Mid-August post

Wilted
Image by dibytes via Flickr

It’s over 30 degrees every day, but it’s even hotter in Moscow! And floods in Pakistan.

I hope you are all well and managing to stay cool (but not chilled) in these hot summer days.

It has been about a month since our last session, and our next session will be in about a month’s time. How are you getting on with “Out of the Silent Planet”? Post your thoughts, reactions, comments, questions, etc., here, in either English or Japanese.

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14 thoughts on “Mid-August post”

  1. Humans tend to compare themselves with each other though they are all same species, and almost all of them have the same vague fear despite each of them has each character. Humans are complicated beings. It made Oyarsa say, “Strange!”

    He also said that “Any kind of creature will please you if only it is begotten by your kind as they now are. It seems to me, Thick One, that what you really love is no completed creature but the very seed itself: for that is all that is left.”(p137)

    These words have difficult connotation. Does it mean that human beings are generally self-centered so that they can love only such creatures as they grow conveniently for them? May I ask someone who has a Japanese translation of this book to post here the Japanese translation of “for that is all that is left”, please? Thank you!

    1. According to Japanese translation, なぜなら(肉体と精神を取り去れば)残るのは種子だけだからだ。

      I think Oyarsa is asking what Weston means by “man” by pointing out Weston’s contradiction. Weston doesn’t seem to love man’s body or mind but he wants to keep men alive eternally in the cosmos.

      1. Thank you for posting this, peppermint. I can see better now Oyarsa’s way of thinking and the inconsequence of Weston’s ideas.

  2. At first Ransom was unable to see the eldil. It reminded me of Orual who cannot see the palace where Psyche, her beautiful younger sister, lives. What does Lewis mean by that?

    Is it because Ransom was not looking for eldil? I haven’t read “Till We Have FAces”, but I guess Orual was so jealous that she didn’t want to accept it as fact, so she couldn’t see. Does whether we can see something or not depends on our whole-hearted belief in it?

  3. Seen from from the point of view of a Christian apologist, Malacandra seems to be an ideal world based on Christian faith. However, are values like courage, justice, honesty, kindness, and so on, only Christian things? Feelings of awe, and attitudes toward life and death, attitudes against evil and corruption? Is it only Christian to believe there is a single life-giving source as a creator in the cosmos? (Although who is the Creator, who is the Savior or who is the last prophet is different.) I think these are the same with other religions and non-religious but spiritual people. The Malacandrian’s life reminds me of a simple but important moral lifestyle which could have been left behind in the materialism and technological advancement.

  4. I’ve thought about the sameness, similarities and differences from some different aspects.

    Weston, Devine, and Ransom have the same appearances as a human being, but the former two are very different from Ransom in real nature: they treat even other humans like animals or as a means to their end. On the other hand, Ransom finds courtesy, kindness and other features of a good human being in three species of hnau in spite of their different grotesque appearance, and eventually comes to see Weston and Devine with almost Malacandrian eyes. It is difficult to discern the real nature of beings, but it’s clear that assumptions don’t necessarily lead to the truth.

    An old sorn says “Your thought must be at the mercy of your blood, for you cannot compare it with thought that floats on a different blood.” (p.103) There is only one species of hnau on the Earth. I interpret that the sameness gives us narrow perspectives, we can’t imagine a wide range of possibilities, and consequently we can’t judge things’ real importance.

  5. I’d like to report what I found in my reading “Out of the Silent Planet” and about Darwin on the websites. It’s going to be long, and formal. Are you ready?

    Many people think Lewis and Darwin had opposing philosophies, Darwin as a scientist of evolution theory and Lewis as a Christian apologist, but actually there are more similarities than differences.

    Although “survival of the fittest” is associated with Darwin, it is not a phrase coined by Darwin. “Survival of the fittest” is a situation where only the strongest species continue to live, while others die or fail. When this is applied to human beings known as “Social Darwinism”, it means each generation gets improved only by the strongest and the most intelligent group of people, as we learned in the past session. Weston is a scientist who have such a way of thinking. He values people only by their intelligence and utility and thinks he can do anything to make human species alive eternally in some part of the universe.

    I don’t know Darwin’s theory of evolution thoroughly, but my understanding of his theory of “natural selection” is best described by this: “the process in nature by which only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.” This is really different from the concept of “survival of the fittest” written in the former paragraph. To put it in my very simple and easy words, the species which can survive is not the strongest ones but the ones which can live in harmony with their environment. “Darwin first used Herbert Spencer’s new phrase ‘survival of the fittest ‘ as a synonym for ‘natural selection.'” “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” (Charles Darwin Quote)

    Lewis is a Christian thinker, but as far as I read “Silent Planet”, his idea seems to be in accordance with Darwin’s “natural selection”. (1) One species of hnau is extinct in the old forests of Malacandra. Oyarsa could not prevent extinction. “A world is not made to last for ever, much less a race; that is not Maleldil’s way.” (2) To Weston’s desire to spread human life to other worlds so that human species would never die out, Oyarsa points out “yet you know that these creatures would have to be made quite unlike you before they lived on other worlds.” meaning humans have to become changed to adapt to other worlds.

    Further, their attitudes toward all the creatures including human beings are similar on these basis: (1) in “Silent Planet”, Lewis is against any cruel treatment toward animals (2) three different species of Hnau coexist, respecting one another, and have no necessity to have pets, (3) Darwin opposed to ranking human races as different species, and insisted social policies shouldn’t be guided simply from the strife for survival/existence in the nature, (4) Darwin says “Man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system- with all these exalted powers- Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.” As to (4) Lewis would disagree because there is no referring to God’s creation, but I focused on their similar (not the same) way of thinking.

    I understand from his standpoint (as a Christian apologist) Lewis opposed Darwin. Still I see many similarities between two of them as I have pointed out. I’ve found these descriptions: ” He (Lewis) always carefully indicated that he opposed evolutionism as a philosophy, not evolution as a biological theory.” and “He (Lewis) had become increasingly skeptical of Darwinism especially on account of ‘the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders’.” I must add “Darwinism is a set of movements and concepts related to ideas of transmutations or evolution, including ideas with no connection to the work of Charles Darwin.”

  6. “He did not even know what he was afraid of: the fear itself possessed his whole mind, a formless, infinite misgiving.” (Chap. 4) There are times when we are afraid of something which we can’t identify. Fear itself is fear.

    In the space ship, Ransom’s fear gradually subsides after Weston gives him scientific explanation. Most of things can be explained by science, but how do we get peace of mind when science can’t explain? Ransom doesn’t give in to fear: he tries to figure out what it is. He takes control of fear gradually and does something about it. When Ransom meets the Malacandrian species one after another, he feels fear at first and then overcomes the fear, or I should say his curiosity and desire to understand outweighs his fear.

    Hnaus on Malacandra are not afraid of death: they take death as natural part of life or even best thing as they go to Maleldil.

    There is one different type of fear when Ransom goes to Oyarsa. This fear is not only dread but also reverence which would lead to worship.

    Fear causes hostility, murder, rebellion, all the bad things that has happened in human history. If humans can get free from fear as fas as possible, maybe we can live like three Malacandrian species, coexisting, complimenting one another’s specialty, in spite of our differences.

  7. Recently, the annual memorial services for victims of atomic bombs were held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
    Observing these ceremonies on TV this time, I thought about Darwinism, which is one of the themes of “Out of The Silent Planet”.
    Weston said to Oyarsa, the higher spirit in Malacandra,”…I bear on my shoulders the destiny of human race…Your tribal life with its stone-age weapons… has nothing to compare with our civilization…Our rights to supersede you is the right of the higher over the lower…”
    The argument that possession of the strongest weapon is a preventive of wars sounds hollow.

      1. Such argument seems to have its own limits, because it operates in two ways; to terrify others ends up to work as deterrence against war, and let people desire to have more powerful weapons.
        At present nuclear weapon is the strongest. But who knows when more hugely destructive one will be invented…?

        1. Let me add this: Darwinism in my previous comment meant “Social Darwinism” which generally refers to political issues and matters of ethnic groups. So, to focus only on the power of weapons was inaccurate, I think.
          Lewis had Weston mention Social Darwinism in Malacandra, and makes the readers think about such terrestrial ideas from outside of the Earth.

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