David Shrigley Again

An Academic Writes: "What Browning does here is cleverly skewer society's norms in a trifold manner. Firstly, there is religion. Jesus, as son of God, is omniscient but seems unable to answer the protagonist's desire for butter. This is ironic but the irony becomes yet more sublime when it is considered that Jesus tells us in John 6:35 that he is the bread of life. Does the protagonist seek the butter to accept the bread of life? Does he find the bread alone too difficult to accept - to swallow, in literal terms - alone and need butter to sweeten it? Is Jesus' apparent inability to provide the figure with bread because he needs to accept the bread in and of itself?

"And then there is the other meaning of bread - bread as money. Again, this figures into the religious reading above. The figure finds himself unable to accept a world without money - as in Matthew 19:24 - in order to follow Jesus. Similarly he finds himself unable to consider a world without financial gain. What is life without money to him? Surely there must be some sort of financial aspect to Jesus' plight? How could one man be so altruistic with no financial gain? Is there some way that the man "butter" up Jesus in a figurative sense? There is also a sly nod towards a more carnivalesque reading of this as seen through the works of Mikhail Bakhtin. I trust I can remain somewhat coy on what this is... but it is thrillingly transgressive for Browning to even suggest this.

"The third and final reading is that this is simply a scribble done when watching the telly late at night and is purely a load of old nonsense thrown together at random. But surely that cannot be... can it?"


  1. Stupid academic missed the obvious Marlon Brando connotations of butter. Surely you were being 'iconoclastic' and 'controversial' by making insinuations about Jesus's sexuality that are guaranteed to provoke a predictable over-reaction from Christian Voice. You might say you're not an atheist, but... biographical fallacy! ;)

    1. an academic churlishly replies: "the Brandonian readings of the image were implicit in the reference to the works of Mikhail Bakhtin... the academic is sorry about being so prudish as to not spell this out but the academic's mother also reads the blog and he didn't want to be sent to bed without any supper..."


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