This forum was closed on October 1st, 2010. However, the archives are open to the public and filled with vast amounts of good reading and information for you to enjoy. If you wish to meet some Wardrobians, please visit the Into the Wardrobe Facebook group.

Perelandra Chap. 8

An archived study of the second book of Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Perelandra Chap. 8

Postby Kanakaberaka » 06 Jan 2005, 00:15

Synopsis - Ransom awakes to find Weston has left the fixed island, something he can not belive possible considering Weston's condition. Ransom eventualy leaves the island for an orange floating island with the help of one of those huge silver fishes. On the way over Ransom observes humanlike aquantic beings and speculates on the origin of the King and Queen of Perelandra. Finally the fish brings Ransom to a floating island and Ransom is exhausted. He awakes in the dark to eavesdrop on a conversation between the Greeen Lady and someone he thinks might be Weston. The posessed Weston attempts to convince the Green Lady that life on the fixed land would be in her interest as well as the King's. He fails to do so, and Ransom goes back to sleep relived that disaster has been avoided.
This chapter appears to be Genesis revisited. I know, all of Perelandra seems to be a retelling of the opening chapters of Genesis. But chapter 8 focuses on two critical details. The first is the subject of evolution/creation, or more specificly the origin of the Adam and Eve of Perelandra. It's just a casual observaion from the back of helpfull fish, but it gives depth to the story. (Hmmm... Depth from the depths of the Perelandran ocean, but I digress) Ransom notes that the expressions on the faces of these mermen and mermaids are not idiotic but asleep. He speculates that the Green Lady and her King my have come from these sea-folk even though they are in fact the first conscious persons from the planet. Ransom compares the merpeople to our own pre-human ancestors. Lewis has managed to combine scientific theory with Christian revelation here.
Next, and more importantly there is the tempting of the Green Lady. In our world Satan used a serpent to get his message to Eve. On Perelandra Dr. Weston is the vehicle for the Dark One's doings. What I found interesting was the mild manner which the tempter used. The demon who possesed Weston spoke in a manner totaly unlike the bossy, demonstrative way of Weston. No wonder Ransom could not belive it was Weston speaking at first. It was only after the tempter had given up that the real Weston was allowed to give his opinion about calling it quits. The tempter is very carefull about how he tempts the Lady. He gives no hint about pride or rebellion against Maleldil. The wonderous part is that unlike Eve, the Green Lady did not give in to the suggestions of the tempter. Ransom was relived that his role, at least in this case, was that of a witness not a partisipant. It was totaly up to the Green Lady to accept or reject the temptation. More importantly, Ransom acts as our ears into this pivotal conversation.
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC

The Doctor formerly known as Weston

Postby Kanakaberaka » 12 Jan 2005, 06:50

I must comment on the details of the tempting of the Green Lady by the possesed Weston
I found the way in which the Green Lady was tempted to be quite interesting. In our world, Eve was tempted by the serpent's claim that by eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil her eye's would be opened and she would become like God. Weston's voice tries a different tact. His goal is to convince the Green Lady that it is Maleldil's will that she break His command against living on the fixed land. To accomplish this Weston encourages her to use her imagination. This is different from our Garden of Eden scenario where Eve is encouraged to expand her intellect. I wonder if this has something to do with Lewis' own mindset as a fantastic writer? could he be hinting that the thought and desire must precede the sin? Or could he be saying that when we use our imaginations to think things out we can avoid sin by considering the consequences of our actions?
Weston's demon goes on to praise the women of our world by saying that "They always reach out their hands for the new and unexpected good...". An obvious reference to Eve's picking the forbidden fruit. He praises women of Thulcandra for being "little Maleldils", that is thinking of themselves as God. This tactic fails when the Green Lady praises Maleldil for his wisdom and expresses gratitude that He will bring daughters out of her who will be greater than her. The demon no doubt wanted her to focus on becoming a god herself rather than thinking about others. It's no wonder that the real Weston is able to disengage the conversation at this point and go to sleep. His "familiar" must have been exasperated at the Green Lady's unselfishness.
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC

Victory over temptation

Postby Steve » 12 Jan 2005, 11:57

What impressed me in the chapter is how Ransom sensed all of Perelandra rejoicing in the Lady's refusal to be tempted.

Also the elements of the tempters argument that seem to be heading towards "disobey, and you shall be like Maleldil", just like Eve was tempted to eat and be like God.
User avatar
Steve
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 730
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: Waxhaw, North Carolina, USA

Perelandra Chap. 8 -- Stanley's comments

Postby Stanley Anderson » 12 Jan 2005, 17:36

Chapter 4 begins “At Ransom’s waking something happened to him which perhaps never happens to a man until he is out of his own world: he saw reality, and thought it was a dream.” The text goes on to describe the heraldic and fantastic setting. “This is the most vivid dream I have ever had,” he thought.

Contrast that with this opening to chapter 8:

He woke, after a disturbed and dreamful sleep, in full daylight. He had a dry mouth, a crick in his neck, and a soreness in his limbs. It was so unlike all previous wakings in the world of Venus, that for a moment he supposed himself back on Earth: and the dream (for so it seemed to him) of having lived and walked on the oceans of the Morning Star rushed through his memory with a sense of lost sweetness that was well-nigh unbearable. Then he sat up and the facts came back to him. “It’s jolly nearly the same as having waked from a dream, though,” he thought.


I notice in particular his phrase “the dream…rushed through his memory with a sense of lost sweetness that was well-nigh unbearable” is very like how Lewis describes “Joy” elsewhere, but here it has a distinct negative sense of loss, whereas in his other descriptions it is almost the pang itself that is the signal of Joy.

I couldn’t resist a smile at the following passage: “As far as food was concerned, he was rewarded. Some fruit like bilberries could be gathered in handfuls on the upper slopes, and the wooded valley abounded in a kind of oval nut. The kernel had a toughly soft consistency, rather like cork or kidneys, and the flavour, though somewhat austere and prosaic after the fruit of the floating islands, was not unsatisfactory. The giant mice were as tame as other Perelandrian beasts but seemed stupider.”

Of course that last sentence is meant to go onto another subject, but coming where it does right after other comments about food, I almost expect to read next, “…and so they were easy to hunt and kill and satisfied Ransom’s desire for meat in his diet”:-)

In the chapter called “The Longaevi” in his book, The Discarded Image, Lewis talks about the creatures, elvish and such, that are of a sort of third way. This line from the section where Ransom is considering the mer-people that he sees under the ocean as he rides the porpoise-like creature back to the floating islands, is almost a perfect description of what he talks about in TDI: “They were more like human faces asleep, or faces in which humanity slept while some other life, neither bestial nor diabolic, but merely elvish, out of our orbit, was irrelevantly awake.”

Here is another passage that is almost straight commentary about Lewis’ concept of “Joy” that he talks about elsewhere:

[of the fragrance he meets] He knew well what it was. He would know it henceforward out of the whole universe – the night breath of a floating island in the star Venus. It was strange to be filled with homesickness for places where his sojourn had been so brief and which were, by any objective standard, so alien to all our race. Or were they? The cord of longing which drew him to the invisible isle seemed to him at that moment to have been fastened long, long before his coming to Perelandra, long before the earliest times that memory could recover in his childhood before birth, before the birth of man himself, before the origins of time. It was sharp, sweet, wild, and holy, all in one, and in any world where men’s nerves have ceased to obey their central desire would doubtless have been aphrodisiac too, but not in Perelandra.


Old-timers here may recall my admittedly theologically uncertain, but intellectually held idea about humor and the Fall. The following passage makes me wonder about a further extension of that idea (Ransom has just eaten another fruit of the floating islands): “It was none of the fruits he had tasted before. It was better than any of them. Well might the Lady say of her world that the fruit you ate at any moment was, at that moment, the best.” I suddenly wonder if even the “ability” or sense that one thing is “better” than another – ie the concept of quantitative comparison (strange, this idea coming from a mathematics major, eh:-), might not be another of the results of the fall. And I even have vague intimations of this concept being somehow connected with the idea of humour. But that involves a long discussion better as a separate thread perhaps.

Here is another passage:

“I am wondering,” said the woman’s voice, “whether all the people of your world have the habit of talking about the same thing more than once. I have said already that we are forbidden to dwell on the Fixed Land. Why do you not either talk of something else or stop talking?”


I can’t help but think of her shaking her head and thinking to herself in exasperation, “Teenagers!”:-)

Regarding the “type” of temptation and its similarity or difference to the Eden version that K mentions in his post, I think we see the similarity right at the beginning when Weston as the UnMan says, “…the world is made up not only of what is but of what might be. Maleldil knows both and wants us to know both". How similar this is to the serpent’s temptation to Eve, “…your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods…”

It is very interesting when Weston finally says, “I will sleep now”. Later in the book, one of Ransom’s feelings of despair hinges on the fact that the UnMan apparently does not need to sleep (and the Green Lady, less than Ransom at least), and Ransom cannot “keep up” with the UnMan’s discussions with her. So why does he need sleep here? I think it is, as has been suggested by -- ?? was it Steve or K? – that a sort of cosmic rejoicing and victory was enacted in the Green Lady’s declaration and praise of Maleldil about the idea of serving rather than ruling over her own children and the beauty and wonder that they might surpass her and that she rejoices in that fact. It is a sort of enhancement or sympathetic vibration to the natural harmonic state of the universe as God intends it to be. I imagine it being sort of like the “pressure” Ransom felt in an earlier chapter that oppressed him whenever he had feelings of being an independent creature – his “own self” – which is what the UnMan/Weston is to the extreme.

And again, these voices or “music of the spheres” that Ransom feels are like sound even though he cannot physically hear them (shades of the Lewis essay “Transposition” again), are another indication, as we read about earlier in Perelandra and OSP, of the “fullness” of the heavens that he describes in The Discarded Image – no space is “wasted” or “empty”.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Perelandra Chap. 8 -- Stanley's comments

Postby Guest » 12 Jan 2005, 17:40

Remember Novalis:

Our life is no dream; but it ought to become one, and perhaps will.
Guest
 

Row, row, row your boat...

Postby Kanakaberaka » 13 Jan 2005, 06:02

Karl Henning wrote:Remember Novalis:

Our life is no dream; but it ought to become one, and perhaps will.


Hmmm... Sort of reminds me of one of the Star Trek movies (number 5, if I'm not mistaken). Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy are sitting around a campfire singing "Row, row, row your boat - gently down the stream - Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily - Life is but a dream". Spock interupts the song to comment dryly that "Life is NOT a dream". This of course annoys Dr. McCoy to no end.
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC

tempted by real estate

Postby Kanakaberaka » 13 Jan 2005, 06:15

Steve wrote:

Also the elements of the tempters argument that seem to be heading towards "disobey, and you shall be like Maleldil", just like Eve was tempted to eat and be like God.


That has me wondering - Since Eve's temptation was to eat forbidden fruit to become like God - What is the reason for making life on the one fixed land forbidden? Ransom did not rest there nearly as well as on the floating islands.
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC

Of Mice and Men

Postby Kanakaberaka » 13 Jan 2005, 06:27

The giant mice were as tame as other Perelandrian beasts but seemed stupider.”

Of course that last sentence is meant to go onto another subject, but coming where it does right after other comments about food, I almost expect to read next, “…and so they were easy to hunt and kill and satisfied Ransom’s desire for meat in his diet”:-) - Stanley


Oh come now Stanley, Reepacheep would never stand for that. He would jump between Ransom and the giant Perelandran mice and yell "Unhand my brother mice you Poltroon!". Oops! Reep is from Lewis' other series, sorry.
Hmmm... Eating giant mice on a tropic island... I think you're confusing this story with TV's "Survivor".
so it goes...
User avatar
Kanakaberaka
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 1028
Joined: Jul 1999
Location: Just outside of Rego Park, NYC

Re: tempted by real estate

Postby Stanley Anderson » 13 Jan 2005, 15:14

Kanakaberaka wrote:That has me wondering - Since Eve's temptation was to eat forbidden fruit to become like God - What is the reason for making life on the one fixed land forbidden? Ransom did not rest there nearly as well as on the floating islands.


The Green Lady answers this herself near the end of the book. I hate to jump ahead like this, so if anyone reading these comments is reading the book for the first time, it is probably best to skip this post. Anyway, she says this:

The reason for not yet living on the Fixed Land is now so plain. How could I wish to live there except because it was Fixed? And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure -- to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? I was to reject the wave -- to draw my hands out of Maledil's, to say to Him, "Not thus, but thus" -- to put in our own power what times should roll towards us...as if you gathered fruits together to-day for to-morrow's eating instead of taking what comes. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again?"

"I see it well," said Ransom. "Though in my world it would pass for folly. We have been evil so long"...


(I added that last bit just because it emphasizes how hard it is for us to even see the idea of "taking what comes" to us from God when "gathering fruits together to-day for to-morrow's eating" is so ingrained in our mode of living.)

The "becoming like God" aspect of going against the Fixed Land prohibition was, first of course in the simple disobedience to God and "acting on one's own whims" when they went against God's will, but secondly, and more importantly, as the Green Lady indicates, it would have allowed her (so the UnMan would have had her believe) to "be like God" in order to dictate "like God" what one would do and when, apart from any "outside" agency (eg, God).

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: tempted by real estate

Postby Guest » 13 Jan 2005, 16:00

Ciao, Stan!

Stanley Anderson wrote:... how hard it is for us to even see the idea of "taking what comes" to us from God when "gathering fruits together to-day for to-morrow's eating" is so ingrained in our mode of living.

The one quarrel I have with St Francis of Assisi is related to this.

Our dear Fr Michael tells us that one animal against whom St Francis fulminated (insofar as that worthy Saint could fulminate) is the squirrel (we are, contrariwise, very glad of squirrels, hence the quarrel ... which I don't think will pose any serious impediment to fellowship, God grant ....)

St Francis felt that squirrels did not trust in God to provide, since they hoarded for the winter ....

Pace e bene,
~Karl
Guest
 

struggling to catch up

Postby Guest » 13 Jan 2005, 16:51

[quote="Stanley Anderson"]I couldn’t resist a smile at the following passage: “As far as food was concerned, he was rewarded. Some fruit like bilberries could be gathered in handfuls on the upper slopes, and the wooded valley abounded in a kind of oval nut.

{MONICA}
I think it rather odd that Lewis gives so much page to fruit and the enjoyment of it when, according to Paxton, he, himself didn't much like either fruit or vegetables. (Lewis would have perhaps been a healthier and longer-lived specimen if he had actually consumed them. :-) Who knows? Conjecture. But this is very like speculative discussions about heaven that suggest the 'fruit of the tree of life with a new crop every month' might taste like our earthly appetites for cheese, or toast or a bit of bacon.

[STANLEY]
Old-timers here may recall my admittedly theologically uncertain, but intellectually held idea about humor and the Fall. The following passage makes me wonder about a further extension of that idea (Ransom has just eaten another fruit of the floating islands): [i]“It was none of the fruits he had tasted before. It was better than any of them. Well might the Lady say of her world that the fruit you ate at any moment was, at that moment, the best.”
I suddenly wonder if even the “ability” or sense that one thing is “better” than another – ie the concept of quantitative comparison (strange, this idea coming from a mathematics major, eh:-), might not be another of the results of the fall. And I even have vague intimations of this concept being somehow connected with the idea of humour. But that involves a long discussion better as a separate thread perhaps.

The faculty of rating and ranking and comparison as a result of the fall? Very interesting. I wonder how the idea of the 'elders' in heaven, or the idea of 'the greatest in the kingdom of heaven' , sort of a ranking system falls in line there....

Monica
Guest
 

Re: Row, row, row your boat...

Postby Guest » 13 Jan 2005, 16:53

Kanakaberaka wrote: Spock interupts the song to comment dryly that "Life is NOT a dream". This of course annoys Dr. McCoy to no end.


*Laughs* Good one, K. Did Spock ever say anything that he didn't say drily? :-)
Guest
 

Re: struggling to catch up

Postby Stanley Anderson » 13 Jan 2005, 18:13

Monica wrote:I think it rather odd that Lewis gives so much page to fruit and the enjoyment of it when, according to Paxton, he, himself didn't much like either fruit or vegetables.


It might be (I have no idea of course) that by saying he didn't much like them, it really indicated more not liking a great variety of them, while still enjoying a select few intensely (how many kids love corn but refuse to try anything new in the vegetable category). If so, I suppose he might have loved the idea of good tasting, satisfying fruits and vegetables. And, too, his dislike may have been for the (what I have heard at least) English tendency to cook their vegetables to mushy death. Perhaps he enjoyed fresh vegetables and fruits (certainly those are the sort he writes about in Perelandra) more than the cooked variety and the fresh types were simply hard to come by, so Paxton only saw his rejection of the cooked or canned types? Just a guess. (And certainly, he might have been writing favourably about things he didn't personally like too -- "write about what you know" can include things you don't like, I suppose:-)

The faculty of rating and ranking and comparison as a result of the fall? Very interesting. I wonder how the idea of the 'elders' in heaven, or the idea of 'the greatest in the kingdom of heaven' , sort of a ranking system falls in line there....


Well, it's a very nebulous and only slightly formed idea at best at this stage. And even with much thinking about, is probably a lot like trying to think about time -- it is impossible for us to "step out of" (very far, anyway) of time to look at it objectively. All our attempts leave us still embedded within time so that our efforts to consider questions about time and eternity are of necessity stilted at best.

And so with this idea too. We are already in the "mode" of comparison, and Scripture is written to us already fallen creatures, so it may, of necessity, have to incorporate aspects of "quantitative comparison" that we are unable to "step out of" in our present state.

Also, as I've said about my theory about humour and the fall, once humour came into being as a result of the fall (if the idea has any merit at all), it neither means it is bad in and of itself (just as the Resurrection is a "result" of the fall, but not bad in itself), nor that unfallen creatures, now that humour exists, cannot then "take part" and "enjoy" humour (just as clothing was a "result" of the fall, but Jesus who was unfallen, did not forego clothing while on Earth, and clothing is used as a heavenly feature (eg, "clothed in righteousness", etc).

So I can imagine the concept of quantitative comparison being "available" for use, even in unfallen settings since it now (according to the conjecture) exists to be used.

Further, I might wonder if things like "least and greatest" in heaven are applied to us because we are indeed already fallen and so it is a given in the very "placement" of things as they are translated to heaven (all this is very abstract, hard-to-imagine stuff of course. I can't at all defend the idea very strongly, only suggest possibilities)

And finally, as I think about it in relation to Perelandra, Lewis does even seem to support the idea to some degree in his description of the Great Dance:

"Never did He make two things the same; never did He utter one word twice. After earths, not better earths but beasts; after beasts, not better beasts, but spirits. After a falling,not a recovery but a new creation. Out of this new creation, not a third but the mode of change itself is changed forever. Blessed be He!"

"All is righteousness and there is no equality. Not as when stones lie side by side, but as when stones support and are supported in an arch, such is His order"

"They who add years to years in lumpish aggregation, or miles to miles and galaxies to galaxies, shall not come near His greatness."

"Not thus is he great. He dwells within the seed of the smallest flower and is not cramped: Deep Heaven is inside Him who is inside the seed and does not distend Him. Blessed be He!"

"In the plan of the Great Dance plans without number interlock, and each movement becomes in its season the breaking into flower of the whole design to which all else has been directed. Thus each is equally at the centre and none are there by being equals, but some by giving place and some by receiving it, the small things by their smallness and the great by their greatness, and all the patterns linked and looped together by the unions of a kneeling with a sceptred love. Blessed be He!"

"He has immeasurable use for each thing that is made, that His love and splendour may flow forth like a strong river which has need of a great watercourse and fills alike the deep pools and the little crannies, that are filled equally and remain unequal; and when it has filled them brim full it flows over and makes new channels. We also have need beyond measure of all that He has made."

Well, of course I could type out the whole thing, but again this is jumping way ahead of the study:-)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Row, row, row your boat...

Postby Guest » 14 Jan 2005, 03:48

Kanakaberaka wrote:Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy are sitting around a campfire singing "Row, row, row your boat - gently down the stream - Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily - Life is but a dream". Spock interupts the song to comment dryly that "Life is NOT a dream". This of course annoys Dr. McCoy to no end.

This necessarily reminds me of Wodehouse ....

PG Wodehouse wrote:I call her a ghastly girl because she was a ghastly girl. The Woosters are chivalrous, but they can speak their minds. A droopy, soupy, sentimental exhibit, with melting eyes and a cooing voice and the most extraordinary views on such things as stars and rabbits. I remember her telling me once that rabbits were gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen and that the stars were God's daisy chain. Perfect rot, of course. They're nothing of the sort ....
Guest
 

Jumping ahead

Postby Steve » 15 Jan 2005, 13:20

this is jumping way ahead of the study:-)


But only on this side of eternity where we are bound by time.
User avatar
Steve
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 730
Joined: Aug 1999
Location: Waxhaw, North Carolina, USA

Next

Return to Perelandra

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered members and 1 guest