Trespassing Journal

“It Accreted Around Me” Created Space and the Problem of the Name in Lucifer

Katherina Polak MacDonald

[Abstract]-[pdf]

When nations are created, the newly-created boundaries seem to call for the disruption of bodily borders. The history of the nation always includes sacrifice, and mythologies of nation-building are always consolidated through difference. Creation stories, however, add another dimension onto conceptualizations of nationalism. Creation stories tend to have one of the most profound effects on the way in which the individual orientates herself in the world, as creation can be a traumatic experience for both the maker and the made. Trauma is closely linked with the development of the nation, partly in the way in which the nation is mapped as a familial relationship. The connection between the family as the locus of generation of trauma and the nation figured as a familial relationship has been explored in a number of works that consider literature, film, and works of art, but graphic narratives make an important contribution to this discussion as well. Graphic narratives offer an interesting surface on which to read how boundaries of creation are made, and how they are trespassed against. The graphic narrative genre itself is preoccupied with borders—panels and pages are bounded by frames, which provide particular perspectives available for the reader. However, many graphic narratives also offer surprising methods of trespassing their own boundaries, and readers of graphic narratives also violate the boundaries laid out for them through a process that Scott McCloud termed “closure”—a “phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole” (63). Closure is interesting in part because it involves “trespassing” onto and creating the blank space of the gutter. The space between panels operates as a boundary, but also operates as a space for the reader to imaginatively project action. This connects also to the formulation of the nation—the nation exists partly as what Benedict Anderson called an “imagined community,” and the graphic narrative genre has a formal kinship to the production of national consciousness, as what is depicted in each panel is only a framework, and the gutter exists as a space for resistance to the narrative. The Lucifer comic series, which was published by DC Vertigo from 2001-2007, is preoccupied with the potential offered by the gutter. The series focuses on the creation of space, often reproducing boundaries within the panel to emphasize how space and time are in tension in the graphic narrative genre. This paper will explore Lucifer, a mythic retelling of creation (and destruction) partially based on Judeo-Christian theology which also incorporates other multiple mythological and theological frameworks. Lucifer is the main character in the series, but the series draws on multiple religious frameworks while maintaining a kind of primacy of YHWH. This primacy is what Lucifer seeks to escape, and his primary motivation during the run is locating a place at which he can exit YHWH’s Creation. The familial connections between YHWH, Lucifer, and Elaine, a girl who is part angel and part human, produce several different Creations. YHWH departs his creation, leaving his own and Lucifer’s to “fade,” and Elaine must save the inhabitants.

Mike Carey’s Lucifer offers a particularly pertinent retelling of Creation narratives, as it explicitly formulates a space outside of Creation, a space that is defined by its radical possibilities. This dimension of the narrative is important to explorations of national narratives, as they are generally defined in terms of mythologies superimposed onto “the people,” and narratives that the people themselves spin in the context of the nation. Lucifer develops the circumstances of three separate creations, and these spaces show the extent to which a traumatic nationalist pedagogy may be subverted through alternative narrative strategies. The graphic narrative genre is an ideal location for such an endeavor, as the boundaries of the panels and the page complicate the reader’s understanding of space. When Lucifer seeks to exit created space, it is both as a method of circumventing the divine plan so as to define his own providence and as an attempt to be himself a Creator, though this project is abandoned when he realizes that it runs counter to his own philosophies. Lucifer’s insistence on creating another option is an important moment of resistance, but more so, his creations’ ability to subvert his will as well. YHWH and Lucifer’s creations stand alongside one another, and a third creation is also bodied forth by Elaine, the granddaughter of YHWH and disciple of Lucifer. It is in this third creation that the nation is reformulated as something that is not merely an aspect of the power of the prime mover, but as an act of ethical commitment. YHWH and Lucifer seek to control their own destinies, their control provoking traumatic depletion when they depart those creations. Elaine, however, seeks to offer an ethical solution to creation—to create a dimension in which her power is only used in the service of the beings that have been created.

Conceptualizing trauma in terms of space is particularly provocative in light of Homi Bhabha’s identification of traumatic moments of apprehension, as coupled with what he terms the “pedagogical” and “performative” enunciations of national identity. Bhabha begins The Location of Culture by remarking on the importance of boundaries in the last century, saying that we are “living on the borderlines of the ‘present’” (1), and that identities are increasingly informed by space, and inflected by the narratives that attempt to make sense of the space of the nation. In his argument for a space for world literature, the spatialization of identity through the nation is articulated, for the “other,” as “where non-consensual terms of affiliation may be established on the grounds of historical trauma” (17). Affiliation with a particular space is based partly on non-consent—a violation of the identity through a traumatic historical moment visited upon the individual because of at least one part of their perceived identity. He argues that enunciations of national identity, particularly in a post-colonial landscape, take these two primary forms, the pedagogical, which is essentially the way in which the nation attempts to formulate individuals as “the historical ‘objects of a nationalist pedagogy, giving the discourse an authority that is based on the pre-given or constituted historical origin in the past” (208), and the performative, in which individuals are figured as “the ‘subjects’ of a process of signification that must erase any prior or originary presence” (208). Bhabha further argues that this creates a split national space, in which the nation is simultaneously written through these two narratives that remain in tension. This tension disrupts the continuity of the nation as a narrative space, and so, the construction of national identity connects to traumatic moments of creation, in that another dimension of identity is layered upon the already-immanent ruptures between identities as they abut and depart from one another.

The creation of nations has been conceptualized as traumatic by a number of theorists, which lends an interesting lens to the prospect of the creation of worlds. In Freud’s conceptualization of trauma, symptoms appear partly as a repression of memory and partly as obsessive reenactment of the source moment. This initial definition lends a geographic dimension to a temporal phenomenon—the origin of the trauma is never far, but it can never quite be reached. In terms of nation-building, or creation-building, spatiality and temporality converge at the point of a violent rupture with the past, but in consolidating the nation, or the creation, the original point of rupture must be repeated in the mythology of the space. This is important as well for those who witness such events. In Cathy Caruth’s essay “Traumatic Awakenings,” she explains that “[t]raumatic experience, beyond the psychological dimension of suffering it involves, suggests a certain paradox: that the most direct seeing of a violent event may occur as an absolute inability to know it” (208)—the idea that witnessing (rather than being physically/directly involved in) a traumatic situation can itself create trauma. For the witness, one is also to a certain extent identified with the experience via vision and recognition, which invokes the dimension of spectatorship, because “[t]he moment of seeing that is arrested in the evil eye inscribes a timelessness, or a freezing of time—‘remain/to watch and to haunt—that can only be represented in the destruction of the depth associated with the sign of symbolic consciousness” (Bhabha 75). That spectatorship can freeze one in the moment of trauma is important to the idea that creation can in some sense be traumatic, as witnessing the beginning of something, rather than simply being thrust in media res, points towards an eschatology which may be unspoken, but nonetheless seems to be present in the seed of the logos. Put more simply, a beginning implies an end. In the comic series Lucifer, Lucifer creates another alternative creation alongside of YHWH’s, and by opening the doors between these creations, Lucifer allows a diasporic movement of people across the spatial boundary between two fundamentally differently oriented universes. While they are spatially parallel, their temporalities move at different rates, Lucifer’s being the swifter of the two. The traumatic effects of creation and spectatorship can be examined on multiple levels within this graphic narrative series, as it visually and textually expresses boundaries, repetitions of the traumatic moment, exile, and the deployment of (and the resistance to) power. The series essentially examines shifting power paradigms, and the extent to which those who are always already-interpellated into a religious ideology can resist their prescribed roles. In spite of Lucifer’s creation of a universe of his own, however, his identity is indelibly marked by the name of YHWH, so he is forcibly bounded by the will of another. His disruptive acts of the creation of space are still marked by the historical name of his creator.

Religion plays a divergent role within Lucifer’s universe, as his only commandment to those who have journeyed to his creation is an admonition not to worship. This ban on worship aligns diaspora within its religious paradigm, as a movement of people united by belief (though “diaspora” often also references familial relation). This is partially interesting in light of the way in which the Lucifer series diverges from Judeo-Christian theology in that Satan has been traditionally seen as both as the “adversary” and as a former angel, medieval theologians extrapolating the Luciferian story and John Milton’s Paradise Lost becoming the primary mythos. In the comic series Lucifer, prior to the war in Heaven, he simply departs, so as to seek his own destiny; this initial act replays throughout the series, as he finds that he has never truly moved beyond the locus of YHWH’s will. Diaspora is also interesting in this series in the terminological sense. The Oxford Dictionary of the Bible Online notes that the term is from the Greek diaspeirein, “meaning ‘disperse’ or ‘scatter,’ [and] refers to peoples who have settled, voluntarily or by force, outside their homelands”. The usage of “diaspora” is classically associated with the Jewish people, initially referring to that emigration which “began with the deportations to Assyria (8th century BCE) and Babylon (6th century BCE)” (ODB), but subsequently referring to all Jews who live outside of Jerusalem. Much like the term “ghetto,” “diaspora” has been expanded to refer to many large groups who have migrated, usually compelled by some duress, from an ancestral location to other, disparate geographical locations. In spite of its broader usage, the term retains the vestiges of its original association with a particular religious group, as contemporary usage tends to associate a diasporic culture with some set of shared, common beliefs. This is particularly interesting in the context of Lucifer, as the diasporic group is not defined by any shared common characteristic aside from the submission to a lack of belief. Elaine Scarry notes in The Body in Pain that “[l]ike the women and men of the tribes of Israel, he [Christ] is created into a world that does not easily accommodate him: createdness and exile are inevitable counterparts because the overt limitations of the second merely expose the not yet visible limitations already contained in the first” (218). While Scarry is speaking of Christ’s homelessness and wandering, as well as the connection between exile and the proverbs, the connection between creation and exile is what is important for our purposes. Creation does not necessarily denote the space which the created object may occupy, the spatial paradigm into which one is thrust must be recreated, if not in one’s own image, than at least in an image recognizable. This has its first echo in Lucifer’s creation as it mirrors YHWH’s, but the second consequence of the connection between creation and exile is in Elaine’s departure from the creative norms established in Genesis in the process of her own material making. McCloud notes that “[i]n an incomplete world, we must depend on closure for our very survival” (63), commenting on the necessity of perceiving more than we view. Elaine has only seen a particular range of actions in terms of creation, but still finds a way outside of these possibilities to enact her own articulation of creation.

The point at which Lucifer creates a new universe alongside YHWH’s can be read as an expression of the traumatic symptom—a reenactment of the initially trauma endured in the process of creation. His act of splitting the doors between creations and formulation of an alternative universe seems in some respect to be an attempt to create what Edward Soja refers to as “thirdspace,” an option outside of the originary binary (in this case, between heaven and hell, spirit and flesh, etc.), but in reconstructing the exact situation described in Genesis, departing only in his one commandment, he simply creates a mirror image, another possible binary. Post-Genesis retelling, he allows those of YHWH’s creation to enter into his own via the gates, and defines his creation only in contrast to that of YHWH’s, saying that “There are certain things I won’t tolerate. Don’t bring the habit of worship with you […] I don’t believe in doves or covenants. You’ll know you’ve displeased me—if the sky turns black” (19). These panels (Figure 1, “A Dalliance with the Damned” 19-20) are particularly important, as Lucifer is depicted as gigantic, his hand stretched out above the new inhabitants of his universe “in a literal, not a metaphorical sense” (19), and coming to rest on and enclose the sun within his palm. While he defines his creation as one which runs counter to the regulations imposed within YHWH’s, he succeeds only in setting up a dichotomy between, rather than the radically alternative space he had initially envisioned when stepping outside of YHWH’s created space. This is the point at which Bhabha’s ideas about the pedagogical and the performative would seem to be useful, as there is a liminality not only between the creations but within the body of the people. The pedagogical can be articulated as processes that signify the nation (creation) as continuous and unified, while the performative denotes daily life within the narrativized, signifying nation, but which represent an opportunity for individual resistance to the over-arching narratives. While these appear to be two concepts which could grafted onto the creations, YHWH’s as pedagogical and Lucifer’s as performative, they both constantly reinscribe the “historical past” of Genesis and Exodus as dual unifying narratives, but Bhabha describes “[t]he liminality of the people—their double-inscription as pedagogical objects and performative subjects—demands a ‘time’ of narrative that is disavowed in the discourse of historicism where narrative is the only agency of the event, or the medium of a naturalistic continuity of Community or Tradition” (217), a liminality which becomes important as it is represented in the body of Elaine.

The feminine in Lucifer subverts the pedagogical narrative inherent within Lucifer and YHWH’s creations, Elaine’s intervention redefining the masculinist notions of nationalism, connects to what Anne McClintock asserts in Imperial Leather that “[a]ll nations depend on powerful constructions of gender [and that d]espite many nationalists’ ideological investment in the idea of popular unity, nations have historically amounted to the sanctioned institutionalization of gender difference” (353). McClintock lists five major aspects in which women have been implicated in the construction of the nation,

as biological reproducers of the members of national collectivities; as reproducers of the boundaries of national groups (through restrictions on sexual or marital relations); as active transmitters and producers of the national culture; as symbolic signifiers of national difference; [and] as active participants in national struggles. (355)

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Figure 1. Mike Carey's Lucifer. Vol: 3 “A Dalliance with the Damned” 19-20.

Elaine subverts these roles by creating her own space and her own people, by destroying the boundaries within her creation and between the other creations, and by refusing to set down laws of behavior; but she is also ultimately trapped in taking up the mantel of a role constructed by patriarchal conceptualizations of created space. This gestures towards the structural problem inherent in created space as it is explored in Lucifer, that the way in which space is created with a binding principle (the holy name) embedded within the creative act, problematizes resistance to structures of power. It is also interesting to note that the woman-as-national-symbol is equated with the national body; and over the course of the Lucifer series, Elaine initially appears human but transforms into a deity, a child who becomes a God. When YHWH departs his creation, and goes outside of the creationist universe, the divine name is no longer held as a constant, and begins to be erased from each atom within that space. Because his name is what holds the doors open between he and Lucifer’s creations, Lucifer’s creation is also in danger of annihilation because of the departure. Elaine’s intervention saves both through the inscription of her name where YHWH’s has been erased. Interestingly, this also provides an important commentary on the graphic narrative genre.

Elaine’s creation, the third creation, stands alongside of those of YHWH and of Lucifer, but is subject to the laws of neither. Bhabha’s “moment of enunciation” becomes important to understanding the split in universes, the textual division of the self that is multiplied over the pages of Lucifer through a proliferation of panels depicting the three alternate universes. Bhabha argues that “[t]he enunciative process introduces a split in the performative present of cultural identification […] between […] a stable system of reference, and […] strategies in the political present as a practice of domination, or resistance” (51). The universes of Lucifer and YHWH are both defined by YHWH’s name, which has historically defined the available possibilities for all of the inhabitants of both universes. However, Elaine’s creation becomes a space of enunciation, a practice of resistance, as she may use her own name to enter and leave space at will. Bhabha argues that

[t]he intervention of the Third Space of enunciation, which makes the structure of meaning and reference an ambivalent process, destroys this mirror of representation in which cultural knowledge is customarily revealed as an integrated, open, expanding code. Such an intervention quite properly challenges our sense of the historical identity of culture as a homogenizing, unifying force, authenticated by the originary Past, kept alive in the national tradition of the people. (54)

Elaine’s creation intervenes at the point at which history necessarily defines identity, and defines available options, critiquing the need for YHWH’s name as the only thread that can hold history together.

McClintock posits that “the temporal anomaly within nationalism—veering between nostalgia for the past and impatient, progressive sloughing off of the past—is typically resolved by figuring the contradiction in the representation of time as a natural division of gender” (359). She goes on to explain that women are read as the embodiment of the traditional, and men as the revolutionary, and that the processes of history have been mapped globally so as to mimic the “Family Tree,” a visually bastardized version of the cladistic ladder, a tool for plotting evolutionary similarity rather than descent. Within Lucifer, familial relations play an important role, as the girl who would become a God is actually the grandchild of YHWH, and is therefore of ultimately divine origin. At the same time, within this departure in the family tree, she departs from McClintock’s classification at the point at which she becomes both the embodiment of the universes and the progressive, yet preservationist entity. However, this classification still proves useful in that it demonstrates the ways in which the patriarchal structure inherent in YHWH and Lucifer’s creations attempt to “read” the nation-creations onto Elaine, but in her apotheosis, she does not wholly reject the role of God which interpellates her into patriarchal structures already created, but chooses instead to modify the role once she is already inside. Her choice to modify the role also comes from the corrosive nature of power as she experiences it, to which I will return after briefly discussing the binary created between Lucifer and YHWH’s creations.

The radical alternative to the binaristic power deployed by Lucifer and YHWH is finally provided inadvertently by Elaine. In attempting to deal with the power, the dunamis demiurgos poured into her by her father Michael on the occasion of his death, she accidently creates another Creation alongside of YHWH and Lucifer’s. The concept of the demiurgos rests on the Greek idea that a creator used “a preexistent eternal combination of forms and matter” (“Augustine”) to shape creation. This idea essentially locates divinity as the conduit through which a void pregnant with forms delivers a material reality. This is an example of what Bhabha would call the “performative,” a term which encompasses both normative and resistant actions within a spatial paradigm, but this reconceptualization emphasizes the extent to which spaces of representation denote some active disruption of power. That Elaine takes on this power allows her to deploy spatial practice in a subversive way. Her performative enunciation of space also points towards an important commentary that graphic narratives in general, and Lucifer in particular offer in the analysis of the nation. The nation is, at its core, a space that has been mediated by certain boundaries which define not only a geographical space, but define an entire range of movements physical, psychological, and social. The nation is a disruption of space. In Lucifer, the space that creation occupies is initially figured as a discreet location, the outside of which is only accessible through the name of YHWH. However, Elaine’s creation is produced outside of this already-created space, tacitly acknowledging the possibilities arrayed outside the space of the nation, resisting the paternal mythology that holds possibilities for opposition. This is reiterated in the graphic narrative form, as graphic narratives rely particularly on closure. Closure incorporates a space for resistant reading within the narrative as a formal necessity—the gutter is a space of possibility wherein the reader can formulate their own action.

Of course, Elaine is also blinded when she takes in Michael’s power, a blinding which points towards the corrosive nature of all power. This blinding has another level as well, which is related to Bhabha’s conceptualization of the “evil eye”—her blindness traps her in the traumatic moment of both her “rebirth” as a potential God and within the space she creates as a method of dealing with the power, a third, liminal creation. Bhabha notes that “[f]rom the shadow […] emerges cultural difference as an enunciative category […] it is the ‘between’ that is articulated in the camouflaged subversion of the ‘evil eye’ and the transgressive mimicry of the ‘missing person.’ The force of cultural difference is, as Barthes once said of the practice of metonymy, ‘the violation of a signifying limit of space’” (85). Elaine initially occupies a fundamentally different “cultural space” than either Lucifer or YHWH, having at one point been fully human. This fundamentally differentiates her from both of these poles of power, as does her sex. Her creation goes beyond the prescribed limits of space as set by YHWH, also transgressing the boundaries of Lucifer’s creation, and while she is blinded by the power which allows her to radically alter and open space, this blindness seems to serve as an alternative way of seeing.

In Elaine’s creation, Lucifer exhorts her to make a world so that she can learn the “Yahweh dance,” a phrase denoting creation and life, and her first attempts are narrated as “[t]wice she tried. And twice she failed to make the beauty that was in her mind come out into the light […] the first world was too frail. It fell to pieces in her hands, in her thoughts […] The second world was stronger, but it was dead […] And then she said the word perfect. And heya! The third world—the perfect world, where we live now—was born” (77-79). This myth of creation partakes of Native American creation myths, but is also worth remarking on in its metacommentary—three separate creative acts yield only one acceptable result. The first world relates to the creation of YHWH, which even as this story line progresses is rapidly disintegrating from absence of the divine name. The second creation made by Elaine is similar to Lucifer’s own creation in its rigidity. It resists the disintegration set in motion in YHWH’s universe, yet is stale in some respects given that it is merely a response to that other, first creation. In addition, Elaine has been blinded by the power that was poured into her by Michael, and in her creation, she asserts that “I can’t even see what I’m doing. I have to, sort of, feel it with my mind, and then guess at what it means” (81). This ironic twist, that in a visual medium, she cannot see what she has created, also has ramifications for how the creative act is lived rather than merely conceived or perceived. She is additionally trapped within this universe until she can learn to create a door into the other creations, and after intervening with her creation and enduring another mocking comment from Lucifer about surrender, she asks “Go on and what? Draw a moral? That the life of puppets is no life at all? You knew that already, and it isn’t even the point […] you just wanted me to do the God thing. The Yahweh dance. So I’d get used to the power” (96). By “getting used to the power,” Lucifer does not exhort her to naturalize the types of power he and YHWH have deployed in their own creations, but rather is attempting to push her beyond the binary in which he feels trapped.

Figuring the temporality of the enunciative act as a moment of potential resistance has several repercussions for the reading of diaspora and traumatic creation in Lucifer. First, the originary past in Elaine’s creation of life drastically departs from the narrative to which both YHWH and Lucifer cleave, and in altering the narrative, so creates an alternative possibility for historical understanding as depicted. The path of the creation and occupation of space is no longer circumscribed by the Biblical accounts of creation and the Jewish Exodus, but is rather radically opened as a continually alterable process. This process is also important as-depicted (Figure 2, “Crux” 75), in that Elaine’s alteration of her attempts at creation are rendered in a style resembling “folk art,” rather than in the style that prevails through most of the series. This alteration of depiction connects to Bhabha’s contention of the “image—as a point of identification—marks the site of ambivalence. Its representation is always spatially split—it makes present something that is absent—and temporally deferred: it is the representation of a time that is always elsewhere, a repetition” (73). This split draws attention to the way in which the creative act is always distant, yet always mimicked. The second repercussion for the reading of her creation as the enunciative act which creates a Third Space, a space of radical possibility, is that the divine name as the originary structure is no longer the only object which can provide a scaffolding for reality. We return to the idea that Lucifer’s creation mirrored YHWH’s, and in this, was always already-interpellated into YHWH’s creation (even if as an opposite, something which existed only in opposition). Third, this creation of a Third Space, a third creation, does not allow for a diasporic movement across the boundaries between the creations—Elaine closes the door behind her upon departing the creation, so initially seeming to limit the freedom of movement of her inhabitants. But this represents her reading of the diaspora from YHWH’s creation into Lucifer’s creation as a false freedom—one which involved only the trading of one yolk for another. Elaine reopens the door to her creation to drop the other two creations inside, her own creation subsuming the other two. This act which annihilates the radical openness a third creation seems to denote, but is an act which is accompanied by an alternative deployment of power—one which does not intervene nor punish.

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Figure 2. Mike Carey’s Lucifer. Vol: 4 “The Divine Comedy” 80.

In the final tally, the end of the series can be read either as a reification of the structural paradigms of power, with Elaine substituted for YHWH and Lucifer as the primary organizing agent of a creation fundamentally rooted in hierarchical constructions of the nation (creation)-as-family, or alternatively, a different paradigm, in which the created are reintegrated into a body that has changed sex in some respect, but is also born of a reimagining of different universes as spatially congruent yet allowed to retain alternate characteristics. While the project of the book seems initially to be the exposure of an alternate paradigm of power, the reinscription of this space with the logos, albeit a different “word,” is still problematic. The diasporic movement across creations is thwarted through the apotheosis of Elaine, which realigns each creation as fundamentally of one body. However, the trauma experienced by the “everyday people” is not the focus of this series—their diasporic movement across creation’s boundaries is incidental to the story of the Powers, those who wield/exert/command. One could easily joke at this point that this sounds a bit like the “canon” in the most racist, patriarchal, colonialist sense of the term. But Caruth’s analysis of traumatic repetition as it is analyzed in Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle shows the potential therein, saying that

[I]n Lacan’s analysis, Freud’s dream is no longer about a father sleeping in the face of an external death, but about the way in which, in his traumatic awakening, the very identity of the father, as subject, is bound up with, or founded in, the death he survives. What the father cannot grasp in the death of his child, that is, becomes the foundation of his identity as father. In thus relating trauma to the identity of the self and to one’s relation to another, Lacan’s reading shows us […] that the shock of traumatic sight reveals at the heart of human subjectivity not so much an epistemological, but rather what can be defined as an ethical relation to the real. (209)

Creation, in its most mythic sense, mirrors one of the primary acts of which one being is capable. Scarry argues in reference to the first Biblical act of material making, Adam and Eve’s weaving of leaves so as to cover their nakedness, that “the problematic knowledge is not that man has a body and God has no body […] now instead [of One being wholly hidden and the other wholly revealed] the One is wholly hidden and the other is only almost wholly revealed, very slightly hidden by the fragile intervention of the artifact” (209). The interesting connection between these two ideas alongside of Lucifer is the extent to which it reveals God(s), and the way in which it mediates the potential trauma associated with witnessing acts of creation. Lucifer and YHWH ultimately decline to acknowledge their “ethical relation to the real,” choosing instead to depart the space that has been created, to step outside into uncreated, unimagined space, and seek alternative destinies no longer bounded by anything beyond their own wills. The irony here is that Elaine establishes this ethical relation in her choice to see the value of creation, even those not her own, and to sink inside so that she ceases to be a “prime mover,” and instead becomes an observer. By providing another option for the deployment of power inherent in creation and rule, that is, a preservation of sentience and space, she makes good on the knowledge of the paths trod by YHWH and Lucifer, deciding against the reconstruction of a Hell and declining a seat in the silver city, instead sinking into creation so as to feel it as lived. She is blinded by power, but rather than “continuing blindly along,” she chooses instead to “feel” her way through continued acts of creation, a term which denotes some sensibility to the actual lives of the inhabitants of that creation. More importantly, the enunciative act which finally allows her to depart from her own creation is the act of inscribing her human name on that space (Figure 3, “Crux” 97).

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Figure 3. Mike Carey’s Lucifer. Vol. 4 “The Divine Comedy” 97.

E. Ann Kaplan argues in Trauma Culture that “[w]itnessing has to do with an art work producing a deliberate ethical consciousness” (122). By creating a space to witness, Carey demonstrates that the reader must reflect on their own ethical understandings of free will.  Unlike other graphic narratives that try to mimic the experience of trauma, submerging the reader into the perspective of the traumatized, Lucifer draws back, and demonstrates how blurred boundaries and traumatogenic situations act on the way in which space is viewed and constructed. The nation, then, is the tension between dissociation and unification. Elaine’s ultimate unification of the creations is only possible through her own splitting—her murder when she was human, her blinding as the power poured into her, and finally, her ability to use her own name, rather than the name of YHWH, to find a path out. Additionally, the reader is not commonly inserted into the perspective of Elaine, implying that the reader has yet to articulate the way in which they themselves can create and transgress, an exhortation to examine the borders surrounding their own lives as well. In Lucifer, the creations are not merely a metaphor for the nation. Graphic narratives as a genre provide a metacommentary on the ways in which space is devised and divided, and Lucifer in particular is preoccupied with the ways in which power is enacted through the separations of space. The creations are a meditation on what it means to produce space as a narrative.

Works Cited

Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994. Print.

Carey, Mike, Peter Gross, et al. Lucifer. Vols. 1-11. New York: DC, 2001-2007. Print.

Caruth, Cathy. “Traumatic Awakenings.” Violence, Identity and Self-Determination. Eds. Hent De Vries and Samuel Weber. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1997. Print.

"diaspora"  A Dictionary of the Bible. W. R. F. Browning. Oxford University Press, 1997. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  University of Cincinnati.  Web. 9 March 2009.

"diaspora"  A Dictionary of Sociology. John Scott and Gordon Marshall. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  University of Cincinnati.  Web. 9 March 2009.

Foster, Hal. “Obscene, Abject, Traumatic.” October 78 (1996): 107-24. Print.

The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford UP, 1989. Print.

Kaplan, E. Ann. Trauma Culture: The Politics of Terror and Loss in Media and Literature. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2005. Print.

Kuhns, Richard. "Augustine."  The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Michael Kelly.  Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008.  University of Cincinnati.  Web. 16 March 2009.

McClintock, Anne. “No Longer in a Future Heaven.” Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. New York: Routledge, 1995. Print.

Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1997. Print.

Suggested Citation
MacDonald, Katharine Polak. ““It Accreted Around Me” Created Space and the Problem of the Name in Lucifer”. Trespassing Journal: an online journal of trespassing art, science, and philosophy 1 (Spring 2012). Web. ISSN: 2147-2134

Katharine Polak MacDonald is writing her doctoral thesis on the ethics of empathetic identification in comics that deal with atrocity at the University of Cincinnati. Her research on genocide helped her become a 2011 Holocaust Education Fellow, and comics-based courses like “Visual Vigilantes” and “Women in Comics” won her the 2009 Boyce Award. Her work on comics has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative is the Essence of History, Son of Comics and Classics, Pedagogy beyond Words, and elsewhere.