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Chapter 4 Study

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

Chapter 4 Study

Postby Kanakaberaka » 20 Mar 2006, 01:31

Synopsis: Weston's revelation that the glowing orb outside is indeed the Earth knocks Ransom off his feet, literaly. After getting his balance back, he returns to asking Weston all the really important questions. Weston informs Ransom in a brusque manner what sort of vessel they are on and where they are going. A planet within our solar system called "Malacandra" by it's inhabitants. But just which planet it is according to terrestrial science, Weston won't say. Ransom then gets a guided tour of the spacecraft. C.S. Lewis goes into great detail to discribe the feeling of walking on a small metal globe with a larger one overhead to keep the ship's atmosphere in. It's like being able to see over the horizon of our own planet. The doors of rooms ahead appear to be at an odd angle. Untill you walk up to them and them they appear right. After Ransom dons a weighted belt and tinted glasses like Weston, he has dinner over which Weston explians more of his philosophy. Ransom replies that he thinks it mad. Of course Weston is hiding some vital reason for his interplanetary expedition.When Ransom inquires more about the purpose of their trip Weston replies: "I had thought no one could fail to be inspired by the role you are being asked to play: that even a worm, if it could understand, would rise to the sacrifice. I mean, of course, the sacrifice of time and liberty, and some little risk. Don't misunderstand me." But Weston, of course, does not intend to have Ransom understand.
------------------------------

I wonder if Lewis was inspired by the comic strips of the day when he discribed Ransom's reaction to Weston's "punch line". During the 1920's and 30's it was common for comic strip characters to go head over heels (something very easy to do in low gravity) when they found themselves the butt of a joke.

Next comes Weston's techincal explanation about how his spacecraft functions. Of course it's really no explanation at all. And I am sure that's what Lewis intended. Weston's high handed way of dismissing Ransom's classical knowlege is very telling. Hard science is all that matters as far as Weston is concerned. But Lewis does give us a very detailed picture of the appearance of the vessel's interior. In this way Lewis shows that he is knowlegeable of the reality of practical science.

One of my favorite passages just before Weston tells Ransom to stop talking so that they do not use the air supply needlessly is this : "I always thought space was dark and cold," he remarked vaguely. "Forgotten the sun?" said Weston contemptuously. Ransom went on eating for some time. Then he began, "If it's like this in the early morning," and stopped, warned by the expression on Weston's face. Awe fell upon him: there were no mornings here, no evenings, and no night -nothing but the changeless noon which had filled for centuries beyond history so many millions of cubic miles. He glanced at Weston again, but the latter held up his hand.

It shows just how alien the environment of outer space is to an ordinary man. And how gruff Weston is towards ordinary people.

so it goes...
Last edited by Kanakaberaka on 26 Mar 2006, 03:17, edited 1 time in total.
so it goes...
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Original Chapter 4 Comments

Postby Kanakaberaka » 20 Mar 2006, 18:36

Steve began the comments by posting his observation:
I was just thinking about Weston's comment about being unable to explain how the craft works Ransom couldn't understand the explanation. "If it makes you happy to repeat words that don't mean anything..."

This is the same theme that Lewis takes up with theologians in one essay. If the theologian cannot explain what he means in simple English, says Lewis, maybe he really doesn't understand it fully himself. I do not remember which essay this is.

---
"'That I don't know,' said Weston. 'It was no idea of ours. We are only obeying orders.'

Amazing, Lewis several years before hand, predicts the defense of the Nazi underlings at the Nuremberg trials of 1945.

---

One question, did Lewis imagine the spacecraft as spheres within spheres because of the esthetic appeal of medieval cosmology? It seems a bit exagerrated to imagine that a spacecraft is massive enough to generate a gravitational field all by itself. (The Star Wars Death Star maybe, but not this little sphere maybe two or three stories tall).
But maybe Lewis didn't know enough about gravitation to understand this, or maybe he imagined that the spacecraft does contain an artificial gravity device and Weston just hasn't explained it to Ransom.


And Stanley Anderson replied:
I've wondered about the gravity too. I remember years ago when I first read the book, being confused because I just assumed an artificial gravity induced by rotation and centrifugal force (properly "centrepital acceleration" for physics buffs:-), and that would mean that their "gravity" would be to the outer surface of the sphere. I thought perhaps Lewis had gotten it backwards. But I realized later he really meant gravity toward the center, perhaps postulating some sort of device in the center of the ship (that is apparently where the mechanics of the mysterious drive are anyway, so maybe they emulate great mass without the inertia (perhaps a contradiction in terms:-)? It's never made very clear.

--Stanley


I replied to Steve's post with Music of the Spheres :
There is another possible inspiration for the shape of Weston's spacecraft. H.G. Wells had his professor Cavor fly to the Moon in a spherical craft powered by the anti-gravity compound called "cavorite" (naturaly). I'm surprised that Weston is not using any patented westonite to power his vessel, but that would be a bit too obvious. Well's novel is "The First Men In The Moon". Both protagonists in his novel traveled willingly to the Moon. Although they did have a female stow away in the movie. Something rather incredible considering that Well's spacecraft only had a diameter of about 20 feet.
But as far as literary influences are concerned, I think that Lewis took the classical approach. Rocket powered spacecraft were in Sci-Fi vogue ever since Buck Rogers appeared in 1929. It appears that Lewis appreciates the notion of an interplanetary vessel being a small world in itself. That's why Weston's craft is a sphere with it's own gravity. Oddly enough the center of the vessel is said to be used for storage. So the propulsion and gravity generating machinery are not located there. It makes you wonder where then could they be located.


Stanley had this to say about what powered Weston's spacecraft:
Well, though it doesn't say specifically that they powered the ship, Weston does mention "Weston Rays" in Perelandra when discussing the subject in general. It seems likely that the ship used them (could Weston Rays be those "less observed properties of solar radiation" that he mentions in this chapter of OSP? Perhaps the ship itself was a sort of focussing lens that utilized them in a sort of solar sail fashion as has been proposed and tested to some degree currently with solar wind (except these Weston Rays would obviously be of a more potent and useable substance if they were able to direct the ship from the earth's surface and all the way to Mars in a little over 28 days).

Stanley then went on to speculate where the propulsion and gravity generators were located:
Ransom is told that the center is a hollow globe where the "stores" are kept, but it's still very possible that this is where the "drive" and "gravity" is located. It is obviously not hollow in a strict sense since Weston says stores are located there. So other aparatus could be "stored" there as well, I suppose. Alternatively, later on, when Malacandra's gravity begins to be felt, Ransom is told that there will be a "down" in the ship, which, because of the orientation will be where the control room is located. This suggests that the propulsion at least is on that end of the ship since it would want to be facing "down" when they landed so that it would be in the correct orientation when they wanted to take off again.

All guesses, of course:-)
--Stanley


I made this observation about the fact that the voyage took a Lunar Month:
Interesting that Lewis makes the travel time from Earth to Mars as 28 days. Modern estimates for an expedition to the red planet today are usualy several months. More importantly though, I wonder if the 28 day travel time is a symbolic reference to something. It's the number of days in a Lunar Month as well as the average woman's menstral cycle. What, if anything, is Lewis trying to suggest?


Purple Pen had this to say to Steve :
[Steve] I was just thinking about Weston's comment about being unable to explain how the craft works Ransom couldn't understand the explanation. "If it makes you happy to repeat words that don't mean anything..." ...This is the same theme that Lewis takes up with theologians in one essay. If the theologian cannot explain what he means in simple English, says Lewis, maybe he really doesn't understand it fully himself. I do not remember which essay this is.

I hadn't made that connection before, thanks! I always just took it to be a haughty, yet perfectly correct thing for Weston to say. Perhaps I saw it like that because I'm looking at it from Ransom's perspective but my understanding (which is admittedly weak in the realms of science)...so if I were Ransom and Weston tried to explain it, I wouldn't understand it. It's interesting that I never considered the possibility that Weston, having mastered the subject well enough to actually create the spaceship, should have been able to explain it in a way that Ransom *could* understand... The subtle seduction of Weston gets me again.

[Steve] One question, did Lewis imagine the spacecraft as spheres within spheres because of the esthetic appeal of medieval cosmology? It seems a bit exagerrated to imagine that a spacecraft is massive enough to generate a gravitational field all by itself.

I always thought the description of the horizon and the central gravity of the ship odd, but I never thought to try to come up with a "real" explanation for it. The picture it paints for me is one of a mini-world in which the three men are the sole, giant inhabitants. Like it's a microcosm of our world but with the proportions changed: the human representatives are proportionately larger and more prominent in this microcosmic, cosmic world. Hmmmm...the idea of spheres within spheres and the medieval cosmology sounds closer to what Lewis might have intended, however... Something for me to think about!

--Dawn


The Big Sleep J had this to say about Weston's attitude:
Weston has the bad habit of handling everybody as if they are stupid and maybe he judged Ransom as an air-head because he saw such things as Philology as a waste of time.

Weston, I think, is appealing to what some would call "the human spirit", that same drive that, apparently, sent Columbus west across the ocean sea and Marco Polo to China. Off course, the difference between Ransom and Columbus is that the famous explorer had a clear idea of what he was setting off on while Ransom is being kept in the dark on purpose. Weston probably first want to "size Ransom up" before he let's him into the whole deal, if he at any time planned to.


Stanley had this to add about Columbus :
Interestingly enough, Columbus was quite wrong. His own estimates about the size of the earth (no one of importance really thought the earth was flat) were way off (it was much larger than he thought) and he probably would have starved to death had not the Americas gotten in his way to relieve his journey.

--Stanley


To which The Big Sleep J replied :
That's because, in a map of the world Columbus once drew I saw that Africa has no southern part. Everything between Ethiopia and Nigeria was coast and there was no South Africa or the rest. Because about 10 000 miles were missing from his estimates, it quite understandable. His calculations were based more or less on the Northern hemisphere alone.


TBSJ's metion of Weston's appeal to "the human spirit" had me thinking about "Weston's Good Side" :
Funny you should mention the human spirit, TBSJ. It reminds me of a sculpture we have in Flushing Meadow Park near where I live. It's called "Freedom of the Human Spirit". That's a model of it in the picture below. If you follow the link I have included you can read a poem inspired by the sculpture. The odd thing is that the poem displays a philosophy which could inspire a person like Weston to regard humanity as the highest of all creatures. I must admit that I am inspired to admire human accomplishments when I read such thoughts myself. It makes me want to put humility on the back burner and give a humanist cheer.


Image

Here's the poem with the sculpture in the foreground :
Image


(Please Note: The "Freedom of Human Spirit" title comes from the "Freedom of Human Spirit" sculpture. (1964)
The poem was inspired from the sculpture, and written in October 1992.
Sculptor: Marchal M. Fredericks
Place: Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, New York. Photo: Bircan Unver)

Gwyneth had this to say about the poem :
Wow, it's almost a little eerie how well that could apply to Weston, and the whole NICE for that matter. What is the picture at the heading of the web page? It looks uncommonly like an alien (the way they are commonly pictured) and a human in a burst of light...or maybe it's really a little boy and girl and my imagination is running away with me...


I assured her, Don't Panic :
Nope, Gwyneth. It's just a human boy and girl in a burst of light, as far as I can tell. Sort of a more youthful version of the adults in the sculpture. I really do like that sculpture in my park. What I'm trying to say is that Weston can take a simplisic new age philosophy like the one expressed in the poem, and use it to justify his misdeeds. In fact the poem sounds more like Weston in "Perelandra" than in OOTSP.


Carly questioned my New Age suggestion, saying :
Sounds more like the Age of Enlightenment to me...


To which I responded :
The reason I consider the poem (which was written decades after the statue was made) New Age mishmash rather than truely inspirational is the fact that the mythical swans are named "ambition, creativity and love", according to the poet, not the sculptor. Note that ambition comes first and love last. I love the photo from the park looking towards the Unisphere. The poem reflects both the view and the feelings of the poet. But in my opinion, his thoughts are a bit mixed up when it comes to expressing the meaning of the statue itself.

BTW, I have read elsewhere that the woman and man are supposed to represent ascending Adam and Eve type characters.


PurplePen had this to say about Weston keeping Ransom in the dark :
The thing I always think is interesting about this statement is that Weston is almost speaking prophetically here (without knowing it, of course). None of us that reads Ransom's role fails to be inspired by it, but it's not the role that Weston thought it would be. Weston fully believed that there was risk, mortal risk, ahead for Ransom and didn't intend for Ransom to understand that. The irony, of course, is that Weston is just as much in the dark as Ransom is. I think you're right -- He's not just appealing to the "human spirit" but is looking at the whole thing from the perspective of the "human spirit." There's a veil over his understanding because he's chosen to see this drive of humanity as the greatest possible existence and the greatest possible achievement.

--Dawn


PurplePen went on to say more about Weston and Ransom :
I've given in. I've been wanting to take the notes I jotted down while reading the chapter and make them into a coherent post, but I'm just not going to have the time. So...here are quotes from Chapter 4 that struck me as I read it this time and the jottings that they inspired. Sorry if it's an annoying format.

[{Ransom} did not even know what he was afraid of: the fear itself possessed his whole mind, a formless, infinite misgiving.]

I don't why this leapt out at me, but I just thought it was uncannily well placed in the story and well crafted to move it to a level that superseded the rational and placed the fear solidly in the realm of the unknown and irrational. It was an overwhelming, undefined sort of fear that made his mind shut down. And that ending "infinite misgiving" even shifts it further into a surreal setting--it's limitless and it's future-oriented. Perfect set up for a sci-fi adventure.

[...the lifelong self-control of social man, the virtues which are half hypocrisy or the hypocrisy which is half a virtue...]

A well-turned phrase, of course, but also speaks volumes about Lewis's balanced view of things. He could see the useful, even virtuous, in what could, was, and is dismissed by others. It makes me think of the importance of actions--doing what you know to be right or to be good even when you don't want to. Hypocrisy? Christian discipline? Or just a very British approach to life?

["You mean we're--in space." Ransom uttered the word with difficulty as a frightened child speaks of ghosts or a frightened man of cancer.]

Ouch. That sentence is like watching a knife thrower toy with a knife--delicious thrill--and then suddenly witness him painfully and tragically slip--wince, cringe, avert eyes.

[...{Weston} sat down on the bed beside Ransom..] (and then proceeded to give a lecture)

I've been noticing the character of Weston a lot more in this reading. It's such a frustrating, yo-yo type development. Each humanizing action, anything that would indicate a certain warmth or normality (even something as simple as sitting down on the bed beside Ransom), is followed up with the opposite--with this cold, analytical, unyielding, unreachable, scientific persona. These moments of humanity make me think of the moment in Perelandra where the human Weston communicates with Ransom before fading completely into the Un-Man. And yet it works the other way too...

[..."Damn it all, it's not an everyday affair. I consider your philosophy of life raving lunacy...you think you are justified in doing anything--absolutely anything--here and now, on the off chance that some creature or other descended from man...may crawl about a few centuries longer..." "Yes--anything whatever..." the scientist answered sternly, "...and I advise you to remember my answer. In the meantime, if you will follow me...we will have breakfast. Be careful how you get up..."]

And here it is again--Lewis specifically says that Weston answers Ransom *as a scientist* and does so sternly. Cold, analytical, unyielding, unreachable, scientific persona. Yet...he then flows directly into the opposite: "IF you will follow me...", "...breakfast...", "Be careful how you get up..." Also, the opening line in this quote echoes what we had already learned about Ransom earlier--his opposition to/disposition to disbelieve those things that are too out of the ordinary. He has yet to shed that "deep, irrational conviction of his age and class that such things could never cross the path of an ordinary person except in fiction..."

[The heat, utterly free from moisture, seemed to knead and stroke the skin like a gigantic masseur: it produced no tendency to drowsiness: rather, intense alacrity. His headache was gone: he felt vigilant, courageous, and magnanimous as he had seldom felt on Earth.]

An emanating, powerful presence. At first I thought "It's like the atmosphere is alive with positive energy." Then I wondered, is it really positive? Does it cause the same feelings in everyone or does it simply bring to the forefront those things that are already there? Did Ransom already possess a certain alacrity, or the mental/moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty (courageous), or the nobility of feeling and generosity of mind (magnanimous)? What did this gigantic masseur bring out in Weston and Devine then? It's not the same, obviously, but it calls to mind that passage in The Magician's Nephew when they are listening to Aslan's creative song as He calls forth the animals: "It made you want to run and jump and climb. It made you want to shout. It made you want to rush at other people and either hug them or fight them. It made Digory hot and red in the face." And, if I recall correctly, it made Jadis and Uncle Andrew feel and think things quite differently than Digory, Polly, the Cabby, or the horse.

--Dawn


J.S. had more to add to PurplePen's observations :
Two notes I have scribbled down...

First - my impression of the spaceship within Lewis' framwork. Unlike some, my impression didn;t necessarily fixate upon the gears and wheels and mechanical devices associated with the spaceship. Rather, my impression had to do with the difference between Ransom and Weston as it relates to the ship. I think that the spaceship is just another extension of Weston - all gears and pulleys and mechanical devices swimming within his overtly logical head, manifested as a conveyance. This ship is no more (or no less) than a tool - a means to an end - as mundane to Weston as it is amazing to Ransom. That being said, Weston treats the ship, and those inside the ship, as pawns within his world - material projections of the creation within his own mind. So, when Weston offers Ransom breakfast, I do not see it as a humane thing to do, but rather, as a part of the necessity of keeping his projected creation alive - no more, or no less important, that providing breatheable air to the spaceship so that Weston could live. This, in my opinion, is the first glimpse that we get of just how utterly selfish and cruel Weston truely is - this cruelty may be manifested as psuedo-compassion (which I think was one of Lewis' points throughout the book), but ultimately, this psuedo-compassion seeks to destroy at the expense of everyone but the Self. Thus, when Weston tells Ransom not to talk to conserve air, it serves a two-fold purpose: to control Ransom, and it serves to show that Weston is really just looking out for himself - what he is really saying is: Don't talk, or you will deplete MY air. Since you, Ransom, are an extension of me (Weston), you must conserve my air in order to live."

Secondly - The overwhelming Presence felt by Ransom.
My question is...why does Weston not feel this? Or if he does, why doesnt he react to it? If it is an overwhelming Presence, Weston should at least react to it - be that by a heightened sense of fear, an anxiety, or some other reaction towards this intrusion into his self-creation. Weston is so absolutely sure of his 'mission', that he requires no one else to contribute intellectually that mission, that an intrusion should, at least cause him to incorporate that Presence into his overall creation. Yet, we see no evidence of that incorporation, or even an acknowledgement that there is a Presence felt by anyone other than Ransom.

In Hope,

J_S


Stanley responded to J.S. :
[from JS]:
>Yet, we see no evidence of that incorporation, or even an
>acknowledgement that there is a Presence felt by anyone other than
>Ransom.

Doesn't that fit right in, though, with the scene near the end where Weston refuses to acknowledge the presence of the Oyarsa and decides that the sleeping Hross is really the secret "medicine man", and addresses him instead, hoping to unsettle him?

As it is, though, what do you make of this passage?:
---------------
"And you say this place is inhabited?" said Ransom.

Weston gave him a peculiar look and then nodded. The uneasiness which this produced in Ransom...
--------------

Of course "this place" refers in particular to Malacandra in that part of the dialogue, and not the "space" they are inhabiting at the moment, but it does suggest that Weston has his own peculiar views about "inhabitation" if I can concoct that word:-)

--Stanley


To which J.S. answered :
Yes, I agree.. Weston does indeed manifest his own views of inhabitation when it relates to the destination. But this view appears to be just another projection of his own creation - his own universe within his own head, and he chooses not to share that view with Ransom, whatever it may be. Yet, this view of 'inhabitation' does not produce anything more than a peculiar look from Weston, and a nod.

Yet, contrasting Weston's view of inhabitation, with Ransoms, and we are left with a sense that Ransom views the inhabitation far differently than Weston. Ransom has the palatable sense of a Presence, whereas Weston views it as materialistic - as if the inhabitants are no more than tools to be used towards his end; in fact, that the inhabitants, whatever they may be, have no more 'presence' than the spaceship, or a rock, or Ransom himself. It is a curiosity in itself that Weston views himself as the true essence of Self, and that all other people, things, etc... are extensions of his own highly-held view of Self - almost as if any presence associated with something wholly other than Weston cannot exist.

Perhaps this is why Weston cannot feel the presence - that the hard shell of Self is impervious to the Presence - as PurplePen puts it, "...the atmosphere is alive with positive energy." - that this soft kneeding cannot, or does not choose, to force itself through the hard shell that Weston so holds dear. As I said, I really wonder about this, for this is the first, most telling time that we see the cold, calculating gears and wheels inside Weston's head manifest as something other than something he (Weston) has built. Perhaps the cold, calculating logic and genius contained within Weston is also a construct, built to keep the Presence out for that intrusion would ultimately destroy the construct. I guess what it appears to me is that we see the Tower of Babel built by Weston in all it's ignominious glory - physical, mental, and ultimately, spiritual.

In Hope,

J.S.


I found J.S.' suggestion that there was nothing humane about about Weston feeding Ransom breakfast "Hard To Digest" :
Now that you mention it, I recall that Lewis described Ransom's meal and it's setting in totaly mechanical terms. There was no savoring of the humble food or appreciation for it. Ransom simply digested it in an automatic fashion. It's amazing how a good author can convey a mood by merely giving the details of a meal.


And PurplePen commented :
Good point! I had forgotten that!


J.S. had this to say about Weston's space program :
I guess my overall impression of this whoile episode is a very sad, and very detailed view of what the building of the Tower of Babel must have been like....ends justify the means... Weston is going to build his Tower at all costs, and anything that he needs is going to be added to the building of that Tower.

Westons SpaceShip, the kidnapping of Ransom, the meal, the air... all of it goes toward the _PLAN_ . And no expense - mental, physical, or spiritual - will stand int he way of the building of the Tower.

Anyway, that is more of a coherent viewpoint than my scribbled notes '-)

J.S.


PurplePen had quite a bit to say about J.S.' Tower of Babel comparison :
I think the Tower of Babel is a more-than-apt analogy that I had never considered before. (Except as it applies directly and obviously in That Hideous Strength). And I *do* love to consider a good analogy! When you say it's your "overall impression of this whole episode..." what do you mean by episode? This chapter? The book? The trilogy? As I'm considering this new analogy...here are a few thoughts about the previously posted notes and observations:

[J.S.] I think that the spaceship is just another extension of Weston - all gears and pulleys and mechanical devices swimming within his overtly logical head, manifested as a conveyance. This ship is no more (or no less) than a tool - a means to an end…

From Weston's perspective, I think that's absolutely true. It is simply a piece of machinery that had been created to serve the purposes of his ideology. From a broader perspective, however, doesn't it seem to have more significance than that? Beyond "the gears and wheels and mechanical devices" and gravitational considerations and any purpose that Weston may have had for it, is there another level? I think it's actually described later...maybe on the return voyage?...as an egg, which is, in and of itself, a fully developed analogy. But it's a kind of reversed egg--with the developmental force, the substance of life, on the outside.

[J.S.] Weston treats the ship, and those inside the ship, as pawns within his world - material projections of the creation within his own mind. So, when Weston offers Ransom breakfast, I do not see it as a humane thing to do, but rather, as a part of the necessity of keeping his projected creation alive... This, in my opinion, is the first glimpse that we get of just how utterly selfish and cruel Weston truely is - this cruelty may be manifested as psuedo-compassion (which I think was one of Lewis' points throughout the book), but ultimately, this psuedo-compassion seeks to destroy at the expense of everyone but the Self.

I think you might be right about the pawns and about the pseudo-compassion. His deliberateness in providing for anyone else's well-being probably shouldn't be mistaken for any shade of humanity. His utilitarianism is, I guess by definition, devoid of any real compassion. But can he truly be characterized as cruel and selfish? "Cruel" I don't have any qualms about attributing to him though it is a unique cruelty that we're not really used to calling such. But is it the Self that he is promoting? You had said, "It is a curiosity in itself that Weston views himself as the true essence of Self, and that all other people, things, etc... are extensions of his own highly-held view of Self" But he is, after all, willing to die for what he believes in--not only Self, but a perpetuation of what he sees as some potential greater-collective-self for which he's merely a representative or ambassador. It's not just Ransom or Devine or the inhabitants of Malacandra that he's willing to sacrifice--he's actively pursuing a course that he knows could mean the sacrifice of his very Self as well. Doesn't simply thinking of him in terms of Selfish cause us to miss a part of the real irony of his ideology: his complete disregard for current life in all forms in favor of some vague concept of future life? It is selfish. But isn't it more?

[J.S.] If it is an overwhelming Presence, Weston should at least react to it - be that by a heightened sense of fear, an anxiety, or some other reaction towards this intrusion into his self-creation. Weston is so absolutely sure of his 'mission', that he requires no one else to contribute intellectually that mission, that an intrusion should, at least cause him to incorporate that Presence into his overall creation.

I don't entirely understand the second sentence here, but I think I've got the gist of it. The concept of the Presence and Weston's reaction or lack of reaction -- it occurs to me that "overwhelming Presence" or even "emanating, powerful presence" might be misleading. What do you mean by it? What did I mean by it? Because I think I meant more than I should have It doesn't seem like, upon further thought, that the heat and light and vitality are necessarily to be equated with a sort of unveiled Presence of God. At the most, it might be a kind of physical vitality that's also "laced" with a certain spiritual vitality. We know (well...we *will* know...) that the servants of Maleldil are with the spaceship as soon as it leaves the boundaries of Earth. (The spiritual vitality it's "laced with.") Yet Ransom doesn't know this–-just "senses" a sort of life surrounding him. Once he's on Malacandra for a bit, he begins to get better at locating and identifying these lives around him--once he's open to the idea and then pursues it. For Weston then, like you said, "Perhaps the cold, calculating logic and genius contained within Weston is also a construct, built to keep the Presence out for that intrusion would ultimately destroy the construct" and "almost as if any presence associated with something wholly other than Weston cannot exist." I don't know if it's built *for that purpose* but he's definitely not open to the idea of a spiritual vitality and is not going to pursue identifying it because his hope is not in any spiritual reality but in a future material reality. Any presence associated with anything other than that future material reality is irrelevant or explained away. He's no doubt already explained away any physically perceived effects of "space" as certain laws of radiation or as not yet explained physical phenomena. As long as it doesn't keep him from accomplishing his mission, it's nothing to him. Even the peculiar inhabitation of the planet is nothing to him. He either physically gets it out of his way or mentally/emotionally explains it away.

--Dawn


And Carol had this to add :
I need to put this in somewhere... and the reference to the Tower will do.

There's a very Tolkienian feeling here - as expressed by Peter Jackson and some cast/crew members, Tolkien's message is anti-industrialism, pro-environment. It's not that simple of course. But here we have Ron Tolkien's friend Jack Lewis, writing about a philologist (said to be a bit like Tollers) who is on a walking tour of the Midlands, (aha, rather like hobbits with packs on), who comes in conflict with someone very much interested in machinery and self-aggrandisment.... and there is a Tower connection! Hmm.

I've an inkling that there is a link somewhere.


Stanley commented on PurplePen's observation of Ransom not knowing what it was he feared :
I'd just add that this sense fits right in with Lewis' comments about the Romantic vs the Classical viewpoints and their effects (the effect on Ransom here is the "Romantic" of modern science mentioned). I'll quote the part from The Discarded Image that I quoted in the study a while back:
----------------
"The really important difference is that the medieval universe, while unimaginably large, was also unambiguously finite. And one unexpected result of this is to make the smallness of Earth more vividly felt. In our [ie, modern view] universe she is small, no doubt; but so are the galaxies, so is everything - and so what? But in theirs there was an absolute standard of comparison…The word 'small' as applied to Earth thus takes on a far more absolute significance…to look out on the night sky with modern eyes is like looking out over a sea that fades away into mist, or looking about one in a trackless forest - trees forever and no horizon. To look up at the towering medieval universe is much more like looking at a great building. The 'space' of modern astronomy may arouse terror, or bewilderment or vague reverie; the spheres of the old present us with an object in which the mind can rest, overwhelming in its greatness but satisfying in its harmony. That is the sense in which our universe is romantic, and theirs was classical."
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There is more in the chapter of TDI of course that goes into more detail (it is my favourite section in the book), but I think Lewis is showing here the "Romantic" sense that Ransom has been raised with and which (as I mentioned in my post for chapter five above) will start, in this and the next few chapters, to unravel as he experiences the more "Classical" image of the heavens in his journey.

--Stanley


PurplePen responded :
Stanley --

I love that you're bringing TDI into this study and hope you'll do so more and more: I haven't read it properly and don't really remember it. Also, my copy is hopefully being put to good use at a friend's house a couple of states away.

--Dawn


Stanley cautions :
It occurs to me that what seems so obvious to me may not be clear to those who haven't read The Discarded Image yet. Thus, all the stuff that Ransom notices about the quality of the light and the alacrity that he feels in its presence and the sensations he finds on both the dark and light sides of the ship are all part of this Medieval concept of the heavens, which Lewis discusses for a paragraph or so in Chapter 5 of OSP.

--Stanley


I'll have to find my own copy of The Discarded Image as well. I have an idea about the triad mentioned in the book
so it goes...
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