Daemon Voices


Philip Pullman's collection of essays and speeches, Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling was lent to me by one of my book club friends -- oh dear, I can't remember if it was Pam or Sian. Because of the nature of the collection, there is a certain amount of repetition in themes and even in ancedotes and quotes, but this just helps to reinforce Pullman's passionate message about the importance of story to make meaning in our lives.

I agree with a great deal of what Pullman believes. He is very cranky with the British education system and the various gatekeepers who take it upon themselves to decree what children should and should not be reading, and who seem set on removing all the joy and delight from reading by dissecting texts until they are completely dead (there is a bit of that here, too). I especially enjoyed learning how young Pullman entered into the imaginative space of others' stories -- ''the space that opened up between my young mind and the printed page" -- beautifully put! He also loved Arthur Ransome and his badly illustrated books that lend such a unique flavour to the reading experience.

I also agree with much of what Pullman says about the evils of organised religion; though I don't join him in finding the terms 'spirit', 'soul' and 'spiritual' meaningless. This might be a difference of terminology, because he certainly finds a sense of awe and wonder in contemplating the natural world and the magnificence of the universe, and he does seem to find meaning in the stories, myths and webs of knowledge that humans have created and continue to create for ourselves and each other. So maybe we are not so far apart after all.

Apparently young Pullman spent some of his childhood in Australia, which was something I'd never known! He is one of us.

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