Thursday, May 8, 2008

Possession of Clive

On my bookshelf are a dozen or so books by C.S. Lewis - some of his imaginatively enduring fiction, several of his resounding apologetic pieces, and a smattering of compilations that include myriad topics for as many different audiences.

My familiarity with the books is at best average and I have yet to study any of them with much rigor, but I still have this sense of ownership, as if C.S. Lewis is my author. Surprisingly, and somewhat to my dismay, there are 3,247,891 other individuals who also claim ownership of "Jack," which is how you refer to him if you indeed are one of his owners.

My quandary is this - Why do readers of C.S. Lewis feel as though they discovered him, and are subsequently entitled to declare him as their author? I would anticipate that most of us were lead to C.S. Lewis by someone else, but strangely we forget this basic concept and assume that we stumbled upon this transcendental author individually.

There is no doubt that this is due in part to Jack's ability to demystify complex issues in a manner that allows us to feel as though we now understand. This not only provides crucial understanding, but more importantly, at least for many of us, allows us to project this understanding onto others, usually without giving due credit. Essentially, we use Jack's brilliance to elevate our ego. Ironically though, we garner a degree of the previously mentioned ownership by convincing ourselves that we gleaned the truths from the text through our own faculties, and thus are relating to Lewis on a colleaguesque level, when indeed it was Jack who just unraveled the complexity so that we could understand.

Obviously, there are more reasons than the one above, and the chief reason if probably because Lewis's writings have changed the lives of people in a way that they will never forget, but I still find it interesting that a strong sense of ownership seems to exist regarding C.S. Lewis.

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