Sunday, September 18, 2011


Thinking about what motivates us (desire, moral beliefs, etc.) led me to think of a more or less restless sea inside each person, a bit like the surface of the planet Solaris. We can call the whole sea "desire" if we want to, was my thought, but why would we want to do that, when there is so much we want to be able to say about different kinds of motivation?

I've also been wondering whether the kestrel in Kes is a reference to Gerard Manley Hopkins' windhover. And looking into that led me to discover Hopkins' idea of inscape. According to The Victorian Web, Hopkins wrote: "Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:/ . . myself it speaks and spells,/ Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came." Tolkein expressed Hopkins' idea by saying that, "Each being in the universe 'selves,' that is, enacts its identity." This is not exactly "The Nothing noths," but it isn't a million miles away from "The World worlds," it seems to me.  

Apparently the idea comes from Duns Scotus, and I don't have much to say except that I like it. Here's Hopkins on a tree:
There is one notable dead tree . . . the inscape markedly holding its most simple and beautiful oneness up from the ground through a graceful swerve below (I think) the spring of the branches up to the tops of the timber. I saw the inscape freshly, as if my mind were still growing, though with a companion the eye and the ear are for the most part shut and instress cannot come.
This is quite different from Sartre. If Anthony Rudd ever wanted to write about more people looking at a tree he might do well to include Hopkins.

The Windhover
To Christ Our Lord
I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
      dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
      Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
      As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
      Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing. 
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
      Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier! 

      No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
      Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

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