Friday, January 25, 2008

One more thing on the Golden Compass

Warning, I think as I re-read that this may have turned into a bit of a rant.

I just have to say that Philip Pullman totally rocks. I am a big fan of the radical, whether I agree with that radical notion or not. People must at least try to envision what that outer limit of acceptability is and then decide how close to sit to the edge. I appreciate those visionaries that sit out there so that the rest of us can remain safe, if we choose. That is why, while not a vegan, I appreciate PETA. I say, go on out there and be completely far out. It is awesome.

My blog was recently cited on one of the local home school lists as (maybe? maybe it was confused with Joyce's Joyfully Rejoycing site?) radical. Somehow, even in writing that came across as a slam. Of course, this is the homeschooling list I left because of a forwarded message from HSLDA that endorsed hitting your child with sticks ("the rod"). But, that is okay. I don't mind being radical. There are far too few of us being radical these days. Jesus was a radical, as was Buddha. But I digress.
Who knows if Philip Pullman set out to be a radical, and I think that the ideas that he allegorically uses in his books are not that far out there (or maybe that is just from where I sit). However, I think that he has exposed the radical other end of the spectrum and its influence. Or, I guess exposed it to anyone who is looking.

He said the following about the current teaching of literature. Hopefully, children can still read his books and access them in libraries. He definitely is clued in to the fact that children are not encouraged to be free thinkers in today's world.

"What concerns me here is the relationship this sets up between child and book, between children and stories. Stories are written to beguile, to entertain, to amuse, to move, to enchant, to horrify, to delight, to anger, to make us wonder. They are not written so that we can make a fifty word summary of the whole plot, or find five synonyms for the descriptive words. That sort of thing would make you hate reading, and turn away from such a futile activity with disgust. In the words of Ruskin, it's "slaves' work, unredeemed.”- Isis Lecture, Tuesday 1 April, 2003

He clearly doesn't mind ruffling a few feathers.

And ruffle them he did with the movie The Golden Compass.

Well, I say that was a good thing. It was so interesting to me that I had to drive to Cambridge (anyone see the connections there?) to *see* the movie, as it FLEW out of theaters. Anyone who thinks that our current economic disparities and recessions is not influencing the ways in which we can express our rights is living in a fantasy world.

In fact the movie was pretty good, too. The special effects were awesome, and it wasn't even as disturbing as the book at the end. It didn't at all make me think that there was no God (even in the movie world). In fact, I saw the dust as an embodiment of the Holy Spirit as I understand it. Also, the discussion of Free Will was an interesting one, and I thought the idea of children expressing pure free will or being altered in such a damaging way that they cannot choose to be one with the Dust (Holy Spirit) was very stimulating.

Do we damage our child out of their ability to make free choices? Do we *really* support our children to be themselves or are we more repressive and comformist than we acknowledge?

Why is discussion of free will being shut down by members of some church groups? It seems so un-American to me. I may see the movie again, just to prove to myself that I still can see free expressions of different visions of the divine. I'll definitely buy the DVD. And maybe join PETA while I still can.

Oh, and by the way, my daemon is a crow named Apolonious according to the movie website. Modest, it says, and flexible, shy, assertive and competitive. Hmmmm...maybe so.


Mama Podkayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
strawberry soda said...

Hey Jessica,

I was wondering what was happening in your enclave, and then this flurry of posts! Wow!

So, now I am thinking about what is a free thinker, and what is a radical. I think that it will be MY next blog.

Good food for thought.

Mama Podkayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madeline said...

I'm just back from Down Under and I didn't know that there was a controversy over this movie. We so wanted to see it that we went inside on a beautiful day in the Blue Mountains to see a 3:00 showing of it on a huge IMAX screen! Gillen (the 10yo hunter) was terrified by the polar bear fight so decided he didn't like it. Jesse and I loved it and want to read the book. It left theaters quickly? wow. What a hypocritical place we live in, eh? I'll have to google more info.

Holly said...

Hi Jessica,
I just wandered over via Beverly's blog. I'm enjoying your blog. I haven't read the Pullman books (although I've been intending to for a few years already). But there was such a huge marketing hubbub around the movie here where we live (Paris), that we went to see it anyway. I've read interviews with him before and always liked what he had to say - I LOVE the quote you included! How unschooly! - but I have to say that I was pretty disappointed by the film. The characters seemed very flat to me and also to my 7yo who felt that she was being asked to judge the characters based on what they looked like and not on what they said or did (that was her own observation). I felt that the relationships between characters weren't developed at all. Maybe if you've read the book you've already got those relationships established in your head, but otherwise the film doesn't spend any time on them. I'm still going to read the books because others have assured me that they're worth it. But I wonder if Pullman was disappointed by this production...?

Mandaroo said...

When I saw the trailers for it initially, it made me want to see it, and when I heard the controversy it made me want to see it even more ; )(I'll probably have to wait for the dvd at this point) I think it's great that it opens up (or rather, agree that it should open up!)discussion. btw, thanks for your comment on my blog. It looks like we have similar musical tastes as well....
(huge Prince fan)