Log24

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Structure vs. Character

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

“… Reality is not a given whole. An understanding of this,
a respect for the contingent, is essential to imagination
as opposed to fantasy. Our sense of form, which is an
aspect of our desire for consolation, can be a danger to
our sense of reality as a rich receding background.
Against the consolations of form, the clean crystalline
work, the simplified fantasy-myth, we must pit the
destructive power of the now so unfashionable naturalistic
idea of character.

Real people are destructive of myth, contingency is
destructive of fantasy and opens the way for imagination.
Think of the Russians, those great masters of the contingent.
Too much contingency of course may turn art into journalism.
But since reality is incomplete, art must not be too much
afraid of incompleteness. Literature must always represent a
battle between real people and images; and what it requires
now is a much stronger and more complex conception of the
former.”

Iris Murdoch, January 1961, “Against Dryness

See also the recent posts Structure and Character.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wednesday September 19, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:00 AM
Einstein, God, and
the Consolation of Form

“The kind of thing that would make Einstein gag”

Peter Woit, Sept. 18, 2007

    “– …He did some equations that would make God cry for the sheer beauty of them. Take a look at this…. The sonofabitch set out equations that fit the data. Nobody believes they mean anything. Shit, when I back off, neither do I. But now and then, just once in a while…
     — He joined physical and mental events. In a unified mathematical field.
     — Yeah, that’s what I think he did. But the bastards in this department… bunch of goddamned positivists. Proof doesn’t mean a damned thing to them. Logical rigor, beauty, that damned perfection of something that works straight out, upside down, or sideways– they don’t give a damn.”

— “Nothing Succeeds,” in The Southern Reporter: Stories of John William Corrington, LSU Press, 1981

“The search for images of order and the loss of them constitute the meaning of The Southern Reporter.”

Louisiana State University Press

“By equating reality with the metaphysical abstraction ‘contingency’ and explaining his paradigm by reference to simple images of order, Kermode [but see note below] defines the realist novel not as one which attempts to get to grips with society or human nature, but one which, in providing the consolation of form,* makes the occasional concession to contingency….”

Richard Webster on Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending

We are here in the
Church of St. Frank.

Marjorie Garber,
Harvard University

* “The consolations of form” is a phrase Kermode quoted from Iris Murdoch. Webster does not mention Murdoch. Others have quoted Murdoch’s memorable phrase, which comes from her essay “Against Dryness: A Polemical Sketch,” Encounter, No. 88, January 1961, pp. 16-20. The essay was reprinted in a Penguin paperback collection of Murdoch’s work, Existentialists and Mystics. It was also reprinted in The Novel Today, ed. Malcolm Bradbury (Manchester, Manchester U. Press, 1977); in Revisions, ed. S. Hauerwas and A. MacIntyre (Notre Dame, U. of Notre Dame Press, 1981); and in Iris Murdoch, ed. H. Bloom (New York, Chelsea House, 1986).

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