Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Narnia Code

Every now and then, I come across something that wakes up a part of me that's gone to sleep. Today was one such moment. I'd stumbled across The Narnia Code, a BBC documentary about Michael Ward, who'd made what would probably be termed as one of the most fascinating literary discoveries in recent history. I'd daresay it was compelling, and also the type of discovery to catch on faster than a new Robert Frost poem, thanks to the huge movie'ability of the Narnia Chronicles.

I've not read all 7 books of the Narnia Chronicles, I must admit. Or at least, although I can remember reading the full Lord of the Rings twice over as a kid, I remember only vague snippets of the Narnia Chronicles. I feel sure that I was fed the kind of literary diet as a child that would not have missed out these books, but at the same time, it joined the childhood stream of consciousness together with Sandman graphic novels, Norse mythology, Aesop's fables and other odd bits and pieces of information-that-nobody-knows-much-of-anymore.

So imagine my pleasant surprise coming across this documentary and learning that a secret, "third layer" of CS Lewis's subtle plan in the Narnia Chronicles was drawn from precisely the "stream of consciousness" that once made up common knowledge of people before CS Lewis's time.

Do I agree with CS Lewis? Yes, I do. Whole-heartedly. And why not? His ideas are so much more seductive, so much more enticing than the alternatives that I'm presented with by modern science and modern fact.

Watch the documentary - it's a not-so-long download on cable, and for a 250mb wait, if it sparks in you a wanting to believe, if it gives you something else to look forward to besides the end of the weekend - then it would have been worth the while.

(If Wei Chean could watch this documentary, I think she would be very edified in her long held love of CS Lewis's work.)

Upon watching The Narnia Code, a documentary on Planet Narnia by Michael Ward on CS Lewis's unifying theme of the seven mythological planets in his Narnia Chronicles.

Someone told me something I already knew, and had forgotten.
I know you are not the universe.
The universe is matter and mechanism, materialism,
The physical - you held me in your arms, I knew
You held a body, not a self, a discarded image
Of surreal to real, dreams to dust.

No longer do we share intimately a knowledge of the ties that bind
Us, universally drawing you from you, me from me,
That Tuesday was for war, and Friday for love,
That we know more than we know, and remember more than fact.
If it's only untrue, but beautiful, then tell me lies,
I want my sky lit with more than coloured dust.

I'd forgotten that Hope was not reserved for children, and
Dreams for courage and fairytales, that a book could lift
A mind beyond what was possible - we should all read -
And my heart would dare to think, that
I could look upon the stars and see a being
Far greater than you or I. Imagine that.


louis said...

interesting that you should have "stumbled" upon THE NARNIA CHRONICLE. my wife & i, having had some involvement with this film, prayed that some would "stumble" upon it & be challenged, encouraged or.....become followers of Aslan.

i myself "stumbled" on, in a God-appointed way, an early Norman Stone BBC drama-documentary. it was called THE DIFFERENT DRUMMER, about Jack Clemo, a blind / deaf Cornish poet (Festival of Britain, Methuen, Gollancz published poet) who also followed Aslan / Christ.

Clemo's influence on my own poetry was profound & pertinent. we became correspondents for about 12 years, until he died. our exchanged correspondence is with his papers in Exeter University.

so, my connection with Norman Stone goes back a long time. glad that you were blessed by this film.

all the best

petitemoi said...

Hi Louis,

Thanks for contacting me. As someone for whom being a follower of Christ is not a belief of choice but a way of life, I am constantly in philosophical self-debate about the justification of the truth about what I believe in.

I don't think I can believe without knowing, or understand without seeing.

I think in a sense, it is precisely because of this that when this story came up, CS Lewis and The Narnia Chronicles held particular resonance with me.

Lucky I am - not that I was able to see, or to understand, but to finally be able to agree.