Golden Compass: Crash'n'Burn

E! Article

New Line, meanwhile, was the woozy-feeling patient after its would-be franchise starter The Golden Compass (third place, $9 million) fell off a cliff, down 65 percent from a disappointing debut weekend.

So far, the $180 million fantasy film is the unwanted fruitcake of the holiday season, having taken in just $41 million overall. (It has performed stronger overseas; so, perhaps any sequels could be made expressly for Slovakia, et al.)

* * *

Seeking to understand the hype on this thing, but yet not support it commercially, Whitney and I grabbed a book-on-tape version of Pullman's The Amber Spyglass. This is the third book in the series.

Essentially, the book's a protracted treatise on reconciling religion, quantum theory, and why we whacky humans believe in the Almighty ("The Authority" in Pullman-speak). Unlike most Atheists, Pullman not only accepts the supernatural; he embraces it. He simply melds what we would call "The Supernatural" with Arthur C Clarke's quote:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

He has Angels, "Heaven", "The land of the dead," etc., but these are merely different planes of existence, similar to quantum mechanics/string theory postulates of Membranes that are adjoining, but never interacting per human observation. Here, a character named Will can cut between worlds with a special knife.

Anyway, the great "lie" that the series seeks to expose is the great recursive dilemma that every 5-year-old perceives when he first hears about God: "If God created everything, who created God?" Here, God isn't the almighty creator, He's just the first conscious being to coalesce out of Dust (presumably, from The Big Bang...). He's not omnipotent or omnisscient...he's just older than everyone else, and he lied to all his successive beings that he created them.

That's the crux of it. God not as loving Father, or almighty King, but as tyrant of the universe, with the Church ("The Magisterium") his worldly arms in each reality.

Thus the theme: If we can just throw off the shackles of "God", humans can transcend our provincal need for Providence and become fully realized.

I think I've read that before:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

(Genesis 3:1-5.)


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