“It must have been more than thirty years ago that I bought…Phantastes. A few hours later I knew I had crossed a great frontier. . . . What it actually did to me was to convert, even to baptize, my imagination.”
~ C.S. Lewis
I bought this book and read it because of the quote above. Who wouldn’t want their imagination baptized?
But my experience was not that of C.S. Lewis. My imagination did not feel so much baptized as like it was being held under the water until it was about to drown.
The whole time I was reading the book I found myself searching for some kind of purpose or telos? Instead it seemed oh so random — much like what one experiences in a dream state.
Although I did not enjoy the book, I found it punctuated in places with beauty and brilliance. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book.
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”Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew sayes, A little Ime hurt, but yett not slaine; Ile but lye downe and bleede awhile, And then Ile rise and fight againe.“ Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton.
“Alas, how easily things go wrong! A sigh too much, or a kiss too long, And there follows a mist and a weeping rain, And life is never the same again.”
“There was something noble in him, but it was a nobleness of thought, and not of deed.”
“But I love him not as I love thee. He was but the moon of my night; thou art the sun of my day, O beloved.”
“Past tears are present strength.”
“Tears are the only cure for weeping.”
“Joy’s a subtil elf, I think man’s happiest when he forgets himself.” CYRIL TOURNEAUR— The Revenger’s Tragedy.
“I learned that it is better, a thousand-fold, for a proud man to fall and be humbled, than to hold up his head in his pride and fancied innocence.”
“I knew now, that it is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, and not the being beloved by each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness.”
And, From the Introduction by C.S. Lewis:
“We have learned from Freud and others about those distortions in character and errors in thought which result from a man’s early conflicts with his father. Far the most important thing that we can know about George MacDonald is that his whole life illustrates the opposite process. An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. He was thus prepared in an unusual way to teach that religion in which the relation of Father and Son is of all relations the most central.”
“…and his son reports that he never, as boy or man, asked him for anything without getting what he asked. Doubtless this tells us as much about the son’s character as the father’s. ‘He who seeks the Father more than anything he can give, is likely to have what he asks, for he is not likely to ask amiss.’ The theological maxim is rooted in the experiences of the author’s childhood.”
“The quality which had enchanted me in his imaginative works turned out to be the quality of the real universe, the divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic reality in which we all live.”
“The deception is all the other way round— in that prosaic moralism which confines goodness to the region of Law and Duty, which never lets us feel in our face the sweet air blowing from ‘the land of righteousness,’ never reveals that elusive Form which if once seen must inevitably be desired with all but sensuous desire— the thing (in Sappho’s phrase) ‘more gold than gold.’”