I just finished a book. And I won’t turn this into a book review thing, but I had to share a little about this one. One of my favorite authors is C. S. Lewis. I’ve read most everything by him, but somehow I skipped over his Perelandra series. I read the first in the trilogy, Jenseits des Schweigenden Sterns (Out of That Silent Planet). I did read it in German. That will result in some translating back into English when I want to quote passages haha.
The book itself is a scifi. The main character, a professor named Ransom, is abducted and taken to Mars by two men, one, a crazy scientist intent on spreading mankind to all corners of the universe, and the other, an opportunistic dandy wanting to find gold on Mars. On Mars, Ransom finds that the planet is inhabited by three intelligent species: the poetic Hrossa, the intellectual Seroni, and the industrious Pfliflitriggi. Ransom finds himself living amongst them, learning their language and coming to understand their way of life.
The curious thing about the Martian inhabitants is that they are innocent of all the faults found in mankind; there is no word for war, and they don’t understand why such a thing would be carried out, for instance. The following scene takes place while Ransom is living amongst the Hrossa:
The orderly military-like preparations brought many questions to Ransom’s mind. He didn’t know the word for war, but he was able to communicate to Hyoi what he wanted to know. Did the Seroni, the Hrossa and the Pfiflitriggi ever go after each other with weapons in a similar manner?
“What for?” asked Hyoi. It was hard to explain. “When both want the same thing, but the other won’t give it,” said Ransom, “Would the other not use force to obtain it? Would they not say: give it here, or we will kill you?”
“What would they want?”
“Well, food, for example.”
“When the other kind wants food, why wouldn’t we just give it to them? We do it often.”
“And what if you didn’t have enough for yourselves?”
“But Maleldil would never stop the plants from growing.”
“Hyoi, if you kept having more and more children, would Maleldil extend the Handramit so more plants could grow?”
“The Seroni know. But why would we want more children?”
The question was difficult for Ransom. Finally, he said, “Is it not a pleasure for the Hrossa to have children?”
“A very great one, Hman. We call I love.”
“When something gives you joy,” said Ransom, “Then a man wants it again and again. Sometimes, he wants the pleasure so often, that you couldn’t feed the number of children.”
It took a long while until Hyoi comprehended it. “You mean,” he said, irritated, “He doesn’t want to do it once or twice in his life, but over and over again?”
“But why? Would he want to eat dinner all day, or sleep when he has already slept? I don’t understand.”
“You have dinner every day. And this love, you say, only happens once in the life of a Hross?”
“But it keep you busy your entire life,” countered Hyoi. “When he is young, he has to find a companion. The he courts her. The he has children and raises them. The he remembers all this, turns it over in his thoughts, writes poems about it and obtains wisdom.”
“And he must be satisfied with the memory of it?”
“That’s like you saying, I must be satisfied with only eating my food.”
“I don’t understand.”
“A pleasure only then becomes perfect once it becomes a memory. You speak, Man, as if pleasure is one thing and memory is another. They are all one. The Seroni could explain it better than I can. But not better than I could in a poem. You you call memory is the last part of pleasure, as the Crah is the last part of a poem. When we first met each other, the moment was quickly over—it was nothing. But when we remember it, it becomes bigger. We come to know more and more about it. What it has become in my memory when I lay down to die, what it has worked within me—that is the true meeting. The other is only the beginning. You say you have poets in your world. Do they not teach you this?”
The scene and others like it make you reevaluate yourself. Why? Why do we fight? Why do we exploit others, seek pleasures excessively and the whole lot? The seemingly childlike understanding of the Hrossa actually seems the most mature.
Think about it.