In the comments to the previous post, there have been many fierce arguments about Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.
It’s great to see you all debating this so seriously. And despite the fact that some of you are getting angry and making more typos than usual, you’re actually much more respectful to each other than most adults. (If you ever glance at political sites, you’ll read far ruder things than appear here.) I’m happy to see that. I like you guys a lot, and the community we’ve created here together is important to me. Keep being nice to each other!
But keep arguing too. Debating is an important thing to learn to do, even when it’s crazy-making.
However, I want to point out one thing that keeps going missing in the debate about Pullman: At no point in His Dark Materials do the characters kill god. This rumor isn’t a “controversial” aspect of the trilogy, it’s a lie about the trilogy. And like so many lies these days, this one is spread by people forwarding emails to each other. You probably have seen this sort of thing happen with rumors in school; after all, it’s more fun to spread a nasty rumor than it is figure out the truth behind it.
But how do I know this rumor isn’t true? Well, unlike rumors about what happened at someone’s party or who kissed whom, everything in His Dark Material is written down, and you can read it to find out exactly what happens. So if you go to page 188 of the US mass market paperback of Amber Spyglass, you’ll discover that Pullman’s Authority is not the creator. He’s not god. Ogunwe says so in the following words, “It shocked some of us, too, to learn that the Authority was not the creator.”
Case closed. The Authority is a fraud. He’s a liar, just like the people who started the rumor that in His Dark Materials the characters “kill god.” In a funny way, those people are trying to pull off the same kind of trick as the Authority. Okay, they’re not exactly playing god, but they are lying to control what you read, which affects what you think, and what you believe. They are frauds. (Or VERY sloppy readers.)
Of course, as with most rumors, the vast majority of the people saying these things aren’t lying. They’re just passing the rumor on without knowing if it’s true or not. That’s not as bad, but it’s also not something you get a medal for.
By the way, there’s another place where you can see that no one “kills god” in HDM. That’s the scene where he dies. Lyra and Will find him and free him from the place the bad guys have been keeping him and using him as a symbol to help them control everyone. It turns out he’s really old. Here’s how it happens in the book:
Between them they helped the ancient of days out of his crystal cell; it wasn’t hard, for he was as light as paper, and he would have followed them everywhere, having no will of his own, and responding to simple kindness like a flower to the sun. But in the open air there was nothing to stop the wind from damaging him, and to their dismay his form began to loosen and dissolve. Only a few moments later he had vanished completely, and their last impression was of those eyes, blinking in wonder, and a sigh of the most profound and exhausted relief.
Now, come on. Does that sound like Lyra and Will are “killing” him? Could anyone actually misread that as a murder? They’re “dismayed” when he dies. It’s a sad and touching scene, not a victory lap.
So he’s not god, and Lyra and Will don’t kill him. Anyone who says otherwise a) hasn’t read it, b) can’t read, c) is lying.
Sorry to keep pointing this out, but false rumors really annoy me. Especially when they’re used to keep books out of people’s hands.
I’m not saying you all have to go read Pullman right now. Maybe you just don’t like armoured bears. But there’s one thing you really should remember: People who tell you juicy rumors, on the internet or in real life, usually aren’t trying to help you by giving you secret, important info. Very often, they’re trying to make themselves feel important, or hurt someone else, or control you in some way.
Don’t assume rumors are true, no matter how often you hear them.