There is a green hill far awaywas deeply (and rightly) puzzled as to why a green hill should have a wall at all. Without as "outside" had not yet come within her ken. There might be these notable differences, however, between our examples. In the first, there could be solid grounds of prejudice to explain the mistaking of whole for hole. In the second, mere unfamiliarity with the word temptation might be enough. But in the third, the word without was familiar enough in one of its senses. In fact it was this very familiarity which prevented the possibility of another sense from coming up. Had the word been quite new, had it been ayont, say, there would have been no trouble. Context would have made the reader take it in her stride. It was because the word was already reserved and booked for another sense that the relevant sense was turned away.
Without a city wall
Siloa's brook that flow'dby rapidment. Milton meant "beside, close to, hard by" though "hard" would probably have confirmed Chateaubriand in his impression. Translation from other languages constantly brings up this sort of mistake. Teachers and students generally understand them very well and know how to be on the lookout for them. Indeed mistakes of this sort commonly announce themselves as resoundingly as fog signals -- to others, who know the language better. In general they do no great damage to human understanding -- unless they get into translations of peace treaties or similar places. And if that happens we will usually be right in suspecting that more than mere ignorance was responsible for the mistake. We shall probably find that it was as much a twist as a slip.
Fast by the oracle of God
We may begin with a paragraph that takes up again the problem of security. Attempt to choose between alternatives offered from time to time in the Basic interpretation, which grew out of a number of versions separately made from the original, and you will end yourself thinking closely on relevant points:
Original. Modern science has imposed on
humanity the necessity for wandering. Its
progressive thought and its progressive technology
make the transition through time, from generation
to generation, a true migration into uncharted
seas of adventure. The very benefit
of wandering is that it is dangerous and needs
skill to avert evils. We must expect, therefore,
that the future will disclose dangers. It is the
business of the future to be dangerous ; and it
is among the merits of science that it equips
the future for its duties. The prosperous middle
classes, who ruled the nineteenth century,
placed an excessive value upon placidity of
existence. They refused to face the necessities
for social reform imposed by the new industrial
system, and they are now refusing to face the
necessities for intellectual reform imposed by
the new knowledge. The middle-class pessimism
over the future of the world comes from
a confusion between civilisation and security.
In the immediate future there will be less security
than in the immediate past, less stability.
It must be admitted that there is a degree of
instability which is inconsistent with civilisation.
But, on he whole, the great ages have
been unstable ages.
-- Alfred North Whitehead, in Science and the Modern World, New York, 1926, pp. 298-299.
Basic . Science today has made it necessary
(a) to go on and on from one thing to another
(b) to give up the clear-cut road for byways still unclear
(c) to go out into the new.
Its forward-looking thought and forward-moving processes make the changeover through time, from father to son and son's son, a true mass move
(a) without guides into new and strange experience
(b) over unmapped seas where anything is possible.
The value, in fact, of the journey is in the development of our power to overcome its dangers.
(a) For this reason we have to be ready for dangers in the future.
(b) So dangers in what is to come are to be looked for.
(c) It is more than probable that the future will take us into new dangers.
It is the business of the future to have its dangers ; and it is part of the value of science that it gets the future ready to do what it has to do.
The well-off middle group in society who were in power in the 1800's put overmuch value on an untroubled existence.
(a) They were against facing the
(b) They were very unready to see any need for changes in social conditions coming from the new system in industry and they are now
(a) turning away from
(b) shutting their eyes to the need for new ways of thought put upon us by the new knowledge. This group's
(a) dark view of
(b) downhearted outlook over the future comes from
(a) mixing up ideas about making society better with ideas about making things safer for themselves
(b) taking well-ordered living to be the same thing as safe living.
(a) Our ways of living tomorrow will be less safe and certain than they were yesterday.
(b) In these coming years things will be less safe and unchanging than in the years we have seen go by.
(a) It has to be noted that highly ordered ways of living are not possible without something solid underfoot.
(b) An over great range and scale of possible changes may put an end to well-ordered ways of living. But, as a rule, great times have been times of violent change.
Emerson will furnish one reply to Whitehead. The task in rendering him into Basic is far less in capturing his thought than in retaining something of his aphoristic form and balanced pace, as anyone supplying a version of his own before reading the interpretation here given will discover. The grace, the spring, the dewdrop condensation go -- which does not mean that the translator striving to keep what he can of them becomes less conscious of their value.
Original . The civilized man has built a
coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is
supported on crutches, but lacks so much support
of muscle. He has a line Geneva watch,
but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the
sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has,
and so being sure of the information when he
wants it, the man in the street does not know
a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe,
the equinox he knows as little; and the
whole bright calendar of the year is without a
dial in his mind. His notebooks impair his
memory; his libraries overload his wit ; the insurance-office
increases the number of accidents, and it may be a question whether
machinery does not incumber, whether we have
not lost by refinement some energy, by a
Christianity entrenched in establishments and
forms, some vigour of wild virtue. For every
Stoic was a Stoic ; but in Christendom where
is the Christian?
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, First and Second Series, World's Classics, p. 60.
|Basic . The man of today has made himself a carriage, but is no longer able to make use of his legs. He has supports of wood for his walking but is without the support of his muscles. He has a beautiful Geneva watch but is no longer able to get the time from the sun. For help in his sailing he has a guide to the motions of sun, moon and stars, by which, these facts being put down in a book, the man in the street is become a stranger to all the stars in the sky. He does not see when die sun is at its farthest point north or south, or at the middle point between; all the circle of the bright year goes by unmarked in his mind. His notebooks make his memory the less certain, his libraries are a weight on his mind ; with insurance offices, damage and destruction are on the increase, and it may be a question if our machines do not get in our way, if one effect of more polish has not been a loss of force, and one effect of railing Christianity up in churches and forms has not been less power in natural right-doing. For every Stoic was a Stoic, but in our "Christian society" where is the Christian?|
Another reply, or rather a view mediating between Whitehead's reckless and youthful spirit (8000,000 people were injured and 23,400 killed by the motorcar in the United States last year) and Emerson's reactionary nostalgia, may be found in T. S. Eliot. Again the reader will find his thought about the assage quickening and his appraisal of the Basic restatement becoming more judicial if he attempts a Basic rendering of this own.
|Original . Yet if the only form of tradition of handing down, consisted in following the ways of the immediate generation before us in a blind or timid adherence to its successes, "tradition" should positively be discouraged. We have seen many such simple currents soon lost in the sand ; and novelty is better than repetition. Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour. It involves, in die first place, the historical sense, which we may call nearly indispensable to anyone who would Continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year ; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence, the historical sense compels a man to Write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order. This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional. And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his own contemporaneity. -- T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays, 1917-1932, New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1932, p. 4.||
Basic . But if the only sort of handing down
is by keeping to the way of our fathers (walking
in father's footprints an doing as mother did),
doing with shut eyes what came out right
for them, fearing that any change will be for
(a) then let us have a little of this as possible
(b) then no wise man will be for this. We have seen the ideas of the day come to nothing time after time, like rivers in the sand. To do something new is better than to do the same things again. Let us keep the word "tradition" for something much more important which takes in much more than this. Tradition is not something you come into, as you may come into your father's money and lands; you have to get it for yourself by much hard work. The sense of history is part of it; without this we may say, it is almost impossible For anyone to go on being a "poet" (a maker) after his twenty- fifth year; and to have a sense of history, a man has to see the past, not only as past but as still living now; this sense of history makes him conscious through his very bones of what the men of his times are like, and makes him do his work moreover with a feeling that all the great writing of Europe from Homer to today, and that of his countrymen as part of this, is one thing with one present existence and present order. This sense of history which is a sense of what is not in time as well as of what is in time, and of these two together, is what the word "tradition" is talking about. And it is this which makes a writer most sharply conscious of his place in time, of his place in the present.
So many people have seen dangers (and most varied dangers) in Basic that it is tempting to apply parts of this last discussion to our present purpose. But it will be wiser to leave the reader to make his own applications. More illustrations of this use of the instrument are what he wants. Let us go on with its help to consider the poet more closely, taking Coleridge first for our guide.
"The poet, described in ideal perfection, brings the whole soul of man into activity, with the subordination of its faculties to each other according to their relative worth and dignity. He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity, that blends, and (as it were) fuses, each into each, by that synthetic and magical power, to which I would exclusively appropriate the name of Imagination. This power, first put in action by the will and understanding, and retained under their irremissive, though gentle and unnoticed control, laxis effertur habenis, reveals itself in the balance or reconcilement of opposite or discordant qualities : of sameness with difference ; of the general with the concrete ; the sense of novelty and freshness with old and familiar objects ; a more than usual state of emotion with more than usual order, judgment ever awake and steady self-possession with enthusiasm and feeling profound or vehement ; and while it blends and harmonizes the natural and the artificial, still subordinates art to nature, the manner to the matter ; and our admiration of the poet to our sympathy with the poetry." -- S . T. Coleridge, Biographia Literamia, Vol. II, Ch. 14, p. 12, London, Shorecross.
Original . The poet, described in ideal perfection,
brings the whole soul of man into activity,
with the subordination of its faculties to each other according to their relative worth and dignity.
He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity,
that blends, and (as it were) fuses, each into each,
by that synthetic and magical power,
to which I would exclusively appropriate the name of Imagination.
This power, first put in action by the will and understanding,
and retained under their irremissive, though gentle and unnoticed control . . .
reveals itself in
the balance or reconcilement of opposite or discordant qualities:
of sameness with difference;
of the general with the concrete;
the sense of novelty and freshness with old and familiar objects;
a more than usual state of emotion with more than usual order,
judgment ever awake and steady self-possession with enthusiasm and feeling profound or vehement ;
and while it blends and harmonizes the natural and the artificial, still subordinates art to nature;
the manner to the matter ;
and our admiration of the poet to our sympathy with the poetry.
Basic . The poet, if we may say what the best the wisest of poets does and though, in fact, no writer of verse may ever come up to such a level,
(a) puts every power of man's mind to work,
(b) makes all the parts of a man's mind awake and conscious,
(c) makes a man become all that at his best he is able to be,
with every one of its powers taking that part in the common work for which it has a special value and authority.
He sends all through the work (and through its reader) a feeling that everything in it is needed by, gives support to and takes support from the rest (is what it is because the rest is what it is),
a feeling which puts things together so that they become no longer (in themselves or in their effects) what they would be if separated, by that uniting power (by which "words become things and things words"),
for which I would keep the word "Imagination."
This power is first moved to its work by conscious purpose and a knowledge of what it is attempting,
and it is kept under the control of purpose and knowledge throughout -- a control which does not ever let up or get in the way of the work. The Imagination is seen to be at work through the way in which it makes forces or conditions which, as a rule, are not able to be present together, or are even against one another, give one another room for free play and even get on well together like friends. For example: it makes things able to be the same and at the same time different ;
be clear examples of general laws and still be no less fully themselves in every least detail ; through it things we have about us for a long time, and become used to, seem new -- as if then for the first time seen;
(a) feelings become stronger and freer than in most of our living, though their behavior to one another is better,
(b) the mind is like a self-ruling, well-ruled state ;
the purpose and the ways to it are ever kept in view and the self keeps itself unmoved however high or deep or strong the waves of feeling may be ;
and while it lets in no line of division between what is natural and what is made by art, still keeps the writer's design from becoming anything more than the servant of natural forces ;
makes "how a thing is said" he ruled by "what has to be said" ;
and puts our interest -- our answering note to the poetry -- before our respect for or questions about the man who made it.