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Owen Barfield: 

The Journey of the Soul through Western Consciousness

 

By Kenneth McClure

 

     In the opening pages of Civilization and Its Discontents, as if to show that he really has nothing against those who are disposed by their psyche to believe in God, Freud acknowledges that some of his best friends do. And one of them, whom he respects, has told Freud about a mystical feeling of being one with the universe.  In an effort to account for how his friend, an otherwise perfectly respectable and reasonable man, could be so deluded, Freud explains the feeling as a vestigial remnant of the original moment of birth, when we do not see the light, we are it. After that moment, according to Freud, there follows a very considerable constriction of identity until we arrive at what he calls "the ego feeling of maturity."  In contradistinction to the feeling of limitlessness and a bond with the universe which correlate to the mystical feeling, the feeling content appropriate to the ego feeling of maturity is limitedness and a lack of a bond with the universe.  Presumably, if Freud's friend could rid himself of that profoundly infantile mystical feeling, he could assume his ego feeling of maturity and get on with things as things ought to be gotten on with.

           

     Something is deeply sad and profoundly wrong here. For the ego feeling that Freud describes is not appropriate to any condition resembling maturity.  It bespeaks not healthy development but unnatural mutilation. It is as if someone suffering from affective disorder were being offered as a model: See, if we withhold affection from these mammals, if we do not hold them as infants, they will develop this catastrophic dislocation from human actuality!

 

     My sense is that Freud is in almost everybody's bad book these days. My further sense is that the premises of scientific materialism which were his have been, if not deserted, so tarnished as to no longer be a place where anyone in his right mind would want to live. We have made an imaginative transition from Bacon's image of putting Nature on the rack and forcing her to tell us her truths to Ilya Prigogine's image of entering into a new dialogue with Nature. These are all good developments. But notwithstanding them, I'm afraid we are still stuck, many of us, in Freud's ego feeling of maturity. And so we have as life-affirming a writer as James Joyce, who, while he devotes his genius to conceiving but one day of Dublin's history, yet performs that act in pointed exile therefrom, contending that history is a nightmare from which he is trying to awaken. If we have come to think that Freud gravely misunderstood the nature of the soul, Joyce still may speak to us. And we all know, as we scan the news on any given day, what he means.  This is perhaps why those who summon us confidently into this world are so precious to us. Owen Barfield is one such thinker. 

 

     Although Barfield never explicitly does so, the entire impulse of his thought is to take up the question with which Freud begins Civilization and Its Discontents from another angle: If, throughout history, until very recently, humankind, through its cognitive efforts, was able to detect God implicated or immanent in the created order, what disables so many of us from doing so? Barfield's answer involves his bedazzling notion of the evolution of consciousness and the changed -- and changing -- nature of language. The result is that what once was given to humankind cognitively through a collective enterprise now must be attained through individual effort. That individual effort is going to involve thinking or "active thinking," and the experience of poetry provides us with a good example of the kind of thinking Barfield is asking of us.

 

     It can safely be said that Owen Barfield's mind was majestic. Although he saw his own work as consonant with and subordinate to Rudolf Steiner's, there was a distinctly original stamp of genius on Barfield's thought. Significantly, Poetic Diction was conceived and largely executed before he entered Steiner's orbit. It must have been disconcerting for a thinker of Barfield's metal not to have been awarded commensurate recognition in his younger years. Indeed, it was not that respect was withheld; Barfield's work, if not widely read, seems always to have commanded respect from those who did read it. It is as if the culture was not ready for Barfield, and would not be ready until the most revolutionary thinkers of the time had done their work upon it.

 

     It is my delighted impression that that work has been done, and that we are today better able to understand Barfield sufficiently to be summoned by him than we were, say, in 1957, when Saving the Appearances was first published. The case that Barfield makes for the evolution of consciousness is still strikingly original. The active thinking that it summons us to do is actually required even to begin adequately to understand it.   Notwithstanding the originality of Barfield's concept and the active thinking its understanding must initiate, there now are also more conventional roads that we may take to glimpse it. These are valuable; they can afford us another perspective on the field Barfield surveys. They may also suggest a coalescence of thinking around his bedazzling notion. 

 

"Saving the Appearances," Barfield writes, "like pretty well everything else I have written, is about the evolution of consciousness. The first 22 chapters seek to establish on various grounds that this must be seen as the progressive metamorphosis of a universal or generalized consciousness, which embraced both man and nature, into the individualized and alienated self-consciousness we have today; and further that there are indications that this contraction seeks to be followed by an expansion from the new center thus created" (1977, p. 5). 

 

Insofar as this describes "the evolution of consciousness," Barfield now shares the stage of those arguing for it with many others. This is especially true if we grant that the widespread opposition to scientific materialism amounts to an assent to Barfield's further point. That is to say, most everyone agrees that the ego feeling of maturity is too constricted and needs to be expanded, although most of us are not sure how to accomplish that expansion, or even, perhaps, whether it actually can be accomplished.  Barfield is. And his conviction springs from something more that he understands the concept to involve. When we consider that later, I will seek to show how Barfield differs even from many who agree that the description he has so far given of "the evolution of consciousness," is factually correct.  For now, we consider the story of how a generalized consciousness changed into our alienated selves; a story which has taken on the character of orthodoxy.

 

     The development from original participation to idolatry, as Barfield figures it, is variously styled by other thinkers as a development from primitive or archaic consciousness to contemporary or scientific consciousness, or from oral to literate consciousness, or from a mythic to a Newtonian consciousness. This shift is marked by a transition from knowledge-by-empathy to knowledge-by-analysis. Primitive man knows the world empathically; we know the world analytically. Primitive consciousness is engaged, involved, immersed in the world; we stand at a distance from it, observing rather than participating, holding the world at arm's length through the instrument of abstraction.

 

     A brief pause to consider what enables us to move from one stage to the next. It takes more than fully developed writing systems that empower us to keep dimensionally more information in our ready orbit, at our disposal. Nor, in reality, is it simply the development of the Greek alphabet to the point of being the first one capable of  consistently turning any phonetic utterance in its language into written form. Rather it is these developments in correlation with the psychological changes they engender: "By separating the knower from the known ... writing makes possible increasingly articulate introspectivety, opening the psyche as never before not only to the external objective world quite distinct from itself but also to the interior self against whom the objective world is set. Writing makes possible the great introspective religions" (Ong, p. 105).  In opening that space, writing makes philosophy possible as well.

 

      The difference between these two ways of knowing the world is insightfully developed in Eric Havelock's Preface to Plato. In Plato's Republic, Havelock points to the transition from empathic to analytic knowledge occurring in a revolutionary stroke, as it were, before our eyes. In the book's first section, he explains how the Homeric epics were transmitted, calling attention to the experience that the people being taught these myths had while they were absorbing them. Havelock emphasizes that the performance of the Homeric poems had an "effect of hypnosis which relaxed the body's physical tensions and so also relaxed mental tensions, the fears, anxieties, and uncertainties which are the normal lot of our mortal existence. Fatigue was temporarily forgotten and ... the erotic impulses, no longer blocked by anxiety, were stimulated" (p. 152). The learning process by which Homer was assimilated was "a highly sensual experience -- it had to be, in order to be effective -- so that proper action and diction were inseparably associated ... with pleasurable memories" (p. 158). In this way the degree of participation or immersion in the transmission of mythic knowledge was heightened.

 

     In contradistinction, the thinker that Plato requires to achieve analytic knowledge must stand at a distance from the human life-world.  He must be able to achieve a remoteness of reference from it. Two points need be made. In order for the knower to be separated from the known, in order for the known to be isolated as an object of knowledge, the psyche must suffer a trauma as it is torn from its unity with the human life-world. But the second point is, if this is a fall, it is a fortunate fall. In it, the recovery of an enhanced unity is potentiated. Yes, because of this fall from our immediate connection with the human life-world, we become better able to manipulate the world. If you say to primitive, illiterate people, "All polar bears are white; Sasha is a polar bear; what color is Sasha?" they are often angered. They cannot do the cerebral calisthenics required to answer the question. But, apart from that, the fact that such a question arises in the first place is enough to make them angry. "I've never seen Sasha. How should I know? What's wrong with you?"  (Ong, pp. 52-53) . Furthermore, so exquisitely attuned to the world are they that they have words to discriminate scores of shades of white that they find there, which our blunter, more abstract minds subsume as "white."  And we find this same impulse to resist conceptual thinking throughout the dialogues. Socrates asks what is justice and is presented with instantiations of it, until his students are brought into the domain of conceptual thinking.

 

     But we are empowered to do more in this space that opens up between the human life-world and ourselves than to better manipulate the world. That space is a ground on which we can stand in opposition to the cultural forces we may choose to resist; it is a ground of moral agency.  It may even be a ground of spiritual agency. This is our very interiority, the place of introspection, of conscience and the stream of consciousness. Havelock refers to the conception of this ground as "the Greek discovery of the soul" (p. 197).  When Plotinus begins to explore it, and certainly once Augustine occupies it, it will seem quite like our soul itself.  It is, in any case, where the uncreated spark of the soul finds its harbor in consciousness.

 

     For now, as this space opens to us with Plato and Aristotle, we have only the first component of our Western consciousness.  It is Athens.  When called upon to crystallize the gift of Socrates to philosophy, Professor Cornford called it a "morality of spiritual aspiration" (p. 48).   The suggestion is that Athens did not know quite what it was aspiring to.  Israel did.  The object of Athens’s aspiration was not, in fact, an object; more like a person.  It was their God, who spoke to them, and summoned them into history.  The issue of the marriage of Athens and Israel was our consciousness.  And so we followed.

 

     The story then is complicated by another fall. Around the time of the Scientific Revolution, consciousness underwent an additional trauma, another quantum distancing from the human life-world. "Historians of European culture are in substantial agreement that, in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, something like a mutation in human nature took place" (Trilling, 1977 p. 19).  Professor Butterfield sees it as a change in our feeling for matter itself (Butterfield, 130). It is no longer possible for us, as it was for medieval man, to feel ourselves enwombed in the material universe. Western man now summons a resolutely adversarial posture towards matter itself; if we think of the terms in which Bacon figures that relationship, perhaps we should say that he hates matter.  But at the same time as he hates matter, he believes it to be the true reality.  And while the division between extended matter and thinking substance (or soul) momentarily holds, thinking itself is soon reduced, like everything else, to nothing but the result of mindless physical events, and therefore becomes essentially material.  Thus, even man's soul is to be adversarilly opposed, regarded as part of the material universe that we have come to hate. 

 

     The Scientific Revolution may have "come from the medieval insistence on the rationality of God, conceived as with the personal energy of Jehovah and with the rationality of a Greek philosopher"  (Whitehead, p. 12).  But with this episode of conscious severance from the world, divinity is apparently extirpated from actuality. God becomes an attenuated hypothesis for which science has no need.  It may be hard to see a fortune in this fall.  Shortly after the Scientific Revolution, we find ourselves cognitively disabled from detecting God in the created order.   When the trauma of it is incorporated into consciousness, we are effectively reduced to Freud's ego feeling of maturity. 

 

      The impulse of scientific  materialism is to entirely sever the knower from the known.  This impulse has been at work in Western consciousness since before Plato's Republic, since before the transition from empathic knowledge to analytic knowledge.  It had its effect on language, Barfield says, in the following way.  We now have a material and an immaterial vocabulary, or an objective/material and a subjective/immaterial vocabulary, words for things in their concrete reality and words for -- as we would say -- our psychological states of feeling.  That was not so for primitive man.  Words for him were a fusion of objective and subjective meaning, so the world as it was perceived in language was figured for him as a poem.  Thus, the word breath meant both breath (something actual) and spirit (something immaterial).  Barfield points to a word like heart in our current vocabulary as a word that still is characterized by that particular material/immaterial, subjective/objective fusion.  So it is that we have triple-bypass heart surgery and we have a four-chambered heart, even as we love with all our heart or can conceive that "light breaks where no sun shines; where no sea runs, the waters of the heart push in their tide." The kind of change where objective meaning precipitates out of the word heart might be anticipated to happen when the word cardium replaces heart to assert its objective meaning, while "heart" retains its subjective/immaterial connotations.

 

     When the impulse of scientific materialism did its work on language, there precipitated out from words which fused material and immaterial meaning, on the one hand a word asserting the objective meaning (and it alone), and on the other hand a word asserting the subjective meaning (and it alone).  There remained but one switch to throw:  Words corresponding to simple objective or material meaning were granted superior truth value over words corresponding to subjective or immaterial meaning. "Material" words were deemed true and "immaterial" words deemed false, illusory and existing only in the mind.  The contraction of meaning into inner and outer meanings corresponds to the withdrawal of the individual from his immersion in the phenomena.  In order for the self to pull back from the phenomena to an observer's distance, language had to be reformulated to achieve that perspective.

 

     The ascription of reality to the outside of things and unreality to the inside of things bespeaks the painful self-alienation that is here achieved.  Consciousness is for us the experience of the inside of ourselves; that essential element is now denied and negated. The proposition that reality has no insides was to achieve meaning -- as all propositions that achieve meaning must -- inside us.  The doctrine that material is real and immaterial unreal is merely a doctrine unless it be incorporated in consciousness as the world is perceived bodying itself forth to us in our internal language.  The throwing of the switch had its effect in channels deep in the stream of consciousness.  "Science," as Whitehead saw, "has practically recolored our mentality. ... The new mentality is more important even than the new science and the new technology.  It has altered ... the imaginative contents of our minds"  (p. 2). 

 

     One of the things Barfield is calling upon us to do is to take possession of our interior being by taking hold of the language that figures so prominently in it.  Poetic Diction is the title of his first book on this subject.  This suggests a rather thin-lipped aesthetic exercise.  But poetry is not to be merely an isolated aesthetic experience.   We are to put its robust power to work in reconceiving the universe.

 

     Just as the work of Ong, Havelock and others has illuminated the evolution of consciousness, there are also thinkers who may assist us in apprehending the potential role of poetry in active thinking.   Louise Rosenblatt's The Reader, the Text, the Poem, for instance, drawing on Dewey and, most notably, Peirce, is particularly helpful.   Rosenblatt starts with the traditional distinction between poetry and prose, or emotive and scientific uses of language, or, as she fashions it, the efferent and aesthetic stances we take towards a text.  The distinction, in whatever terms it is made, is quite apparent.   Recently, and with increasing force, it was made in order to assert the superior truth value of empirical science over poetry.  This is another way of saying that material is real and immaterial is not; and, indeed, we arrive at a terminus where poetry is denied to have any truth value, where it is seen as a kind of infantile, nonsensical chatter.   Barfield and Rosenblatt insist on the truth value of poetry as being in some ways superior to its counterpart.

 

     The first point to be made is that the truth "value" of a statement is situational and will depend on what you are trying to do with it.   If we are trying to get from point A to point B or trying to defuse a bomb, we will want as unambiguous a message as we can get, and we will most value a message that simply conveys the appropriate information. In this context, we are grateful to have at our disposal an objective vocabulary; we don't want our message infected with the "noise" that comes with words about the inside of things. 

 

      In other cases where we have the luxury to more deeply experience the world, poetry will better serve us.  And in poetry, ambiguity may be a key to such depth and may even be used to shape meaning.  As the title of one of William Empson's books (The Nine Uses of Ambiguity) suggests, we can distinguish a variety of ways in which ambiguity can sculpt meaning in poetry.  Furthermore, feelings and interior states, which can be no more than noise in nonpoetic statements, are instruments of meaning in poetry.   Nonpoetic statements must restrict a word's meaning to its dictionary definition, and ideally to the narrowest possible range even of that definition.  However,  we can conceive the total sense of a word in the image of an iceberg, where the tip of the iceberg is the public, lexical meanings of a word, "resting on the submerged base of private meaning."  And, "as L.S. Vygotsky pointed out, 'the sense' of a word is 'the sum of all the psychological events aroused in our consciousness by the word" (Rosenblatt, 1988, p. 3).   As we move away from the tip of the iceberg down towards the base, we move away from denotative meaning, through connotative meaning, through a range of predictable and progressively more unpredictable associational constellations, down into the wilder oscillations engendered by dream.  There is a profoundly psychosomatic quality to these regions of private meaning:  they can have an origin that is at once psychological and physiological and can be rooted in the individual's history and personality. Crudely put, a person who was nearly smothered by a blanket may respond differently to the image of a blanket than a person who cherishes the memory of a special blanket; a person who is characteristically independent may respond differently to it than one who is not. 

 

            This movement away from the tip of the iceberg may seem a descent into chaos where no meaning is to be found. But the object of our contemplation is a poem and the author of our journey is a poet.   And insofar as it is a good poem, it proposes true relations, which "exist independently, not indeed of Thought, but of any individual thinker."   It beholds "a definite spiritual reality" (1964, pp. 86-88).   While antecedent reality we are being led to is real and the means of realizing it is in our hands, the burden of realizing it is ours.

 

            If we were being called upon to understand an equation rather than a poem, we would first divest ourselves of the accidents of our individual histories and personalities.  Instead, we must carry them into the thinking.  And, as Barfield notes, it is always the case that the perceptual part of our experience is conditioned by our own physical organization.  "Thus, insofar as it is perceptual only ... experience, though always concrete, is subjectively determined:  and one's knowledge of the reality will vary directly as the extent to which one  can disentangle these determinations from it, by knowing them too" (1964, p. 188N).   Poetry affords the reader the opportunity to become practiced in the art of disentangling subjective determinations from thinking.

           

            Additionally, the reader must assume a certain stance or posture towards the text if the poem is to come to fruition, and that posture will differ from the kind a reader assumes before a nonpoetic text.  That is to say, one reads instructions on how to defuse a bomb differently than one reads a poem.   This issue of stance is important because it suggests something about how we should stand before the world in the enterprise of final participation or active thinking.   One ingredient in the distinctive stance we take to a poem is traditionally called "a willing suspension of disbelief."   People differ about exactly  what impulse to disbelieve we are suspending.   For our purposes let us suppose it to be a certain muting of the critical faculties so as to allow a free response to the text which a more critical focus might obscure or impede.  Nevertheless, this response, should it come, it likely to attract an interpretation, sometimes even immediately.  The process of reading a poem is characterized by this oscillation between these phases of response and interpretation, which sometimes are mutually conditioning.  There may be a similar rhythm to active thinking that is similarly dependent on one's stance before the world.

 

     As we have seen, the reading of a poem is an intensely individual activity.  Its response phase, animated by psychosomatic history and the innate impulses of individual personality, potentially engender widely divergent thinking.  The interpretative  phase serves to stabilize meaning, and the provisional result is a somewhat settled meaning of the poem for the individual reader.  But an additional element in the stance a reader assumes to a poem involves a turn toward a community of readers, when the poem's meaning is further refined through "negotiation," where I may refine my understanding of the poem based on yours.  

 

     Poetry is a contemporary instance of empathic knowledge, an instance by which knowledge is achieved through participation rather than by withdrawal of participation.  And we may pause to ask:  How did this participatory or empathic knowledge persist in a culture as under the spell of scientific materialism as was ours?  And the answer is, at a very deep level, at a level that is ineradicable, the mind is a poetry-making organ.    "For the mind, in one of its parts, can work without logic, yet not without that directing purpose, that control of intent from which, perhaps it might be said, logic springs.  For the unconscious mind works without the syntactical conjunctions which are logic's essence.  It recognizes no because, no therefore, no but; such ideas as similarity, agreement, and community are expressed in dreams imagistically by compressing the elements into a unity.  The unconscious mind in its struggle with the conscious always turns from the general to the concrete and finds the tangible trifle more congenial than the large abstraction.  Freud discovered in the very organization of the mind those mechanisms by which art makes its effects, such devices as the condensations of meanings and the displacement of accent" (Trilling, 1950, p. 61).

 

     Freud actually saw this quite beautifully, and we get a very nice sense there of the close relationship in our interior life of the unconscious and language, language coming out of the unconscious. But while Freud saw that, what he did not see was that language at that level can be something other than symptomatic:  that it can be a means by which we apprehend the intelligible structure of the universe.

 

     It may be evident that there is a distance between the poetic character of "the unconscious" and the poetic expression we find in a finished poem.  In an important respect, this distance corresponds to the distance between original and final participation.  What for us is the unconscious may be seen to resemble, indeed to be the source of, original participation.  It is very much like the lively Greek thinking Barfield describes, in "Thinking and Thought," as prephilosophical thinking (1966, p. 57).  The Greek philosophers, in Barfield's terms, turned thinking into thought; our task is to rediscover thinking "and then to learn how to get back into it, how to rise once more from thought into thinking, taking with us, however, that fuller self-consciousness which the Greeks never knew, and which could never have been ours if they had not labored to turn thinking into thought" (1966,  p. 61).  In simple terms, when thought engages the source of thinking in the creation of poetry, we have begun our ascent.  So too when thought redeems thinking, as the poem, latent in the text, is reclaimed from it in the act of reading.

 

      The prosaic reading is a more docilely receptive, less active reading than the poetic.   In it, the text may be seen to imprint itself on the reader just as empiricists see sensation impressing itself on the mind, with thought moving just so far and in whatever direction the impact pushes it.   Poetry is suggestively different.  If the reader does not significantly contribute to the text, the text does not become a poem. The poetic meaning which is dormant only comes to life through the creative agency of the reader. The analogy between poetic perception and active thinking is clear:  The spiritual meaning which is dormant in things does not achieve being but for the creative activity of the perceiver.   A significant measure of that creative activity is linguistic and poetic.

   

       Much evidence has been developed supporting the concept of the evolution of consciousness insofar as we have yet permitted Barfield to articulate it.  The philosopher who presents the most powerful case for it is Ernst Cassirer. In Feeling and Form, Susanne Langer remarks upon the similarities of their work:

 

 At the very time when the German philosopher [Cassirer] was writing his second volume [Mythical Thought], Barfield was pondering precisely the same problem of nondiscursive symbolism, to which he had been led not by interest in science and the vagaries of unscientific thought, but by the study of poetry.  This literary scholar, Owen Barfield, published in 1924 a small but highly significant book entitled Poetic Diction. ... The fact is that this purely literary study reveals the same relationship between language and conception, conception and imagination, imagination and myth, myth and poetry, that Cassirer discovered as a result of his reflection on the logic of science (Langer, p. 237).

 

     The consonance between the thinking of Barfield and Cassirer is remarkable and instructive.  But there is also a disconsonance, a place on this path where Cassirer stops walking and Barfield continues.  And he continues thus:  "This" -- talking about the expansion which seeks to follow our contraction into individuals -- "it is argued, involves realizing that the centers -- human beings -- are still, in their subconscious depths, transpersonal.  It can be understood 'if, but only if, we admit that in the course of the earth's history something like a Divine Word has been gradually clothing itself with the humanity it first created -- so that what was first spoken by God may eventually be respoken by man.'"    Looking back through language into the consciousness in which it was conceived was, for Barfield, confirmatory evidence of the Incarnation.  In "Philology and the Incarnation," he contends that if he knew nothing of the Bible, his study would oblige him to postulate "something like" the incarnation. "It is perfectly possible to accept as true ... the evolution of consciousness without relating it specifically to the ... Christian gospels. On the other hand, once it has been accepted, one may come to feel that such a special relation is self-evident" (1977, pp. 5-6).

 

     Indeed, it may be perfectly possible to accept the evolution of consciousness and see it, in effect, as being devoid of spiritual implications.  But such acceptance may amount to an inadequate apprehension of the concept.  In "Symbol as Need," Walker Percy's appreciative review of Feeling and Form, he asks, in what amounts to judicious exasperation, "If the language symbol is not just a sign in an adaptive schema, and if it does not itself constitute reality but rather represents something, then what does it represent?"  Langer does not answer.  Percy continues: "If ... it ever be admitted in the field of cognition that the symbolic transformation is not an end in itself, a 'need,' but a means, a means of knowing, even as is the art symbol -- then the consequences are serious indeed.  For it will be knowledge, not in the sense of possessing 'facts,' but in the Thomist and existential sense of identification of the knower with the object known" (Percy, 296-297).  This, surely, is something like the expansion that Barfield has in mind.

 

     If I am not wrong, Barfield goes even further. For him the concept of participation entails that the world, the objective world, "is not outside of man in the sense of being independent of him, but is his outside in the sense that every inside has a correlative outside; that it is the obverse of his self-consciousness: his self-consciousness displayed before him, so to speak, as his perception" (1977, p. 204).  This is an identification of the knower with the known that would be hard to even imagine had Barfield not formulated it.

 

     But we are not to be satisfied with a merely hypothetical identification.  Our task is to realize that "the great world of formative thinking is still there, awaiting us"; and to actually reach "the etheric in fully conscious experience of thinking."  As we scan the news each day, we are reminded again that "the preservation of continuity in Western Civilization depends on how many and how active may be the spirits which shall succeed in doing this" (1966, p. 62).  And yet history may be a nightmare from which we are awakening.

 

     We have overcome the initial "confusion" of consciousness, when we do not see the light but are the light, with the erroneous conviction that we are not the light in the sense that we are fundamentally different from it; that we and the light contradict each other; and that we must set ourselves over and against it.  To follow Barfield in his journey through human consciousness is to be affirmed in the certitude that we are more like that light than we yet know.  So we might say, to invoke a Freudian locution in order to transcend it, that the "feeling content" appropriate to an ego on the Barfieldian journey is one of beatitude.


 BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 O. Barfield, Poetic Diction (New York and Toronto, 1964); idem,  Romanticism Comes of Age (Middletown, Connecticut, 1966); idem, The Rediscovery of Meaning (Middletown, Connecticut, 1977; idem, Saving the Appearances (Middletown, Connecticut, 1988).  H. Butterfield, The Origins of Modern Science (New York, 1951).   F.M. Cornford, Before and After Socrates (London and New York, 1932).  M. Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton, New Jersey, 1991).   E. Havelock, Preface to Plato (Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England, 1963).   S. Langer, Feeling and Form (New York, 1953).  W. Ong, Orality and Literacy (London and New York, 1982). W. Percy, The Message in the Bottle (New York, 1976).  L. Rosenblatt, The Reader, the Text, the Poem, (Carbondale, Illinois, 1978); idem, "Writing and Reading: The Transactional Theory (Champaign, Illinois, 1988); L. Trilling, "Freud and Literature," in The Liberal Imagination (Garden City, New York, 1950); idem, Sincerity and Authenticity (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1972). A. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, (New York, 1925).


© 2005 Kenneth McClure

KKAGEE@aol.com


Born in 1949, Ken McClure received his BA from NYU in 1972. Since that time he has worked as a court reporter in New York, Vermont, and South Carolina. From 1996-2004, he and his wife, Kathi, owned and operated Rivendell Books in Montpelier, Vermont. They currently run McClure's Bookstore in Clemson, South Carolina.