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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Reality beyond reality

He woke in a dream of the wood, he thought dazedly, raising his head. No true oak grew that shade of gold, though that gold was what the eye looked for in the golden oak. No true grass felt so silken, no true shadow hid a swath of such dark velvet across it. No true leaves burned that tender and fiery green in the morning light. Patricia A. McKillip, The Book of Atrix Wolfe, p. 135. New York: Ace, 1996.

Those three days were the happiest he had ever known. For he understood everything he did himself, and all that everything was doing round about him. He saw what the rushes were, and why the blossom came out at the side, and why it was russet-coloured, and why the pitch was white, and the skin green. And he said to himself, "If I were a rush now, that's just how I should make a point of growing." And he knew how the heather felt with its cold roots, and its head of purple bells; and the wise-looking cottongrass, which the old woman called her sheep, and the white beard of which she spun into thread. And he knew what she spun it for: namely, to weave it into lovely white cloth of which to make nightgowns for all the good people that were like to die; for one with one of these nightgowns upon him never died, but was laid in a beautiful white bed, and the door was closed upon him, and no noise came near him, and he lay there, dreaming lovely cool dreams, till the world had turned round, and was ready for him to get up again and do something. George MacDonald "The Carasoyn," Chapter VII, "The Moss Vineyard," (one version is known as "The Fairy Fleet") public domain.

Many works of fantastic literature suppose that there is a reality beyond, or behind, or underlying, what we usually perceive. The heroine has to go back in time, or the wizard has to go into a trance, or on a long journey, or see the world in ways others cannot see, or enter into some alternate spiritual state, in order to be restored, or to find help or answers. Being too concerned about alternate realities may be dangerous, of course, especially if it draws us away from what we should be doing and thinking about in this real world. But there is an alternate reality -- see 2 Kings 6:8-23, and
1 Corinthians 2:6 We speak wisdom, however, among those who are full grown; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written,
“Things which an eye didn’t see, and an ear didn’t hear,
    which didn’t enter into the heart of man,
these God has prepared for those who love him.” (WEB)

As far as I know, McKillip is not a Christian. George MacDonald was. Both of them did a good job in describing an alternate reality in terms that we, from this one, can understand.

Thanks for reading. I guess this post is in the real world.

2 comments:

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Martin LaBar said...

Hmmmm. Thanks, I think.