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Nadine
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HDM: Dust -- SPOILERS

[ Edited ]
I was just going to post about Dust under appropriate chapter section but then thought this is probably a very important topic and we will be learning more about it as the series progresses. There seems to be varying opinions in the book and probably among members of the group as to the true nature of Dust and what it means.

Message Edited by ConnieK on 10-05-2007 09:12 AM
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Nadine
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Re: Dust

Mrs Coulter's Take on Dust: Dust is evil.

Chapter 17, Pages 282-283 (I don't know if page numbers are similar in different editions of the books)

I'm not sure if Mrs. Coulter's really believes if Dust is evil and should be stopped or if she is using that professed belief to gain power. But she does tell Lyra that she thinks it is evil. Lyra, though, sees the flaw in her belief thinking and her actual behavior. However, I do not see anything unusual about this. People frequently profess beliefs they are really sincere about but their actions seem to run counter to those beliefs. Very obvious examples are people who believe life to be so sacred that they will strongly oppose something as beneficial to life as stem cell research on a blob of proto-human cells or abortion and murder doctors that perform abortions.

We heard about Dust early in the book but up to now we really haven't learned too much about it.

Mrs. Coulter tells Lyra:
---------------------
"Dust is bad, something wrong, something evil and wicked. Grownups and their daemons are infected with Dust so deeply that it's too late for them. They can't be helped..But a quick operation on children means they're safe from it. Dust just won't stick to them ever again. They're safe and happy and---"
-----------------

Lyra responds in reference to the fact that they were about to perform the separation operation on her but Mrs. Coulter prevented it: "...if it was good, why'd you stop it. You should have been glad."

Mrs. Coulter avoids answering the question altogether and tells her "what is good has to hurt us a little" and the dull nurses had had the operation and "seem happy enough."

And then she says something we know is an outright lie:
-------------------
And no one in a thousand years would take a child's daemon away altogether! All that happens is a little cut, and then everything's peaceful....the age you're coming to very soon, darling, daemons bring all sorts of troublesome thoughts and feeling, and that's what lets the Dust in. a quick little operation before that, and your never troubled again. And your daemon stays with you only...just not connected. Like a... like a wonderful pet, if you like."
--------------
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Dust

[ Edited ]
GREAT topic, Nadine! Readers, what do you make of this mysterious substance in Pullman's trilogy? It is clearly a major metaphor in the novels, but what does it represent--both within the worlds of the novels as well as in larger interpretations outside of the books?

I should edit this to your impressions from THE GOLDEN COMPASS, specifically, for September.

~ConnieK



Nadine wrote:
I was just going to post about Dust under appropriate chapter section but then thought this is probably a very important topic and we will be learning more about it as the series progresses. There seems to be varying opinions in the book and probably among members of the group as to the true nature of Dust and what it means.



Message Edited by ConnieK on 09-16-2007 08:39 PM
~ConnieAnnKirk




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Kreacherteacher
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Re: Dust

[ Edited ]
*Spoiler alert*

I actually never thought of dust as a metaphor the way Pullman used it. I took it literally. My thinking of dust was that it was a physical manifestation of sin that was attracted to adults, or at least those beyond puberty. It wasn't attracted to innocent children.

This was at least what I thought when I read the first book. After reading the 3rd book, my thinking has changed. I wonder now if dust was a somewhat physical manifestation of the soul after it has passed through death. But why then, wouldn't those souls be attracted to children, and not in a Michael Jackson kind of way? I don't know. It has been about a year since I finished the books so I could be off.

I know from some astronomy research that scientists are now studying "dust" in space. Interesting, but as far as I know, it is not related to Pullman's idea of dust.



ConnieK wrote:
GREAT topic, Nadine! Readers, what do you make of this mysterious substance in Pullman's trilogy? It is clearly a major metaphor in the novels, but what does it represent--both within the worlds of the novels as well as in larger interpretations outside of the books?

I should edit this to your impressions from THE GOLDEN COMPASS, specifically, for September.

~ConnieK



Nadine wrote:
I was just going to post about Dust under appropriate chapter section but then thought this is probably a very important topic and we will be learning more about it as the series progresses. There seems to be varying opinions in the book and probably among members of the group as to the true nature of Dust and what it means.



Message Edited by ConnieK on 09-16-2007 08:39 PM



Message Edited by Kreacherteacher on 09-17-2007 08:47 PM
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Eldarion
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Re: Dust

The idea of dust in HDM is very interesting, because what it ends up being is what some people call original sin, and other people call knowledge. We have St. Augustine to thank for the idea of original sin (that babies are born sinful). This idea is what Pullman ir writing against. He does this in two ways. One, he argues that sin does come to someone until they pass puberty, rather than being borrn with it. Two, he argues that 'original sin' is not really sin at all, but is knowledge. Since I hate Augustine, I like what Pullman is doing here.
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Kreacherteacher
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Re: Dust

[ Edited ]
I don't know enough about St. Augustine to comment completely, but my perception (based on my religious foundation) of original sin is that as humans we have a connection to Adam and Eve, original sinners, therefore as humans from that chain, we have the capabilities of giving in to original sin as well. No one is safe from it. It is important for the church to establish their doctrine in children and letting them know they are not free from original sin and that Jesus, as he was born as God into human form, is the key to staying away from sin. The idea that sin begins at puberty is just as silly as the idea that it begins at birth, in my opinion. A timeline for sin makes me giggle.

From what I understand of St. Augustine, he lived at a time when there were many pagans and people believed in many gods. I can see how his writings would be appropriate.

I like what Pullman does as well, but for different reasons I think. I think people should believe in whatever religion they believe in as a result of understanding it. Too many people blindly believe in it because they were just raised that way or they come to it and accept it at face value. They haven't taken the time to understand the rich complexities and histories behind them. That to me is dangerous. If you believe in religion, you should embrace a lifelong love for learning about it as well. This should lead you to questioning the foundation, structure, and leaders. This will ensure accountability and purity of thought and action.

My humble opinion.



Eldarion wrote:
The idea of dust in HDM is very interesting, because what it ends up being is what some people call original sin, and other people call knowledge. We have St. Augustine to thank for the idea of original sin (that babies are born sinful). This idea is what Pullman ir writing against. He does this in two ways. One, he argues that sin does come to someone until they pass puberty, rather than being borrn with it. Two, he argues that 'original sin' is not really sin at all, but is knowledge. Since I hate Augustine, I like what Pullman is doing here.



Message Edited by Kreacherteacher on 09-22-2007 08:53 AM
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BarbaraN
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Re: Dust

[ Edited ]
At this point I have not recently read far enough ahead to fully understand Pullman's concept of Dust so I may have more to say on it later.

However, as a general topic I find your statements well taken. I have always found it difficult to accept the idea that children are born into this world "bad" but if you sprinkle them with water and say a few prayers, they are ok. If not and they die first--well too bad, they are damned. They are condemned before they even have any concept of good or evil. Some Christians, however, reserve baptism for an older age when the adult is emotionally and mentally prepared to accept the religious faith. I don't know if there are any other religions that have the concept of Original Sin or even if all Christian religions accept the concept of Original Sin.

It has also bothered me that children are indoctrinated into a religious faith before they are old enough to understand it. If they were taught from an perspective of understanding that would be different but they are often taught to learn things by rote, and then told that they are not to question it. That seems like "brain washing" to me. In fact this is often the definition of "faith"--to accept a doctrine without questioning it especially if, and in spite of the fact that, it might seem contrary to given knowledge or even common sense.

The Original Sin "crime," however, was humankind acquiring knowledge and that seem to be the definition of Dust so far from the HDM's "church's" perspective in TGC. I have a feeling that there is going to be more to this Dust thing than the simple coincidence of Dust accumulating on mature individuals and being equated with evil sin.



Kreacherteacher wrote:
I don't know enough about St. Augustine to comment completely, but my perception (based on my religious foundation) of original sin is that as humans we have a connection to Adam and Eve, original sinners, therefore as humans from that chain, we have the capabilities of giving in to original sin as well. No one is safe from it. It is important for the church to establish their doctrine in children and letting them know they are not free from original sin and that Jesus, as he was born as God into human form, is the key to staying away from sin. The idea that sin begins at puberty is just as silly as the idea that it begins at birth, in my opinion. A timeline for sin makes me giggle.

From what I understand of St. Augustine, he lived at a time when there were many pagans and people believed in many gods. I can see how his writings would be appropriate.

I like what Pullman does as well, but for different reasons I think. I think people should believe in whatever religion they believe in as a result of understanding it. Too many people blindly believe in it because they were just raised that way or they come to it and accept it at face value. They haven't taken the time to understand the rich complexities and histories behind them. That to me is dangerous. If you believe in religion, you should embrace a lifelong love for learning about it as well. This should lead you to questioning the foundation, structure, and leaders. This will ensure accountability and purity of thought and action.

My humble opinion.



Eldarion wrote:
The idea of dust in HDM is very interesting, because what it ends up being is what some people call original sin, and other people call knowledge. We have St. Augustine to thank for the idea of original sin (that babies are born sinful). This idea is what Pullman ir writing against. He does this in two ways. One, he argues that sin does come to someone until they pass puberty, rather than being borrn with it. Two, he argues that 'original sin' is not really sin at all, but is knowledge. Since I hate Augustine, I like what Pullman is doing here.



Message Edited by Kreacherteacher on 09-22-2007 08:53 AM



Message Edited by BarbaraN on 09-22-2007 10:55 AM
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Eldarion
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Re: Dust

The other interesting about dust/original sin/knowledge is that this is exactly what the current church is fighting over. People fight over the idea of when people sin/should be held accountable. Pullman takes it a little further in that people are dying/killing over it. I find this interesing because on the one hand HDM is fantasy/sci-fi, but on the other hand it is very real because this is a debate still raging today.

I don't like the whole thing of a time-line for sin either. It's not a blanket thing for every single person, which is why I like what Pullman does because he eliminates the time-line of sin/knowledge. People get it/do it whenever they mature, which is different for different people.
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Nadine
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Re: Dust

Chapter 18, pg 318

Sarafina Pekkala's take on Dust:
--------------------------

"All I can tell you is that where there are priests, there is fear of Dust. Mrs. Coulter is not a priest, of course, but she is a powerful agent of the Magisterium, and it was she who set up the Oblation Board and persuaded the Church to pay for Bovanger, because of her interest in Dust....So Dust may be strange, and we can only wonder at it, but we don't fret and tear these things apart. Leave that to the Church.
-----------------------------

This statement got me thinking that maybe Mrs. Coulder's interest in Dust was not religious but that she might be thinking of using it for her own purposes. My feeling is that, though Mrs. Coulder's seems to promote church viewpoints, she doesn't actually believe them but uses them for her own aspirations to power.

The Lyra remembers something she had found out through the Intercessor. I'm not sure what an "Intercessor" is but he sounds like the local parish-type priest.

--------------------

"The Church!" said Lyra. something had come back to her: she remembered talking with Pantalaimon, in the fens, about what it might be that was moving the needle of the alethiometer, and they had thought of the photomill on the high altar at Gabrial College, and how elementary particles pushed the little vanes around. The Intercesor there was clear about the link between elementary particles and religion. "Could be," she said nodding. "Most Church things they keep secret, after all...."
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Nadine
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Re: Dust

Chapter 19, page 330

This was an added statement on Dust by Jotham Santelia, the prisoner Lyra encounters at Svalbard:

---------------------------
There is a correspondence between the microcosm and the macrocosm! The stars are alive, child. did you know that? Everything out there is alive, and there are grand purposes abroad. The universe is full of intentions, you know. Everything happens for a purpose.
--------
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Eldarion
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Re: Dust

Now that is interesting. I love the idea that dist is somehow alive, that it's not just some random thing floating around falling on people by chance. Dust is alive, and active, the same way Lyra is. I think that adds a whole new dimension to dust.

And I have to say I agree with you about Mrs. COulter's take on dust. I think Lord Asriel is very interested in discovering dust, what it is, etc--that is, he approaches it from a religious aspect. But Mrs. Coulter wants power or something. I don't think she cares what dust or where it comes from. She only cares about using it for power.
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maxcat
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Re: Dust

I find it interesting that at the end of the book, Lord Asriel has visions of going into this city in the universe and wants to find he source of Dust and stifle it.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Nadine
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Re: HDM: Dust -- SPOILERS: Subtle Knife

I just realized that I haven't said too much about Dust since we started The Subtle Knife, yet here is where we find out a lot about it. The Specters seem to feed on it, it seems to be responsible for free will, and it seems to have appeared on human skulls some 300,000 years ago. When we encounter Mary Malone the subject of Dust picks up and we find out that it is conscious and what is called in Will's world (our world) Dark Matter.

But it is in Chapter 12 where we really get to meet Dust and find out what it is all about (though I'm not sure I understand it all). Mary starts to communicate with Dust on her computer (The Cave) and finds out that Dust was responsible for human evolution and it is indeed conscious and everywhere. On page 249 Mary asks it what it is and it responds "Angels" She remembers a quote from St. Augustine "Angel is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is spirit; if you seek the name of their office, it is angel; from what they are, spirit, from what they do angel." So Mary asks them

--Angeles are creatures of Shadow matter? Of Dust?

--Structures. Complications. Yes....From what we are, spirit; from what we do, matter. Matter and spirit are one.

--And did you intervene in human evolution?

--Yes

And then her instructions:

--Find the girl and the boy. Waste no more time. You must play the serpent.

-------

Ah, ha! We are going to replay Paradise Lost! I knew we would get to it eventually!

Mary is then given instructions to destroy her work and go through the window into the other world.
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BarbaraN
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Re: Dust

I find it hard to envision Mary as Satan. Lord Asriel--yes, he fits, but not Mary. However, I don't believe the Bible ever states that the serpent was Satan--that was a later assumption like the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was an apple. So they could serve two different functions--Lord Asriel the rebel fighting against The Authority and what it stands for and Mary the bringer of knowledge--more a quiet revolutionary.
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booksong
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Re: HDM: Dust -- SPOILERS

WARNING: SPOILERS
I love this entire series, and Dust is definitely one of the most important aspects of these books. It's weird, but I never thought of Dust as really pertaining to sin or religion at all, despite the fact that everyone- from Mrs. Coulter to Lord Asriel, seems to connect it to original sin. Dust is definitely something conscious, that was proved in the Subtle Knife when it talked back to Mary. I guess I always thought that Dust seemed to be something to do with love, with the recognizing of your true soul. That was why it corresponded with children becoming mature and the settling of daemon form. When you become mature and adult enough to look into yourself and see your real self, that is when Dust attaches to you. This to me always explained why the Dust was suddenly attracted powerfully to Will and Lyra just after they admitted their love. It also has something to do with why Will and Lyra's daemons settled after they were touched by the hands of someone who truly loved them (or rather their human counterpart). I think Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter and the Church misunderstood the intentions of Dust all along, because it was new and different.
I could ramble about this forever...Dust is one of favorite topics of speculation for this series...but I don't want to bore anyone, especially since this is my first post!
Books may well be the only true magic.
---Alice Hoffman

SO TRUE!!!
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BarbaraN
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Re: HDM: Dust -- SPOILERS


booksong wrote:
WARNING: SPOILERS
I love this entire series, and Dust is definitely one of the most important aspects of these books. It's weird, but I never thought of Dust as really pertaining to sin or religion at all, despite the fact that everyone- from Mrs. Coulter to Lord Asriel, seems to connect it to original sin. Dust is definitely something conscious, that was proved in the Subtle Knife when it talked back to Mary. I guess I always thought that Dust seemed to be something to do with love, with the recognizing of your true soul. That was why it corresponded with children becoming mature and the settling of daemon form. When you become mature and adult enough to look into yourself and see your real self, that is when Dust attaches to you. This to me always explained why the Dust was suddenly attracted powerfully to Will and Lyra just after they admitted their love. It also has something to do with why Will and Lyra's daemons settled after they were touched by the hands of someone who truly loved them (or rather their human counterpart). I think Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter and the Church misunderstood the intentions of Dust all along, because it was new and different.
I could ramble about this forever...Dust is one of favorite topics of speculation for this series...but I don't want to bore anyone, especially since this is my first post!




I'm treading into spoilers here but I'm getting close to the end of the series anyway. My idea of dust has changed over the series. In the beginning, my thinking of it was more connected with the "church" view, though I instinctively felt that it was not evil as interpreted by the religious folk, but something connected with maturity. By the time I got to the adventures of Mary Malone, I came to thinking of it as the life force itself. I gather we are not finished with Dust yet. I'll probably be back to say more on Dust when I get to the end. Right now I like your poetic interpretation and that the ultimate living force in the universe is love.
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: HDM: Dust -- SPOILERS

booksong--Your post isn't boring at all! I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on this mysterious "Dust." You seem to have formed a positive impression of it, and I'm interested.

~ConnieK



booksong wrote:
WARNING: SPOILERS
I love this entire series, and Dust is definitely one of the most important aspects of these books. It's weird, but I never thought of Dust as really pertaining to sin or religion at all, despite the fact that everyone- from Mrs. Coulter to Lord Asriel, seems to connect it to original sin. Dust is definitely something conscious, that was proved in the Subtle Knife when it talked back to Mary. I guess I always thought that Dust seemed to be something to do with love, with the recognizing of your true soul. That was why it corresponded with children becoming mature and the settling of daemon form. When you become mature and adult enough to look into yourself and see your real self, that is when Dust attaches to you. This to me always explained why the Dust was suddenly attracted powerfully to Will and Lyra just after they admitted their love. It also has something to do with why Will and Lyra's daemons settled after they were touched by the hands of someone who truly loved them (or rather their human counterpart). I think Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter and the Church misunderstood the intentions of Dust all along, because it was new and different.
I could ramble about this forever...Dust is one of favorite topics of speculation for this series...but I don't want to bore anyone, especially since this is my first post!


~ConnieAnnKirk




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