Lidia Yuknavitch’s Weblog

the body of the word

Novel: the god people


setting: christmas eve (for americans), morocco. in december, morocco hasn’t a lot of sunlight and it rains a lot. they started out at a friend’s flat in marrakesh. not far to the atlas mountains.

but now they are in the south of morocco, where even they have a kind of nomadic life. they haunt old villages and feel guilty about time and space and their presence. they meet incredibly kind people who give them food to eat with their hands.

it is christmas eve for americans. in m’hamid, it is the festival of the desert.

because their friend knows what’s what they have a tent only 5 minutes hike from the festival. they meet some other very cranky and rude americans whose tents are a 20 and 30 minute hike. this makes them feel a little superior, but still, one of the artists uses up the battery of his digital camera trying to take pictures of the inside of their tent in the dark and has no camera for the festival events; they all have cell phones and are bummed they can’t get proper reception; several of them snore; one of them goes to sleep drunk and pisses…stinks up the whole tent.

one of them has just said:

“i just don’t have any more patience for the god people in america. i used to have this endless tolerance because i thought i understood what they felt and why they felt it…but now i just want them dead. buncha christian fucks. is that shitty?”



  1. We were all once god people, barbarians in the eyes of our mother.

    Comment by Jacklyn Attaway | August 17, 2007 | Reply

  2. What the hell does that mean? [loudly belches] My mother was a fuckin berserker who saw her personal Odin every day. Seriously, dude. She ate ‘shrooms and drank gin at Woodstock. [hic] Was one of those trippy chicks in the documentary dancin stoned outta–[hic]–outta her mind in the mud. Look close and you can see me sitting shittin my diapers in the background, on a Nava–[hic]–jo blanket, of course. Now she’s a fuckin [hic] Evangelical who overeats and overshops and dyes her hair red and thinks the End of Days is tomorrow every day.

    Comment by Debra Di Blasi | August 17, 2007 | Reply

  3. the end of days is tomorrow every day in a sense. atheism requires more faith than being one of the god people, if you ask me. but then how would i know, i’ve only been one of the freaks knocking on your day for 20 years and now standing on the other side figuring out who the god people really are – and it’s often not who you think. there’s a fine line between hope and fear and religion often defines it . . . it’s easy to pass everything off as ignorance but that’s laziness

    Comment by jones | August 17, 2007 | Reply

  4. We’ve been mistaken for so long. It was an issue of transcription and translation, perhaps even tonality.

    It should have gone: Laziness is akin to godliness.

    You can see how easily this mistake was made. Poor fools, all these years, cleaning & sweeping & glistening, all just to sleep with the ocd devil.

    Comment by Lily | August 18, 2007 | Reply

  5. Performance Artist: (laughs shortly) Remember the church band?

    Musician (ex Christian boyband bassist): Shut up. Fuck.

    Performance Artist: No dude. What are you even doing here? When you get back home you’re going back to the band, back to your perfect girlfriend-

    Musician: Fuck you! She cheated on me-

    Performance Artist: It doesn’t matter. She’s too hot for you to care. Everybody cheats these days. This is your hiatus? This is not-

    Musician: just lemme go to sleep man-

    Performance Artist -your life. Remember when we went to that one rave like six years ago and you saw that guy have a seizure and die on top of a hill and you had this like epiphany or Whatever and decided to stop doing x? That shit’s not gonna happen everyday.

    Musician: Dude. I completely forgot about that. You’re such an asshole (giggles) you like go off on all this shit and what? are you Trying to piss me off? People are sleeping. letem sleep.


    Musician: (starts laughing condensed highpitched uncontrollable airless giggles) The church band. I can’t believe that man. there was actually so much drama-

    Performance Artist: Just cuz you were dating-

    Musician: No. No dude everybody was fucked up.

    Performance Artist: And —–‘s Dad-

    Musician: I saw her a couple months ago.

    Performance Artist: Yeah the last time I saw her she was like a normal person and shit. Like smiling? And I was like shit she used to be so angsty and shit…

    Musician: She was a bitch. God, what a bitch. She fuckin wrote that I-

    Performance Artist: You’re a bitch. That’s church. She just wanted you to save her-

    Musician: I prayed for her every fucking night. She wanted you to save her, not me, you weren’t even a christian WERE you-

    Performance Artist: -shut up man yes I was-

    Musician: -or anything why did you even come to church like-

    Performance Artist: Why do you GO to church? You don’t even fucking think about it man.

    Musician: I don’t go right now.

    Performance Artist: You don’t go right now. You think it’s all fucking subversive, not going to church on Christmas Eve, not calling your stupidhot girlfriend, fuck man, you’re always gonna be that. You’re always gonna think just for the sake of thinking just so you can go back inside…fuck, because they made us that way in youth group, they trained us to set off the fucking fireworks and wildoats and shit and sit back down for another nine years. You don’t fucking actually think about God. You don’t fucking actually think about something you believe in-

    Musician: (laughing again) I can’t even- you gotta say it man. Where the fuck are you even going?

    Comment by courtney | August 18, 2007 | Reply

  6. Here is Friedrich Nietzsche, here as close to the Truth as we’re likely to get: In heaven all the interesting people are missing.

    Comment by Lance Olsen | August 19, 2007 | Reply

  7. If tertiary syphilis gets you genius status, what do I get for having herpes?

    Comment by A | August 19, 2007 | Reply

  8. I was encouraged to offer them the paper towels.

    Comment by Jacki | August 19, 2007 | Reply

  9. Simplexin.

    Comment by Lance Olsen | August 19, 2007 | Reply

  10. Shitty? Shitty? You been talkin’ to the wrong “god people,” my friend. Ha ha ha – look around you. Really. Fuck all that organized religious fundamentalist shit for a second, forget it. Remember when we were talking about war and war films? Remember when we were talking about American love? Yeah, I know, but listen. Remember when we couldn’t, still can’t, really get it? I mean REALLY fucking GET it?

    We can’t describe love. We can’t explain war. And don’t get me started on “god people” and religion and spirituality and shit. Words are inadequate to FEEL all of this shit, this big human ball of shit. That’s right – we’re writers and filmmakers and photographers and arteests, and words and everything related to words are fucking inadequate. So what do we have left? Nothing? OK – let’s say nothing. Wait, no, not, not let’s SAY nothing, not let’s sit here in silence and say nothing – let’s just pretend that we have nothing. Like we’re supposed to be Marxists or starving artists or something kind of nothing. Whatever. No matter how many books we write, no matter how many films we make of love and war, we will never ever ever EVER capture how love and war really feel or what they really mean. We can capture images, concepts, broad and general, and personal only to us who are feeling them IN THAT MOMENT, but it’s doubtful we’ll reach anyone else who will feel the way we feel, because nobody can ever feel the way we feel, nobody – we’re human and we feel yadda yadda – but you are not me and I am not you. I thought you were, but, hell, you’re not, okay? So, if we’re nothing and no one and we’ll never get our emotions and explanations of love and war across, then why do we create? Why do we suffer so that our art can be pushed to greatness, so that our art can be greater than ourselves?

    Is that the way God really felt? Crying and burning and ripping space/time material to make something better than his image? Because “his image” is imperfect. Duhr.

    Those “god people” of which you think you’re speaking are dead. They stopped when they closed the Bible. There is no push to “greater than thou” because nobody, in their minds, is supposed to be greater than God.

    Bullshit. Artists push to strive past godness. Artists ARE creators ARE the god-people. We’re gods. That are people. So why do we still create? Why do we still write and film and eat sleep breathe shit piss fuck love and war?

    Because of hope?

    No, fuck hope.

    Because we hope that one day we really will be able to get our point across if we just keep writing and shooting? That people really will suddenly wake up and open their minds to our very important art?


    Then why bother?

    Because we LOVE this fucking WAR within ourselves to BE the god-people, to push past ourselves into something that’s not us, that may never BE us, but we’re still going to goddamned DO IT – we’re not going to try, because to try is to fail – we’re going to DO IT – we’re going to write what’s in between this thin red fucking line and love every hopeless fucking second of it.

    Comment by Ali | August 19, 2007 | Reply

  11. I haven’t found a way yet to differentiate my own unfounded beliefs from the unfounded beliefs of others, to be sure that when I act I act with any more right than anyone else. What scares me is that the people I think I disagree with don’t seem to have this problem at all…

    Comment by Me McPherson | August 21, 2007 | Reply

  12. Don’t trust any group of people whose belief system says there’s a big prize when everybody’s dead.

    Comment by Gummer | August 21, 2007 | Reply

  13. Not to mention the Protestants? You KNOW all those people are gonna be doubly-excited for the rapture. Cuz like, when it comes? The day before there’s gonna be so much shit on SALE.

    Comment by Janet Jr. | August 21, 2007 | Reply

  14. Remember that time when she came up to you and told you she used to know Jesus before she was 14 and fucking the 22 year old? She explained to you then, that she used to seriously be concerned that you were going to hell because you were a faggot. She didn’t want that because she cared about you. She saw scrappy visions of things burning involving parts of your body back then. Now, she works at a sex toy shop. Now, she mostly is disgusted by that sort of God. But sometimes, she still sees the God people, and what they see, all of that burning, all of that pain, all over everyone that doesn’t believe.

    Comment by JT | August 23, 2007 | Reply

  15. well fuck that noise. what i’m saying is i’ve had it. the narrative of belief has written itself across the actual bodies of disenfranchised people long enough. i swear, i really did used to have tolerance, but the intolerance of the god people has finally clusterfucked any chance i ever had of co-existing. particularly in this historic moment.

    don’t get me fucking wrong, what you just said was downright poetic, but jesus christ.


    i don’t care what they SEE anymore. they’ve decided they actually KNOW … and the CORE IDEA of all the worlds’ sacred texts is that humans CAN’T FUCKING KNOW. JESUS. JESUS. i mean fuck.

    and the idea that we’re living some kind of … hieronymus bosch painting and we should suffer for our sins … that’s a buncha bullshit. though i do love his paintings … my POINT is, the god people are hypocritical assholes. the hypocrisy has finally overtaken passion and logic, the only thing they had going for them in the first place.

    so fuck the god people. i’m done listening or caring.

    you wanna know what i believe in?


    because art is expression rather than proclaimed truth.

    and in the end? i think that’s the best things humans have going. expression.

    ah fuck it.

    i’m going for a walk.

    where are my pants?

    Comment by lidiaohlidia | August 24, 2007 | Reply

  16. i’m wearin’ ’em, sister, so you want ’em, walk with me…

    Comment by Ali | August 24, 2007 | Reply

  17. god damn you.

    gimme my fucking pants.

    Comment by lidiaohlidia | August 24, 2007 | Reply

  18. the god people, the god people. they’re a moving target, i mean we can define them in different ways to jack up our own rhetoric. i’m not saying i don’t totally get what you’re saying and how the hypocrisy has, has gotten so elevated and entrenched, i’m just trying to say we exclude most people who would say they believe in some kind of god, when we label ‘the god people,’ even if it’s true that extremist groups of all kinds of religions have gotten more and more extreme and pulled everybody’s rhetoric to the right. shit, i don’t even know what i’m saying anymore. it’s just, i know there are, like, female rabbis who believe that god is a question made of many parts, and i’m not talking about some radical hippie chick non-ordained rabbi….i don’t know, i just, on the other hand, i fucking hate christmas, it’s the ultimate assumption of colonial power, right at my fucking doorstep, literally.

    where are you walking?

    Comment by raphael | August 24, 2007 | Reply

  19. there are crazy people who believe they speak the word of god. and there are sane people who believe they speak the word of god. the sane people who believe they speak the word of god are called poets. i’m a poet. i have to believe i speak the word of god or i’m dead, my poems are dead. it can’t be me, the small-i individual me. i’ve been dead before. i have to listen. i have to listen to everything, which is, the only word i can think of that says that is god. i have to believe that i, my body, is a place that everything else goes through, and i have to listen to my body and speak the word of god. and the more i get to speaking the word of god, the more i’m an animal, the more i’m a body, we’re no less animals when we are thinking or speaking or writing or making art. so i’m this god-person, but not the kind we’re talking about?

    Comment by lidiaohlidia | August 25, 2007 | Reply

  20. i believe in…energy. that the world is energy. that it changes forms, that it never dies. and i don’t buy any notion of a “creator” that is beyond energy changing forms…does that make me a god person, or an anti-god person?

    Comment by lidiaohlidia | August 25, 2007 | Reply

  21. the soul has many corners which are better left untamed. i’m not sure where the shadows leave off and the light begins, but i’m starting to wonder if i’m better off not knowing.

    Comment by shane | August 26, 2007 | Reply

  22. i’m just sitting here minding my own business. watching conan the destroyer – you know the good one with grace jones. and i read this. damn! you a god person? that pretty much fucks my whole belief system right there. i’m not sure i can process that.
    12 years of catholic school. more than 20 years actually believing in god. and another 20+ years believing in you. you wouldn’t lead me wrong. right?
    now you’re just scaring me.
    not all the god people suck though. so if you want to go there, i can support that.
    just don’t even think about becoming one of those not-silent-enough majority people. i can’t sanction that.

    Comment by vince | August 26, 2007 | Reply

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