Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Report, A Rumour, Not To Be Believed

'"In winter," Grandfather Trout said, "summer is a myth. A report, a rumour. Not to be believed in. Get it?"'

"The difference between the Ancient concept of the nature of the world and the New concept is, in the Ancient concept the world has a framework of Time, and in the New concept, the world has a framework of Space.
 To look at the Ancient concept through the spectacles of the New concept is to see absurdity: seas that never were, worlds claimed to have fallen to pieces and been created newly, a congeries of unlocatable Trees, Islands, Mountains and Maelstroms. But the ancients were not fools with a poor sense of direction; it was only not Orbis Terrae that they were looking at. When they spoke of the four corners of the earth, they meant of course no four physical places; they meant four repeated situations of the world, equidistant in time from one another: they meant the solstices and the equinoxes. When they spoke of the seven spheres, they did not mean (until Ptolemy foolishly tried to take their portrait) seven spheres in space; they meant those circles described in time by the motions of the stars: Time, that roomy seven-storey mountain where Dante's sinners wait for Eternity. When Plato tells of a river girdling the earth, which is somewhere (so the  New concept would have it) up in the air and somewhere also in the middle of the earth, he means by that river the same river Heraclitus could never step in twice. Just as a lamp waved in darkness creates a figure of light in the air, which remains for as long as the lamp repeats its motion exactly, so the universe retains its shape by repetition: the universe is Time's body. And how will we perceive this body, and how operate on it? Not by the means we perceive extension, relation, colour, form - the qualities of Space. Not by measurement and exploration. No: but by the means we perceive duration and repetition and change: by Memory."

from 'Little, Big', John Crowley


1 comment:

  1. All of which chimes with Henri Bergson, the philosopher who I most heartily recommend...