Saturday 8 April 2006

Pullman, Parasitism and Pederasty

Of course Philip Pullman hates the Narnia novels: that is what he is for. The 'His Dark Materials' trilogy was written because certain parents could not stand their children's love of Narnia. The Christianity in Narnia is subtle (some people manage to miss it entirely, like most readers of Tolkien), whereas the anti-Christianity, and especially the anti-Catholicism, in Pullman's work is painfully and tediously obvious and obsessive. Like, say, Dan Brown, Pullman is wholly parasitic in relation to Christianity, and presupposes a very high degree of familiarity with it, far beyond what often exists in fact.
Pullman's trilogy concludes with sexual intercourse between two children of about 12. Is it back to this that future generations are to look nostalgically when recalling the formative books of childhood? Indeed, are Pullman's pubescent readers today to emulate this behaviour? Since asking this question in an letter to 'The Observer' some months ago, I have repeatedly been told (as if I did not already know it), "Will and Lyra touch each other's 'daemons' as a mark of love." Well, is that what they are calling it these days?
Pullman's 'daemons' physicalise processes that are primarily emotional. This extends to many other interactions in Pullman's world (persuasion, seduction, lying, betrayal, befriending), and it is very clever and effective, in that it allows extended expression of the psychological and emotional by means of physical vocabulary. However, precisely because this makes it far easier for younger readers who may not have the capacity or inclination to follow more sophisticated and difficult expressions of persons' 'inner lives', what of those younger readers (or, soon, viewers) who have no 'daemons' with which to physicalise the primarly emotional process of being in love? What are they supposed to do in response to this literature?
We know the answer to that one, since Pullman himself has repeatedly denounced the absence of sexual content in the Narnia novels: sexualisation is even higher on his agenda than is secularisation, of which his obsession with Christianity is in any case a standing contradiction.
So, who will join the campaign to demand that the impending film adaptation be given an 18 certificate (in the United States, the trilogy itself is only marketed to adults)? After all, 'The Passion of the Christ' was given one. Or have I missed something?

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