Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Old

I have just finished The Chronicles of Narnia, which proves once again that to deny the truth of majority opinion where literature is concerned is ultimately fallacious (disregarding your opinions of the raw quality of the given material.). Narnia is ultimately a surprising tour de force, a true fantasist masterpiece in the style of a children's fairy tale.

Narnia, is, of course, a piece of Christian literature, not so much a pure allegory as an exploration of an alternative moral reality. Lewis, the self-proclaimed reluctant convert, infuses his personal philosophies into the narrative, weaving the entire story - from the birth of Narnia to its ultimate destruction - and transcendence into a heavenlike paradise - into something so ultimately compelling to the penetrating reader (in this case myself, because I don't treat the story like the children's fairytale it ought to come across as) that it speaks to the depths of the soul. A Christian allegory, no less, but this time much easier to accept because it clothes the Christian message into something ultimately secular and independent of its original Christian trappings. (Not saying that the Christian message is bad, just that Narnia does not attempt to proselytize.) It's almost as if the book considers morality not the reserve of Christians, but of everybody that ever mattered.

The Chronicles of Narnia is a simple, pure, beautiful, elegant and childlike tale of wonderment. Its utter simplicity is a precious gem in the world of dark, gritty fiction like God of Small Things and other gothic travesties. The abundance of deus ex machinas is not just indicative of its messianic bias and the Christian promise, but also of a world bereft of the caprice of the author's vengeance. It is a comforting world of stunning beauty that speaks to the inner child of the most distant reader. It transcends its position as Christian apologist fiction and takes its place in the forefront of children's literature, that lives forever unsullied in our minds long after the adult world embraces us. It has the most important quality any work of escapist literature could ever want to achieve: It gives us an unbearable yearning to be in that world, to experience its grandeur and sadness, to bask in the radiance of suns that never shone and never will, save in our hearts.


Chinese New Year is a time of joy and celebration. It is a time where we can cast off troubles and let the festive mood seep into us. This year is different, though. It is as though a wind came in the early morning and blew the spring leaves away, leaving bare branches reminiscent of cold winter.

It is a sense of emptiness that pervades, a sense of being cut loose in a boundless ocean with no anchor. The inexorable changes that come with our transition into IB life, as the end of our teenage lives draws cever closer - that all the comforting things of our childhood would disappear, that bleak adulthood and then old age would come, and with it all the cruelty of a world sunk in strife.

It is as though things have lost their importance, and schemes unravel beyond the limits of our understanding, and the world shifts hither.

Change. The inscrutable.

If only it snowed here. If only clear liquid azure blue shone here every morning, and pastel hues of gold in the evening, and beech and blossoms bloomed in a lawn that doesn't exist, shading a path into a windswept plain.

That's Narnia for you.



Nova said...

You must lend me Narnia. You have painted a picture of it in the pastel hues of evening gold, and this is precisely why I need to read it.

You seem to have abandoned yourself, at least temporarily, to the idealistic, escapist world that you claim Narnia is. Chinese New Year has not changed, but you have; your perception of it has, laced as it is with the newfound heaviness of heart that you find in the transition to IB1.

It's best to keep Narnia firmly enclosed within its pages, letting out only enough of it to refresh your soul.

toitle said...

well said, friend nova, and heartily agreed with