Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Mercury comes down to Earth

There came an instant at which both men braced themselves. Ransom gripped the side of his sofa; Merlin grasped his own knees and set his teeth. A rod of coloured light, whose colour no man can name or picture, darted between them; no more to see than that, but seeing was the least part of their experience. Quick agitation seized them: a kind of boiling and bubbling in mind and heart which shook their bodies also. It went to a rhythm of such fierce speed that they feared their sanity must be shaken into a thousand fragments. And then it seemed that this had actually happened. But it didn't matter: for all the fragments - needle-pointed desires, brisk merriments, lynx-eyed thoughts - went rolling to and fro like glittering drops and reunited themselves. It was well that both men had some knowledge of poetry. The doubling, splitting and recombining of thoughts which now went on in them would have been unendurable for one whom that art had not already instructed in the counterpoint of the mind, the mastery of doubled and trebled vision. For Ransom, whose study had been for many years in the realm of words, it was heavenly pleasure. He found himself sitting within the very heart of language, in the white-hot furnace of essential speech. All fact was broken, splashed into cataracts, caught, turned inside out, kneaded, slain, and reborn as meaning. For the lord of Meaning himself, the herald, the messenger, the slayer of Argus, was with them: the angel that spins nearest the sun. Viritrilbia, whom men call Mercury and Thoth.
~ C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, Chapter 15: Descent of the Gods (1945)

4 Comment(s):

At Tue Oct 26, 10:13:00 AM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

From the poem: "His flint has struck
The spark of speech from spirit's tinder,
Lord of language!"

From the passage: "For Ransom, whose study had been for many years in the realm of words, it was heavenly pleasure. He found himself sitting within the very heart of language, in the white-hot furnace of essential speech. All fact was broken, splashed into cataracts, caught, turned inside out, kneaded, slain, and reborn as meaning. For the lord of Meaning himself, the herald, the messenger, the slayer of Argus, was with them".

I wonder where Lewis got the Old Solar names for the planets from. Viritrilbia (different in form from Malacandra (Mars) and Perelandra (Venus)--what do all these roots mean? Sigh...) almost sounds like verbus, the Latin word for, uh, "word".

 
At Tue Oct 26, 10:13:00 AM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Oh, and what do lynx-eyed thoughts like? oO;;

 
At Tue Oct 26, 12:14:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

I know that the character of Ransom is only loosely based on J.R.R. Tolkien, but I like to think he'd react this way to a visit from Mercury.

I love that phrase "lynx-eyed thoughts", don't you? Makes me think of adjectives like keen, and sharp, and glowing (like cat's eyes in the dark).

Now as to Latin roots, and the origin of "viritrilbia", I have no idea. I did look up "virile" to see if there was a Latin root that might apply, and there is the root "vir" meaning: manliness, worth. Just throwing that out there.

 
At Tue Oct 26, 04:05:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

A vir is also a man, BTW.

But I don't think that Old Solar has Latin roots. It's supposed to be based on Elvish, but I imagine the rest of it is supposed to be made up. I was just wondering what Viritrilbia meant because it is different in form from some of the other planets' names. Andra, as is explained in Out of the Silent Planet, means land.

But the reason why I asked about a Latin root is because I've been taking Latin for so long, I've been conditioned to pronounce Vs with a W sound.

 

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