On the Ledge

By Douglas Rushkoff. Published in Testament on 1 February 2006

The Bible actually may have been written in the wrong medium. I’m saying this as a media theorist - a guy who has written books and novels, taught university classes, and made documentaries about the impact of new technology on the way we relate to stories. And particularly on those stories we happen to really believe in.

If anything, working in what is still the rather new space of networked computers has taught me that our relationship to narratives is stuck in a dangerous place. Sure, we watch TV and imagine ourselves as characters, but we have lost access to the gaps in the stories, the places where temporality, interpretation and sequence are up for grabs. We just get lost in the seamless reality and get taken along for a ride.

I’ve found some less-than-receptive audiences for these observations. When I wrote a book presenting the Bible as an “open source” collaboration, I was blacklisted by fundamentalists of more than one religion. They just didn’t want their story messed with – even though I had been able to prove it was written with that very intent!

Business people, religious people, educators, and publishers are all equally threatened and confounded by the idea that real stuff is actually occurring in the gaps between the moments that pass for history.

And that’s when I discovered the perfect place to tell what I’ve come to believe is the real story of the Bible: comics.

Now don’t get the wrong idea. The Bible has been framed as a sanctimonious tome just to keep you from reading it! It’s the ultimate handbook for psychic revolt, with temple prostitutes, incantations, incest, interdimensional travel and even ritualized anal rape. Think you’re an accomplished magician? Check out the source code on reality hacking, and see if you can handle it.

A comic is camouflage allowing me to expose the essential mythic battle underlying Western Civilization, and sequential narrative is a perfect way to tell a story that takes place in multiple universes at the same time – including our own. It’ll follow a band of cyber-alchemist revolutionaries, in a future just a day after tomorrow–when the draft is reinstated, and the mind virus known as the dollar requires military enforcement. It’ll also take place in Bible time - exposing how this plot has been recurring for centuries.

For by insisting that we “believe” the Bible happened at some moment in distant history, the keepers of religion prevent us from realizing that the Bible is happening right now, in every moment. The narrative and its power transcend time. All we need is access and will.

Then reality itself will be at our disposal, and we’ll be the superheroes.