Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jack and Tollers discuss pipeweed

With some poetic licence

Tolkien returned to the College and Jack Lewis was waiting for him.

"He ran away or you killed him?"

"Look at my axe, it is clean."

"Ah you would have wiped it clean, as we did with bayonettes in the war."

"Shucks, true, but no, I did not kill him. If I had, the police would be taking me to gaol by now. I mean children can be killed off at the Infant Life Act, if they were in 'good faith', or pretend to have been so, but if I chop down this Friedman guy who cut the lobes from Rosemary's brain, I can get chopped myself for it."

"True, true ... but I think he spells his name Freeman, without a d."

"Oh? I etymologised again? If I had been introduced to myself I would probably have remembered my name as Tollkühn, with an ü!"

"Take some tobacco, it straightens out the brain and I got a fresh package of Three Nuns, if you care to exchange the Cavendish or Navy Cut ..."

"Ah, I have a surprise for you!"

"Oh? Another brand we have not tasted?"

"A Swedish version of the Pipeweed. Affectionately called Old Gilbert, or so they say, though not after our friend in Beaconsfield, may he rest in peace!" (makes sign of the cross) "Belloc sent me a tin, when his friend in Gothenburg - a brewers guild member like himself, alias Unionist, but actually works in a state owned distillery - offered him a few."

They went into the office, Tolkien doffed the helmet and on the table there was a tin*, metallic on top, wrapped with yellowish paper, with the black and white portrait of an officer in uniform and whiskers, and letters were close to handwritten. "Spare me your Swedish, please!" said Tolkien. "I will pronounce it:" and so he did.

gray-veh yil-butt hummil-tawnce blunning
It was written:
Greve Gilbert Hamiltons Blandning.

"Greve, like Graf, means count, if I read the crown over the lettering correct?"

"It does."

Tolkien solemnly opened the tin. C. S. Lewis was reminded of Three Nuns, but this one was just a bit stronger and less dry in taste. The door knocked.


In came the rector, and he said: "sorry to bother you, but there are some policemen here!"

"About the hunting with the axe, I suppose?"


"Why, we were just discussing the other day, and Jack said ... what was it again?"

"Sorry for our times, but with modern weaponry an Anglosaxon man in war gear would hardly be frightful, I said."

"And I added, as Chesterton had observed in some novel, that no, he would not frighten any IRA man exactly, but on the other hand people are so unarmed nowadays, it would not be hard to find someone to put to flight with it."

"Ah, ok, will see if the police take that."

"Do, meanwhile we have some smoking to do."

"Could you spare me a pipefill, please? It is unusual and not bad as a smell!"

"As long as it lasts. Modern bureaucrats will probably find some excuse to alter it ... especially since it seems to be the most popular tobacco of all Sweden."

The rector got his pipefill and went out to talk to the police. But let us now return to Susan.

*Picture link taken from a Swedish blog post: Handplockat: Tidens gång.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ramandu and Galileo part 1

Dear Susan!

When you read this, either we have started getting along about Narnia again, and more importantly about God and Christ, or it will be after I die somehow, since I give you these essays as a testament.

Remember how we were talking about Geocentrism? Oh, you were away of course, but here is the story: I mean, Peter had been asking who were the successors of St Peter the Apostle (guess why?), and come up with "it must be the bishops or the popes, unless they had not proven themselves wrong with the Galileo case and the adoration of the Eucharist as if it were really Christ" - and I had answered: "Hey, do you think we were idolaters back in Narnia?" - "OK, leaves the Galileo case". His and Edmund's History Professor had brought it up.

Everyone fell silent for five minutes and did some serious thinking.

Edmund shouted out "Ramandu!"

And Eustace: "Yes, what about him?"

"You remember he said: 'even in your world burning balls of gaz are not what stars are, only what they are made of'?"

"Yes, so? He did not say the sun was not one of them?"

"OK, but if there are guys like Ramandu and Coriakin around the stars in this universe, how can we know alpha Centauri is not dancing the so-called parallax?"

"Go on ..." said Eustace.

I asked them to wait and explain what parallax was.

"All right, Lu: I guess you know that trees and hills look like they are moving when we move in trains and boats?"

"Of course."

"So, if the Professor was correct, Robert Bellarmine predicted that stars would look like they were moving if it was earth moving around."

"But stars do look like moving. Each winter night you can see Orion wander as the arm of a watch. You can even measure an hour by seeing if the distance is fifteen degrees, and you get fifteen degrees by stretching out your arm and measuring between thumb and finger. And on the year, the constellations are moving."

"Neither of them is exactly what we look for. Orion moving each night is simply the daily rotation of earth or supposed to be so, unless it is the Universe that rotates."

"Wait a minute!" said Eustace "the Universe can't do that, because it would be way too fast."

"Oh, and what if God moved it around each day?" said Edmund.

"Aslan, you mean?"

"In this world He is known as Jesus."

"And is he God? I thought he was Son of God?"

"We can take catechism another day, I'll send you one."

"So, you want a proof there is an orbit of Earth around Sun rather than the opposite?" resumed Eustace: "But alpha Centauri proves that. As you say, when we move through space each year, it looks like alpha Centauri is moving."

"Wait," I said: "I have never seen alpha Centauri ... where can I see it and what can I compare it to to make sure it actually moves?"

"It is a a very bright star in Centaurus, a bit south of the Libra in the Zodiak, but you cannot see it waggle, because it waggles so little that you need a telescope to see it waggle."

"So you mean it could be waggling because some Ramandu or Coriakin kind of person is dancing with it?"

"Could be," said Edmund.

I answered: "And then we'd have no proof after all that Galileo was right! How come he didn't think of it? In his days people were more prone to believe in spirits than now, after all!"

"He did not even see alpha Centauri waggle. And Robert Bellarmine pointed out the principle and he admitted he had no telescopes for it. Besides, in his day they thought all real stars were fixed in places in the sky, and so, if they had been really fixed, the waggling of alpha Centauri would have proven it was us moving."

"Like the trees that seem to move prove that the train is moving."

"Sure, so long as there are no dryads to move the trees."

"And, just as in a rare moment dryads moving about trees would seem to prove the train is moving, but not really prove it, any kind of star people who moved the stars about would seem to people thinking the stars fixed to be proving earth moves about. Right?" I waited for Edmund to confirm.

"Except, with the stars we do not know that such small waggling is even rare moments. We actually know the opposite: many stars show some waggling and some also move about over the years a bit."

"So if Eustace here had been right to say ..."

And our cousin chimed in: "stars are just big burning balls of gas" ...

"... then the waggling would have proven we move."

Couz answered: "And distance of the stars on top of it. Trigonometry."

"But if persons like Ramandu and Coriakin exist ..."

"We get neither a clear proof the earth moves, nor a clear indication of how far away the stars are."

I just wanted to ask what the distance and the waggling angle was, anyway, but I had to find that out later: 360° to a circle, 60' to each 1°, 60" to each 1' and 0.76" is the waggling angle. Supposed to prove, along with eight minute journey of light from sun to us, that we are four light years from alpha Centauri. But now Peter had something to say:

"But this is rot. Believing the stars are spirits is what the old pagans believed. It is idolatry. Aslan would not want us to commit idolatry, would he?"

I answered: "And talking with dryads is less of idolatry?"

"Well, we did not adore them, did we?"

"No, but we did not adore Ramandu either."

There was a silence.

A Glass of Cremisan with the Priest

In Holy Mass, wine is used. But, especially in the Latin rite back then, hardly a whole bottle at a time. Only the priest communicates in the species of wine, and he is not supposed to get drunk on it. So, sometimes a priest has to finish a bottle over the table which he began using for the Eucharist. To share the mass wine is considered a great honour, and Susan was invited over a glass with the priest and his housekeeper - an aunt of his. It was Cremisan - the wine from a Salesian monastery close to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. And, as Israel had already been voted into existance a few years ago in United Nations, Cremisan Vinyards as sooner or later menaced by Jewish settlers came into the conversation.

"But cannot one at least understand them? I mean, according to the Bible it is their land!"

"Is it?"

"God gave the land to Abraham and his descendants for ever."

"Christ is the seed of Abraham."

"Well, but Jews lived here till after the Destruction of Jerusalem. Then the Romans came, then the Arabs with Islam."

"And we Christian Arabs, where do we come from?"

She was just going to say "with the Arabs" when she recalled that Muslims hardly tolerated even individual conversions to Christianity, still less the defection of a whole countryside or half of it.

"Weren't you Arabs in part converted by the Crusaders?"

"We were here before the Crusaders, guess again."

"Did the Arabs from Arabia bring along Christians in their troops?"


"So, you are Romans ..."

"In a sense, yes."

"And after year Seventy you came here and took the land of the Jews, right?"

"In a sense, yes."

"Why do you keep saying 'in a sense'? You weren't here before year seventy, were you?"

"We left shortly before, as the Lord had commanded us. We fled when the Roman troops came."

"Wait ... that is what happened to the Church of Jerusalem!"

"We lived here in the time of David. We were known as Israelites and the tribe of Judah back then. We accepted Jesus as the true Christ, the promised Messiah, when St Peter preached to us. And when Titus arrived, we fled to Pella. There we founded the Church in Jordania. After the destruction of Jerusalem, we who had not been part of the rising, came back and we were known as Romans. So was St Paul - as nomadic a tentmaker as you could wish for. And we remained speakers of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. It is pretty close to Arabic, so I suppose it was no harder for us to learn Arabic under Omar - and some of us were forced to become Muslims - than it was for Scots from the Lowlands to learn English under industrialism. Aramaic as well as Latin are our liturgic languages, but Arabic our daily language."

"So Palestinians are really Christian Jews?"

"We say Galileans, rather than Jews, because, first of all, it was not just Jews, but Jews, Samarians and Galileans, second, Jews and Samarians had been used as names for rivalling factions the last thousand years of the Old Testament. But third and most important: Christ was called a Galilean."

"Why do Jews not recognise you then?"

"They decided in Jamnia not to recognise Christians as Israelites."

"Oh, I did not know that ... sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry for, most English do not know that. And it is Christmas, not a Season for sorrow, even if one is worried. Let us thank God for the good cheer as long as it lasts!" said the priest with a defiant smile.

And Susan could not help thinking of Father Christmas, back in Narnia.

"Let us do that!" she said and they lifted their glasses.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Susan reads Lucy's essay on Astronomy

You may think Lucy was stupid to write essays on Narnian topics. But she did not write them in the English alphabet. Which is really the Latin alphabet with a few extra letters. Nor in Greek or Russian alphabets. Nor in Arabic or Hebrew letters. Not in any cuneiform or hieroglyphics either. She had spoken to a man called Mr. Tolkien and he knew a thing or two about writing. He had also invented alphabets - unless he had found them somewhere in Elfland. We are talking about a writing called tengwar.

Her mother had seen her notebook, and laughed.

"If you cannot show your own parents what you write about, I won't spy on you!"

"Thank you, ma! I am sorry I cannot right now. Hope there will be a time for it though"

Now she was buried on the graveyard. Like the other six: Peter and Edmund. Eustace and Jill. Mr Kirke and Miss Plumber.

Susan felt it was time to open the notebook.

Am I worthy? she wondered. Well, even if I am not, I hope she would have wanted it.

She had tried to get used to the tengwar by reading an extra booklet, with the tables (tengwar do not go in a row, but in tables of rows and columns: p, b, f, v, m, w are a column, t, p, ch, k are a row) where also the Glory, the Creed, Our Father, the Hail Mary (yes, Lucy was clearly Catholic) and a few nursery rhymes like "Mary Had a Little Lamb" were noted. If you think she could have read the cover on the books by Tolkien, that is not the case, they had not appeared yet.

Now she was in for it: and yes, there was an index page at the back of the notebook:

  • 1) Ramandu and Galileo
  • 2) Aslan and the Eucharist
  • 3) What do they teach them in these schools? (Thank God we abolished the Witch's law about enforced attendance!)
  • 4) ...
  • 5) ...

She was in for Aslan and the Eucharist, but waited till another time when she would be more devout. She took Ramandu and Galileo. It must be about stars, somehow, she said to herself as she started reading. And here followeth Lucy Pevensie's essay on Ramandu and Galileo.

And Friedman looked for Su in the wrong office ...

"Excuse me, I might be coming in the wrong moment" said Friedman as he saw Tolkien dressing up in some odd attire which he presumed to be historic.

"Hwæt sigestu?" he asked. He was right tightening his belt.

"Wait - you do speak English right?"

"Ic spræce Merce. Ald Merce." Both shoes on. He started tying the lacets around the right leg.

"Are you pulling my leg? We have no time for joking! There is a psychotic young lady around, and she may be dangerous for someone. Herself at least.

"On Isengearde help seggeþ wræcing ond frendescæp seggeþ þraldom!" he sighed to himself, as he finished the lacet around the left.

"Ok, what are you up to?"

"Helm eac ic ceas" he said as coolly as a cucumber as he took one Anglosaxon Helmet and quickly fastened it under the chin.

"I am not sure I was looking for the right person!" said the the poor shrink, as he growled at the odder and odder spectacle. Meanwhile Tolkien had taken a shield.

"Hwæt sigestu?" he asked blithely as he took the battle-axe.

"You are mad! You belong in a mental hospital!"

"Ga þe ut! Nu!" shouted Tolkien and started swinging the battle-axe.

The man ran. He turned as whitish grey as whey and fled. Tolkien ran after. He got out of the office. Tolkien ran after with the battle-axe. He got out into the yard. Tolkien ran after. And everyone was laughing. Friedman somehow missed the point of the mirth. He just ran. Tolkien ran after, swinging the battle-axe.

"Ut of ure hahscole!" Tolkien bellowed.

Friedman ran out of the porch. He stopped to pant, but Tolkien was behind him. The axe swung down just five inches from his arm. So he ran again. Down the street and Tolkien after. At last Tolkien got a little behind, but Friedman took no risk. He ran. He had not run as much since ... well, he had been chased by bullies on a schoolday. But this was somehow worse. He enjoyed cutting brains but when it came to spilling his own ... he was not quite delighted. He got into a side street. Tolkien stood still, laughing heartily.

Poetry - Poësie - Gedichte - et c.

With lights and loud music
Dúnadan's Vigil
Luddite's Lament
In Burgos
The Pilgrim's Padreen
My enemies etc.
Tylko zdrugimi (This is not a drinking song)/Silny pront w Rodanie
On Rail Putters and Preacher Men
The Railroad Worker and His Descendants
Both these written on a hypothesis I still suspect that "rale" comes from "râler" rather than from "railler" and is therefore distinct in spelling from "rail"="les rails".
The therapeutic heresy in penal law and administration
Oh the Sunshine on the dewdrops ...
And His Word Went Marching On
To a Russian Young Lady
Les ondes sur la plage
Mon fils encore non conçu (trois strophes de sarcasme, une strophe de palinodie)
Sponsorez mes vacances d'été, s'il vous plaît ...
Si Dieu reprend mon âme demain
Chants de Salon (collection, un en Espagnol)
Penser n'est pas tristesse
À trois connaissances très musicales
Clarté éternelle donne à cil
On ne peut pas interdire ...
Et tout le blog - dont deux poëmes ont occasionné de le classer comme contenu adulte - HGL - haiku
Sinngedichte - Sammlung.
Fjortis Bröllop
När ska' psyket släppa morsan?
Vadhelst på denna jord du mött
Kort är vårt liv
Hvordan er det nu der arkæologer updager hvordan de levet under stenalderen?
I curuniri vogliono mutare
Corona Galaeciae

Story-telling - Racontars

Chronicle of Susan Pevensie - story of several completed chapters.
Conversations in a Scottish Krak
Google the hamster
Beaubourg, près d'un collège, 2050, si le monde durera?
Yvetotiade, intro
En Italiano:
Una Storia che dovrebbero avuto scritta nel anno 1968

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Helpers of the Holy Souls

The rest of the day she devoted to finding out as much about Lucia da Narnia as possible. She came across Lady Georgiana Fullerton's little work about her*. It lay open in the Cathedral on the tomb of St Lucy. It was part of her work The Life of Saint Frances of Rome, of Blessed Lucy of Narni, of Dominica of Paradiso, and of Anne de Montmorency but of course opened on the page of St Lucy.

Reading this was not without a pang of guilt for Susan:

Blessed Lucy was about twenty-nine years of age. The honour in which she was held, and the public celebrity she enjoyed, were a continual source of sorrow and humiliation to her; and with the desire to escape from something of the popular applause which followed her, she ceased not earnestly to implore her Divine Spouse to remove from her the visible marks of the sacred stigmata, which were the chief cause of the veneration which was paid her by the world. Her request was in part granted, the wounds in her hands and feet closed; but that of the side, which was concealed from the eyes of others, remained open to the hour of her death. Whether the withdrawal of these visible tokens of the Divine favour was the cause of the change in the sentiments of her subjects, we are not told; but we find shortly after, that some among them, disgusted at her refusal to allow the community to become incorporated with the second order, rose in rebellion, and even attempted her life. The scandal of this crime was concealed through the exertions of Lucy herself; but on the death of her great protector, Duke Hercules, in 1505, the discontented members of the community recommenced their plots against her authority and reputation. Then - designs were laid with consummate art; and at length they publicly accused her of having been seen in her cell endeavouring to re-open the wounds of her hands and feet with a knife, in order to impose on the public. Their evidence was so ably concocted, that they succeeded in gaining over the heads of the order to their side.

Hasty and violent measures were at once adopted; every apostolic privilege granted by Pope Alexander was revoked; she was degraded from her office of prioress, deprived of every right and voice in the community, and placed below the youngest novice in the house. She was, moreover, forbidden to speak to any one except the confessor, kept in a strict imprisonment, and treated in every way as if proved guilty of an infamous imposture. Nor was this disgrace confined within the enclosure of her own monastery; it spread as far as her reputation had extended. All Italy was moved with a transport of indignation against her; the storm of invective which was raised reached her even in her prison; her name became a proverb of reproach through Europe; and the nuns who had been professed at her hands made their professions over again to the new prioress, as if their vows formerly made to her had been invalid.

One can hardly picture a state of desolation equal to that in which Blessed Lucy now found herself. It was as if this token of deep abjection and humiliation were required as a confirmation of her saintliness. If any such proof were indeed needed, it was furnished by the conduct which she exhibited under this extraordinary trial. During the whole remaining period of her life, a space of eight-and-thirty years, she bore her heavy cross without a murmur. Perhaps its hardest suffering was, to live thus among those whom she had gathered, together with her own hands, and had sought to lead to the highest paths of religion, compelled now to be a silent witness of their wickedness. Her life was a long prayer for her persecutors, and we are assured that no sorrow or regret ever seemed to shadow the deep tranquillity of her soul. So far as it touched herself, she took it as a more precious token of her Spouse's love than all the graces and favours He had ever heaped on her before. But it is no part of saintliness to be indifferent to the sins of others; and we can scarcely fathom the anguish which must hourly have pierced her heart, at the ingratitude and malignity of her unworthy children.

"Wonder what Lu ..." she started. Should she admit or not? She tried to get to the priest who had preached, but he was not around. And after all: she had lied, but she had not called her sister names of outrage or treated her as an outcast. She had caused her trouble, but not quite as much trouble as all that. But maybe it would have been even worse, if she had not died in the railway accident. Poor Lu ... or poor herself. She was afraid of admitting to anyone what had happened. And it was getting harder and harder not to admit - without lying again.

When she got back to the inn, she asked the landlady about Lady Georgiana Fullerton.

"A very devout woman - after her Catholic Conversion - and who knew how to write. Apart from her book about a few saints including our Lucia, Lucy as she called her in English, there is also the novel 'Helpers of the Holy Souls' - I have an example for you, if you like."

"Indeed, I would be very grateful. Do you have a separate text on St Lucy too? After all it is her city."

"We do, I will give it as part of the belated Christmas present. It will all be packed into your luggage before getting home. Down here Christmas presents are often brought by the three Magi, so opening it back in England will not be a bad idea."

by Lady Georgiana Fullerton

St John's Feast in Narnia

Ad ostendendam quandam veritatem

On december 27, Tuesday, Susan was still in Narni.

She went to the mass, and a sermon was spoken on the subject.

It was a sermon on St John the Gospeller. He had under Domitian been martyred by boiling in oil, and when that miraculously failed to kill him, he was exiled on Patmos. There he had the visions known as the Apocalypse. Emperor Nerva "who was from this very city, which back then was called Narnia" released him from the exile. He became bishop of Ephesus, where he wrote his Gospel because the three Gospels already written were being abusively interpreted by Ebionites (there were still a few around, they claimed to be Jews and Christians at one and same time although this was when the Rabbinic Synod of Jamnia - the priest pronounced it Giamnia in Italian - had excommunicated from the "people of Israel" or "Church of Israel" - Church really means people or people's assembly - everyone who wanted to be a Christian). Then he went on to speak about the Apocalypse a bit closer:

There are people who say that visions are part of nature, like dreams. Always, like dreams are always part of nature too. Visions would be part of human nature when challenged by great fatigue and other kinds of exhaustion. Just as dreams are part of human nature when sleeping or at least when sleeping certain periods of the night. But this is not true. Even for dreams it is not true, since dreams have been given inerring messages from God, like the dreams of Pharao or of Nebuchadnezzar, which Joseph and Daniel interpreted. So even for dreams this is not true, but still less of the vision of St John. This is reducing the vision of St John to a traumatic reflex, which it was not.

At least it was not only that, although after being boiled in oil, he had reason to be traumatised in body and soul. But if we believe he was boiled in oil and survived by miracle, we believe also that he was spared traumatism and that his visions were a gift of God, that they were without any error. Now, we also do not know whether he was taken in body to another world created by God for that purpose or to another dimension of this world, where his visions were physical reality, or whether only his mind was given the vision. But there are indications his body was or might have been concerned too.

Like when he tried to bow down to an angel - and since he was a priest the angel recognised him as a superior and refused to recieve his honour, as I already said on Corpus Christi a few months ago. Whether it was the one or the other, we know that it was for the showing forth of certain truths. Receiving a vision is not utilitarian as it is utilitarian to see the toasted bread you want to eat or the fire you do not put your hand in. But it is not a pathology, or not always, and in this case it was a rare gift of God.

You may guess who was listening extra intently in the benches to these words.

The priest went on to cite Sister Lucy from Narnia whose relics had been transferred to Narni in 1935. She was visited by another saint through bilocation, while isolated in a cell on penance - during 39 years, from 1505 to 1544. Also San Simeone della Colonna - "Stilita" in Greek - visited or was visited by Santa Genoveva di Parigi, and San Francesco di Assisi (Saint Francis of Assisi, thought Susan, quite correctly) and Santa Chiara (Saint Clare, whoever that was, equally correctly) met through heavenly intervention.

But this is supposed to remind us - said the priest - of the Eucharist. So does another miracle of St John: when he lay down in the grave he had digged for himself, on the day His Lord - who is in fact Our Lord - had told him so, there shone a light through all the room, and when it passed, the grave did not contain his body, but manna, the nourishing substance which during the Old Testament had prefigured the Eucharist.

And he set forth, after mass, the Sacrament, and it was adored. And Susan whispered: "Is that you, Aslan?" and somewhere in her heart, she heard a clear yes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Susan's dreams become a book

She dreamt of a place, she knew it was in Narnia. A waterfall. A pool where the water falling down bubbled as a boiling cauldron. Two friends, or rather a master and a slave, a monkey and a donkey. A lion skin floating down ... "NO!"

How horrible! She knew the ape was going to force the poor donkey to take the lion skin on and pretend to be Aslan. How horrible! She made a prayer for the poor donkey, then slept again.

And she dreamt of a King of Narnia imprisoned by the monkey, and all animals telling him they could not release him because "Aslan" - they meant the poor donkey in the stable dressed up as such in the lion skin - had ordered him to be shut up. He wanted Susan's horn - as Rilian had when she dreamt of him - and called out to Aslan.

I suppose you have already read The Last Battle - if not, you should do it. It was she who wrote down dream after dream, month after month. Not everything in neat order, the next dream was a actually "a good night's work" in the book, but she sorted the dreams into a readable order afterwards. She sent it to C. S. Lewis - or Jack as he was now known as to her. And she got a letter:

Dear Susan!

This means Narnia is ended. But what about you? You know, where the Seven Friends tell Tirian you are no longer a friend of Narnia? We see none meeting you in Aslan's country. Besides, that is not how I know you at all.

And a letter arrived in the Kilns:

Dear Jack!

I heard that reproach by Polly in a dream long ago, just after we met. And it pretty well describes my habits back then.

But if I am lost, I am lost, God's will be done. I am glad for those who were not. I would not want to put in an extra scene with me saved, that would be a bit like Shift's ruse.

4th of September 1956, she was not at Blackwell's waiting to see the sales. She was not buying the book, either, Jack had sent her a copy. As usual.

In the evening made a prayer about everyone being happy "but have you forgot me?"

A lion roared - it was Metro Goldwyn Meyer on the television set, which she had forgotten to turn off. She went to do it, and saw a Bible open.

"Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee."

She sobbed "thank you" and dried a tear as she turned the television set off. She never turned it on again, and next Christmas it found another owner. For her own part, she thought no news on it could ever equal that moment.

And she dreamt that night, but the dream is not in The Last Battle, because the book was already printed.

"What a shame! Queen Susan the Gentle no longer a friend of Narnia! Could one not ask Aslan for her?"

And the Seven friends started laughing! "We forgot we are well seated to be heard, now, how silly of us!"

"It would be evil not to ask that, since, if my family tradition speaks true, she was praying for my ancestor Rilian's escape. Where is Aslan, by the way?"

They started running again, and they found him resting with a bishop in his lap.

He nudged him and the bishop stood up.

"Bishop Stephen of Paris!"

"Yes, good Lord!"

"Tell them when you allowed me to create Narnia!"

"You needed no allowing, my Lord!"

"Have you forgotten the Deep Magic from the dawn of glory: whatever you bind on earth is bound for me, whatever you loosen on earth is loosened for me?"

"Excepting errors on particular persons on our part, no, I have not quite forgotten, my Lord."

"Thirty fourth proposition, please!"

"God could not create other worlds than this one."

Tirian and the Seven Friends marvelled at such stupidity!

"What did you do with it?"

"I condemned it!"

"Did you condemn anything more?"

"There were 219 propositions of such nonsense, my Lord, and I condemned every bit of it."

"Well done, son of Adam, well done successor of the Twelve! Once a bishop, always a bishop of my Church!"

"Barring treason, of course."

"Speaking of treason, Edmund ..."

"Yes my Lord!"

"Did anyone bettray you in England?"

"Yes, Susan said things to a psychiatrist, so we needed to die in the train to be saved from evil and hurtful slavery."

"Did she do more?"

"She denied what she had seen with her eyes and made us look like fools if ever we would have tried to talk to other people of Narnia."

"Have you forgiven her?"

"How could I not? It was she who asked you to make the sacrifice for me!"

"Do you wish me to forgive her?"

Nine mouths said "yes" in unison.

"I will send her a dream ..."

And they watched as she had been dreaming about Prince Rilian and King Rilian came along. And they watched as Lucy's boat "Mary" became a new Splendour Hyaline for Susan. "Oh I remember the Hail Mary's I prayed for Su after painting that boat's name."

"Mary, what a delightful name! Who is that?" asked Tirian.

"Son of Adam, can you believe I was a lion cub?"

"Not in Narnia. But maybe somewhere before?"

And they were suddenly watching a stable from the sky, a stable which was also a cave.

And then Aslan appeared as Child Jesus in the arms of His Blessed Mother. And then as the Lion again.

"The Telmarines who left Narnia in King Caspian's Coronation feast chose a very good thing to get back - if that is how you are known there."

"They did indeed."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chronicle of Susan Pevensie

Based on Susan Pevensie and other characters from the Seven Chronicles of Narnia, and on characters from Enid Blyton, G. K Chesterton, Sir A. Conan Doyle and some of my own, not to mention hitherto unknown episodes in the lives of some historic people, including C. S. Lewis who is generally held to have written the Seven Chronicles of Narnia.

I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not any more than C. S. Lewis claiming the Narnia stories really happened, I am rather treating them, like he, like Dante treated a fictitious journey during his lifetime through the abodes of souls - Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. As an occasion while story telling, to teach truth about some things, both higher and lower ones. Both such every Christian is bound to believe and beliefs the author cherishes (like psychiatry being bosh, like Experiment House being bosh, like that Emperor being in Heaven and that Pope not).

Oh, one more thing. A certain Audoin Errol is getting into more and more of my chapters, so it is high time I admit my debt to an unfinished novel by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, called The Lost Road, and the extant chapters of that one are to be found in a volume of the same name published by his son Christopher.

Least I forget later, overmore, I often rely on wikipedia. It allowed me to verify the gardener and factotum at the Kilns - the one that is the original for Puddleglum - was named Paxford and neither Baxter nor Paxton. It allowed me to verify which year Joy Davidman entered CSL's life. And earlier it helped me to discover what date was what weekday in which of the years.

In order to read the chapters in the right order, click first one, then read it from top to bottom. Then, once you are down, click the link to the next chapter in the comments, as far as you like and as far as the continuity reaches. Then, click "back to list of extant chapters" - i e back here. Whenever you feel like it resume reading from first unread chapter there. Chapters are being inserted between those not yet linked.

Letter to Douglas Gresham
Can Any Sane Man Attack C. S. Lewis?
To Reader of my Susan Pevensie Chronicle (or my Essays) on How to Read my Linked Messages/Chapters
See also Copyright issues on blogposts with shared copyright

Prologue to Chronicle on Susan Pevensie : Chiefly on Fan Fiction

Extant chapters:

Susan has a bad fright.
Who told Susan: introducing Revd. Jinx
Splendour Hyaline - again
Off to Sevenoaks.
The Car Ride to Sevenoaks was a Flashback
What about the train to Bristol?
Another Kind of Necklace of Beads
Four Bad Men Discussing Susan
And There Were Other Mourners
Recognising Spivvins
Small Talk in an Evil Lodge
Spivvins' the Cab Driver's Resurrection (nearly)
Nathan Coon and Spivvins
How Susan met Rose E. Pole
Getting On with the Burial
Reverend Pewsey's Last Sermon
Explanations of a Practical Nature
A Letter from Remorseful Father of a Son Gone Bad
Forgiveness Is Serious Stuff
Two Words with the Gardener
The Planting of a Tree
St John's Feast in Narnia
Helpers of the Holy Souls
Taking up residence.
Good Old George (and don't you ever call her Georgina!)
Susan reads her story again
Not Nice, Once you Get to Know him - the Principal, that is
[An Author's Aside]
Susan reads Lucy's essay on Astronomy
Ramandu and Galileo, part 1
Ramandu and Galileo, part 2

And Su Called George About It ...
... Who Would Not Eliminate the Possibility Prematurely
Susan's Teacher Talk
"What are you going to do about it?"
Some Arrows and Some Bullets Whistle Keenly
An Interview with the Shrink
Decisio Medici
A View on Apple Trees
And How was Mental Hospital?
Macready and Tea
Susan Gets an Inkling About the Inklings
And Friedman looked for Su in the wrong office ...
Jack and Tollers discuss pipeweed
Escape from Merton College
A Car Ride With Roy Campbell
Susan Goes Short Haired for a While
Spivvins Needs a Lesson - they said
Meanwhile, What about Rose?
Rose meets Bobby
George, Meet George!
Forgiveness Has Its Sides
A Centaur and Some Egyptologists
The Unhappy Jew
Where Aslan was a Lion Cub.
A Glass of Cremisan with the Priest
Sorcery Worketh Not
Speaking to Dr Watson
Father Brown's Last Bow, part 1
Father Brown's Last Bow, Part 2
Spivvins' Other Secret
Spivvins is unhappy
Preparing the Defense
In Defense of the Spivvinses
The Archers Do Their Work.
Who is Getting In?
Nobby's Daring
Ann's Wake
The Idol and the Spell
The Exorcism.
Simon and George Catechumens
Tea yes, Tilak no
Susan is Free, So are the Policemen
Mr Errol Proposes
In a Fairy Mound?
So What are Fairies?
More Theories of Fairies
Talking of Elveness were Audoin and Su
A Talk about Tolkien
Barrister Popplewell's pleading for Susan Pevensie
Wedding in Cornwall
A Visit from The Kilns
Susan's dreams become a book
Some Final Words to the Readers Here

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Splendour Hyaline - again

Ad ostendendam quandam veritatem ...

She remembered that event, a bright Indian Summers day a few weeks before the train accident. She was living in Oxford for a while back then. Another of these young men - not the one who envied the Dresden bomber, but another one - not quite the soldier he claimed to have been, or maybe that was precisely what he was, was saying he wanted to celebrate a battle memory.

Sure, she agreed.

They talked about this, they talked about that. They talked about an outing, and as he had wine and food and as she had a boat - a whitehall rowboat, actually, a gift by Lucy, who had called it Mary in the last minute - painted all white except the seats, oars and railing that were dark oak, three seats, a back seat, two oars, a painted name "Mary", which Lucy put there the day she gave it as a gift to her sister - they stepped in, took an oar each, rowed along the Cherwell upriver (it is better to row upriver while one is still fresh and downriver when one is tired), found an island.

So they landed on a lonely island. They started doing a fire on the ground. Potato salad was ripe for eating already, but they preferred waiting till they had sausages ready too. They put them on branches as boy scouts and girl guides do, and held the branches over the fire.

Some apples were ripe too. "Shall we take some roasted apple?"

"No thanks. I have tried them without sugar, that is not very good" - but she had never done that in England. The only memory that was there of it was Narnia, at that return to Cair Paravel, when they found the courtyard in ruins.

She had no time to think of it, because he was telling her a wonderful story from the war - made up or not, but it was great.

She got surprised when he claimed to have, on another occasion received the capitulation of some German soldiers walking up the fog.

Hey, wait a minute! That is what C S Lewis did back in WW-I!

- "I have been told that story by someone else, whom I know better and trust more."

- "Oh? Things like that do occur. Even if it is not often."

- "Shall we open the second bottle of wine?"

- "Do you really want to? I mean, the mood is so rich, we are so nice together, we can do without wine, for now!"

- "No, lemonade is finished."

- "So we can watch the sunset. We can watch the new moon rising."

- "Let's."

She had a funny feeling about standing close to him, and was beginning to suspect his motives. But she did not want to hurt him. He put his arm around her waist, she pushed it off.

- "Hey, everybody loves me baby! What is the matter with you?"

He said it as a joke, but it reminded her of a man in a turban who had tried to stop her return from Tashbaan.

- "I do not."

He looked at her.

- "Well, I am feeling lonely - darling!"

She heard a snarl in the R of darling.

- "And I am feeling in too much company."

Somehow this made him mad. She might have had a reputation of being loser than she was. Back then. Or he might have been periodically loosing his mind. Or he might have been without a girl for a time and getting impatient.

He lunged at her to pull her down. She drew out her whistle of the pocket and blew it loud. He was surprised, let her go to look around, and ... this was the chance she needed. She pushed her long nails onto his eyes, to make him recoil further, then slid out from under him, then kicked him where it hurts as well as cools down, and on top of that took an oar and hit him on the head.

She jumped, frightened at last as a stag, into the boat with the oar, it glode out of land, he was cursing as he rose, she took both oars, never mind the boat was rocking, and rowed away, while he staggered and fell.

She was so relieved she felt like crying.

- "Dear old splendour hyaline," she said as she felt like caressing the boat. It was to her that wonderful ship which had taken her out of Rabadash's clutches - found again. When she took land, far enough off the island, she did caress it.. She lay down in it and cried. And when she had cried enough, she rose out of the boat and looked again and really saw the name Mary. She felt like a bit of a joke and said in thankfulness but not without humour a verse she made up on the spot:

Hail thee Mary, full of grace:
was Aslan ever with thee?

And, as she was no Catholic, she did not quite know what a tremendous prayer she had touched on, but as she looked and remembered calling her (sailors always call boats "she") Splendour Hyaline, and as she remembered that Hyaline means "of glass", she recalled a comment between a Jew and a Christian in which the former said he did not believe the Virgin Birth, at least childbirth would have made Her no longer a virgin while the latter replied: Light doeth not break the Glass. Splendour Hyaline indeed!

Lucy had bought home a Madonna which she had on the wall. Wonder if she would have time to tell her this before the voyage? The trouble of being adults and having work is you have less time seing friends and family.

Yes, the Lion was once "with thee" - but what about calling Child Jesus a lion cub?

Someone had heard the whistle, he came blustering about: "can I help you Miss?"

- "Indeed, do keep me some company while that man over on that island is not too far away!"

- "Will do. Was he being rude?"

- "The least you could say was rude, yes."

- "Come in for a tea, will you?" His cheeks were ruddy, his face was roundish, he was not very tall, in his early fifties. As she looked around she saw they were standing next to a College. It was in fact Magdalen College.

And that is how she met Clive Staples Lewis. If she had had any kind of misgiving about his intentions, they vanished as she saw they were not alone. Tea was plentyful, so were scones and butter. Later the evening she found out that this was the man that had taken German's captive while they were just capitulating coming out of a fog. He had told Edmund and Lucy the story while they were talking to him (about their Voyage to the Sunrise of Narnia, though he did not dare tell Susan that).

Where Aslan was a Lion Cub.

Ad ostendendam quandam veritatem

Now, she was thinking of the "lion cub". Was Aslan ever a lion cub?

But the car passed along the road sign Bethlehem, and she said: "yes he was, by the Lion's mane!"

She started driving like mad to that village where Salvation was born. Her heart was back in where she had met him again after watching the sacrifice at the stone table. Met him alive, whom she thought dead.

Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, oh come ye oh come ye to Bethlehem ... she was just a little late for mass in a Church and she was crying and sobbing and laughing and smiling. She stopped the car, jumped off, never worry, people were still entering. Palestinians as well as pilgrims.

Susan reads her story again

About a year after the rail way accident, rather less than more, Susan had a shock.

In the letterbox, there was a letter from the Kilns. I will quote only extracts from his letter and her letter back.

I have a problem. I have just been reading through some papers that Professor Kirke left behind. Among them, he seems to have noted down what you told him back in 1940. That is Peter, you, Edmund and Lucy. To me it seems very strange, as if you had been taken to another world or time, to a place called Narnia - unless you were making it up together. And he seems to have believed you did not. Now there is only one survivor among you, and that is you. Do you mind if I publish the story?

She took a breath. Professor Kirke's attitude was always one of the things she tried to forget, one of the things that made it harder than usual to say "it was just a game" - so, although he had been very gentle, reminding her of him was not so gentle.

We played a game. He might have been going dotty by then, or ... I don't know: anyway, if you want to publish it, I see no real problem. None of them can be taken to madhouses anymore, since, you know, since Professor Kirke was one of them, they died last year. In fact I see some real beauties in what we made up, so, if you like, it may be a reminder of my brother and sisters.

You may think I am going dotty because I speak of being taken to madhouses, but the fact is my brothers and sister came to believe it was real - as Professor Kirke did that once. But that must have been to humour them. Anyway, I am not afraid for myself, and the others have no longer any fears to face. If you are not afraid, it is not for me to stop your taking risks.

As a favour, would you mind giving the art work to Pauline Baynes? Edmund and Lucy so loved Farmer Giles of Ham, by your friend Tolkien, and her illustrations.

16 October she was at the line for books, and there it was, everyone reading. She had got an example herself in advance, but not opened it yet, just enjoyed the grey dustcover with a faun and an umbrella - Tumnus - on the spine, herself and Lucy riding on Aslan's back on the front, illustrations slightly coloured from black and whites, cream coloured backgrounds standing out as white from the grey, and two fauns clinging on to trees waving in the wind as Aslan flew by. Pauline Baynes hadn't disappointed her, but she hadn't dared actually open the book yet. She was watching the buyers. She was watching those who read with no little dread. Would they laugh out loud? That about not being afraid for herself was a lie. Would she go off a hook again and holler about "I won two battles at Beruna" and get into real trouble?

No. No-one she saw laughed as if reading a farce. Noone set out to call the author mad. And noone - thank God or Aslan or whatever there was to thank - had been speaking a word about searching for her or anyone else in the books. They seemed to think it was all a children's book, made up stuff. Now she would go home and see if she liked it as much as she had when she had been into it.

She went home to her apartment, having asked her boss for a day off. Kettle of tea? Done. Bread? Up from the bag, just cut it into perfect slices, rather thick than thin. Honey? She had been sent some from the country. Cake with icing? She made it yesterday. She had always been good at baking, but the time of grief had perfected her in it. Something different? Tumnus had not made pancakes, so she made those too yesterday. Now there would be pancakes and jam. How many times had Lucy been asking for the tea party of Tumnus, and how many times had they done it with one thing more or less or otherwise different. Back in those days.

Well, she had recommended it to the writer for beauty. Now she would see if it was beautiful. A sip of steaming hot, strong tea. Grammophone on for music. Open the book. She started, and she could not stop reading. Tea was cold in the cup - though she had taken a few sips while reading - before she could stop enough from reading to finish it in a very long draught. By then she was where she had accepted Narnia. She had passed through the wardrobe. She was reading how she upbraided Edmund. And it struck her, that after leaving Narnia, she had been doing a bit of the same thing that back then she accused Edmund of doing.

"Even a traitor may mend, I know one who did."

No, that is not in the book she was reading, that is in another book, which had not yet been written and published. But she could not help but recall the occasion. Archenland. Edmund talking about Rabadash. She made a decision: if among the papers of the late Professor Kirke that Clive Staples Lewis found a coherent account of the Calormene adventure, she would believe. Oh, no. That is not a test. Because it was I who told him. Well, if I told him, was it because I had seen it? Well, just push it off. Make it a better test: if there is any hint about her own Narnian dreams, she will believe again. But actually she was no longer in doubt.

I guess you know what happened in less than three years. We will have a peep forward to that date:

September 7th, 1953, she was a lot calmer before the bookshop. But she was not calm at all about opening the book. From the moment she set eyes on the jade coloured dust jacket with Puddleglum on the spine and the chair empty on the front, as Rilian would have seen it while being led there, and the black and white made some etching-like scratches on the chair making it look like the metal it was. It was the first story she knew nothing about. And yet she knew it. Yes, Rilian was exactly that prince she had seen in the dream. The one she had prayed for, if there was a God, anywhere able to hear it.

She cried loads of handkerchiefs wet. She did not touch the chocolate, nor eat, until the book was finished.

"So you heard my prayers, after all? You do exist?"

But whether she had concluded so before or not after trying to forget about the grace of Narni, is a more immediate matter. So let us get back to 1950.

Susan has a bad fright.

Ad ostendendam quandam veritatem ...

In one of the golden happy years after beating Hitler when party was the rule of the day, when soldiers not yet married were party lions, and boys too young to have fought might say how much they admired their older brother (but unfortunately for the ladies that elder brother was already married) or even lie and pretend to have been fighting in the war, Susan Pevensie was at a party.

Some may remember these years as anything but "party was the rule of the day", but note I was speaking of bachelors and unwed maidens. Note also, rationing can be used so that you save up rations for a party. In that case, in theory party was the rule of the day 30 to 31 days a month except February, and the 25 to 28 days in practise without party were preparations for parties, for these folks. Susan was both unwed and very expert at rehashing canned meat and other rationing goods to make a real feast of them. While the qualification to get to a party was often to agree with some friends to save rations, she was while note quite catering, still part of preparing the party in more than one such circle. This evening she had been to a party with people she had not known for very long, some of them.

Once outside home - she took a cab, the Pevensies were a bit better off, but she had to share it and half regretted it, since the taxi had a bad jerk, but even more because of the company that was starting to be not so entertaining any longer - she pushed the young goggled man off as he tried to embrace her.

- "No, don't, rather!"

- "Why?"

- "You said you envied the pilot who bombed Dresden!"

- "Yea - so?"

- "Then you would have been bombing all the old men and children and babies and mothers who were in the city?"

- "Sure, I see what you mean, but - they were Germans!"

- "Take this from me:" Susan added with some heat and bitterness. "German soldiers may have been fighting for Hitler, but their women and children were not. And in a war, you fight the ones who fight. Not women or children!"

- "So, what do you know?"

- "Well, anyone knows the German soldiers were not in town 1945. They were freezing or heating themselves at camp fires. They were huddling together and hoping the war would be over soon. And they would come back to their wives and ... oh, you are a beast, a beast, a beast!"

- "So, should we have let Hitler roll over all our troops and do nothing?"

- "There are other ways to fight wars than bombing!"

- "What do you know about that? You have never been in a battle?"

- "I won two battles at Beruna!" (What did she say that for now?)

- "At Beruna? Are you mad?"

- "Sorry, forget it and leave me alone!"

- "You must be mad, women weren't captains in the war. And if there had been a battlefield with two victories on the allied side, you think I wouldn't have known its name? Does Beruna even exist?"

- "Oh, back off! Here's my house."

The cab driver stepped out and said to him: "Get back into the car, will you! I fought in the trenches, and when we came home we were not all that eager to dominate."

He stepped back into the cab and gave her a really queer look. A bit of pity, a bit of anger, a bit of restraint, a bit of "oh, I am insulted, but I am charitable, so I treat you as mad" - but he said nothing.

So she got in.

Back in bed, she tried to think of something pleasant. The Narnia Gang, as she called them - Professor Kirke (his name was Digory she had found out), Polly Plumber, same age as the professor, but looked younger, a bit younger than her grandparents, Eustace, Jill, younger than herself and of course her two brothers Peter and Edmund and sister Lucy (she was second to Peter) were heading off to Narnia. No, not to Cair Paravel, but to a town in Italy. It is really called Narni, but back in Roman times it was Narnia. "At least that is a real place."

Since she had drunk some quantity she did in fact not take long after calming herself to fall into heavy sleep. Parties mean you drink more than usual. Drinking more than usual means heavy sleep. And all she was thinking of when getting calmer was how nice a trip they would have to Italy. And all that stopped her was thinking about the rude man. Or being ashamed for again, even for just a moment, falling into the Narnian story. I mean, all the memories are just there because she imagined so well, when they were playing. A bit like memories from under hypnosis, maybe? Well, however these memories came there, she was living with them. Usually in silence. Except she had blurted out Beruna. Just because of the rude man. Would she go to mental hospital? Madhouses were not nice places. They made her afraid. They made about everyone afraid, but most people did not care to talk about it. How nice for Edmund and for Lucy and for Peter to be going to Narnia and not to a madhouse. Even if it was not the same Narnia.

She woke up with a dry mouth, with sweat, and screamed: "Oh God!"

She had been dreaming about a man, as she recalled it when staggering to the kitchen, a man not like the one who tried to embrace her, but somewhat similar to Caspian - one of her recurring memories from Narnia, as if it had been real, except of course it wasn't. Only he was captive with the White Witch (another memory). But it was not the White Witch, it was a Green Witch. Once every night he was himself. But before that moment came, always, always, always he asked people around to tie him to a chair. And seated on that chair, for that hour, he remembered every horrible thing the witch had done to him, every piece of hypnosis she had used. Since Susan knew party hypnosis, she had seen it at a few parties, but not volunteered, she could identify it, even if he did not call it hypnosis. And in that chair - the next hour enchanted him. He could do no more. "How if I had Susans horn!" he moaned.

And then she woke up. This means she did not know how it continued. She poured up water in a beaker, so as to avoid getting a headache in the morning.

She did not believe in God. She did not deny God on philosophical principle either. But she thought things were so unfair, ever since she decided that talking about Narnia was a game they did together and remembering Narnia was an illusion, coming from that game. If Narnia, why not the resurrection? If they, the four siblings, and she one of them, could get balmy discussing their wishes, why not those twelve? And it was so unfair - she did not have Lucy's courage and devotion - that she should neither have a blissful ignorance about all Narnian things, well, maybe not blissful, but then again ... nor the blissful illusion of the other seven. But now she made an exception: "God, if you exist, if you are Aslan, help that man!"

Then she took a beaker of water. And another. And went back to bed.

She had no headache when she woke up again. Nor had she been tormented by the vision of the unfortunate captive. She had instead been dreaming about Polly Plummer saying something like "She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can." It was less terrible than the man in the metallic chair. But it was a bit rude.

In that morning, she heard the news - I'll come back to by whom, it was not on the radio. The train had crashed. She was told that Mr. Peter Pevensie, Mr. Edmund Pevensie, Miss Lucy Pevensie were among the corpses identified. All of those in the waggon were quite dead. Speed kills as much as war machines.

Hullo, that means, she thought to herself, once she recovered from the first shock of grief, she was now the only person alive to know anything about Narnia. Unless Mr. Kirke had told someone else.

The Anglican parson who told her knew nothing - at least nothing about it being true.