C.S. Lewis: Like Cold Water ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, July 17, 2006

C.S. Lewis: Like Cold Water

Assignments from my class last week are still hovering around like horse flies, waiting to be summarily slapped down and crushed under my sneakered foot. In the meantime, the increased irritant of 100 degree weather (no metaphor) has driven me to seek solace in a nearby oasis (back to metaphor): The Pilgrim’s Regress, by C.S. Lewis.

At last, a little wish-fulfillment is taking place.

While I've heard bits and pieces of Regress, I hadn't realized the intricacy and depth of Lewis's allegory. For example, I wasn't aware that the book featured a brief retelling of The Garden account from Genesis:

Up to this time the country had been full of a certain fruit which the Landlord had planted for the refreshment of himself and his children…but it is very strong and only those who are mountain-bred ought to eat it, for only they can digest it properly… But now that there were to be men in the land, the Landlord was afraid that they might do themselves an injury… So he decided that it was best to be frank with the young people, and when he found a great big mountain-apple tree growing in the very center of the farm he said, “So much the better. If they are to learn sense, they may as well learn it from the beginning: and if they will not, there’s no help for it.

And scan this blurb from Lewis’s pernicious “Mr. Sensible” (who could also be tagged, “Mr. Tolerance”):
“Sense is easy, Reason is hard. Sense knows where to stop with gracious inconsistency, while Reason slavishly follows an abstract logic whither she knows not. The one seeks comfort and finds it, the other seeks truth and is still seeking.”

Lewis is already exerting a soothing, rejuvenating effect on my mind. I'm hoping to get to some more substantial posts soon...

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Will Robison said...

Makes sense to me... ;)

Iambic Admonit said...

I'm looking forward to more posts on Lewis. What do you think of his use of "Romanticism" for what he'll later call "Joy"? On this, the afterward to the third edition is even more interesting than the book itself! He delineates seven clear, specific, compelling definitions of Romanticism, then goes on the say his particular kind is none of these. His is "intense longing... the mere wanting is felt to be somehow a delight.... there is a peculiar mystery about the object of this delight" and concludes "the human soul was made to enjoy some object that is never fully given... in our present mode of subjective and spatio-temproal experience." I love the list of things that evoke this longing in him: the Blue Flower (Novalis), the calls of wild ducks, Kubla Khan, bedewed cobwebs, the noise of falling waves.... I'll have to post on all this stuff soon...

~ Admonit

Ariel said...

Iambic, you ask the best questions. I finished Pilgrim's Regression a couple days ago, so a review is forthcoming. I'm with you about the afterword - it's invaluable!

As I read the allegory, I picked up on how Lewis was using "Romanticism" - but his later expressions of Joy are much more lucid. Despite the book's density, I enjoyed it.

The parts you quote, in fact, are some of the excerpts that jumped out to me as well... The Island metaphor and the "dialectic of desire" really grabbed me. More soon. Hopefully you'll post on it as well?


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife