Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Derrida problematized Saussere by coining this term, which is indistinguishable from the real French word "Difference" except in writing (they sound exactly the same).
After all: the only way to resolve differences in dialect and other variations in pronunciation is to go to the visual standard of writing! How then is speech superior?
- Action Philosophers #11
by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey

What does Jacques Derrida have to do with Wednesday Theology? Well, pretty much everything. While my professors at seminary were trying to teach me about postmodernism and what it means for Christianity and theology, I became stuck on the idea that planted itself in my head that this textual critique could be applied to the comic book format. 

Words placed in bold frequently throughout prose text feels clunky and awkward. But in comics, the technique can be efficiently utilized to place emphasis on certain words to intensify their meaning. It feels natural to me, but admittedly that may just be because I have long since learned how to read comic books in this way. I know acquaintances of mine unaccustomed to the format find such stylized text bewildering.

But bold text is simply, for me, the most obvious example of différance in graphic literature. The size of the word determines meaning, both in relation to the picture and the the other words around it. The word's location on the page (and in relation to everything else on the page) also helps determine the meaning. These are all aspects that cannot be gleaned from merely speaking the words aloud.

But what does this notion of graphic text have to do with theology? What does it have to do with the Bible? Go grab a Bible. I bet it employs some form of this graphic text that we barely even notice. The most obvious is the "red letter Bible," where the words of Christ are printed in red text. Why? To place emphasis on the words and teaching of our savior.

And then there's the Tetragrammaton, the name of God. YHWH. Usually it's translated as "Lord," but not as "Lord." Instead, it's printed as "LORD" (or actually a capital L and then smaller, yet still capitalized ORD) to distinguish it from the usual word "lord."

And now I want to break out Crumb's The Book of Genesis and read some Scripture in all its graphic textual glory.

Sometimes I feel sorry for my professors...

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