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Re: A Landscape with Dragons

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  • Matthew Winslow
    ... John, I don t recall it being discussed here. ... While I disagree strongly with O Brien s conclusions, I must come to his defense that the book was much
    Message 1 of 15 , Aug 27 8:39 PM
      On 27 Aug 2006 07:21:31 -0000, John wrote:
      > Has Michael O'Brien's A LANDSCAPE WITH DRAGONS: THE BATTLE FOR YOUR
      > CHILD'S MIND (previously published as A LANDSCAPE WITH DRAGONS:
      > CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN IMAGINATION IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE) been
      > discussed on this list before? And if so can somebody point me toward
      > that discussion? Just got a copy, but don't want to bore folks if
      > it's already been thoroughly hashed out before I joined the list.

      John,

      I don't recall it being discussed here.

      Jonathan Michael Reiter wrote:
      > > Haven't heard of it before, but from the updated title, I take it this is one of those fundamentalist "fantasy is anti-Christian" screeds??
      >
      > That would be about right.

      While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
      his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
      O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
      that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
      always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
      and committing sin. (Dragons, of course, being related to serpents,
      whom the Bible depicts as symbols of evil, not to mention the evil
      dragon from Revelation.) For O'Brien there is some redeemable fantasy,
      but that list is extremely limited. I haven't read the book in a
      number of years, so I can't recall what he found redeemable.

      --
      Matthew Winslow
      mwinslow@...
      www.xreal.org

      Currently Reading: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
    • David Emerson
      ... Well, he s got two assumptions there that are open to question. One, that symbols never change meaning, and two, that dragons are evil. Call me a heretic
      Message 2 of 15 , Aug 27 9:30 PM
        >While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
        >his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
        >O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
        >that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
        >always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
        >and committing sin.

        Well, he's got two assumptions there that are open to question. One, that symbols never change meaning, and two, that dragons are evil. Call me a heretic if you like, but aren't there ancient cultures in this world who view dragons as wise and good?

        emerdavid

        ________________________________________
        PeoplePC Online
        A better way to Internet
        http://www.peoplepc.com
      • Jonathan Michael Reiter
        Yes, I believe the Chinese, and Japanese... I am not sure about that, but I will go looking, for sure about that... Jonathan Michael Reiter jmr ... From:
        Message 3 of 15 , Aug 28 6:56 AM
          Yes, I believe the Chinese, and Japanese... I am not sure about that, but I will go looking, for sure about that...
          Jonathan Michael Reiter
          jmr
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: David Emerson
          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006 10:30 PM
          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: A Landscape with Dragons


          >While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
          >his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
          >O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
          >that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
          >always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
          >and committing sin.

          Well, he's got two assumptions there that are open to question. One, that symbols never change meaning, and two, that dragons are evil. Call me a heretic if you like, but aren't there ancient cultures in this world who view dragons as wise and good?

          emerdavid

          ________________________________________
          PeoplePC Online
          A better way to Internet
          http://www.peoplepc.com





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • jef.murray
          Symbols for a particular culture largely _don t_ change meaning...Jung s life work underscored this. And regarding other cultures, O Brien is basically dealing
          Message 4 of 15 , Aug 28 6:59 AM
            Symbols for a particular culture largely _don't_ change
            meaning...Jung's life work underscored this. And regarding
            other cultures, O'Brien is basically dealing with occidental
            tradition and myth, which consistently (until the 20th century)
            depicted snakes and dragons as evil.

            Regarding the notion that anyone trying to make a dragon
            good is "committing a sin", I think that overstates O'Brien's
            case. He suggests that trying to change the meaning of traditional
            symbols confuses and can be hurtful, especially to children. This
            is consistent with a pre-modern mindset, which suggests that there
            _is_ such a thing as tradition versus "all things being relative".
            All O'Brien is doing is pointing out the same things that virtually
            any European would have told you prior to about 100-150 years ago.

            And, like Tolkien and Lewis, O'Brien would largely consider himself
            pre-modern in outlook, and quite proud of it(!).

            Jef


            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Emerson <emerdavid@...> wrote:
            >
            > >While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
            > >his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
            > >O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
            > >that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
            > >always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
            > >and committing sin.
            >
            > Well, he's got two assumptions there that are open to question.
            One, that symbols never change meaning, and two, that dragons are
            evil. Call me a heretic if you like, but aren't there ancient
            cultures in this world who view dragons as wise and good?
            >
            > emerdavid
            >
            > ________________________________________
            > PeoplePC Online
            > A better way to Internet
            > http://www.peoplepc.com
            >
          • Mike Foster
            Many readers, including quite possibly Lewis & Tolkien, would know about Kenneth Grahame s -The Reluctant Dragon-, and those familiar with Jef s art know he
            Message 5 of 15 , Aug 28 8:07 AM
              Many readers, including quite possibly Lewis & Tolkien, would know about
              Kenneth Grahame's -The Reluctant Dragon-, and those familiar with Jef's
              art know he does quite good representations of rather benevolent dragons
              as well: parenthetical observation.

              Mike

              jef.murray wrote:

              > Symbols for a particular culture largely _don't_ change
              >meaning...Jung's life work underscored this. And regarding
              >other cultures, O'Brien is basically dealing with occidental
              >tradition and myth, which consistently (until the 20th century)
              >depicted snakes and dragons as evil.
              >
              > Regarding the notion that anyone trying to make a dragon
              >good is "committing a sin", I think that overstates O'Brien's
              >case. He suggests that trying to change the meaning of traditional
              >symbols confuses and can be hurtful, especially to children. This
              >is consistent with a pre-modern mindset, which suggests that there
              >_is_ such a thing as tradition versus "all things being relative".
              >All O'Brien is doing is pointing out the same things that virtually
              >any European would have told you prior to about 100-150 years ago.
              >
              > And, like Tolkien and Lewis, O'Brien would largely consider himself
              >pre-modern in outlook, and quite proud of it(!).
              >
              > Jef
              >
              >
              >--- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Emerson <emerdavid@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              >>>While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
              >>>his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
              >>>O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
              >>>that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
              >>>always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
              >>>and committing sin.
              >>>
              >>>
              >>Well, he's got two assumptions there that are open to question.
              >>
              >>
              >One, that symbols never change meaning, and two, that dragons are
              >evil. Call me a heretic if you like, but aren't there ancient
              >cultures in this world who view dragons as wise and good?
              >
              >
              >>emerdavid
              >>
              >>________________________________________
              >>PeoplePC Online
              >>A better way to Internet
              >>http://www.peoplepc.com
              >>
              >>
              >>
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
              >Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Lezlie
              ... I have to admit that I don t entirely agree with this (and, some modern Jungian scholar-practitioners don t either). Once, dragons in the west were
              Message 6 of 15 , Aug 28 9:08 AM
                >
                > jef.murray wrote:
                >
                > > Symbols for a particular culture largely _don't_ change
                > >meaning...Jung's life work underscored this. And regarding
                > >other cultures, O'Brien is basically dealing with occidental
                > >tradition and myth, which consistently (until the 20th century)
                > >depicted snakes and dragons as evil.
                > >

                I have to admit that I don't entirely agree with this (and, some
                modern Jungian scholar-practitioners don't either). Once, dragons in
                the west were associated with the symbols of Kingship (re: the
                Arthurian Cycle, and also: Charlemagne). At some point in the Middle
                Ages, they became a symbol of "carnal knowledge" and of greed and
                "avariciousness" -- as per: the Seven Deadlies. (A medieval scholar
                could probably pinpoint the exact manuscripts, heraldic devices,
                illuminations, references and et. al., and tell us the years when this
                change occurred.) My sense is that there has always been a split
                between the ecclesiastical writings on dragons and the folk lore itself.

                The symbol has changed in modern times, possibly due to the many
                current writers & artists in fantasy who have jointly created a
                powerful, mysterious, paradoxical creature of fire and air over a
                rather long period of time. Some of those writers have delved very
                deep into the myth and lore concerning the long history of dragons and
                their cousins, and should not be discounted lightly.

                There also seems to be a mingling of East and West in the changing of
                the dragon as a symbol. (As we all realize that Eastern dragons are
                very different than Western ones.) One wonders just what Jung would
                write about it were he alive today -- as he had something to say about
                just about everything, an essay (at the very least) I'm sure. <gentle
                smile> .

                Lezlie
              • jef.murray
                Yes, but we both know, Mike, that dragons are deceptive. _Looking_ benevolent is is not at all the same as _behaving_ in a benevolent fashion ;-) Jef ... about
                Message 7 of 15 , Aug 28 11:54 AM
                  Yes, but we both know, Mike, that dragons are deceptive.
                  _Looking_ benevolent is is not at all the same as _behaving_
                  in a benevolent fashion ;-)

                  Jef



                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Mike Foster <mafoster@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Many readers, including quite possibly Lewis & Tolkien, would know
                  about
                  > Kenneth Grahame's -The Reluctant Dragon-, and those familiar with Jef's
                  > art know he does quite good representations of rather benevolent
                  dragons
                  > as well: parenthetical observation.
                  >
                  > Mike
                  >
                  > jef.murray wrote:
                  >
                  > > Symbols for a particular culture largely _don't_ change
                  > >meaning...Jung's life work underscored this. And regarding
                  > >other cultures, O'Brien is basically dealing with occidental
                  > >tradition and myth, which consistently (until the 20th century)
                  > >depicted snakes and dragons as evil.
                  > >
                  > > Regarding the notion that anyone trying to make a dragon
                  > >good is "committing a sin", I think that overstates O'Brien's
                  > >case. He suggests that trying to change the meaning of traditional
                  > >symbols confuses and can be hurtful, especially to children. This
                  > >is consistent with a pre-modern mindset, which suggests that there
                  > >_is_ such a thing as tradition versus "all things being relative".
                  > >All O'Brien is doing is pointing out the same things that virtually
                  > >any European would have told you prior to about 100-150 years ago.
                  > >
                  > > And, like Tolkien and Lewis, O'Brien would largely consider himself
                  > >pre-modern in outlook, and quite proud of it(!).
                  > >
                  > > Jef
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >--- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Emerson <emerdavid@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >>>While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
                  > >>>his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
                  > >>>O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
                  > >>>that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
                  > >>>always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
                  > >>>and committing sin.
                  > >>>
                  > >>>
                  > >>Well, he's got two assumptions there that are open to question.
                  > >>
                  > >>
                  > >One, that symbols never change meaning, and two, that dragons are
                  > >evil. Call me a heretic if you like, but aren't there ancient
                  > >cultures in this world who view dragons as wise and good?
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >>emerdavid
                  > >>
                  > >>________________________________________
                  > >>PeoplePC Online
                  > >>A better way to Internet
                  > >>http://www.peoplepc.com
                  > >>
                  > >>
                  > >>
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                  > >Yahoo! Groups Links
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                • Mike Foster
                  Never laugh at live dragons was one of the first proverbs Bilbo coined, after all. Mike ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  Message 8 of 15 , Aug 28 11:58 AM
                    "Never laugh at live dragons" was one of the first proverbs Bilbo
                    coined, after all.

                    Mike

                    jef.murray wrote:

                    > Yes, but we both know, Mike, that dragons are deceptive.
                    >_Looking_ benevolent is is not at all the same as _behaving_
                    >in a benevolent fashion ;-)
                    >
                    > Jef
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >--- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Mike Foster <mafoster@...> wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    >>Many readers, including quite possibly Lewis & Tolkien, would know
                    >>
                    >>
                    >about
                    >
                    >
                    >>Kenneth Grahame's -The Reluctant Dragon-, and those familiar with Jef's
                    >>art know he does quite good representations of rather benevolent
                    >>
                    >>
                    >dragons
                    >
                    >
                    >>as well: parenthetical observation.
                    >>
                    >>Mike
                    >>
                    >>jef.murray wrote:
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>> Symbols for a particular culture largely _don't_ change
                    >>>meaning...Jung's life work underscored this. And regarding
                    >>>other cultures, O'Brien is basically dealing with occidental
                    >>>tradition and myth, which consistently (until the 20th century)
                    >>>depicted snakes and dragons as evil.
                    >>>
                    >>> Regarding the notion that anyone trying to make a dragon
                    >>>good is "committing a sin", I think that overstates O'Brien's
                    >>>case. He suggests that trying to change the meaning of traditional
                    >>>symbols confuses and can be hurtful, especially to children. This
                    >>>is consistent with a pre-modern mindset, which suggests that there
                    >>>_is_ such a thing as tradition versus "all things being relative".
                    >>>All O'Brien is doing is pointing out the same things that virtually
                    >>>any European would have told you prior to about 100-150 years ago.
                    >>>
                    >>> And, like Tolkien and Lewis, O'Brien would largely consider himself
                    >>>pre-modern in outlook, and quite proud of it(!).
                    >>>
                    >>> Jef
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>--- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, David Emerson <emerdavid@> wrote:
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>>>While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
                    >>>>>his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
                    >>>>>O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
                    >>>>>that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
                    >>>>>always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
                    >>>>>and committing sin.
                    >>>>>
                    >>>>>
                    >>>>>
                    >>>>>
                    >>>>Well, he's got two assumptions there that are open to question.
                    >>>>
                    >>>>
                    >>>>
                    >>>>
                    >>>One, that symbols never change meaning, and two, that dragons are
                    >>>evil. Call me a heretic if you like, but aren't there ancient
                    >>>cultures in this world who view dragons as wise and good?
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>>emerdavid
                    >>>>
                    >>>>________________________________________
                    >>>>PeoplePC Online
                    >>>>A better way to Internet
                    >>>>http://www.peoplepc.com
                    >>>>
                    >>>>
                    >>>>
                    >>>>
                    >>>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                    >>>Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>>
                    >>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >>
                    >>
                    >>
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                    >Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Berni Phillips
                    From: Matthew Winslow ... Most likely his own books. He has several several novels out, which I ve seen in Catholic bookstores (and
                    Message 9 of 15 , Aug 28 1:14 PM
                      From: "Matthew Winslow" <bluewoad@...>
                      >
                      > For O'Brien there is some redeemable fantasy,
                      > but that list is extremely limited. I haven't read the book in a
                      > number of years, so I can't recall what he found redeemable.

                      Most likely his own books. He has several several novels out, which I've
                      seen in Catholic bookstores (and nowhere else). I read his FATHER ELIJAH:
                      AN APOCALYPSE, which was at least better than the LEFT BEHIND books.

                      Berni
                    • Diane Joy Baker
                      Actually, it s one I d like to read. ... From: Matthew Winslow To: MythSoc Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006
                      Message 10 of 15 , Aug 28 8:31 PM
                        Actually, it's one I'd like to read.

                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: "Matthew Winslow" <bluewoad@...>
                        To: "MythSoc" <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
                        Sent: Sunday, August 27, 2006 11:39 PM
                        Subject: [mythsoc] Re: A Landscape with Dragons


                        > On 27 Aug 2006 07:21:31 -0000, John wrote:
                        > > Has Michael O'Brien's A LANDSCAPE WITH DRAGONS: THE BATTLE FOR YOUR
                        > > CHILD'S MIND (previously published as A LANDSCAPE WITH DRAGONS:
                        > > CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN IMAGINATION IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE) been
                        > > discussed on this list before? And if so can somebody point me toward
                        > > that discussion? Just got a copy, but don't want to bore folks if
                        > > it's already been thoroughly hashed out before I joined the list.
                        >
                        > John,
                        >
                        > I don't recall it being discussed here.
                        >
                        > Jonathan Michael Reiter wrote:
                        > > > Haven't heard of it before, but from the updated title, I take it
                        this is one of those fundamentalist "fantasy is anti-Christian" screeds??
                        > >
                        > > That would be about right.
                        >
                        > While I disagree strongly with O'Brien's conclusions, I must come to
                        > his defense that the book was much more nuanced than that. Yes,
                        > O'Brien is an extremely conservative Catholic, but his argument is
                        > that certain symbols can never change in meaning, so a dragon is
                        > always evil and that anyone who tries to make a dragon good is wrong
                        > and committing sin. (Dragons, of course, being related to serpents,
                        > whom the Bible depicts as symbols of evil, not to mention the evil
                        > dragon from Revelation.) For O'Brien there is some redeemable fantasy,
                        > but that list is extremely limited. I haven't read the book in a
                        > number of years, so I can't recall what he found redeemable.
                        >
                        > --
                        > Matthew Winslow
                        > mwinslow@...
                        > www.xreal.org
                        >
                        > Currently Reading: The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
                        >
                        >
                        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                        > Yahoo! Groups Links
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > --
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