Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What does Subcreator Mean?


1) Can a Christian Author be indebted to an Anti-Christian one? , 2) What does Subcreator Mean?

I wonder how much heat Tolkien and Lewis have taken simply because of the term "subcreation" and "subcreator" about act of inventing or man who invents a tale of fiction.

I totally subscribe to this:

7. No creature can as principal or secondary-instrumental cause, from or by its own power, create anything from nothing or bring new beings into existence that transcend their own nature.

THIRTY THESES AGAINST THEISTIC EVOLUTION
By Paula Haigh
http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/evolution/etheistic.htm


Now, if you paint, if you make scenery for a theatre, or if you write a story, you do not create from nothing. You create from something, even if that something is, in the case of writing a story, just words and ideas, originally never your own.

This is why, in very conscious polemics to a modern fad of calling writers and artists "creators", Tolkien and Lewis preferred the word "SUB-creators". When universities give classes in "Creative Writing" we know these two were not creating the university course, or it would have been called "SUB-creative Writing".

Now, certain people, totally unaware of context, but too much aware of their own associations, have wrongly concluded that T and L were claiming to, from or by their own power, as secondary instrumental causes, create from nothing or bring new being into existance.

No.

They are claiming to be secondary instrumental causes of a beauty which ultimately God creates, but only insofar as this beauty is what they create out of something, and only insofar as what is given it is, rather than being, which only God can confer, the artistic illusion of being, which art can confer.

The term "secondary worlds" has causes confusion here, though it was meant to be perfectly clear as to meaning "worlds which, unlike the primary world, exist only in art". And whether or not they thought it through like that, this is true of any novelist. Not just those whose scenery is unlikely to be realistically identified with such or such a portion of the space and the time of the world God put us in.

Tolkien is subcreative and Middle Earth is a secondary world, because it contains a country or larger region of countries called Eriador. And because the parallel of Rome (where Minas Tirith is set) is not yet set on a peninsula in a Mediterranean sea. But then again Hergé is subcreative and the world of Tintin is secondary, because it contains Syldavia and Borduria and because a pre-Stalin or very early Stalin Soviet Russia comes only a few years (Tintin is hardly aging even a decade) before Doctor Tournesol is kidnapped in a Cold War like setting and the flight to Sydney gets him in touch with aliens of a distinctly seventies taste. Of course, each album reflected the world in which Hergé wrote, but Tintin and Haddock did not age in time with Hergé. And the Sherlock Holmes stories are in a secondary world in which Austro-Hungarian regions are as unlikely to appear on real maps from Austria or Hungary (the Empire and the Kingdom, not just the two states that are left of them now) as Ruritania of the Prisoner of Zenda.

Was Tolkien elevating himself to the role of Creator, a role belonging to God alone, but "creating" (he would have insisted "subcreating") Eriador and its Elves speaking Sindarin and knowing Quenya? Well, in that case, so was Anthony Hope when he wrote The Prisoner of Zenda (a difference is that this work involves a love triangle, which is sth Tolkien avoided in his Legendarium, just as Hergé did avoid it in his Tintin). And Zamenhof was doing so by inventing Esperanto, even if the purpose was different, practical and idealistic rather than artistic. And even if Zamenhof's borrowings from "real languages" (as in languages spoken by real speach communities having it as mother tongue, there is a speach community of neo-Quenya, in the same sense as there is an esperanto community) are more open and more plentyful than those studied by Tolkien linguists.

C. S. Lewis was posing himself the question "if God the Son had created another world and redeemed another world, what would that have looked like" or rather what COULD that have looked like? And in that sense he was acting as subcreator for a secondary world really distinct as world (if it had been there) from the one we live in. Only part of that world in common with our world : the Heaven of both worlds is the same.

And, even if God in fact did not create that other world, He could have. Fiction studies the possible in combinations that authors hope to show their readers as probable. It does not study the real as real. And it is de fide (Tempier, laetare Sunday 1276, now dated 1277, since New Years are on Jan 1 rather than March 25, Paris diocese, conf. condemned proposition 34) that God can create worlds other than our own, not that He did, but that He can.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Vigil of Sts Simon and Jude
27-X-2015

PS, by JRRT and CSL "taking heat", I do not mean them personally, since this misunderstanding of what they meant very clearly seems to date from after their deaths or, if earlier, from behind their backs. If they had been confronted with it and thought it prevalent, they would have given the correction during their lifetime./HGL

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Can a Christian Author be indebted to an Anti-Christian one?


1) Can a Christian Author be indebted to an Anti-Christian one? , 2) What does Subcreator Mean?

It is possible that José Antonio Primo de Rivera was in some way indebted to Marx. Once he called him "a talented Jew, who saw the problem with Capitalism, but not the solution to Capitalism."

St Paulinus of Nola was mentored by Ausonius, who was not just Pagan, but even homosexual.

And, of course, C. S. Lewis had some debts in literary and mental make up to Anti-Christians.

Edith Nesbit was both Fabian Society and, possibly (on a list of known or alleged members!) Golden Dawn. This did of course not bother C. S. Lewis in his childhood, he was just happy to read her books.

James George Frazer in The Golden Bough was in a Darwinian fashion tracing the thought of mankind in the stages magic, religion and science, much as the Positivist Comte traced it in mythology, metaphysics and positive science. Obviously he was Anti-Christian. And as obviously C. S. Lewis enjoyed him while he was an Atheist.

William Morris, who was a great author of fantasy and a great exponent of Medievalism was also a revolutionary socialist. Hardly a strict if at all Christian. He was enjoyed by both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

So, if C. S. Lewis was reading these before becoming a Christian, was it his duty to renounce them at conversion? In all of their works, in all of their thoughts, in all of their novels and nostalgia for Middle Ages as well as for Paganism?

No.

Morris is not on the Index. Nesbit is not on the Index. Even Frazer is not on the index. If it had been either C. S. Lewis' duty when converting to Christianity or Tolkien's when taking his Catholicism seriously, to renounce these authors, the Church should have said so.

Is there a reason why these are not on the index?

Let's start with Frazer. The details of paganism are the main content of his work. His ideology - which is indeed antichristian - is absent from its pages, meant to be gathered between the lines, perhaps alluded to in a foreword, but it does not determine any content to be included which is factually erroneous. And facts about Paganism are not Anti-Christian errors. Even if presented by one Anti-Christian.

Then Morris may have hated Capitalism in a somewhat wrong way, if he thought Marxist Socialism a solution. But it is a wrong thing and Medieval Guilds were partly there to prevent it. As for the rest, the Middle Ages, which he did not quite admire in all respects in the right way, were admireable, since they were the product of Christianity. Which Chesterton (notably in Return of Don Quijote) and Tolkien fully appreciated, even if Morris did not. However, he did realise the falling away from them, Industrial Capitalism, was a product of esp. Calvinist Protestantism, which he duly found unattractive.

Of course, if he once said "love is enough", he was, if speaking of human loves, wrong. He needed to be contradicted. He was - by his admirer C. S. Lewis. The intro to his The Four Loves, or the post script, whichever, says the novel so entitled (actually the title was somewhat longer: Love is Enough, or The Freeing of Pharamond: A Morality, 1872) got its briefest review in the few words "it isn't" - and the book by CSL agreed largely with that assessment. Only adding that preventing human loves is not the recipe for curing their mistakes.

Note, this book (by CSL, I haven't read the one by Morris) is not limiting the mistakes to those of Eros, his third love. There is a kind of paternal or parental possessiveness which is about Affection, his first love. There are kinds of intellectual pride, which are about Friendship, his second love. And Eros can be hallowed in marriage, while the other two loves here mentioned are not usually so.

And Nesbit ... like Morris, also Nesbit wrote for the large public. They adapted to its tastes, which were very much more Christian than when Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Also, like Morris, Nesbit did have sensible things to say, about cooperation among siblings or about preference for less competitive and more wellproductive but not overproductive economies, like pre-Industrial Revolution.

Nevertheless, some errors were expressed but on the other hand their readers C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien actively strove to take the good and avoid or correct the bad from Nesbit (CSL) or Morris (CSL & JRRT). If one has read an author with delight who does express some bad things, either avoiding the author or this method of sifting and correcting are the correct ones, when you realise this fact.

And this was, by temperament, the path they chose, but also because the authors in question were not so heavily and overtly anti-Christian in their writings as to have merited for instance inclusion on the index of forbidden books. Which is a thing Tolkien would have known and a thing which was sufficiently apparent from the texts for C. S. Lewis to sense it even if he did not know this fact about the Index.

So, yes, despite being indebted to Anti-Christian authors, they are themselves Christian authors. Not flawless, but not so bad as to merit the comparison I have heard over the web or orally here, namely with the Apocrypha on which St Jerome had a few things to say in the previously quoted letter:

Let her avoid all apocryphal writings, and if she is led to read such not by the truth of the doctrines which they contain but out of respect for the miracles contained in them; let her understand that they are not really written by those to whom they are ascribed, that many faulty elements have been introduced into them, and that it requires infinite discretion to look for gold in the midst of dirt.


C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien saw to it that their readers did not have to use infinite discretion, simply by using what discretion they had themselves. This was especially so in Tolkien, who was a Catholic.

This is why I think a Christian need not blush to read them.

As for the charge that they were secretly Illuminati, I think it is totally erroneous. It was made by John Todd while CSL had already been dead and JRRT was close to death, therefore neither had an opportunity to respond. Also, it may be informative if one author is very erroneous anyway - like Marx and Engels are - to know he was secretly of such and such an occultist obedience or even a diabolist (see further Wurmbrandt's study Was Karl Marx a Satanist? which he concludes in the affirmative), but supposing someone were so does not prove his writings to be erroneous.*

Other charges have come by supposing it was CSL's fault if Narnia Chronicles are required reading for Wiccans (in fact, CSL is very anti-witchcraft), or by playing on double meanings of the word "magic" where CSL and JRRT use the word loosely, as in any supernatural facts or acts, whereas critics use it about the mortal sin by which human beings seek to procure such powers by an implicit or explicit contract with demons. This thing was of course not anything these authors recommended, indeed a thing they warned very heavily against (confer Angmar's obtaining certain powers by a ring given by Sauron - essentially Abaddon - to mortals, and the horrible effect this has on his being and will, when it comes to Tolkien).

So, whether the authors CSL and JRRT were indebted to were anti-Christian or merely un-Christian, in the cases here mentioned and very well known, they were themselves Christians.

As to Yeats, CSL confesses his earlier infatuation with him as a sin and a weakness, and his writing of certain warnings can be seen as a kind of penance for it.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Ursula and 11 thousand Virgins
21-X-2015

* Writers are not politicians. If one such is a quockerwodger (explanation, see this link: here, English Historical Fiction Authors : Old Words – London Street Slang from the 1600s to the 1800s, don't vote for him, or he'll betray you. These writers are already dead and can no longer give the general readership any bad surprise. Perhaps it is not surprising that the charge should be made in France where, as Fr. Bryan Houghton said, everything turns on politics. French, even if Catholics, apply the categories of politics to things like ... well, authors.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Conversion of the Roman World, according to St Jerome

I was just looking up the age of Conan when I came to Mithra on the wickipeejuh, or on la wikipédie. Here I found a reference to St Jerome of Stridon as to what the grades of initiation were to Roman Mithraism. Letter CVII, ad Laetam.

More than one thing are worth quoting, but mainly two:

And to pass over such old stories which to unbelievers may well seem incredible, did not your own kinsman Gracchus whose name betokens his patrician origin, when a few years back he held the prefecture of the City, overthrow, break in pieces, and shake to pieces the grotto of Mithras and all the dreadful images therein? Those I mean by which the worshippers were initiated as Raven, Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun, Crab, and Father? Did he not, I repeat, destroy these and then, sending them before him as hostages, obtain for himself Christian baptism?


God grant this might one day happen to Masonic lodges closer to the present!

Now, the other thing is about HOW certain not through and through intellectual converts were usually made. St Jerome is here speaking of a man not yet converted.

The apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians and instructing in sacred discipline a church still untaught in Christ has among other commandments laid down also this: "The woman which has an husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband; else were your children unclean but now are they holy." Should any person have supposed hitherto that the bonds of discipline are too far relaxed and that too great indulgence is conceded by the teacher, let him look at the house of your father, a man of the highest distinction and learning, but one still walking in darkness; and he will perceive as the result of the apostle's counsel sweet fruit growing from a bitter stock and precious balsams exhaled from common canes. You yourself are the offspring of a mixed marriage; but the parents of Paula— you and my friend Toxotius— are both Christians. Who could have believed that to the heathen pontiff Albinus should be born— in answer to a mother's vows— a Christian granddaughter; that a delighted grandfather should hear from the little one's faltering lips Christ's Alleluia, and that in his old age he should nurse in his bosom one of God's own virgins? Our expectations have been fully gratified. The one unbeliever is sanctified by his holy and believing family. For, when a man is surrounded by a believing crowd of children and grandchildren, he is as good as a candidate for the faith. I for my part think that, had he possessed so many Christian kinsfolk when he was a young man, he might then have been brought to believe in Christ. For though he may spit upon my letter and laugh at it, and though he may call me a fool or a madman, his son-in-law did the same before he came to believe. Christians are not born but made. For all its gilding the Capitol is beginning to look dingy. Every temple in Rome is covered with soot and cobwebs. The city is stirred to its depths and the people pour past their half-ruined shrines to visit the tombs of the martyrs. The belief which has not been accorded to conviction may come to be extorted by very shame.


The letter is of course much longer, and I have not read all of it. But I think this point deserves to be made, because some people tend to imagine Christianity after Constantine came with lots of violence. In the Roman World this was not quite so.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre University Library
St Bruno, founder of Carthusians
6-X-2015

Link to quoted letter:

NewAdvent / Fathers / St Jerome : Letters : 107 to LAETA
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001107.htm