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Cavalier0509

His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass

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This is something I thought Objectivists might be interested in. His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy books written for young teenagers by Philip Pullman. The core themes of the books, in my opinion, are opposition toward religion, individualism, and the supremacy of reason and reality (over mysticism, specifically). There are some metaphysical realities in the fictional world in which the books take place that are not similar to the actual universe, but like I said, it's a fantasy series.

In any case, a movie based on the first book of the trilogy is coming out in December. There is a big debate within fan circles about whether or not the anti-religious nature of the books is going to remain intact. I think it's a non-issue, as those themes don't become realized until the next two books. In any case, the story is one with real heroes, real villains, and an epic (romantic, if you will) plot. Like I said, I think it's something Objectivists would definitely like to check out.

Here are links to the extended trailer and the regular one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwUaao-Cihs <-- Extended (much better)

and

<-- Regular

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I don't like the way it draws on that "parellel universes" rubbish. I have always hated that stupid quantum mechanics theory, so I hate to see stories draw on it, so I have no interest in seeing the movie or reading the books. Furthermore, I don't like, "And every human is guided by the animal manifestation of their soul, their demon." It makes humans seem like they are at animal level (or that animals are at human level) and that the soul is a bad thing (the demon reference). Note: I have no problem with fantasies and their use of magic. What I have a problem with is the way it is done in this one.

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Kane,

I've discussed this with you before, and I think you have a severe misunderstanding of the books, evident from the fact that you haven't read them. The animalistic nature of the Daemons is nothing to do with 'humans being animals' - just like mood rings aren't suggestions that people are really colours. Daemons are, as Pullman puts it, the same soul in a different body. In other words, whilst Ayn Rand often talks a lot about posture, facial expression and speech tones to explain the psychology of her characters, Pullman uses Daemons.

As a young child, one's Daemon can often change shape, depending on one's current state - this is reflective of the simple fact that children are children, and not stuck-fast adults. Adults by contrast have developed their thoughts and are almost always comfortably themselves - they know who they are and they follow from the same basic premises. Children are still learning what premises make them the people who they are, and their Daemon is in a constant state of flux.

There's even a bit in the first book where he discusses the people who wish to have Snow Leopards, but end up with a Moth - and it's not a bad thing, there's no such thing as a 'bad' Daemon shape, simply that a Daemon does reflect who you are. The people who are never comfortable with who they are are the people who spend their lives dissatisfied with the way their Daemon stuck - never realising that their Daemon is that way because they are that way themselves.

Now, I will say at this point that this is one part I do not like, that Daemons absolutely cannot change. For the purposes of the story, it works, but what it is basically saying is that one who is shy and timid could never, ever, learn to be brave and strong. Whilst I agree that the older you get, the harder it is to change, I do not believe that implies impossibility. Man's mental capacity is such that even a crook at 50 could turn himself into a good man (even if he never redeems his crimes, he could live as a good man).

As to the fact that they're called Daemons - well, 'fairies' sound really nice and friendly, but they used to be evil little bastards in folk lore, drowning people and causing mayhem. Don't take the fact that they are called Daemons to imply they are evil. 'Daemons' are different from 'Demons', as a little foray into mythology will teach you, and they are not necessarily evil. Regardless, the Daemons in 'His Dark Materials' are not at all evil, and I find it highly ironic that you draw that conclusion, considering the build up to the end of the first book:

SPOILER

The hideous evil of children being kept prisoner in a camp in the North, being separated from their Daemons to release the 'Dust' (a kind of magical energy) needed to open a gateway to other worlds.

Also, when reading a book about parallel universes, one is not being asked to accept it as a fact of reality, just a fact of the story. I can't imagine how it could detract from the story. What do you mean about 'the way it is done'? What is fundamentally 'wrong' about it, except that it couldn't happen in the real world?

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I've discussed this with you before, and I think you have a severe misunderstanding of the books, evident from the fact that you haven't read them. The animalistic nature of the Daemons is nothing to do with 'humans being animals' - just like mood rings aren't suggestions that people are really colours.

Possibly, but personally I don't believe mood rings are reliable.

Daemons are, as Pullman puts it, the same soul in a different body.

In other words a complete and utter contradiction. A soul can only be in one body, not two.

I don't like the whole idea of people having these daemons in the first place.

As to the fact that they're called Daemons - well, 'fairies' sound really nice and friendly, but they used to be evil little bastards in folk lore, drowning people and causing mayhem. Don't take the fact that they are called Daemons to imply they are evil. 'Daemons' are different from 'Demons', as a little foray into mythology will teach you, and they are not necessarily evil.

The thing is I heard "demon" not "daemon." That is why I got the impression of an implication of evil. "Demon" means an evil spirit. "Daemon," on the other hand, is a very different matter. I realise that word does not imply evil.

Also, when reading a book about parallel universes, one is not being asked to accept it as a fact of reality, just a fact of the story.

I am aware of that, but I hate the whole concept or parellel universes. I don't like concepts I hate as being a part of a story. Is that really so bad? I think not.

I can't imagine how it could detract from the story.

That isn't the point. The point is it detracts from my pleasure.

What do you mean about 'the way it is done'? What is fundamentally 'wrong' about it, except that it couldn't happen in the real world?

I never said there was anything fundametally wrong about it nor did I imply it. Also, your guess is far from accurate. If that was my reason I would not of said, "Note: I have no problem with fantasies and their use of magic," now would I?

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This is something I thought Objectivists might be interested in. His Dark Materials is a trilogy of fantasy books written for young teenagers by Philip Pullman.

I've read it, and it's quite good. Supposedly Pullman wrote it as a refutation of the Narnia series and its blatant Christianity, but that doesn't necessarily have to be true. The books are good and stand well on their own. They are somewhat similar to a Narnia where children *should* grow up and Aslan is destroyed.

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The end of the last book really ruined the series for me. I thought it undercut all of the positives that the rest had. It affirmed that god and angels are real. The decision for Will and Lyra to never see each other again felt very tacked on and out of character for both of them.

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The end of the last book really ruined the series for me. I thought it undercut all of the positives that the rest had. It affirmed that god and angels are real. The decision for Will and Lyra to never see each other again felt very tacked on and out of character for both of them.

I didn't like the ending either, but the rest of the series is great. I think Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman are perfect picks for the characters they're playing.

They are somewhat similar to a Narnia where children *should* grow up and Aslan is destroyed.

I agree. Except for the ending.

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First of all, I'm glad to see that I got a few responses.

DragonMaci, I can understand why certain metaphysical realities in the fictional world would detract from your enjoyment. I think Tenure adequately covered why Objectivists (or "students of Objectivism" like myself) can still find value in the books/movie, but I'm not asking for you to want to read/watch. I just thought it might be something in which people that peruse this forum might be interested.

I've read it, and it's quite good. Supposedly Pullman wrote it as a refutation of the Narnia series and its blatant Christianity, but that doesn't necessarily have to be true. The books are good and stand well on their own. They are somewhat similar to a Narnia where children *should* grow up and Aslan is destroyed.

I don't think Pullman wrote the books as a refutation of Narnia (in fact, I think that's a common misnomer). I think it's more that the fact that they are the antithesis of Narnia causes people to project that intention on Pullman. However, he has said in the past that he does not think too highly of C.S. Lewis.

__

Maybe we should leave the discussion of the ending of the books out of this thread (or in spoiler tags)? I made the thread more for people to discuss the first movie, and possibly how it relates to the first book. I'm sure some people will go see the movie without reading all three books beforehand.

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The end of the last book really ruined the series for me. I thought it undercut all of the positives that the rest had. It affirmed that god and angels are real.

Real and not supernatural; they watched "God" die after all. A natural, definable God is of no use to any religionist. The fundamental essence of 'God's' supernaturality, that he has the *right* to control your life, was thoroughly repudiated by the novels. So what if there were actually some powerful people with wings. You didn't have to obey them because of that fact.

Will and Lyra deciding to split up was their first difficult adult decision, which they made together. They decided it would be better for Will to live than to fade away and die. There's a name for this: acting in accordance with your hierarchy of values.

I'm in favor of happy endings, myself, but I don't consider it an unhappy ending if everything doesn't just magically work out for the best and everyone doesn't get exactly what they want. In life you *do* have to make difficult calls like this, and I'd hate to be surrounded only by art that never illustrated this fact. The entire trilogy was about growing up, learning to make decisions, dealing with the consequences of your actions. A different ending would have radically changed the meaning of the novels.

I'm always astonished and horrifed when people presume to dictate to artists what the content of their work ought to be. Whenever I encounter an artwork, I first ask myself "what was the meaning of the work?" and then "was it a true thing? A right thing?" Is it right that children should grow up? Is it true that adulthood contains difficult decisions? Did they make the right decision? Then why grouse that the book isn't a happy idiot Disney fairy story?

Every time I hear a similar complaint reiterated, I'm reminded of Terry Pratchett, one of my favorite authors. "No one said it was going to be nice." I don't put any stock into whether things are nice or not. I put great stock into whether they reflect true aspects of humanity.

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