Got back late last night from Chicago. I haven't seen many of my cousins and their families for six years. It was great to see the kids who are growing up, although it made me sad that I don't have the opportunity to see them more often. The people who planned the weekend had worked out an enjoyable schedule of events, including a photo road rally, a picnic and a ride on a paddleboat.
I'm thankful that I didn't miss the memorial service for Shawn and Lyda's daughter; that was today. It was a very simple yet beautiful service, and Ella was laid to rest with honor and love.
I have finished Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass
. (I note that angiej
just finished it, too, and you can find her comments on it here
.) Well, I can certainly understand all the positive press this series has received (although it's been years since I've read Paradise Lost
and my appreciation of the allusions would probably be sharpened if that work was more fresh in my mind). I was forcibly reminded, however, of the scene movie Kiss of the Spider Woman
, when Valentin Arregui suddenly realizes the nature of the movie plot that Luis Molina is so lovingly recounting to him: "You've fallen in love with a Nazi propaganda film!" I'm not certain how much of the attitude in the series is truly Pullman's own opinion, to wit, that deism is dreadful, that God (the "Authority") is either a cheating lie or a tyrant (Pullman doesn't seem too consistent on that), that Christianity is only dreary oppressiveness. Pullman comes down totally on the side of the angels who rebelled. If I set that philosophy aside without examining it too closely and look at the books only as fantasies, I can agree that Pullman has written a tightly organized, thoughtful and absorbing yarn, and Will and Lyra's story in the last book is genuinely moving. But if I consider that I'm being led to cheer for the downfall of a "great evil" which is, in fact, what I've always been taught to believe is good and true, I'll have to admit that it's a very peculiar sensation, rather like finding that I'm admiring the virtues like love, honor, and patriotism in a Nazi propaganda film. A rather disorienting fun-house black-is-white and white-is-black experience. Hmm.
In other news, I belatedly report that the Bulwer-Lytton 2002 results