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Can adults read the alethiometer?

This forum is for all stuff related to the first book in the trilogy: The Golden Compass. This book is called Northern Lights in the UK.

Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby iorekbyrnison555 » Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:55 pm

Farder Coram says he saw a wise man reading it. Also, it's suggested on page 29 that the Master can read it as well (presumably using the special book). But Serafina Pekkala (I think it was her) tells Lyra that adults can't read it. At the end of the Amber Spyglass, Lyra herself can no longer read it once she gets older. So is age a factor?

Also, isn't Lyra the only one who can read it without the book?
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby dannyyyy » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:59 am

Didn't Lord Asriel have a guy that could read the alethiometer?
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby aurora borealis » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:59 pm

This is what I think (slightly spoiler-ish if you havent read The Amber Spyglass)

Lyra could read the alethiometer as a child by grace, as suggested by Xaphania in The Amber Spyglass.
Adults can read the alethiometer using special books, and it takes many years to learn all the symbols. That's why, after returning to Oxford, Lyra wants to start studying the books at St. Sophia college.
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby iorekbyrnison555 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:20 am

but then... kids can't read it though. i mean lyra's the only one who's ever been able to read it without books, and it just so happens that shes a kid... so how do they know beforeahand that she'll lose that ability once she reaches adulthood?
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby ArG » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:37 pm

Once you become mature I suppose you could say, you see things in a different way. Also, I think it may have been prophesized that she would forget. There are no adults who can read the alethiometer without the books. The people who do that even take hours to fully understand what the alithiometer is saying.
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby latency » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:42 am

I think any child could read the alethiometer if they tried... Children have fantastic imaginations, which is what allows them to make the links between the symbols and their meanings without the books.

But how many children would have the patients and diligence to try?
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby Nickale » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:43 pm

The Alethiometer is a pretty powerfu l tool. I know I wouldn't be able to use it, even though I'm a child.
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby ArG » Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:06 am

Nickale wrote:The Alethiometer is a pretty powerfu l tool. I know I wouldn't be able to use it, even though I'm a child.

How do you know if you haven't tried :wink: I have found that we can do things we could never have imagined ourselves being able to do :mrgreen:
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby Boydesy » Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:56 pm

Wow, I haven't actually talked about the books for a while. Anyhoo:

Yes, adults can read the alethiometers, although I think I recall them stating that only five or six still remained. It simply takes years of study and practice. Lord Asriel had his own alethiometrist who, in The Amber Spyglass, was able to determine the whereabouts of Lyra and Will. Dame Hannah, the head of the woman's college, was also an alethiometrist (I think). In fact the whole reason that the Master of Jordan tried to poison Asriel in the beginning was because Hannah read her alethiometer and warned him that dire consequences could occur if Asriel was allowed to continue his work.
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby missy » Wed Mar 09, 2011 3:02 pm

As other have pointed out adults have read it. But they need the books to understand the symbols. I think that the symbols could be memorized (as Lyra did a one point) but that you need a certain imagination (such that children have) and Lyra kind of imaginged what the answer was, but at times she wasn't sure. Like with Fadar Cowin and the spyfly she didnt' know the country (Africa?) because she didn't know the symbol for that meaning yet. So its memorization and guessing and the imagination that children have. I"m sure in her later years it would come back as you cannot forget something like that once you'v learned it. The concept is still there somwhere its just blocked of my other things. Maybe thoughs have something to do with it. I think it said that you have to make your mind go blank or in a more relaxed state and adults have problems with this cause they are so busy and always thinking about something. Children don't have so many responsibilities so they can relax more easily.
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby faze » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:20 pm

AS I UNDERSTAND IT:
The fact that Lyra 'was Eve' is what allowed her to read the alethiometer as well as she could. After she fell, she lost the wide-eyed innocent state she'd had before and so would have to rely on training rather than instinct.
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Re: Can adults read the alethiometer?

Postby Tweak » Wed May 11, 2011 7:11 pm

First, please excuse my English and the fact that I'm a newbie here and it has been a while since I red the trilogy.
My understanding of the history is the changes that happen to us when we grow up and loose the innocence of a child's mind. It is replaced with a mind that has to consider consequences and the understanding that the needs of others sometimes must go before our own desires.
A child's mind could read and somehow understand the alethiometer since the childs mind is imaginative and with no constraints. Adults think to much and can only work to interpret the symbols given by the alethiometer. And also Lyra has no difficulties falling into the trance like state which adults mostly have to work long and hard to achieve.
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