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Inherited Crypts of the Wife/Mother: Ang Lee's Hulk Meets Zechariah 5:5–11 in Contemporary Apocalyptic Discourse

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This paper puts the political concerns expressed by secular apocalypse in Ang Lee's Hulk (2003) into conversation with the political concerns expressed by religious apocalypse in conservative Christian discourse. The film sets a revised version of the Akedah, in which the wife/mother is killed instead of the son, at the heart of its plot and of its critique of U.S. foreign policy. Set within Lee's apocalyptic analysis of repressed trauma, this quasi-biblical allusion points toward the repeating biblical tradition of the murdered wife/mother. One such repetition of this originary trauma can be found in what Diana Edelman has argued to be Yahweh's murder of his wife Asherah in Zechariah 5:5-11, a text which can be read in the same psychoanalytic terms that the film evokes. Both film and text represent the missed encounter of trauma and the entombment of the lost love object. In both film and text, the lost object, the mother, is entombed, encrypted and forgotten. But because this proto-apocalyptic text is one that conservative Christians take up in their defence of the war on Iraq as the precursor to the doomed Whore of Babylon, this text, uncannily, brings the film into contact with its religious apocalyptic roots. But where the biblical text is read in ways that only increase a violent repetition compulsion, the film models mourning and letting go as a way of working through the trauma. Thus, the film offers an alternate way of reading the biblical text in culture.


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