Thursday, April 24, 2008

Religious Criticism in Infernal Desires

The question arose in class the other day as to whether or not Angela Carter was criticizing religion in the chapter entitled Lost in Nebulus Time. My first reaction to this chapter and the centaurs actions was the belief that she was criticizing the pointlessness of religion. On page 183 we are given a description of their religious lives. Desiderio describes the "whole point of their activity" as "endless," suggesting no progress is ever made toward achieving...well what they are trying to achieve isn't exactly clear, possibly simply appeasing the Sacred Stallion. He also admonishes their horse tree on the Holy Hill as "no more than a kind of anthropoid vegetable clock." If we can take Desiderio's words to be also Carter's then it appears she is callous towards this religion, its inability to achieve anything production, and its false idols. Yet, a further reading suggested otherwise to me. I believe she is simply comparing religion to history in this passage, which at some level all religion is a history. Desiderio points out that they create and adapt their religion to fit the situations around them, thereby shaping not only their religion, but shaping their history. From this viewpoint Carter is linking religion and history together in that they both describe the past, sometimes with more or less truths or more or less mysticisms, but always at least presenting the past.

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