Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Narnia and Israel

We just got back from a wonderful week marrying off my sister. I do mean to post about that, but but tonight I just wanted to link this article on "Why is there no Jewish Narnia?" The short answer: Christianity is inclined toward fantasy, with other worlds and redemption at the end, but Judaism is more sci-fi and here-and-now. The article also talks about a new Jewish fantasy trilogy in the works and discusses some of its peculiarities.

I think he's on to something. Christianity is Judaism fulfilled and transmuted. They have the promise and the shadow very much in earthly things: King David, whose throne will last; the Temple and the sacrifices; the Law, which manages everything. Christians, though, look to somewhere else. Here matters, but it's not ultimate. Our hope is for a Good like you can find on this world, and that has been here, but Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, I wouldn't have let you arrest me!" We've got villains, heroes, quests, terror, otherworldly landscapes, impending doom, and sudden redemption un-looked-for and beyond hope. So I suppose it's not that big of a stretch to arrive at your standard fantasy plot.

On the subject of fantasy generally, I'm reminded of a point someone made about Spenser, how he is the "poet's poet." His Faerie Queene has the knack of inspiring others to make poetry. I think Tolkien is similarly the fantasy-author's fantasy author. Everyone reads Lord of the Rings and says, "I can do that" -- and writes all the derivative fantasy currently on the market!

Maybe I should go re-read Tolkien and get motivated to work on that story I've got kicking around...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring break

This week was Jonathan's spring break, so (after adventures getting the hot-water heater replaced and an abortive dentist's appointment) we went up to stay with his parents, and then on the way back we dropped by to visit Ben and Lisa and David.

It was lovely. One day Grandma said she would watch Meggie, and sent us out on a date to a Spanish restaurant and a movie. We watched "The Lightning Thief," and thoroughly enjoyed it. Jonathan assures me they butchered it about like they usually do when adapting from a book, so it's probably just as well I haven't read them yet, but it had a lot of smart and fun concepts going on, and wasn't annoying in at least three ways it easily could have been. It was a bit racy in parts, offstage; the sidekick is a satyr, after all. And best of all, the main girl is the same actress who plays Kate in "White Collar." Yay!

We came back on the alternate route my parents discovered over Christmas. It's so much nicer than I-95 it isn't even funny. It's the sort of road that makes you realize just how beautiful Virginia really is.

Friday, March 05, 2010

One of those mornings

I woke up from a bad dream and got busy downstairs, on the theory that a good breakfast cures everything. At about 12 seconds left to go, from bacon and microwave came a BANG! ...and I opened the door to discover my microwave-safe plate had cracked into three big jagged pieces. I liked that plate.

"In other news, rainbows have been banned in the continental United States, and someone tried to kick my dog," said Jonathan comfortingly.

"Er, raah, waaah!" said Meg (over the baby monitor).


Monday, March 01, 2010

Speech "recognition"

Tonight Jonathan was training his computer speech recognition program. So far, I'd say it doesn't recognize him very well. Behold how it mangled T. S. Eliot:
Name the end of this sending breaks the error with flame up in candescent terror all of which the time was declarer though one discharge from sin and there were our only hope or else despair lies in the choice of hire or fire to be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then divide is booked for MIPS? Love. Space love is the Amur familiar name behind the hands that will be intolerable sure to play in which human power cannot remove. We only lose only so spire consumed by either fire or fire.

(The real passage from Little Gidding goes as follows:
The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre--
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.)
I think my favorite part was when it wrote, not "choice of pyre or pyre," but "choice of hire or fire"!