online: 15 march 2004

(designed to read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

15 march 2004 beyond intention

12:03 Still indoors, recovering slowly from respiratory disorder. After medicines and sleep I continue some thoughts noted yesterday about a book chosen by chance and not read closely before: The Wheel of Fire by G Wilson Knight - his imaginative interpretations of Shakespearean tragedies - in which, for instance, he sees Hamlet not as good but as an ambassador of death (page 17-46) 'tangled in the web of good and evil' (page 304).

His first chapter (on the interpretation of Shakespeare's plays) seems relevant to what I seek and attempt and think - and perhaps it shows me how to rescue and continue the electric book and other fictions.

page 7*

'Intentions' belong to the plane of intellect and memory: the swifter consciousness that awakens in poetic composition touches subtleties and heights and depths unknowable by intellect and untractable to memory.

page 8

...the word 'source', that is, the origin whence poetic reality flows, is a false metaphor...

...the source of poetry is rooted in the otherness of mental or spiritual realities; these, however, are a 'nothing' until mated with earthly shapes. Creation is thus born of a union between 'earth' and 'heaven', the material and the spiritual. Without 'shapes' the poet is speechless; he needs words, puppets of the drama, tales. ... in creation the brain is 'the 'female to the soul' (Richard II v,v,6**) ... The spiritual, then, is the masculine, the material the feminine, agent in creation.

[Astonishing agreement with hexagrams 1 and 2 in the I Ching***, the creative and the receptive - a reversal of the the traditional European perception of male as rational, female as intuitive.]

page 9.

Whereas the spatial quality of these greater plays is different in each, they nearly all turn on the same plot ... the poet has chosen a series of tales**** to whose life-rhythm he is spontaneously attracted, and has developed them in each instance according to his vision.

It seems to me now (in the light of this) that what is stopping the electric book (and other uncompleted fictions) is my beginning from conscious social purpose (to improve the design of the culture) - and not trusting whatever unknowables arise from concrete, earthly, inspirations.

So, knowing that, what next?

*Page numbers are from the 1965 reprint of the revised edition, published by Methuen and Co. London in 1949. Originally published by Oxford University Press in 1930, it is now a modern classic, perhaps refuted by recent (less imaginative?) criticism.

**Richard II, in prison:

My brain I'll prove the female to the soul,
My soul the father, and these two beget
A generation of still-breeding thoughts...

***The I Ching or book of changes, the Richard Wilhelm translation, rendered into English by Cary F Baines, Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 1950. There are many subsequent editions and reprintings by Princeton, by Routledge, London, and perhaps others.

****G Wilson Knight is writing of Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear and Timon of Athens. He sees each (if I've understood him rightly) as the story of a hero, a loved one, and a hated one .

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