Monday, October 23, 2006

Black and White, Yes and no....

Today I was reading a chapter of Sidelights by G.K.C. The chapter was "Magic and Fantasy in Fiction." (It's at the very end of volume XXI of the Collected works). The last paragraph seemed very interesting and worthy of discussion on this blog. So please comment with your thoughts. And while you're at it, any ideas for Man Who Was Thursday Discussion topic? Anyways here's the quote:

After all it is perhaps no matter of surprise that Bishop Barnes of
Birmingham should see a link between the Magician and the Mass. There is a sort of logical link between them; the logical link that connects Yes and No. In other words, they are exact contraries; like light and darkness, which are often classed together because they are often mentioned at once. They cross each other with the complete collision and contradiction that belongs to "The Two Magics." The Magician is the Man when he seeks to become God, and, being a usurper, can hardly fail to be a tyrant. Not being the maker, but only the distorter, he twists all things out of their intended shape, and imprisons natural things in unnatural forms. But the Mass is exactly the opposite of a Man seeking to be a God. It is a God seeking to be a Man; it is God giving His creative life to mankind as such, and restoring the original pattern of their manhood; making not gods, nor beasts, nor angels; but, by the original blast and miracle that makes
all things new, turning men into men.


Dr. Thursday said...

Wow, a very rich selection! All kinds of starting points, with many connections to "Thursday". Quite amazing - the whole chapter might be GKC's commentary on Harry Potter, Tolkien, Oz, and the final, unanswerable rebuttal (a la Thomas Aquinas) to their detractors.

One idea which leaped out for me came from this "God giving his creative life to mankind as such".

This is discussed at length in GKC's The Everlasting Man in relation to the One Story - and by Tolkien in a very important essay called "On Fairy Stories" - and now that I have (as is my wont) dragged in Tolkien, I may connect to "Thursday" by calling your attention to this bit of dialogue:

"I was waiting for you," said Gregory. "Might I have a moment's conversation?"

"Certainly. About what?" asked Syme in a sort of weak wonder.

Gregory struck out with his stick at the lamp-post, and then at the tree.

"About this and this," he cried; "about order and anarchy. There is your precious order, that lean, iron lamp, ugly and barren; and there is anarchy, rich, living, reproducing itself - there is anarchy, splendid in green and gold."

"All the same," replied Syme patiently, "just at present you only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree."

Question for discussion: how does TMWWT fit into the Tolkien view of subcreation? Side question for speculation: Do the Two Trees of Valinor have their seed in this dialogue?

Ria said...

Unfortunatly I haven't yet got to that part in The Everlasting Man (I'm listening to the audio book). Which chapter is it in????? Perhaps I should take out the book and read that part.
And please do drag in Tolkien, I've only read LOTR and The Silmarilion by him but I love his writing. Ahh so much to read.

I will post the discussion question directly. Very interesting, that may make a topic of conversation for places other then here as well. It may take me a little while to formulate my, at the moment, very vague and small ideas.

Dr. Thursday said...

In a sense, the whole of TEM is about this, and it is GKC's one "complete" book (the whole book is a unity - the Christocentric view of history).

The specific discussion is in Part II chapter V, "The Escape From Paganism" - in particular, see the second last paragraph which begins "To sum up". For your later work, you ought to see if you can find a copy of The Tolkien Reader which has his essay. Perhaps you (or the ChesterTeens!) will give a speech on "Story, for GKC and JRRT" at a future ChesterCon.

And I must say that I am very pleased to hear that you are "reading" TEM...