Thursday, July 28, 2005

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, Condensed

(Inspired by.)

Book I

Pullman: Religion is Evil.

Readers: Why?

Pullman: Because priests kill babies.

Readers: No they don't. You just made that up in the book.

Pullman: Shut up! Look at Iorek Byrnison!

Readers: Hey, he is cool. (Iorek does cool stuff for one book and then spends the next two books being completely boring, chasing after Lyra.)

Book II

Pullman: God is Evil.

Readers: Why?

Pullman: Because priests kill babies.

Readers: No they don't. Hey, how come you can't seem to separate organized religion and God? And how come the only organized religion in your books is Catholicism?

Pullman: Shut up! Look at Will!

Readers: Hey, he is really cool. (Will does really cool stuff for one book and then spends the next book being completely boring, chasing after Lyra.)

Book III

Pullman: God, religion, and any person of faith are Evil.

Readers: Why?

Pullman: Sheesh, are you deaf? They kill babies!

Readers: Hang on, the leader of the fight against God also killed a baby. Why isn't he evil?

Pullman: No he didn't.

Readers: Yes he did, it's right here in the first book.

Pullman: Shut up! Look at Will and Lyra having sex!

Readers: Urg. Isn't Lyra ten?

Pullman: She's twelve now.

Readers: Well, that makes it all better, then.

Lyra: Even though I've never shown any interest in religion or the struggle against God, and I've never really been taught anything about the subject, I will now give a long stirring speech about establishing the Republic of Heaven, just in case there are still readers who aren't brainwa... I mean convinced. (Book ends.)

Pullman: Remember, God is Evil.

21 comments:

Rich said...

The anti-religion message is undeniable, although I prefer to think that the religion portrayed is a particularly extreme version of Calvinism which took over the Church, with an Authority who is not really a God but some sort of impostor. Plus the witches seem to have their own sort of faith separate from the Church.

I thought that the scene of Iorek reforging the Knife That Was Broken was pretty good, but no, there wasn't enough of him after that.

Helen Louise said...

*giggles* that's wonderful. Nice to know that someone else shares my view on His Dark Materials, certainly :)

Emily said...

Hey, I thought it was funny, and I liked His Dark Materials. Even with points off for religion-bashing, it rates higher than a lot of what I've read--and since the God Pullman says is evil has nothing in common with the God I worship, it doesn't ruffle me as much as it ruffles some.

Mike Taylor said...

The really great thing about when Iorek Byrnison reforges the knife that was broken is how completely original it is, and not in any way ripped off from the bit where Elrond reforges the sword that was broken. Pullman would never rip of _LotR_, because he has seen though morally shallow it is.

Dan Hemmens said...

The really great thing about when Iorek Byrnison reforges the knife that was broken is how completely original it is, and not in any way ripped off from the bit where Elrond reforges the sword that was broken

Actually there is no similarity between Iorek reforging the Subtle Knife and the reforging of Narsil in LotR beyond the (utterly superficial) cosmetic similarities (they both involve broken weapons being remade).

Iorek's recreation of the Subtle Knife is an utterly pragmatic rebuilding of a tool because they need its specific powers. The reforging of Narsil is a symbolic resurrection of a dead line of Kings.

Stephen said...

...Iorek's recreation of the Subtle Knife is an utterly pragmatic rebuilding of a tool because they need its specific powers. The reforging of Narsil is a symbolic resurrection of a dead line of Kings.

...showing the stunted functional blancmange of Pullman verses the rich symbolic tapestry of Tolkien

Anonymous said...

My version was:

Book 1:

Nothing, but pretentous crap

Book 2:

Nothing, but more pretentous crap

Book 3:

Nothing, but pretentous crap. Hold on, oh wait... they're fucking... now, wait... you mean to tell me I read 1000 pages just so they can fuck under a tree!?! Hot damn, I wanna kick your ass...


Philip Pullman is a talentless hack.

Although interestingly, the fact that they were both kids didn't bother me... They're both kids and they're in love, I kinda excused it, plus it's not like it's writen in a manner that you're meant to find erotic... just that you're meant to be aware that's what phil is making them do...

Also, the anti religion stuff doesn't touch me for a second because I'm some evil insane atheist...

Anonymous said...

people who didnt enjoy pullmans work are simply small minded and ignorant.

in the world of today people have many diffrent opinions on many matters including religion. Now waht seperates the educated from the idiots is accepting this fact.

You don't have to agree with his views and ideas. You can argue with them all you like - but you cant argue with the fact that Pullman is a creative and talented writer. And if you hate it that much simply dont read it and dont comment on it.

Get over it.

E. M. Pink said...

The first two books were all right, despite the all-too-obvious religion bashing, perhaps because that sort of style was novel to me at the time. But reading the third one was like a great big letdown - I had the same "all this, just so these two kids could have SEX???" reaction as Anonymous above, and have no intention of rereading something that had such a pointless climax. Thanks for the condensation - perhaps it may warn future susceptible readers away from the series.

Though it was a cracking read, especially at first. If you want to venture it anyway, just suspend disbelief, and don't read the last book too closely ;)

Anonymous said...

There should be more religion-bashing in books, religion deserves it

Anonymous said...

I am an atheist, and I found the religion-bashing in this book intrusive, pointless, and stupid at every level.

It was stupid as philosophy, because Pullman does not give any reasoning for his position.

It is stupid as character development, because neither hero nor heroine has any connection with the religious issue.

It is stupid as plot development, because it does not spring out of the previous events nor draw to its conclusion, whatever that is: where is the Republic of Heaven we were promised?

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I might have forgiven him, if he had kept an interesting (or even coherent) plot, character development, or a sense of magic and wonder. Instead we have a homo angel (as a good guy!) and major characters changing their personalities and dying offstage for no reason.

Did anyone understand the point of the scene where Lyra basically kills all the ghosts in the afterlife? I personally am an atheist (among other reasons) because I do not believe in an afterlife. If there WERE an afterlife, however, I would have no desire to annihilate the disembodied minds found there. Rather, I would look on it as a severe medical condition, something to be cured, or at least a scientific curiosity, something to be studied. Instead the author seems to think that an infinite life is a bad thing, and that death is a good thing. Huhn?

Basically, Mr. Pullman let his unreasonable hatred of religion overwhelm his sense of how to tell a story. Having written one good book full of promise, and a mediocre sequel, he concludes his trilogy with a disconnected sequence of scenes--I cannot call it a plot--and halts the action to stand on his soapbox and sell us his opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I LIKE reading atheist speeches--when that is what I payed for, by a speechmaker who knows how to make a speech (see, for example, Tom Paine, or James Ingersoll). But when I pay for a book of supernatural children's adventure and get a lame pro-atheist speech instead, I have been cheated. Why did I bother to go to the bookstore? I could have stayed at home and written an editorial myself.

Pullman's low opinion of religion is one I share, but I am deeply offended to see such an oafish defense of my position. I don't want him on my side: he is an embarrassment to intelligent atheists.

Frankly, I'd rather read Narnia. CS Lewis may be my intellectual enemy, but he is an honest and worthy enemy. Better a hundred times than a worthless ally like Pullman.

(name withheld)

Anonymous said...

Just shows how arrogant he is to come against God. To think He can kill God is funny. His disgusting works only refelect his darken decieved soul.

Scott Haley said...

Yes! What I didn't like was having a little girl protagonist whose parents were both evil. What kind of story is that?

I hope that the movie is not faithful to the book. I hope that they adapt it the way Disney used to film books.

Anonymous said...

It's a classic Cinderella device. The author creates a downtrodden protagonist that the child-reader identifies with, even though the the readers feelings of persecution usually have no basis in fact (being a not-uncommon common childhood experience). In this way, the child magnifies their own feelings of persecution, worsening their problems. Pullman was a teacher, so he should know better than this. Or does he think it worthwhile to traumatize his young readers, so long as his message is burned into their collective psyche? Some teacher he turn out to be.

portal said...

*still laughing*

your post is the funniest thing I've read in a long while regarding that talentless creature pullman.

succinct and to the point! you nailed it!

hope you don't mind my linking to it from my webpage. this one is worth sharing.....

how brainwashed can society be to buy into or excuse his hatefilled crap?

da word said...

Guys, come on.
Atheists, Christians, Deists, you're all arguing about this book without actually understanding Pullman's allegory or philosophical message at all. rich and emily were closest, when they said that Pullman was talking about a god other than their own. His Dark Materials, irrespective of its value as literature, is a story set in a Gnostic universe. Pullman is an atheist, true, but his atheism is barely reflected in the allegory of the book. This story is far more related to Descartes' "Cogtito Ergo Sum", William Blake, and even the Matrix than the Bible.

There are many facets to Gnosticism, but religious Gnosticism is essentially the belief that the God who created universe and oversees our daily lives, named the Authority, Yahweh, or El, is an evil being. Sound familiar? Sound exactly like Pullman's books? That's because it is.

Gnosticism can also incorporate the tenents of Christianity in the idea that when Lucifer rebelled against God, he won. However you feel about this philosophy, it is word for word the world in which Pullman sets his characters.

Gnostic philosophy is, in essence, the struggle to escape form the illusions and and parallel realities in which Yahweh holds the world prisoner. (Sound like the Matrix? It is.) William Blake has a quote: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is - infinite" (cultural note- it is form this that Aldous Huxley got the title of his book "The Doors of Perception", which in turn inspired Jim Morrison to name his band "The Doors")

Blake's idea of doors of perception, confining us in layers of illusion which we must escape (again, the Matrix) is literally, figuratively, and metaphorically what Will cuts through with the Subtle Knife.

so I'm sorry for writing you a frickin sermon, but please, Atheists and Christians this book is not a celebration of atheism nor a direct put-down of Christianity. Don't just take my word for it though. Look it up. Wikipedia, the library. Exploring any basic introduction to philosophy text should help you understand that what Pullman is writing about is a literal, nearly word-for-word religious interpretation of gnosticism.

This rant of mine isn't specifically directed at anybody here. Its for everybody worldwide who is debating philosophical topics of which they have no knowledge, from Atheist bloggers to Fox News. Philosophical debate is awesome. Just make sure you really understand the message of the subject being debated.

Thanks for your time.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pullman's books are an obvious declaration of his faith, or lack of it. It's a shame he allowed his imagination to become influenced by the "dark side." What is really sad is the fact that he is trying to influence his young audience to hate the church and God as much as he does. C.S. Lewis has such a better grasp of reality.

Jacqueline Y. said...

In response to da word:

I was aware of the gnosticism in Pullmann's books. But why exactly does he choose a gnostic frame of reference? Is it because he thinks the Biblical God is as pernicious as the the ancient gnostics did?

da word said...

jacqueline-
I'll answer your second question first. The gnostics were not ancient. Gnosticism has been around as a philosophy forever, but specifically gained strength during the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Descartes' famous proof "I think, therefore I am" is designed specifically to prove the existence of his own entity and thoughts even in a gnostic world. Gnosticism as a religion has been woven into and out of established religions for just as long. Gnosticism, translated into Christianity, says that Lucifer won his revolt against God, and that it is God who became the fallen angel. Therefore the God we see in Pullman's books is not in fact the Biblical God at all, but Lucifer, or at least an aspect of Lucifer as Yahweh.

Why did Pullman set his stories in a religiously gnostic universe? For one thing, this allows him to write a story that "should be" acceptable to both Christians and Atheists. The story is merely a postulation: "What if religion was evil?" It is a what if, not a definite. In fact, the story actually goers against his Atheism when Will and Lyra succeed in killing "God". Yahweh, especially Lucifer as Yahweh, implies Jehovah, the Biblical God, as well. The fact that there is a "god" who can be killed in Pullman's books implies the existence of the Biblical God.

The second, and in the world of print media, probably more important reason? It's cool. Gnosticism as a framework for an imaginary universe is a neat story. Pullman, no matter what his religious beliefs, does need to eat, and clothe himself, and drive a Mercedes, and these are all dependent on him telling a cool story, which he has done.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I don't see how anyone can say this is fine just because it is not about their specific god. The fact that Pullman wrote a heretical book for children is horrifying. He isn't just trying to present his view but he is trying to indoctrinate kids many of which are not learning about such topics from their parents who should be the teachers.
I'm a college student and I read this book after the suggestion of a friend. I enjoyed the books for the most part and until I reached the third book. As most of you know, that's when Pullman blatantly began revealing his beliefs. I was shocked because not only did he come against everything that I believe, but also wrote it in a very likable way.
Seen as just a book you can just say, " well don't read them if you don't agree with it" or "well it's not what I believe so it doesn't bother me." However it seems like anything anti-Christian always gets a big hype by the media these days. Take the Da Vinci Code and the Judas Gospels for instance. The Da Vinci Code may have been a great book but it is just one of many. Yet it was so publicized that people began using many of its flawed arguments to challenge Christianity.
Most other religions would be standing up and protesting for all they are worth, but Christianity always seems to end up bearing the persecution and contempt. I'm just saying that you can't just turn a blind eye to these.

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