Sunday, 19 March 2017

What Is Truth?

Searching the blog for a recent post entitled "What Is Truth?," I found that at least two posts have had that title:

What Is Truth?
What Is Truth?

I sought out this post because, while looking for a passage in a Dominic Flandry novel, I found:

"'In a well-known phrase from an earlier empire, what is truth?'"
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 92.

This is significant because it is yet another understated use of the Bible in one of Poul Anderson's works. See here. Furthermore, Anderson's Terran Empire is so much more powerful than the Roman Empire that his fictional future history seems to invite comparison with Biblical past history, especially when Dominic Flandry quotes Pontius Pilate. This impression is strengthened when we later learn that a pilgrim within the Terran Empire seeks evidence of a second Divine Incarnation. Within Anderson's Technic History, the two Books of Stormgate recount the history of a people, the Ythrians, and of their exodus to another planet,  Avalon, named from Arthurian myth. One Ythrian sees the shadow of God the Hunter across the Terrestrial way of life - and, when that way of life has gone, humanity is left with an Empire defended by Flandry who asks, "What is truth?"

13 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

It took me a long time, partly because I also did some browsing, but I finally tracked down where Plandry quoted Pilate's famous question to Our Lord, "What is truth?", near the end of Chapter VI of A STONE IN HEAVEN. Admiral Flandry was trying to jest about the danger he was personally going into, claiming that a peaceful life had become boring AND that none others on his staff had quite his TOUCH at investigating and solving problems. Miriam Abrams would have none of that and told Flandry the real reason he went to Ramnu: "Dominic, you served under my father, and he was an officer of the old school. An officer does not send men to do anything he would not do himself." And Flandry admitted that was true.

But of course I agree with you! The Terran Empire was incomparably vaster and more powerful than any past terrestrial state, such as the Roman Empire. And this easy and natural use of the Bible by Flandry shows not only that he was a cultured man but also that the Empire he served descended from that Biblical history (among many other things). And the simple existence of Christianity in the Empire, including non human converts like Fr. Axor, shows how that Biblical history continued to shape events over a millennium from our times.

And that Empire defended by Flandry was itself a successor to other periods, such as the era of the Polesotechnic League--which was starting to pass away in Nicholas van Rijn's old age. With the shadow of God the Hunter looming over the League, to use the Ythrian term.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Sorry you had to search for "What is truth?" I hoped you would be able to go straight to the page reference for FLANDRY'S LEGACY. Your comments on this post and on "Reality Strikes Back?" underline how substantial Anderson's texts are and their continuity with past history, literature and scripture.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Problem is, different editions of FLANDRY'S LEGACY (trade paperback and mass market paperback) will have different PAGINATIONS. Which is why I find it easier to cite quotations, where possible, by using chapter or section numbers. Or specifying what kind of edition I'm using.

I agree! The works of Poul Anderson are very substantial texts, they can even be called philosophical stories. They can be linked up to past history, speculative future history, and the Scriptures.

Anderson has also shown respect for Buddhism and Confucianism, altho I don't recall him quoting from the normative works of those schools of thought. Except he did once quote from the Chinese BOOK OF SONGS in one of his later works.

Islam, however, Poul Anderson seems to have disliked as various passages in HARVEST OF STARS indicates. But he was careful to stress Muslims can be decent PERSONS.

All the above covers Christianity (and by extension, Judaism), Buddhism, Confucianism, and Islam. These being the major religions and philosophies of the world.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Again, I thought that there was only the single standard Baen edition of THE TECHNIC CIVILIZATION SAGA.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

What I infer is that you were using the mass market paperback of FLANDRY'S LEGACY, which will be smaller than the trade paperback copy I have.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I know they come in two sizes. I have 5 small and 2 big and would prefer 7 small, especially if the paginations are different! How inconvenient.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree about the inconvenience. All I can suggest is using chapter/section numbers, where possible.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I have been doing that a lot and now will do it all the time.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And this reminds me, again, of the Bible. Readers and theologians more and more felt the need for a convenient means of looking up texts from the Scriptures. By the time of Stephen Langton, Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury, while still at, I think, the University of Paris, he had helped develop the beginnings of the system of chapters and verses we use for citing Scripture. A system reaching the form we now use by the 1500's.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Bible references are so convenient. The same system is used for the Gita, the Koran and Shakespeare.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I knew about the similar systems of citation used for Shakespeare and the Koran, but not the Gita.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
The Gita is chapter and verse. I expect most scriptures have something similar.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

True. Including, now that I've thought of it, the ANALECTS of Confucius. And probably the MENCIUS as well. These being two of the most basic of the Confucian works.

Sean