Thursday, 7 December 2017

The Transcendent And The Mundane In Life And Fiction

Every moment has two aspects, the transcendent and the mundane, although we might not recognize both. It seems that some lives are spent entirely within the confines of the mundane although transcendence (going beyond) is always possible. Someone watching a soap opera might remember a line from Shakespeare or a scripture, reflect on life and death and begin to change his life-style? Or maybe not, most of the time.

The distinction is artificial. The first moment of consciousness (imagine!) transcended previously universal unconsciousness. When everything was new, then nothing was mundane. The familiar seems mundane only because it has become familiar. Poul Anderson's Patrician System with its multi-species colonized planets, Imhotep and Daedalus, "the world without a horizon," is exotic to us although mundane to its inhabitants. See Mundane And Exotic and On The Highroad River I. Science fiction can respond to CS Lewis' longing for the Unearthly.

Poul Anderson goes further by writing not only hard sf but also heroic fantasy and even imagining a meeting place for characters from both kinds of universes. As Alan Moore wrote about a comic book continuum:

"Imagine for a moment a universe jewelled with alien races ranging from the transcendentally divine to the loathsomely Lovecraftian. Imagine a universe where the ancient gods still exist somewhere and where whole dimensions are populated by anthropomorphic funny animals. Where Heaven and Hell are demonstrably real and even accessible, and where angels and demons alike seem to walk the earth with impunity."
-Alan Moore, Introduction IN Moore, Saga Of The Swamp Thing (New York, 1987), pp. v-xi AT p. vii.

So, fellow Earthlings, transcend the mundane by reading Poul Anderson and Alan Moore and meditating.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree, most of us tend to be so wrapped up in the mundane affairs of our every day lives that we forget to at least sometimes be open to the exotic or transcendental. I think most of us, if we get any transcendental moments, tend to do so by religious means.

And I rather like that image you chose! Plainly the cover of a French translation of AGENT OF THE TERRAN EMPIRE showing us the meeting of Flandry with Aycharaych at the Crystal Moon.