||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Saturday, July 15, 2017
The unfinished cosmology of CS Lewis
CS Lewis as early as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe hinted at a multiverse theory for God, man, and the worlds between them - al-samawâti wa'l-ardi wamâ baynahumâ, as Andrew Eldritch might say. The first human(oid)s in Narnia were from two founding populations, the people of Eve and the people of Lilith. When The Magician's Nephew retconned Narnia's origin, the former are clarified as from Earth. As for the latter...
In Wardrobe, God's avatar comes to all worlds to redeem their people by means of his own sacrifice. This has happened first on Earth. The children of Eve in Narnia were Christians (Nephew explains how); so the Narnians under the White Witch (a Lilithi herself) know of Christmas, but are caught in an eternal 24 December. Then Aslan returns, and in a few months reenacts the Passion at the Stone Table. When men from one world visit the other, they don't proselytise; they compare notes, and maybe the one adjusts the other. This is arguably more a Mormon christology than a Christian.
In Nephew, we discover a third world: Charn, implicitly Lilith's land and now almost dead. A temple is visited, which honest natives of this land had erected; in it, statues illustrate the history of the land's kings and queens. At no point do we learn that Aslan had ever visited Charn.
We do learn that when a world has gone without Aslan for too long and too thoroughly, it dies. This much is illustrated in The Last Battle wherein Narnia's turn comes.
Those two books which, literally, bookend Narnia open some fairly important questions.
Even in Mormonism, Christ did not die and return in that religion's new world. Shall Christ return to Earth here in another form? Do we... choose the form of our reconciliator?
The Wood Between The Worlds as primary setting
CS Lewis, multiversalist, in The Magician's Nephew introduced The Wood Between The Worlds. He pretty much lampshaded it as a plot-device: the action wasn't happening there (and magic couldn't function!), but it was needed as a nexus for travel between worlds. Tim Burton used something like this in Nightmare Before Christmas. Grossman tried to use it in The Magicians as well but Viking's lawyers forced him to reskin it as the "Neitherlands". Several other nexi have featured in Dungeons & Dragons.
The Wood device is related to the Library Of Babel concept, a nexus of infinity. Michael Ende adapted this much in his Temple of a Thousand Doors; and there is in fact a library in Grossman's Neitherlands. However for Lewis - and, for different reasons, Grossman - the Wood is finite or at least countable. It joins worlds that do or, in Charn's case, used to, exist. God, who is lawful so countably-infinite, has built the worlds and links those He chooses. God's imagination is greater than ours but, if lacking mathematical limits, does follow metamathematical rules.
It occurs to me now that Frederick Pohl's Gateway station is the Neitherlands of sci-fi. If a corporation were to discover portals to other worlds but nothing about why and how such portals could exist, Gateway is the company village this corporation would establish in the Wood.
The reason Pohl's Heechee books don't work after Gateway is because the question of Gateway is the question of all existence. Lewis had an answer, whether or not we agree with his answer. Grossman doesn't have an answer, and doesn't attempt it. When Pohl wasn't trying to answer the Gateway's questions, he wrote a psychological study based on 1970s mores, successful as such. When Pohl expanded his ambition, he failed.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
The Jewish Narnia
It has been seven years since Michael Weingrad challenged the Red Sea Pedestrians to do high-fantasy or epic-fantasy; to give to the Jews an epic of their own like Lewis and Tolkien wrote two for the High-Church British.
Three years ago, I opined that Lev Grossman was posing his Fillory as the Narnia As Seen By Jews. At the time I misstated this as such an attempt at "The Jewish Narnia". Since the Magicians Season Two is out on DVD / blueray today, I did a little rethinking and researching on that. Yeah, those concepts are entirely different.
Someone who set himself to write The Jewish Narnia would have to proselytise or at least explain and defend Judaism. As for Grossman himself, it turns out he is not actually Jewish. He is mixed Jewish and Anglican, and was raised secular. For a year or two his parents sent him to Hebrew school, I guess so he could make up his own mind. (A familiar theme in this blog...) The same holds for Neil Gaiman.
Grossman like Gaiman cannot write a Jewish Narnia himself. This stuck him with rebuilding a shade of the old Narnia, for dislocated Anglophone foreigners to stumble through. This is the only story Grossman is currently able to tell. I actually enjoy his story, and I appreciate it for what it is - which is more than I'll say of Gaiman. But Grossman can offer no comfort to the Jewish soul. Nor, really, for seculars'.
Since all that, actual Jews have gotten busy answering Weingrad's challenge. In 2015 Barnes and Noble pointed us to five recent Jewish fantasy epics. Of these, several look like Jewish ripostes to the Christian mediaeval tradition, which just gets us back to Grossman's nihilism. But Matthew Kressel's The King of Shards might actually be the real thing.
UPDATE 7/26: No. Oh G-d no, it is not.
Monday, July 10, 2017
We wuz kangs
One Henrik Palmgren went on Lana Loktoff's show for Red Ice TV, an outpost of the White Right. In it we learn that Red Ice doesn't like the Out Of Africa theory. They base their shpiel from Pallab Ghosh, ''First of our kind' found in Morocco', BBC 7 June. Who almost certainly does not endorse any of this.
This segment was, they tell us, from
Loktoff's most salient argument is that there must have been other lineages that died out, parallel to the "mtDNA Eve"; Eve's lineage was just the lucky survivor. Mainly Loktoff doesn't like that whites (whom she finds most beautiful of all races) come from brutish forebears of ANY sort, black or Neanderthal. She uses the word "eerie" a lot.
I quit watching this silliness when the two got to musing about aliens, around the 7th minute or so. If I wanted to hear about whites as xenomorphs, I could go look up a Nation Of Islam channel on Yakoob.
Anyway: this new find in Morocco precedes Mitochondrial Eve. What this Moroccan dead guy did not do, was contribute to modern human DNA independently of Eve, in measurable portions. He might at most complicate the question of Eve's own ancestry. And besides, last I looked, Morocco too was in Africa, 200000 years ago as much as today.
No matter how we look at this, the founding population of modern non-African humanity, at least 90-99% of it, still derives from a band of migrants who skipped from the Horn Of Africa to the Yemen in 60000 BC or thereabouts. We're all just discussing which Africans at this point.
And I don't see how Red Ice can prove from this new evidence any validation for the unique beauty and heritage of the Great White Race, leaving aside Loktoff's feelz. Remember that the ex-African migrants are also the ancestors of Asians and Tamils, and not just of them but the Sentinelese and the Australian Aborigines . . .
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