Pullman’s confused ideology

Because my publishing company put out a book called Discovering The Golden Compass, I first learned of the existence of this very interesting trilogy by English author Philip Pullman. I bought the books and read them straight through. He is a good writer, able to hold you and interest you in characters and plot. But his metaphysical assumptions are — well, pathetic.

The story line, and his intent as an author, have a certain appeal to anyone fighting despotism and cruelty — but his materialist bias and his total lack of experience of anything beyond This World/This Time are embarrassingly obvious.

Summing it up to myself after finishing the third volume, I listed several things that must seem clear to him, but are actually severely confused. I know it’s fiction, but what a writer creates sheds light on what he believes is possible given certain assumptions.

Among the evidences he leaves of mental confusion:

* his description of the good guys and bad guys in terms of the larger war against heaven.

* his thinking that angels and witches and ghosts and living humans and souls can physically fight each other.

* Pullman implicitly believes that we all have souls — internal or external — but doesn’t believe that those souls continue to exist after death.

* He shows no awareness that life inside time/space and life outside it are going to be lived in different surroundings.

* He uses the usual verbal sleight of hand to invest the word Evolution with the powers of creation that for some reason cannot be given to a conscious force.

His books also show an anti-clerical bias to such a degree that there is not one sympathetic character among any churchmen, and an assumption that atheism is realism, that people can come to “realize” that there is no God.

Throughout, the concepts of materialism are unquestioned and accepted. The thought that something could exist prior to and superior to material is not debated and rejected; it is never considered.

Odd that a creator — Pullman himself — should find it possible to believe that things could create themselves! Like the painting that “just happened” in the story about the atheist and his friend in an art gallery.

All this because no one has an intellectually acceptable picture of the world and its place in the larger scheme of things. It could be stripped down and simple, but it must provide something for people to resonate to so that they can say “yes, that is what’s true,” rather than shake their heads helplessly between church and atheist. The unreasoning bias on both sides, the fanaticism loud or quiet, is so appalling — it indicates to me that they know somewhere inside them that their view is incomplete.

I wonder, who will wake them up from their nightmare, and when, and how? That’s what I am trying to do in my own modest way by clarifying it within myself, so as to get it more clearly in the mind of man. (Of course, this is something that you can do, and should do, as well.) Perhaps I should devote a post or two to the examination of Pullman’s premises and the errors and inexperience they reveal.

2 thoughts on “Pullman’s confused ideology

  1. It may clear things up a bit to understand the nature of the fantasy genre and that PHILIP Pullman uses fantasy as a backdrop for his philosophies. Things happen in fantasy that everyone knows can’t really happen.

  2. First, thanks for the correction on the name. I knew it was Philip, but I was having an out-of-mind experience. The book Hampton Roads published ABOUT Pullman’s trilogy is by George Beahm and my fingers were working when my mind was not. I have corrected it.

    Now as to the substantive comment…

    I do of course know the difference between fiction and history, and between various kinds of fiction, from realism to fantasy. My argument is that Pullman’s personal philosophy — his view of the world — is somewhat deducible from what he describes.

    There’s a huge difference between, say, a subtle knife that can cut through the walls between dimensions (on the one hand) and, say, his depicting God as a senile individual. I can see that I am going to have to write the posts I threatened to write 🙂 clarifying the points I made.

    Thanks again for the catch on Pullman’s name.

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