An Interesting Comment on Elizabeth Goudge

First Glance at David Bentley Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite

Sunday Night Journal — March 13, 2011

This book has been highly recommended to me by more than one person whose opinion I respect. The title and subtitle certainly make it sound like my sort of thing. And I’ve been convinced from an early age (when I first read Keats’s “Ode On a Grecian Urn”) that beauty and truth can be separated from each other conceptually but not actually—that is, that the one cannot be present without the other, when fully beheld, so the book seemed to hold great promise.

And so it had been on my intended reading list for some time before I asked for and received it as a present this past Christmas. Upon glancing through it that day, I was a bit dismayed, and began to worry that it might be too difficult for me—too dependent on theological and philosophical knowledge that I don’t possess. It is a big, dense book, and I was not comforted by several things that were apparent at a glance: fragments of untranslated Greek, for instance, and the names of philosophers and theologians of whose work I’ve read nothing: Heidegger, Wittgenstein, others whose names I don’t even recognize.

I decided not to attempt it right away, but to wait until Lent, when I generally try to eliminate some distractions and make an effort to focus on a book or author of direct spiritual significance. So, on Ash Wednesday, having taken a day off from my job in order to get the season off to a more recollected start than usual, and having dried myself off from the soaking I received while returning to my car during a violent thunderstorm which began while I was at Mass, I settled down with the book and a cup of herbal tea, coffee being another thing I’m doing without for Lent, ready to begin contemplating the beauty of the infinite.

Well. I’m not at all sure that this new relationship is going to work out. I quickly found myself bogged down, reading sentences over several times and still not really understanding them. Eventually I managed twenty pages, which puts me only two-thirds of the way through the introduction, and leaves me with over 400 pages of very dense prose ahead of me. I don’t think I understood more than half of what I read, and I’m not sure that I learned very much from what I did understand. I’ve found myself in postmodern territory, and I am not at ease there.

Here’s an anecdote comes to me from the distant past, the late 1960s. I’ve long forgotten the source. The topic was popular music. An old-time songwriter of the pre-rock-and-roll school said that he had begun writing songs “in a more contemporary idiom.” Asked to explain what that entailed, he replied, “Oh, you know—use the word ‘mind’ a lot...”

My understanding of postmodernism is on a similar level. If asked to define postmodernism, my immediate response would be “Even worse than modernism.” If asked what it means to speak or write in a postmodern way, I would say, “Oh, you know—use the words ‘text’ and ‘discourse’ a lot...” And I would add “and be very obscure.”

I don’t know whether The Beauty of the Infinite is itself a postmodern work or not. But it certainly speaks often of the postmodern, and seems to be at least in part a response to the postmodern. And it often speaks in a manner which I associate with the contemporary academy and therefore—at least I suppose that is the link—with postmodernism. It’s not only the use of a technical philosophical vocabulary, some elements of which are familiar to me; there’s also a use of simple words, such as “distance,” which seem intended to convey something more than their everyday sense. At any rate, it’s often baffling to me. I have read the following sentence at least half a dozen times and still don’t think I understand more than about half of it:

And while I gladly praise any postmodern desire to give utterance to a genuine discourse of difference and distance, I shall also argue that the forms of postmodern theory addressed in this book, under the constraints of a dogmatically inflexible metaphysics concealed deep within them, can conceive of ontic difference only under the form of an ontological tautology, which reduces difference to mere differentiation (the indifferent distribution of singularities) and which suppresses the only real difference (the analogical) whose affirmation can liberate thought from “totality.”

I know what “ontological” means and I know what a tautology is, but I haven’t been able to get my head around the idea of an “ontological tautology.”

One of several subsections exploring aspects of a definition of the word “beauty” begins with “Beauty is objective.” Excellent; I understand that, and believe it to be true, and the next few paragraphs contain some obscure but useful elaborations of this idea. The next subsection begins with “Beauty is the true form of distance.” Well, that isn’t quite so clear to me. In fact it isn’t clear at all, and as I read on in search of clarification I find that “Within the world, beauty does not merely adorn an alien space, or cross the distance as a wayfarer, but is the true form of that distance, constituting it, as the grammar of difference.” And I am not enlightened. I have no idea what “grammar of difference” means.

Understand, it’s not that I think there is nothing here; I’ve read other things, of a more casual or popular nature, by Hart, and been impressed by them, and so I’m quite sure there is a great deal here. I just don’t know whether it’s accessible to me. And, all right, I admit to harboring the suspicion that it really doesn’t have to be so obscure—and the further suspicion that a phrase like “grammar of difference” is more poetry than theology. But poetry is not easily made from the abstract.

I must either give up on the book, or press ahead with the expectation that I will fail to understand a fair amount of it, and the hope that what I do understand will prove useful to me in some way. I’ll press ahead for now. While writing this I’ve re-read several pages of the introduction and found that some passages make more sense on a second reading. But I don’t think I have what it takes to read the whole thing twice. A back-cover blurb from an unnamed reviewer at National Review says that “This is theology as high adventure, and the excitement continues after the last page has turned...” Maybe I just need to allow more time for the excitement to kick in.


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Thank you, Mac, for your candor. Makes me feel less alone. This author has been recommended to me, too, but I have similar problems with his work.

This is terrific, Mac. You're not alone.

I actually did read the entire book; it took me six months. Like you, I was woefully unprepared. I thought Lyotard was something ballerinas wore. In the end I understood little of it; I'm not even sure I understood the main point.

But I enjoyed it all the same! One of the ideas that Hart expresses in the book is that beauty is a fleeting quality that shimmers on the surface of being, unsystematic and ungraspable, manifesting in myriad forms the glory of God. After a while I began to experience the book itself in that way: as an analogy of being. I would ride softly over the ungraspable depths, being occasionally rewarded with a palpable aphorism or brilliant digression, but mostly just beholding in my mind's ear the shimmering beauty of the musical prose (for it is musical).

Now, that "analogy of being" is not, I think, the "analogy of being" that Hart refers to so often in the book. Indeed, I believe that my inability to grasp the correct meaning of that phrase was a major impediment to my comprehension.

Does this help?

I am tickled pink to hear your reactions. I did feel a little embarrassed in making this confession, but since I was determined to say something about the book I really didn't have any choice.

So far I'm not quite so taken with Hart's prose as you, Craig--it sometimes seems overly mannered. But I think that if I do manage to get on through it, my experience will be similar.

I don't altogether understand Millinerd's post, either, if only because of my limited grasp of postmodernism. But that last paragraph is wonderful.

It took me about 30 years to get the message, but I got it at last: "Shoemaker, stick to thy last." There are many books just not written for the likes of me. I began to bang up against this fact many years ago when trying to read Charles Williams's He Came Down from Heaven and/or The Forgiveness of Sins. The dismal decade was the Nineties, when the mail would bring the enticing Eighth Day Books catalog and other advertising to which I would respond by ordering books I would never, in fact, read.

I wish that some relatively high-profile authors and publishers would release books that would give the likes of me some of the riches that are "locked up" in books and articles that I find unfinishable.

Because life's too short. I have plenty of books and articles that I can read or reread, too many to make wasting my time with unreadable books and articles a good use of time.

I'm reminded, by the way, of C. S. Lewis's wistful remark about the undergraduate who, humbly wanting to come to grips with Plato, gets hold of a bunch of modern commentaries on the Greek sage, rather than just reading Plato, whom he would find much more readable. Granted, it isn't clear from context (as I recall) whether Lewis assumes the undergrad can read Plato in the original Greek!

Does anyone know of Christian writers who have written well and readably on beauty? I will mention one whom I haven't read in depth: Coventry Patmore, the Victorian poet and essayist. His little essay on "The Still Point in Art" is well worth the few minutes it will take you to read it. In fact, Mac, I suspect that if you read it you will write a blog entry about it and invite readers to mention examples. Patmore is thinking of painting and literature. Here's a teaser: I think Bombadil is the still point in The Lord of the Rings.

I love Hart's shorter works (I think his essay 'Christ and Nothing' is a masterpiece) but I found TBOTI to be way, way over my head. I quickly realized that I just don't have the philosophical chops for it to make sense to me.

Having said that, the one section of the book that I did make it through, and which I did largely grasp, is the section in which he critiques deconstructionism. That part is well worth reading, imo.

"Does anyone know of Christian writers who have written well and readably on beauty?"

I know that Tony Esolen has, although there's no collection of his essays available, alas. But I imagine if you googled Esolen + Beauty you'd probably come up with some.

And Roger Scruton, while not writing from an explicitly Christian pov, is very good on this subject (although I had a similar problem with reading his scholarly aesthetic works as I did with reading Hart. Since then I've stuck to his more "popular" writings.)

I wrote, "I wish that some relatively high-profile authors and publishers would release books that would give the likes of me some of the riches that are "locked up" in books and articles that I find unfinishable."

That is, I wish we could have some good "popularizations" of the good stuff that, presumably, Hart and others cannot or don't want to write for the ordinary reader. It is obviously possible to write intelligibly and responsibly for ordinary readers on profound topics -- vide C. S. Lewis and a lot of subsequent authors.

I am assuming that Hart really is profound and that he isn't taken for being profound because he is hard to read.

PS I have discovered a touchstone. If a piece of writing responds to Wittgenstein, it is not for me. Thus, if someone wants to share good things in writing with the likes of me, "Lose the Wittgenstein."

I did accept, some time ago, that I was never going to read a great deal of philosophy. Had I pursued an academic career, I might have at least gotten acquainted with the big names. I did have a 2-semester history of philosophy as an undergrad, which now that I think about it may have stopped around 1800 or so. Or maybe we got progressively further behind so that everybody after that got only a lick and a promise. Anyway, that was pretty much the end of my education in that line. I picked up a sense of what some thinkers were about by encountering them in other contexts, but that doesn't really get you very far, as the present case shows.

It's been pretty much the same with theology. Nothing formal, and only hit-and-miss efforts on my own. At this point in my life, old enough to have a real sense of limited time remaining--that life is literally too short to fit everything in--I really don't think I will ever fill in these gaps. I think I'll persevere with Hart, though, at least for a hundred pages or so.

I had a similar though less severe problem with Francesca Murphy's book. I think she's offline for Lent--it would be interesting to hear her view on this.

Tom Bombadil as "still point"? On the face of it, even without knowing for sure what you mean, that seems very plausible to me. It's a strange episode or interlude, disconnected from the narrative proper. I always thought that either Tolkien just liked it a lot or that he was conscious of it serving some purpose such as you describe. Come to think of, is there some evidence for that in one of his letters? I seem to remember something but it's been so long since I read them.

Christian writers on beauty...hmm, a number should come to mind, you would think, but offhand the only thing I can think of is Maritain's Art and Scholasticism, which I have only browsed. There must be more...

Speaking of Lewis, I found myself, while reading Hart, at one point feeling a sort of appetite for a good solid bit of Lewis. A very different mental world, there, and closer to my own.

Probably Francesca is the only "regular" around here who could really understand the book, and translate some of the jargon for us. It's a pity she's offline. (Maybe she's just hiding, trying to avoid being cast in this role?)

One of the things I learned from Hart's book is that the leading postmodernists whom he addresses -- Derrida, Foucoult, Lyotard, Lacan(?), and the rest of them -- really do take their atheism all the way down to fundamentals: whereas we Christians talk about the Logos in creation, and about the order, rationality, and beauty of being, they talk about chaos and "ontological violence" at the foundations of things. I was actually impressed by that; it made me respect them more than I had before. Part of the point of Hart's book (I think) is to contrast the "peace" of the Christian metaphysical vision against the "violence" of the atheist one.

Another winsome aspect of the book is its tendency to digress. Frequently the digressions are quite a lot easier to understand than the main argument; I used to wait for them to pop up, like flowers beside the trail. One way to hunt them down in advance, if you do decide to abandon the book at some point, might be to browse the index: looking at passages about Bach could be a good way to start.

Here is an example of a short digression that I liked; I may have mentioned it before.

Re: books about beauty. I am currently reading a book by John Saward called The Beauty of Holiness, which is an accessible survey of the relevance of beauty to theology, drawing principally on patristic and scholastic writings. The whole book is structured as an exegesis of one of Fra Angelico's altarpieces. The book is published by Ignatius.

I would love to hear about other books on the subject.

That "atheism all the way down" idea makes me think of Nietzsche, who has already come up several times in the introduction. I've always had a liking for him, for taking the logic of the absence of God all the way to its conclusion.

"Part of the point of Hart's book (I think) is to contrast the "peace" of the Christian metaphysical vision against the "violence" of the atheist one."

His invocation of the word "peace" seemed a little odd to me in several places, but it makes sense as a response to the idea of "ontological violence." More indication of the difficulty of trying to read the book without knowledge of this context.

And, of course, Foucault took it all the way down, and then some; it didn’t end prettily. Can’t say I admired him, though.

Sorry, I've had to drop out of the conversation for a bit--problems at work.

I don't know much about Foucault--died of AIDS, right? but Nietzsche didn't end prettily, either, though from the little I've read it may not have had anything directly to do with his thinking.

I'm glad you mentioned Francesca, Maclin, I was beginning to worry!

My understanding of postmodernism is on a similar level. If asked to define postmodernism, my immediate response would be “Even worse than modernism.” If asked what it means to speak or write in a postmodern way, I would say, “Oh, you know—use the words ‘text’ and ‘discourse’ a lot...” And I would add “and be very obscure.”


Now, remember that horrid poem you linked to recently, Maclin? That One. Only One. Only One.

Was that post-modern? (I thought so at the time). I could be just plain ignorant, but I've tended to see post-modernism as mere gibberish.

Because books like the one you describe here are written with much technical language, I can't ever work out if my incomprehension is due to perhaps a poor writing style in the book, or just due to my lack of understanding of the jargon.

I tried to read Tracey Rowland's "Ratzinger's Faith" (or was it "The Faith of Ratzinger"?) recently as it was lent to me by a friend who is about to submit his thesis for a philosophy doctorate. I could understand what she was saying in sentences where there were few philosophical or theological terms, so I figured her writing style was generally understandable (and therefore probably quite clear), but the jargon kept pulling me up short.

That's why CS Lewis is a good read. He writes about complicated things, but he writes very clearly.

(I feel very smart indeed, knowing what "ontological" and "hermeneutic" mean! I don't know any others, though).

Was this perhaps his dissertation? Even if not, it seems that this book might've been meant for a much more specialized audience.

This will probably sound too needlessly dismissive, but I say cut your losses, refresh yourself with Alan Sokal's book (as applicable here as to Sokal's particular targets, it seems), and move on to something from which you'll get more information.

I know next to nothing about Nietzsche, but I think he led a fairly sedate life, even though toward the end he was mentally ill. Foucault, on the other hand, I couldn’t escape reading a lot about in the 1970s and early 1980s because he was lionized by the literary establishment and writing by him or about him was everywhere. (Okay, I didn’t have to read it.) Two things I remember clearly: he wrote that knowledge is always a form of power and he jumped head first into the practice of sadomasochism. I think at some point he was also an ardent admirer of the Baader-Meinhof gang of terrorists. Spiraled straight down.

Very insightful, Jesse--it was indeed his dissertation, or at least it began that way. But as for giving it up...I really don't want to, because I know there is good stuff here. If it weren't so hard to keep the book open and type at the same time I could quote some excellent bits. And I don't think he's being fraudulent in his rhetoric, the way some of Sokal's victims seem to have been. At any rate he's not engaging in pseudo-scientific "discourse." Fashion, maybe?

In any case, though, I think the reactions here indicate that it is de facto if not intentionally meant for a specialized audience.

Marianne, I recall reading bits and pieces of controversy about Nietzsche's last days: whether his madness was at all connected with his philosophy, or was merely...syphilis. It's a question I'd like to know more about, because some of the fragments of things he wrote and said toward the end seemed to indicate some kind of religious frenzy--referring to himself as the Crucified, for instance, if I remember correctly.

As for Foucault: that conjunction of sexual perversity and admiration of revolutionary violence was a feature of the '60s. I won't say it was a common syndrome, but certainly Foucault was not the only one who fell into it. Cf. Jean Genet & the Black Panthers.

Louise, that poem (one of Gertrude Stein's) was merely modern, not postmodern. As far as poetic practice is concerned, it seems to me that the biggest difference between the two is that modern was considerably more rigorous and more intellectually disciplined, in spite of its apparently chaotic surface. I'm not sure whether that applies to Stein or not, though.

The digression on wine is delightful, Craig. I didn't know Nietzsche was a teetotaler. He might have been a better philosopher if he hadn't been.

Dale, I will definitely seek out that Coventry Patmore essay. I remember Patmore's name from a Victorian lit class long ago and have always wanted to read more of him.

I don’t know. Maybe we should all just agree that postmodernism is a huge con. Anyway, I think post-postmodernism is now gaining strength. Wonder what that is -- modernism all over again?

There are some positives to postmodernism inasmuch as it offers a critique of Enlightenment assumptions about knowledge. The bad thing is, its critique is itself rooted in Enlightenment categories, so that it finds itself unable to offer any real epistemology alternative. To borrow a phrase from Huston Smith used in another context, it is totally apophatic about knowledge, but it is an apophaticism with no cataphatic backup.

The Enlightenment was wrong in that it limited knowledge to facts, science, ratiocination, etc. Postmodernism is correct in questioning this limitation, but since it, like the Enlightenment, rejects all other absolute truth, it has nowhere else to go but to retreat into subjectivism -- the true has become the "true for me," and that's really all there is.

While posturing itself as a critique of modernism, what it really is is modernism gone to seed. It is the dead end of the Enlightenment, and the only way out of the cul-de-sac is to begin looking seriously at pre-Enlightenment thought again.

I was going to say to Marianne that I didn't know enough about postmodernism to say whether it's a con or not, but, Rob, what you say is precisely what my not-very-informed impression is. That's what I meant when I said my first thought was "even worse than modernism."

I think this sentence that you quoted is the one that started me thinking about Sokal: “Within the world, beauty does not merely adorn an alien space, or cross the distance as a wayfarer, but is the true form of that distance, constituting it, as the grammar of difference.”

Of course, it's taken out of context, but it reminded me of the excerpts in Sokal's book, in that it seems to be using everyday concepts but in a metaphorical/literary/whatever world that is so far removed from experience as to be almost a novel in itself. In fact, I remember a conversation from a long time ago with a friend (who by now must be a professor of literary theory somewhere), in which he tried in vain to teach me how nonfiction is in fact no different from a novel, something he'd learned in his postmodern theory classes.

I can see now how there might be some truth to that, but only in a very vague and impractical (perhaps "in principle") sense, and I don't have much sympathy or use for it.

Of course, I'm totally willing to accept the proposition that I'm just ignorant and/or naive. I've spent very little time even attempting to study this sort of thing, so I probably shouldn't even be commenting. :-\

I think that the sentence you quote, Jesse, reflects one of the things Hart is doing in TBOTI: putting forth a critique of PoMo in its own language (not that that observation helps me understand it any better!)

Actually that sentence made me think of Sokal, too, Jesse, although I don't think it crossed the boundary into abuse of scientific or mathematical terminology.

I'm actually something of an empiricist within certain limits and tend to be impatient with literary constructs that are overly vague and un-concrete. This seems to me to be one of those. Whatever "grammar of difference" means, I'm very doubtful that it needed to be expressed that way. Looking at it purely as a literary construct, I don't care for it--it obscures without adding anything aesthetically.

I think your friend who said there's no difference between fiction and non-fiction is...well, I started to say crazy, but let's just say very mistaken. This seems to me like various other intellectual pathologies, such as solipsism--in this case, rationalism run amuck, incapable of distinguising "influenced by the writer's culture and perceptions" etc etc and "totally invented." In a way it's like those insane variants of the slippery slope argument: better not go to the barber shop, because letting somebody cut your hair is ultimately the same thing as letting him cut your throat.

I agree, Rob, that does seem to be at least a part of what Hart is doing.

I've found this article on modernism and postmodernism to be quite helpful, and have returned to it more than once:

And although it doesn't specifically mention postmodernism (the book predates the widespread use of that term) the little book 'Discerning the Mystery' by Andrew Louth is very much worth reading. He, like Mitchell, puts great stock in the work of Michael Polanyi.

Gene Hargrove, in “Tom Bombadil and the Movies” (BB 5/03) cites a letter from Tolkien in which he says Bombadil is “not an important person – to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a ‘comment’,” and quotes movie director Peter Jackson as saying that the Bombadil episode doesn’t really advance the story and doesn’t tell us things we need to know. What, then, does the Tom Bombadil sequence contribute to The Lord of the Rings?

Victorian poet Coventry Patmore’s paper “The Point of Rest in Art” may help us understand the very real value of Bombadil. (Interested persons will find the complete short essay in Patmore’s Principle in Art.) Beginning with examples derived from paintings, Patmore finds a punctum indifferans, a “point, generally quite insignificant in matter, on which, indeed, the eye does not necessarily fix itself, but to which it involuntarily returns for repose.” This object is, in itself, “the least interesting point” in the whole canvas, but “all that is interesting” in the picture “is more or less unconsciously referred to it.” In a landscape it might be the “sawn-off end of a branch of a tree.” In Raphael’s “Dresden” Madonna, it is the Infant’s heel. The point of rest doesn’t create harmony where it does not exist, but where it does exist, “it will be strangely brought out and accentuated by this in itself often trifling, and sometimes, perhaps, even accidental accessory.” Patmore proposes this test: “Cover [these points] from sight and, to a moderately sensitive and cultivated eye, the whole life of the picture[s] will be found to have been lowered.”

Patmore includes literary examples drawn from Shakespeare – the “unobtrusive character of Kent” in King Lear, etc. Kent is “the eye of the tragic storm which rages round it; and the departure, in various directions, of every character more or less from moderation, rectitude, or sanity, is the more clearly understood or felt from our more or less conscious reference to him.” Other Shakespearean characters also serve as a “peaceful focus radiating the calm of moral solution throughout all the difficulties and disasters of surrounding fate: a vital centre, which, like that of a great wheel, has little motion in itself, but which at once transmits and controls the fierce revolution of the circumference.”

I think this helps us to understand Bombadil’s very real contribution to our enjoyment of The Lord of the Rings. Always in the back of our minds, while we are occupied by the hurry and tumult of so many persons and events, we have the sense of that one “insignificant” but whole, innocent, uncorruptible person in his realm that is only a pinpoint on the map of Middle-earth. Gandalf emphasizes just this in his comments at the Council of Elrond. If summoned to the Council, Bombadil “‘would not have come.’” If the dreadful issues bound up with the Ring were explained to Bombadil, “‘he would not understand the need.’” If the Ring were given to him, he would forget it or discard it, because “‘[s]uch things have no hold on his mind.’”

Patmore says that “a point of rest and comparison is necessary only when the objects and interests are many and more or less conflicting.” If he had had a copy of The Lord of the Rings at hand, he would have been able to cite a perfect example of such a “point” in the character of Tom Bombadil.

Thanks, Rob. I had to work late and will have to wait for a more opportune moment to read that, but will do so. I have one of Polanyi's books sitting around here unread. Can't even remember the name...come to think of it, maybe it's about, not by, Polanyi, and maybe it's that book by the author of this article.

"BB" is the Tolkien 'zine Beyond Bree.

I thought Coventry Patmore's idea of the "point of rest" in art an illuminating and understandable contribution to one aspect of the discussion of beauty.

I don't know that I have enough visual sense to find a point of rest in a great painting or sculpture. Thinking about it a little more, I'm not so sure it transfers very well to literature. I think what's bothering me is the idea of the eye involuntarily returning to it. I do think that Bombadil serves a purpose something like this, but my mind doesn't return to that episode in anything like the manner Patmore describes. My mind does return to Kent, but his role seems more active and central. Well, I suppose it would be a mistake to try to apply this too strictly.

I just added the Andrew Louth book to my "wish list", only to discover that it was already there. Rob G, you must have mentioned it here before!

I very well may have, Craig. I've been recommending it right and left since I first read it a few years back.

Mac wrote, "I don't know that I have enough visual sense to find a point of rest in a great painting or sculpture. Thinking about it a little more, I'm not so sure it transfers very well to literature. I think what's bothering me is the idea of the eye involuntarily returning to it. I do think that Bombadil serves a purpose something like this, but my mind doesn't return to that episode in anything like the manner Patmore describes."

Do you think that there would have been no effect on LOTR if Tolkien had omitted the Bombadil episode?

I'll grant I'm putting a lot of weight on that "back of our minds" idea. Obviously, LOTR is not a painting, presenting in an instant an entire work to our attention, but is more like a piece of music, existing as something experienced over the course of time -- in the case of LOTR, probably quite a few days. I don't think that, when people reread the book, they find themselves thinking: "Oh, Bombadil! I'd completely forgotten about this part of the book," or wondering why the episode is there.

The question in my mind is how much of this effect is conscious--"the eye returns to." I think you're right about the Bombadil effect, but am not so sure whether it's the same thing he describes in paintings. The eye doesn't really return to Bombadil. Oh well, I'm repeating myself--to do so again, I'm probably trying to apply Patmore's observation too literally.

You've made me really glad that I didn't rush out and buy that book. I'm having enough trouble with Introduction to Christianity.


I think I've read two more pages since doing this blog post. I didn't (and don't) really intend to give up on it, just got a little discouraged and a lot distracted.

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