Advertisement

Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 11–31 | Cite as

His Dark Legalities: Intellectual Property’s Psychomachia in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy

  • William P. MacNeilEmail author
Article
  • 286 Downloads

Abstract

This article will explore the vastest, most terminal, and—at least in the natural law tradition–most legal of spaces: namely, the home of the divine sovereign, Heaven. Specifically, I am interested in the contemporary (re)depiction of heavenly space as a ‘Miltonic’ theatre of war, as represented in Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials. This spatial mise-en-scene, as spectacular as it is, is a peculiar choice for an avowed atheist and anticlerical like Pullman. For it would seem to confirm than confront the verities of theology and the very structures of belief that Pullman seeks not only to critique but to overthrow. Namely, that Heaven exists, though as an absolute monarchy rather than (as Pullman plugs for) a republic. I will argue, however, that Pullman’s neo-Blakean vision of Heaven-as-Hell (ruled over by the tyrannical Metatron, as regent for a senescent ‘Authority’, i.e. God) is a metaphor: a metaphor for legal rather than theological space. And the legal space that Pullman metaphorises, I will argue, is nothing less than the imaginary of millennial intellectual property rights, an ideo-juridical inner space more and more projected upon and underpinning spatial notions like the ‘Commons’. The war in Heaven, then, is an elaborate allegory for struggles over the contol of knowledge under the conditions of Global Capital, with Lord Asriel, Lyra and Will functioning as Lessig-style activists, colonizing the new technologies (anachronised here as ‘amber spyglasses’, ‘subtle knives’, ‘alethiometers’ etc.) to topple ‘The Authority’ of intellectual property law and institute a democracy of digitality in which ideas are free to circulate in that most unreal and Real of spaces, the internet.

Keywords

Fantasy Theology Atheism Materialism Intellectual property Copyleft Creative commons Free source Open source Libre software 

References

Secondary Sources

  1. Abrams, M.H. 1971. The mirror and the lamp. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Abrams, M.H. 1973. Natural supernaturalism: Tradition and revolution in romantic literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  3. Badiou, Alain. 2005. Metapolitics. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Bate, Walter Jackson. 1972. The burden of the past and the English poet. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
  5. Barthes, Roland. 1974. S/Z: An Essay, trans. Richard Miller, preface Richard Howard. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.Google Scholar
  6. Bergonzi, Bernard. 2007. The Catholic novel: Is there any such thing? Commonweal (4 May).Google Scholar
  7. Berry, David, and Giles Moss. 2005a. Libre commons + libre culture & radical democracy. Noema: Technology and Society 44: 1–13.Google Scholar
  8. Berry, David, and Giles Moss. 2005b. On the “Creative Commons”: A critique of the commons without commonality—is the creative commons missing something. Free Software Magazine 5 (June): 1–4.Google Scholar
  9. Berry, David, and Giles Moss. 2008. Libre culture: Meditations on free culture. Winnipeg: Pygmalion Books.Google Scholar
  10. Blake, William. 1991. Blake: Complete writings, with variant readings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Bloom, Harold. 1961. The visionary company. New York: Doubleday & Co.Google Scholar
  12. Bloom, Harold. 1969. Shelley’s myth-making. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Brown, Dan. 2002. The Da Vinci code. London: Corgi Books.Google Scholar
  14. Byron, George Gordon. 1814. The Corsair: A tale. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  15. Byron, George Gordon. 1959. Byron: Selected verse and prose works, including letters and extracts from lord byron’s journals and diaries, ed. Peter Quennell. London: Collins.Google Scholar
  16. Byron, George Gordon. 1986. Lord Byron: The major works, ed. Jerome McGann. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Collins, Wilkie. 2003. The black robe. Maryland, USA: Wilsdie Press.Google Scholar
  18. Crain, Caleb. 2013. What we're reading: Charles Williams. The New Yorker. At http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/what-were-reading-charles-williams.
  19. Currie, Mark. 1998. Postmodern narrative theory. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Coursey, David. 2004. Open source isn’t religion—just good business, eweek (25 May).Google Scholar
  21. Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The god delusion. London: Bantam.Google Scholar
  22. DiBona, Chris, and Ockman Sam. 1999. Open sources: Voices from the open source revolution. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media.Google Scholar
  23. Donaldson, Stephen. 1996. The chronicles of thomas covenant, the unbeliever. London: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  24. Duriez, Colin. 2015. The Oxford inklings. Oxford: Lion Hudson.Google Scholar
  25. Eliot, T.S. 1928. For Lancelot Andrews: Essays on style and order. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  26. Eliot, T.S. 1932. Selected essays. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  27. Frappier, Jean. 1959. Chretien de Troyes. In Arthurian literature in the middle ages: A collaborative history, ed. Roger Sherman Loomis, 157–192. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  28. Frye, Northrop. 1966. Anatomy of criticism: Four essays, foreward, Harold Bloom. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Frye, Northrop. 1969. Fearful symmetry: A study of William Blake. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Greene, Brian. 1999. The elegant universe: Superstrings, hidden dimensions and the quest for the ultimate theory. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  31. Griffiths. Richard. 2010. The pen and the cross: Catholicism and English literature, 1820–2000. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  32. Harrari, Josue V. 1980. Textual strategies: Perspectives in post-structural criticism. Ithaca: Cornell UP.Google Scholar
  33. Hawking, Stephen, and Leonard Mlodinow. 2010. The grand design. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  34. Heslop, Alexander. 1853, 1858. The Two Babylons: Papal Worship Proved to be Worship of Nimrod and His Wife. At PhilologosReligiousOnlineBooks at http://philologos.org/-eb-Hb. Accessed 26 Feb 2017.
  35. Hitchens, Peter. 18 January 2003. A labour of loathing, The Spectator, UK, at http://www.spectator.co.uk/comic/a-labour-of-loathing. Accessed 11 February 2017.
  36. Howard, Thomas. 1991. The novels of Charles Williams. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.Google Scholar
  37. Jukes, Peter. 13 January 2014. All his materials: In a rare interview, Philip Pullman tells us his own origin story, and why the great questions are still religious ones, at https://www.aeon.co/essays/a-rare-interview-with-philip-pullman-the-religious-atheist. Accessed 11 February 2017.
  38. Kingsley, Charles. 2016. Westward Ho! CreateSpace Independent Publishers.Google Scholar
  39. Lacan, Jacques. 1977. The four fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller, trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  40. Lessig, Lawrence. 2001. The future of ideas: The fate of the commons in a connected world. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  41. Lessig, Lawrence. 2004. Free culture: How big media uses technology and law to lock down culture and control creativity. New York: The Penguin Press.Google Scholar
  42. Lessig, Lawrence. 2006. Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  43. Lewis, C.S. 1942. The screwtape letters. London: Collins.Google Scholar
  44. Lewis, C.S. 1957. The problem of pain. London: Collins/Fontana.Google Scholar
  45. Lewis, C.S. 1959. Surprised by Joy: The shape of my early life. London: Fontana.Google Scholar
  46. Lewis, C.S. 1964. A grief observed. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  47. Lewis, C.S. 1980a. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe. In The chronicles of Narnia. Illustrated, Pauline Bayes. London: Lions.Google Scholar
  48. Lewis, C.S. 1980b. Prince caspian: The return to Narnia. In The chronicles of Narnia. Illustrated, Pauline Bayes. London: Lions.Google Scholar
  49. Lewis, C.S. 1980c. The horse and his boy. In The chronicles of Narnia. Illustrated, Pauline Bayes. London: Lions.Google Scholar
  50. Lewis, C.S. 1980d. The magician’s nephew. In The chronicles of Narnia. Illustrated, Pauline Bayes. London: Lions.Google Scholar
  51. Lewis, C.S. 1980e. The voyage of the dawn treader. In The chronicles of Narnia. Illustrated, Pauline Bayes. London: Lions.Google Scholar
  52. Lewis, C.S. 1980f. The silver chair. In The chronicles of Narnia. Illustrated, Pauline Bayes. London: Lions.Google Scholar
  53. Lewis, C.S. 1980g. The last battle. In The chronicles of Narnia. Illustrated, Pauline Bayes. London: Lions.Google Scholar
  54. Loomis, Roger Sherman. 1959. Arthurian literature in the middle ages: A collaborative history. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  55. Matyszczyk, Chris. 27 September 2014. Stephen Hawking makes it clear there is no God. The physicist explains that science now offers more explanations for existence. He is therefore an atheist. http://www.cnet.com/au/news/stephen- hawking-makes-it-clear-there-is-no-god. Accessed 11 February 2017.
  56. McCalman, Ian, Jon Mee, Gillian Russell, Clara Tuite, Kate Fullager, and Patsy Hardy (eds.). 1999. An Oxford companion to the romantic age, British Culture, 1776–1832, entry for blake, 427–428. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. McLuhan, Marshall. 1994. Understanding media: The extension of man, intro. Lewis Lapham. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  58. Mechanic, Michael. November/December issue, 2012. His Grim Materials: A Conversation with Philip Pullman, Mother Jones, USA. http://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/11/interview-philip-pullman-grim-fairy-tales-his-dark-materials.
  59. Miller, Laura. 26 December 2005. Far from Narnia. Life and Letters. The New Yorker, USA. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/12/26/far-from-Narnia. Accessed 11 February 2017.
  60. Milton, John. 1971. Paradise Lost, ed., Alastair Fowler. London: Longman.Google Scholar
  61. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1969. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, trans. R.J. Hollingdale. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  62. Norton, James. 2011. An Evening with Richard Stallman. London: Managing Intellectual Property. March issue.Google Scholar
  63. Praz, Mario. 1951. The romantic agony, trans., Angus Davidson. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Pullman, Philip. 1995a. The golden compass: His dark materials. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  65. Pullman, Philip. 1995b. Northern lights. London: Scholastic Inc.Google Scholar
  66. Pullman, Philip. 1997. The Subtle knife. London: Scholastic Inc.Google Scholar
  67. Pullman, Philip. 2000. The Amber spyglass. London: Scholastic Inc.Google Scholar
  68. Pullman, Philip. 2011. His Dark Materials: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass. Intro. Lucy Hughes-Hallett. London: Everyman’s Library.Google Scholar
  69. Raymond, Eric. 1999. The Cathedral and the Bazaar. Knowledge, Technology and Policy 12 (3): 23–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Raymond, Eric S. 1998. Goodbye “free software; hello “open source”. www.catb.org/esr/open-source.html.
  71. Raymond, Eric. 2001. The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Sources by an Accidental Revolutionary, foreward by Bob Young. Cambridge: O’Reilly.Google Scholar
  72. Razani, Lauren. 2016. Open Source tools can help small businesses cut costs and save time at http://www.theguardian.com/Small-Business-Network/Smarter-Working. Accessed 22 Feb 2017.
  73. Renton, Jennie. 28 Oct. 2001. The story behind the Potter legend: JK Rowling talks about how she created the Harry Potter books and the magic of Harry Potter’s world. http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1001-sydney.renton.htm.
  74. Roberts, Jude, and Esther MacCallum-Stewart. 2016. Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Popular Fantasy: Beyond Boys Wizards and Kick-Ass Chicks. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  75. Rowling, J.K. 1997. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  76. Rowling, J.K. 1998. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  77. Rowling, J.K. 1999. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  78. Rowling, J.K. 2000. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  79. Rowling, J.K. 2003. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  80. Rowling, J.K. 2005. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  81. Rowling, J.K. 2007. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  82. Stallman, Richard. 2002. Free software, free society, intro. Lawrence Lessig, ed. Joshua Gay. Boston: GNU Press.Google Scholar
  83. Stallman, Richard. 2007. Why open source misses the point of free software. GNU Operating System, sponsored by Free Software Foundation. At http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-pointen.html.
  84. Swift, Jonathan, 1985. Gulliver’s travels, ed. Peter Dixon; intro. Michael Foot. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  85. Thackeray, William Makepeace. 1954. Henry Esmond. London: Collins.Google Scholar
  86. The New English Bible with the Apocrypha. 1970. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Tolkien, J.R.R. 1975. Tree and leaf. London: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  88. Tolkien, J.R.R. 1983. On Fairy Stories. in: Tree and Leaf. London: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  89. Tolkien, J.R.R. 1999. The Silmarillion. ed, Christopher Tolkien, London: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  90. Tolkien, J.R.R. 2001. The lord of the rings. London: HarperCollins Publishers.Google Scholar
  91. Williams, Charles. 2002. All Hallows’ Eve. Vancouver, BC, Canada: Regent College Publishing (first published London: Faber & Faber, 1945).Google Scholar
  92. Williams, Charles. 1980. Descent into Hell. Quezon City, Philippines: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (first published London: Faber & Faber, 1937).Google Scholar
  93. Williams, Charles. 2016. Taliessin Through Logres and The Region of the Summer Stars, intro., Sonia Higgins. Berkeley, CA, USA: Apocryphile Press.Google Scholar
  94. Williams, Charles. 2004. War in Heaven. Quezon City, Philippines: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (first published London: Victor Gollancz, 1930).Google Scholar
  95. Wilson, A.N. 1990. C.S. Lewis: A Biography. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  96. Zaimov, Stoyan. 30 December 2015. Neil deGrasse Tyson Not Sure If God Exists, Questions Lack of Benevolence in Universe’. Christian Post Reporter. At http://www.christianpost.com/news/neil-degrasse-tyson-unsure-god-exists-questions-lack-benevolence-universe-153746. Accessed 11 Febraury 2016.
  97. Zaleski, Philip and Carol Zaleski, 2015. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  98. Zizek, Slavoj, 2003. The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. Cambridge, Mass., USA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

Film

  1. The Golden Compass. 2007. Directed by Chris Weitz. Starring Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman. USA: Newline Cinema.Google Scholar
  2. Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them. 2016. Directed by David Yates. Warner Bros: Written by J.K. Rowling. USA.Google Scholar
  3. Religulous. 2008. Directed by Larry Charles. Starring Bill Mahe. USA: Thousand Words.Google Scholar

Organisations

  1. Creative Commons Australia at http://www.creativecommon.org.au.
  2. Free Software Foundation at http://www.fsf.org.
  3. Open Source Initiative at http://www.opensource.org.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law and JusticeSouthern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

Personalised recommendations