Monday, October 6, 2008

‘You never know til you get there’

‘You never know til you get there’ Lewis says, and how could he have more appropriately, and neatly tied the chords of our class discussions together on travel. When we depart, or embark upon any experience ‘travel’ or otherwise nothing is known until it is with us, or we are there. Also, he points out the relationship between time in Narnia, and time in the ‘real world’ that couldn’t be more precise. He says that time passes in Narnia without any formula to the time passed in reality, and when one travels, moves, learns, or experiences they often find that time seems to have moved very differently from normal. When we return from school, from work, from leisure travel, or study abroad sometimes it feels as though we were gone forever and yet never really left. The past has a funny way of playing tricks on us like that.
I do, however want to focus on Lewis’ idea of knowledge in relation to ‘arriving’ or experiencing. We say travel in class, and that is the general idea behind our literature but the honest idea, is experience. Weather it is the imagination, the reality, or a mix of both in stories, all of the pieces that we have read so far share the idea of experience as a means of education. We have already encountered some adventures in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but Lewis constantly reminds the reader of the power of learning and the power of literature when it comes to experience.
First, he makes sure to point out the types of studying, and the ways in which Eustace learns. Not that the subjects in themselves are evil, but the fact that it is not the subject matter that interests him but the grades is what is awful. He has no desire to learn, but a desire to look learned. The numbers, the calculated numbers are the characteristics that link him to the character of governor Gumpas. It is fantastical to imagine that one day one would genuinely find a need to have some profound knowledge of dragon’s but again it is not the simple that Lewis is concerned with it is the principle.
For instance, He says that the word ‘dragon’ would never have appeared in Eustace’s head, not out of stupidity but out of pure ignorance. He simply did not know the word for it. It is designed to make the reader understand the value of information, even the things that we can take for granted. People live in different worlds, even here in reality. It could be something as simple as a clothing designer, or a car brand that people may not have the monetary means to have ever experienced; or as profound as a religious sentiment that some have been sheltered from because of geography, or social convention.
Ignorance is a powerful thing, as we see in the story it has the ability to create these gaps, which in a land full of dragons, serpents, and talking mice could make things quite a bit difficult. And when the knowledge is available, as we see with Edmund these experiences have a way of calling upon knowledge from the past. Again Lewis counts on literature to lead the way yet again drawing contrast to our reality. When Eustace is more of a calculated student, reading those books that he will need to get the grades he wants, Edmund reads for pleasure and it is the detective stories that play a role in the understanding of the man at the bottom of Lake Deathwater. It is interesting, then that Lewis calls some types of books the ‘wrong type’ yet I don’t think it would be fair to criticize him for that. It is the wrong books for that particular situation, he meant that Eustace had read, Edmund had read the right books for the situation he was in.
There is a strong relationship between knowledge, ignorance, and experience. I suppose we can’t really discredit any of them for their faults. Ignorance is natural , we have those experiences as an opportunity to gain knowledge, and in turn one day will be able to use whatever was reaped in hopes of having more control over the next experience we have. Yet again, though, you never know until you get there, and you won’t always have read the right type of book.

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