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Chapter 6 - part 4

The final book in Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Chapter 6 - part 4

Postby Kanakaberaka » 16 Feb 2010, 15:04

Synopsis : Mark churns out several phony news articles about the riot planned for Edgestow untill 4:00 AM. It's the last two editorials that he is most proud of. Rather than opening his eyes to the lies he is perpetrating, Mark finds satisfaction in seeing his dishonest work go to influential publishers.

The first of Mark's editorials was targeted at upscale newspapers. I imagine a respectable periodical such as the New York Times on my side of the Atlantic would publish this sort of article. It's overall theme is to calm down the public about the riot at Edgestow. It reminds me of that classic police annoucement - "Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along". But of course there is a lot to witness, the police just don't want the public to interfere with their investigation. Or in the case of the N.I.C.E., their conspiracy.
Mark pins the blame for the start of the riot on "some local Sir Oracle" and N.I.C.E. workmen in a public house. Mark is out to disparage the local pub patron by refering to him as an "oracle" or prophet. Somthing the upper-crust readers of the newspaper would see as above the talent of the lower classes. Mark then goes on to quote "The Stagyrite", another name for the Greek philosopher Aristotle. -
...disorders which have trivial occasions have deeper causes...

Mark is using snob appeal here to convince the readers of this high brow periodical that the riot was in fact inflamed by petty prejudice on the part of the lower class folks of Edgestow. The message goes on to praise the N.I.C.E. institutional police as protectors of the peace by stepping in and doing the job the local constables were unable to do.
so it goes...
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Re: Chapter 6 - part 4

Postby Kanakaberaka » 16 Feb 2010, 22:11

The second pre-emptive editorial Mark wrote was intended for lower class tabloid type newspapers. It reminds me of the sort of stuff found in our New York Post here in NYC. It's intent is to arrouse the aggravation of the public about what really set off the riot.
Almost every paragraph begins with a question. "What is happening at Edgestow?", asks Mark. He then goes on to supply the obviously correct answer, as the N.I.C.E. sees it at least. To me it sounds rather like a catechism with it's cut and dry questions and answers. Everything is presented as black and white, without any gray areas in between. Unlike the high brow publication's editorial, this tabloid one goes on to inflame the suspicions of it's readers by proclaiming the riots to be engineered by the enemies to the N.I.C.E. Mark knows he can't fool the common folk about the sort of disturbance in Edgstow. So he has to deflect the blame to others, all those opposed to the National Institute.
Mark then goes on to warn readers about those who would disparage the progress of the N.I.C.E. by refering to them as "the Mrs. Grundies". Mrs. Grundy was a character mentioned in Thomas Morton's play Speed the Plough. She is a personification of the tyranny of conventional thinking. Mark is insinuating that all those who oppose the N.I.C.E. are reactionaries who refuse to accept the spirit of the times. "Squares" would be the name given to such conventional thinkers.

The sad thing is that after all this obvious lying, Mark is impressed with his misleading propaganda. Instead of comming to his senses he feels more at home with his position at Belbury. Lewis illustrates what can happen when any of us fall in with the wrong crowd. We seek their approval, even at the expence of the truth and of the good of others outside the group. We often are unaware of how the company we keep shape our own outlooks on life.
so it goes...
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Re: Chapter 6 - part 4

Postby odouglasj » 17 Feb 2010, 22:24

Having stumbled upon this forum study on THS, I am delighted as I recently re-read the novel (within the last couple of months) and I have enjoyed going over the comments. My comment on the passage at issue is I was very impressed with Lewis' grasp of how mass media is used to manipulate public opinion. He made some very keen observations. It reminds me of another professor, Noam Chomsky's concept of ways the government "manufactures consent". Writing THS in 1945 with as much savvy about media and propaganda, I'd love to see Lewis' thoughts if he were to observe the media in 2010.
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Re: Chapter 6 - part 4

Postby Matthew Whaley » 18 Feb 2010, 03:36

I agree with you, reading these articles by Mark also reminds me of George Orwell's account of the Spanish Civil War when major battles he would participate in never were reported in any paper; then reading about battles that never happened in the places they were said to have taken place.

With the writing of these news articles, Mark is now an acting member of the N.I.C.E. and responsible for not only the reaction that his work will produce, but he is also legally and morally accountable for resulting damages and injuries in Edgestow.

I'm begining to think that Lewis is echoing the account of the fall of mankind as recorded in Genesis chapter 3 in this story. The future of the whole human race hangs on what Mark and Jane do. The difference is the man has been deceived and sins, and the woman remains true and does not fall.
Last edited by Matthew Whaley on 18 Feb 2010, 17:08, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chapter 6 - part 4

Postby Kanakaberaka » 18 Feb 2010, 14:25

odouglasj wrote: It reminds me of another professor, Noam Chomsky's concept of ways the government "manufactures consent". Writing THS in 1945 with as much savvy about media and propaganda, I'd love to see Lewis' thoughts if he were to observe the media in 2010.


Thanks for your observation, odouglasj. I should have added that in both the high brow and tabloid articles Mark's conclusion was that the Institutional Police were the ones who saved the day. For the first editorial, readers were told to feel confident about N.I.C.E. security restoring control over the locals and workers. While in the tabloid editorial the N.I.C.E. police were portrayed as the cavalry comming to the rescue of Edgestow. Yet in the end the goal of both articles is the same - accepting control by the N.I.C.E. as a positive thing. Desperate times have given the N.I.C.E. the excuse they need to seize total control over Edgestow. And they don't intend to stop there.

I too wonder what C.S. Lewis would think about many of our radio and television opinion shows, both on the right as well as the left. I think he would be shocked by some of the jokes Bill Maher tells on his cable TV show. But I am equally certain that Lewis would be dismayed by Glenn Beck's pseudo-pedantic rants about the religiousity of America's Founding Fathers.
so it goes...
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Re: Chapter 6 - part 4

Postby odouglasj » 19 Feb 2010, 19:15

Kanakaberaka wrote: I think he would be shocked by some of the jokes Bill Maher tells on his cable TV show. But I am equally certain that Lewis would be dismayed by Glenn Beck's pseudo-pedantic rants about the religiousity of America's Founding Fathers.


I agree, Kanakaberaka. Lewis would be as repulsed by the partisan rants on both right and left. And his spirituality was much more deep and profound than the lock-step ranks of America's religious Right which Beck exploits.

Regarding Mark's media foray in THS, I think he represents the typical idealogue hack. They have their agenda and measure their writing skill by how smoothly they can pull the readers' "strings" of fear, prejudice, and self-flattery. It's an excellent study in media manipulation that would be relevant today.

By the way, Mr. Whaley's connection with Mark's work and Orwell's accounts of his Spanish Civil War experience were spot on.
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