Out of the Silent Planet, Chs. 12-17

This week’s installment was rich. Much good commentary on language, work and productivity, knowledge, and, mostly, angelology.

But what I found most intriguing was Hyoi’s account of pleasure and memory. In a passage worthy of consideration alongside Aristotle’s De Anima, Bk Gamma, Lewis writes of a conversation between Ransom and Hyoi. Ransom begins:

‘If a thing is a pleasure, a hman [i. e., earthly human] wants it again. He might want the pleasure [of sexual intercourse] more often than the number of young that could be fed.’
It took Hyoi a long time to get the point.
‘You mean,’ he said slowly, ‘that he might do it not only in one or two years of his life but again?’
‘But why? Would he want his dinner all day or want to sleep after he had slept? I do not understand.’
‘But dinner comes every day. This love, you say, comes only once while the
hross lives?’
‘But it takes his whole life. When he is young he has to look for his mate; and then he has to court her; then he begets young; then he rears them; then he remembers all this, and boils it inside him and makes it into poems and wisdom.’
‘But the pleasure he must be content to only remember?’
‘That is like saying, “My food I must be content to eat.”‘
‘I do not understand.’
‘A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered. You are speaking,
Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing. The seroni could say it better than I say it now. Not better than I could say it in a poem. What you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure, as the crah is the last part of the poem. When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then–that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it. . . .’
. . .
‘And indeed,’ he continued,’the poem is a good example. For the most splendid line becomes fully splendid only by means of all the lines after it; if you went back to it you would find it less splendid than you thought. You would kill it. . . .’

[p. 73]


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