10.23.2010

The Beginning of all the Others


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There are several books in this world which I would say have a strong part in shaping my identity.
I've talked about many of them already. However there are a select few which go to the core of me, flow out from my most distant past, reach out to my future, and glow with a soul beyond the plainness of their covers. I'm talking about the Chronicles of Narnia. I remember all the books being read to me as a child: by Mom in the bright pink morning, by Dad with the osteopathic rocking chair, by myself far past "lights out" time, with Jessica in random Westmont lounges. Since then Jess and I have expanded our fantasy horizons with the penetratingly fantastic MacDonald, Tolkien, L'Engle, and even a little Grimm auf Deutsch paraphrased and translated before bed. The time has come for Narnia! 
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"The Magician's Nephew" bursts with excitement! In every page, every sentence, every description and scene and colloquial phrase ("Jiminy", "Blast and Botheration", "Garn") peeks the impish face of the Fantastic Imagination, the healing, profound, naive, salvific, "ohne Versammlung und mit Versammlung" world and promise which I so desperately and pathetically and wisely long for!

I'd like to just mention a few aspects which particularly caught my attention this time through. First of all there's the issue of the Magician. It hearkens very much to Tolkien's essay in which he defines Magic as that which some would use to make themselves immortal. Lewis pushes it further into reality in his "Screwtape Letters" by connecting the power-hungry witches of fairy-tales to the power-hungry scientists of the modern era. (L'Engle does much to create wonderful scientist characters.) Uncle Andrew and the Witch lust for the same thing.
Another wonderful moment was the description of the creation of Narnia (especially after the death of Charn). I don't have a problem with Evolution. What I do have a problem with are people who use the theory to suck all the depth and beauty out of the act of creation. Both the substance and the sensibility reveal the subjective (and in the case of God also objective) values of the creator. If any of these magicians want me, I'll be in a fairy tale and loving it. (Check out the Silmarillion for a more epic depiction of song-to-creation.)
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Last idea for exploration: Lewis was greatly inspired by MacDonald and I can't help but feel a little of North Wind when the Cabby and Strawberry the cab horse come into the picture. The retrospection of this book from Lewis' point of view (given that it is set in Victorian times) gives a sort of sympathy to these characters. It's a tip of the hat to MacDonald's ability to sympathize in the midst of those times.
Love it. Looking forward to more waffles and book 2.

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