11.10.2010

Yes, more magic!


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The simplicity and directness of Lewis's fairy tales astounds me. Without the heavy, Freudian self-involvement of the Pevensie children from the movies, without the incredulity and existential pantheism of modern novel writing, without any ado or preamble or explanation or coddling, the language of children draws such praise for my grouchy and embittered soul. Therein lies the truth! It's sitting there, an eternally ancient Old Man of the Fire playing smilelessly with Platonic forms like bobbles! The fairy tale is truly subversive! No wonder that MacDonald was kicked out of his preaching role. I can only pray and hope that I never loose my resonance with this literature. I judging by the reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this time, I'm not likely to any time soon.

With the waning of November has come the chill of winter to the northern climes. Erik took Numi and I up the the Selkirk Mountains where we forged our own trail Boromir style through the knee high banks of snow. Weather like this makes all the more tangible the descriptions of the White Witch's domain and the lesson to darkness which winter so continually brings us.
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More often than not I (as well as my brother Nathan) have interpreted the metaphoric message of the latter half of the story in much the same way as the story writers for the movie, that is, with an emphasis on the war between the army of the White Witch and the army of Aslan with Peter and Edmund and all the rest. Seen from this point of view the analogy runs thus (Warning: spoiler alert): 1) Aslan rising from the dead corresponds to Jesus rising from the grave and to heaven, 2) the War corresponds to the life of Christians on earth, battling with the Prince of this world and the "Rulers of the air", and 3) Aslan's return and TKO of the Witch corresponds to Jesus's second return of Revelation. Pretty neat and pretty. However this time around something else rose to my attention. As MacDonald's Tangle and Mossy can relate, time means something else in fairy tales and the forces of simultaneous imagery can work as well. I picked up on Aslan's words, "Come children, you must ride me." This is soon after he has risen and played tag with Susan and Lucy. They mount upon their risen savior and ride off to the Witch's house to release the prisoners there. I am intrigued at how Lewis focuses on that, rather than the battle. It says to me that though indeed martial imagery is evoked often (and sometimes too often) in relation to our present life of the Kingdom here and not yet, in another sense the Christian is carried. Aslan is swifter than a horse, never tiering, never faltering, sure-footed, and beautiful. It doesn't happen often enough, but that image should play into our understanding of present reality. In the end of all our victories, or destroying the Witch's wand, it is the work of Aslan alone that makes any difference. Think about it...

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Lewis continues to introduce us to such amazing Londonisms as "Sharp's the word!" or "Of all the horrid little beasts!". It's worth noting that all these amazing phrases come from Peter, the Magnificent Phraseologist.
Jessica noticed in the end how the denouement leaves her with a sense of strange sadness. These children live their whole lives into adult hood only to stumble back into childhood. The modern movies in particular pick up on what terrible things must happen to one's psyche if this were to happen. It's a bit like a modern novel about time traveling or one of those bad dreams where you go back in time and have to try to fall in love all over again with your beloved, weighed down with the responsibility of prior knowledge. I can see that. Yet I think that goes against the tenets of fairy land to stick to those logical conclusions. Fairy land is that moment of hazy dusk, the ambiguity of instrumental musical language, the lovely disorientation between waking and sleep. Once Kings and Queens, always Kings and Queens. That's the point. They must find Aslan in their own country. To hold on too tightly to the mists of fairy land is to hold too tightly to the sounds of the ocean. (I really hope Nathan reads this, cuz he's going to love my concrete language!) Tolkien and MacDonald's Anados point out that at this time the point of fairy tales are to come back to our own world, to shut the book and look around and perhaps notice something you hadn't before, hear a voice you wouldn't have noticed before, perhaps have learned something you could not have other wise. That's why I love it.

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