TENTATIVE CONCLUSION


The present book has dealt with a variety of critical techniques and approaches, most of them already used in contemporary scholarship. We have tried to show where the archetypal or mythical critic, the aesthetic form critic, the historical critic, the medieval four-level critic, the text-and-texture critic, belong in a comprehensive view of criticism. Whether the comprehensive view is right or not, I hope some sense has been communicated of what folly it would be to try to exclude any of these groups from criticism. As was said at the beginning, the present book is not designed to suggest a new program for critics, but a new perspective on their existing programs, which in themselves are valid enough. The book attacks no methods of criticism, once that subject has been defined: what it attacks are the barriers between the methods. These barriers tend to make a critic confine himself to a single method of criticism, which is unnecessary, and they tend to make him establish his primary contacts, not with other critics, but with subjects outside criticism. Hence the number of essays, not large but too large, in mythical criticism that read like bad comparative religion, in rhetorical criticism that read like bad semantics, in aesthetic criticism that read like bad metaphysics, and so on.

In this process of breaking down barriers I think archetypal criticism has a central role, and I have given it a prominent place. One element in our cultural tradition which is usually regarded as fantastic nonsense is the allegorical explanations of myths which bulk so large in medieval and Renaissance criticism and continue sporadically (e.g., Ruskin's Queen of the Air) to our own time. The allegorization of myth is hampered by the assumption that the explanation "is" what the myth "means." A myth being a centripetal structure of meaning, it can be made to mean an indefinite number of things, and it is more fruitful to study what in fact myths have been made to mean.

The term myth may have, and obviously does have, different meanings in different subjects. These meanings are doubtless reconcilable in the long run, but the task of reconciling them lies in the future. In literary criticism myth means ultimately mythos, a structural organizing principle of literary form. Commentary, we remember, is allegorization, and any great work of literature may [341] carry an infinite amount of commentary. This fact often depresses the critic and makes him feel that everything to be said about Hamlet, for instance, must already have been said many times. To what has occurred to the learned and astute minds of A and B in reading Hamlet is added what occurs to the learned and astute minds of C, D, E, and so on, until out of sheer self-preservation most of it is left unread, or (much the same thing culturally) is assigned to specialists. Commentary which has no sense of the archetypal shape of literature as a whole, then, continues the tradition of allegorized myth, and inherits its characteristics of brilliance, ingenuity, and futility.

The only cure for this situation is the supplementing of allegorical with archetypal criticism. Things become more hopeful as soon as there is a feeling, however dim, that criticism has an end in the structure of literature as a total form, as well as a beginning in the text studied. It is not sufficient to use the text as a check on commentary, like a string tied to a kite, for one may develop a primary body of commentary around the obvious meaning, then a secondary body about the unconscious meaning, then a third body around the conventions and external relations of the poem, and so on indefinitely. This practice is not confined to modern critics, for the in terpretation of Virgil's Fourth Eclogue as Messianic also assumed that Virgil was "unconsciously" prophesying the Messiah. But the poet unconsciously meant the whole corpus of his possible commentary, and it is simpler merely to say that Virgil and Isaiah use the same type of imagery dealing with the myth of the hero's birth, and that because of this similarity the Nativity Ode, for instance, is able to use both. This procedure helps to distribute the commentary, and prevents each poem from becoming a separate center of isolated scholarship.

The theory of criticism embraces the "humanities," in their educational aspect, according to our principle that it is criticism and not literature which is directly taught and learned. Hence a sense of bewilderment about the theory of criticism is readily projected as a concern over the "fate" or "plight" of the humanities. The breaking down of barriers within criticism would therefore have the long-run effect of making critics more aware of the external relations of criticism as a whole with other disciplines. This last subject is one on which I make a few final comments only be cause it seems to me that it would be an excess of prudence, in fact [342] hardly honest, to shrink altogether from the larger issues of the questions here discussed.

The production of art is usually described in the "creative" metaphors of organic life. There is a curious tendency in human life to imitate some of the aspects of "lower" forms of existence, like the rituals which imitate the subtle synchronizations with the rhythms of the turning year that vegetable life makes. It is not in itself unreasonable that human culture would unconsciously assume the rhythms of an organism. Artists tend to imitate their predecessors in a slightly more sophisticated way, thus producing a tradition of cultural aging which goes on until some large change interrupts the process and starts it over again. Hence the containing form of historical criticism may well be some quasi-organic rhythm of cultural aging, such as is postulated in one form or another by most of the philosophical historians of our time, most explicitly by Spengler. The conception of our own time as a "late" phase of a "Western" culture of which the Middle Ages was the youth, and as a phase resembling the Roman phase of an earlier Classical culture, is in practice taken for granted by everyone today, and seems to be one of the inevitable categories of the contemporary outlook. The progression of modes traced in the first essay seems to have some analogy to this view of cultural history.

Any such view, if adopted, could be decorated metaphysically to suit the tenant: but there is no reason why it should be "fatalistic," unless it is fatalism to say that one gets older every year, nor why it should include any theory of inevitable cycles in history or a pre-ordained future. Certainly it should not be perverted into a basis for rhetorical value-judgements. We get these, for instance, in the sentimental view of medieval culture which sees it as a gigantic synthesis followed by a progressive disintegration which has subdivided and specialized until it has finally landed us all in the Pretty Pass which we are in today. A movement which will restore some thing of the unity of medieval culture to the modern world, or some other qualities of it, has been hailed in one form or other in nearly every generation since the middle of the eighteenth century. Subsidiary forms of the same view are present in the people who cannot listen with pleasure to any music later than Mozart, or whatever terminal they choose; in the Marxists who speak of the decadence of capitalist culture; in the alarmists who speak of a [343] return to a new Dark Ages, and so on. All these have a more or less muddled version of some quasi-organic theory of history as their basis.

It is a commonplace of criticism that art does not evolve or improve: it produces the classic or model. One can still buy books narrating the "development" of painting from the Stone Age to Picasso, but they show no development, only a series of mutations in skill, Picasso being on much the same level as his Magdalenian ancestors. Every once in a while we experience in the arts a feeling of definitive revelation. This, we may feel after a Palestrina motet or a Mozart divertimento, is the voice of music itself: this is the kind of thing that music was invented to say. Here is a simplicity which makes us realize that the simple is the opposite of the commonplace, a feeling that the boundaries of possible expression in the art have been reached for all time. This feeling belongs to direct experience, not to criticism, but it suggests the critical principle that the profoundest experiences possible to obtain in the arts are available in the art already produced.

What does improve in the arts is the comprehension of them, and the refining of society which results from it. It is the consumer, not the producer, who benefits by culture, the consumer who becomes humanized and liberally educated. There is no reason why a great poet should be a wise and good man, or even a tolerable human being, but there is every reason why his reader should be improved in his humanity as a result of reading him. Hence while the production of culture may be, like ritual, a half-involuntary imitation of organic rhythms or processes, the response to culture is, like myth, a revolutionary act of consciousness. The contemporary development of the technical ability to study the arts, represented by reproductions of painting, the recording of music, and modern libraries, forms part of a cultural revolution which makes the humanities quite as pregnant with new developments as the sciences. For the revolution is not simply in technology, but in spiritual productive power. The humanistic tradition itself arose, in its modern form, with the invention of the printing press, the immediate effect of which was not to stimulate new culture so much as to codify the heritage of the past.

Nearly every work of art in the past had a social function in its own time, a function which was often not primarily an aesthetic function at all. The whole conception of "works of art" as a [344] classification for all pictures, statues, poems, and musical compositions is a relatively modern one. We can see an aesthetic impulse at work in Peruvian textiles, palaeolithic drawings, Scythian horse ornaments, or Kwakiutl masks, but in doing so we make a sophisticated abstraction which may well have been outside the mental habits of the people who produced them. Thus the question of whether a thing "is" a work of art or not is one which cannot be settled by appealing to something in the nature of the thing itself. It is convention, social acceptance, and the work of criticism in the broadest sense that determines where it belongs. It may have been originally made for use rather than pleasure, and so fall outside the general Aristotelian conception of art, but if it now exists for our pleasure it is what we call art.

When anything is reclassified in this way, it loses much of its original function. Even the most fanatical historical critic is bound to see Shakespeare and Homer as writers whom we admire for reasons that would have been largely unintelligible to them, to say nothing of their societies. But we can hardly be satisfied with an approach to works of art which simply strips from them their original function. One of the tasks of criticism is that of the recovery of function, not of course the restoration of an original function, which is out of the question, but the recreation of function in a new context.

Kierkegaard has written a fascinating little book called Repetition, in which he proposes to use this term to replace the more traditional Platonic term anamnesis or recollection. By it he apparently means, not the simple repeating of an experience, but the recreating of it which redeems or awakens it to life, the end of the process, he says, being the apocalyptic promise: "Behold, I make all things new." The preoccupation of the humanities with the past is sometimes made a reproach against them by those who forget that we face the past: it may be shadowy, but it is all that is there. Plato draws a gloomy picture of man staring at the flickering shapes made on the wall of the objective world by a fire behind us like the sun. But the analogy breaks down when the shadows are those of the past, for the only light we can see them by is the Promethean fire within us. The substance of these shadows can only be in ourselves, and the goal of historical criticism, as our metaphors about it often indicate, is a kind of self-resurrection, the vision of a valley of dry bones that takes on the flesh and blood of our own vision. [345] The culture of the past is not only the memory of mankind, but our own buried life, and study of it leads to a recognition scene, a discovery in which we see, not our past lives, but the total cultural form of our present life. It is not only the poet but his reader who is subject to the obligation to "make it new."

Without this sense of "repetition," historical criticism tends to remove the products of culture from our own sphere of interest. It must be counterpoised, as it is in all genuine historical critics, by a sense of the contemporary relevance of past art. But it is natural that this sense of contemporary relevance should often be confined to a specific issue in the present; that it should be thought of, not as expanding the perspective of present life, but as supporting a cause or thesis in the present.

If we cut through history at any point, including our own, and study a cross-section of it, we get a class structure. Culture may be employed by a social or intellectual class to increase its prestige; and in general, moral censors, selectors of great traditions, apologists of religious or political causes, aesthetes, radicals, codifiers of great books, and the like, are expressions of such class tensions. We soon realize, in studying their pronouncements, that the only really consistent moral criticism of this type would be the kind which is harnessed to an all-round revolutionary philosophy of society, such as we find not only in Marxism but in Nietzsche and in some of the rationalizations of oligarchic values in nineteenth-century Britain and twentieth-century America. In all these culture is treated as a human productive power which in the past has been, like other productive powers, exploited by other ruling classes and is now to be revalued in terms of a better society. But as this ideal society exists only in the future, the present valuation of culture is in terms of its interim revolutionary effectiveness.

This revolutionary way of looking at culture is also as old as Plato, the selected tradition being always some version of the argument about poets in the Republic. As soon as we make culture a definite image of a future and perhaps attainable society, we start selecting and purging a tradition, and all the artists who don't fit (an increasing number as the process goes on) have to be thrown out. So, just as historical criticism uncorrected relates culture only to the past, ethical criticism uncorrected relates culture only to the future, to the ideal society which may eventually come if we take sufficient pains to guard the educating of our youth. For all such [346] lines of thought end in indoctrinating the next generation, just as the moral version of Victorian progressivism led to Podsnap and the blushing cheeks of the young person.

The body of work done in society, or civilization, both maintains and undermines the class structure of that society. The social energy which maintains the class structure produces perverted culture in its three chief forms: mere upper-class culture, or ostentation, mere middle-class culture, or vulgarity, and mere lower-class culture, or squalor. These three classes are called by Matthew Arnold respectively, in so far as they are classes, the barbarians, the philistines, and the populace. Revolutionary action, of whatever kind, leads to the dictatorship of one class, and the record of history seems clear that there is no quicker way of destroying the benefits of culture. If we attach our vision of culture to the conception of ruler-morality, we get the culture of barbarians; if we attach it to the conception of a proletariat, we get the culture of the populace; if we attach it to any kind of bourgeois Utopia, we get the culture of philistinism.

Whatever one thinks of dialectic materialism as a philosophy, it is certainly true that when men behave or pretend to behave like material bodies they do behave dialectically. If England goes to war with France, all the weaknesses in the English case and all the virtues in the French case are ignored in England; not only is the traitor the lowest of criminals, but it is indignantly denied that any traitor can be honestly motivated. In war, the physical or idolatrous substitute for the real dialectic of the spirit, one lives by half-truths. The same principle applies to the verbal or mimic wars made out of "points of view," which are usually the ghosts of some kind of social conflict.

It seems better to try to get clear of all such conflicts, attaching ourselves to Arnold's other axiom that "culture seeks to do away with classes." The ethical purpose of a liberal education is to liberate, which can only mean to make one capable of conceiving society as free, classless, and urbane. No such society exists, which is one reason why a liberal education must be deeply concerned with works of imagination. The imaginative element in works of art, again, lifts them clear of the bondage of history. Anything that emerges from the total experience of criticism to form part of a liberal education becomes, by virtue of that fact, part of the emancipated and humane community of culture, whatever its original reference. Thus liberal education liberates the works of culture [347] themselves as well as the mind they educate. The corruption out of which human art has been constructed will always remain in the art, but the imaginative quality of the art preserves it in its corruption, like the corpse of a saint. No discussion of beauty can confine itself to the formal relations of the isolated work of art; it must consider, too, the participation of the work of art in the vision of the goal of social effort, the idea of complete and classless civilization. This idea of complete civilization is also the implicit moral standard to which ethical criticism always refers, something very different from any system of morals.

The idea of the free society implied in culture can never be formulated, much less established as a society. Culture is a present social ideal which we educate and free ourselves by trying to attain, and never do attain. It teaches, with the endless patience of the book which always presents the same words whenever we open it, but it is not possessed, for the experiences and meanings attached to the words are always new. No society can plan for its own culture unless it restricts the output of culture to socially predictable standards. The goal of ethical criticism is transvaluation, the ability to look at contemporary social values with the detachment of one who is able to compare them in some degree with the infinite vision of possibilities presented by culture. One who possesses such a standard of transvaluation is in a state of intellectual freedom. One who does not possess it is a creature of whatever social values get to him first: he has only the compulsions of habit, indoctrination, and prejudice. The current tendency to insist that man cannot be a spectator of his own life seems to me to be one of those lethal half-truths that arise in response to some kind of social malaise. Most ethical action is a mechanical reflex of habit: to get any principle of freedom in it we need some kind of theory of action, theory in the sense of theoria, a withdrawn or detached vision of the means and end of action which does not paralyze action, but makes it purposeful by enlightening its aims.

The two great classics of the theory of liberty in the modern world, Areopagitica and Mill's Essay on Liberty, deal of course with liberty in different contexts. For Milton culture is potential prophecy, set in judgement over against the kind of social acceptance of sanctioned error represented by the censor, whereas for Mill culture is a social critique. But allowing for this, both essays insist that liberty can begin only with an immediate and present guarantee [348] of the autonomy of culture. In Mill unlimited liberty of thought and discussion is not only the best way of developing liberty of action, but the best way of controlling it, because it is the only means of preventing impulsive or stampeded action. In Milton liberty of conscience is not the freedom to listen to the compulsions acquired in childhood which make up the greater part of what we ordinarily call conscience, but the freedom to listen to the Word of God, which, as it is a message from an infinite mind to a finite one, can never be definitively understood by the latter.

At this point the theory of criticism seems ready to settle quietly into the larger humanistic principle that the freedom of man is inseparably bound up with his acceptance of his cultural heritage. The writer believes this, of course, and so probably do most of those who will read his book; but there may still be a residue from the parasite fallacy of criticism, which all our arguments may not yet have dispelled. This is the feeling that as criticism is based on cultural products, the more important the critic claims his work to be, the more he tends to magnify the normal pleasure that a cultivated person finds in the arts into something awful and portentous, replacing culture with aesthetic superstition, literature with bardolatry, of however sophisticated a kind.

This would be true if in fact the aesthetic or contemplative aspect of art were the final resting place for either art or criticism. Here again it is archetypal criticism that comes to our aid. We tried to show in the second essay that the moment we go from the individual work of art to the sense of the total form of the art, the art becomes no longer an object of aesthetic contemplation but an ethical instrument, participating in the work of civilization. In this shift to the ethical, criticism as well as poetry is involved, though some of the ways in which it is involved are not commonly recognized as aspects of criticism. It is obvious, for instance, that one major source of order in society is an established pattern of words. In religion this may be a scripture, a liturgy, or a creed; in politics it may be a written constitution or a set of ideological directives like the pamphlets of Lenin in present-day Russia. Such verbal patterns may remain fixed for centuries: the meanings attached to them will change out of all recognition in that time, but the feeling that the verbal structure must remain unchanged, and the consequent necessity of reinterpreting it to suit the changes of history, bring the operations of criticism into the center of society. [349]

But we then had to complete our argument by removing all external goals from literature, thus postulating a self-contained literary universe. Perhaps in doing so we merely restored the aesthetic view on a gigantic scale, substituting Poetry for a mass of poems, aesthetic mysticism for aesthetic empiricism. The argument of our last essay, however, led to the principle that all structures in words are partly rhetorical, and hence literary, and that the notion of a scientific or philosophical verbal structure free of rhetorical elements is an illusion. If so, then our literary universe has expanded into a verbal universe, and no aesthetic principle of self-containment will work.

I am not wholly unaware that at every step of this argument there are extremely complicated philosophical problems which I am incompetent to solve as such. I am aware also, however, of something else. That something else is the confused swirl of new intellectual activities today associated with such words as communication, symbolism, semantics, linguistics, metalinguistics, pragmatics, cybernetics, and the ideas generated by and around Cassirer, Korzybsky, and dozens of others in fields as remote (as they seemed until re cently) as prehistory and mathematics, logic and engineering, sociology and physics. Many of these movements were instigated by a desire to free the modern mind from the tyranny of emotional rhetoric, from the advertising and propaganda that try to pervert thought by a misuse of irony into conditioned reflex. Many of them have also moved in the direction of conceptual rhetoric, reducing the content of many arguments to their ambiguous or diagrammatic structures. My knowledge of most of the books dealing with this new material is largely confined, like Moses' knowledge of God in the mount, to gazing at their spines, but it is clear to me that literary criticism has a central place in all this activity, and from the point of view of literary criticism I offer an admittedly very speculative suggestion.

We have several times hinted at an analogy between literature and mathematics. Mathematics appears to begin in the counting and measuring of objects, as a numerical commentary on the outside world. But the mathematician does not think of his subject so: for him it is an autonomous language, and there is a point at which it becomes in a measure independent of that common field of experience which we call the objective world, or nature, or existence, or reality, according to our mood. Many of its terms, such [350] as irrational numbers, have no direct connection with the common field of experience, but depend for their meaning solely on the interrelations of the subject itself. Irrational numbers in mathematics may be compared to prepositions in verbal languages, the centripetal character of which we have noted. When we distinguish pure from applied mathematics, we are thinking of the former as a disinterested conception of numerical relationships, concerned more and more with its inner integrity, and less and less with its reference to external criteria.

We think also of literature at first as a commentary on an external "life" or "reality." But just as in mathematics we have to go from three apples to three, and from a square field to a square, so in reading a novel we have to go from literature as reflection of life to literature as autonomous language. Literature also proceeds by hypothetical possibilities, and though literature, like mathematics, is constantly useful - a word which means having a continuing relationship to the common field of experience - pure literature, like pure mathematics, contains its own meaning.

Both literature and mathematics proceed from postulates, not facts; both can be applied to external reality and yet exist also in a "pure" or self-contained form. Both, furthermore, drive a wedge between the antithesis of being and non-being that is so important for discursive thought. The symbol neither is nor is not the reality which it manifests. The child beginning geometry is presented with a dot and is told, first, that that is a point, and second, that it is not a point. He cannot advance until he accepts both statements at once. It is absurd that that which is no number can also be a number, but the result of accepting the absurdity was the discovery of zero. The same kind of hypothesis exists in literature, where Hamlet and Falstaff neither exist nor do not exist, and where an airy nothing is confidently located and named. We notice that rhetoric differs sharply from logic in that it invariably gives some positive quality to a negative statement. Logic counts the negatives in a statement and calls it affirmative if there is an even number, but no one in the history of communication ever took "I hain't got no money" to mean that the speaker did have money. Similarly in literature: Iago's urging Othello to beware of jealousy is designed to plant jealousy in Othello's mind; the negatives at the beginning of Gerontion mean logically that Gerontion is not a hero, but rhetorically they build up a contrasting picture of sacrifice and [351] endurance. If the poet never affirmeth, he never denies either; and in this respect Aristotle's opening statement about rhetoric, that it is the antistrophos or answering chorus of dialectic, breaks down.

In the final chapter of Sir James Jeans' The Mysterious Universe, the author speaks of the failure of physical cosmology in the nineteenth century to conceive of the universe as ultimately mechanical, and suggests that a mathematical approach to it may have better luck. The universe cannot be a machine, but it may be an interlocking set of mathematical formulas. What this means is surely that pure mathematics exists in a mathematical universe which is no longer a commentary on an outside world, but contains that world within itself. Mathematics is at first a form of understanding an objective world regarded as its content, but in the end it conceives of the content as being itself mathematical in form, and when a conception of a mathematical universe is reached, form and content become the same thing. Mathematics relates itself indirectly to the common field of experience, then, not to avoid it, but with the ultimate design of swallowing it. It appears to be a kind of informing or constructive principle in the natural sciences: it continually gives shape and coherence to them without being itself dependent, on external proof or evidence, and yet finally the physical or quantitative universe appears to be contained by mathematics. The occult or mystical sound of Jeans' chapter, which nevertheless expresses a dream that has haunted mathematicians at least since Pythagoras, may be compared with the religious terminology we found ourselves compelled to use as soon as we reached the corresponding conception of a literary or verbal universe.

Other points in this analogy strike one: the curious similarity in form, for instance, between the units of literature and of mathematics, the metaphor and the equation. Both of these are, in the expanded sense of the term employed by many logicians, tautologies. But if the analogy is to hold, the question of course arises: is literature like mathematics in being substantially useful, and not just incidentally so? That is, is it true that the verbal structures of psychology, anthropology, theology, history, law, and everything else built out of words have been informed or constructed by the same kind of myths and metaphors that we find, in their original hypothetical form, in literature?

The possibility that seems to me suggested by the present dis cussion is as follows. Discursive verbal structures have two aspects, [352] one descriptive, the other constructive, a content and a form. What is descriptive is sigmatic: that is, it establishes a verbal replica of external phenomena, and its verbal symbolism is to be understood as a set of representative signs. But whatever is constructive in any verbal structure seems to me to be invariably some kind of metaphor or hypothetical identification, whether it is established among different meanings of the same word or by the use of a diagram. The assumed metaphors in their turn become the units of the myth or constructive principle of the argument. While we read, we are aware of a sequence of metaphorical identifications; when we have finished, we are aware of an organizing structural pattern or conceptualized myth.

It looks now as though Freud's view of the Oedipus complex were a psychological conception that throws some light on literary criticism. Perhaps we shall eventually decide that we have got it the wrong way round: that what happened was that the myth of Oedipus informed and gave structure to some psychological investigations at this point. Freud would in that case be exceptional only in having been well read enough to spot the source of the myth. It looks now as though the psychological discovery of an oracular mind "underneath" the conscious one forms an appropriate allegorical explanation of a poetic archetype that has run through literature from the cave of Trophonius to our own day. Perhaps it was the archetype that informed the discovery: it is after all considerably older, and to explain it in this way would involve us in less anachronism. The informing of metaphysical and theological constructs by poetic myths, or by associations and diagrams analogous to poetic myths, is even more obvious.

Such an approach need not be distorted into a poetic determinism, for, as has been said, it would be silly to use a reductive rhetoric to try to prove that theology, metaphysics, law, the social sciences, or whichever one or group of these we happen to dislike, are based on "nothing but" metaphors or myths. Any such proof, if we are right, would have the same kind of basis itself. Criticisms of truth or adequacy, then, are mainly criticism of content, not form. Rousseau says that the original society of nature and reason has been overlaid by the corruptions of civilization, and that a sufficiently courageous revolutionary act could reestablish it. It is nothing either for or against this argument to say that it is informed by the myth of the sleeping beauty. But we cannot agree or disagree with [353] Rousseau until we fully understand what he does say, and while of course we can understand him well enough without extracting the myth, there is much to be gained by extracting the myth if the myth is in fact, as we are suggesting here, the source of the coherence of his argument. Such a view of the relation of myth to argument would take us very close to Plato, for whom the ultimate acts of apprehension were either mathematical or mythical.

Literature, like mathematics, is a language, and a language in itself represents no truth, though it may provide the means for expressing any number of them. But poets and critics alike have always believed in some kind of imaginative truth, and perhaps the justification for the belief is in the containment by the language of what it can express. The mathematical and the verbal universes are doubtless different ways of conceiving the same universe. The objective world affords a provisional means of unifying experience, and it is natural to infer a higher unity, a sort of beatification of common sense. But it is not easy to find any language capable of expressing the unity of this higher intellectual universe. Metaphysics, theology, history, law, have all been used, but all are verbal constructs, and the further we take them, the more clearly their metaphorical and mythical outlines show through. Whenever we construct a system of thought to unite earth with heaven, the story of the Tower of Babel recurs: we discover that after all we can't quite make it, and that what we have in the meantime is a plurality of languages.

If I have read the last chapter of Finnegans Wake correctly, what happens there is that the dreamer, after spending the night in communion with a vast body of metaphorical identifications, wakens and goes about his business forgetting his dream, like Nebuchadnezzar, failing to use, or even to realize that he can use, the "keys to dreamland." What he fails to do is therefore left for the reader to do, the "ideal reader suffering from an ideal insomnia," as Joyce calls him, in other words the critic. Some such activity as this of reforging the broken links between creation and knowledge, art and science, myth and concept, is what I envisage for criticism. Once more, I am not speaking of a change of direction or activity in criticism: I mean only that if critics go on with their own business, this will appear to be, with increasing obviousness, the social and practical result of their labors. [354]

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