Thursday, October 27, 2011


I believe that Crumb is using Genesis as a way to show an example of the “fermented culture” which we need but have lost. I also believe that perhaps he was drawn to illustrate Genesis because of the likenesses between the people in the book and the ones in our culture today. Crumb says, “It used to be that people fermented their own culture, you know, it took hundreds of years and evolved over time.” Genesis is an excellent example of this kind of culture. In a single page - the ones showing the different generations - we can already see the many, many years this culture is being created throughout and it continues to evolve as the generations go on. Genesis begins with the simple “culture” of just Adam and Eve, two people and their actions determine everything. These actions mirror those of the greedy people in today’s world. Adam and Eve’s own greed made their culture evolve into one where greed exists. There is then an eternal choice of doing something right or doing something wrong instead of the simple, good life they were created by God to live.

As time goes on, people begin fighting and killing and adding negativity to their culture. This is the point where Genesis is not necessarily an example of the culture that we need but don’t have anymore, but instead shows one comparable to our own as it is today. Crumb said, “People now don't even have any concept that there ever was a culture outside of this thing that's created to make money… whatever is the biggest, latest thing, they’re into it.” The people in Genesis aren’t necessarily doing things to make money, but greed is present and fuels their actions. Much of the action in the book stems from arguments about “the biggest, latest thing” and who gets what, whether someone’s possessions or a human being.

To take the thought that Crumb could have chosen to illustrate Genesis because of it’s similarities to our own culture even further, one could say that God may represent the government to a certain extent. His intentions are to do good for the people and the world that he has created, but he brings horrible things upon them when they do not obey. Perhaps the comparison could be too extreme to some, but the whole idea of something greater than you that controls you is one that always stands out to me when I think about religions.

I think that the idea that Genesis can hint at a representation of the troubles in our own world is one that Robert Crumb would probably agree with. While the illustrations are a representation of what we have now, I think that the second part of his quote is also true. He says how people don’t even think about the culture that ever existed outside of the one they see now whose only goal is to make money. Genesis can be a representation of what Crumb sees as the faults in our society, shown in a way that highlights things our society is missing. It’s displayed through the actions of people in an entirely different culture than ours. Our culture is obsessed with money. Their culture was obsessed with human beings, getting women, etc. The land, the earth, family relationships, children- what they were doing to get these things is the same kind of stuff we do to get money, but the fact that they were working towards a variety of things when we only want money makes the culture in Genesis a lot more rich. Maybe in our society today, we think that the way they went about getting the things they wanted might be strange, but to them it was all a normal part of their deep-rooted culture spreading across generations in contrast to our shallow, ever-changing culture that lacks those kinds of determination and goals.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little torn about how to approach this one. I think you take the prompt in an interesting direction, but ultimately I'm a little unclear about some pretty important things. Is Crumb using Genesis to mirror/show the flaws and problems in our culture, or his he using them to show a kind of history of how *cultures* in general acquired a range of problems? That is, does Genesis exist to show us a mirror of our own culture, to show us alternatives, or to do both, through a kind of history of the development of culture itself?

    One reason I'm so uncertain about exactly what you're doing is because you don't deal with specifics of the text or of the movie. You generalize too much, in other words. If you had approached your argument by way of, say, the story of Dinah or the story of Cain or the story of Joseph (plenty of greed in that one, from lots of different people), it would have been much easier for me (and possibly for you!) to figure out exactly what you're up to. Because you remain on a purely abstract level, though, it's hard to figure out. Similarly, you might have returned to the film, either to emphasize or to question Crumb as a critic of our culture (his choice to leave for France, his brother Maxon's radical antimaterialism, his own ambiguous relationship with wealth, etc).