Forum Replies Created

Viewing 10 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • Robin,

      I’m with you on the motives. It seems to me that preserving the integrity and honor of his master, is self-giving, not self-seeking. The revenge on the self-seeking self is precisely because it had fooled him into thinking for so long that value was in the receiving, and perhaps in the younger Anodos, “for the taking”. Only late has he realized what the self is for…for giving. We are for-other creatures.

      I also think this is deepened in his experience taking on the nature of Mother Earth. This entire trans-death vision strikes me as a particularly feminine divinization. Which may be one reason it jars with a typical evangelical post-mortem, which tends to lack reference to bodies, let alone the feminine posture. The words and images (for himself and what he has become by union with the body of the earth) are earth, primroses, sky, air, rosy cloud, embrace. I wonder if the use of the feminine imagery and language throughout Phantases cues the spiritual, the good, the self-giving, the Divine.

      But diving more deeply into this phase when he is becoming love embodied beyond mortal bounds, there seems to be a shift toward (or perhaps a blurring between) giving and receiving (also very Dante). The posture must blur to receive in hope what is hinted, that something good, which is coming soon to Anodos. And of course, there is something very incarnational about Anodos’ desire to embody in his “new” body, to bring to birth in the old world, all that has been seeded in him in his time in FÆRIE.

      Then he takes us further by showing us a glimpse of our selves, who have learned to love, in the eye of the Lover. Once again, to be beheld in love is to be. All love, all our self-giving is itself an image of the self-giver, the Father giving the Son, the Son eternally giving himself to the Father, the Spirit, the relationship of giving and receiving itself. To be such an image, is it really giving? Is it not rather receiving that being the image? Is it not receiving (and affirming receipt of) the gift of self-giving…which is beyond the capacity of the self. It is at the heart of this Divine oikos and economy of exchange, where we no longer can tell when we are giving and receiving. We have ceased to merely encounter love enstoried in FÆRIE or even more episodically in our worlds, since love has revealed itself as the true country, as home where we can abide.

    • To tease apart the motivations involved in Anodos’ sacrifice, I have to go back to his reflection as a squire he says, “I felt that, after all, mine would be no lost life, if I might wait on him to the world’s end, although no smile but his should greet me, and no one but him should say, “Well done! he was a good servant!” at last. But I burned to do something more for him than the ordinary routine of a squire’s duty permitted.”

      Anodos is beginning to lose himself in humble, loving service. The Biblical parallel from the parable of Christ is obvious. And having been stripped of his love for the outward appearance and his flight from the prison of self and pride, what remains is contentment, plus a burning to do something more for him. I think we should grant that this sentiment is not a relapse into glory seeking but rather a genuine desire from a very different place. It is also patient and awaits its opportunity to manifest his love for the Knight in an extraordinary way. Very importantly, he says in the moment that he is motivated to preserve the honor of the Knight. “I could not endure that my master should be deceived.” That is the why, to prevent his beloved Knight from being led into error. He intervenes to expose and bring himself within range to do battle with the evil disguised as holy and honorable ceremony. The rest is the working out of what had already been resolved and was set into action by that intention. It ends with “I therefore threw all my will, and force, and purpose, into the grasping hand” which seeks to throttle the now revealed murderous monster, to prevent it from living. There is very little operative at that point in Anodos apart from the obedience to love through death.
      It is in this act that seems irrelevant to him, that he becomes love; it is the principle of substitution at work in his sacrifice. C.S. Lewis writing about Williams best spells out the nature of this principle of substitution.

      “We touch here upon one of William’s fundamental principles…It might be illustrated on a homelier level by Chesterton’s maxim that ‘the success of the marriage springs out of the failure of the honeymoon’. For Williams himself, as we see in He Came Down from Heaven, the chosen example is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain has carefully and, no doubt, laudably, prepared an altar and a sacrifice, but no fire descends on it. Cain fails to understand that this, far from being a hideous anomaly, is one of the laws of the City. ‘Unless devotion is given to a thing which must prove false in the end, the thing that is true in the end cannot enter.’ ‘The way must be made ready for heaven, and then it will come by some other; the sacrifice must be made ready, and the fire will strike on another altar.’ Cain did not understand that ‘the very purpose of his offering was to make his brother’s acceptable’. And this is what nearly always happens. The thing which we thought principally intended (but how can Omnipotence intend any one thing more than another?) comes to nought; what seems to us a mere by-product (but what could be a by-product to Omniscience?) bursts into flower. Thus to those who wish to stand on their merits the course of destiny must always seem a horrible celestial sarcasm on their repeated failures: but to those who have been set free by ‘the doctrine of largesse’ it will be an ‘excellent absurdity’, a tender mockery dancing or flickering like summer lightning on what, but for this, they might in some fatal or portentous fashion have regarded as their successes. Once you have grasped the principle it is not chastening but liberating to know that one has always been almost wholly superfluous; wherever one has done well some other has done all the real work…you will do the same for him, perhaps, another day, but you will not know it—‘My friend’s shelter for me, mine for him.’”

      One type of this is in Phantastes is The woman of the globe, freeing the trapped Anodos with her song. It is not only the exchange of one for another but the principle of forgivness at work. She is the ultimate substitutionary sacrifice in she is the one wronged delighting in the liberation and healing of the one who harmed her.

      We finally get to see this in Anodos himself after his death, when he rapidly accelerates in the stages of manifestation of love (in the Primrose) toward becoming himself the principle of co-inherence, of substitutionary love in this line:
      “But O pale-faced women, and gloomy-browed men, and forgotten children, how I will wait on you, and minister to you, and, putting my arms about you in the dark, think hope into your hearts, when you fancy no one is near! Soon as my senses have all come back, and have grown accustomed to this new blessed life, I will be among you with the love that healeth.”

    • With the Cottage and the woman MacDonald propels us into a realm at the intersect of FÆRIE and memory. I have so much I’d like to ask him about why he chose the cottage, the familiarity of the home space (if he even had an artistic choice in the matter), but also if and why the cottage effects what he is seeking to engage in the reader. Why does it work so well as a space for memory?

      I add here a reflection from John Baldacchino, who was speaking about a totally different artist and their power of depiction, but gives me words very apt to describe MacDonald’s power of depiction here in the Cottage of the Woman of Wisdom.

      “memory becomes corporeal and not just mental…the narrative of memory appears more obvious and accessible than the narrative of the subconscious as depicted by Surrealists…His visual representation of a memory that still tells stories that remain in control of the storyteller is more effective as an iconic approach…memory is the equivalent to the construction of one’s own daily reality…by dint of the familiar we are led into the art as we live the everyday…here the surreal stops short of being estranged from us, as we are always prompted with a notion of belonging whenever we engage with his work. This is especially tangible in his depiction and representation of physical space. [His] space is a possible one. To inhabit [His] space is to inhabit one’s own space. This becomes clearer when we talk of childhood. The childhood of the man and what inhabits the brain as memory is a space that has been inhabited by us as human beings, and more importantly as individuals with a story to tell. Childhood is not a dream but a memory. And because childhood is memorial it allows for segments of interpretations by way of inhabiting it as a familiar space…Thus the ethical imagination by which we conduct ourselves and live out the enigmas of life, remains within common reach.” John Baldacchino from Art’s Way Out

      To summarize these aspects as I see them in the cottage:
      The corporeality of Anodos’ engagement as he is mothered, eating, resting, weeping, being comforted.
      The corporeality of the emotive doors into physical landscapes and other spaces of memory.
      The corporeality of playing and resting inside those memories. Contrast this with say, Dickens’ depiction of how much interaction Scrooge has with his encounters with past. Anodos is no ghost inside those spaces.

      The “deeply familiar” in the home space, the hearth, the mother. It is not just accessible because home as memory, is universal, but it is made much more accessible by its homeliness, its ordinariness. The memories of eating, of being near the  hearth, of playing in the fields, of  bedtime rituals with siblings.  For example, I don’t know if anyone else has felt this, but I have felt almost compelled to eat when reading Phantases. The memory of the book is then opened up for me in association with green apples.
      Our capacity to “go there” with Anodos is dependent upon our immersion into those spaces, which is not a thing that is possible if we seek to retain a posture of distance from them. They must be engaged from within, and more than that from a place in which we belong. It must feel like home, for us to go there.

      Finally, I wonder at how much our relationship with Anodos changes once we see more of his story. We know ourselves to be storied creatures, who know how our own identities and our ordinary day to day is shaped by the memories that tell stories that still exercise control over us, even when we are the storytellers; we are the ones recalling, but we are not fully free to dream, because this is memory, not dream. And there are even doors of memory from which we would not be able to return on our own. We are now in a very different relationship of empathy toward Anodos that the revelation of his childhood, which fundamentally reminds us that he was and is still a child, as we were and are.

       

    • Before I read this in MacDonald, I thought I was the only one who thought that I would very much prefer to live in the city reflected in rainy streets. But the “why” is easier to cite than guess.

      In FÆRIE, moonlight is best to see by, is in fact the proper light of FÆRIE. The moon itself is a very large mirror of reflected light. I don’t think it is the quality of softness per se, but the very fact of being reflected (and refracted) light. A light passing through a stone is also far more magical. I would venture to say that this is because the reflection begins to speak about relationships between things. It is possible to stare at the face of the sun and feel nothing of that light in relationship with the seer. But the moon? the sea? the shining street? the mirror? They speak of the object and themselves, both things, and their relationship at once.

      It is kind of like the nature of an image, as in “made in the image of God”. An image is not like other symbols or signs that merely point to a meaning, secondary to them. A stop sign does not say “behold, I am the stop sign…and by the way, STOP!” It simply says, “STOP”. An image however, points both to itself and to the thing it images. It points to that other precisely by pointing to itself. Now since we are Imago Dei, made in the image of God, then we know something of the nature of being a reflector of light, a little mirror. And perhaps that is why our souls resonate with all other mirrors and prisms of light.

      This also echoes the faculty of imagination, of image making, that is necessary to see anything. Perhaps there is also then an integrity that spells out our spell, makes visible both the thing seen and seen-by, its image. It seems more humble, and therefore truer a description of human vision.

      I might also ponder whether this might also be a reason why FÆRIE itself, as reflected, refracted reality, images bounced like moonlight from the author’s imagination to mine, evokes an affinity for beauty and truth in me more effectively than the “cold light of day.” But are we not meant some day to see face to face, instead of through a glass, darkly? Oh yes, but the eyes of my soul need the light of FÆRIE first.

      So here is where my answer to Anodos would nudge as we walked in moonlight under a FÆRIE sky.

    • Home… its memory, and its relationship to all spaces of intimacy, protection, reverie, daydream, throughout FÆRIE. The journey outward starts from a most inward space, his bedroom in house, and even doubles back to this space as an inner chamber in the palace in FÆRIE. MacDonald has shown us house, bower, cave, cottage, palace, but he does not overdescribe. These spaces of home are deeply evocative.

      There is perhaps no modern author who unpacks the significance of home in literature than Gaston Bachelard in his

        Poetics of Space.

      I have just started rereading him alongside Phantases, since MacDonald seems to know how to woo us with images of home so well.

    • The changes in perception of FÆRIE by Anados and others definitely sets up patterns that crave explanation. Initially Anodos is unsure if he will be able to perceive FÆRIES, and is relieved to see and hear in fairyland. MacDonald hints early on at a relationship between desire and epistemology. It is initially the longing that seems to make possible the vision of FÆRIE. Perhaps the higher the virtue of desire, the higher order of FÆRIES he is able to see. He progresses from children to the tree nymphs, and then later regresses to the point (in the palace) where he cannot see those who serve him at table. And think about the good effect of his mere desiring to see the greater spirit of the Earth.

      This interior factor of vision, MacDonald emphasizes is explored in the various states of soul in Anodos. While not reductive, the posture of each character effects what can they can see and engage. Humility also seems prerequisite to vision. Also very powerfully sorrow, and especially repentance, can restore (lost) vision of the true, beautiful, and good. We see the tenderness of Anodos restored only when he breaks. The treatment of the relationship between sorrow and FÆRIE described in the tangible relationship between tears and sight is masterful.

      Exterior factors include taking the food and water of FÆRIE. The capacity to apprehend and understand bodies (which become more and less solid) is conditioned upon Anodos’ being bodied in FÆRIE, and one is not truly bodied until one eats and drinks in that land. Perhaps that is true of any land?

      He is also variously enchanted and disenchanted by those with whom he shares company. The mere presence of the farmer and his son, disenchant, whereas the farmer’s wife and her daughter, enchant. This does not necessarily have a correlation with a moral quality in those persons. It is more like a resonance with their posture and state of relationship with FÆRIE. This progresses toward an exploration of the distortions and disfigurations of form effected by the shadow and other evils.

      MacDonald goes one step further to push at the relationship between seeing and being, between epistemology of FÆRIE and the ontology of FÆRIE. Merely daydreaming about Pygmalion, brings it into the story. Perhaps desire awakens not only sight but being in FÆRIE. I do not mean to say that he is making up FÆRIE; it is not constructive in that way, but rather perhaps his imagination is more purely operative at that place where seeing and being intersect.

      At some level desiring, believing, seeing, understanding, becoming are all interconnected and perhaps co-inhere more intimately in FÆRIE. They certainly feed off of each other in either upward spirals of love, faith, hope or downward spirals of fear, unbelief, and despair.

      It is like that I John passage that says, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and what we shall be has not yet been made apparent, but we know that when He is made apparent, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” To know that our future clear vision of Christ will mean not only revelation of him but of us, of what we already are as children of God. This is itself a kind of seeing in anticipation, a hope, that has the power of transformation, epistemology fueling ontology, to in fact make us into what we are to become when sight and being are one.

    • I love this question. The changes in perception of FÆRIE by Anados and others definitely sets up patterns that crave explanation. Initially Anodos is unsure if he will be able to perceive FÆRIES, and is relieved to see and hear in fairyland. MacDonald hints early on at a relationship between desire and epistemology. It is initially the longing that seems to make possible the vision of FÆRIE. Perhaps the higher the virtue of desire, the higher order of FÆRIES he is able to see. He progresses from children to the tree nymphs, and then later regresses to the point (in the palace) where he cannot see those who serve him at table. And think about the good effect of his mere desiring to see the greater spirit of the Earth.

      This interior factor of vision, MacDonald emphasizes is explored in the various states of soul in Anodos. While not reductive, the posture of each character effects what can they can see and engage. Humility also seems prerequisite to vision. Also very powerfully sorrow, and especially repentance, can restore (lost) vision of the true, beautiful, and good. We see the tenderness of Anodos restored only when he breaks. The treatment of the relationship between sorrow and FÆRIE described in the tangible relationship between tears and sight is masterful.

      Exterior factors include taking the food and water of FÆRIE. The capacity to apprehend and understand bodies (which become more and less solid) is conditioned upon Anodos’ being bodied in FÆRIE, and one is not truly bodied until one eats and drinks in that land. Perhaps that is true of any land?

      He is also variously enchanted and disenchanted by those with whom he shares company. The mere presence of the farmer and his son, disenchant, whereas the farmer’s wife and her daughter, enchant. This does not necessarily have a correlation with a moral quality in those persons. It is more like a resonance with their posture and state of relationship with FÆRIE. This progresses toward an exploration of the distortions and disfigurations of form effected by the shadow and other evils.

      MacDonald goes one step further to push at the relationship between seeing and being, between epistemology of FÆRIE and the ontology of FÆRIE. Merely daydreaming about Pygmalion, brings it into the story. Perhaps desire awakens not only sight but being in FÆRIE. I do not mean to say that he is making up FÆRIE; it is not constructive in that way, but rather perhaps his imagination is more purely operative at that place where seeing and being intersect.

      At some level desiring, believing, seeing, understanding, becoming are all interconnected and perhaps co-inhere more intimately in FÆRIE. They certainly feed off of each other in either upward spirals of love, faith, hope or downward spirals of fear, unbelief, and despair.

      It is like that I John passage that says, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and what we shall be has not yet been made apparent, but we know that when He is made apparent, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” To know that our future clear vision of Christ will mean not only revelation of him but of us, of what we already are as children of God. This is itself a kind of seeing in anticipation, a hope, that has the power of transformation, epistemology fueling ontology, to in fact make us into what we are to become when sight and being are one.

    • I was not content with the meanings of the translations of the name Anodos as “ascent” or “pathless” until in another thread on story, Betty surfaced that brilliant Tolkien quote “not all who wander are lost”. So I’ll paste some relevant thoughts on Anodos from there, here. [Does anyone else have difficulty understanding “where” to place one’s conversation in a multi-themed discussion forum? It often feels like rambling around a pub rather than sitting knee to knee over a pint, but then we are not in the Eagle & Chid…at least in our bodies].

      This Tolkien quote helps me to believe in a hint from MacDonald toward the ancient Platonic tradition of the pursuit of knowledge. An “anados” could be described as an undirected “way” toward knowledge of the good and the source of all knowing. In other cultures there are similar modes, like Chatakwa. Anados, the process and (with slight spelling alteration) the person of our story, cannot merely pass through unknowing to knowing, as if that were just a stage, but journeys to acknowledge the essential necessity of unknowing, which is why pathlessness is one of the privations required of him. 


      Such knowledge wanders (and must wander) but cannot attain to the knowledge which is the source of knowledge, which by definition has no qualities that can be known like created things (Nicolas of Cusa). Instead anados resolves in deeper and deeper revelations of the self in its image (a kind of web of relationships of extrinsic being with God, creation and others), and which gradually is not only been revealed, rendered visible (transfigured), but transformed by the soul’s peregrinations. 


      As with Tolkien’s wish for Middle Earth, perhaps MacDonald discerned this as well and hoped the same for Phantases, that it may also be a true way into FÆRIE. Is there any place in either the primary created cosmos or secondary order created by imagination that cannot serve as a landscape of such true wandering pilgrimage? No place, since God is the source of and inhabits all. Should we discover that following Anodos we find ourselves led into anados?

    • I’ll be connecting from here in Rwanda. Thank you so much for this timezone accommodation. I am looking forward to the conversations.

    • I have been reading MacDonald for about thirty years. As with Phantastes, sometimes I intentionally put off a reread until a sufficient time has elapsed to be allowed to have become someone new, capable of finding new wonders. I am very excited and humbled to journey into Faerie again. Surely with so many elf-friends and maybe even a few with the blood of the fairfolk in our company, we may be shown the way in.

    • MacDonald seems to award profound value to story, different from that of mere delight. He attaches great expectation to story as a mode of discovery of great and deep truth in the posture of the main character, Anados.  There is always that expectation, anticipation of (even longing for) revelation, the opening of a secretary with secret papers, the opening of an old book with ancient stories. He is explicit about his longing for Faerie, which MacDonald then mirrors in the Beech admitting of her longing to be a woman, and he both begins to crack open the door onto those subtle conversations about being and relationship. You seem very like a beautiful woman to me. I feel like one today. All of this seen within the story of some undescribed grand myth of Faerie in which the Dryad takes a human form. We only get hints of it in the rules of Faerie she keeps, “I may love him, I may love him; for he is a man, and I am only a beech-tree.” (my favorite quote)

      I also note that MacDonald may be trying to say that story, which in many ways is merged with being in Faerie, is descriptive of truer and more revelatory relationships than other ways of knowing. Isn’t it interesting that he has submitted so unquestioningly to Faerie, though not being acquainted with its rules, but still hoping. Hoping what? Surely to explore to be taught by Faerie, but more than that, to know and become what is more true because of story/Faerie. In these first steps on the borders of Faerie, this manifests itself as a willingness to play, to submit himself even to secondary stories of others, the words of the woman and her daughter about the Ash.

      I wonder if “being taught by Faerie” has still not gone far enough to capture what exactly is expected from story, as if it were sufficient to merely take lessons back from Faerie to be applied to this world. One might feel like Bilbo that such an application feels like butter “applied” too thin across too much bread. If we are storied beings, consisting in our extrinsic relationships, our storied relationships defining us, telling us more who we are, than our intrinsic “natures”, then stories for MacDonald are expected to be ontological, with the power to reveal and actually transform us.

      For example, in Anados’ case, being chided for not knowing near enough about his great-grandmothers’ stories, is not merely an aside critique, but may be an assessment of his identity, his very unfinished being. If those women are not in him and his story fails to derive from theirs in attentive exchange (to be enstoried is a far more active and beyond “having” the mere fact of ancestry), what kind of partial person, partial inheritor, does that make Anados at the very moment of his coming of age? It seems pure mercy that he is given the grace to stumble into a real story, one that might not just make a man of him, but a person, as all storied creatures are.

    • Indeed, we do not need to fall into a PKD delusion (to echo your Pynchon allusion) in order to assert that GMD intended something by the mark (that it was not random or accidental). He went through a lot of trouble to put it there in the print. He also did not demand an accompanying illustration, which probably would have been easier and could have provided more detail. So there is something both intentional and intentionally unfinished in the mark, which he likes to do to draw us into mystery.

    • Daron, Interesting speculations on the red mark. My first impression was an oil lamp, which of course also can cue wisdom. It sure is a strange little scratching. The longer I stare at it the more the flame becomes like a female human form.

    • Daron,
      I think this is the link you are referencing:

      It is an excellent intro to Charles Williams’ theology & poetry by Malcolm, one in an excellent little series on the Inklings.

      By the way, I’d be game on collaborating on anything, lecture series, book, play, fiction, exhibit, to do with co-inherence and substitutionary exchange in GMD and the Inklings.

    • Becky, that seeing through exterior to see the true nature of things involves his self-confessed belief that the exterior corresponds to the qualities of the interior. Perhaps his growing up, has a lot to do with his losing faith in that false belief and mechanistic deception. I know that Lewis also explores this quite a bit in Till We Have Faces. And doesn’t one of the Inklings or Chesterton speak about the value of the traditional tales introducing the possibility of things like a FAY (a youthful beauty that is evil), and of course its opposite, the beautiful person hidden beneath an exterior that does not correspond.

    • MacDonald here seems to be using story to explain story. The story itself gives or suggests meaning, as opposed to a concept doing the job. The kind of meaning a story gives is holistic, it provides the space in which to make broader connections in an larger whole. This may be one of the reasons why he is so fond of embedding story within story. The story of Cosmo is of course the concept of “reflection and mirrors” en-storied. He spells it out in the abstract first, but the concepts float outside of story.

      There is also something of MacDonald’s master at mythopoesis at work here. Far from being a disconnection from the story, these stories within stories are inceptions. Can you see how many layers down we are, we who are in a reverie reading Phantases, about a young man on an adventure in Faerie who has entered into the palace library in which he falls into a reverie of a story, in which a young man in Prague falls in love with and eventually frees a woman trapped in a magical mirror.

      Let me venture to guess that one function of the inception-like levels of story is to open up a new capacity of imagination required to form understandings we will require to proceed. In one sense this setting up and evoking of reverie of which MacDonald is master. And it is precisely when our concepts have become fused, that we need the state of mind that enables imagination, which is reverie. But why a reverie within a reverie within a reverie? Is it just keeping us on our back foot, avoiding the premature grooves of thought that our minds want to settle into, not letting the plaster set too soon, a change up pitch? Possibly, but I trust that whatever it is, it is not gratuitous.

      I trust the myth master that the reverie within reverie, is meant to trigger my own by distance from what has perhaps already become too focus to allow for diffuse thought. Even though it is following a man through FÆRIE, isn’t it interesting how quickly we come behind him to push him along, to “get back to” and “get on with the story”, as if we knew what that story was or what it means. That sounds like a strong indicator that perhaps it has indeed already become fused and we need the pace and focus to change. We also trust that the meaning of story within story is a necessary dive. We must follow Anodos into the palace library and into books that en-story something for him and us.

      I’ll go one level deeper…by surfacing one level up toward us as readers. All of this helps me realize that I do not, may not control Anodos in his story, any more than he can hold to possess the marble lady, or Cosmo control the destiny of the relationship of lady of the mirror to him by incantation. We also are told in the story, “Don’t touch.” Or more achingly, “You should have sung to me. You should have sung to me.” To waken love in FÆRIE is very grave play indeed. It is sub-creative; no reader must allow themselves to believe they are omnipotent gods. FÆRIE has rules. Love must obey its laws, like the laws of birth under the seasons, like the laws of prohibition of the door that one should pass only by invitation by the FÆRIE Queen, or the boundaries against invoking the unlawful arts.

      This is the whole meaning that the embedded stories hold for me that the simple tale cannot. By this “change of altitude” he prevents me from settling into objective distance, a safe “suspension of disbelief”. Dorothy Sayers said that it is only when a work of art does not work that one must suspend disbelief, when a character breaks out of character, when a film exits the rules of its own universe. When it works, there is only suspension, only participation. With us invited and drawn into these depths through a song sung in a hall, a tale in a book in FÆRIE, at any moment we find ourselves another layer up or down. I am forced to be active instead of passive in the process of making connections between images, between worlds, including my own interior world. He is not content with anything less than participation.

      MacDonald could have just lectured us on the relationship between birth, longing, journey, being and dying; instead he gave us the planet of the seasonal winged women. He could simply tell us impulsivity is incompatible with morality; instead he gave us Cosmo’s tale to contrast impulse versus subjection in obedience to love. He could lecture us about possessing, controlling, and loving; instead he has given us Anodos. Story grows our imaginative capacity for making new, deeper, richer connections. The more one knows experientially (including from other stories) the more distant and different realities are likely to be related, and disparities integrated into a complex new whole. The capacity to recognize similarity in greater and greater diversity, to juxtapose things ordinarily not related, to create new metaphors, and to synthesize into a unity, is the power of story. Is MacDonald getting Anodos and us ready for some greater mystery?

    • That soul ache you mentioned is heightened (retrospectively) by the realization that the encounter with good persons, with love and its good effect on one’s soul, is perhaps not so common an encounter in the universe as expected. An encounter with counterfeits and alternatives is common, but the discernment comes too late. He has “moved on” expecting that love, will surely return or repeat, then learns that something “like” it does come but also utterly unlike it, it belies a deep error. We ache because we know that the loss is a real loss.

    • Jensen, I’m curious. What do you think is the nature of the relationship between the emergence of the Pygmalion story into Anodos’ consciousness and the coming of Pygmalion’s actual sculpture into his story? In the space where the sculpture woman is trapped, he has the memory of the Greek myth, then finds it to be pointing to something true in that place. That is the sequence, but what is the relationship between those stories inside FÆRIE?

    • Dear Betty,

      Very well put. I was not content with the surface meanings of the translations of the name Anados as “ascent” or “pathless” until you surfaced that brilliant Tolkien quote “not all who wander are lost”. This helps me to believe in a hint from MacDonald toward the ancient Platonic tradition of the pursuit of knowledge. An “anados” could be described as an undirected “way” toward knowledge of the good and the source of all knowing. In other cultures there are similar modes, like Chatakwa. Anados (the process and the person of our story) cannot merely pass through unknowing to knowing, as if that were just a stage, but journeys to acknowledge the essential necessity of unknowing, which is why the pathlessness is one of the privations required of him.

      Such knowledge wanders and must wander but cannot attain to the knowledge which is the source of knowledge and by definition has no qualities that can be known like created things (Nicolas of Cusa). Instead anados resolves in deeper and deeper revelations of the self in its image (a kind relationship of extrinsic being), which has not only been seen but transformed by the soul’s peregrinations.

      As with Tolkien’s wish for Middle Earth, perhaps MacDonald discerned this as well and hoped the same for Phantases, that it may also be a way into FÆRIE. Is there any place in either the primary created cosmos or secondary orders created by imagination that cannot serve as a landscape of true pilgrimage? No place, since God is the source of and inhabits all.

      I think about it this way. Before reading Phantases, there were many images that I had not yet inhabited. Having read it, am I not extrinsically different, standing in new relationships with many things, seen and unseen? Does it make a difference that I inhabit those images imaginatively by empathy? Or better yet, is there really any difference in the mode, or the faculty by which, we inhabit any image in the primary versus the secondary world? I must always give that image my attention, my focus, my love in my imagination first, and then incarnate what I am “beholding” into the forms of my life. How else could I inhabit justice, brotherhood, love, without having beheld that image first in my imagination? That is how I read what MacDonald was saying in his essays on Imagination.

      So first to the images, and an aside on the beatific image of the Beech. The Beech nymph (she will forgive my poor language when I previously referred to her in the generic form of “Dryad”, as if a Beech could be called an Oak); the Beech nymph, was long associated with love (and the the prophetic promise of future love) in Greek mythology. I don’t think MacDonald was accidental here. The Ash nymph in Greek mythology had a pretty horrific lineage and tradition of negative relations with humans. The departure for MacDonald was to make the grasping Ash male. No doubt we will learn more about love as we encounter is many counter-forms or privations. The hole in the Ash is a powerful “not-love”.

      But back to the primary image of love. You are so right to highlight the overpowering themes of love and desire at the very outset of our story. The longing for love, to be-hold the lovely, to be be-held by the beloved, and in the most tangible forms you highlighted from the story, the yearning to hold and to be..held by the Beech, a one who is bigger than us and passionately longs to care for us. The maternal, and grand-maternal, the home, the lover are all evoked so early in the story. It is the deep end of the pool. This love longing is a powerful Romantic theme, Dante’s primary theme, and woven by the Inklings throughout their stories, and discussed in their literary criticism as the “dialectic of desire”.

      So here’s my the thesis. Perhaps Love, so imaged in our story, quickens a resonance in us, grants us a FÆRIE gift, the permission in our imaginations to love, to see ourselves IN love. Love being once awakened in us, is the key that opens the door into FÆRIE, as well as serving as its sun, moon and stars by which we see all in that fair land. MacDonald has set the scene, no doubt with a strong measure of his own love, but it is we who must choose to behold, to affirm, to long for, to pursue, to purge, to become, the image of Love offered. We open up our imaginations to behold described beauty, flowers and trees, a cabin in the woods, hearth & home, our grandmothers, a child being read a story, and soon, the wild longings of a tree nymph who seeks to care for this man, to wrap him in the protection of her hair.

      Do we not in fact find ourselves falling in love? or perhaps just awaking love? Or perhaps at least longing to awaken love (which is highly likely result in the same thing)? Now I must admit that I am muddled by this train of thought. For I cannot no longer see a clear way to separate love and imagination.

Viewing 10 reply threads