Fantasy

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As a youngster growing up in the little town of Westford, Mass., with a mother who had Parkinson’s Disease but who could function pretty well because she was young, I was afraid of death and told my mother I would invent a magic pill that would keep me alive forever. So I decided to major in chemistry at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. But after a couple months of frustrations in my Quantitative Analysis class — I just didn’t have the patience to carry out the measurements plus the instructor was horrible — I said “To heck with this!” and switched to physics. After all, physics had been getting a lot of media play, what with the atom bomb and all, and might satisfy another craving I had which was to understand the universe. ha ha Well, I actually ended up as a physicist back in the 1950’s but as the years went on I gradually switched over to more mundane engineering work such as computer simulations of solid state transistors. My childhood dream of a pill to extend life forever had become a long forgotten and silly youthful fantasy.

But wait! Just recently I read where red wine can extend the lifespan of mice dosed with resveratrol, an ingredient of some red wines. In fact the report states that some scientists are already taking resveratrol in capsule form. The report also states that serious scientists have long derided the idea of life-extending elixirs. However, quoting from the report, “the door may now have been opened to drugs that exploit an ancient biological survival mechanism, that of switching the body’s resources from fertility to tissue maintenance. The improved tissue maintenance seems to extend life by cutting down on the degenerative diseases of aging”.

OK, is there still hope for me? And I didn’t even have to work on the magic pill project! ha ha
:lol:

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Well, I failed to make a post yesterday mentioning it was the birthday of my grandfather, Homer M. Seavey. He would have been 146 years old yesterday, November 19, 2007. If you remember (ha ha?) last year there was this funny coincidence on his birthday. See here. I lit a candle in church for his 145th birthday, and then, lo and behold, the next hymn happened to be on page 145. That was last year. This year his bday was on a Monday and there was no hymn on page 146 sung on Sunday. Who cares? you might ask?
:roll: :wink:

I finished this fantastic, in the sense of high fantasy, book by Charles Williams a few weeks ago and better put down some thoughts while it’s still relatively fresh in my mind. When I say high fantasy, I mean religious high fantasy because the nine or so Angelicals — a word I’d never heard before — break forth into the real world and cause enormous effects. How does this all start? Well, it seems that a female lion escapes from a zoo and this sets off an explosion of the archetypes! The Angelicals are really Platonic ideals adapted to Christian philosophy, if I have that right, and thus represent the greatest and most perfect versions of the ideals. The lion represents strength, and so the all powerful Lion enters into the human world. But also the Lion is countered by the Lamb and a proper balancing act must occur. People who go for just one archetype without its balancing version get destroyed because, after all, these are perfect versions too great for a mere human to handle. I hope I have this right! But I think that’s the gist.

The book starts simply enough: two friends, Anthony and Quentin, are waiting for a bus on a dusty road and decide instead to walk when the bus doesn’t come. They then discover people trying to locate the escaped lion which is nowhere in sight. But they walk on with no problem. Things rapidly get more complicated, however, and I won’t go into that, only to say it gets mysteriouser and mysteriouser. A coldly intellectual woman, named Damaris, who Anthony is in love with, becomes involved in the story, and a butterfly addict loses it when he, with Anthony, sees a gigantic and beautiful butterfly (obviously an archetype). An enormous snake which can move the earth appears, as well as the most massive lion you’ve ever seen! Rumblings in the distance, ignored by many as thunder, are really roars of the gigantic lion. An enormous and beautiful eagle helps Anthony, and in the end he wins the love of Damaris. Many more complexities weave in and out of the story: Quentin loses it completely and is saved by Damaris, and a woman is unsuccessfully turned into a snake. Great fodder for a fantasy movie.

There are also some pretty deep relgious-philosophical discussions in the book which I found I had to struggle with. There is a reconciliation in the end, primarily caused by Anthony who learns the right balance of the archetypes. All in all, it’s an exciting and completely unusual book which I think could be made into a great movie.

Update:Let me thank Steve Hayes for recommending this book, and for introducing me to Charles Williams, a person associated with C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as a member of the Inklings.

Pan’s Labyrinth

The guests having all left this morning and it being a quiet Labor Day afternoon, I thought why not watch the rest of Pan’s Labyrinth, the wonderful movie by Guillermo del Toro, the great Mexican director. So I did. I had purchased the DVD several months ago and watched a bit of it a couple weeks ago. But this time I watched it from the beginning to the end and it shook me with its earth-shattering tragedy balanced by its profound and, yes, wondrous fantasy. This fantasy experienced by an eleven-year old girl who alone can see the fairies, the Fawn, and various other characters in the labyrinth, is balanced by the terrible struggle of a sadistic fascist captain and his men fighting the remaining rebels in the woods in 1944 in Franco’s Spain. I breathlessly focused on the well-presented subtitles — the movie is in Spanish — as the action moved excitingly on, alternating between the struggles in the real world and those of the girl performing her tests in the fantasy world to prove to the Fawn that she indeed is the real princess. It turns out that she wins her struggle and the evil captain is defeated but there are prices for this victory. I can’t find the words to express the power of the ending in the fantasy world as it intersects with the real world. Yes, it’s a totally profound and beautiful movie. Y’all should see it.

Update: I should mention that I first heard about this movie on Steve Hayes’ blog. He has a good discussion of it here, and there are a number of interesting comments bringing out points I left out. But I would see the movie first: the comments give away a lot of the action.

After Rain

Today we finally got our rain after over two weeks of heat and dryness. We think maybe an inch came down before it let up in late afternoon. What a difference in the air, the ground, the grass, the trees, everything! I took a walk down the hill on the dirt road outside our house. Nary a horse fly attacked me. The air was cool and fresh and delicious. The view of the not-so-distant hill straight ahead of me was partially covered by fog and lifting clouds, but suggestive of a rain forest after rain. No, I didn’t take a picture of it but here’s one of a rain forest after rain on the far away island of Pulau Tioman off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, sort of but not quite like my view of Little Fitch Hill in Bridgton, Maine.

Who the heck is he?, I thought, when I found his name on a blog of Methodius. I had a friend once by the name of Robert Williams and I was a great fan of Ted Williams, arguably the greatest hitter of all time, but Charles Williams? Who could that be?

Well, it didn’t take me long to find out this morning. In perusing Methodius’ blog (he has two other ones also) and links, I found that a favorite Williams novel is “Descent into Hell” and that he was a member of the so-called Inklings group. Other members of this group? Why, none other than C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, author of my favorite book, The Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and he gets praise from T.S. Eliot.

The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know.
:shock: :roll:

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