Log24

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Place of the Lion

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:22 PM

For C. S. Lewis, who was born on this date in 1898,
and Natalie Wood, who died on this date in 1981

"He was accustomed to receiving manuscripts from strangers…."
— C. P. Snow on mathematician G. H. Hardy

"Whoever you are— I have always depended on
the kindness of strangers." — A Streetcar Named Desire

From this journal on September 24, 2012

"A single self-transcendence" — Aldous Huxley

From an anonymous author at the website Kill Devil Hill

"This little story… has that climactic moment of 
heightened awareness…. This is a moment where
two individuals become one, empowering them
to transcend the limitations of their own individual
frailty and society. It's an epiphany, an almost
divine spark. It is an experience when one plus one
don't equal two, but something far greater."

Kill Devil Hills also appears in a 1983 film—

"Suppose it were possible to transfer
from one mind to another
the experience of another person."

— Trailer for "Brainstorm" (1983),
the last film of Natalie Wood

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Raiders of the Lost Images

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:28 AM

On the recent film "Justice League" —

From DC Extended Universe Wiki, "Mother Box" —

"However, during World War I, the British rediscovered
mankind's lost Mother Box. They conducted numerous studies
but were unable to date it due to its age. The Box was then
shelved in an archive, up until the night Superman died,
where it was then sent to Doctor Silas Stone, who
recognized it as a perpetual energy matrix. . . ." [Link added.]

The cube shape of the lost Mother Box, also known as the
Change Engine, is shared by the Stone in a novel by Charles Williams,
Many Dimensions . See the Solomon's Cube webpage.

See too the matrix of Claude Lévi-Strauss in posts tagged
Verwandlungslehre .

Some literary background:

Who speaks in primordial images speaks to us
as with a thousand trumpets, he grips and overpowers,
and at the same time he elevates that which he treats
out of the individual and transitory into the sphere of
the eternal. 
— C. G. JUNG

"In the conscious use of primordial images—
the archetypes of thought—
one modern novelist stands out as adept and
grand master: Charles Williams.
In The Place of the Lion  he incarnates Plato’s
celestial archetypes with hair-raising plausibility.
In Many Dimensions  he brings a flock of ordinary
mortals face to face with the stone bearing
the Tetragrammaton, the Divine Name, the sign of Four.
Whether we understand every line of a Williams novel
or not, we feel something deep inside us quicken
as Williams tells the tale.

Here, in The Greater Trumps , he has turned to
one of the prime mysteries of earth . . . ."

— William Lindsay Gresham, Preface (1950) to
Charles Williams's The Greater Trumps  (1932)

For fans of what the recent series Westworld  called "bulk apperception" —

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Days

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:48 AM

For the Dec. 3rd-4th graduate conference 
at the University of Cambridge on
"Occultism, Magic, and the History of Art"—

Four novels by Charles Williams—

IMAGE- Charles Williams novels: Shadows of Ecstasy, The Greater Trumps, Many Dimensions, and The Place of the Lion

See also the life, and Dec. 1st death, of a former Chief Justice of South Africa.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Title

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:26 AM

The title of yesterday's 11:22 PM post was "The Place of the Lion."

This is also the title of a novel by Charles Williams.

See, too, Midsummer Eve's Dream and Midsummer Night 2007.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Salvation for Gopnik

Filed under: General — m759 @ 1:06 AM

Yesterday afternoon's post Universals Revisited linked
(indirectly) to an article in the current New Yorker  on
the Book of Revelation —

"The Big Reveal: Why Does the Bible End That Way?"

The connection in that post between universals and Revelation
may have eluded readers unfamiliar with a novel by
Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion  (London, Gollancz, 1931).

The article's author, Adam Gopnik, appears in the following
Google Book Search, which may or may not help such readers.

Should Gopnik desire further information on Williams and salvation,
he may consult Steps Toward Salvation: An Examination of Coinherence
and Substitution in the Seven Novels of Charles Williams
 ,
by Dennis L. Weeks (American University Studies: Series 4, English
Language and Literature. Vol. 125), XV + 117 pp., Peter Lang Publishing, 1991.

The ninth item in the above search refers to a boxed set
of the seven novels themselves—

.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Objectivity

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:25 PM

From math16.com

Quotations on Realism
and the Problem of Universals:

"It is said that the students of medieval Paris came to blows in the streets over the question of universals. The stakes are high, for at issue is our whole conception of our ability to describe the world truly or falsely, and the objectivity of any opinions we frame to ourselves. It is arguable that this is always the deepest, most profound problem of philosophy. It structures Plato's (realist) reaction to the sophists (nominalists). What is often called 'postmodernism' is really just nominalism, colourfully presented as the doctrine that there is nothing except texts. It is the variety of nominalism represented in many modern humanities, paralysing appeals to reason and truth."
— Simon Blackburn, Think, Oxford University Press, 1999, page 268

"You will all know that in the Middle Ages there were supposed to be various classes of angels…. these hierarchized celsitudes are but the last traces in a less philosophical age of the ideas which Plato taught his disciples existed in the spiritual world."
— Charles Williams, page 31, Chapter Two, "The Eidola and the Angeli," in The Place of the Lion (1933), reprinted in 1991 by Eerdmans Publishing

For Williams's discussion of Divine Universals (i.e., angels), see Chapter Eight of The Place of the Lion.

"People have always longed for truths about the world — not logical truths, for all their utility; or even probable truths, without which daily life would be impossible; but informative, certain truths, the only 'truths' strictly worthy of the name. Such truths I will call 'diamonds'; they are highly desirable but hard to find….The happy metaphor is Morris Kline's in Mathematics in Western Culture (Oxford, 1953), p. 430."
— Richard J. Trudeau, The Non-Euclidean Revolution, Birkhauser Boston, 1987, pages 114 and 117

"A new epistemology is emerging to replace the Diamond Theory of truth. I will call it the 'Story Theory' of truth: There are no diamonds. People make up stories about what they experience. Stories that catch on are called 'true.' The Story Theory of truth is itself a story that is catching on. It is being told and retold, with increasing frequency, by thinkers of many stripes…. My own viewpoint is the Story Theory…. I concluded long ago that each enterprise contains only stories (which the scientists call 'models of reality'). I had started by hunting diamonds; I did find dazzlingly beautiful jewels, but always of human manufacture."
— Richard J. Trudeau, The Non-Euclidean Revolution, Birkhauser Boston, 1987, pages 256 and 259

Trudeau's confusion seems to stem from the nominalism of W. V. Quine, which in turn stems from Quine's appalling ignorance of the nature of geometry. Quine thinks that the geometry of Euclid dealt with "an emphatically empirical subject matter" — "surfaces, curves, and points in real space." Quine says that Euclidean geometry lost "its old status of mathematics with a subject matter" when Einstein established that space itself, as defined by the paths of light, is non-Euclidean. Having totally misunderstood the nature of the subject, Quine concludes that after Einstein, geometry has become "uninterpreted mathematics," which is "devoid not only of empirical content but of all question of truth and falsity." (From Stimulus to Science, Harvard University Press, 1995, page 55)
— S. H. Cullinane, December 12, 2000

The correct statement of the relation between geometry and the physical universe is as follows:

"The contrast between pure and applied mathematics stands out most clearly, perhaps, in geometry. There is the science of pure geometry, in which there are many geometries: projective geometry, Euclidean geometry, non-Euclidean geometry, and so forth. Each of these geometries is a model, a pattern of ideas, and is to be judged by the interest and beauty of its particular pattern. It is a map or picture, the joint product of many hands, a partial and imperfect copy (yet exact so far as it extends) of a section of mathematical reality. But the point which is important to us now is this, that there is one thing at any rate of which pure geometries are not pictures, and that is the spatio-temporal reality of the physical world. It is obvious, surely, that they cannot be, since earthquakes and eclipses are not mathematical concepts."
— G. H. Hardy, section 23, A Mathematician's Apology, Cambridge University Press, 1940

The story of the diamond mine continues
(see Coordinated Steps and Organizing the Mine Workers)— 

From The Search for Invariants (June 20, 2011):

The conclusion of Maja Lovrenov's 
"The Role of Invariance in Cassirer’s Interpretation of the Theory of Relativity"—

"… physical theories prove to be theories of invariants
with regard to certain groups of transformations and
it is exactly the invariance that secures the objectivity
of a physical theory."

— SYNTHESIS PHILOSOPHICA 42 (2/2006), pp. 233–241

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11B/110810-MajaLovrenovBio.jpg

Related material from Sunday's New York Times  travel section—

"Exhibit A is certainly Ljubljana…."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ironic Butterfly

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:07 AM

David Brooks's column today quotes Niebuhr. From the same source—
Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

Chapter 8: The Significance of Irony

Any interpretation of historical patterns and configurations raises the question whether the patterns, which the observer discerns, are "objectively" true or are imposed upon the vast stuff of history by his imagination. History might be likened to the confusion of spots on the cards used by psychiatrists in a Rorschach test. The patient is asked to report what he sees in these spots; and he may claim to find the outlines of an elephant, butterfly or frog. The psychiatrist draws conclusions from these judgments about the state of the patient’s imagination rather than about the actual configuration of spots on the card. Are historical patterns equally subjective?
….
The Biblical view of human nature and destiny moves within the framework of irony with remarkable consistency. Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden because the first pair allowed "the serpent" to insinuate that, if only they would defy the limits which God had set even for his most unique creature, man, they would be like God. All subsequent human actions are infected with a pretentious denial of human limits. But the actions of those who are particularly wise or mighty or righteous fall under special condemnation. The builders of the Tower of Babel are scattered by a confusion of tongues because they sought to build a tower which would reach into the heavens.

Niebuhr's ironic butterfly may be seen in the context of last
Tuesday's post Shining and of last Saturday's noon post True Grid

http://www.log24.com/log/pix11/110114-AlderTilleyColored.gif

The "butterfly" in the above picture is a diagram showing the 12 lines* of the Hesse configuration from True Grid.

It is also a reference to James Hillman's classical image (see Shining) of the psyche, or soul, as a butterfly.

Fanciful, yes, but this is in exact accordance with Hillman's remarks on the soul (as opposed to the spirit— see Tuesday evening's post).

The 12-line butterfly figure may be viewed as related to the discussions of archetypes and universals in Hillman's Re-Visioning Psychology  and in Charles Williams's The Place of the Lion . It is a figure intended here to suggest philosophy, not entertainment.

Niebuhr and Williams, if not the more secular Hillman, might agree that those who value entertainment above all else may look forward to a future in Hell (or, if they are lucky, Purgatory). Perhaps such a future might include a medley of Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly" and Iron Butterfly's "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida."

* Three horizontal, three vertical, two diagonal, and four arc-shaped.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday March 4, 2009

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:07 PM
Cover Art

Cover of 'Angels & Demons,' paperback ISBN-10 0671027360

As religious fictions go,
I prefer…

De Angelis

“Richardson leaned forward and picked up from the table a very old bound book and a very fat exercise book. He again settled himself in his chair, and said, looking firmly at Anthony– ‘This is the De Angelis of Marcellus Victorinus of Bologna, published in the year 1514 at Paris, and dedicated to Leo X.’

‘Is it?’ Anthony said uncertainly.”

— Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion, 1931

Cover by Jim Lamb for 'The Place of the Lion,' Eerdmans 1979 paperback, ISBN-10 0802812228

For more about the artist,
see an entry at the weblog
“Through the Wardrobe”
on Aug. 18, 2008.

Related material:
 previous entry.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday December 12, 2008

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:24 PM
Back to the Garden
of Forking Paths

“Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas– only I don’t exactly know what they are!…. Let’s have a look at the garden first!”

— A passage from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. The “garden” part– but not the “ideas” part– was quoted by Jacques Derrida in Dissemination in the epigraph to Chapter 7, “The Time before First.”

“‘For you… he… we aren’t meaning…’ She was almost stammering, as if she were trying to say several things at once…. Suddenly she gave a little tortured scream. ‘O!’ she cried, ‘O! I can’t keep up! it keeps dividing! There’s too many things to think of!'”

— A passage from Charles Williams’s The Place of the Lion, Chapter 12.

“He was thinking faster than he had ever done, and questions rose out of nothing and followed each other– what was to will? Will was determination to choose– what was choice? How could there be choice, unless there was preference, and if there was preference there was no choice, for it was not possible to choose against that preferring nature which was his being; yet being consisted in choice, for only by taking and doing this and not that could being know itself, could it indeed be; to be then consisted in making an inevitable choice, and all that was left was to know the choice, yet even then was the chosen thing the same as the nature that chose, and if not… So swiftly the questions followed each other that he seemed to be standing in flashing coils of subtlety, an infinite ring of vivid intellect and more than intellect, for these questions were not of the mind alone but absorbed into themselves physical passion and twined through all his nature on an unceasing and serpentine journey.”

— A passage from The Place of the Lion, Chapter 10.

Do you like apples?

Good Will Hunting

Monday, August 6, 2007

Monday August 6, 2007

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 AM
The Divine Universals

"The tigers of wrath          
 are wiser than                
 the horses of instruction."

— William Blake,
Proverbs of Hell

From Shining Forth:

  The Place of the Lion, by Charles Williams, 1931, Chapter Eight:

"Besides, if this fellow were right, what harm would the Divine Universals do us? I mean, aren't the angels supposed to be rather gentle and helpful and all that?"

"You're doing what Marcellus warned you against… judging them by English pictures. All nightgowns and body and a kind of flacculent sweetness. As in cemeteries, with broken bits of marble. These are Angels– not a bit the same thing. These are the principles of the tiger and the volcano and the flaming suns of space."

 Under the Volcano, Chapter Two:

"But if you look at that sunlight there, then perhaps you'll get the answer, see, look at the way it falls through the window: what beauty can compare to that of a cantina in the early morning? Your volcanoes outside? Your stars– Ras Algethi? Antares raging south southeast? Forgive me, no." 

 A Spanish-English dictionary:

lucero m.
morning or evening star:
any bright star….
hole in a window panel
     for the admission of light….

Look at the way it
falls through the window….

— Malcolm Lowry

How art thou fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
— Isaiah 14:12

For more on Spanish
and the evening star,
see Plato, Pegasus, and
the Evening Star.

 Symmetry axes
of the square:

Symmetry axes of the square

(See Damnation Morning.)

From the cover of the
 Martin Cruz Smith novel
Stallion Gate:

Atom on cover of Stallion

"That old Jew
gave me this here."

Dialogue from the
Robert Stone novel
A Flag for Sunrise.

Related material:

A Mass for Lucero,

Log24, Sept. 13, 2006

Mathematics, Religion, Art

— and this morning's online
New York Times obituaries:

Cardinal Lustiger of Paris and jazz pianist Sal Mosca, New York Times obituaries on August 6, 2007

The above image contains summary obituaries for Cardinal Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, 1981-2005, and for Sal Mosca, jazz pianist and teacher. In memory of the former, see all of the remarks preceding the image above. In memory of the latter, the remarks of a character in Martin Cruz Smith's Stallion Gate on jazz piano may have some relevance:

"I hate arguments. I'm a coward. Arguments are full of words, and each person is sure he's the only one who knows what the words mean. Each word is a basket of eels, as far as I'm concerned. Everybody gets to grab just one eel and that's his interpretation and he'll fight to the death for it…. Which is why I love music. You hit a C and it's a C and that's all it is. Like speaking clearly for the first time. Like being intelligent. Like understanding. A Mozart or an Art Tatum sits at the piano and picks out the undeniable truth."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tuesday July 3, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:29 PM
The Ignorance
of Stanley Fish

(continued from
June 18, 2002)

The “ignorance” referred to
is Fish’s ignorance of the
philosophical background
of the words
“particular” and “universal.”

Postmodern Warfare:
The Ignorance of Our
Warrior Intellectuals,”
by Stanley Fish,
Harper’s Magazine,
July 2002, contains
the following passages:

“The deepest strain in a religion is the particular and particularistic doctrine it asserts at its heart, in the company of such pronouncements as ‘Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.’ Take the deepest strain of religion away… and what remains are the surface pieties– abstractions without substantive bite– to which everyone will assent because they are empty, insipid, and safe. It is this same preference for the vacuously general over the disturbingly particular that informs the attacks on college and university professors who spoke out in ways that led them to be branded as outcasts by those who were patrolling and monitoring the narrow boundaries of acceptable speech. Here one must be careful, for there are fools and knaves on all sides.”

“Although it may not at first be obvious, the substitution for real religions of a religion drained of particulars is of a piece with the desire to exorcise postmodernism.”

“What must be protected, then, is the general, the possibility of making pronouncements from a perspective at once detached from and superior to the sectarian perspectives of particular national interests, ethnic concerns, and religious obligations; and the threat to the general is posed by postmodernism and strong religiosity alike, postmodernism because its critique of master narratives deprives us of a mechanism for determining which of two or more fiercely held beliefs is true (which is not to deny the category of true belief, just the possibility of identifying it uncontroversially), strong religiosity because it insists on its own norms and refuses correction from the outside. The antidote to both is the separation of the private from the public, the establishing of a public sphere to which all could have recourse and to the judgments of which all, who are not criminal or insane, would assent. The point of the public sphere is obvious: it is supposed to be the location of those standards and measures that belong to no one but apply to everyone. It is to be the location of the universal. The problem is not that there is no universal–the universal, the absolutely true, exists, and I know what it is. The problem is that you know, too, and that we know different things, which puts us right back where we were a few sentences ago, armed with universal judgments that are irreconcilable, all dressed up and nowhere to go for an authoritative adjudication.

What to do? Well, you do the only thing you can do, the only honest thing: you assert that your universal is the true one, even though your adversaries clearly do not accept it, and you do not attribute their recalcitrance to insanity or mere criminality–the desired public categories of condemnation–but to the fact, regrettable as it may be, that they are in the grip of a set of beliefs that is false. And there you have to leave it, because the next step, the step of proving the falseness of their beliefs to everyone, including those in their grip, is not a step available to us as finite situated human beings. We have to live with the knowledge of two things: that we are absolutely right and that there is no generally accepted measure by which our rightness can be independently validated. That’s just the way it is, and we should just get on with it, acting in accordance with our true beliefs (what else could we do?) without expecting that some God will descend, like the duck in the old Groucho Marx TV show, and tell us that we have uttered the true and secret word.”

From the public spheres
of the Pennsylvania Lottery:

PA Lottery logo

PA Lottery July 3, 2007: Mid-day 105, Evening 268

105 —

Log24 on 1/05:

“‘From your lips
to God’s ears,’
 goes the old
Yiddish wish.

 The writer, by contrast,
tries to read God’s lips
and pass along
the words….”

— Richard Powers   

268 —

This is a page number
that appears, notably,
in my June 2002
journal entry on Fish
,
and again in an entry,
The Transcendent Signified,”
dated July 26, 2003,
that argues against
Fish’s school, postmodernism,
 and in favor of what the pomos
call “logocentrism.”

Page 268
 
of Simon Blackburn’s Think
(Oxford Univ. Press, 1999):

“It is said that the students of medieval Paris came to blows in the streets over the question of universals. The stakes are high, for at issue is our whole conception of our ability to describe the world truly or falsely, and the objectivity of any opinions we frame to ourselves. It is arguable that this is always the deepest, most profound problem of philosophy. It structures Plato’s (realist) reaction to the sophists (nominalists). What is often called ‘postmodernism’ is really just nominalism, colourfully presented as the doctrine that there is nothing except texts. It is the variety of nominalism represented in many modern humanities, paralysing appeals to reason and truth.”

Fish may, if he wishes,
regard the particular
page number 268 as
delivered– five years late,
but such is philosophy–
by Groucho’s
winged messenger
in response to
Fish’s utterance of the
  “true and secret word”–
namely, “universal.”

When not arguing politics,
Fish, though from
a Jewish background, is
 said to be a Milton scholar.
Let us therefore hope he
is by now, or comes to be,
aware of the Christian
approach to universals–
an approach true to the
philosophical background
sketched in 1999 by
Blackburn and made
particular in a 1931 novel
 by Charles Williams,
The Place of the Lion.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Monday June 26, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:29 AM

A Little Extra Reading

In memory of
Mary Martin McLaughlin,
a scholar of Heloise and Abelard.
McLaughlin died on June 8, 2006.

"Following the parade, a speech is given by Charles Williams, based on his book The Place of the Lion. Williams explains the true meaning of the word 'realism' in both philosophy and theology. His guard of honor, bayonets gleaming, is led by William of Ockham."

Midsummer Eve's Dream

A review by John D. Burlinson of Charles Williams's novel The Place of the Lion:

"… a little extra reading regarding Abelard's take on 'universals' might add a little extra spice– since Abelard is the subject of the heroine's … doctoral dissertation. I'd suggest the article 'The Medieval Problem of Universals' in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy."

Michael L. Czapkay, a student of philosophical theology at Oxford:

"The development of logic in the schools and universities of western Europe between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries constituted a significant contribution to the history of philosophy. But no less significant was the influence of this development of logic on medieval theology. It provided the necessary conceptual apparatus for the systematization of theology. Abelard, Ockham, and Thomas Aquinas are paradigm cases of the extent to which logic played an active role in the systematic formulation of Christian theology. In fact, at certain points, for instance in modal logic, logical concepts were intimately related to theological problems, such as God's knowledge of future contingent truths."

The Medieval Problem of Universals, by Fordham's Gyula Klima, 2004:

"… for Abelard, a status is an object of the divine mind, whereby God preconceives the state of his creation from eternity."

Status Symbol

(based on Weyl's Symmetry):

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060604-Roots.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

"… for then we would know

the mind of God"
Stephen Hawking, 1988

For further details,
click on the picture.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Friday June 2, 2006

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:23 PM
'Ursprache' beats 'weltschmerz'
to win American spelling bee

 
Weltschmerz

and the
Ursprache

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060602-Weltschmerz.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

From eudaemonist.com,
a quotation from
Paul Zanker's
The Mask of Socrates:

"Zanker describes the photograph [above] as 'Walter Benjamin looking out at the viewer, his head propped on his hand, his face filled with loneliness and weltschmerz.'"

Benjamin was a Jewish Marxist.  For a Jewish perspective on spelling, see Log24, Nov. 11, 2005.  For a leftist perspective on Benjamin and last night's crucial spelling word "Ursprache," see "Ground Zero, an American Origin," by Mary Caputi (Poroi, 2, 1, August 2003):

The Baroque sensibility of ruin emphasizes a meaninglessness that too many possibilities deliver.  Aimlessness and malaise make life into exhausting toil in the absence of  coherence.  In overdetermined realities, meaning appears arbitrary and erratic, as the world's connection to God seems lost or withheld.  At the extreme, everyday life is as full of noise and commotion as it is devoid of intrinsic meaning.  Connections among people wither with the onset of overabundance and despair.  Recognition of this condition induces acedia, a weariness of life.  Here the malaise of modernity and ruins ties to Benjamin's interest in Trauerspiel, German tragic drama, and the tragedies of Shakespeare.  All respond to a plague of lost spiritual connections and a meaningless earthly existence where incessant toil and trouble — "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" — contribute to a chronic, wearing sense of pain.

Benjamin's interest in this form of melancholia, from suffering a sort of spiritual exile, is evident in his 1916 essay "On Language as Such and On the Language of Man."  In this text, he explains that the Ursprache, our "original" language, is "blissful" precisely because it lacks the arbitrariness that results from overdetermination.  Ur-speech is Adamic language, the linguistic power that God gives to Adam to confer identity on the material world.  It contains no arbitrary component, but reveals the unity between God's divine plan and the world as it exists.  Before ruins and fragments, there is no overdetermination to induce the melancholy of acedia.  Instead the originary language implies a unity of transcendent and immanent realms.  "With the creative omnipotence of language it begins, and at the end of language, as it were, assimilates the created, names it.  Language is therefore both the creative and the finished creation; it is word and nature."6

This blissful state between the world and its creator as expressed in Adamic language has its end, of course, in the Fall.  The "ignorance" introduced into the world that ultimately drives our melancholic state of acedia has its inception with the Fall away from the edenic union that joins God's plan to the immediacy of the material world.  What ensues, says Benjamin, is an overabundance of conventional languages, a prattle of meanings now localized hence arbitrary.  A former connection to a defining origin has been lost; and an overdetermined, plethoric state of melancholia forms.  Over-determination stems from over-naming.  "Things have no proper names except in God.  . . . In the language of men, however, they are overnamed."  Overnaming becomes "the linguistic being of melancholy."7

      6 Walter Benjamin, "On Language as Such and On the Languages of Man," Edmund Jephcott, tr., Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume I:  1913-1926, Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings, eds., Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1997, p. 68.  
      7 Ibid., p. 73.

For a Christian perspective on Adamic language, see Charles Williams's The Place of the Lion.

 

See also the previous entry:

Float like a butterfly,
sting like a

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The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix06A/060602-Winner.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

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