rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
[personal profile] rymenhild
Via [livejournal.com profile] musingsylph: The Golden Compass movie website, newly arrived on the Internet, provides a working alethiometer. (No direct link; click on the button marked "alethiometer" on the page.)

Apparently, one of the meanings of "bread" is "Christ." Obviously, as [livejournal.com profile] bookelfe pointed out when I started discussing the site with her, bread is connected to Christ through the communion wafer. It interests me that the website designers chose to put Christ in their symbol reader. They're clearly invoking the theological underpinnings of His Dark Materials, and yet they're also rewriting His Dark Materials. Pullman's allegorical structure notably lacks a Christ-figure; the role of God is played by a senile being who may once have been God-the-Father and by his regent, the angel Metatron. I've found myself wondering whether the Consistorial Church of Lyra's universe is Christian at all.

In any case, the decision to include theology in the website to a mass-market movie based on a remarkably anticlerical sequence of books pleases me. I have hopes that Pullman's allegories do not all get wiped away in the conversion process.

ETA: One of the crocodile's meanings is "America." Dear programmers, I know that some of the people working on this website have examined Pullman's world maps. I suppose those weren't the people working on the alethiometer.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-paper-nun.livejournal.com
hmm.. My bet is that the movie will present a Bad-Church, Good Religion dichotomy in which we see that "god" and Metatron are really not the REAL god at all.. because god is all around us blah blah blah. Destroy false idols!

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 06:31 am (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
That actually sounds plausible, and doesn't deface Pullman's allegories as much as other available options like cutting religious implications entirely. I wouldn't be pleased if they did that, but it could be worse.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 08:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whatifoundthere.livejournal.com
When Jesus said this, I firmly believe he wasn't talking about a tasteless little wafer :)

My curmudgeonly complaints about ecclesiastical novelties notwithstanding, I thank you for this link. As you say, the presence of the word "Christ" on the web site is really startling. Pullman isn't just anticlerical, but he's quite fiercely anti-Christian. And I agree with you that the religion in the trilogy is not quite Christian anyway; I'm not entirely sure "Christ" would mean anything to the characters in His Dark Materials (in the same way it wouldn't mean much to the characters in Narnia). Is his name ever even invoked? Pullman and Lewis are at odds about a number of things, but they are both quite deliberately not writing stories set in our world.

That said, I'm not sure the decision on the part of the web designers "pleases" me. As unhappy as I am with Pullman's thin-lipped nastiness toward Christians, I'd be even unhappier if the director of the movie chose to "tame" that aspect of his work in order to impress a mostly-Christian ticket-buying audience.

Beautiful web site, though.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 08:49 am (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
I admit that my knowledge of Eucharistic theology and practice comes out of one theology class in which I was the only Jew in a room full of Catholics, so a few details that may have been common knowledge to all the people around me -- like the precise identity, changing over time, of the material of the Host -- never quite reached me. Thanks for the correction.

And no, as far as I recall Christ is not named once in HDM. I assumed Pullman made an intentional choice to keep him out of the narrative.

As yet, I'm not sure how much taming is involved here. I don't know how long it'll take us to find out, either. I only have one extra piece of information: As I played with the alethiometer, I found out that the apple apparently symbolizes knowledge, vanity and sin. I suppose that both "knowledge" and "sin" might be in code of some sort, and I also suppose that this website is meant for a family audience, whatever that may be... but why isn't "sex" on this list?

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whatifoundthere.livejournal.com
Hey, get a load of this. The official HDM web site (which has been up for many years) also does the Christ thing with the bread symbol. In fact, it seems that all of the aletheiometer meanings on the movie page were lifted directly from this site, or at least from the master list that this site uses.

Now the HDM page was created by the publisher, Random House, and not necessarily Pullman himself. But the mistake, if it is a mistake, is much older than the movie rights. And if it's not a mistake... then WTF, Philip?

P.S. What I posted earlier was not intended to be a "correction" so much as a complaint about contemporary liturgy. Don't mind me :)

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-11 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] flintknappy.livejournal.com
Yay for being the token Jew. I did that many a time.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-11 08:21 pm (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
Remind me to tell you my stories about this class sometime.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nepheliad.livejournal.com
Unrelatedly:

Not in this world. They’re still children. They’re off on holiday with their parents and they’re all killed in a train crash. That’s grotesque.

I want to give Pullman props for this, seriously. That's one of the big reasons Narnia really, really gets to me, too.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 10:08 am (UTC)
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Default)
From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com
Pullman absolutely recognizes and responds to some of the most central problems in the Narnia books. The only thing is, he spends so much time responding to Lewis that he ends up inadvertently sharing many of Lewis's flaws, including didacticism and allegory that occasionally supersedes plot logic.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tovaks.livejournal.com
Could you link this, please? I'm fascinated.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 01:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nepheliad.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] amberspyglass linked it above. :>

(no subject)

Date: 2006-12-10 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whatifoundthere.livejournal.com
I want to give Pullman props for this, seriously.

You might find this blog post by Andrew Rilstone interesting. Parts 4 and 5 ("What did C.S. Lewis say about heaven and hell?" and "What happens to Susan?") are the most relevant to this discussion, but I think the earlier deconstruction of the "lipstick and nylons" comment is brilliant too.

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