Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reading book by Owen Barfield 2

See bl00343 May 22, 2009. From chapter VIII The Making of Meaning (II) p. 138 [6] When we start explaining the language of famous scientists as examples of 'poetic diction', it may well seem that the ordinary meaning of that literary phrase has been inflated beyond the bounds of reason. Never- theless such an extension was necessary, in order to make clear its real nature. Nor has it been waste of time, if it has convinced a single person who needed convincing, how essentially parochial is the fashionable distinction between Poetry and Science as modes of experience. . . . the rational principle must be strongly developed in the great poet. - p. 139 [6] If the poetic is unduly ascendant, behold the mystic or the madman, unable to grasp the reality of percepts at all--being still resting, as it were, in the bosom of gods or demons--not yet man, man in the fullness of his stature, at all. But if the passive, logistic, prosaic principle predominates, then the man becomes--what? the collector, the man who cannot grasp the reality of anything but percepts. And here at last a real distinction between poet and scientist, or rather between poetaster and pedant, does arise. - pp. 140-141 [7] Provided, then, that we do not look too far back into the past (i.e. beyond the point at which the 'given' meaning of a word first began to yield place to the 'created' meaning) language does indeed appear historically as an endless process of metaphor transforming itself into meaning. Seeking for material in which to incarnate its last inspiration, imagination seizes on a suitable word or phrase, uses it as a metaphor, and so creates a meaning. The progress is from Meaning, through inspiration to imagination, and from imagination, through metaphor, to meaning; inspiration grasping the hitherto unapprehended, and imagination relating it to the already known. bl00353

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