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[Closed] Deeper Magic: Underdeveloped?  

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Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer

In the latest podcast, Rilian and I disagreed about the Deeper Magic. I feel it is a weak and underdeveloped plot twist. What do you think?

We start talking about it at the 36:20 mark...
Listen here

Deep Magic (ch. 13):

“Have you forgotten the Deep Magic?” asked the Witch. 

“Let us say I have forgotten it,” answered Aslan gravely. “Tell us of this Deep Magic.” 

“Tell you?” said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. “Tell you what is written on that very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the firestones on the Secret Hill? Tell you what is engraved on the sceptre of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill.”
[...]
“And so,” continued the Witch, “that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property.” 

[...]
"[Aslan] knows that unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.”

Deeper Magic (ch. 15)

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know: Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards. [...]"

2005 Film:

Aslan: If the Witch knew the true meaning of sacrifice, she might've interpreted the Deep Magic differently: That when a willing victim who has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor's stead, the Stone Table will crack and even death itself will turn backwards.


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Posted : July 8, 2012 7:39 am
DiGoRyKiRkE
(@digorykirke)
The Logical Ornithological Mod Moderator

I feel it is a weak and underdeveloped plot twist.

How-so? Perhaps it's not the best explained plot element. . . but does it really need to have more depth? I'm pretty sure that everybody understands it as well as they need to understand it without more details given.

Lewis never gives more details than he needs to; he always leaves more up to the reader's imagination.

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Posted : July 8, 2012 9:08 am
shastastwin
(@shastastwin)
Member Moderator Emeritus

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD

The Deeper Magic is underdeveloped, perhaps, but that hardly makes it "weak." Though Lewis could certainly have written more about it in the later books, I'd like to think that once the concept is in the series, it's perceptible underneath the surface of the story afterward. We hear about the Emperor putting the Magic into the world of Narnia at the very beginning in LWW, and then we see Aslan singing Narnia into being in MN. If one has read them in this order rather than chronologically, then the connection seems obvious: that Aslan, acting out the will of the Emperor, put the Deep Magic into Narnia Himself. What's more, he knew the Magic that existed before the Dawn of Time because he was there. Jadis, on the other hand, was not in Narnia until the beginning of Time in that world.

Also, the Deeper Magic has to exist for Aslan to return. If there is nothing higher or older than the Deep Magic that requires death for traitors, then there is no rising Aslan; no rising Aslan means no second army of Narnians, which means that the First Battle of Beruna would have been the only Battle of Beruna and the Witch would still have won, as she thought she had when she killed Aslan. If He is unable to return, the whole story is for nothing. Therefore, the Deeper Magic must exist in some form. Would we like to have more knowledge of it? Sure. Should Lewis have written more about it in LWW or the other Narnian books? Perhaps. But simply because it's not as fleshed out as Aslan Himself doesn't make it weak. It's a bit of a surprise to everyone, yes, but that's part of the point. We reach the lowest depths when we think the Witch has won and Aslan is dead for good, but that only makes the joy of the next morning that much greater.

(As a side note, I didn't care for the film's version of the resurrection scene. It takes away Aslan's knowledge and power and makes Him seem like a clever trickster instead of an all-powerful Savior.)

"All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you..."
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Posted : July 8, 2012 9:35 am
Ithilwen
(@ithilwen)
NarniaWeb Zealot

It's true that not much is said about the Deeper Magic, but I don't think there really needed to be. Aslan is the sort of character you expect from the beginning to have some deeper power that goes back to the very beginning. There's a very God-like quality to him. He spoke Narnia into existence with merely a song. Everything about him rings of a deep power that's bigger than the world.

So I guess, to me, details about the Deeper Magic didn't need to be explained, since it's already kind of "understood" by the reader.

What's more, if it was explained in detail, that would take away the quality of mystique that surrounds the character of Aslan. A big part of what makes him seem God-like is that there's so much about him that we don't know, that we can't know, that we're not worthy enough to know.

~Riella =:)

Posted : July 8, 2012 11:13 am
Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer

Here's what I'm getting at:

Imagine if Frodo died in Mordor, and everyone was devastated, and then he miraculously came back. "Frodo! Why aren't you dead??" And he responded "Well, you see, there is a Deep Magic that said if there was ever a Hobbit who dropped a ring in a volcano in Mordor and he had brown hair and his name was Frodo, death would work backwards."


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Posted : July 8, 2012 1:07 pm
Dernhelm_of_Rohan
(@dernhelm_of_rohan)
NarniaWeb Nut

Iif I may make so bold as to disagree with our esteemed Marshwiggle, you have set up a bit of a strawman argument.

First, take into account that the Chronicles are fairly allegorical, particularly with regards to Aslan. Obviously, they are not a textbook for Christianity, but they bear significant resemblence to the history of that faith. And then you see that of course, the Deep Magic is slightly understated (notice I did not say underdeveloped) because it mirrors something in our world - the basic Laws of the Judeo-Christian God. The Emperor-Over-The-Sea is never even glimpsed in the series and is only mentioned a few times, but we know exactly who he is meant to be. Sometimes the simplicity of understating is what makes a story more accessible, more beloved.

Second, you have compared two entirely different styles of writing and asked us to judge one against the other. Tolkien explained and told and showed everything, either in the story or in the appenix afterwards. He created a detailed, documented world with a fabric of history so rich that it can't be contained in just the LotR trilogy. Good grief, he even created languages for his imaginary characters and peoples!

Now consider Lewis's world, which is relatable to our world, where everyone speaks English, and where some things are left delightfully to our imaginations. Lewis hints at what the truth is, but leaves us to guess. He doesn't explain everything... which is why he is not Tolkien and why so many people love the books. Because they aren't all "planned out". Because there are some plot gaps. Amd because some things are better left understated.

It's simply unfair to hold one up against the other and say, "why isn't this story more like the other?". They are vastly different examples of brilliant writing and amazing stories. The fact that one is steeped in unexplained mystery and the other has a rich tapestry of history doesn't detract from the merits of either.

-Dernhelm


Founding Keeper of the Secret Magic

Posted : July 8, 2012 4:51 pm
Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer

Like I said in the podcast, I think in most cases Lewis leaving things unexplained works very well. His style is to only explain things that are directly relevant to the plot. This gives the world of Narnia a sense of depth. It makes us feel like the world is not limited to what is on the page. Because that's how real history works. Someone writing a history textbook can't possibly hope to explain every little thing that happened. They have to find a thread and stick to it.

I don't really think of this as an instance of Lewis not explaining something. He does give us an explanation of why Aslan came back to life, and I think it's lame.

But if you're focusing on the fact that Lewis doesn't explain why an innocent person being killed in a traitor's stead would cause death to work backwards and the Stone Table to crack... I would still say it doesn't work because this is directly relevant to the plot. Imo, not explaining it doesn't add to the sense of depth I described at the top of this post. It's a departure from the style Lewis generally uses in Narnia.

I'm also not arguing that the scene is inconsistent with Christian theology. I am arguing that it's undramatic and doesn't work for the plot.


YouTube.com/gpuddle | Twitter.com/glumpuddle

Posted : July 10, 2012 3:41 pm
King_Erlian
(@king_erlian)
NarniaWeb Guru

Aslan explains the Deeper Magic like this: "...though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know: Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation."

But in The Magician's Nephew, Jadis was present in the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned in the Narnian world, along with Digory, Polly, Uncle Andrew, the Cabby and Strawberry. They were standing in the darkness for a few minutes before they heard Aslan's song starting, enough time for the Cabby, Digory and Polly to sing a hymn about the crops being safely gathered in. How much further back did Jadis need to go to discover the Deeper Magic? And how can you measure time if Time hasn't started yet?

Posted : July 10, 2012 11:51 pm
De_De
(@de_de)
NarniaWeb Guru

I personally think that the movie did in no way under-develop the Deep Magic. You first get a hint of it when Jadis comes into the camp, and Aslan says "Do not quote the Deep Magic to me, I was there when it was written". You already get the sense that there is something deeper. And what the movie does very well, is that it somehow portrays the Deep Magic without really talking about it or showing it. At least that's the way I see it. I watched the movie before I read the books, and to me the movie emphasized the Deep Magic just as much as the book.


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Posted : July 11, 2012 4:46 am
Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer

I personally think that the movie did in no way under-develop the Deep Magic.

I am referring to the book. I think the Deeper Magic is underdeveloped in the book. A lame plot twist.


YouTube.com/gpuddle | Twitter.com/glumpuddle

Posted : July 11, 2012 8:35 am
twinimage
(@twinimage)
NarniaWeb Regular

Never thought of it being a weak plot twist before. It does seem to be so.
It's a shame too, because it seems like Lewis had a germ of an idea, but didn't let it mature beyond being a plot twist.

I don't recall the Deep(er) Magic being referred to in any other of the books, not even in The Magician's Nephew, which would seem the most logical book to mention it again. It's been a long time since I've read the books though. Correct me if I'm wrong please.

Perhaps the Deep(er) Magic was meant to serve a more theological purpose, rather than serve the story?

Posted : July 11, 2012 9:03 am
Varnafinde
(@varna)
Princess of the Noldor and Royal Overseer of the Talk About Narnia forum Moderator

I don't recall the Deep(er) Magic being referred to in any other of the books, not even in The Magician's Nephew, which would seem the most logical book to mention it again. It's been a long time since I've read the books though. Correct me if I'm wrong please.

Perhaps the Deep(er) Magic was meant to serve a more theological purpose, rather than serve the story?

It's never mentioned again. I think Lewis forgot about it.
He may have meant it for theological purposes, about the innocent who lays down his life for others and is brought back to life.

But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation."

But in The Magician's Nephew, Jadis was present in the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned in the Narnian world, along with Digory, Polly, Uncle Andrew, the Cabby and Strawberry.

I find that Jadis in MN is very different from the Jadis who discusses with Aslan at the Stone Table. Nothing of what is mentioned here, seems to have happened.

You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill.

He knows the Deep Magic better than that. He knows that unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.

I see no traces of this in MN. If this was "a germ of an idea", instead of letting it mature, Lewis has let it die, and doesn't even write the creation story to be consistent with it.


(avi artwork by Henning Janssen)

Posted : July 11, 2012 10:10 am
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