Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What I Think of Blogging and other thoughts...

Some people call the interweb the "information highway"; however, I think with all this blogging going on, plus the billions of websites being created every second (that's right, every second[that's right, I made that up]) a more apt analogy would be a "bullshit parking lot." So here I am, adding to the Litter (ature?) of the 21st century, a litterature that is apparently revolutionizing how we think, act, socialize, communicate. De-centering and de-stabilizing the world as we know it, the people are taking the power back (did we ever lose it?), and we've fallen (ass first) into Huxley's Brave New World. As Neil Postman argues, we are not being killed by what we hate (which would imply a 1984-style censorship of readable "stuff") but we are killing ourselves with what we love. The fear of having no-thing to read never crosses our (the average north American's) mind; but, does it cross our mind that the things we should read (which is a debatable topic in itself) are being drowned in a sea of irrelevance? Why are current PhD candidates writing disertations on lays chips advertisements and MTV music video lyrics? The topic of what we should read, i.e. a canon, is a hotly contested topic today, and perhaps rightfully so since most canons are usually dictated by the majority. I do not, as some would say, believe this is grounds to abolish the idea of a canon. The idea of a canon is good, but how it has been formed may not have been. I think the canon needs to exist, and today we have a flourishing of good writers from both genders, many races and religions. Of course, this does not negate that any individual's canon would be unique (mine for instance would rank The Silmarillion as one of the top books to read, which of course others might discard as useless trash (that's right, they'd be wrong!). Which leads me to perhaps a puzzling question: what constitutes "good" (what an ambiguous term) piece of fiction? Is it proximity to the Truth (which of course will need major defining)? or is it an adherence to a strict set of rules like Aristotle and the Medievals believed? Should it entertain? Should it teach? Should it do both?

I haven't given this topic nearly enough energy, but something tells me it is related to the ideas of my previous post: sub-creation. An interesting idea because it does not preclude non-Christians from Good writing (actually, in certain cases it would exclude Christians who are bad writers...again, the terms need definitions). Whatever the case, good fiction is a good sub-creation. The work is a coherent world that is logically and imaginatively consistent to whatever end it may come. Of course, the secondary world is linked to the primary world (ie. the world we walk around in with our heads in the clouds) through the author who exists in the primary world. He creates because, as I said earlier, he is reflecting the Light from whence he came, a whole new reality, the PRIME REALITY where God dwells in eternity. This reality is beyond sense perception (although the metaphysical poets have done their D---dest to communicate it) and is, according to Eliot (in one of the most beautiful poems of the 20th century (if not all time) a fustion of the fire of God's love in the staticity of eternity. IN my opinion, good fiction girded by the Christian worldview is superior to good fiction girded by any other worldview because it is "propaedeutic" in the right sense (a fancy word for "leading"). Bad Christian fiction, therefore, is far inferior to bad non-Christian fiction (I am here merely referring to the religious presuppositions of the sub-creator) since it not only is like a bitter drop on the palate, but it may falsely, mislead an audience from the true beauty that only Christianity renders.
Anyways, this blog has been derailed, but I thought I would add this last bit to end on a positive note after my negative rant about blogs. You may ask me if this is not hypocritical, and it is, but like Whitman once said "Do I contradict myself? Of course, I am large, I contain multitudes." Anywyas, I hope this last spoonful of sugar helped the medicine go down.

aka. the grinch
aka. mary poppins

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why Mythopoeia matters?

Perhaps an appropriate first post would be an expl(ic)anation of my choice of title: Mythopoeia. The word is inspired by an early poem written by Tolkien to a friend who said that "myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though they are 'breathed through silver." Tolkien's poem is a letter from Philomythus (lover of myth = aka Tolkien) back to Misomythus (hater of myth). Based on the subsequent writings of Tolkien's "mysomythic" friend, who was none other than C.S. Lewis, I assume that Tolkien won the day.

The lines that fascinate me within Tolkien's poem (and if anyone hasn't read it I suggest you get to a library and read Tree and Leaf asap) read as follows:

The heart of man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move ffrom mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with elves and goblins, though we dared to build
gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sow the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.

As any Silmarillion fan will notice, the words here echo a theme throughout that the human creative powers are one manifestation of our being created. That is: We create because we are created. Perhaps T.S. Eliot says it best, when in Canto IX of"Choruses From the Rock" he beautifully writes:

The Lord who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating

Again, man creates because he is a product of creation; however, as "images" of God we reflect his Light, or are supposed to. The light is refracted from us due to the fall and the "right" we have to "sow the seeds of dragons" is not decayed, but our use may become a misuse. Again, students of Al Wolters know this idea as it is manifested throughout Creation Regained: structure and direction.

So, before we can create a world that is in line with the Truth, and therefore in line with that which is Good and Beautiful, one needs to be aware of the Creator in charge of his creations...and subsequently their subcreations (which may even be as trite as a blog entry).

D.J. Sikkema