"His Dark Materials"/The Golden Compass (film, 2007) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 08:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A book titled His Dark Materials/The Golden Compass is the first in a controversial trilogy by european athiest author Philip Pullman.

http://www.randomhouse.com/features/pullman/

It will be released as a fantasy movie December 2007, starring Nicole Kidman.

http://www.goldencompassmovie.com (Trailer available.)

For religious reasons the book and the movie are causing quite a stir in an almost opposite way as The Chronicles of Narnia. Rumor has it that there is mention of castration and female circumcision in the book (and movie?) in the context of it being performed on children to keep them from reaching maturity, experiencing unsettling emotions, feeling passion, repress sexuality, etc. It's referred to as "intercision" and is performed by a completely fictious General Oblation Board an offshoot of the church in the main character Lyra's world. Children are abducted prior to puberty from Oxfordshire, Great Britain. It sounds like the intent is to separate them from their animal spirits/daemons which are essentially the child's soul in order maintain innocence & purity. In one article I read, it said "Lyra knows Intercision is wrong, although she isn’t exactly sure why it’s wrong."

Quote:
Intercision
The act of separating a human from his or her dæmon. Perfected by Mrs. Coulter with the General Oblation Board. Inspired by Zombies in Africa and by castration. At the time of HDM, the process takes place using a silver guillotine which severs the human-dæmon link. This is known as the Maystadt Process.

http://www.hisdarkmaterials.org/sraf...hp/Intercision
Quote:
Intercision
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Intercision is a type of fictional operation in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy that separates an invididual from their dæmon. Every character in Lyra Belacqua's world has a dæmon, which is an animal that is a physical manifestation of the person's soul. During childhood, the dæmon continually changes to reflect the child's changing emotions. For example, if the child is scared, it may become a mouse. If angry, it may change to a tiger. However, when the child reaches puberty the dæmon stops changing and settles on one single form, and reflects the person's general personality. For example, if the character is a servant, the dæmon usually settles as a dog. However, the oppressive Church (which is the dark heart of Pullman's trilogy) has linked the settling of dæmons with the introduction of sinful thoughts in a person, and sets about conducting experiments which aim to physically remove the dæmon before the child reaches puberty, and before the dæmon settles. The Church believes that this would stamp out any "sinful" thoughts such as sex, homosexuality, etc. before they are even a faint glimmer of an idea in the child's mind.

A method is developed by Marisa Coulter and the Oblation Board to remove the dæmon, and this method is known as Intercision. The novel reveals two different methods of achieving this. The first method is known as the Maystadt process. The details of the method are not revealed but it is indicated that the separation could not be done with the patient in a conscious state and that it involved tearing a person and his or her dæmon apart, likely by physical distance. The second method developed to allow separation with the patient in a conscious state involves placing child and dæmon in separate cages on a kind of operating table. In between these two cages, there is a gap for a "special type of guillotine" to fall into, which severs the invisible link between child and dæmon. The results, as seen on Tony Makarios, are devastating as the child becomes a zombie-like figure who loses the will to live. Although Tony is found and saved by Lyra Belacqua and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison, skulking around some outhouses in the icy wastes of Bolvangar, he dies soon after they get him back to their camp.

However, both the Church and Lord Asriel discover that Intercision has some side effects that could be used to their advantage. Whenever the link between a child and dæmon is severed a huge burst of energy is released. Lord Asriel is the first to realise that this energy can be used to open up the invisible doorways between the different universes and uses the operation on Lyra's friend Roger Parslow killing him in the process. The Church also uses this burst of energy to power a bomb used to kill Lyra and prevent her from completing her mission.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercision
You can read more:

http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Dar...Golden_Compass

http://www.bridgetothestars.net/wiki...Oblation_Board

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daemon_(mythology)

Since this is a fantasy film perhaps we can discuss the concepts of this book/film a bit if we tread lightly? Or, maybe we can have an X-post in religious studies? I'm not sure exactly where this is going to fall with regard to religious discussion, but I'm happy to follow the moderator's lead.

It sounds to me like Lyra is an intactivist hero!

Jen

Oooh, check out this quote from a book preview I found through google:

"Fortunately, countering the predatory adults there are others who seek to protect the children from enemy assaults, notably Iorek Byrnison, the armored bear, and Lee Scoresby, the balloonist, both of whom befriend Lyra. There are also sympathetic witches, such as Sarafina Pekkala. In The Subtle Knife, Will's daemon is invisible, internalized as a voice of conscience, thus not so obviously in peril, but he must combat the evil forces arraigned against The Bearer of the Knife. Both Will and Lyra are destined to be in greater jeopardy when they reach puberty, when the Spectors will seek to devour them.

...Becoming aware of her mother's complicity in the intercision of children at the euphemistically named "Station," called more accurately by others "Bolvanger, the fields of evil" (Golden Compass 187), Lyra fears her more than anyone else.

...Earlier, Lyra herself has barely been spared being severed from Pantalaimon: she is rescued from the blade of the Silver Guillotine by Mrs. Coulter just in the nick of time. In The Subtle Knife, however, Mrs. Coulter vows to destroy her daughter, when she learns Lyra's true destiny: to be a new Eve. The second great fear for children thus involves betrayal by adults who ought to be their protectors."

Children's Literature and the Fin De Siecle
by Roderick McGillis
Chapter 9
Decadence for Kids: Salgari's Corsaro Nero in Context
Ann Lawson Lucas


LINK
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#2 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 09:27 PM
 
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Circumcision is actually talked about in the second book of the series:

Quote:
You know only the north; I have traveled in the south lands. There are churches there, believe me, that cut their children too, as the people of Bolvangar did - not in the same way, but just as horribly. They cut their sexual organs, yes, both boys and girls; they cut them with knives so that they shan't feel. That is what the church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling...
The Subtle Knife


BUt female circumcision is not spoken about directly in any other way; however, "cutting" is an important theme throughout all three books, some of which is described above in the OP.

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#3 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thank you for sharing that quote Carriebft!

Jen
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#4 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 09:33 PM
 
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The quote is from one of the witches (and a witch in these books isn't exactly what we think as a typical witch). They don't usually concern themselves with human affairs, but the actions being taken against children and by the Church against nature has roused them into action-- so I felt it was really significant that this witch spoke about circumcision. They are outsiders looking in, not tainted by the 'culture of the church'-- almost like a european looking at the way infants are cut here and being disgusted by it.

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#5 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 09:39 PM
 
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Another thing I think about with these books and the idea of cutting-- and I know the following is spoiler filled so maybe stop reading if you don't want to be spoiled--


Cutting is this tool of power and control. Lots of people see daemons as different things, but there is a strong suggestion throughout the books that they are the physical representation of "soul." So the people in power cut the connection between human and soul in attempt to control them. There is a chapter where they talk about the cut being best when done in childhood.

Then Will obtains the power of the subtle knife, now he has the power to cut. BUt we see that he doesn't use it in the way that the addults have used it. And when he realizes he has made errors with the knife, he works to rectify them instead of making excuses or excercising his power in further negative ways.


Other things:

Once you are "cut", you cnanot remember it (or possibly anything before?)

-it is called "a little cut" (the cutting away of the daemon)

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#6 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 10:20 PM
 
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Why did I click on this link? I just started the Subtle Knife!! Yikes, I must get reading!

Great insights about The Golden Compass. When I read it this really didn't come to mind right away but now that you mention all the similarities...I can totally see it!
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#7 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 10:25 PM
 
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"The Church wouldn't flinch at the idea of a little cut" Golden Compass (pg 374 in my edition.)

"Parents are simply trustees; they do not own the bodies of their children"-Norm Cohen  Martial arts instructor intactlact.gifhomebirth.jpgnak.gif and mom to 4: DD1 (1/05) DS (7/06) DD2 (5/08) DD3 (2/11)
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#8 of 21 Old 10-31-2007, 11:44 PM
 
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You know, the church DID used to (indirectly) castrate thousands of boys a year in order to prevent puberty. The Sistine Chapel Choir was a high post (and later, opera) _if you could become one in thousands to both be cut, develop a nice voice, and have some talent! Many many, however, just became talent-less eunuchs for which this "preventative" did no good! (Sound familiar?) This was 1500's through 1700's, although still in the 1800's, castrati existed and there are several recordings of the last of them on a CD- originally recorded on wax cylinder in 1902 and 1904. Look up Alessandro Moreschi, and Farinelli, and the Sistine Chapel choir.

So this idea is not really that far fetched. Really- if you blend this idea with what is already going on in the world (male and female circumcision of children)- you pretty much have this above-mentioned story!
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#9 of 21 Old 11-01-2007, 12:16 AM
 
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This is one of my favorite series of all time. A really profound read.
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#10 of 21 Old 11-01-2007, 05:46 AM
 
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I'd love to read the books, looks like the Golden Compass is called Northern Lights in the UK.... http://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Dark-Mat...3906528&sr=8-1
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#11 of 21 Old 11-01-2007, 01:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carriebft View Post
The quote is from one of the witches (and a witch in these books isn't exactly what we think as a typical witch). .
Well they are if you ask me Pekkala is a common finnish last name and the writer used our indigenous beliefs when he created the books and especially witches - witches are good here, have always been.

So the horrified quote about 'Southern Lands where they circumcise boys and girls' fits perfectly to our mindset.

We may not have witches flying around but our doctors use almost exact words when they wonder why children's genitals are cut.
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#12 of 21 Old 11-01-2007, 01:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kxsiven View Post
Well they are if you ask me Pekkala is a common finnish last name and the writer used our indigenous beliefs when he created the books and especially witches - witches are good here, have always been.

So the horrified quote about 'Southern Lands where they circumcise boys and girls' fits perfectly to our mindset.

We may not have witches flying around but our doctors use almost exact words when they wonder why children's genitals are cut.
Ideas of witches must be different here I think, at least since I wrote that post on Halloween it was what I was thinking at the time BUt yeah, this is exactly what I meant...its like how europeans look at the USA and are astonished to see what we do to our boys.

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#13 of 21 Old 11-04-2007, 04:37 PM
 
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A thought struck me today.

The Catholic League and a few other groups are continuuing to circulate the rumor that these books deal with "female circumcision and male castration".

It hit me today that they glossed right over the idea that the books might be referring to male circumcision. I believe their misconceptions come, at least in part, from this quote:

Quote:
You know only the north; I have traveled in the south lands. There are churches there, believe me, that cut their children too, as the people of B. did - not in the same way, but just as horribly. They cut their sexual organs, yes, both boys and girls; they cut them with knives so that they shan't feel. That is what the church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling...
But notice how they decided that the male genital cutting could not be circumcision...they went right to castration. Perhaps demonstrating a bias that they do not even realize. something like "if it is so horrible it must be castration that they are referring to, not circumcision"


Though, admittedly, they do allude to the castration of choir boys in Compass.

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#14 of 21 Old 11-04-2007, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carriebft View Post
But notice how they decided that the male genital cutting could not be circumcision...they went right to castration. Perhaps demonstrating a bias that they do not even realize. something like "if it is so horrible it must be castration that they are referring to, not circumcision"
Interesting!

Maybe they'll be more interest in this topic/thread as we get closer to the movie release and people start seeing it. I wonder how it will all be portrayed in the film, and with what amount of detail/clarity.

Jen
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#15 of 21 Old 11-05-2007, 06:56 AM
 
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Interesting!

Maybe they'll be more interest in this topic/thread as we get closer to the movie release and people start seeing it. I wonder how it will all be portrayed in the film, and with what amount of detail/clarity.

Jen
I doubt it will mention at all - after all Americans will make the movie. I've read the book both in english and in finnish and in finnish translation it is clearly meaning circumcision.
Shows how deep culturally circ is inserted in American mind that these writers do not even concider text meaning circumcision.

:
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#16 of 21 Old 12-02-2007, 05:58 PM
 
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Definitely read them. They're awesome.

I never thought "castration" when I read that part of the book. I assumed Serefina was talking about circumcision. The cutting of the genitals -- that sounds like circumcision to me? I think she would have refered to castration in different terms, since castration has different effects.

:
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#17 of 21 Old 12-03-2007, 01:13 PM
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IBTL!

(In before the lock.)

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#18 of 21 Old 10-21-2008, 11:03 AM
 
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Sadly it doesn't seem that the Subtle Knife will be filmed any time soon ...

I hope the series has an impact on the U.S. but sadly most people steadfastly maintain that circ has no effect on sexual sensation.
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#19 of 21 Old 10-22-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by carriebft View Post
But notice how they decided that the male genital cutting could not be circumcision...they went right to castration. Perhaps demonstrating a bias that they do not even realize. something like "if it is so horrible it must be castration that they are referring to, not circumcision"
: Because circumcision is normal, right? .

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#20 of 21 Old 10-22-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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Um...yeah. When we read this book in college for adolescent lit, we all agreed it was about circumcision. In fact, I don't remember anyone disagreeing! Too bad I didn't think more of it then to ask what people thought of Pullman's comparison though.
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#21 of 21 Old 10-22-2008, 11:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kxsiven View Post
I doubt it will mention at all - after all Americans will make the movie. I've read the book both in english and in finnish and in finnish translation it is clearly meaning circumcision.
Shows how deep culturally circ is inserted in American mind that these writers do not even concider text meaning circumcision.

:
I understand what you are saying, but it was written originally in English. It was printed as Pullman wrote it. If it came across differently in Finnish, that's more about how it was translated, no?
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