Saturday, August 4, 2012

Random thoughts on Lord of Light after my latest reading

I agree with the sentiment that Lord of Light is not an easy read, but one that rewards a diligent reader. I finished up my latest reading (listening, really) and it's amazing that I'm still finding new things after reading it over twenty times. This parallels something I read in Siddhartha, which I read at about the same time as Lord of Light. (Reading one must have caused me to seek out the other, but I don't remember which one came first.)

“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”

As I become a new person and change or evolve, I find new resonances within the book. For instance, I had previously considered and dismissed Accelerationism as being an allegory for the Red Scare. Now I'm not so sure. And while I don't think this book is, for instance, the Crucible, Zelazny is of the right age to have lived through that period in American history and I think it must have at least informed his characterization of the gods in this aspect.

Lines like:

"They were good, but they are past."


"Then every man would be as a god, you see. The result of this, of course, would be that there would no longer be any gods, only men."


lines from the Incredibles

"Yes! [The glory days] happened. But this is what's happening now!"


"And when everyone's super, no one will be."

Not that I think that Lord of Light directly inspired the Incredibles, but they are telling parts of the same story.

Other things I noticed for time. (Or remembered for the first time)

Shiva danced in a graveyard the Dance of Destruction and the Dance of Time, celebrating the legend of his annihilation of the three flying cities of the Titans,

And when Maya is telling Tak why she wants to learn of Accerationism:

The Archives exploded around him, and he stood in the ballroom halfway up Milehigh Spire. It was night, so late that it would soon be morning. A party had obviously been going on for a long while; but now the crowd in which he stood had come together in the corner of the room. They were leaning, and they were sitting and reclining, and all of them listening to the short, dark, husky man who stood beside the goddess Kali and talked. This was Great-Souled Sam the Buddha, who, with his warden, had just arrived. He was talking of Buddhism and Accelerationism, and of the days of the binding, and Hellwell, and the blasphemies of Lord Siddhartha in the city of Mahartha by the sea. He was talking, and his voice went on and on, hypnotic, and he radiated power and confidence and warmth, hypnotic, and his words went on and on and on, as the crowd slowly passed out and fell down around him. All of the women were quite ugly, except for Maya, who tittered then and clapped her hands, bringing back the Archives about them, and Tak again to his chair, his smile still upon his lips.

I couldn't prove it, but the impression that gives me is that Maya is not giving an accurate account of the attractiveness of the other women there, but one colored by her image of herself and I interpret her personality in light of that.

I was reading about it on Wikipedia and too and I wanted to bounce these two entries off our Zelazny scholors before I edited them.

Wikipedia: After an episode of 'demonic possession' by one of the planet's original inhabitants, [Sam] becomes capable of self-propelled flight, and his 'mind' can exist outside his body, even if it is killed.

That's in the context of his attempted escape from the dome, but I never thought Sam's possession allowed him to fly. Rather, it was his Aspect and the Talisman of the Binder, which he had just recovered. Consider the description, "Binding gravitation to his will, he rose."

Wikipedia: Nirriti remembers that Olvegg was a Christian, although far less fanatical than Nirriti in spreading his faith.

I don't think that's necessarily the case, but rather the aspect of human nature that suggests to most people that others are in silent agreement with their opinions. And seeing as the choice was claiming to be a Christian or being killed, I don't think that I can take Olvegg's agreement at face value. He may have been Culturally Christian, in the way that a lot of people are in America, but this struck me as a matter of expediency rather than of true faith, particularly considering the exchange.

"One of the First, and, yes!, a Christian!"

"Occasionally, when I run out of Hindi swear words."

That transitions into the next interesting point. Do you guys see the characters as racially Indian? The ship was named the Star of India, and the First seemed more well-versed in the religions of the Region than most Americans or Europeans would be. But if that's the case, it seems strange that the ship's chaplain would be Christian. Characters are occasionally described as "dark", but that's only meaningful in relation to their fellows.

I think I do. I was wondering about it, because my mind was on a movie, and I'm not a big fan of white-washing in casting, which is the act of casting a white actor as a character of another race. Like so many other things in the book, it's not made explicit, but that's the impression I got.

And the next time I read the book, I'll have hopefully ascended further and will be in a position to get more out of it.

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