Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Innocence And Knowledge

OK. I have been bandying the word "innocence" without reflecting on its two meanings which are:

blameless, not guilty;
ignorant of evil -

- although I have clearly been using it in the latter sense. "As yet with no experience of evil" might be more precise. Mythologically, Adam and Eve lost innocence in both senses when they disobeyed and gained knowledge of good and evil. James Blish's title, After Such Knowledge, a quotation from TS Eliot, addresses the question whether the acquisition of knowledge is itself evil. One of Everard's disillusionments is the realization that the Danellians are guilty of meddling in time.

Manse Everard in Amsterdam remembers a visit to the city before he had joined the Time Patrol:

"(Had that summer really been so golden, or had he simply been young, unburdened with too much knowledge?) He half dreaded what he might find." (Time Patrol, p. 479)

The Time Patrol series consistently addresses not only the concept of time travel but also the loss of innocence in the second sense above. But what could be more appropriate for a time travel series? There is real human experience and there is imagined time travel experience and a skilled sf writer blends them together:

"It was a strange thing to meet her at intervals of months which for Havig were hours or days. Each time, she was so dizzyingly grown. In awe he felt a sense of that measureless river which he could swim but on which she could only be carried from darkness to darkness."
-Poul Anderson, There Will Be Time (New York, 1973), IX, p. 98.

We have already looked at time as a river in the Time Patrol.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

It was not the desire per se for the "knowledge of good and evil" which was bad for Adam and Eve. Rather, their sin lay in the means of gaining that knowledge. But, I'm sure you understand that!