05 October 2011
the great divorce 5
At this point the narrator is confronted by another one of the Ghosts who engages in conversation. It begins with a request from the Ghost, "Thinking of going back?"
There is more of a game-element to in this particular conversation, as it demonstrates the idle curiosity of humankind which so often overtakes the genuine longing of the soul towards God. What is presented as humdrum is covering up the lack of wonder in the world, something that C. S. Lewis combatted frequently with his own perspective and writing. The Ghost has determined that everything is essentially the same, and that it is all part of a worldwide system that dictates to people what should be fascinating. So much so that even grey town does not live up to his expectation of what he expected of Hell.
Thus, the solid world in which the story takes place is no different than any other park the Ghost has seen, except for the disappointing and frustrating aspect of everything being too solid for him to experience. What is more, the Ghost is unwilling to allow an unidentified "They" to keep this sort of game going at his expense. He is ultimately denying the legitimacy of a higher authority, though he is willing to admit there are influential forces that may determine his actions.
I would say that the perspective shown here by the Ghost is a bit of Deism: the notion of a higher authority (typically god) who has created things that facilitate some sort of game (cosmos), but which does not interact directly with any person or have any moral standards or qualities to which one may appeal. With the detached deity the individual may choose how to accept reality, but all ends up more or less the same. In this case, more-or-less-the-same is a disappointing mediocrity.
Added to this perspective is a twist of gnosticism on the part of the Ghost. Everything he's ever been told has been a lie, and in order to cope or escape this so-called game is to come to the knowledge and understanding of the higher truth - although here the Ghost would shudder to even be willing to identify some sort of truth. For, in the end, the deistic and gnostic elements simply bring out a conspiracy theorist who is dissatisfied with life - now carrying that dissatisfaction into the afterlife.
In the end the Ghost refuses to accept the truth of what is being handed to him, again showing that the center of one's passion and purpose will carry on into eternity. No one is stripping him of his opportunity to make a choice, but his fate seems to be sealed by the perspective that he has for so long affirmed. He has moved from rationality into absurdity - a fate unfortunately reached by many long before they are standing in the world of solids.
labels: review: The Great Divorce