Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Man Who Was Thursday - Chap. 13

Discussion Points

1) A brief thought about Gogol - also known as "Tuesday." Being the "second day" of the Genesis account, Tuesday would be the day upon which the waters were divided into those "above" and those "below." In a certain sense, it might be seen as the day upon which the realm of the temporal (here, below) was distinguised from that of the eternal and transcendant. I think there may be a Christian symbolism here. Gogol leaves after the first encounter with Sunday - he return right before the second encounter. If the first meeting of the Council be seen as the Genesis story of the six days, maybe the second time that the six confront Sunday could be seen as the eighth day of creation, when the rhealm of the eternal pierces into the temporal in a way that had never happened since the very beginning of things. Thoughts?

2) Any sense to be made of the messages thrown by Sunday to the other six? Chesterton might rephrase this question to say, what is the sense behind their lack of sense?

3) Notice the means of transportation used by Sunday throughout this scene. Any comments on a possible reason? I think I might have a hunch...


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Blogger Friguy said...

Identities are, at this point, entirely uncertain. Sunday seems as much like God as he does the devil. The undercover policemen "anarchists" have all been revealed as the opposite of their act. Indeed, the characters are, to the mind of a struggling reader, in anarchy.

That said, what of Gogol? He remains the only councilman whose true identity remains partially hidden. He continues to be called "the man once known as Gogol," not by whatever is his real name. The author has left him more secret than the others, bringing him back only to go again before Sunday. If the second council meeting is to be aligned with the eighth day, then what will fill the last two chapters? I shall expect to see Chesterton building up the Kingdom on earth and permitting the councilmen a glimpse of the Truth which has been so obscured in their adventurous pilgrimage. True apprehension of the transcendental (i.e., "the dawn from on high") shall break upon the mind of man only in the midday heat of the eighth day.

The written messages of Sunday are thoroughly incoherent. But our author certainly would not have included them to be meaningless. The best sense I can draw from their senselessness is that they are Sunday's way of making known to each councilman his supreme knowledge. That is, perhaps the messages are senseless not only to us, the readers, but also to the other councilmen. Perhaps they are messages that speak directly to the heart of their recipients in an effort to prove some paternal care for them as individuals. Could God speak things to each of us that we, alone, would understand, like unique expressions of love between lovers? In His boundless Fatherhood, does God have a charism something like the opposite of speaking in tongues, wherein he can speak to each human soul without the danger of any other soul understanding or misunderstanding? What a marvelous power that would be.

A beautiful passage worth highlighting is Sunday's comment to Dr. Bull. The Doctor, who as Saturday stands for the creation of livestock and man, has just taken off his ramshackle spectacles to gaze unhindered upon the face of the President, who says: "I dare say it's the sort of face that grows on one ... In fact, it grows on you; and who am I to quarrel with the wild fruits upon the Tree of Life? I dare say it will grow on me some day." I don't know yet what Sunday represents, but he has many traits becoming of the Lord and many reminiscient of the devil. If he here stands for the Lord, how fitting it is that the more encumbrances Dr. Bull removes, the richer appear Christ's words. Surely we saints on earth become more beautiful and ever more dear to the Lord as we clear our souls to contemplate the face of Christ. What a thought--the face of man, through which shines the "imago Dei", can grow on the heart of our Lord.

For an instance of Sunday appearing the devil, I point to the scene of him riding away on the elephant. As Syme states: "The elephant has not run away with [Sunday]. He has run away with the elephant. The elephant is not made by God that could run away with him if he did not consent to the elopement." And so it is with man. The devil is powerful, but it takes our willful step toward him if we are to be carried away on his back.

The Brit could be a bit more subtle concerning the zoo, which is first surmised to be the abode of Old Scratch. Having continued on his chase of Sunday, Syme daydreams and remembers distinctly the "pelicans, with their preposterous, pendant throats" among all the others he saw in the zoo. We need only sing the "Adoro te devote" to know the significance of a pelican.

Much lies unresolved. In two more chapters, either we will have everything tied neatly together for us, or we will be left to sort through the strands to find meaning ourselves.

8/1/06, 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Chris L said...

I thought I would post a short comment on my opinion of Sundays messages. I think the messages are meant to be senseless not only to us (the readers) and to the other council members but to the person they were written to as well. I think this is one way Sunday is like God, the messages of Sunday parallel messages given us by God through his creation. We can study creation but we can never fully understand it because we can not fully understand it creator. Less we understand the creator the more mysterious creation seems to us. The council members do not understand Sunday and therefore can not make sense of his messages to them
Chris L

8/2/06, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Friguy said...

I like what Chris has offered concerning Sunday's nonsense messages much more than I like my own initial thoughts.

Along with something Chris mentions in his comments on the next chapter, I have been thinking of the Book of Job in relation to "Thursday". Job, according to some biographical notes I've been reading, was a favorite of G.K.C., and there is a tremendous correspondence between his nightmare and the Old Testament tale. In particular, Sunday's messages are reminiscent of the Lord's whimsical, seemingly impertinent responses to Job's repeated laments. Job whined; he did not understand the Lord's response; more whining ensued. And the speeches of Elihu confound Job still more. I agree, then, that the messages are sensible only to Sunday/God and enigmatic even to the councilmen/Job.

The Book of Job concludes with the Lord's powerful statement of supremacy. I don't have a Bible handy from which to quote, but God asks who was present at the earth's founding. He asks who deigned to make the ocean deep as it is deep. He questions who governs the rise of morning and the fall of night.

Remember, then, Sunday's own statement of supremacy in Chapter XIII, saying that tree and cloud and star will be understood before his own mystery unravels.

The Holy Spirit gave us a tome on theodicy with the Book of Job; as if that were not enough, he seems to have inspired another at the hand of a jolly Brit.

8/4/06, 1:52 PM  

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