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Monday, November 19, 2007

Today's Random Wilde

In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press.

1 comment:

jfehlinger said...

Merlin's face became a little paler. The bear nosed at his
hand, unnoticed.

"I have become a bridge," said Ransom.

"Sir," said Merlin, "what will come of this? If they put
forth their power, they will unmake all Middle Earth."

"Their naked power, yes," said Ransom. "That is why they
will work only through a man... Through a man whose mind is
opened to be so invaded,” said Ransom, “one who by his own will
once opened it. I take Our Fair Lord to witness that if it
were my task, I would not refuse it. But he will not suffer a
mind that still has its virginity to be so violated. And through
a black magician’s mind their purity neither can nor will operate.
One who has dabbled . . . in the days when dabbling had not
begun to be evil, or was only just beginning . . . and also a
Christian man and a penitent. A tool (I must speak plainly) good
enough to be so used and not too good. In all these Western parts
of the world there was only one man who had lived in those days
and could still be recalled. . ."

"Do not think," said Ransom, "that for me either it is child's
play to meet those who will come down for your empowering."

"Sir," faltered Merlin, "you have been in Heaven. I am but a
man. I am not the son of one of the Airish Men. That was a lying
story. How can I? . . . You are not as I. You have looked
upon their faces before."

"Not on all of them," said Ransom. "Greater spirits than
Malacandra and Perelandra will descend this time. . ."

"If you are the Pendragon, I am the High Council of Logres
[said Merlin] and I will counsel you. If the Powers must tear
me in pieces to break our enemies, God's will be done. But is it
yet come to that? This Saxon king of yours who sits at Windsor,
now. Is there no help in him?"

"He has no power in this matter."

. . .

"And are we not big enough to meet them in battle?"

"We are four men, some women, and a bear."

"I saw the time when Logres was only myself and one man and
two boys, and one of those was a churl. Yet we conquered."

"It could not be done now. They have an engine called the Press
whereby the people are deceived. We should die without ever
being heard of."

"But what of the true clerks? Is there no help in them?
It cannot be that **all** your priests and bishops are corrupted."

"The Faith itself is torn in pieces since your day and speaks
with a divided voice. Even if it were made whole, the Christians
are but a tenth part of the people. There is no help there."

"Then let us seek help from over sea. Is there no Christian prince
in Neustria or Ireland or Benwick who would come in and cleanse
Britain if he were called?"

"There is no Christian prince left. These other countries are
even as Britain, or else sunk deeper still in the disease."

"Then we must go higher. We must go to him whose office is to put
down tyrants and give life to dying kingdoms. We must call on
the Emperor."

"There is no Emperor."

"No Emperor . . ." began Merlin, and then his voice died away.
He sat still for some minutes wrestling with a world which he had
never envisaged. Presently he said, "A thought comes into my
mind and I do not know whether it is good or evil. But because
I am the High Council of Logres I will not hide it from you.
This is a cold age in which I have awaked. If all this West part
of the world is apostate, might it not be lawful, in our great need,
to look farther . . . beyond Christendom? Should we not find some
even among the heathen who are not wholly corrupt? There were
tales in my day of some such: men who knew not the articles of our
most holy Faith, but who worshipped God as they could and
acknowledged the Law of Nature. Sir, I believe it would be lawful
to seek help even there. Beyond Byzantium. It was rumoured that
there was knowledge in those lands -- an Eastern circle and wisdom
that came West from Numinor. I know not where -- Babylon, Arabia,
or Cathay. You said your ships had sailed all round the earth,
above and beneath."

Ransom shook his head. "You do not understand," he said.
"The poison was brewed in these West lands but it has spat itself
everywhere by now. However far you went you would find the
machines, the crowded cities, the empty thrones, the false
writings, the barren beds: men maddened with false promises
and soured with true miseries, worshipping the iron works of their
own hands, cut off from Earth their mother and from the
Father in Heaven. You might go East so far that East became West
and you returned to Britain across the great Ocean, but even so
you would not have come out anywhere into the light. The shadow
of one dark wing is over all Tellus."

"Is it then the end?" asked Merlin.

"And this," said Ransom, ignoring the question, "is why we have no
way left at all save the one I told you. The Hideous Strength
holds all this Earth in its fist to squeeze as it wishes.
But for their one mistake, there would be no hope left. If by their
own evil will they had not broken the frontier and let in the
celestial Powers, this would be their moment of victory. Their
own strength has betrayed them. They have gone to the gods who
would not have come to them, and pulled down Deep Heaven on
their heads. Therefore, they will die. For though you search
every cranny to escape, now that you see all crannies closed,
you will not disobey me."

-- C. S. Lewis, _That Hideous Strength_, Chapter 13
"They Have Pulled Down Deep Heaven"