Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Student Comment

I received the following engaging email from a classfellow K.N. with permission to blog it. If you have a perspective on the course novels, or in response to lecture, please e-mail it along.
This is something that you probably don't hear much but I have to accuse you of UNDER analysing.
I think some time in lecture devoted to outlining exactly what the concept of God portrayed in Pullman's novel is would be extremely beneficial to understanding the argument of the novel. I thought that the concept of Will and Lyra being on a mission to destroy 'God' was over-simplified. Will and Lyra are definatly on the warpath against the Church because of the Church's actions, but they are less anti-God than pro-conciousness. I felt that what Amber Spyglass stands against isn't the idea of God, but rather the idea of organized religion and buerocratic stifling of what is Good (in the asthetic sense) and natural. This is where a definition of God would come in handy... Amber Spyglass is against Yaweh, against a controlling, punishing and anthropomorphic view of God that is represented in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is the God that people have acted in the name of throughout history in order to justify the horrific acts mentioned in lecture as well as Pullman's representation of these acts in the separation of children from their daemons (representative of soul and free will). The antagonist in Pullman's novel isn't really God at all, but Megatron. He, like the church, takes advantage of belief and dehumanizes people. The actual death of God at the end of the novel is not a heroic feat, but an accident. This Yaweh figure has become old and frail and useless, so that the slightest puff of wind can blow him away. If the Catholic Church, for instance, knew for a fact that God was dead would they tell anyone? I think not.
Pullman's amazing concept of Dust actually symbolises the true meaning of Religion (from the Latin, re ligio - to reconnect). A theory popular to eastern mysticism and users of psychedelics has us believe that we are all connected through the concious
force of the universe. Pullman takes this a step further and makes Dust (or conciousness) a tangible substance. Humans have, in this 'fall', not fallen from connection with God but fallen from a connection with conciousness. A connection between humans and Dust (when Lyra reads the Alethiometre) creates truth which seems to be Pullman's ultimate goal. Truth stands in direct opposition with the Yaweh concept of God and organized religion.


Seven Tense said...

Wow, an awsome comment, I must say. This person has an incredible understanding of the material and furthermore seems to be able to phrase it rather succinctly. But I digress... This is a very helpful and eye-opening explanatin of the events of the novel, which I have not derived from the lectures thus far. Perhaps this unnamed student is correct and an even deaper level of analysis is to be desired.

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear Mr. Tense:
"All good things come to they who wait" ;--) K.N.'s analysis was a helpful preparation for lecture today. And I liked its blend of equal parts good scholarship and forceful polemic very much!

retrodeathpixie said...

stop guys! you're making me blush!
thanks for saying nice things about me...hope this helped.
have a good long weekend everyone