He is interested in the discoveries of science (“intellectual daring and imaginative brilliance without parallel”), the freedoms of democracy (in particular “the great democracy of reading and writing”), the evils of authoritarianism (“always reductive whether it’s in power or not”) and the pitfalls of education (“any education that neglects the experience of delight will be a dry and tasteless diet with no nourishment in it”). He is profoundly interested in religion, while remaining puzzled by aspects of it. “The first thing to say about the Bishop’s arguments in his book,” he writes in “God and Dust,” “is that I agree with every word of them, except the words I don’t understand; and that the words I don’t understand are those such as spirit, spiritual and God.”
Philip Pullman is an interesting author, which makes Daemon Voices an interesting sort of book. In a nutshell, it’s a selected collection of essays and presentation he’s given over the years on a wide range of topics. In particular, he talks a lot about Paradise Lost (makes me want to actually read it), his religious and philosophical views (and a dive into Gnosticism) and how those interact with his writing, and a bit on writing advice and his own particular style.
It’s a fascinating look and there’s a little for everyone, so if you like what Pullman has written, you can certainly do worse than give it a chance!
Below are a few interesting quotes that I highlighted for just about every essay. It’s not really the sort of book where one should worry about spoilers, but just in case that’s not a shared option, you have been warned. (Also: long)