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From: "Alice Turner" <pei047@attglobal.net>
Subject: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v030.n120
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 21:27:09 

Bear growled:

> At 20:56 2001-05-24, algawrote:
> > Virtually
> >everyone--no, strike that, every grown-up person--feels the failure
> >the third book. We're trying to make it work, and I am specifically
> >struggling with how to explain Dust (and the Specters) in terms of
> >Manichaean Light and Dark and a logical world-view (pretty damned
> >to do when there are infinite worlds).
> [waves to Copperhead thread!]
> It doesn't need to be Manichean, does it? The Authority doesn't
> have the power of Creation that he claims, after all. The Spectres
> are kind-of believable, as is Dust leaking into the abyss through
> the windows. I'm not sure a strictly logical world-view is helpful,
> because then you might wonder whether Dust could cross between worlds
> (and if so, how) or if not, why the window from the land of the dead
> couldn't open onto a world without intelligent inhabitants. It will
> be interesting to see how the Book of Dust copes with all this!

It will indeed be interesting. And maybe I'll have to wait. Your points
are completely apt, and why the book's structure is so hard to cope
with. Perhaps I'm being too hardline in trying to match Dust with
Zoroastrian/Manichaean Light/Dark. I think, though, that the Authority
did create the world (this world--which?); he is the Demiurge, who is
nowhere given much credit for anything good. The difficulty comes in
then saying, with Nietzche, that God is dead. Which god, then, and if he
is dead, is this not a good thing? (I sound like Martha Stewart.)

> Another loose end is the super-Dickensian-and-Wolfian-put-together
> degree of coincidence required for the plot of The Subtle Knife.
> Will just happens to find that window? Then happens to walk into
> the one room in a deserted city in the particular world where Lyra
> is hiding? Clearly not coincidence, but I don't recall anything being
> said about it - apart from them remarking on the unlikelihood! It must
> be something like the shaman summoning Lee, or Bilbo finding the Ring,
> but it would be nice to be told.

Well, Lyra, from the beginning, is known to be Predestined, though she
must also exercise Free Will (the latter being another thing I feel is
not resolved well enough). The Master of Jordan, the gyptians and the
witches all know of her cosmic predestination, and that she must choose
eventually and fatefully. So Will's arrival falls under that plan, which
I think is okay. What bothers me far more is that though she makes the
choice to part from him ostensibly under Free Will she seems actually to
be bullied into it. And I *really* don't like the implication that
Original Sin is averted by the physical impossibility of loving young
sex. (Much as the kids on the fan fiction site thrill to the romantic
sadness of it all.)

> >The kids seem to adore it in a
> >tearjerker way. Is that because my daemon has settled and theirs have
> >not?
. That's confirmed by Pullman himself at the readerville
> site Adam posted, in the message that breaks off "She is the one who
> will tell him how to imagine his way into o". It's quite an
> site. He says that Will and Lyra have to be parted, and some readers
> agree that it brings closure to the story.

[She is Mary.] Yes, I read this, and it is indeed interesting. But I
still do not see why they must be parted except in the more distasteful
religious terms. As an adult. I wonder what the kids who love the
romantic sadness are thinking. If they are thinking. Pullman is such a
good writer that I suspect he has them feeling without thinking. Just
Say No is an awfully stupid slogan and I hate to see it applied to
Original Sin.

Eli wote:

> That didactic purpose I can appreciate, but he weakens it by forcing
> story.  He tried to set up "Cold Equations"-style plot mechanism which
> threatens global disaster to _coerce_ Will and Lyra's decision --
> than letting us see what their own wisdom leads them to decide.
> a lesser story.

Yes, and all the hoohah about Lyra's having this cosmic decision to
make, which must not be influenced in any way, becomes trivial if she
*is* influenced, which she certainly is.

> I remember that my reading experience when I hit this was not one bit
> high-mindedly didactified, but was on the same mechanical level as his
> setup: but but but the Dust ecology is not at risk, because brief
> openings don't leak on the scale of the natural influx we've seen, and
> creating Specters is no problem with a little help, since the angel
> said she can deal with those.  If it had occurred to Will and Lyra
> the obstacles were not absolute, they could have gone on to ask more
> interesting questions: what if everybody did it?  are we special, to
> justify it?  And the question Pullman didn't dare to ask them: even if
> we can, should we?
> In a way, he did quite right.  I don't know that they would have
> answered the way he wanted.  The honest story, I want to call it
> I really shouldn't, might be a tragedy.

I'm not quite clear on what you mean with the above. Who is "he?"
Pullman? Or "they?" And "ecology" is difficult when you are dealing with
multiple worlds. Oh, dear.


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