mercredi 25 avril 2012

Notes on Asimov, Isaac

Isaac could have been Greek Orthodox. Jews, Greek Orthodox and Calvinists use Old Testament names. Greek Orthodox and Calvinists also use names of the Christian virtues (witness Nadezhdzha meaning hope and Prudence). Greek Orthodox and Calvinists also use New Testament names and Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics use Saints' names, not always the same from after the New Testament was written. But Asimov? Well, what Asim I did find were not clearly Christian: one Kosovaresh Albanian, one Bosniak, one link to an article on the tribes of Yathrib. And yes, Eyzik Yoodovitch Asimov is his Jidysz name.

Foundation is a work based on space travel in the galaxy. Hyperspace is defined as "neither space, nor time, neither energy, nor matter" unless the second pair was "neither form nor matter" but my recalling that might be an interference memory from scholasticism, and only through that "hyperspace" could space travel do anything but take years and years. Has hyperspace been seen? No. Has space travel between stars been done by men? Well, if you count Enoch and Eliah, Our Lord and Our Lady ... but not in space ships. For roundness of earth there is Columbus and Vasco da Gama as witnesses, but we have not seen Hari Seldon or Gaal getting from Tantor to Terminus.

People in the work so far as I have read (I am not sure I will resume reading), are either cynic or naïve or unpleasant. It is like Weston, Weston, Weston, maybe Devine, certainly Hardcastle lutking behind some corner, but no Ransom, no Tor and Tinidril, no Hrossa, just maybe Seroni and Pfiffltriggi but living under people ethically very far from the Oyarsa of Malacandra. Or Saruman, Saruman, Grima, here and there a Shagrat, but no hobbits in sight, no Gandalf (no, not even Hari Seldon - who by the way reminds more of Obi Wan Kenobi than Gandalf does) and absolutely nothing like an Aragorn. Anything approaching "pleasant" is a man without truth, but certainly with some heart and some ruthless trickery in intricate mixtures.

Not pronouncing R's is presumed to be effeminate and snobbish millennia from now. Just because Oxford English unlike UCLA English suppresses some R's, that need not quite be the case.* But then, it just possibly could be he took some translation of traits from "real" future language to one accessible to us.

But now comes the bad part. Oh, you thought the above was bad enough? No ... his view of religion, possibly specifically the Christian religion, is the science is too complex for common men to invent or understand, so they get it parcelled out in religion. At least excepting scientifically very advanced ages - like the one at beginning of novel or the one we live in. So, some of it is mixed with lots of superstition, used to parcel out pieces of science and technology to savage people like "barbarians" or men at their usual level. But it is of course the sham thing and science the real thing. Duh ...

Get me right, he possibly has an eminent place for Jesus Christ in the scheme - possibly the one he gives Hari Seldon in the Foundation - as a psychologist knowing what it takes for "civilisation" as in technology and science and some pacifism to survive and scheming a deception to stage that necessity. But that is not what Our Lord is according to Holy Church or according to its basic record, Holy Writ.

Somehow the Universe of Tolkien and CSL is spiritually saner than the one of Isaac Asimov. And somehow that is the case in general cosmography too, what with Geocentrism and all. Foundation and so on depend on the cosmography as of Bruno and Newton, not proven by testimony of voyagers between the fixed stars. Nor by a complete Eratosthenes type of proof.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Georges Pompidou Library
25 - IV - 2012

*One could even argue that this argues severe Oxonophobia!

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