Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Out of the Silent Planet

Prior to the honeymoon, Sarah and I made a trip to Borders where I picked up this book. It is the first installment of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy and the first book I've read to completion in several months. It was a good feeling.

This book grabbed me from the moment I saw it on the shelf. Out of the Silent Planet. What a great name for a book! The third book also bodes well–That Hideous Strength. I really think a writer could spend their whole life trying to come up with titles that strong and compelling and I think they're right up there with books like Bonfire of the Vanities and The Sound and the Fury. But I digress.

The book tells the story of Ransom, a philologist who is walking cross country on his summer vacation. The story opens on a damp road, gray like ash and shining from a setting sun and fresh rain. Ransom, to keep a promise, works his way into the garden of a shabby home, only to find two professors, Weston and Devine, with whom he is professionally acquainted. The two men are clearly up to something, but before Ransom figures it out, he is drugged and rendered unconscious. Upon waking, it rapidly becomes clear he has been kidnapped by Weston and Devine and is traveling on a space ship, landing, after several weeks, on a planet called Malacandra. The gravity is less there, and plants, mountains and creatures grow like spires in a way the heavier pull of Earth cannot allow.

As you might guess then, Earth is "The Silent Planet". Ransom is perplexed by this name, as was I, but a few different characters put the pieces together. Without giving too much away, there is a spiritual side to the story, a larger idea that connects the various planets together. Earth, or Thulcandra as these characters call it, became a place where evil, or bent people thrived. As this progressed, Earth lost contact with the greater entity of the planets, becoming intellectually closed off and self-interested. Earth grew silent.

While I do not wish to spoil anything else in the story, I must express my attachment, in the wake of this novel, to Malacandra. Lewis paints such a vivid picture of an unfamiliar landscape and ecology, and probes the roots of the human soul and the divine consequences of evil. This is so much more than science fiction and I'm glad to have read it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

good morning from great falls...

Hello there, it's been a while. This is that post that bloggers write after months of inactivity, in which I pledge my desire to update more regularly. Simply put, 2009 has been the craziest, most wonderful year of my life. Where blogging has typically been the result of a lot of free time—they're usually long, I'll be honest–free time has been scarce, and what time I've had hasn't been spent this way, but that's been fine with me. So, here's a post, but no promises.

It's August 15th and I just took a walk in 47 degree air. I cannot begin to express how good it felt. I don't like to sweat unless I'm doing something that warrants it, and while I love Tennessee, the summers really wear me out. As a wedding gift, Sarah gave me a replacement for this old blue Patagonia fleece of mine, which has been my version of Linus's blanket. I've worn it constantly for years, all over the world. It's been repaired by the factory twice, and it's wearing thin. Most of you who have known me know this fleece, and Sarah, in a very touching gesture, gave me a new black one for me to wear out during the course of our life together. Where the Tennessee summer hasn't allowed me to really wear it, this northern Montana air is perfect, so here I sit on my motel bed, window open, black fleece on, taking in the first bit of prolonged solitude I've had in several months; taking in, but not necessarily relishing.

I am fiercely introverted, easily exhausted by the constant presence of a lot of people and consider the time I have to myself precious. I shut down sometimes talking to people after a busy or long day, get quiet, glaze over; if you've known me long enough to know the "blue fleece", you've probably noticed this too. The wedding season, as you might imagine, has been exhausting; wonderful, but exhausting. Where Sarah and I had little time to really allow for much solitude, we replaced it with each other–hanging out, working out wedding plans, running errands, whatever it was. Before the wedding, our lives really started to become our life. Our wedding was amazing and worth all the work, but with every passing day, we longed more and more, not for our individual solitude, but for the collective peace and privacy of a life together. Now we have it, and two months into the marriage, it's hard to remember what life was like before it.

So here I am, traveling for the weekend in Montana, with the cool, western air blowing through my window, and I feel restless. Pre-marriage Whit would have begged for this, but now I honestly don't know what to do with all this time. I miss my wife...

While everyone of us needs to be alone with our thoughts from time to time, and while I know my inner introvert could use this time emotionally and spiritually, I am having to learn how to do this all over again. Where this quest for solitude was once the point, not only of this blog, but of much of my spare time, it has very quickly become a supplement to a greater point. I couldn't begin to explain marriage and do it any sort of justice, but what I do know is that two months of marriage has rendered 26 years of being single obsolete; I love being married. So here's to rediscovering solitude, but even more, here's to discovering the more perfect picture that now is my life. Cheers.