Behold the Man is a science fiction novel by British writer Michael Moorcock. And Pilate said to them Behold the Man. In the novel, Moorcock weaves an existentialist tale about Karl Glogauer, a man who travels from the year in a time machine to 28 AD, where he hopes to meet the historical Jesus of Nazareth. The story begins with Karl's violent arrival in the Holy Land of AD 28, where his time machine, a womb-like, fluid-filled sphere, cracks open and becomes useless.
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In it was expanded by Moorcock into the version now widely available. Behold the Man works primarily as a character study of its protagonist, Karl Glogauer. Revealed to the reader through vignettes depicting his relationship with women, Glogauer has a messiah complex and a negative desire for attention, at the extreme manifesting in a proclivity for staged suicide attempts.
Glogauer develops a view of religion, which he associates with sexuality, where a silver cross equates to with his desire for women, and a wooden cross equates with his repressed desire for men. Nevertheless, Glogauer becomes obsessed with both the symbolic and historical figure of Jesus Christ. Moorcock convincingly portrays and analyses a character that is compelled to travel in time to not only witness the execution, but also ultimately assume the role, of a martyr.
Glogauer finds himself with the ability to travel back in time and the book starts with arriving injured and stranded in 28 AD, with the intention of witnessing the crucifixion of Christ. His worldview is shattered when he discovers that Mary is considered the village whore, Joseph is a bitter old carpenter, and their son Jesus is both intellectually and physically disabled.
However, circumstances are such that Glogauer is able to assume the role of the messiah. He uses his knowledge of future events to prophesize, his uses psychiatric training to heal a range of psychosomatic ailments, and he recites the sermons he recalls from the New Testament. After he builds his relationship as Jesus of Nazareth, he orders a Judas Iscariot to betray him to the Romans, and dies on the cross.
Glogauer is committed to the concept of Jungian archetypes, particularly the hero archetype. In the writings of Jung, archetypes are subconscious collective elements that create myths, religions, and philosophical ideas; these ideas have the potential to influence the course of history, and Christianity is a prime example one such idea. There are several passages where Glogauer argues with his atheist girlfriend that the myth itself is unimportant, and it the shared impulse that creates the myth that is significant.
In the events of the story, Glogauer relies on his knowledge of Jungian archetypes to harness the need for compassion, of love and forgiveness, and assume the role of Jesus Christ. Moorcock, in turn, suggests that the historical figure of Jesus is almost irrelevant to the birth of Christianity, but what is truly of interest are the conditions that allowed for Christianity to flourish.
It points to the idea that there is a chicken-and-egg relationship between truth and myth: we fashion our own experience of truth from our collective beliefs; yet our collective beliefs influence how we construct our own realities.
The book plays with structure and stream of consciousness, and often at times reads like a fever dream. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Luke Brown February 24, 0 Comment.
Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock
I should probably start out with a spoiler alert. On the other hand, is it really a spoiler if the author telegraphs the surprise ending within the first few pages of the book? But is anyone really surprised by the surprise ending here? Not since Samuel Morse invented Morse Code has anyone done a better job of telegraphing a message.
Behold the Man
Post a comment. I must confess, I've always been a bit of a fan of Hawkwind but then who in their right mind wouldn't be? I've heard and owned a reasonable amount of their recorded output over the years and seen them perform live a number of times, starting out from experiencing them at the Stonehenge Free Festival many moons ago when I was but knee-high to a grasshopper. I must also confess, however, that as inexplicable as it might be to some, until now I've never read anything at all by Michael Moorcock. Moorcock, of course, was once inextricably linked with Hawkwind and used to perform live with them. I guess my only excuse is that there always seemed to have been other books to read instead?