By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Value of Shock

Puddleglum, as portrayed by Tom Baker in the B...Image via Wikipedia
Of course, none of us likes disappointment, pain, shock, or suffering. Yet, when we consider the matter more profoundly, we can discover a silver lining. In C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair (Book 6 of the Narnia series), there is a comment by one of his oddest characters, Puddleglum, the Marsh-wiggle, after burning his foot while stamping out a fire burning in the fireplace. The fire had been emitting an enchanting smell which was enervating the "good guys" in the book. The enchanted smell was created by the Witch who threw a mysterious green powder into the fireplace. The effect was that the good guys could no longer think clearly and were gradually falling under the spell and control of the Witch's lies.


After Puddleglum bravely breaks the spell by stamping out the fire with his bare foot, the narrator observes:

[T]he pain itself made Puddleglum's head for moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

The Silver Chair, Ch. 12, p. 190 in HarperTrophy 1994 paperback.

Think of times when you have been under some delusion about a significant other (sometimes even a spouse), a political party, a politician, an institution, an ideology, a religious leader, a religion, et cetera. Then, all of a sudden the spell is broken. You can think clearly; and you are no longer in the false, "enchanted" state. Shock, painful shock, is sometimes the right medicine needed to be free.