Sunday, July 25, 2010

(Re-) Reading: Part de Deux





The Discarded Image, by C. S. Lewis, in my estimation his greatest work.  Especially notable is chapter VI.

A concise summary is here.

14 comments:

scottsz said...

Google Books has limited previews of the early chapters:
TheDiscarded Image Chapter Previews

Chapter 6 of this text is titled: The Longaevi and a chapter preview from a C.S. Lewis companion book can offer an introduction of sorts:
Longaevi Link

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Nice add-ons, Scott. :)

scottsz said...

@LotGD: Saw a late showing of Inception last night. Highly recommend it to anyone curious about dreams, worldbuilding, creativity, or layered consciousness.

It's a long movie (I think it's 2.5 hours or so) but there's a lot of activity. As part of the story, there are 'dreams within dreams', so you find yourself 'following' multiple layers of 'story' involving a 'party' of characters in a way.

There's a lot of thought provoking stuff for Role Playing Games found in this movie - from symbols to layers to architecture to psychology to the passage of time and memory.

Highly recommended.

E.G.Palmer said...

Now I need this book too. I have to build another book case.

scottsz said...

Sorry for the incomplete comment above - my original point was that the layers in the movie Inception (dream within dream, etc.) could be positied as corresponding to the concentric rings of the diagram presented.

Can such a cosmology exist without being human-centric or just downright solipsist?

LotGD, can you elaborate more on Chapter 6?

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Hi Scott. It wasn't my intent to do a review (which I really have only done once here, I believe); and the chapter is included (in part?) in the google link you included (Longaevi Link). If it entices folk enough it might be an interesting read, that's all.

@ Gene: Heh. What better reason than building more shelves than for acquiring more books? :)

scottsz said...

@LotGD: I wasn't suggesting a review. I was curious what concepts and symbols in that text, relative to Lewis' context as a 'Christian' writer, are significant to you and your work.

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

OK. Well his view of the "Long-lived" is spot on with my conception of the "fringe folk" of legend and tales, for sure. Then that goes back to the Irish myths and then on to J. R. R. Tolkien's partial treatment of same through the Eldar, and raises its head so often in many works prior to these is noteworthy.

A thought provoking analysis so far as I've gotten with the re-read; but I doubt that much has found but passive inclusion in my works as a whole. I am re-reading it for other reasons beyond kinship in this case, so it has been slow going in between writing, of which you will be happy to know I did quite a bit of today. Now back to the last sentence...

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

OH. As an aside. The Victorian view of "gossamer winged midgets" (as I call them) is so prevalent that it has found a steady output in our "artistic culture," and that has always intrigued me. I am less interested in the cosmological whole in this case than in the long-standing cultural impacts as realized through art, in written works or illustration. That the root (if Jacob Grimm's texts regarding the matter are followed) somehow was displaced during a particular age of near enlightenment and rendered as less malign, but instead, fanciful, creatures is also interesting to me as it relates to the obscuring of pagan customs and beliefs coinciding with the rise of Christianity. Lewis touches upon this, of course, supporting the tacit understanding of the matter by the Grimms recorded many years earlier.

I also re-watched a movie last night (1961, The Magic Sword) which had more exact representations of the long-lived (demons, what-not) in line with sketches of same found in medieval documents (re: try A Treasury of Fantastic & Mythological Creatures--Dover Publications).

Cimmerian said...

My brain feeds!

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

There are some notable counter-themes as well when comparing the institute of Medieval belief in strange creatures within their finite view on things as opposed to the rise of impressed institutionalism through super-organized religion and science/academia. This roughly equates to > Fancy (note: "enchantment") being explained away and categorized), reimagined and recast in print as taken from 'tales, and exclusively for children (as no worthy intellectual "salt" would dare place the myths of legend and lore into any category other than as secondary literature, unless of course it had been studied --as in the classical Greek--and one had earned a "degree" while doing so). As we know, that movement to obscure the past and place the foundations of literature apart eventually failed for the most part, though not without a great sweeping away of the understandable roots from which it derived.

Therein is contained a clue of which interests me the most: That this enchantment was challenged only by means of an "enlightenment" and thus a perceived "raising" of the European world view (other cultures such as Japan and China incorporated these tales throughiu similar "civilized" rises in their culture, but for specific reasons, Europe did not). And this is the crux of what many scholars, including the Grimms, exposed: That the past was stamped out by rising competition with the commoners' past beliefs as opposed to the will of the church to dominate. With that view, I assess, a domination not only of the past enchantments, but of any that strayed into the future. It is a testament that "art" was considered idolatry as so proclaimed by the church--how convenient; except where that related to inspiring the masses with paintings of the Enunciation and such, of course... Note recent activity of this nature to this very day (at ComicCon 2010 in San Diego, which was picketed by religious fringe zealots proclaiming that Lassie, Archie, and Casper the Friendly Ghost, not to mention including Bambi, etc) are objects of evil as they correspond with this tainted view). More later. (reposted after edit)

Cimmerian said...

I went ahead and ordered the book. Finding the first chapter interesting.

Lord of the Green Dragons said...

Glad you're enjoying it, Chris. Well worth the time. And do note the last entry to the last chapter in the INDEX. If you go on to Martanus Capella's works thereafter, I will know you have started down the road of serious (and MAD) study. ;)

Ian said...

I was introduced to this book when I was studying medieval history at University and I agree that it is probably his best work - albeit one that the general public isn't aware of. However, I also recommend the opening chapters of his "English Literature in the Sixteenth Century", which describe the eventual collapse of the medieval worldview described in "The Discarded Image" and gives an interesting discussion of why it lost its hold in this period. Curiously, the views of C.S. Lewis are similar to those of Fritjof Capra - who points to the gradual replacement of the image of nature as an unified organic system that could be personified in art and literature with the image of nature as an inert mechanism. To both authors, the rise of the image of the universe as a clockwork mechanism in the sixteenth century marked a fundamental turning point in Western intellectual history.