[OK my shrew friends, this article is a bit off the beaten path here on Shrew Views—it is very long. So get a cup of coffee and settle in for a lengthy read (about 20 minutes). But it is worth it. The Lewis quotes I use in this article are from the full Space Trilogy text which you can find here. Enjoy! I hope you end up reading the books! Wonderful reading!]
Many of us know C.S. Lewis from his popular children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia. But Lewis’ contribution to the world goes far beyond that. Amongst others he wrote The Screwtape Letters, The Abolition of Man, A Grief Observed, The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, and the book I will primarily be discussing here, That Hideous Strength which was the third instalment in his Space Trilogy.
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Just to whet your appetite and satisfy the possible question you are asking, “what does this article have to do with Shrew Views?” let me immediately offer a quote from The Abolition of Man:
The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man. The battle will then be won. We shall have ‘taken the thread of life out of the hand of Clotho’ and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be. The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?
Now is the correlation to our current situation clear?
I have been familiar with Lewis most of my life. I was about 7 when I found, on my mother’s rather eclectic bookshelf, a very early edition of That Hideous Strength. To this day I have no idea why this particular book fascinated me so. The old grey cloth covered volume just had a mysterious quality to it. I was about 25 when I finally read it, and since then have probably re-read the trilogy three more times, the last time just recently. I was astounded by the ability of Lewis to whack the nail on the head so efficiently with his insights on man’s (evil man) proclivity and passion in his effort to destroy nature and thus ascend to godhood. “Control” is a more appropriate word than “destroy”—but through control destruction is guaranteed.
I found the above quote as I read through The Abolition of Man after reading That Hideous Strength and saw how correlated the world view in the trilogy was with Lewis’ own world view. It is uncanny how “with it” he was, and much like Orwell, he seemed to have a sixth sense for predicting the future. Lewis concerns himself in That Hideous Strength with the evils of technology and the attempts at transhumanism at a time (1945) when the working transistor had not even been invented (1947). Technology’s advance on society was just beginning after the jump in the evolution of “all things technical” most wars provide—money is always available when its need is in efficiently killing people in wars.
Lewis was obsessed with “God’s way” which largely meant “Natures way.” In many of his books, evil, or Satan, was personified as men trying to achieve power through his mastery over nature—from a simple mastery of death and destruction to creatures large and small, to an effort to wipe out nature entirely, along with its ugly inconveniences (including what has later been labeled “useless eaters”).
Here is the next quote I will offer (there will be many) from That Hideous Strength itself. This is a conversation between one of the protagonist’s staff and the Director (the Director is the “Christ figure” character that leads the “war” against evil).
It tells us something in the long run even more important,” said the Director. “It means that if this technique is really successful, the Belbury people have for all practical purposes discovered a way of making themselves immortal.” There was a moment’s silence, and then he continued: “It is the beginning of what is really a new species—the Chosen Heads who never die. They will call it the next step in evolution. And hence-forward, all the creatures that you and I call human are mere candidates for admission to the new species or else its slaves—perhaps its food.”
Isn’t this exactly what we are dealing with now with the WEF’s desire to rule the world, to chattel all humans who are not part of the elite, and eventually become “trans” human themselves, and live forever? Yes, a stretch to many, but I think to most of you reading this it is a true reality, or at least a distinct possibility. Lewis’ primitive version of transhumanism, by preserving a severed head as the supreme being, is only the obvious precursor to brain inserted microchips and nano-bots coursing through the body, replacing any God given flesh and blood with man-made technology resulting in a man-made god at best. An eerie premonition indeed.
Maybe before continuing I should let you in on a brief synopsis of this story. It is ultimately a good vs. evil “fairytale for grown-ups” as Lewis himself described it. The primary characters are NICE, a “sort of” corporation which houses the various men, and women behind the cause for evil. (The women include “The Fairy” (Ms Hardcastle) and her personal minions. Hardcastle is the head of the brutal private police force.) Other central characters include Dr. Ransom’s (The Director) group that lives in a large mansion a bit of a distance from NICE called St. Anne’s. House guests include a handful of human “Freedom Fighters,” a partially trained bear, a few mice, and other assorted animals.
A battle of sorts ensues between these two groups which includes the resurrection of Merlin of King Arthur’s time, the aforementioned tame bear, an assortment of wild animals, and of course, magic. Obviously there is more to it than this. The trilogy is comprised of three books, Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. The full story includes space travel to Mars and Venus and the revelation of a spiritual ecosystem that involves all of the planets in the solar system, angels, gods, and strange “aliens” Ransom encounters in his spectacular travels. It is all quite intriguing, and I encourage all of you to read it.
A quote that falls on page 337 of the text (the one I used for this included all three books with pages numbered consecutively) sets up the whole thing. This is a NICE character speaking, a man called Feverstone, so it is coming from the evil side:
Humanity is at the cross-roads, but it is the main question at the moment which side one’s on - obscurantism or Order. It does really look as if we now had the power to dig ourselves in as a species for a pretty staggering period, to take control of our own destiny. If Science is really given a free hand it can now take over the human race and re-condition it: make man a really efficient animal. If it doesn’t - well, we’re done. [“we’re” meaning the evil ones.]
This is a plea from the dark side to allow Science to recondition humans to transcend their limitations imposed on them by God’s Nature. Possibly when Lewis refers to Science (capitalized no less) he is referring to the recent advances in his time (the 1940’s) in nuclear fusion which resulted in the atomic bomb—something no human being had seen the likes of since the beginning of time (according to conventional history). Ironically, Lewis never mentions nuclear fusion in his book. Considering the publication of That Hideous Strength was in 1945, it is possible Lewis had not even been aware of the bomb since it was not released on Hiroshima until August 6, 1945. In an essay Lewis wrote in 1948 (On Living in an Atomic Age) he actually downplays the then current fear of atomic weapons, which seems odd if he was concerned at all about science wiping out humanity—at least not seemingly concerned about nuclear science. Whatever the reason, Lewis clearly implies that Science and the unconscious, and the irresponsible advances of Science, presented a problem to humanity in That Hideous Strength.
Here is another gem from his The Abolition of Man, and sheds light on the above statement:
It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science has given them, But that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called `Man's power over Nature' must always and essentially be. No doubt, the picture could be modified by public ownership of raw materials and factories and public control of scientific research. But unless we have a world state this will still mean the power of one nation over others. And even within the world state or the nation it will mean (in principle) the power of majorities over minorities, and (in the concrete) of a government over the people. And all long-term exercises of power, especially in breeding, must mean the power of earlier generations over later ones.
In order to understand fully what Man's power over Nature, and therefore the power of some men over other men, really means, we must picture the race extended in time from the date of its emergence to that of its extinction. Each generation exercises power over its successors: and each, in so far as it modifies the environment bequeathed to it and rebels against tradition, resists and limits the power of its predecessors. This modifies the picture which is sometimes painted of a progressive emancipation from tradition and a progressive control of natural processes resulting in a continual increase of human power. In reality, of course, if any one age really attains, by eugenics and scientific education, the power to make its descendants what it pleases, all men who live after it are the patients of that power. They are weaker, not stronger: for though we may have put wonderful machines in their hands we have pre-ordained how they are to use them. And if, as is almost certain, the age which had thus attained maximum power over posterity were also the age most emancipated from tradition, it would be engaged in reducing the power of its predecessors almost as drastically as that of its successors. And we must also remember that, quite apart from this, the later a generation comes—the nearer it lives to that date at which the species becomes extinct—the less power it will have in the forward direction, because its subjects will be so few. There is therefore no question of a power vested in the race as a whole steadily growing as long as the race survives. The last men, far from being the heirs of power, will be of all men most subject to the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners and will themselves exercise least power upon the future.
It really wasn’t science in general that was an issue for Lewis, but more the “power over nature,” technology, nuclear science, “machines” etc that he had his beef with. In the following quote he focuses on the destruction of nature, thus elevating humans to a level of isolated and independent perfection, Godhood. This is spoken by one of the members of NICE—a scientist:
The second problem is our rivals on this planet. I don’t mean only insects and bacteria. There’s far too much life of every kind about, animal and vegetable. We haven’t really cleared the place yet. First we couldn’t; and then we had aesthetic and humanitarian scruples; and we still haven’ short-circuited the question of the balance of nature. All that is to be gone into. The third problem is Man himself.’ (p. 379)
This idea is expanded further with the following excerpt. Genocide is obviously inferred. A theme very present in today’s world:
Quite simple and obvious things, at first sterilization of the unfit, liquidation of backward races (we don’t want any dead weights), selective breeding. Then real education, including pre-natal education. By real education I mean one that has no “take-it-or-leave-it” nonsense. A real education makes the patient what it wants infallibly: whatever he or his parents try to do about it. Of course, it’ll have to be mainly psychological at first. But we’ll get on to biochemical conditioning in the end and direct manipulation of the brain. (p. 379)
Here we move into the human side of things. Clearly it is the intention of the malevolent faction to reduce human kind to controlled slaves, or to exterminate them entirely. Where have we heard this before? Did C. S. Lewis have a time machine? And how do they describe the “elite”—those who are the ones implementing this New World Order?
They do not need to be born and breed and die; only their common people, their canaglia do that. The Masters live on, they retain their intelligence: they can keep it artificially alive after organic body has been dispensed with - a miracle of applied biochemistry. They do not need organic food. You understand? They are almost free of Nature, attached to her only by the thinnest, finest cord. (p. 512)
In us organic life has produced Mind. It has done its work. After that we want no more of it. We do not want the world any longer furred over with organic life, like what you call the blue mould - all sprouting and budding and breeding and decaying. We must get rid of it. By little and little, of course. Slowly we learn how. Learn to make our brains live with less and less body: learn to build our bodies directly with chemicals, no longer have to stuff them full of dead brutes and weeds. Learn how to reproduce ourselves without copulation. (p. 509)
The transhuman elite is described throughout this text, devoid of humanism, devoid of any connection to nature at all, an organism that is not an organism but is ideally all metal, glass, chemicals, and other man-made materials. Lewis must have struggled with this concept as there was nothing that existed in his time that could even remotely fit what was in his imaginative mind. The closest he could get to describing what he envisioned was a severed head kept alive through tubes, cables, and contraptions that filled several laboratory rooms. This he could conceive of, but not the development of nano-particles and microelectronics—this was beyond him. As said before, the transistor had not yet been invented and what was required for his vision of walking, superior functioning humanoids had not even been a spark in any genius’ mind—but it was coming, sure enough it was coming, and now, in our day and age, Lewis’ vision is finally possible to manifest.
Next Lewis speaks about politics and the media, which is also chillingly similar to what we currently are dealing with. So much so it made my jaw drop on my recent re-reading of the trilogy.
Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and each terrified of the other? That’s how we get things done. Any opposition to the NICE is represented as a Left racket in the Right papers and a Right racket in the Left papers. If it’s properly done, you get each side outbidding the other in support of us-to refute the enemy slanders. Of course we’re non-political. The real power always is.
‘I don’t believe you can do that,’ said Mark. ‘Not with the papers that are read by educated people.’
‘That shows you are still in the nursery Lovey’, said Hardcastle. ‘Haven’t you yet realized that it’s the other way round?’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.’ (pp. 436-7)
They’ll believe anything? Damn right they will, but only the wrong things, the right things they’ll ignore.
Eventually God comes up in conversation, and Lewis finally reveals the true incentive behind the evil NICE’s quest. The head, as leader of their campaign, is revealed to be the God figure, at least intended as the initial experiment to that ultimate goal.
‘God?’ said Mark. ‘How does He come into it? I don’t believe in God.’
‘But, my friend,’ said Filostrato, ‘does it follow that because there was no God in the past that there will be no God also in the future?’
‘Don’t you see,’ said Strark, ‘that we are offering you the unspeakable glory of being present at the creation of God Almighty? Here in this house, you shall meet the first sketch of the real God. It is a man - or a being made by man - who will finally ascend the throne of the universe. And rule forever.’ (p.515) [They are referring here to the severed head they call their leader.]
The correlation to present day is obvious. Although in true dictator fashion there is one figurehead, one human designated to be the ultimate leader on the throne of heaven. That, however, possibly awaits us in the future. They (the powers running our current agenda) have not yet created the transhuman being. Here Lewis is ahead of us and only time will tell if his uncanny accuracy continues into our future.
And now, toward this end of Lewis’ story, we come to further explanation of the purpose of this holy war between evil as manifest in man and God as manifest in Nature:
The time was ripe. From the point of view which is accepted in Hell, the whole history of our Earth had led up to this moment. There was now at last a real chance for fallen Man to shake off that limitation of his powers which mercy had imposed upon him as a protection from the full results of his fall. If this succeeded, Hell would be at last incarnate. Bad men, while still in the body, still crawling on this little globe, would enter that state which, heretofore, they had entered only after death, would have the diuturnity and power of evil spirits. Nature, all over the globe of Tellus, would become their slave, and of that dominion no end, before the end of time itself, could be certainly foreseen. (p. 539)
It is clear from this final quote that Lewis sees evil as the destruction of nature and the worship of technology (or manmade technical advancement). I am curious to know what Lewis felt the solution to all this was. He only presents it as a battle between good and evil and ultimately good wins. He is sketchy on exactly how that happens. I am sure he addresses it more thoroughly throughout his other work. I have just not run across it clearly presented. I would venture to say it would be similar to what I have presented in my article A Meaningless Life—non-consumerism, less idealization of instant gratification, and more focus on the metaphysical (spirituality).
I don’t think, however, that in his time Lewis was really experiencing the wanton commercialism and consumerism we see today. Nevertheless he certainly was beginning to experience a pull away from what really mattered in life and an embracing of technology, industrialism, and power through money and global manipulation. It is curious that he uses a “corporation” as the symbol of evil in this book. We must realize that he had just experienced a devastating war that was clearly seated in a strange unfamiliar evil (National Socialism) as well as experiencing the fall of Christianity in Soviet Russia. The atomic bomb, to Lewis, must have been a clear indication that man had gone mad with his zealous technological obsessions. This, however, contradicts his downplay of the bomb representing something for people to be so fearful of in his essay On Living in an Atomic Age.
I will close this article with this final comment from Lewis. Try to see the correlation with our own time, which I believe is indeed the end of times. In Lewis’ tome good and God triumphed, which I also believe is the truth that can be applied to now. How long that triumph is in coming is up to us.
The poison was brewed in these West lands but it has spat itself everywhere by now. However far you went you would find the machines, the crowded cities, the empty thrones, the false writings, the barren beds: men maddened with false promises and soured with true miseries, worshipping the ironworks of their own hand, cut off from Earth their mother and from the Father in Heaven. You might go East so far that East became West and you returned to Britain across the great Ocean, but even so you would not have come out anywhere into the light. The shadow of one dark wing is over all Tellus. (p. 629)
 “The evil ones” who have developed a technology to keep a human head alive.
 Belbury is here the evil contingent resides.
 The leader of the “evil contingent” is a head, being kept alive through technology (the precursor to Elon Musk’s brain chips).
 Italian: scoundrel, swindler, cheat. Also, rascal.
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EXCELLENT. Ironically (or synchronous?) I just acquired this week used copies of "The Abolition of Man", "A Grief Observed", and "Screwtape Letters", and they are next up on my reading list. I can see why Tolkien and Lewis were fine friends. Having dumped TV (in 2014) my reading has increased exponentially, and so my mental health. I am an 'old un' (will be 65 soon) but knowing that I have so much yet to learn keeps me in The Game (reference A. Watts), and immensely curious. My very best to you, one shrew to another. And, I admire shrews, btw. I see them on occasion -- my cat will sometimes corner one, but does not kill, owing to its outsized courage. I practice catch and release.
Dr Hayen, CS Lewis was prophetic and a good student of human nature. You might also enjoy GK Chesterton as he writes also about man getting too clever for his own good and forgetting to heed wisdom from our past.