Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Like Clouds

Yeah. Like the title says.

It's probably my favorite part of the airplane ride--the part where you're up over the clouds, the sky pure blue, the clouds pure white and airy like brushing across the down of a swan.

For me, it puts life in perspective.

And having clouds put life in perspective reminds me of this quote from The Screwtape Letters.

The Screwtape Letters is a book C.S. Lewis (The Narnia guy) wrote about this demon named Screwtape who's trying to teach his nephew Wormwood how to tempt a certain human. It takes place during the second world war.

In this section, Screwtape's trying to help Wormwood see how to make the human believe that anything he thinks shows him there's real significance to life is just fantasy. He says:

. . . there is a sort of attack on the emotions which can still be tried.

It turns on making him feel, when first he sees human remains plastered on a wall, that this is "what the world is really like" and that all his religion has been a fantasy.

You will notice that we have got them completely fogged about the meaning of the word "real"'. They tell each other, of some great spiritual experience, "All that really happened was that you heard some music in a lighted building"; here "Real" means the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had. On the other hand, they will also say "It's all very well discussing that high dive as you sit here in an armchair, but wait till you get up there and see what it's really like": here "real" is being used in the opposite sense to mean, not the physical facts (which they know already while discussing the matter in armchairs) but the emotional effect those facts will have on a human consciousness. Either application of the word could be defended; but our business is to keep the two going at once so that the emotional value of the word "real" can be placed now on one side of the account, now on the other, as it happens to suit us.

The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are "Real" while the spiritual elements are "subjective"; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist. Thus in birth the blood and pain are "real", the rejoicing a mere subjective point of view; in death, the terror and ugliness reveal what death "really means". The hatefulness of a hated person is "real"—in hatred you see men as they are, you are disillusioned; but the loveliness of a loved person is merely a subjective haze concealing a "real" core of sexual appetite or economic association. Wars and poverty are "really" horrible; peace and plenty are mere physical facts about which men happen to have certain sentiments.

The creatures are always accusing one another of wanting "to eat the cake and have it"; but thanks to our labours they are more often in the predicament of paying for the cake and not eating it.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Very interesting. And aren't we blessed to know that real stuff can be wonderful--like clouds. . .