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John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation

Posted by nigel 
John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 06, 2010 09:48PM
Hey all,
You'll probably recall a few months ago, fellow forum member AKMA (a churchman and academic at the University of Glasgow) began delving into John's biblical allusions on the forums. The result of his research is a fourteen-page (!) scholarly paper entitled "What These Cryptic Symbols Mean: Quotation, Allusion, and John Darnielle’s Biblical Interpretation", which will soon be published in an academic journal called Biblical Interpretation. In his writing, AKM goes through nearly all of tMG's catalog, examining John's use of Scripture to evoke pathos, deepen ideas, and create story, and attempting to gain a "big picture understanding" of these allusions. It makes for fascinating reading.

He was kind enough to send me a copy of this essay and I thought it was so good I wanted to promote it over here! I can't post the article itself because of the magazine copyright, but AKM did give me permission to share his email address in case anyone else is interested in reading it. Shoot him an email at [i]akm.adam at gmail[/i] and he'll hook you up.

This has been an unpaid endorsement. ;)

do I have to hit you over the head with it?
[url=http://enjoys.nigelewan.com/]nigelewan.com[/url] · [url=http://www.last.fm/user/nigelewan]last.fm[/url]
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 08, 2010 11:14AM
Yo guys you should all really read this, it's pretty awesome.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 12, 2010 12:25AM
Backing this up, it's very well done.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 12, 2010 10:57PM
Just finished reading this, and it's excellent. I'd recommend it to anyone who is at least remotely interested.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 13, 2010 03:23AM
I also just read this, and it is quite good, just to echo everybody else...
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 15, 2010 02:21PM
I've read about half of it, I keep forgetting to finish.

We belong dead.
http://www.last.fm/user/fever0000
http://sordidalley.blogspot.com/
http://popwreckoning.com/author/jwhitelaw/
http://blog.kexp.org/blog/author/jeffreywhitelaw/
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 16, 2010 10:55AM
(tu) enjoyed reading this
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 16, 2010 11:12AM
Yeah, he really did a great job. I'm glad so many others have also enjoyed it!

do I have to hit you over the head with it?
[url=http://enjoys.nigelewan.com/]nigelewan.com[/url] · [url=http://www.last.fm/user/nigelewan]last.fm[/url]
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
July 17, 2010 08:03AM
My heartfelt thanks to Nigel and everyone else for your interest; it takes a lot of chutzpah for someone to tackle a whole vast body of composition such as tMG have produced, and to cobble together an overview of it. I know that there are songs I haven’t even heard yet, regular released tracks I mean, and all the more the unreleased or very-obscurely-released items. You all, and the forum discussions on this and related topics, helped insulate me from making any painfully obvious omissions.

During the writing process, I hardly listened to anything else, to the extent that I was getting a [i]little[/i] weary of tMG (especially of the songs I was emphasising in the essay, to which I listened over and over); that was a productive repetition, since even at the last minute I was thinking, “Hey, wait, I didn’t mention [i]that[/i] angle!” but I much prefer listening to tMG for pure enjoyment. This morning, at the coffee shop, Heretic Pride was on rotation, and while I was reading the newspaper I heard “Heretic Pride” and “San Bernardino”; they really touched me, again, and it was good to feel as though I hadn’t lost my appreciation for JD. (Actually, I had heard “How to Embrace” at the pub a couple of days before, and got into a lively discussion of tMG with the bartender. That too was great.)



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2010 03:38PM by AKMA.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 05, 2010 06:03AM
Where can i find this article? I'm new here so excuse my ignoranceB)
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 05, 2010 06:30AM
Do you mean where can you find the magazine it was published in? Or how can you just simply read the article?

Cuz if it's the latter then...

[quote="nigel in the first post of this thread said..."]
I can't post the article itself because of the magazine copyright, but AKM did give me permission to share his email address in case anyone else is interested in reading it. Shoot him an email at [b]akm.adam at gmail[/b] and he'll hook you up.
[/quote]

Oh and welcome to the forums Riko

________________________________________________________
"I'm so tired of being alone. These penitent walls are all I know. The song birds calling across the water. Inside my silent asylum."
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 05, 2010 10:45PM
Suz, you make it too easy for the lazies. ;)
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 25, 2010 12:07PM
This afternoon, I came across [url=http://www.jrdkirk.com/2010/08/24/and-give-you-peace/comment-page-1/#comment-5765]a comment on the blog of a colleague[/url] J R Daniel Kirk of Fuller Theological Seminary, in which the commenter observes:

[quote]Halfway through the show, Darnielle played a “Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?” a song (from Sunset Tree) in which he appropriates the imagery of Jonah to describe the abuse on a number of levels, evoking the sense of being crushed under the waves, the escape “wriggling” up on dry land.[/quote]

I considered "Hast Thou" when I was writing the article, but not in the context of Jonah (in another thread, we batted around the possibility that the "Hast Thou Considered" was an allusion to the Book of Job, or to David Foster Wallace). I have to give that another try, now.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 26, 2010 12:54AM
[quote="akma's colleague"]
[b]appropriates[/b] the imagery of Jonah
[/quote]

two of the last three lines allude to a "drowning" sensation. attributing that to the story of jonah seems tenuous to the point of absurdity, in my opinion.
i'm not trying to start a fight, but there are songs which [i]clearly[/i] relate to biblical precedent, and making associations like the one above seems to me akin to the example of the movie "pi" when the protagonist starts finding the fibonacci sequence in everything--to wit, look hard enough you can find anything.

i just sit here in my cave and absorb your facts and figures.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 26, 2010 01:19AM
That's the way I feel about it, blackliner; JD is exquisitely subtle, and it's entirely possible that he's so subtle that we miss some of what he's done, but that doesn't warrant citing everything that might be even a tenuous allusion.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 26, 2010 03:19AM
[quote=AKMA]
[quote]Halfway through the show, Darnielle played a “Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?” a song (from Sunset Tree) in which he appropriates the imagery of Jonah to describe the abuse on a number of levels, evoking the sense of being crushed under the waves, the escape “wriggling” up on dry land.[/quote]

.[/quote]

i personally have always viewed the language wriggling up on dry land to be an allusion to evolution, with the narrator dreaming of the time when he would evolve out of the role of a victim and into a survivor, like a fish scurrying out of the water and up onto the sand.

[img]http://s.mnstat.com/128-large.jpg[/img]
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
August 26, 2010 01:35PM
[quote="Wild Creature"]
an allusion to evolution
[/quote]

The terminology of "the tetrapod" would make that a virtual lock, for me. The only four-footed creatures in the Book of Jonah are the cattle of Nineveh (who are dressed in sackcloth to signify the Ninevites' repentance), which doesn't fit the song at all.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 07, 2010 01:32AM
[quote="Wild Creature"]
[quote=AKMA]
[quote]Halfway through the show, Darnielle played a “Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod?” a song (from Sunset Tree) in which he appropriates the imagery of Jonah to describe the abuse on a number of levels, evoking the sense of being crushed under the waves, the escape “wriggling” up on dry land.[/quote]

.[/quote]

i personally have always viewed the language wriggling up on dry land to be an allusion to evolution, with the narrator dreaming of the time when he would evolve out of the role of a victim and into a survivor, like a fish scurrying out of the water and up onto the sand.

[img]http://s.mnstat.com/128-large.jpg[/img][/quote]Absolutely. It's pretty hard for me to see the other interpretation, actually. The closest link to theology, I would say, is the idea that just as young John was being oppressed by his stepfather, so too might the lowly fish feel that God was holding him under the smothering waves. And, then, one of these days, a fish wriggled up on dry land.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 15, 2010 01:38PM
John mentioned Jonah briefly in his interview on the Amateur Scientist podcast:

http://www.amateurscientist.org/2009/12/amateur-scientist-podcast-john.html

No direct relation to H.T.C.T.Tetrapod, I think, but the archetypal image of Jonah -- having one's shadow bubble up from the depths of their mind to swallow them whole and spit them out with a changed self -- is something many of John's characters encounter. "Against Pollution" is one clear example, at least in my mind. Or they do everything possible to avoid having that satori moment, like the Alpha Couple.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 15, 2010 11:40PM
http://www.4ad.com/tallahassee/cellar2.html
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 18, 2010 02:36PM
I shot you an email for the article, dunno if ya got it. Either way, my email address is alexDOTmannATverizonDOTnet... Anyone can email me if you feel so inclined, just no spam please :)

-These days, these days, we drink a lot of snake oil-



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/18/2010 09:13PM by LearningHowToBreathe.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 18, 2010 05:26PM
[quote=LearningHowToBreathe]
Either way, my email address is alex.mann@verizon.net... Anyone can email me if you feel so inclined, just no spam please :)[/quote]

If you don't want spam you probably shouldn't type your email out like that then. Spambots--seek and destroy!

(Most people here go for the whole addressATmailserverDOTcom/org/net/whatever because it keeps it from creating a mail link.)
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 19, 2010 12:55AM
So I'm sitting in a hotel room outside Yosemite with my girlfriend. Not into watching tv, we decide to pick up Gideon's. I opened it to Revelations, just for the hell of it, and began to read randomly. A few paragraphs in, I read this verse, Revelations 9;8

They had hair like women's hair
and their teeth were like lions' teeth.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 19, 2010 10:12AM
Alex, I sent the article out to you yesterday -- if you didn't receive it, just let me know.
Re: John Darnielle's Biblical interpretation
September 19, 2010 12:09PM
^Yeah man, this is great! I love spending hours trying to figure out what tMG songs mean... JD will always throw is the subtlest of obscure references that you don't get right away. I feel like their music slowly became more and more metaphorical in their later years. By TLOTWTC it really WAS cryptic. Thanks man!

-These days, these days, we drink a lot of snake oil-
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