Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wordy Wednesday: Open Hearth Glowing

I enjoyed reading That Hideous Strength.

The evil was really evil: 
The NICE was the first-fruits of that constructive fusion between the state and the laboratory on which so many thoughtful people base their hopes of a better world. It was to be free from almost all the tiresome restraints—“red tape” was the word its supporters used—which have hitherto hampered research in this country. It was also largely free from the restraints of economy, for, as it was argued, a nation which can spend so many millions a day on a war can surely afford a few millions a month on productive research in peacetime.

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This was the first thing Mark had been asked to do which he himself, before he did it, clearly knew to be criminal. But the moment of his consent almost escaped his notice; certainly, there was no struggle, no sense of turning a corner. There may have been a time in the world’s history when such moments fully revealed their gravity, with witches prophesying on a blasted heath or visible Rubicons to be crossed. But, for him, it all slipped past in a chatter of laughter, of that intimate laughter between fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men. A few moments later he was trotting upstairs with the Fairy. They passed Cosser on the way and Mark, talking busily to his companion, saw out of the corner of his eye that Cosser was watching them. To think that he had once been afraid of Cosser!
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The meaning of all the ups and downs he had experienced at Belbury now appeared to him perfectly plain. They were all his enemies, playing upon his hopes and fears to reduce him to complete servility, certain to kill him if he broke away, and certain to kill him in the long run when he had served the purpose for which they wanted him. It appeared to him astonishing that he could ever have thought otherwise. How could he have supposed that any real conciliation of these people could be achieved by anything he did?
 The good was really good:
  
“I often wonder,” said Dr. Dimble, “whether Merlin doesn’t represent the last trace of something the later tradition has quite forgotten about—something that became impossible when the only people in touch with the supernatural were either white or black, either priests or sorcerers.”
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She wanted to be with Nice people, away from Nasty people—that nursery distinction seeming at the moment more important than any later categories of Good and Bad or Friend and Enemy.
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She was really thinking simply of hugeness. Or rather, she was not thinking of it. She was, in some strange fashion, experiencing it. Something intolerably big, something from Brobdingnag was pressing on her, was approaching, was almost in the room. She felt herself shrinking, suffocated, emptied of all power and virtue. She darted a glance at the Director which was really a cry for help, and that glance, in some inexplicable way, revealed him as being, like herself, a very small object. The whole room was a tiny place, a mouse’s hole, and it seemed to her to be tilted aslant—as though the insupportable mass and splendor of this formless hugeness, in approaching, had knocked it askew.   
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A wide, open hearth glowing with burning wood lit up the comfortable form of Mrs. Dimble who was seated in a kitchen chair at one side of it, apparently, from the basin in her lap and other indications on a table beside her, engaged in preparing vegetables. Mrs. Maggs and Camilla were doing something at a stove—the hearth was apparently not used for cooking—and in a doorway which doubtless led to the scullery a tall grizzle-headed man who wore gumboots and seemed to have just come from the garden, was drying his hands.
Finally:

The Hideous Strength holds all this Earth in its fist to squeeze as it wishes. But for their one mistake, there would be no hope left. If of their own evil will they had not broken the frontier and let in the celestial Powers, this would be their moment of victory. Their own strength has betrayed them. They have gone to the gods who would not have come to them, and pulled down Deep Heaven on their heads. Therefore, they will die. For though you search every cranny to escape, now that you see all crannies closed, you will not disobey me.”

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In fighting those who serve devils one always has this on one’s side; their Masters hate them as much as they hate us. The moment we disable the human pawns enough to make them useless to Hell, their own Masters finish the work for us. They break their tools.”
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4 comments:

  1. I really need to read this trilogy. I read them long ago, when I was too clueless to take it all in. Thanks for the great quotes and the inspiration to add these to my to-read list.

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  2. Re the second quote on laughter - I heard something years ago like this - if you can get someone to laugh about something you lower their resistance or repugnance. I really like the last quote.

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  3. I THINK I read the first of the series--at least--years ago fir an undergrad paper on Lewis. Now I think I might even understand a little bit of it. ;-)

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  4. The interesting thing, to me, about the whole trilogy is how different each book is especially the last which really gets serious.

    Enjoyed these reminders of that book.

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