Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Coupland's Attitude to "Religion"

A good illustration of Douglas Coupland's attitude toward Religion is found on a card that I saw this morning at the SFU BookStore. It has the painting shown here ― Cranach's "The Virgin and Child Under an Apple Tree" ―with the following motto:

Knowing who His Father was,
most were surprised
to see how much
He resembled Mary.

Now, if you understand this, then you understand much of Hey Nostradamus!, I think. The motto is clearly irreverent, and can be read, by those so minded, as making a pointed joke against a particular doctrinal belief. But the attitude is playful, not mean-spirited; ambiguous rather than dogmatic or cynical. (Ambiguous, because a Christian could still enjoy the joke, I presume.) It is a form of gentle Irony - a central Coupland literary mode which I will address myself to in upcoming lecture.

6 comments:

Monica Carino, et al... said...

I hope that i won't offend anybody who believes in stict doctrine in regards to the Catholic/Christian religion, but I do believe in the feminine side of God.
In "Hey Nostradamus". the feminine concept is embedded (in my observation) in different aspects of the story.
Just a comment...

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear Monica:
I'll have more to say about this in lecture, and following from Wednesday's lecture point that the title -- "Hey Nostradamus!" -- resolves to "Hail Mary" (via 'Nostra-Damus'='Our-Lady') invokes the maternal, Mother-of-God, sensibility.
Can you give some specific quotations from the text that specially like?

chewbaca said...

the only thing that was anything close to maternal love is heather
cheryl died too fast before we could see her do anything

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

On that reading, then, Coupland's title would refer to an appeal for maternality in a world lacking it....

Monica Carino, et al... said...

Part Four
2003: REG
"And then there was spring..."
Page 232
-Of appreciation to the blooming fields; whereas, when "metaphysical meanings" will be applied, spring is hope for Reg... the only moment of answered prayer in his inner struggle to divert from his father's way of upbringing.
-Feminism? LA PRIMAVERA. The only feminine season; can be associated with paganism, or Greek beliefs (Gaea)... for Catholics/Christians, it is God in His/Her allotment for earth fertility.
-Could it be possible that God, like seasons, can change? Like seasons, could God be feminine and masculine? But then again, where is the hope in winter's chill, or in summer's scorch? Where is the life in autumn's falling leaves? -is it not all are in spring?

Dear Doctor Ogden,
I'm sorry I read your question kind of late. I hope that I'm able to hit Coupland's gist.

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

I think that you did! Genesis ch.1, presents a God who combines male & female: verse 27 - 27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."