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Subject: Re: (urth) Crowley, then ...
From: Josh Geller 
Date: 28 Jul 2003 20:11:41 -0700

On Mon, 2003-07-28 at 18:33, James Jordan wrote:

>          I loved *Engine Summer* and *Great Work of Time.* 

Did you like 'The Deep'?

>                                                       I wanted to like 
> LB, but the ending horrified me. Instead of being glorified in any kind of 
> way that I MYSELF would like to see, they were gradually and to me 
> horrifyingly reduced to mere archetypes, flat 2-dimensional playing cards, 
> stript of all human depth, fated to eternal repetition.

I do not agree that this is an accurate description of what
happens to the characters. 

>          When I finished the book, I ripped it in half and threw it across 
> the room. Yes, I found it very effective.
>          But what was Crowley doing? Was my response his intention? I 
> thought at the time that it was.

Are you seriously stating that this book horrified you because its
ending did not agree with your religious ideas? I find that hard to
believe coming from one of your demonstrated perspicacity. Also, 
although I understand that you are a practicing Calvinist religious
(and thus deeply embedded in error from my point of view), I have been
struck before by the depth of your tolerance of foreign religious ideas,
something that I have not always met with among the Protestant clergy.

The religious viewpoint represented by John Crowley is not by any means
that of an orthodox Christian. I can say this with some confidence, as
the religious views he represents are tolerably close to my own. Now,
you must understand, that from my point of view, you and Dan'l are both
heretics: the Roman Catholic Church has been in error since they
condemned Bruno and burned him at the stake. They are scheduled
to come around at some point in the future, possibly before Hell freezes
over, though were I a gambling man I'd want long odds on that last 
point. You Calvinists have been in grave error since long before that, 
both from the RC point of view and from ours, and from our point of
view, your errors are far more serious than theirs. But everything is 
relative, and I have no problem flatly stating that from the point of 
view of an orthodox or even a protestant Christian I represent an 
heretical point of view. 

Now where in the North or the South was I?

Oh yes:

Why in the four Worlds would John Crowley represent a Christian
glorification? What possible motivation would he have for doing so?

>          For me, it was an anti-gospel novel. And initially I took it that 
> Crowley deliberately set out to do just that, to horrify the reader and 
> point him/her back to the Christianity that the characters leave behind a 
> generation before the novel begins. I read it as revealing the appalling 
> consequences of turning back to the pagan world.

I don't know what you mean by paganism, but the viewpoint represented
by Crowley is that of the religio mundi, which is not exactly at all
quite the same thing as any of the definitions that I think of for
pagan. So I must ask, here, what you mean by 'pagan', and how you 
feel JC represents this 'pagan' viewpoint. 

>                                                               What do 
>          alga and others persuaded me that there was more to LB than that, 
> and that if I did not like the book, it was not Crowley's intention to 
> leave the reader appalled.

Decidedly not.

>          I remain unsure of what Crowley's intention was, however. Was it 
> just to write an interesting novel? Or does he see something good and 
> wonderful in what happens to his characters? Is he arguing that a collapse 
> back into an infantile and pagan world is what we all really need, and that 
> the depth of character into which human beings have grown during the last 
> several millennia is something to be rejected? Or is LB basically an 
> experiment?

James, what are you talking about? What is this 'infantile and pagan
world'? What do you mean exactly?

The people who got transformed into playing cards were the Emperor's 
men. The family moved on, they went to repopulate the other World.

Except for Smoky. He died. Perhaps he got your Christian glorification.
It's hard to say, like it always is.

Aside of all this, and unrelated to anything else that we might be
talking about, were you aware that the doctrine of metempsychosis was
condemned accidentally? The council (I forget which it was, but it was
a fairly late council) condemned Origen's opinions as heretical, because
they did not like his Platonic doctrine that the glorified body is
spherical. Metempsychosis was not really an issue, but once Origen was
condemned, all of his opinions became suspect, although as everyone
knows he still had a tremendous influence on early Christian thought.

It happened at about this same time, that the doctrine of once-for-all
death and resurrection became very popular because of the whole of its
usefulness in social control. 

>          He says he wanted to write a novel presenting a "fairy religion." 
> He has done so, and very effectively. I continue to think LB is a brilliant 
> and effective novel. But for me, it is a very effective horror novel.

What's horrible about it?

You spend a greater or lesser amount of time under Hill, you have a
life, you go back under Hill for a while, you have a life. It's
just the doctrine of metempsychosis, sometimes (inaccurately) called
the doctrine of reincarnation.

The beautiful thing that JC did is that he made it so that the other 
World was dying, the Gentry were dying out, and they needed some new 
people to come in, so the whole thing could go on. And the family went 
to the other World, and now it goes on. Perhaps this kind of thing needs
to happen every so often. It's not horrible. It's very beautiful.



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