Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Different Stories

We compare works of fiction, e.g., Poul Anderson's History of Technic Civilization with the same author's Time Patrol series or with other future histories like those of Heinlein, Niven or Pournelle. As a rule, such fictional narratives are mutually inconsistent. If one were true, then the others would remain untrue - unless we incorporate them into a parallel timelines framework, but even then each narrative remains exclusively valid within its particular timeline. Cavor and Armstrong cannot both be the first man on the moon within a single timeline.

We can do something similar with religions provided that we recognize them as stories:

" '...we who are educated, do not take ancestral myths for literal truth, as if we were Christians. They are symbols.
-copied from here.

"The faces of war are two."
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (Riverdale, NY, 2012), p. 275.

Anderson refers to the "face" of technology, organization, strategy, tactics and philosophy, then to the "face" of individual experience. See here. But the faces of war are many. It is personified as Ares in the Homeric epics, as Mars in the Aeneid and as Tyr in the Eddas and is an impersonal process in much military fiction, including military sf, as we have discovered.

Hindu texts identify Atman with Brahman, i.e., each individual soul with the transcendent, whereas the Buddha taught anatta, no-soul. Both affirm that our sense of separate selfhood is illusory. The most important event in history is the Enlightenment of the Buddha or the Resurrection of Christ...


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

First men on the Moon? In his short story "The Light" Anderson reveals, to our amazement, that the first man on the Moon was Leonardo da Vinci!

Christianity and myths. I recall how you cited C.S. Lewis saying that what distinguished Christianity from myths was how the former was myth which became actual, literal history.

The "impersonalizing" of war seen in the efficient use of technology, organization, strategy, tactics, philosophy, was a major reason for what would otherwise seem an implausible number of victories for Nantucket in the ISLAND IN THE SEA OF TIME books. But that can only work up to a point, till when Nantucket's enemies had modernized themselves.

Yes, either the Enlightenment of Buddha and the Incarnation/Resurrection of Christ was the most important event in human history. There are no other real alternatives (I dismiss Islam for reasons you know). Of the two, I chose Christ.

Merry Christmas! Sean

Paul Shackley said...

But my point was that these are two stories. I know which one you believe!