NWOTV Book One - DPSSFilmAppreciation

Once Upon a Time
 Once upon a time, an author invented a universe, a
planet, and a God. The world wasn’t real, of course,
but it bore a few remarkable similarities to our own. It
shared our world’s great beauty, and it shared our
world’s almost incomprehensible cruelty. The
inhabitants, man and animal, were similar to ours;
The animals acted very much as our animals do,
except they could talk, and the people were every bit
as heroic and flawed as we are.
 The God of this world commanded a man, Noah, to
build an ark and load it with animals. Two by two.
In the Beginning...
 No other humans were to live on the ark, except for
Noah and his wife, and his 3 three sons and their
 The ship was built, and God sent rain, and all that was
once beautiful and horrible about this fictional world
was submerged, perhaps never to be seen again. There
were no survivors, save those on the ark. It was this
family who would begin the world anew when the
flood waters abated, if they ever did. The principles,
strengths, weaknesses, faults, philosophies and
wisdom of this family would be the gift passed on by
this Noah to the world.
In the Beginning, Cont’d
 The God of this world, Yahweh, consented to his own
death, but no one knew this. Not even Noah. There
were many things Noah did not know, and when
confronted by those things that were beyond his
understanding, he did what many men have done.
 He panicked, made mistakes, and tried to find a way
to justify them. It was this Noah’s tragedy that he
believed he must remain blameless in the eyes of the
Lord, and so he sought to blame others for his
mistakes, and his family loathed him for it.
And in the end.....
 When he realized, at last, that his God had forsaken
him, he stole a branch from a bird cage, gave it to one
of his trained doves, and proclaimed a miracle!
 And there was much rejoicing. By some. Others saw
through the stunt, but said nothing.
 The writer chose to end his story before the waters
receded, and we can only wonder what became of
those doomed souls aboard that rotting ship, and the
world that waited to be born.
Findley on Writing
 Writing is... “The articulation of things that must be
Findley said that some of what seem like
contemporary issues in the novel are also found in the
Bible: “The issues of power, of the power structure;
women and their place in society; animals and their
place in our consciousness; the environment and our
responsibility for it.”
“We have destroyed nature...we are destroying
ourselves, the human experiment is ending. (1971)
Why This Novel?
 “The prevailing opinions of the times, whether Noah’s
or ours or any in between, must always be
interrogated, and for that reason, books like Not
Wanted on the Voyage are important for us, as Swift’s
Modest Proposal was for the eighteenth century, or
Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress for the seventeenth, or
More’s Utopia for the sixteenth.” –Donna Pennee
 Mrs. Noyes learns to speak louder than in whispers,
and dares to articulate what must be articulated.
Through her in particular, but others also, readers are
prompted to consider- or maybe even join- the on
going revolt of the lower orders.
Novel as Parable?
 “The novel may be read as a parable challenging the
imperialist version of colonization as well as a
warning against fascist eugenics and the impossible
fascist quest for purity of any kind. Indeed, it suggests
that such quests are related, sharing fundamental
assumptions that are dangerous to our continued
survival on earth as a humane civilization.”
- Diana Brydon
An Apocalyptic Fable?
 “Not Wanted on the Voyage, by revivifying the myth
of the flood so extravagantly, turns the deliberate
destruction, by Yahweh, of that ancient death-wish
world into an illuminating metaphor for the likely
accidental but all too imaginable destruction, by all of
us, of this present one.”
-Douglas Hill
A Greenpeace Epic?
 a critic, whose name I have now lost, said of the book,
“It is a beast fable
emerging as Greenpeace
epic in the Nuclear Age.”
A Timeless/Timely Tale?
 “several messages...that have contemporary
significance- equality for women, the need for
conservation... the threat posed by
fundamentalists, and anti-evolutionists, the
danger of obsessive beliefs and blind,
unquestioning faith. And there seems to be an
animal rights, anti-vivisectionist message
message in... Noah’s experiments on cats.”
-William French
“Everyone knows it wasn’t like that.”
 1
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the
face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
 2
that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they
were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
 3
And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive
with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a
hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants Num. 13.33 in the earth in those days; and also
after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and
they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of
old, men of renown.
5 ¶ And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,
and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and
it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from
the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and
the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
 9
¶ These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man 2
Pet. 2.5 and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with
 10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
 11 ¶ The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was
filled with violence.
 12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt;
for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
 13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before
me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold,
I will destroy them with the earth.
17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all
flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the
earth shall die.
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark,
thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the
ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of
the earth after his kind; two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee;
and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
Thus did Noah Heb. 11.7 according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into
the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and
his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his
3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep
seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty
days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I
destroy from off the face of the earth.
And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.
¶ And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the
And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him,
into the ark, Mt. 24.38, 39 · Lk. 17.27 because of the waters of the flood.
Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every
thing that creepeth upon the earth,
there went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as
God had commanded Noah.
10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the
11 ¶ In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth
day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up,
and the windows of heaven were opened. 2 Pet. 3.6
And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons
of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;
14 they, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every
creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his
kind, every bird of every sort.
15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is
the breath of life.
16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had
commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
17 ¶ And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and
bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth.
18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth;
and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the
high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains
were covered.
21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of
cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the
earth, and every man:
22 all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry
land, died.
 23 And every living substance was destroyed which was
upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the
creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were
destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and
they that were with him in the ark.
 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and
fifty days.
Why Genesis?
 The Bible is presented as an unquestionable text, its
ageless authority bound in its pages. It is gospel. It is
true, and the truth is.
 Findley suggests an alternative version of the coming
of the flood, and in doing so, challenges readers to
consider the other versions of the story they have
heard, and question their authenticity. By extension,
readers are asked to consider what they really believe.
 No one text bears the mark of truth for all time, but
texts have power, force and signification in the world.
Questioning Genesis
 We are given a relatively familiar reference to Noah
and the story of the Flood.
 That account is called to question immediately by
Findley: “ Everyone knows it wasn’t like that.” This
positions us to hear a new account, or different
account of the Flood, but with the likely
understanding that this new account may be no more
truthful than the old.
 Findley’s account compels us to consider all those
aspects of the Flood that we have not read about
before, even in Genesis.
Why an Ark Story?
The Ark Story has a wonderful duality: it recounts both the end of the
world and the start of a new one; it is a tale of life and death, loss
and salvation; God’s wrath but also God’s forgiveness.
The ark functions as the central metaphor for the novel; our planet is
an ark in a deep blue sea. It’s preservation is our only hope. We of
the lower orders are compelled- for the sake of our own survival- to
question the intellect, integrity, the competence and true intentions
of those in charge, the captains.
We must find room for all: for man and woman, adult and child.
Animals of all kinds. and apes.
and demons and dragons and fairies and unicorns. The book
suggests that every life is sacred, and deserving to be saved. Even the
wicked, the lost, the fallen.
This is a novel of many arks; the one Noah builds is only one.
Of Doves and Peacocks: Noah’s Reading of Truth
The arrival of the dove signals the sense of doom and dread
associated with the Patriarchy throughout the novel: Yahweh’s
messenger- his sign to the faithful- is a dead dove.
Noah insists upon controlling and interpreting communications. He
decrees that Yahweh is coming and declares the dove a sign.
Yahweh’s second sign is only interpreted as such by Noah. Not
surprisingly, it is a peacock- traditional symbol of male pride and
Noah insists that the fanning of the peacock’s tale is a sign, and uses
this as a pretext for calling for a sacrifice that very evening.
“A sacrifice is called for and decreed,” says Noah. He does not say
by whom. The peasants are to be denied an explanation. They don’t
deserve one.
“The only principles that
matter here, Madam, are
the principles of ritual and
The only principles that
matter here are yours!
Ritual and Tradition
Mrs. Noyes speaks of fairness, and justice, and of Ham’s scientific principles. All of
these are compelling reasons to excuse Ham from the sacrifice, but Noah will have
none of it.
He invokes a son’s right, and privilege to take part, and then invokes the law.
By adhering to ritual and tradition (the basis of law) Noah denies evolution of any sort.
There can be no change unless he- the keeper of methodology-dictates it. The
patriarchy thus assures that the patriarchy remains strong and unshaken. It is as fixed as
God in the sky, and as timeless and enduring.
“He’s only calling to his mate, for God’s sake!”
How dare you? how dare you?
“You see, by every sign and signal my decision is confirmed.” This is typical of Noah,
who alone asserts the right to interpret and decree signs.
Noah uses rage as another method for keeping people- particularly his wife and the
other women-in their place.
So let it be written, so let it be done!
On all occasions, Noah insists that things be written down. He
recognizes that there is power in the written word. All of his
pronouncements are recorded.
perhaps Noah wants to ensure his importance in history
The written word cannot be questioned. It has the force of Holy
Writ. He is extremely fond of recording miracles, even fraudulent
ones. when ash falls from the sky, Noah calls it snow, so snow it
shall be for all time, recorded by the dutiful sister Hannah.
This represents the power of text, of the written word, and of the
masculine ownership of that domain. Certain learning only exists
in books and these are to be the domain of men only. Men write.
Men read. Men go to university. As such, men retain power in the
church as well as in the secular fields of learning. Women are to
be denied learning (the orchard and the apple tree)
Rules and Borders
Yahweh’s missives to Noah read as a rulebook to be followed
exactly. The size of the retinue, the specifics of the menu, etc.
Rules and borders are essential to a system in which places are
fixed and everyone must know theirs. Noah’s world functions by
a system of divisions and boundaries and these require order and
Mrs. Noyes breaks these rules when she rushes to help Yahweh,
who has stumbled. Her mother’s instinct is stronger than her her
dogmatical knowledge of place. As such, she almost loses her
arms, before Yahweh himself decrees that “it is enough that she
has been shamed.”
Yahweh also travels with soldiers (Angels like Michael
Archangelis) who likewise assure order and obediance.
A Place for Everything...
 As mentioned, women must know their place, and Yahweh
and Noah ensure this through humiliation, intimidation,
wrath, and the assumption that a show of power like
Noah’s will be sufficient to maintain order.
 “The World Cannot Function without Your Participation”
is one of Noah’s favourite precepts, likely because it gives
everyone a job to do while liberating him from them. Of
course, his job is to oversee preparations.
Order is reflected in the banquet as well. Everyone knows
their place, the powerful and the powerless. It is a
hierarchical organization.
Hierarchy in the Blue Pavilion
 God and His Angels
 God and Man
 (Man and Woman) (Man and Animal)
 King and Subject
 Lord and Vassal
 Master and Slave
A Binary World
 Us and Them
 We and They
 Rationalism and Madness (a necessary corrective)
 Wanted and Not Wanted
 Order and Anarchy
 Yes and No (No and Yes) (Noyes)
 apes
The Flood
The flood is to be that necessary corrective referred to earlier. It is to
restore order, and sanity, and poer to the powerful. The pre-flood
world is a broken place, a world of cannibals (communion
corrupted?) and men who would kill their God. The flood is to fix
The flood is man’s work; Noah is implicated through his magic trick.
Like a miracle...Yahweh almost whispered now, as the final flow of
the liquid spilled from the mouth of the silver jug...filling the bottle
and, to all intents and purposes, obliterating the mage of the penny,
still in its place beneath the bottle. “By the sheer application of
water...it disappears”
But it doesn’t disappear; like all those second items on the list, the
penny is still there. After the flood, they will still be there, still
opposing the patriarchal world.
Noah and his Wife
 Dogma vs. Instinct
Unlike Noah, who always relies on dogma as his
guide, Mrs. Noyes regularly consults her own feelings
as the highest guide to what is right and proper and
fair. She resists, at least silently, Noah’s imposition of
dogma upon her and her sons. Not surprisingly, she is
closest to Ham, who likewise, with his science, resists
Noah’s teachings. She knows the peacock is not a sign.
It is her peacock! Likewise, she sees his many miracles
as “sinister events: unpleasant and stomach churning.
Noah and his Wife
 Law, Order, Containment vs. Freedom
Noah insists on the above as a means of maintaining
power and control. Mrs. Noyes, however, looks
forward to chances to loosen her clothes and her
demeanour. At such times, she looks upon the world
with her own eyes and thinks her own thoughts. The
people of her church sing songs and are connected by
fellowship, no higher bonds. Their relationships are
organic rather than imposed. For her, sanctuary is not
a church, but rather her garden, her porch, a place of
quiet contemplation and rest, not the strictures of
A Woman’s World?
 Mrs. Noyes
 Emma
 Mottyl
 Hannah
 Lucy?
 An interesting juxtaposition in the novel is that
between the human world and the animal one.
 The human world is governed by a top down
hierarchy of power which seeks to limit and define
artificially the places of those within it. Yahweh, of
course, is the top, and then Noah, and then the rest.
 The hierarchy justifies itself. It is necessary or chaos
will ensue. The greatest enemy is anarchy, or a tearing
down of the established order. Of course, the
established order serves its own purpose.
 In the forest world, no such hierarchies exist, or if they do,
they are organic and natural. Predators still prey, as they
must, but the logic behind this exists in the natural world. It
is not artificial. All the animals are united by a common
experience of birth, life and death. There is reverence for
birth, and the young are seen as holy here. There is also
respect for death. It is understood that the world is not safe
and so they need to look out for each other.
 This is a trait shared by all in the book- human and animal-
who stand outside Noah’s patriarchy.
 The woods house a genuine community, where everyone
takes interest in others because it is mutually beneficial to
do so. “Leave it for the Unicorn” is a universally accepted
axiom. It is a world of reciprocation.
Lucy and Michael
 2 loving brothers, one sworn to kill the other
 one representing obedience, the other rebellion
 one guarding Heaven, the other cast out
 “Why? All you ever said was Why? Why this and why that
and why everything! How dare you. How dare you.”
 Interesting that Lucy should, having come to Earth, take
the form of a woman. Michael, meanwhile, represents the
masculine ideal. Particularly for Japeth. Note that there are
no women in Yahweh’s retinue. Heaven itself is a
masculine domain.
The Crown of Flies
More from Findley
 “It’s to do with the covenant and the idea we’re faced
with the growing consequences of having chosen one
god to the exclusion of the holiness of each thing...”
 “The world is a very spiritual place for me. When you
remember that the rocks and the trees and the whales
are holy, then you treat them differently... and you
treat people differently as well.

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