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I don't think I'll be all excited about the release date until June,… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
I don't think I'll be all excited about the release date until June, so I guess I just don't have a comment about it. Glad to hear that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it turns out to be the Hogwarts Express. (Though it's only three days before my birthday, so it'll feel kind of like a birthday present!)

I finally read The Screwtape Letters yesterday. My uncle had given me a copy when I finished Narnia in third or fourth grade, and I just wasn't ready for it then, but kept forgetting to read it later. I'm so very glad I was finally reminded to. Excellent send-up of the wartime west, and, in the case of "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," the American education system. (Lewis, in his forward to the piece, said that it was the American system he was talking about, though he couched it as the English system, as it would be both poor manners and poor strategy for a foreigner to take a direct skewer to something... but he trusted that Americans would recognize it anyway. And yeah... I recognize it. Boy, howdy, do I recognize it.) I particularly enjoyed his cut that "one democracy" was stunned when Russia won the space race, but how, while denigrating excellence, was it expecting its scientists to excel? (I have to admit, though, to having a greater fondness for the bright slackers, in most cases, than for the kids my college called "throats"--cutthroat students who would do anything for a grade. Your basic bright slacker can be turned into a dynamo when she's interested in something, but your basic throat can rarely be made to slow down enough to worry about being interested.)
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mylla From: mylla Date: February 2nd, 2007 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
You've reminded me of another piece by Lewis which I have in the same volume as "Screwtape Proposes A Toast", and will have to dig up again - "The Inner Ring". Lewis doesn't just hit the nail on the head, he manages to hit several nails with every paragraph. Perceptive, perceptive man.
From: iamweebles Date: February 2nd, 2007 12:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Your basic bright slacker can be turned into a dynamo when she's interested in something, but your basic throat can rarely be made to slow down enough to worry about being interested.)

And so follows my justification for unschooling :D
equustel From: equustel Date: February 2nd, 2007 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Screwtape. It's been so long - you make me want to pick it up again.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 2nd, 2007 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Screwtape is the only thing by Lewis I can stand, and that's only when John Cleese reads it. Whenever I get annoyed with Lewis, Cleese does something that makes me willing to listen a bit longer.

Yes, the book comes out the day before my birthday, too. One of the nicer gifts the universe has given me for my birthday over the years. (And here I was happy enough just to get the movie in July!)
ashtur From: ashtur Date: February 2nd, 2007 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I generally reread Screwtape about every other year. Lots of good thought provoking stuff in there.

My personal favorite is the lady who wants a piece of toast "just right", and then talking about the subject going to church and seeing all the sinners, not letting him realize "hey, I fit in pretty well here"
stephantom From: stephantom Date: February 2nd, 2007 08:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Lewis and Screwtape Letters - that part with the lady who wants her food just so was one that also stuck in my mind. But I don't think it was actually a good thing for me, lol. His point was, while she thought she was being really awesome by saying, "No, no, that's way too much! Take it back! I jsut want the tiniest little piece," she was actually making people go out of their way and stuff and being all picky and wasteful and selfish. I had never really thought of that. As a result, I've developed this need to eat whatever I'm served and lots of it, just to be courteous and stuff even when I don't want to eat more. And I don't think that's a healthy attitude at all. lol. So I have been trying to stop that and tell myself that it is in fact ok to leave half the meal on my plate.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: February 2nd, 2007 10:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, but there's a difference between causing people trouble and stuffing yourself with food you don't want.... The mother could just have eaten what she wanted and left the rest, but instead she insited on sending it back and having a smaller portion. It was the sending back and demanding something new which was wasteful and selfish, not eating more food than she wanted/ needed...
stephantom From: stephantom Date: February 2nd, 2007 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh. Yeah. It was kind of an irrational response to feel guilty about leaving food on a plate. And that passage wasn't the only thing that led to that feeling. But anyway.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: February 2nd, 2007 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Screwtape is hard for me to read because I keep seeing myself in ALL the misdeeds of the Patient and his mother. But I do read it every year or so, trying to keep myself from becoming too terminally self-absorbed :). (The bit that strikes particularly is the one about the Patient regarding a dozen different and mutually exclusive Horrible Fates as his cross, and forgetting that his present anxiety about the future is his ACTUAL, PRESENT cross. Also the part about sacrificing all your happiness now on the altar of a nebulous Future).
From: tree_and_leaf Date: February 2nd, 2007 10:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I think we can deduce from "Voyage of the Dawn Treader' and the comments about Eustace, who isn't actually interested in any subject for itself, but is fixated on marks and comparing his performance with everyone else, that Lewis didn't really like 'throats' (good term, btw) either.
terrathree From: terrathree Date: February 3rd, 2007 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I was going to say that the problem of denigrating excellence reminded me of a Latin poem. But actually it's the other way around: I was rereading some Martial today, and 12.80 reminded me of your post! :-) It's this:

Ne laudet dignos, laudat Callistratus omnes:
cui malus est nemo, quis bonus esse potest?

Roughly translated:

Callistratus praises everyone to avoid praising those who are worthy.
To someone who considers no one bad, who can be good?

So, yeah, it just struck me to see Martial, some 1900 years ago, noting the same problem we have now with avoiding praise where it's due for fear of giving offense to those who don't get praised.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 3rd, 2007 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I believe it was Bob Hope who said that the US pulled ahead of Russia because our ex-German scientists were better than their ex-German scientists.

He said he later got a message from the KGB wanting to know who'd talked.

On the subject of "throats," I think one of the problems some kids face these days is parents who try too hard to help them excel. It's not necessarily the pressure and the expectation, it's that many of these kids are run ragged and never given a chance to become self-motivated. They may also learn to see their educations far too much in terms of end product (money and socially recognized success) than process (enjoying what they do and finding it personally fulfilling/meaningful).

Since this started with Lewis, I'm reminded of a little parable I heard years ago about bricklayers working on a church. When three of them were asked what they were doing, these were the replies:

"I'm earning fifty cents an hour for hard labor."

"I'm laying bricks."

"I'm raising up a house of God."

The moral had to do with how they were all doing the exact same thing but that their attitudes to what they were doing made all the difference.

I'm willing to bet that a kid who goes into any field, be it bricklaying or CEO, with the attitude of "I'm earning X number of dollars an hour for hard labor," is not going to be happy in life.

verdenia From: verdenia Date: February 3rd, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting. I am very much a bright slacker, for better and worse.

Mostly better, but sometimes I feel like I should have greater ambitions than loving family and friends and life, b/c I should 'do something' with my brain. *shrug* I am working on getting art together for selling, at least. ;P
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