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Re: [mythsoc] Philip Pullman article

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... I don t think counter-cases are improved by bringing in other factors that make it appear (however incorrectly) that you re confused about what case
    Message 1 of 47 , Mar 5, 2001
      At 03:02 PM 3/5/2001 , Mary S. wrote:

      >> Not-Pullman isn't accusing Lewis's favored characters of bullying, but
      >> Lewis himself. And he said nothing about fascism itself, or fascist tastes
      >Well, yes: but I was making a counter-case. Also it's my opinion that
      >Fascists are bullies. Thus a character like Eustace, who bullies, is more
      >like a Fascist than the Pevensies, whom Lewis approves and who do not bully.

      I don't think counter-cases are improved by bringing in other factors that
      make it appear (however incorrectly) that you're confused about what case
      Not-Pullman is trying to make.

      While bullying may be characteristic of fascists, it's also characteristic
      of enough other people that its presence does not itself make a character
      more like a fascist, any more than great height would by itself make him
      more like a basketball player.

      I don't think it would be completely wanton of Not-Pullman to describe the
      Pevensies as bullies, either. Their, and the Narnians', behavior to
      Eustace resembles Tough Love treatments to an extent, and I've read such
      behavior by Tough Love operatives described as bullying. I don't wish to
      make this case myself, but it could be advocated without being completely

      >> (did Mussolini promote vegetarianism?), but fascist style.
      >I don't know if Hitler "promoted" vegetarianism, but he was, in fact, a
      >vegetarian, which is what I was thinking of when I made the allusion.

      The problem with Not-Pullman's use of the term "fascist" is that, like most
      people who use the word, he used it very loosely. I am attempting to be
      conscientious and use it more strictly (and to understand exactly what he
      means by it), and strict usage compels me to note that Hitler was not a
      fascist. He was a Nazi. Yes, the Nazis had much in common with the
      fascists, but once you go down that route, where do you stop? Here we have
      Not-Pullman almost calling Lewis a fascist, which seems extreme. If we
      want to find out exactly how accurate Not-Pullman is being, we should
      compare with Mussolini, not with Hitler. Mussolini _was_ a fascist. And
      Eustace's parents were vegetarians, among other things.

      I don't know if Hitler promoted vegetarianism. He might have (the Nazis
      were big on public health matters of all sorts, down to and including
      sanitation), but if he did not, then his private practice of it is no
      evidence that there's anything relevant to Nazism about vegetarianism.
      Hitler also loved dogs.

      >Fascists were also big on fresh air and calisthenics (though I don't know
      >about underwear) - ever hear of "Strength through Joy"?

      What was Lewis thinking of when he described Eustace's parents' "special
      underwear": does anyone know?

      >> I like VDT, but despite, not because of, these matters. I try to ignore
      >> the argumentation, and read the book as an imram - a re-envisaging of a
      >> voyage like St. Brendan's. As such, it's effective and wonderfully
      >> evocative.
      >I agree! in fact it's my favorite of the seven. And given your statement
      >above, would you agree that Not-Pullman is wrong when he calls the books

      Not-Pullman also describes the books as "some of the vilest ever written."
      I didn't feel it necessary to record skepticism about that either.

      >> >And all this is to ignore the fact that Lewis' tales are most
      >> >(he protests) NOT allegories.
      >> Aslan is not an allegory of Christ? Could have fooled me.
      >Nope, you need to re-read Lewis' own description of what he was doing and how
      >it differed from allegory.

      What description is that? The one I remember is the one in which he said
      that in LWW he deliberately made Aslan's death and resurrection into a
      parallel with Christ's. That sounds like an allegory to me. Many people
      feel that Tolkien protested too much when he claimed he detested allegory,
      and his work is much farther from an allegory than Lewis's is.

      >> Steve Schaper wrote:
      >> >That is not what fascism is. Fascism is the ideology that rejects the
      >> >of the transcendant-objective signified as a 'Jewish' (or Christian)
      >> > >rejects the concept of the individual and individual responsibility as
      >> >bourgeois notion, and embraces the group will to power as the greatest
      >> This is so general, it could almost describe Communism.
      >Of course. Tyrannies of the Left and the Right are alike... as Orwell (for
      >one) recognized.

      Indeed they are, but my point is that Steve was trying to define "fascist."
      Instead, he defined "totalitarian", which is a different term with a
      broader meaning. If we wish to criticize Not-Pullman for throwing the term
      "fascist" around loosely, we should not use it loosely ourselves.

      David Bratman
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      In a message dated 3/10/01 12:56:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@aol.com writes:
      Message 47 of 47 , Mar 10, 2001
        In a message dated 3/10/01 12:56:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@...

        << Must today's children be protected from Lewis'
        evils? Or should the first chapter be revised to say simply that "Eustace's
        parents were rather disagreeable people" - as DR DOOLITTLE has (in my view
        rightly) been rewritten in certain parts, as PL Travers rewrote a bothersome
        chapter of MARY POPPINS? >>

        It's possible to take a middle position. It's possible to think a writer is
        good and to agree with him on many things and yet to disagree with him on
        others, while not finding it necessary to tell children that they should
        ignore certain points in the book. I give all my nieces and nephews a copy
        of the Chronicles of Narnia. I agree with much of Lewis said, but I think
        that (like anyone else) he was incorrect on a few issues. I don't find it
        necessary to include an "errata" list of wrong ideas in Lewis's books (or
        anyone else's books I give as presents). I think that my nieces and nephews
        are already learning the lesson that they should read a lot of books and
        think for themselves about the issues involved.

        Wendell Wagner
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