the golden compass trilogy seems like a natural progression in christian literature. yes, it is christian literature, the same way the chronicles of n...morethe golden compass trilogy seems like a natural progression in christian literature. yes, it is christian literature, the same way the chronicles of narnia are. aslan is only a lion when the reader is about 10 or so in the united states. after a point, he unrepentantly becomes jesus. and the four children are like, the gospels or something. and the story is somewhat ruined then, because as an adult, you can't just shoehorn jesus into a lion outfit without snickering a little.
pullman however, has solved this problem. i can't continue without utterly spoiling the story for everyone who hasn't read it, so consider yourselves warned...
he made jesus into a little girl. even better, he made jesus into a little girl who doesn't even know she's jesus. now how's that for a new twist on the new testament? the part that's particularly brilliant about it, is that it actually worked. lyra is never really anything like christ... she just follows the path of his narrative. first, she has the absent father. lord asrael is desperately involved in his own ideas, so though he's not actually in heaven, he may as well be.
wait a sec, isn't this just dogma again? sort of, except dogma is really more relevant to catholicism in particular, rather than scriptures. and instead of linda fiorentino who is kind of a mopey christ, we get a 10 year old girl. 10 year old girls are the best focal point for any story. i've been one for years.
and this is a perfect choice, because she really never takes time to mope. she doesn't miss her faith or wrestle with it... she doesn't believe at all. and therein lies the genius of pullman's work, that has all the christians in a snit; she's also the antichrist.
why would he do that?
because the bible does. if you really take a look at the word antichrist, it does not mean "evil". khristos, from which christ is derived, means "anointed". so what does antichrist really mean? unanointed, or that which is against the anointed. there's a bunch of baggage on top of that meaning, which is how we got those omen movies, but at the heart of it, it just means smeared with fat. actually, it means recognized by the divine... but in ancient times, we did that by smearing the recognized thing with the fat of a sacrificed animal or person. and that, is why we celebrate the crucifixion. it was the point of christ's birth. as if it wasn't obvious enough, it's why he's referred to as the lamb.
wow. so this is heavy... pullman has gone all the way back to the origins of the judeo-christian faith and said, this important guy, was just the carrier of this magical stuff that we're obsessed with, that we don't even use anymore. it's like we're infected or poisoned by this idea. we need an antidote. we need an antichrist, to show us how far we've wandered from the truth, which had nothing to do with trooping along after some guy.
and this explains why christians are so antagonized by the books. they've been following the beast for years without recognizing it. the golden compass referred to in the book, is the bible we've all forgotten how to read. and in its stead, we've rallied around the church which claims to help us understand the symbols. but in reality, it is the beast referred to. the one which rose from rome, with many heads that change over time. so what really, is the golden compass about? it's about how to be human again. how to regain an understanding of the world, that doesn't rely on our fragile expectations for good and evil. all it requires, is that you give up everything, in order to discover what is important again. and i don't know how christians could have missed that primary message.(less)
i borrowed her smoke rose up forever from my mother. i saved her from it, so it wouldn't distract her from the bar, the horrible, horrible hurdle baby...morei borrowed her smoke rose up forever from my mother. i saved her from it, so it wouldn't distract her from the bar, the horrible, horrible hurdle baby lawyers have to throw themselves over. and now that i've returned it, i feel i must go purchase a copy, so i can share a little tiptree with everybody.
except it isn't really by james tiptree jr. at all. that's the pen name of alice bradley sheldon. and i have to say, i have no idea how she pulled this off. the stories are sparkling and poetic but always, always, inexorably feminist allegories. wonderful, shocking ones. i have no idea how anyone ever thought you were a man, mr. tiptree. and in the wikipedia article it says:
"The pseudonym was successfully maintained until the late 1970s. This is partly due to the fact that though it was widely known that 'Tiptree' was a pseudonym, it was generally understood that its use was intended to protect the professional reputation of an intelligence community official. Readers, editors and correspondents were permitted to assume gender, and almost invariably they assumed 'male.'"
that's hilarious. in 1975 she wrote:
"What women do is survive. We live by ones and twos in the chinks of your world machine."
"Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish like - like... smoke. We'll be back where we always were: property. And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was." The Women Men Don't See
but that's not all... she also had a gift for some most wrenching turns of the screw, ones only science fiction can offer. her stories are often demonstrations of our smallness. when she sends humanity into the universe, it is usually our ineptitude that looms largest. our small fumbling attempts to understand the universe betray us. our attempts to understand ourselves even betray us:
"This is of great scientific interest Friend. But you won't believe it, of course. You're on your way here now, aren't you? Nothing will stop you, you have your reasons - saving the race, building a new world, national honor, personal glory, scientific truth, dreams, hopes, plans - does every little sperm have its reasons, thrashing up the pipe?" A Momentary Taste of Being
at least her universes would have to notice us before they could betray us:
"A vast impersonal tonnage fell upon him and the stars raveled away from his brain." On the Last Afternoon
always fragile, our relations with the tiptree cosmos. i do not see how anyone could not have seen the truth, she was so obsessed with describing the nests her characters built to fly through space. and the single thing that occurs to me, is how lucky i am, that i live in a culture lush with female voices in all genres. she knew it herself when she chose the pseudonym:
I've had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damned occupation. interview, 1983
i hear that, sister. the introduction said (don't read it! i beg you, not only is he silly, he spoils them!) your works were zen kōans; i say only if zen kōans are also primal screams.(less)
i should go back to reread the handmaid's tale. i feel like i must have been unfair to it, when i read it in my youth. and then it's even more unfair...morei should go back to reread the handmaid's tale. i feel like i must have been unfair to it, when i read it in my youth. and then it's even more unfair of me to have shoved the actual memory of reading it aside for the memory of having seen the horrible adaptation with robert duvall. i do not know by what miracle cat's eye escaped a similar fate... i remember starting it and rolling my eyes around page 8 or so, reading some older woman's account of being young. and then i never touched it again, until my mother lent it to me 3 years ago.
and now that i am older, suddenly, it's one of the best books i've ever read. for chicks. i do not think it's a guy book really, just as it wasn't appealing to me before i recognized the perspectives. and i got it out of the bookshelf to share with you, and as i opened it, i saw a note from the friend i lent it to after reading. she was also a female artist, and i lent it to her thinking how much it would resonate. that was 2 years ago. she returned it after we'd had an unreconcileable fight. we thought we were friends. and i hold this card in my hand, with its little cat picture that seems so much like something i would enjoy, but for the queer little message inside, devoid of emotion, informing me that it was accidentally packed and not stolen. and that is the brilliance of this book... it captures so clearly and brightly the feeling of navigating femininity. the uneasy friendships women make with each other, to make up for the deficiencies of self someone observed in you. damn you, cordelia. i always mistake those for the real thing...(less)