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Perelandra Chap. 10

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

Perelandra Chap. 10

Postby Kanakaberaka » 14 Feb 2005, 23:37

Synopsis : The Un-man continues to annoy Ransom with the repition of his name while he is not filling the Green Lady's head with his dubious stories. Ransom's impression of the Devil's personality is changed by experiencing his spirit first hand. Whatever positive traits he may have, they are only warped to destroy good. At one horiffic point the soul of Weston breaks through to tell Ransom of his condition. After Weston's personality is resubmerged the Un-man returns to tempting the Green Lady with his stories. Ransom exclaims "This can't go on" in frustration. Ransom sleeps late and thinks all is lost when he catches the Un-man and the Green Lady both dressed in robes made of feathers. But instead of teaching her shame, the Un-man seems to be instilling vanity in her. Next the Un-man pulls a hand mirror out of Weston's backpack and the real motive behind the Un-man's actions come to Ransom. He wants the Green Lady to think of herself before all others.

The Un-man continues with his stories of heroines who go against authority for the good of their family and friends. This sleepless nagging and unending harassment of Ransom with the repetiton of his name has pushed Ransom to the edge of his own sanity. It has also shattered his image of the Devil being an impressive character. This illustrates how empty of goodness of any sort the Devil is. It is also somewhat different from what C.S. Lewis said about the nature of the Devil in "Mere Christianity". He said in that book that it was impossible for any being to be totaly bad because existence itself was a form of goodness. And yet the Un-man come very close to rejecting every possible form of good including his own intelligence. To me the repetition of someone's name sounds like a mental breakdown rather than a diabolical torture. Maybe Lewis simply wanted to contrast this nihilistic center of the Un-man with the noble story telling fac'ade presented to the Green Lady.
I found it more interesting when Weston's soul took back control of his voice for a few minutes. His words were no doubt meant to convey the nonsense and confusion of a decaying soul. But there are curious referencs in it. Weston mentions his misplaced press clippings and something called "the first Fifteen". Does Weston mean the first fifteen pages in some periodical? Weston also comments "What enormous bluebottles. They say you get used to them." I remember the mention of a dead bluebottle fly in the room with the wardrobe in "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. But I doubt that there's any connection. The huge bluebottles could be a reference to the "Lord of the Flies" or Lord of lies himself.
The chapter picks up again when Ransom awakens from sleep to discover the Un-man and the Green Lady wearing robes made of feathers. First Ransom fears that the Green Lady has been taught shame for here naked state. But that is not the case. She has no idea where the Un-man got the feathers to weave the robes and thinks they were simply found. We are left to imagine how the Un-man could have ripped the feathers from living birds. But there is another prop used by the Un-man. A simple hand held mirror. It allows the Green Lady to see herself, something she had thought impossible up to this point. This has me wondering why she has not observed her reflection in the water before. Putting this discrepency aside, the Un-man's motive behind having the Green Lady see herself in the mirror is to imagine her own self first before considering others. This could be the begining of the Green Lady's turning from Maleldil and following her own ego at the expense of others.
so it goes...
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Re: Perelandra Chap. 10

Postby Sven » 14 Feb 2005, 23:58

Kanakaberaka wrote: But there are curious referencs in it. Weston mentions his misplaced press clippings and something called "the first Fifteen". Does Weston mean the first fifteen pages in some periodical? Weston also comments "What enormous bluebottles. They say you get used to them." I remember the mention of a dead bluebottle fly in the room with the wardrobe in "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. But I doubt that there's any connection. The huge bluebottles could be a reference to the "Lord of the Flies" or Lord of lies himself.


I believe the first fifteen is a time division in cricket, something like 'top half of the third inning' in baseball. One of our British members might know for sure.
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Perelandra Chap. 10

Postby Bill » 15 Feb 2005, 11:00

Sven wrote:
Kanakaberaka wrote: But there are curious referencs in it. Weston mentions his misplaced press clippings and something called "the first Fifteen". Does Weston mean the first fifteen pages in some periodical? Weston also comments "What enormous bluebottles. They say you get used to them." I remember the mention of a dead bluebottle fly in the room with the wardrobe in "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. But I doubt that there's any connection. The huge bluebottles could be a reference to the "Lord of the Flies" or Lord of lies himself.


I believe the first fifteen is a time division in cricket, something like 'top half of the third inning' in baseball. One of our British members might know for sure.


No, the First Fifteen is a Rugby Team. The second team would be the Second Fifteen see?

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Re: Perelandra Chap. 10

Postby Sven » 15 Feb 2005, 20:46

Bill wrote:No, the First Fifteen is a Rugby Team. The second team would be the Second Fifteen see?


Would that be at a school? What we would call a varsity team and perhaps a junior varsity?
Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Perelandra Chap. 10

Postby Bill » 15 Feb 2005, 22:30

Certainly school or university it is difficult to tell which from Weston's ramblings but he is obviously supposed to be going over some long held grudge about not getting picked for the first team. Just to clarify, there is Rugby Union and Rugby League. Rugby Union is usually the amateur game played in schools and so on. In Union there are 15 per side and in League 13 I believe. At grammar school we played Rugby Union, or rather I tried to avoid it wherever possible not being the sporty type. I am not an expert on Rugby and if there are any people who know more about the game than do I then I won't be offended to be corrected on any point. :D

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Who's on First (Fifteen)?

Postby Kanakaberaka » 16 Feb 2005, 06:09

Bill wrote:
Sven wrote:I believe the first fifteen is a time division in cricket, something like 'top half of the third inning' in baseball. One of our British members might know for sure.


No, the First Fifteen is a Rugby Team. The second team would be the Second Fifteen see?

Bill


Hello Bill; Have you ever heard the quip about cricket being a gentleman's sport played by hooligans and Rugby a hooligan's sport played by gentlemen? Or was it the other way around?
so it goes...
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exorcism

Postby Guest » 16 Feb 2005, 14:07

FROM Kanakabaraka:
/// To me the repetition of someone's name sounds like a mental breakdown rather than a diabolical torture.///

This is another of those chapters that to read is diabolical torture leading to a feeling of mental breakdown. :-) There are depths in the planetary trilogy that are never reached in Lewis's other works. 'Joy never darted from Mars or the Moon', Lewis says, and it's one of the reasons I prefer Narnia. *Shudders*

FROM K:
//// I remember the mention of a dead bluebottle fly in the room with the wardrobe in "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. But I doubt that there's any connection. The huge bluebottles could be a reference to the "Lord of the Flies" or Lord of lies himself. ///

Or perhaps the flies are, like much of the planetary trilogy, what Lewis calls an "exorcism." He wrote about the planets to exorcise his own ravenous lust for the occult -- what he called a 'fit upon him' -- and perhaps he wrote about flies to exorcise his disproportionate loathing of them.

Nice to have you back, K.
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Re: Who's on First (Fifteen)?

Postby Bill » 16 Feb 2005, 14:37

Kanakabaraka Wrote (couldn't you just change your name to Jim or something? ;) )

Hello Bill; Have you ever heard the quip about cricket being a gentleman's sport played by hooligans and Rugby a hooligan's sport played by gentlemen? Or was it the other way around?


Sorry, I have not heard that one.

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What Bugs Me

Postby Kanakaberaka » 16 Feb 2005, 23:41

Monica wrote: 'Joy never darted from Mars or the Moon', Lewis says, and it's one of the reasons I prefer Narnia. *Shudders*


As much as I enjoy the Narnia stories I have always had a taste for hard science fiction such as Lary Niven's Known Space Series years before I read anything by C.S. Lewis. I was fascinated by Lewis' take on "scientifiction" even though it conflicted with many sci-fi conventions about humanity's need to expand beyond our own planet. Dr. Weston is of course a parody of the whole notion of interplanetary manifest destiny.



... perhaps he wrote about flies to exorcise his disproportionate loathing of them.

Nice to have you back, K.


I remember someone asking Lewis about animal souls. What sort of Heaven would the souls of deceased mosquitos go to? Lewis replied that a Heaven for mosquitos would be a Hell for humans. So Maybe annoying bugs would feel right at home in the dark netherworld.
so it goes...
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Re: Who's on First (Fifteen)?

Postby Kanakaberaka » 16 Feb 2005, 23:48

Bill wrote:Kanakabaraka Wrote (couldn't you just change your name to Jim or something? ;) )


Feel free to call me anything you please, Bill (except late for dinner). My Kanakaberaka handle is strictly for atmosphere. Jim or K. would do fine.

Hello Bill; Have you ever heard the quip about cricket being a gentleman's sport played by hooligans and Rugby a hooligan's sport played by gentlemen? Or was it the other way around?

Sorry, I have not heard that one.

Bill


It went on to say the the Irish sport of hurling was a hooligan's game played by hooligans.
so it goes...
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Echo

Postby Ebbingkneeser » 17 Feb 2005, 14:21

I found the description of the gradual transformation of the Queen's perception of herself to be fascinating. As I read the last sentences of the chapter - "The external and, as it were, dramatic conception of the self was the enemy's true aim. He was making her mind a theatre in which that phantom self should hold the stage. He had already written the play." - I could hear the echo of some devotion I had read recently. I looked it up, it is written by George MacDonald. It reads,
"The liberty of the God who would have his creature free, is in contest with the slavery of the creature who would cut his own stem from his root that he might call it his own and love it; who rejoices in his own consciousness, instead of the life of that consciousness; who poises himself on the tottering wall of his own being, instead of the rock on which that being is built."
I am really enjoying this forum. In regard to cricket and rugby, weren't those sports pretty far down the evolutionary tree that eventually blessed us with baseball and football? JUST KIDDING!

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Re: Who's on First (Fifteen)?

Postby Bill » 17 Feb 2005, 15:43

Kanak.. (whatever) Wrote
Feel free to call me anything you please, Bill (except late for dinner). My Kanakaberaka handle is strictly for atmosphere. Jim or K. would do fine.



I have no objection to the name, its just that my fingers have trouble typing it!
:D

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Perelandra Chap. 10 -- Stanley's comments

Postby Stanley Anderson » 21 Feb 2005, 18:31

This is a tough chapter to write about – it is so pivotal to the entire theme that I think of Chesterton’s comment about someone asking you why you prefer civilization – one can only look about befuddled and point to various specific comforts without getting at the whole “big picture” of it. The question is too big for simple answers. And I have something of the same feeling about this chapter. But that never stopped me before:-)

Within this important chapter, the clothing scene strikes me as the central part of it. I have mentioned before some observations about the parallel situations that Ransom and the Green Lady go through. And I wonder if another of those parallels might be that the Green Lady with clothes is not unlike Ransom’s “piebald” look when he first arrives in Perelandra. It is a sort of dividing into two separate parts, if you will of the characters. I noted this before in the Out of the Silent Planet study and it come to a sort of literary head in the “chessboard” theory I talk about in connection with the characters in That Hideous Strength.

Here we see a striking presentation of this idea when the Un-man gives a mirror to the Green Lady to see herself. When asked what is fearful about it, she says “Things being two when they are one”. This is perhaps the clearest statement of this theme so far. I am reminded of that scene in OSP where Ransom is wandering alone and talks of and to that “other” person that he realizes is himself

[Green Lady]:
“I see only a face.”

[Un-man]:
“Hold it further away and you will see the whole of the alongside woman – the other who is yourself. Or no – I will hold it.”

I’ll mention a couple side points here. I’ve often noted the “scientific” error that Lewis makes here – a common one that many people don’t realize about mirrors. It is the idea that if you hold a mirror farther from you, you can see more of yourself than if you hold it up close. This is true if you are looking at other objects with a mirror, but when you look at yourself, it is not true. Essentially, the “more image” you expect to see by holding the mirror farther away is compensated for by the fact the mirror in effect “gets smaller” by being farther away. Try it with a pocket mirror to discover that it is true (perhaps because women are more likely to carry such a mirror with them, they might be more familiar with this fact than men? Is this true?—are any of you women out there familiar with it from experience rather than being told about it?) By the way, if the mirror is a concave mirror – ie, the ones that magnify the image close up for doing make-up and such, this phenomenon is not true. And this could possibly explain Lewis’ intention in this scene, but I doubt it. It doesn’t specifically say what kind of mirror it was, but I would guess it was just a basic flat mirror. Not sure though of course.

The other side point is merely a humourous thought. When Ransom approaches the Green Lady and the Un-man with their clothes, she says “Welcome Piebald, you have slept long. What do you think of us in our leaves?”

I can’t help but think of her adding on that nemesis question that all men dread being asked from a woman and for which there is no good answer, ie, “Do you think it makes me look fat?”

Ransom in his wisdom, cleverly avoids the question by replying, “The birds, the poor birds! What has he done to them?”:-)

Anyway, back to the pivotal nature of this chapter. It is here where the Lady has come perilously close to “becoming two” that Ransom, as we shall see in the next chapter, determines that enough is enough and that he must physically fight the Unman. This is perhaps not unrelated to the idea of the forbidden fruit in Eden imparting knowledge of “good and evil” – ie dividing experience into two distinct categories, and dividing life from death.

--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.
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does this mirror make me look fat?

Postby Guest » 22 Feb 2005, 18:33

[From Stanley]:
I’ve often noted the “scientific” error that Lewis makes here – a common one that many people don’t realize about mirrors. It is the idea that if you hold a mirror farther from you, you can see more of yourself than if you hold it up close. This is true if you are looking at other objects with a mirror, but when you look at yourself, it is not true. Essentially, the “more image” you expect to see by holding the mirror farther away is compensated for by the fact the mirror in effect “gets smaller” by being farther away. Try it with a pocket mirror to discover that it is true (perhaps because women are more likely to carry such a mirror with them, they might be more familiar with this fact than men? Is this true?—are any of you women out there familiar with it from experience rather than being told about it?)

It never really hit me until this minute -- and I know I've tried to do it before, tried to look in a small makeup mirror and see more than just my nose. Very interesting.

Funny thing about your sign-off line. I supppose that's a favourite passage of yours, since you like a corresponding type of passage in THS about fog. But I wonder if using that sign-off line everytime (and I don't have any idea if you use it repeatedly or not) might make such as shivery wonderful moment become like Ransom and his bubble fruit: something wonderful, but not something one should ask to have repeated, like a symphony. It might lose something in the very repetition.
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Re: does this mirror make me look fat?

Postby Stanley Anderson » 23 Feb 2005, 20:50

Monica wrote:It never really hit me until this minute -- and I know I've tried to do it before, tried to look in a small makeup mirror and see more than just my nose. Very interesting.


Not sure why you would want to see more though -- or is the expression, "I'm going to the lady's room to powder my nose" not meant to be literal?:-)

Funny thing about your sign-off line. I supppose that's a favourite passage of yours, since you like a corresponding type of passage in THS about fog. But I wonder if using that sign-off line everytime (and I don't have any idea if you use it repeatedly or not) might make such as shivery wonderful moment become like Ransom and his bubble fruit: something wonderful, but not something one should ask to have repeated, like a symphony. It might lose something in the very repetition.


I use it repeatedly by default because putting a quote in the signoff box in one's profile area causes that quote to appear on all of one's existing posts. Thus, if I were to change the quote to, say, "She sat down immediately in a chair close to where Mark was standing, flung her right leg over one of the arms, and fixed him with a gaze of cold intimacy", it would now appear on all my existing posts where the LotR quote appeared previously.

But you are right, the repitition of reading that quote could cause it to lose its wonderful quality. I just assume that most people read signoffs like I do -- ie, I read a new one the first time, maybe even a second time on another post, but after that, if I recognize it, I pretty much ignore it because I already know what it says.

But I just might change the quote at some point -- and who knows? I might even pick the Fairy Hardcastle one:-)

--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.
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