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2692Re: Re: [mythsoc] Pullman and the Anxiety of Influence, etc.

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  • alexeik@aol.com
    Nov 1 10:57 AM
      In a message dated 11/1/0 5:23:38 PM, David Bratman wrote:

      << However,
      the proof of that pudding has to be in the eating. If Pullman's books
      are successful as literature, it doesn't matter why he wrote them.>>

      I agree, and my objection to the trilogy is not a partisan ideological one,
      but is based on my dissatisfaction with its conclusion, which gave evidence
      of sloppy thinking and evasion of crucial implications of the plot. In an
      interview he gave to Amazon.com, he said that his world-view was basically a
      moral one, that kindness and self-sacrifice were good and cruelty and
      selfishness were evil, regardless of where they were manifested -- that if a
      self-proclaimed religious person is selfish and cruel, their religious
      allegiance doesn't excuse them. This is very easy to accept, and could be the
      basis of a successful fantasy plot (although having *everybody* in the Church
      be evil is stretching credibility a bit -- but that's another story), but
      Pullman then muddies his moral vision. At the beginning, Iorek Byrnison is a
      really powerful image of goodness, and Mrs.Coulter is as ghastly a figure of
      self-centered evil as one might wish for. The problem comes with Lord
      Asriel,whose own cruelty is amply demonstrated at the end of _The Golden
      Compass_, and whose revolt is motivated primarily by his unwillingness to
      recognise an authority higher than his own. However, all those who have had
      reason to resent the Authority flock to his banner and treat him as a heroic
      liberator, even though there is nothing of the "kindness" and altruism in him
      that would make him a "good" character according to Pullman's own terms. His
      "heroism" in his suicidal destruction of the Authority is motivated entirely
      by hate. The plot was leading me to expect Lyra (who has first-hand knowledge
      of his cruelty) to expose her father's true motivations and to establish
      "goodness" on a firmer foundation. But in the end she never even learns of
      her parents' fate (and her father's indifference to her even gets whitewashed
      by a pious lie). Mrs. Coulter is so manipulative in her selfishness that I
      found it impossible to believe in any of her turnarounds, including her
      crucial last one (and I have no idea whether Pullman expected us to). This in
      particular robbed the book of its full final impact.
      Alexei
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