Monday, February 09, 2009

Simon's Fate

I want to speak briefly about one of the finest literary analyses ever written, William Golding's Lord of the Flies. If you passed through American high school education, you probably (had to) read it with all the relish of eating leftovers from the very back of the refrigerator.

Nevertheless, if you are fortunate - no, blessed by Providence - you may one day come across another analysis, that done by Gil Bailie of the Cornerstone Forum that was based on two works: Golding's (above) and Euripides' The Bacchae. In this analysis, Bailie neatly summarizes nearly the whole of the cultural anthropology of René Girard (called mimetic theory) and limns the deplorable fallen state of the mankind drawing from these two deep pools of wisdom, modern and Tragedian. My own meager fictional (and didactic) offering, The Dionysus Mandate, was born a runt from these two titan parents.

I want to suggest that Golding's work also provides us with a further insight. If one reads of the "choirboys" and their leader, Jack, one is looking at figures looming largely and dangerously in today's world: any who either have fallen out of the influence of the Christian gospel - neo-pagans in search of another pantheon to worship - or those who never were under its influence save in mimetic rivalry - the Scimitar. The former is gaining new vitality in the ruins of the old West, picking over its bones. The latter is swiftly immigrating into the West and propagating offspring at a rate that will overwhelm non-Scimitar man, conservative estimates say, by the mid-21st century.

Both worship a very different deity than the diminishing Christian faith of the West. Who represents the Christian in Golding or Euripides? Exactly. He does not exist.

But the one who represents the dying Westerner is present in Golding, at least: Simon. He employs the fruits of the Christian West - science - but cannot, in my opinion, be said to represent the Catholic or non-Catholic Christian.

And what is Simon's fate? He brings news from the realm of the primitive sacred - the false transcendence of the "pig's head on a stick" - to the boys on the beach. His is the fate of all victim-fodder before the mob of humanity possessed by the primitive sacred. He is murdered.

I fear that without the foundation of the Christian faith, western man will suffer the same fate as Simon. For fate it is to all who abandon the roots of the West, old Christendom. The power of the primitive sacred, in either its modern nihilist form or the street-mob Scimitar form is far too strong for the non-believing scientist trying to maintain himself with no true transcendence, no "external Mediator."

So Lord of the Flies is of only limited value to one seeking a way to live as a Christian in these darkening days of the old West. The fiction has yet to be written that provides such prescriptive answers. But who knows? Perhaps the author is out there right now, listening and following that divine muse insistently that he or she dictate the good news.

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