This Space for Rent

File under “joys of old age, the”

Oh sunday, I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my right shoulder while I was grubbing out the goddamn english ivy that is trying to infest the back of our property (and this after pulling out a truckload of yard debris, pulling out a truckload of general garbage, splitting and moving a trees worth of firewood into the garage, and digging the foundation and framing the shed I'm building in the formerly ivy-infested yard.) It's, um, interesting trying to function with a sprained shoulder -- I didn't realize just how much normal run of the mill physical motion depends on me having two functional shoulders, and just how exquisitely painful it is when when I've sprained a muscle that runs across a heavily used universal joint.

Using the computer was (and is, given how long it took me to compose this note) pretty much right out, but to look on the bright side the sling I'm using looks very fashionable, and being completely out of action has given me the chance to reread almost all of C. S. Lewis's Narnia stories (except for The Last Battle; I didn't pick up all of the objectional "muscular Christianity" and english classism in the books when I read them the first few times as a kid, but the whole whiny "the unbelievers are winning, so we're going to take our toys and, just like Jadis did in The Magicians Nephew, break the world" finale to the series made me not want to read that book again.)

As an aside to The Last Battle, the whole business of Susan forgetting about Narnia is not particularly believable given that she lived there for many years. The whole when you grow up you will give up childish toys theme doesn't really apply if, you know, you've already grown up. It would have been wonderful if C. S. Lewis had revisited the Pevensie children post-TLTWTW, and written a story about how they interacted with the rest of the world as middle-aged royals in childrens bodies. It would have been much more interesting than having the local deus ex machina blow off Susan by saying "oh, she doesn't believe®™© anymore."

And, from the viewpoint of this unbeliever, the Christian allegory in these stories isn't really all that good. When I read the books as a kid, I didn't have the slightest idea that Jadis's attempt to kill the d-e-m on the stone table was supposed to be like the brutal torture and murder of Jesus of Nazareth, Esq, so you can imagine that the rest of the carefully crafted allegory in this series went right over my head. These days, well, okay, I can see some of the blatant christian allegory, but it could also be read as a nice wet kiss on the tuckus of the British Empire or to the oppressive classism that used to be a trademark of that empire. I don't see how it would be effective allegory unless you were already a Christian and you wanted some warm fuzziness to reassure you that you weren't just being a superstitious fool.

And, you know something? Even with the liberal helping of fuzzy allegory and the aggressive pruning of plots to make the story more digestible for 10 year olds, C. S. Lewis still wrote a great fantasy series. The d-e-m (primarily in cuddly feline form) is merely part of the long tradition of "I'm godly, so I've got better magic items" that started back at the beginning of literary time (so Narnia has G-d himself helping people out? Shoot, Jerusalem Delivered has all that, plus huge caches of magic weapons just falling out of the woodwork for the G-dly to use to smite the unbelievers™.) It will never get me to convert (unless you use the d-e-m's "if you're nice, you worship meMeMe! no matter what you think you might be doing") to any of the Jewish heresies, but I don't think that figures on a tallyboard are the goal of great literature anyway.