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Friday, May 13, 2011

Aurora's Truth

On the Conway, North Wales (1897) by William Mellor
In Book VII Carrington writes to Aurora and praises her most recent book.  Aurora herself is pleased with the book, acknowledging that the work contains an element of truth of which she is proud and which represents a transformation in her thinking.  She recognizes that in a perfect cosmos the world is twofold, having natural and spiritual components.  Man, likewise twofold in nature, must tap into both components in order to develop true vision.  Aurora says that man

"fixes still
The type with mortal vision, to pierce through,
With eyes immortal, to the antetype
Some call the ideal,–better called the real" (780-3).

When man uses both the natural and spiritual in his observation of the world, he will begin to see deeper.  This "immortal vision" is especially important to the artist, whose art is incomplete without twofold vision.  With such vision an artist can feel at one with nature:

Ay, Carrington
Is glad of such a creed! an artist must,
Who paints a tree, a leaf, a common stone
With just his hand, and finds it suddenly
A-piece with and conterminous to his soul (794-8).

A twofold artist can look at inanimate objects ("cup column or candlestick," 805) and see a twofold nature:  "Nothing in the world comes single to him," (804).  Furthermore, a twofold artist can recognize the significance of everything in nature.

'There's nothing great
Nor small,' has said a poet of our day,
(Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin's bell)
And truly, I reiterate, . . nothing's small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim:
And,–glancing on my own thin, veined wrist,–
In such a little tremour of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct (809-21).

Everything, great and small, has significance and deserve acknowledgement.  Artists can open the eyes of the public with their works and help other see what they, by their twofold nature, have seen.  Ultimately, the goal of art is to change the world by opening eyes.

Thus is Art
Self-magnified in magnifying a truth
Which, fully recognized, would change the world
And shift its morals. If a man could feel,
Not one day, in the artist's ecstasy,
But every day, feast, fast, or working-day,
The spiritual significance burn through
The hieroglyphic of material shows,
Henceforward he would paint the globe with wings,
And reverence fish and fowl, the bull, the tree,
And even his very body as a man,–
Which now he counts so vile (854-65).

An artist's greatest achievement is the betterment of mankind.  Aurora believes artists should lead the way and help mankind open its spiritual eyes to see nature's secrets.

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