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Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2019 04:17PM
I enjoyed the Ireland musical piece. Wasn't it, in fact, dedicated to Machen?

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2019 04:24PM
Generally I think nay-sayers are greater creative artists than yea-sayers, with richer, more feverish imaginations. Their disappointments in life give them a strong urge to seek alternate realities and beauty. They are obsessive about reaching out for something else. Yea-sayers are more content with life, and tend to portray things closer to the way they already appear.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2019 10:43PM
Pages 2-4: The Hermit speaks approvingly of low-stakes gambling. I believe he is on to something of the greatest importance here.

In order to gamble, one must possess at least four faculties: (1) a sense of one's self; (2) a sense that other people are selves like oneself; (3) the capacity to make, and keep, promises, which implies language; (4) so that one may make and keep promises, one must add to the sense of being a self and the sense of others as selves, the sense of the future, the ability to distinguish the present in which one is from the time in which one will (presumably) be. Children manifestly possess this awareness from very early in their lives.

So far as we can tell, only man possesses these capacities. Thus a very brief definition of man could be: an animal that makes promises.

Because he possesses these capacities, the difference between man and the "other animals" is profound indeed. There is a hiatus, a gap, a differntia between ourselves and (so far as we can tell) all of the other animals, which, to be sure, also do share some important characteristics with us. A very good discussion of these matters is available in a readable little book that has some affinities with Machen's thought, A Guide for the Perplexed by the economist E. F. Schumacher.

We need to have some sense, if we are going to proceed with the discussion of literature in Hieroglyphics, of the nature of man. Perhaps this thought will help us with that.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 2 October, 2019 11:01PM
Page 11: the Hermit says it is the presence or absence of ecstasy that denotes whether a given piece of writing is fine literature or not. He offers other words and phrases that get at what he has in mind: rapture, beauty, adoration, wonder, awe, mystery, sense of the unknown, desire for the unknown. These are positive indications. Negatively, if the work at hand is characterized by "common consciousness," it will not be fine literature.

Here are three observations.

1.The positive terms are mostly ones that have religious connotations. Whatever drug or experience "ecstasy" suggests to us, in our own pathetic time, historically the word suggests a spiritual state, a rapture in which the consciousness or soul has been lifted up. "Beauty" -- as in, perhaps, "the fair beauty of the Lord." Jews and Christians are obliged by their sacred texts to believe that beauty is not the same thing merely as taste (which is what "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" suggests) but is an attribute of God; it is something that, in its essence, existed before creation, it is something that always was (Psalm 27:4). "Adoration" obviously suggests a "religious" state, as in the Adoration of the Magi, etc. "Wonder" and "awe" are words that suggest a felt humbling of the beholder in the presence of something beautiful, majestic, etc. "Mystery" may suggest a puzzle to be solved -- at which point, when it's solved, there is no longer a mystery. Or it may suggest something that can be contemplated but cannot be resolved, explained away, etc. The word originally, I believe, suggested sacraments and sacred ritual -- something to which the believer resorts and that renews him and is ever fresh, and perfect. As for the two phrases, they suggest passages of the Sacred Scriptures such as St. Paul saying "Now we see as in a glass, darkly, but then face to face," etc.

2."Common consciousness" is evidently "fallen." We shall see, I think, that it is inattentive; as Colin Wilson puts it, it is "robotic." Here, I think Machen is thinking of something that is always a danger and is, sadly, all too often the default condition for human beings.

3.In our time, professors and grad assistants teach undergraduates to "approach" literature with the methods or "lenses" of "critical theory." The hapless student is compelled to read a work using a feminist, or "queer," or deconstructive, or postcolonialist method. This kind of teaching really works against the experience of literature in which Machen's "ecstasy" may be experienced. (It also encourages misunderstanding, as perhaps I will show in a while.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2 Oct 19 | 11:05PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 October, 2019 10:46AM
To understand Hieroglyphics well, we need to grasp Machen's beliefs about man.

Yesterday I referred to a “hiatus” between animals and man. A definition of “hiatus” is “a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.” I was thinking of the traditional scheme of levels of being explained in Schumacher’s Guide for the Perplexed. It goes like this.
There are four levels of visible being.

The first is that of rocks, minerals, stones. They exist. They don’t have life and don’t reproduce; you can split a rock into two, but there is no new rock there. They are found in the greatest abundance, on the surface and below the surface of the world.

There is a gap between that level and that of plants. They exist, but they additionally possess life, and can reproduce. They may make their environment usable by breaking it down, e.g. roots of a tree cracking a sidewalk. They are the most abundant of living things, found over virtually all of the earth’s surface and deep in its oceans.

There is a gap between the plant-level and that of animals. They exist, possess life, reproduce, and here we see also consciousness. They may not only break down their environment but may take raw materials and make something more orderly than what was there before, and useful to them, e.g. a beaver lodge, a bird’s nest. They are abundant but less abundant than plants.

There is a gap between the animal-level and that of mankind. Human beings exist, possess life, reproduce, are conscious, and moreover possess a quality of inner awareness because they are selves. Human beings may freely choose to work not only on their environment but on themselves, e.g. as when someone decides to invest several years to study English literature. (Animals do not do this, and can’t, because they do not possess self-awareness, so far as we can tell, at least!) Human beings can recognize other human beings as also being selves. Concepts such as love, freedom, guilt, repentance, etc. are meaningful to them. Their consciousness and their consciences are closely related. Art enters the scene at this level, as distinct from the instinctual capacity for creating designs such as honeycombs. There are, I suppose, no animal geniuses, but genius occurs in humankind. Human beings are less abundant than minerals, plants, and animals.

The modern habit of reductionism wants to collapse the differences between the levels as much as possible, so that, for it, man is understood as not really being free, or at least reductionism wants to minimize the sense of man as possessing free will. Reductionism wants to minimize the differences between animal sexual behavior and human sexuality, or (to put it another way) wants an account of love that maximizes the “explanation” thereof in terms of evolutionary biology, etc. Reductionism wants to explain, or even explain away, human existence as much as possible in terms of what is lesser that itself. As Machen writes about Art, fine literature, etc., he has a different agenda, that is, he suggests that in the creation and enjoyment of Art, the distinctiveness of man is evident; he understands the lesser in terms of the greater, not explaining (or explaining away) the greater by means of the lesser. Reductionism seeks wherever it can to reduce things to matters of quantity. Machen seeks to understand things in terms of qualities.

It is while we are subdued by mere "common consciousness" (p. 11) that we are more likely to fail really to notice the human distinctives. Art, I think Machen would think, can help to quicken us out of that kind of inattentiveness. By the way, I hope everyone will be sure not to confuse "common consciousness" with the "common man." Machen's Hermit is not saying that "ordinary" people are "common consciousness" nobodies. Remember that he started this discussion by talking about habits of "ordinary" people who place bets on horses, etc.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 3 Oct 19 | 11:01AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Yluos (IP Logged)
Date: 3 October, 2019 10:58AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Generally I think nay-sayers are greater creative
> artists than yea-sayers, with richer, more
> feverish imaginations. Their disappointments in
> life give them a strong urge to seek alternate
> realities and beauty. They are obsessive about
> reaching out for something else. Yea-sayers are
> more content with life, and tend to portray things
> closer to the way they already appear.


If we're speaking only generally, then in some ways I can agree. Someone who doesn't care for the popular trends and expectations of the time are likely to grow more miserable or seek more desirable alternatives. I'm just not sure how much I can agree with a stark dichotomy.

It doesn't seem entirely honest to define people with terms like yea-sayers and nay-sayers, because anyone can say yea or nay to any different thing. I've seen metalheads say nay to fascism, and metalheads say yea to fascism. And Smith can't be a full-blown nay-sayer, because based on accounts from his friends he sounded fairly content in this world for various periods of his life.

How would you define yea-sayers and nay-sayers in the context of this discussion? If a nay-sayer is someone like today's metalheads or satanists, then I'm afraid I find most of their art to be flat, insincere, and uninspired; it's often just huge swathes of black paint and human blood with clichéd images like goat skulls and middle fingers. All of it has meaning of course and is a response to the normal folk, but it's about as rich and artful as an adolescent purposefully dating someone who annoys their parents.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 3 Oct 19 | 11:00AM by Yluos.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 3 October, 2019 02:40PM
Yluos, I agree with the things you say in your post (although there are also some gifted individuals in the music genres you mention, all of it is not garbage.).

I was speaking only from my general impression, as my favorite artists are often persons who appear somewhat introverted, socially inhibited, with a somewhat moody, miserable, or pessimistic outlook. It may also be that their art, although of high quality, does not appeal to the broad and shallow masses, which makes it difficult to make a living out of it, leading to economic worries and unhappiness.
Artist who are more happy and content, tend to adapt well to society, but their art is often less original, more generic or shallow, or perhaps humanistic and spreading "goodness", in other words insipid (except for someone like A. C. Clarke who does it on a grand spectacular cosmic scale beyond our human comprehension of what is ultimately "good"); although their art can often be of very high technical proficiency.

But again, these are only generalizations. I agree that it is very difficult to classify persons into yea-sayers and nay-sayers. We don't know what's going on inside people. Some person may hold up a successful front, smiling, suave and charming; but may actually be planning suicide. Someone else, like Smith, may appear to be a nay-sayer, from his sad droopy eyes, poverty, shoddy clothing, because he doesn't live up to normal people's outer standards of success; but they are unable to see his inner quality of life, ecstasy and artistic pleasures, because he reaches for something else, something completely different, in a different area of life, which they can't understand from their materialistic or more normal outlook. Hence he is looked upon as a nay-sayer.

I know from reactions to my own person, it all depends on who I am talking too. Some judge me as pessimistic and moody, others see me as cheerful and ambitious. You need to share a somewhat similar outlook, or get along on a personal level, to get a positive reaction, and enhance each other, to bring out the best.
Dr. Farmer confirmed that Smith was a positive and content person.

A person has several qualities, both optimistic and pessimistic, negative and constructive, weaknesses and strengths, in different areas of life, some up-front, others more hidden; we can be complicated, which makes it impossible to classify and pigeon-hole a person into fitting just one category out of two. But often we do, and it mainly lies in the eye of the beholder. And, a person also matures and changes over time to some degree, of rather finds himself and his own functional tracks.

I don't otherwise use the terms "yea-sayer" and "nay-sayer", except that I wanted to step in a bit and try the words introduced in the ongoing discussion.

I feel much doubt toward the list, made earlier in the thread, of yea-saying and nay-saying authors. I agree that some of these authors generally appear more optimistic, and some more pessimistic. But it's not that simple. Some of the optimistic ones may have dark strains (A. C. Clarke not least), and some of the pessimistic ones may have very uplifting qualities (Lovecraft, my good man!).

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 October, 2019 03:19PM
Could I gently ask that the discussion focus on Arthur Machen's Hieroglyphics, the nature of fine literature, etc.? Perhaps I goofed in bringing up the yea-sayer and nay-sayer topic, which was supposed to kind of get the ball rolling and help us to settle into a discussion about literature.


Is anyone here actually reading the book other than me?


I have ventured, by the way, to offer what may seem to be digressions -- about levels of being, etc. But Machen is manifestly working from an understanding of what man is that affects his understanding of what art, and especially literature, is. If we don't get some sense of where he is coming from, we are likely to keep reading past his remarks on pp. 33-38 on "faithfulness to life" with a vague sense that we're not getting it but maybe we'll just keep reading him till we find something we understand..... I hope we will do better than that.

Machen's Hermit starts by denying that "faithfulness to life," as often used by reviewers, is a necessary criterion of fine literature. He says, as it were, "Can you really be serious, Mr. Reviewer, in holding a standard of literary excellence -- this 'faithfulness to life' of yours -- that would rule out The Odyssey, Coleridge's "Kubla Khan," and Wordsworth's Ode ("Intimations of Immortality")? Oh, you never thought of it that way?"

But then the Hermit says that "faithfulness to life," in another sense, is the very "differentia" of fine literature. The artist mirrors nature in its eternal, essential forms. The aim of art is truth.

I think that, without some preliminary work, we are likely to arrive at these pages unprepared to understand what Machen means. There is precious little in the daily lives of most of us to turn our attention to what he calls the "eternal, essential forms" of "nature." Arthur Machen is in earnest here, but people living in our time are going to have to pay attention and work at it if we're to get what he is saying. Hieroglyphics was a book against the age when it was published -- almost 120 years ago! It is, I suppose, even more of a book-against-the-age today.

And I hope we can follow Coleridge's dictum, which, I'm sorry to say, I am unable to quote in his own words; but the gist of it is that we ought to make the effort of understanding someone before we disagree with him. So, who is on board with a plan to read, to seek to understand, and then to agree (or not) with Arthur Machen in Hieroglyphics?

By the way, my page references are to the online version at Project Gutenberg:

[www.gutenberg.org]



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 3 Oct 19 | 03:54PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 3 October, 2019 06:39PM
Let's keep track of works that Machen's Hermit cites as fine literature. So far we have had

The Odyssey
Sophocles' Oedipus the King (a play)
Malory's Morte d'Arthur (long medieval prose romance)
Shakespeare's King Lear
Cervantes' Don Quixote (sometimes regarded as the first novel)
Milton's "Lycidas" (a poem of just a few pages)
Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" (a short poem, with a prose introduction if you wish)
Wordsworth's Ode (Intimations of Immortality)
Dickens's Pickwick Papers (a long novel)

The Hermit hedged a bit about Poe's detective stories of Auguste Dupin, which are "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt," and "The Purloined Letter." They are "almost" fine literature.

Surely these are works that should be well known to people who enjoy literature. There might be some discussion about which translations are best, for the non-English titles. (I believe Fitzgerald's of The Odyssey is a safe choice, and the Rutherford translation for the Quixote. That's one I haven't read yet.)

I recently completed a project of reading all 14 1/2 Dickens novels (over a period of many years), and I have to admit that I found The Pickwick Papers probably the hardest of the lot to stick with. I'm willing to believe much of the problem was with me and that it might be well to pick it up again sometime. But we know from Machen's introduction to A Handy Dickens that Machen relished more than just that one novel. For a first Dickens novel, I might recommend David Copperfield, Bleak House, or Our Mutual Friend.

If anyone wants to tackle Malory, he or she might get the Oxford World's Classics edition of Morte Darthur and read xxxi-iii, 3-80; first paragraph on 95, 118-119, middle of 167 (Gareth and Lancelot); 281-527 (351-372 may be skimmed). Notes on the Morte begin on page 531. This will give you the "origin" story of Arthur, with Merlin, the founding of the Round Table, the Graal quest, & the destruction of Arthur's Logres, but skips the eraly story on Arthur's campaign against Rome and the lengthy Tristram and Isoud story, which I fear some readers would bog down in.

One of the fun things about Hieroglyphics is the way Machen whets your appetite for reading.

Earlier I quoted Machen's observation of a young family -- an "ordinary" sight. It's interesting to consider that Machen's gradually extending list of fine literature names books any of which you might find in the humblest, most forlorn charity bookshop.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 3 Oct 19 | 07:32PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2019 12:20PM
I checked my reading log & found I have read the entire Hieroglyphics only once, and that was in late October and early November of 1975! I mean to read the entire book & to post notes on it here. If anyone else reads the book & posts his or her own observations, that could really enrich this thread. If anyone wants to respond to my comments, fine, but I hope the focus can remain on understanding Machen here & applying his insights and notions to the experience of reading, etc. As we get a handle on what the Hermit means by "ecstasy," perhaps we can suggest literary works not mentioned in the book that we think could have stood with the Hermit's own selections, as I've begun to list (see above). But let's please hold off on offering our own nominations until we have read, say, at least HALF of Hieroglyphics. That's just my preference, of course.

P. 43: Notice this! The Hermit is not saying that we should read only works of fine literature -- only those works evoking "ecstasy." He says he's always reading Thackeray -- who is one of the authors he has adduced who do not, in his view, write fine literature.

Many years after writing Hieroglyphics, Arthur Machen was still referring to Dickens and Thackeray, the one in terms of fine literature and the other not, in a BBC radio program, which, happily, we can listen to here:

[www.youtube.com]

This was broadcast 22 March 1937.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 4 Oct 19 | 12:22PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2019 03:37PM
Incidentally, by the time one has read a couple of chapters of Hieroglyphics, one might wonder whether Machen believed himself to have written what he calls fine literature. A remark in Far-Off Things, his wonderful first autobiographical book, suggests he didn't think he had. "But now, with riper understanding, he perceives, as he did not perceive in the days of his youth, the depth of the gulf between the idea and the word, between the emotion that thrilled him to his very heart and soul, and the sorry page of print into which that emotion stands translated. He dreamed in fire; he has worked in clay." But perhaps he thought of himself when he wrote, in The Hill of Dreams, “He knew how weak it all was compared with his own conceptions; he had seen an enchanted city, awful, glorious, with flame smitten about its battlements, like the cities of the Sangraal, and he had moulded his copy in such poor clay as came to his hand; yet, in spite of the gulf that yawned between the idea and the work, he knew as he read that the thing accomplished was very far from a failure." True, this is said of Julian's writing, not Machen's own.

Specifically, Machen wrote in Far-Off Things about "The Great God Pan." He had hoped "to pass on the vague, indefinable sense of awe and mystery and terror that I had received” from his responses to “the valley of Usk … on one of those strange days of summer when the sky is at once grey and luminous … and there is no breath of wind, and every leaf is still." But “I translated awe, at worst awfulness, into evil; again, I say, one dreams in fire and works in clay.”

Perhaps I'll look around & see what he thought of "The White People," a better story. For what it's worth: I think perhaps we'd have been better off if Machen had left us with just the first chapter ("The Experiment") of "The Great God Pan" and had discarded the rest. That first chapter can be read as a self-contained short story (and I wonder if that's not what it was at first). It has affinities with something by Hawthorne, who, as we will see, Machen recognized as a writer of fine literature. The rest of "Pan" is quite obviously a horror-mystery story.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2019 04:00PM
The Hermit comments on Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter on page 62. He admires the artistic skill with which Hawthorne omits "a world of unessential details that a lesser man would have put in. ...there is the dim, necessary background of time and place, but in reality the scene is Eternity, and the drama is the Mystery of Love and Vengeance and Hell-fire." So this romance may be added to our list of works cited by the Hermit. In case anyone here hasn't read it yet, or started it and didn't persist: as often with the novels of Sir Walter, it's safe to skip some upfront matter; my rule of thumb is to start with the second chapter of a Scott novel, and, in the case of The Scarlet Letter, you may ignore the introductory essay called "The Custom House." I feel sorry for people who read this book in what I suppose to be the typical college classroom of today, with a graduate teaching assistant or professor treating it as a "text" (it is a novel, it is a [i]romance[i]) to be read with the "critical lens" of feminist theory, or queer theory, or whatever. Far better off the intelligent adolescent who finds a worn copy of his great-grandparents' Everyman's Library edition in red cloth, with the ornate gold-leaf lettering on the spine, and settles in to read it in a quiet corner. ...There might be a good illustrated version of this book somewhere, but if there is, I don't remember having seen one.

The Hermit mentions Hardy's Two on a Tower a few sentences further on. My memory is that this novel was open to objections as to silliness and yet I enjoyed it. The tower is where the hero has gone for use of his telescope. Lovecraft's interest in amateur astronomy will be well known to Eldritch Dark folk.*
But amateur astronomy was also an interest of the Tolkien family's. According to Scull and Hammond (The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader's Guide, first edition, p. 877),

---Priscilla Tolkien [JRRT's daughter] once wrote that her father had a general interest in astronomy,

-------as he did in a vast number of subjects, and he encouraged my brothers and myself to be interested in various ways: my brother Christopher [editor of JRRT's posthumous writings] had a telescope, and I was given a book when I was a child called The Starry Heavens [by Ellison Hawks, 1933] which was an admirably simple introduction to the subject....My brother and I looked at the stars through the telescope and learnt their names and the constellations. My father also talked to us about eclipses of the sun and moon and about the planets and their satellites.------

I'd like to link that passage from Priscilla Tolkien with the passage above from Coleridge's autobiographical letter.


*Here's a photo of what's said to be a telescope of HPL's.

[www.flickr.com]

And here is a piece with passages by Lovecraft on visiting the Ladd Observatory, etc.

[tentaclii.wordpress.com]



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 4 Oct 19 | 04:14PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2019 04:08PM
P. 65: The Hermit mentions a specific painting, Botticelli's Primavera. I have often used that painting as the desktop image on my computer.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2019 05:34PM
The Hermit gets down to cases, with extended remarks on Don Quixote -- which he can read only in translation -- and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

P. 73: The Hermit says: Fine literature is simply the expression of the eternal things that are in man; fine literature always draws itself away and goes apart into lonely places far from the common course of life.

So Don Quixote expresses "the eternal quest of the unknown." I suppose that, ever since reading Machen on Don Quixote over 40 years ago, I have had in the back of my mind the idea that I should read it, and this notion was further encouraged by Dostoevsky's very high regard for the book (which, I suppose, he too knew only in translation). So I have taken it from its shelf. The Hermit refers to "that longing, peculiar to man, which makes him reach out towards infinity." Does that help to show why, many postings back on this thread, I included those remarks about the nature of man? (See also page 84: "man is a sacrament, soul manifested under the form of body, and art has to deal with each and both.")

How different that is -- reaching towards infinity -- from what goes on in the typical classroom taught today by inculcators of literary theory. How banal seems their endless preoccupation with arcane terminology and leftist politics.*

I was blessed, I would like to say, with not just one but two professors who did know about that longing and reaching. I have written about them at length in a piece that will appear this month in William Breiding's Portable Storage. Their names were Brian Bond and U. Milo Kaufmann. Both, by the way, had connections with the fannish world.

P. 82: You can see how Machen probably had Stevenson's novella in the back of his mind, in "The Inmost Light" and "The White Powder." Machen is disappointed with RLS -- who had a great idea, Machen says, but fell short in realizing its potential, writing a story too much concerned with empirical psychology.

I don't sign on with Machen when he affirms a statement he attributes to Poe, that allegory is always a literary vice, because doing so would tend to lead unsuspecting readers to skip some very fine works, such as the Faerie Queene of Spenser -- and yet, after all, though I know from personal experience that the Faerie Queene may be read, and reread, with high pleasure, perhaps this requires a careful attitude towards the allegorical element, such that while reading you let it exist just as a sort of undertone but don't dwell on it. I don't know what C. A. Smith thought of Spenser, but my understanding is that Donald Sidney-Fryer was an admirer of CAS and a very great admirer of the Faerie Queene.

*If you are wondering what I am thinking of, look over the essay on King Lear here:

[www.winthrop.edu]

This is, notice, an award-winning paper. One wonders if the modern academy is a place in which people may write award-winning essays about fine literature and never be attuned to the qualities in those works that Machen's Hermit celebrates. There may be professors of literature for whom literature, in Machen's sense, has in some way never happened.

I'm not without hope, though. I knew a feminist English professor who got a course on women's literature added to the catalog, and who also wanted Shakespeare taken out as a required course for English majors. I won't go into details of our differences. But I would have been wrong to write her off in my mind, I think, as someone who taught literature but for whom literature had never happened; one day we happened to have an encounter by the photocopy machine, and she mentioned that she had gone to England once, on some kind of English student tour I think, and had seen the manuscript of The Pickwick Papers -- and had teared up. I very much hope that that meant some of Dickens's magic had got through to her despite the carapace of theory. It may be that, at that time, she had not been as hard-boiled in theory as, I fear, she may have become. I don't know, but I'm hopeful for her. Perhaps literature really had been a love of hers and perhaps there's been some estrangement from it thanks to the "activist" spirit of the current scene but she will return to her "first love" some day. I wish her well.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 4 Oct 19 | 05:35PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Machen's Hieroglyphics
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 4 October, 2019 05:43PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> P. 65: The Hermit mentions a specific painting,
> Botticelli's Primavera. ...


I am not surprised. Botticelli's Primavera is pure ecstasy, especially Flora's dress, and the flowers on the ground. And the (pregnant?) woman in the middle, Venus, her asymmetrical yet beautifully painted face; ecstasy too. Otherwise, the most notable thing about the painting, aside from the mythological details, I think is the extreme contrast between black and bright. Truly wonderful. Of course, I need not say that it is a masterpiece, one of the greatest.

I skimmed through a library copy of Hieroglyphics in the 1990's, and made notes of everything I could find about "ecstasy" in it. Since then I have gotten my own copy, which I intend to read properly, at my own pace. I don't have time to read it now, because I am still immersed in R. E. Howard's complete Conan, which I must get done with. I can only make loosely based comments. But as far as I know, Oldjoe, the thread starter, has not put any specific limits to the thread saying that it should be kept in the form of a strictly structured academic treatise. But by all means, I don't mind, I like varied forms of contributions. The Eldritch Dark forum is much too quiet otherwise.

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