Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Strict Military Life Will Make Anyone A Little Crazy - Lindsey

In the film Crumb, we are able to get a good insight into his early childhood and life with his family. Being an navy brat and raised as a catholic myself, I can certainly share some insight as to how things can be a little "crazy" growing up. It is very easy to lose oneself in the bible when trying to escape from a chaotic world, but the words of the lord can take you in one of two directions: the person reading them can let the scripture define their live, or the person can apply their own meaning to the bible and develop a whole new interpretation completely.
One thing that can lead to developing some sort of neurosis is a constant "broken household" that does the complete opposite of nurture creativity. From personal experience, while living in a strict, military household, stepping outside the line and developing new ideas and ways of thinking is not always a good thing. One is pressured into the book. This means two things. Children are pressured into a general book of rules that can include: a relentless and tight schedule, impeccable cleanliness, following direct orders, and above all, demonstrating a profound respect for superiors. The other book that children in the army have to live their lives by, of course, is the bible. While public school may be tolerated in a more "lax" army society (as was in my case), strict studying of the bible and its lessons happened every Sunday...all day. With Crumb's strict military lifestyle coupled with a mother's drug problems could certainly lead to a need to break free from a life of perfectly made beds and suppressed thinking that some level of neurosis can eventually develop.
Another aspect of Robert Crumb's childhood aside from the strict upbringing and the eventual usage of LSD that can cause neurosis which can later be seen in his works is the abuse. As a form of suppression and keeping people in line, members of the military can use verbal abuse to make sure that orders are strictly followed. The verbal and physical abuse that Crumb experienced and witnessed as a child is certainly not something that lends to maintaining a good outlook on life and sanity in general. This is yet another way that Crumb's creativity and artistic abilities were never allowed to grow and flourish as a child. I wanted to be an art major, but my father told me that, "drawing pictures for a living is for hippies" and he would not pay for an education that would "eventually lead to me doing drugs and eventually dropping out of school anyway". Seeing as how Crumb's father was just about as nurturing as mine, it is easy to see how and why he rebelled and went the direction that he did.
The Book of Genesis is a production of Crumb's fractured home life. The illustrations throughout the book definitely lend to a life of suppression and abuse. Interpreting the bible in a visibly violent manner is a demonstration of how Crumb feels that although he grew up learning Catholicism and its lessons, they did not protect them like they promised. God is often portrayed as a father figure, and men and women are His children. The Old Testament is the part of the bible that shows God's authority over humanity and His vengeance against sinners. God's punishments throughout Genesis could possibly be construed as a father punishing his children. This is something that Crumb and his siblings are no strangers to. Many of the images of man in this book depicts them as downtrodden and defeated after God has dealt with them. This could be paralleled to the constant defeat Crumb felt whilst living with an unsupportive family during the years he was growing and developing.
The images and the interpretation of the lord's text in Crumb's Book of Genesis is a direct result of the treatment from his mother and father during his childhood. While many signs point to having developed a slight neurosis over the years from not only his upbringing, but his later experience with drugs and alcohol, this work from Crumb is definitely a protest to an early life of suppression and strict rules. With the lessons of the bible failing to comfort a young Crumb, a visual interpretation is an easy way to rebel from the years of Catholic school where he was treated as an outcast and gained nothing. While I may not have had a physically abusive childhood, and my mother is mentally sound, I can definitely relate to Crumb and his early life. My older sister and I managed to avoid a life of drugs and becoming a "god-forsaken" hippy, as our parents so eloquently put, but we managed to rebel in our own subtle ways. As every military child who never got to nurture their dreams at a young age would agree, and as Crumb certainly experienced, you may go a little crazy, but you eventually find a way to stick it to your parents.


  1. The first paragraph is interesting and I like that you incorporated something about your personal life into the prompt. However, I think it would be helpful to explicitly state how this is relevant to Crumb's life.

    There is little to no transition from the first paragraph to the second. First you're discussing the Bible, then a chaotic household. Also, I don't think it is fair to say that "a "broken household" that does the complete opposite of nurture creativity.".

    I also don't agree with the statement: This is yet another way that Crumb's creativity and artistic abilities were never allowed to grow and flourish as a child. It seemed that Crumb actually resorted to art as an escape from his awful life. You bring up good points about his future being effected by his childhood experiences but I think his artistic creativity actually grew because he was dealing with such awful things as a kid.

    The ending of the fourth paragraph is really interesting and strong. I think it would've been good if you would've spent more time discussing things of this nature.

    I really like the conclusion to your essay. I think the second half was significantly stronger than the beginning. So maybe for revision, you could reduce the first half and elaborate on the second?

  2. First off: this is by far my favorite of anything you've written for this class. It isn't finished or polished, but it's very interesting and, I think, insightful.

    Why do I like it? You're bringing your own experience to bear, in an interesting way, on a person who I suspect many of us have trouble relating to on one level or another, or relate to very reluctantly. You are normalizing/explaining some of Crumb's "strangeness" in an interesting and productive way. And you're doing a good job telling a story about yourself in the process.

    So why don't I think it's done, or anywhere close to it? For it to work better, you need to move a little bit away from generalization. I love the premise that his work in Genesis is an continuation of a form of childhood rebellion which you can explain and relate to - but if this is the case, you ought to be able to not just generalize about the whole book, but write about how he visualizes some particular moments within the story.

    So it's imaginative and a great start - but to be strong essay, rather than a strong start, you need to turn it into an argument that says something specific about moments in the text and in the movie - illuminating the whole through the parts, is one way to think about it.