Friday, November 27, 2009

A Ring, A Compass, and... A Cat?

One of the very cool things that the His Dark Materials trilogy can do is really open up your imagination. The multiple worlds theory is one of the more interesting and applicable ideas in fantasy, spawning new ways to look at your favorite worlds. Anyone hear of the Schrödinger's cat paradox? The paradox states that every event is a branch point; for example if a cat is placed in a box for a day and dies, that only means it is dead in our universe. The cat is both alive and dead, even before the box is opened, but the "alive" and "dead" cats are in different branches of the universe, both of which are equally real, but which cannot interact with each other. So I started thinking about death in fantasy and how, according to Pullman, there a several universes in the HDM trilogy.

(rhetorical question) Is death an obstacle if the multiple worlds’ theory is used fantasy?

Contrary to the literature for LOTR, I believe Tolkien used this theory in Middle Earth. Gandalf fights the Bellrock and is mortally wounded doing so. He eventually dies of these wounds yet the “order” brings Gandalf back to life. The new White Wizard returns to fight for the fellowship and to destroy the ring. We all know of this, yet what realm does the order exist in and why does Gandalf feel like the years have passed by him? The simple explanation of this is that he spends time in heaven and then returns back a new man/wizard. But I’m gonna put a new twist on this idea. The White Wizard Gandalf might not be from the Middle Earth that the grey Wizard died in. On page 484 of the Two Towers in my book there is this quote:

“’Yes I am white now,’ said Gandalf... ‘But come now, tell me of yourselves! I have passed through fire and deep water, since we parted. I have forgotten much that I thought I knew, and learned again much that I had forgotten. I can see many things far off, but many things that are close at hand I cannot see. Tell me of yourselves!’”

Now, while there are many who read into this passage, and the passage on page 491 saying that he was “sent back naked,” believing that he was sent back from heaven to complete his job. However, what is heaven in this story but another dimension, another world that is layered upon Middle Earth? (Disregarding the Silmarillion that was published in Tolkien’s name post-humorously and was never fully described by Tolkien the way he intended, and forget about Iluvatar and the stories about his creation.) Taking into account the Schrödinger's cat paradox, this “Heaven” may just be a place where Gandalf never died. The Gandalf the White present in the Two Towers conveniently cannot remember specifics to come but knows the outcome now that he is here. He had to learn about the death of Boromir and the breaking of the fellowship from Galadriel because, in his universe with him present, Boromir may have never died and the fellowship was probably together. He may have created a crack in time and space and walked through to around the time he came close to death, knowing about multiple dimensions. This is a very “what if” scenario but nonetheless it is an enlightening experience when you think about.

Anyone else think this might be an option?

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