Session #33: November 24th, 2010

Autumn Stones
Autumn stones

Update:

Thank you very much to all of you who attended yesterday’s session. It was a very interesting discussion! We decided to have one more session on “Perelandra”, then we will read a new book, Wind, Sand and Stars (click the link to buy or to see the details of the book on Amazon Japan) by the French pilot and poet, Antoine de St Exupery. The Japanese translation is 人間の土地 (新潮文庫). (Click the link to buy or to see the details of the book on Amazon Japan.)

The December session will be on Dec. 8th at the usual time and place.

Here is a list of questions on “Perelandra” to focus on for the December session:

  1. What wound remains with Ransom even when the rest of his body has healed? How does Ransom finally kill the Un-man/Weston?
    1. Read Genesis 3:14 and 15. This passage is usually taken to mean the first promise of a saviour who will defeat sin and Satan and redeem humanity.
    2. List the similarities between the Genesis passage and C.S. Lewis’ story.
  2. The long and somewhat confusing dialogue at the end of the novel about the Great Dance might be summed up like this: “All that is made seems planless to the darkened mind, because there are more plans than it looked for.”
    1. Read Job 38, Isaiah 40:12-31, 55:8-11. What do these passages say about God’s plan? Do you think Lewis was thinking of these passages when he wrote about the Great Dance?
  3. Read Genesis 2:4 – 3:7.
    1. List the similarities between the tempting of Eve and the tempting of the Green Lady.
    2. What differences are there?
  4. Science fiction is sometimes divided into two types: utopian and dystopian.
    1. Can you give examples of utopian and dystopian science fiction?
    2. Which category does “Perelandra” fit?
  5. Ransom (and presumably C.S. Lewis) believes it is sometimes necessary and justifiable to face evil physically with violence. Do you agree?  Give reasons for your answer.

Why not  make use of your knowledge of Perelandra, and write a review of the book on Amazon Japan?

Here are some reviews of Perelandra (Space Trilogy) by other readers. These reviews are mostly written by ordinary people, not by professional writers.

At the moment, there are only two reviews of the English version of Perelandra (Space Trilogy).  There are just 3 reviews of the Japanese translation ヴィーナスへの旅―ペレランドラ 金星編 (別世界物語).
Why not write your own review? I strongly recommend it! You don’t have to write a positive review. In fact, sometimes the negative reviews, if they are well written,  are more interesting and useful than the positive ones. When you write a review, try to keep in mind that you are writing for a reader. What information does a reader want? Why do people read the reviews on Amazon? Because they are thinking of buying the book, and they want to know what the book is about, and if they will enjoy reading it.  Here are my examples of badly written reviews. First a positive one, then a negative one. Try not to write a review  like these!

  1. This is a great book! You will enjoy it! It has many marvellous descriptions. The writer is a famous author. Once I started reading, I could not stop. Some parts were difficult, but it is worth reading.
  2. This is a terrible book! Don’t buy this book! It is a waste of time. The author is a very bad writer. I stopped reading this book after 50 pages. It is boring. The story is completely unbelievable! We know that Venus is nothing like how it is described in the book. Venus is full of poisonous gasses, therefore this story could never happen. Also, how Ransom gets to Venus is also completely nonsensical. Don’t waste your money on this book.

14 thoughts on “Session #33: November 24th, 2010”

  1. To “ransom” means “to pay for freedom”, and “to redeem, to save someone by freeing them from sin and evil.” Right?

    Ransom has a wound in his heel: his heel was bitten by Satan just as Christ had His heel broken by Satan. Ransom went to and came back from Perelandra carried in a coffin-like container, which I think symbolizes Ransom’s resurrection like Christ.

    What did Ransom do on Perelandra? He made his utmost efforts to stop the Green Lady’s being tempted and he succeeded. Since man’s fall hasn’t happened on Perelandra, there is no one to be redeemed except one, Weston. Ransom terminated Un-man by throwing a rock to his head, which I think symbolizes that Ransom freed Weston’s soul from Satan, redeemed Weston’s soul, though Weston’s body died.

    Lewis seems to have wanted to say that not only Ransom but anyone who has faith (to God) with good morals and courage can save someone or the world from corruption by doing as best as one can. It seems to me that to be a Christian is to make efforts to develop Christ-like personality within oneself.

    1. I agree with your last paragraph. I would go further, and say that Lewis is saying that to be a Christian means that a) one understands what is at stake (the soul of a human being, their eternal life – where will the soul live? In heaven, or hell?),
      and b) that, because of a) a Christian has a duty to do the very best he or she can, to struggle against evil and corruption, even using physical violence if this is necessary.

    2. to Poinsettia
      I read your comment now. I find you have very similar idea about resurrection with mine, that I mentioned in December session. When Randsom came back to the earth in a coffin-like vehicle, he was even rejuvenated. And it seemed to me that his unhealed wound simbolized stigma. While fullfiling his mission, Ransom had a doubt like Christ did. I overlapped Ransome and Christ.

      I have different opinion about Ransome’s wound in the heel and that Weston’s head was crushed. I suppose these represente the story of Genesis.

      God said to the serpent,
      “I will put enmity between you and the woman,
      and between your offspring and her offspring.
      he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

  2. Un-man mentioned about good brought by disobedience to God. (pp 103-104) “…. it was this breaking of the commandment which brought Maleldil to our world and because of which he was made man. He dare not deny it.” Ransom finds himself in serious straits where truth seems fatal. But finally he talks back that “…. The first King and first Mother of our world did the forbidden thing; and He brought good of it in the end. But what they did was not good; and what they lost we have not seen. And there were some to whom no good came nor ever will come.”

    I think Lewis’ point is:
    1.Christ appeared as man to save mankind from disobedience to God through his love and compassion. This is “good.”
    2. However, the best thing is to obey God always.
    3. After disobedience to God, there are different ways people can take: one is to repent and continue to obey God to redeem oneself (like Adam and Eve), and the other is to continue to disobey like Satan, to whom there’s no salvation.

    1. Un-man’s temptation here is very subtle, and therefore all the more dangerous. It has been said that intelligence is the ability to make finer and finer (more and more subtle) distinctions. In his temptation, the Un-man is encouraging the Green Lady to see and understand a subtle distinction: that from doing an apparently bad thing, some good did come (and so it may be again in her case). As we see earlier, the Green Lady is delighted when she understands and learns something new. That is why the Un-man’s temptation here is so particularly evil (it reminds me of Ellsworth Toohey!): he is tempting her to do a bad thing THROUGH HER LOVE OF LEARNING AND HER DELIGHT IN IT.

      The Un-man’s argument is that, if a bad thing leads, in the end, to some good result, then that changes the bad action into a good one (or it cancels out the badness). This kind of thinking is very common. It is called (I believe) utilitarianism, and has been particularly widely accepted in the United States. The utilitarian argument was made, after the fact, to justify the invasion of Iraq – although the invasion was not perhaps justified, and although many innocent people died, yet it resulted in the capture and death of Saddam Hussein. This “good” result, according to utilitarian thinking, therefore cancels out any possible wrongness in the action of invading another country (which had done no harm to the U.S.). Many people agree with this and cannot see what is wrong with this kind of argument. Lewis did see what was wrong with it, and wanted others to see it, too, though he realized it was not an easy thing to do.

      On a different point, in your first paragraph above, you quoted, “But what they did was not good; and what they lost we have not seen.” We talked about this idea in our last session. What they (Adam and Eve) lost, we have not seen. We have no idea of what Eden was like. We human beings who are alive today should not make the mistake of thinking, “God sent Jesus who died for our sins, so that made everything OK again.” It has made things OK (on condition that people repent, as you wrote), but this OK-ness is only second-best, compared to the Eden that has been irretrievably lost. Because we never saw it (we had no chance, because of Adam and Eve’s weakness), we can never really appreciate what we have lost.

  3. “There must have been a continuous background of water noises, bubble noises, and the movement of beasts,” on “floating islands”, Ransom noticed when he stepped onto the “fixed land” where they are forbidden to sleep.(p.68)

    When Weston’s attempt to lead astray the Green Lady became excessive and Ransom dared to say at a pinch,” tell her all…..Tell her of your joys and what profit you had when you made Maleldil and death acquainted,” the floating island where they stood was “rushing down a great hillside of water.”(p104)

    Thus, the narrative, the psychological state of the characters, and the landscapes seem to be correlated.

    1. Quite true. A good observation. This technique, of course, has been used by writers for a long, long time. Even Jane Austen used it. When it is used delicately, the reader hardly notices. In melodrama, such a technique is used heavy-handedly, for example, a thunderstorm or very bad weather when some tragedy happens.

    2. Very interesting point you mentioned! Your comment reminds me of suspense thriller movies as well as Kurosawa movies. Your comment will make reading the books more stirring. Thank you!

  4. “He dwells (all of Him dwells) within the seed of the smallest flower and is not cramped: Deep Heaven is inside Him who is inside the seed and does not distend Him.” (P.184)

    The sentences above have reminded me of a poem by Misuzu Kaneko (1903-1930), a writer of poetry for children.

    One Bee, One God

    Bee’s inside the flower,
    Flower’s inside the garden,
    Garden’s inside the fence,
    Fence’s in town,
    Town’s in Japan,
    Japan’s in the world,
    World’s in God.

    And…and, God’s inside
    A little bitty bee.

    蜂と神さま

    蜂はお花のなかに、
    お花はお庭のなかに、
    お庭は土塀のなかに、
    土塀は町のなかに、
    町は日本のなかに、
    日本は世界のなかに、
    世界は神さまのなかに。

    そうして、そうして、神さまは
    小ちゃな蜂のなかに。

  5. The Perelandrian coloured things which Ransom saw in the Venus,and many ways of colours’ expression by C.S.Lewis.
    1) Jewel coloured land. *iridescent fruit. *many coloured forest. *heraldically coloured tree. *rainbow coloured water. *multi-coloured stream. *dimly lustrous water. *translucent stream. *blazing sun. *rich twilight. *tinted twilight. *pigeon-coloured birds. *flame-coloured birds. *brightly coloured frogs. *slate-coloured tongue. *vividly coloured dew. *patch-work quilt’s colour. *indescribable confusion’s colour.
    2) The golden sea, golden beast, greeny gold hog, burning gold dome, golden ocean, pure, flat gold, bluish gold, gilded glass,
    3) silver leaves, silver canopy, silver fish, the blues and silvers and greens of the floating garden,
    4) coppery colour, copper coloured heather, copper-coloured floor, copper coloured ridge, coppery-green water, braze sea,
    5) velvetry crimson, tiny crimson flowers, bright red berry, red weeds, saffron-coloured vegetation, reddish rock, primrose sky, orange yellow fruits, yellowest thing, sea-anemones’ colour, orange coloured island, gamboge, tawny surface, brown trees, brown red spectacle,
    6) Green Lady, shining green like glass, green translucence, emerald, ghastly green column, greenish-grey something, green stone, green beatles, green walls, green rock pillar, green pinnacle, green waves, green creature,
    7) Ultramarine, indigo stem, blue elephants, blue vegetation, strange bluish electric radiance, blue rivers, blue flowers, blue turf, bluish turf, bluish-green luminosity, phosphorescent creatures, blue-ablazing,
    8) violet illumination, purple vapour, grey and purple tranks, shining purple,
    9) pale atmosphere, paler sky, pasty white, leprous white, white fluffy objects, white beasts with black spots,
    10) pitch black, glossy black, absolute blackness, great green darkness, total darkness, apocalyptic-colour-black-darkness, coal-cellar darkness, seamless darkness

  6. I like the picture and its title “autumn stones.” The collaboration of the moss-grown stone, the patterns on the stone, and the autumn leaves is interesting. Is it taken by you? If so, how did you spot it? It’s not safe to walk looking downward with camera.

    The suggested topics sound interesting. I look forward to the next session.

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