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CS Lewis and the Press

The man. The myth.

CS Lewis and the Press

Postby boink1 » 08 Dec 2008, 03:26

In chap. 6 (The Fog) of The Hideous Strength, CS Lewis expresses a VERY cynical view of the press as well as of academia. In the course of this and following chapters Mark Studdock becomes an accomplice to articles manipulating the truth. So there is both a physical fog and a fog of the mind:

Again Lewis seems prescient, forseeing views that would expressed years later by Malcom Muggeridge :
The ostensibly serious offerings of the media, on the other hand, represent a different menace precisely because they are liable to pass for being objective and authentic, whereas actually they, too, belong to the realm of fantasy. Here, the advent and exploration of visual material with the coming of thecamera, has played a crucial role. This applies especially to news and so-called documentaries, both of which are regarded as factual, but which, in practice, are processed along with everything else in the media's fantasy-machine . Thus news becomes, not so much what has happened, as what can be seen as happening, or seems to have happened. As for documentaries, anyone who has worked on them, as I have extensively, knows that the element of simulation in them has always been considerable, and has only increased as making and directing them has become more sophisticated and technically developed. Christopher Ralling, a gifted BBC producer, in an article in the Listener, has expressed his concern about how documentary-makers tend more and more to venture into a no-man's-land between drama and documentary. (pp. 61-62)

There is something, to me, very sinister about this emergence of a weird kind of conformity, or orthodoxy, particularly among the people who operate the media, so that you can tell in advance exactly what they will say and think about anything. It is true that so far they have not got an Inquisition to enforce their orthodoxy, but they have ways of enforcing it which makes the old thumbscrews and racks seem quite paltry. (p. 91)

Christ and the Media."
Eerdmanns Grand Rapids MI 1977/1978
(coll. London Lectures in Contemporary Christianity) 127 p.

But the questions I have here is about the origins of Lewis’ cynical views of the media. His views of academia he no doubt came by first hand, but I am wondering what might be the source of his views of the media. GK Chesterton was a journalist I believe so perhaps that might be a source. Were there any journalists among the Inklings?

All comments are welcomed!

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Re: CS Lewis and the Press

Postby Tuke » 08 Dec 2008, 03:57

I think he expressed his anti-media bias mostly in private letters which are now public. That's where I learned that he did not waste his time reading the newspaper. I don't recall him or Warnie ever mentioning owning a television, either.
One famous letter of his to Winston Churchill's secretary declines the Order of the Garter (or was it Knighthood?) because the media would make "political hay" of it (Lewis and Churchill were both arch Conservatives).
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