Within your crisp white refrigerated walls

Posted in * by a1icey on February 4, 2009

You will remember William Blake’s question whether the sun was to you a circular object about the size of a guinea or something that declared the glory of God. On television yesterday someone said the sun is ‘actually’ a hydrogen-bomb, and clearly he did not suppose he was saying anything very startling. Now we know that the sun is ‘actually’ not a hydrogen-bomb, or a blazing cart, or something the size of a guinea, or something that declares the glory of God: actually the sun is a star. What is a star? The Middle Ages knew that a star is a hole in the floor of Heaven: that was the meaning of a star – and in that sense we no longer know what a star is, our knowledge of the nature of a star is only a piece of information, not ‘meaning’. In the sense that the ancients knew that the sun is a blazing cart, in the sense that Blake knew it was something that declared the glory of God, we no longer know what the sun is. As to primitive man, pre-myth man, so to us the sun is merely a brute fact. And the earth and the sea, the thunder, the seasons, life, death, mankind: all again brute facts, things that merely are, things without meaning.


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  1. Clif said, on August 1, 2011 at 8:50 am

    The end of absolute meaning is the freedom from cultural tyranny. We are, and always have been, free to choose our own meanings. The lack of inherent meaning does not mean the lack of all meaning. Stories are inescapable; even in choosing to believe something is meaningless, we imbue it with the quality of absence, which has meaning in itself as far as it implies a presence that is missing and desired.

    Stan Brakhage was well aware of this:

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