Bible I have told you about that I typeset and published (in PDF) recently has some illustrations. Many of them are family photos of mine, so of course it is of little interest to other people. My face seldom shows up anywhere on the Internet, and when it does it is scattered in some unmarked pages in a very large download of the Bible. “Elusive” isn’t a term I much like, but there you go.

Anyway, the parts that are not family photos are instead agitprop art. As a result, my first truly modern art (web fonts, pure XML data, > 2000AD technologies) is this Bible. It is consciously artistic, while also consciously scripture. I understood that I was receiving and transmitting scripture, but with a probational licence for art and personalisation. There are vague inspirations from the modern art movement, the sheer willingness to be offensive, if it permits me to begin communicating. This, for example, is the picture from Genesis 3, the chapter of the Fall. I found it on the Internet after some kind of related search, and I included it.

Adam and Eve, at the Fall

This kind of image makes Genesis 3 risqué again. It is the most-devastating chapter in the Bible, and also accompanied by such a fittingly-fallen picture. That there is a bird being flipped adds to the shame of the realization in that chapter. Before it, above chapter 2, comes a tender metaphor for the interaction between Adam and God—whom no man has ever seen—in a photograph as touchingly-beautiful as anything before the knowledge of good and evil. I have been in a meeting with the Bible Society and made people swoon with the image above Genesis 2. They didn’t know that if I had flipped to the next page, I would be lynched. And that is the power of the transition between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 in this Bible. Ours is a profane age, where porn is cheap and evading it is costly. That picture is a price I am willing to pay in the “era of ‘fuck’.”

But the Old Testament, being an earthy part of the Bible, is probably easy to find images for. For the prophecies of Isaiah about, say, Damascus, I have used images from current affairs. After all, these wars were prophecied by the Prophets. Pictures of fresh ruins accompany chapters like Isaiah 17. This is stuff Gustav Doré could only have dreamed of, but there are still Bibles in the shops with Doré’s woodcuts. Haha. For places like Psalms 117, you could put a picture of your child. But what would you do with, say, the sharp theology in Hebrews?

Romans versus Darwinism

That is the picture that hangs above Romans. That is the treatment I have given every image that is dominated by the wrong idea. —Because sometimes I had to portray a negative idea, but I could not afford to hang those pictures the same way I hang my family photos. So I flip the bad ones upside-down, be they ISIS fighters giving body to a chapter of Revelation, or a Darwinian poster to link the heresy to its refutation in Romans 1. This Darwinist poster one, in particular, came out so well, because it is so rich. The passage in the caption speaks of darkened thoughts, which is amply shown in the image. That is agitprop as the Commies should have done it: one single transformation on the picture, and a caption. It is fair enough, in this case, to show the Darwinist idea as wrong just by looking at it from the other angle, and reading a sentence from Paul.