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Abstract

The essay presents a comparative analysis of three modernist novellas—Heart of Darkness, Death in Venice, and The Turn of the Screw—focusing on their use of Dionysian motifs, whereby “Dionysian” is intended in its Nietzschean context. Alongside the thematic literary connections it draws, the essay also reflects on the motives and implications of Nietzsche’s Dionysism for modernist aesthetics: Nietzsche’s eventual subsumption of the Apollonian under the Dionysian ushers in modernity’s espousal of irrationality, disease, darkness, and concealment as its privileged moments of expression. However, this new Dionysism is also symptomatic of the anxiety experienced in the aftermath of the death of God (and the concomitant death of the soul), and the essay demonstrates that the figure of the irrational in all three novellas is conveyed in terms of the struggle of a soul.

In: Religion and the Arts
In: Religion and the Arts

Abstract

This article explores José Val del Omar’s religious thought in relation to his Fire in Castile, a 1960 experimental film that sets Spanish Renaissance sculptures in motion by use of pulsating lights, projected patterns, and other striking audiovisual effects. Val del Omar sought to provoke a new and technological mystical encounter: Fire in Castile displaces the viewers’ physical space to create a transcendental and sacred opening, in turn activating the affective role of the sculptures. This essay seeks to contextualize the film in relation to a core theological notion in Val del Omar’s thought, the interlacing of God and time: “God is Time,” he wrote, “the devil rules over space.” For Val del Omar, this is a tragic situation in which God is waiting for us in the entrails of life, which in turn demands a visceral disruption of our spatiotemporal and existential assumptions.

In: Religion and the Arts
In: Religion and the Arts
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In: Religion and the Arts
In: Religion and the Arts

Abstract

The Psalmic is less tidy and linear than popular interpretation, and author Edwidge Danticat explores the non-linear tensions between lament and joy. Her writing is cyclical rather than linear. As Danticat explores the individual and communal juxtaposition of tragedy and celebration, her writing echoes the varied tenor and emotions of the Psalms. Haunting tales of national and personal life and death, separation and reunion are structurally played across her works. The heartrending sequence of life and death is eloquently explored through personal stories set against larger tales of Haitian immigration. Just as the Psalmist employs the vav adversative, or turning movements of joy and lament, Danticat likewise expresses her fluid engagement with the range of human experience (Card 75, 70). Danticat’s Psalmic aesthetic and her “fully awake and alive” wrestling with grief and celebration helps readers reconsider personal and national tragedy and triumph.

In: Religion and the Arts

Abstract

This article addresses the lacuna of scholarship on Jewish-American stained glass by presenting a historical overview of this prevalent synagogue art form (1845 to the present). Analysis of key trends reveals Jewish congregations’ engagement with Christian influences by imitating the work of church stained glass in some ways while differentiating in other ways. Jewish artists and congregational leaders have also been in conversation with each other, sharing thematic and design ideas to formulate a loosely shared aesthetic and religious approach towards creating windows for their houses of worship. In accordance with the Second Commandment’s prohibition against creating “graven images,” God in figural form does not appear in synagogue space. Instead, a Jewish technique for eliciting a sense of Divine in the sanctuary has included a repertoire of light-filled images—including torches, lamps, fire, and celestial bodies—to convey a spiritual presence, enhanced by actual light from the sun itself as refracted through the windows.

In: Religion and the Arts
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Abstract

Gerwig’s Barbie film addresses social concerns regarding sexism and responds to interpretations of Genesis and the roles of men and women. The film argues that women should not rely on or find fulfilment with a man. However, while Ken and Barbie each forge their own paths at the film’s end, the real world continues to suffer from underground patriarchy and Barbie Land resumes functioning like a matriarchy. Gerwig draws attention to the social reform needed for true gender equality to exist, yet the film’s ending shows a distancing from the problem rather than a leaning into it. The Genesis account is often rejected because it is incorrectly interpreted as a patriarchal structure of man’s dominion over women; however, when viewed as an example of an egalitarian relationship, it offers positive visions for society. This requires resisting a narrative of hyper-individualism to right social wrongs and instead adopting a posture of egalitarian goodwill that bolsters the common good.

In: Religion and the Arts