Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Against Time

"...against Fate even gods cannot contend..."
-SM Stirling, The Sunrise Lands (New York, 2008), Chapter Seventeen, p. 410.

"'...the will of Weard stands not to be altered...Know that against time the gods themselves are powerless. I did what I was doomed to do.'"
-Poul Anderson, "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 333-465 AT 372, p. 457.

Between the original Time Patrol series and the two overlapping sub-series concerning Wanda Tamberly and the Exaltationists, there is a diptych (two works) about Northern European mythology. Here we quoted "Star of the Sea" about the legacy of the Roman Empire. Now we quote "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" about gods and time. Poul Anderson turns out to be endlessly quotable and his Time Patrol series is a major source of quotations.

In different traditions, gods are subordinate to Weard and to Dharma. I find this appropriate. We imagine and project the gods. We recognize their limitations.

6 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

If a "god" has limitations and is even bound to, or immanent to this planet, then that "being" is not truly a god. How can a god be a god if he had a beginning? No, the Judaeo/Christian view of God as the infinitely transcendent Other makes far more sense.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
We have to accept that words are used in different senses, like the bark of a dog and the bark of a tree.
In "man and machine," "man" means human beings whereas, in "man and woman," "man" means male human beings. The word "god(s)" was applied to many powerful but finite beings before it was capitalized, made singular only and applied to one ultimate being.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Of course I have to agree that some words with the same spelling can have different meanings. Like the example you gave.

Yes, I also agree that pagans conceived of "gods" as being powerful but finite beings. Even if the idea of a god being FINITE still strikes me as being odd.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
You are still thinking of "god" as having an inherent meaning. It might be a good training exercise for communicators or educators to spend a day among themselves, away from everyone else, deliberately using words with the wrong meanings, e.g., saying "dog" whenever they mean "god." This might help them to be more aware of the difference between a sound and its arbitarary meaning(s).
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Well,because of my Catholic background, I do find it natural to think and believe "God" has an inherent meaning. And the exercise you propose would be an interesting one to practice. I have sometimes almost confused "dog" with "god" because of the very similar spelling.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
In a novel by Anthony Burgess, a Maltese man was used to praying to "Deus" in a church whereas his Muslim neighbour prayed to Allah in a mosque. Then the Church changed to the vernacular and the Maltese word for God is "Allah"...
Paul.