Perelandra – Chapter Seventeen (Part 2)

The delay. A lot of false starts and long pauses on this one. It was difficult.

SUMMARY

Beginning on page 183 there are a series of statements which aren’t attributed to any specific character: “For the conversation that followed  – if it can be called a conversation – though [Ransom] believes that he himself was sometimes the speaker, he never knew which words were his or another’s, or even whether a man or eldil was talking.”

ON THE CONVERSATION

“Blessed be He” (183 – 187). This phrase is repeated several times, always concluding one of the statements made by the other characters. It is meant as the concluding idea of what was previously said. They say varying things about the nature or work of Maleldil and follow it with Blessed be He. They aren’t trying to judge how is ways are good or bad. They are merely trying to exalt his ways and show this by concluding with a statement glorifying, magnifying or praising him.

The Statements:

They begin by discussing the Great Dance. The dance has always been going on. “It has begun from before always” (183). In some ways the relationship of the Trinity can be described as a dance. Working together, living together, moving together, always giving and always receiving, always glorifying the others and at the same time each displayed as more and more perfect. The dance shows the greatness of the dancers. And in this dance no music is needed. Nothing is needed outside the Triune God in order for the Triune God to be and show who He is. He needs no subjects to display himself to for he has the other members of the Trinity at all times. He is perfect in himself and happy in his perfection. And that happiness and perfection is shown in the Dance, which does not need to “wait to be perfect until the peoples of the Low Worlds are gathered into it.” This dance is from before the beginning and until after the end.

The epic American novel Blood Meridian, written by Cormac McCarthy, also ends with a description of a dance. (I doubt McCarthy had Perelandra in mind when writing it but it is reminiscent of this work in some ways.) In it, the great anti-hero Judge Holden, or simply “the judge,” is seen dancing and playing music. He states that everyone must be part of the dance whether he likes it or not. The judge never sleeps and he says that he will never die. And yet we are meant to question that. His end seems to be forecast in the book as something hoped for. He is a great evil and his dance will be swallowed up in this Great Dance of which the eldila speak.

The statement that follows describes Maleldil’s constant “one-upping” (not Lewis’ term). He doesnt make a thing over in a different way, he makes better things after the first: “After a falling, not a recovery, but a new creation” (184).

And then this dance is “loaded with justice as a tree bows down with fruit.” The fruit, the justice, is a good thing. Further, the New Testament words for righteousness and justice are basically the same word or variations of the same word.

“And there is no equality.” None is equal or comparable to the Great Dance. It is full of righteousness and justice and there is nothing like it, as there is none like Him.He has no peers nor rivals. This Great Dance is not competing with the judge’s dance. It swallows it up and the lesser dance is gone, as Moses’ staff-serpent swallowed those of the Egyptian holy-men.

And then his infinite-ness is extolled. He resides wholly within the smallest seed and “is not cramped,” and yet all of “Deep Heaven is inside him” (184). Those who would seem to grow great in time and space are not remotely as great as Maleldil. There greatness is so much lower that it isn’t able to be compared to his greatness. His greatness is of another dimension as compared to what we can see or know. Comparisons are “as is the circle to the sphere” (184).

Lewis continues in his way to discuss the incomprehensible nature of Maleldil. I cannot go through all of that without a great deal of undependable conjecture.

Finally Ransom finds himself alone with the King and Queen. The animals and “the two white figures” have gone. The King and Queen are called Tor and Tinidril. These names seem to be taken for Tolkien’s mythology of Middle Earth.

Ransom’s Wound

Finally Tor notices Ransom’s heel wound (189), “where the Evil One bit me.” King To attempts to wash it off, hoping it will heel in such a manner but to no avail. The King and Queen had not yet seen blood and remark of it: “this is the substance wherewith Maleldil remade the worlds before any world was made.” He is speaking of the shedding of blood on the cross for the redemption of the world(s) which was foreknown “before the foundation of the world.”

It is of note also the prophecy of Genesis 3, “He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” This is complete also on the cross but is mirrored on Perelandra as Ransom killed “the Evil One,” but in so-doing his actual heel was “bruised” in such a way that, as we will see, it will never fully heel and always be a drain on him physically. And yet, as the King says, “any of his race who has breathed the air… and drunk the waters [of Perelandra]… will not find it easy to die.” Despite his wound, his visit has made him strong, has enriched his blood to make him as the men of old. 

Partings

The King and Queen feel a kind of sadness at the time of Ransom’s departing, a sadness which all people are familiar with, but the have not even a term for. “What is this that we feel, Tor?” (189). And Ransom is secured for travel in a “casket” similar to the one he arrived. His eyes were covered by the “rose-red lillies” for protection for the journey home. His arrival back on earth has already been discussed in chapter two.

 

 

 

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