With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on. -- William Morris

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Owen Barfield Quote

"A work of art, then, is characterized, not by the absence of distinct parts, on the contrary, by the greatest possible distinctness and self-sufficiency of its parts -- provided only that we do not think of them as mutually impenetrable. It is equally clear that interpenetration is a quality which the parts possess, not as mere objects, but precisely as being (a) wholes in themselves and (b) 'parts' of the same whole. They interpenetrate and are pro tanto inseparable, not because the whole is a formless waste, but because the hole has form, and that form enters into each of them. Can we therefore go further and affirm that the ideal organic relation of the part to the whole is a sort of identity of the one with the other? That, in musical terms, ideal counterpoint is fugue -- where the whole melody is found again in each part? Now, according to Soloviev, this is or ought to be true of human society -- that the whole of which individual men are the 'parts.' Not only man in general, but each individual man 'may become all' (he says), as he lives and learns to do away with that inward boundary which severs him from the rest.

"And again: the ideal 'person, or embodiment of the idea, is only an individualization of the all-oneness, which is indivisibly present in each of its individualizations.' Thus, in the 'all-one-idea' realized, the part is the whole, not by merger, but by the contrary by intensive development of its true individuality or part-ness. Or rather the whole is the part; for, whereas when we think abstractly about being, as in the process of logic and classification, the whole is predicated of the part, so that we say, 'A horse is a quadruped,' in the actual process of being, the order is reversed, and the race or archetype is the species or individual -- because it gives it being. "

---- Owen Barfield, "Form in Art and Society," in The Rediscovery of Meaning and Other Essays (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1977), 221-2.

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