IN THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS I have tried to suggest that there are two ways of approaching the notion of creation. There is a traditional myth of creation in which God brings the world into being before man, who is himself a later part of creation. The models of human civilization are supplied by God, who plants a garden and places Adam in it, and who created an angelic city before there were any human cities. This creation was, we are told, perfect, or at least 'very good,' whatever the source of this value-judgement. Man lost touch with the divine creation through his own sin and 'fall,' and now lives in an .alienating nature in consequence. The other approach to creation starts with the vision that man has of a nature recreated in humanized form, the vision recorded in various forms of the arts, ranging from pastoral poetry to architecture. It culminates in a vision of recreation in which man himself participates, and which appears to be in fact the total aim and goal of human creative effort.

I discussed in the second chapter some of the impoverishing qualities of the myth of a special divine creation. In its [52] more rigid form, at least, it assumes that the arts are only feeble and pointless imitations of what God has done infinitely better; it goes into bewildering verbal quibbles in efforts to 'reconcile' God's goodness and the world's badness, and it becomes increasingly isolated from everything that the sciences have to tell us about human origins. The myth itself has a built-in explanation for its own sterility. It contains the implication that our minds have been too clouded over by the fall to respond directly to a vision of divine creation, and can only learn something about it on a level that we can fit into our existing mental categories. Thus W.H. Auden makes his Simeon say, in his 'Christmas Oratorio' For the Time Being, that man's consciousness extends only to the limit of what is traditionally called original sin, of which 'it is impossible for him to become conscious because it is itself what conditions his will to knowledge.' So, accepting the myth on its own terms, we can never get back to the vision of creation before the fall in our imaginations, however carefully we study the Genesis account. The myth speaks of an angel who guards the tree of life, whose flaming sword symbolizes the blinded mental conditions in which we approach it.

In the previous chapter I tried to show how in Dante the vision of the future goal of human recreation takes the form essentially of a return to God, a return which is also a response to God's initial effort to descend to man. The close of the Paradiso is the summing up of centuries of thought in which a view of creation derived from the Bible provided a conception of two levels of nature, an upper level which is man's original home, and is identical with the state of art, and a lower level which is the physical nature of plants and animals, and is not man's home but only his environment.
Everything that raises man from his fallen level to his originally designed one involves some degree of returning to his original creation. It is recreation only in the sense that man is included in it: the actual process is God's redemption of man, man doing very little for himself that is of any real use. The whole process of human response, in Christian doctrine, is contained within the Holy Spirit, so that man's redemption is a drama within the persons of the Trinity in which man has a very limited actor's role. As the Holy Spirit guides the church, the doctrine of the Trinity, which is so central to Christian dogma in both Catholic and Protestant contexts, seems to have been, in its historical setting, a doctrine designed primarily to prevent man from slipping out of the grip of the church.

This view is part of an authoritarian structure, and a great deal of its power and influence collapsed under the hammering of the great capitalist revolutions of the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century we see that the mythological picture which survived Dante for many centuries has finally and totally changed. There is no longer any functional place for a divine creation myth at the beginning of things: there is only human culture, and therefore at most only the sense of human recreation as a distant goal. But human culture and its goals are not guaranteed by anything like a universe of law rooted in the nature of God himself, much less by any will on the part of a God to redeem. On the contrary, they are guaranteed by nothing and are threatened by practically everything. Everywhere we turn in the nineteenth century, we find a construct reminding us of a Noah's ark bearing the whole surviving life of a world struggling to keep afloat in a universal storm. We have Schopenhauer's world of idea threatened by a world of will, Marx's ascendant-class culture [54] threatened by a dispossessed proletariat, Freud's ego clinging to its precarious structure of sanity and threatened by the forces of the libido, Nietzsche's morality threatened by the will to power, Huxley's ethical values threatened by the evolutionary drive. These various thinkers take various attitudes of sympathy or hostility towards the threatening force, but the mythical construct is of much the same shape in every one.

Heidegger says that the first question of philosophy is 'why are there things rather than nothing?', but surely there is an even prior question: why objectify the world at all? or, more simply, why do we want to know? It sounds like a psychological question, but it is only partly that. The moment we ask it we are involved in the whole process of what I have called recreation, the constructing of human culture and civilization, and the question turns into something more like: 'why is simple existence in the world not good enough for us?' Whatever the answer, the question itself seems to push us away from the biblical story of a beginning creation, and towards the vision of recreation as a future goal in which our own efforts are involved.

This lands us in the antithesis of the traditional Christian view, a secular attitude in which man as at present constituted has to be regarded as himself the only creator in question. The end of human recreation, then, finds humanity looking at itself in a mirror. This is a somewhat daunting prospect: Narcissus at least had a beautiful face to look at, but the face of humanity that would look out of such a mirror is that of a psychotic ape. I discussed in the first chapter the fact that paranoia is a part of the secular attitude, and the two poles of paranoia are quite obviously present here, as they are in all the Noah's ark constructs just mentioned. If [55] we select certain facts and attend only to them, we are the lords of creation and recreation alike, with an infinite destiny before us: if we select others, we summon up a vision of hideous and total eclipse in a hydrogen bomb Armageddon. The gospels represent Jesus as continually casting devils out of the mentally ill: we may regard this as primitive psychology, and feel that it is unreasonable to expect modern man, living in this advanced century of Hitler and Idi Amin and Mr Jones of Guyana, to believe in evil spirits. But in other moods we may recognize that the mentally ill who know that they are possessed by devils are in a sense the lucky ones, and that the rest of us are similarly possessed but don't mind. The older construct wore out because it repressed the sense of human autonomy, the awareness that there are more things in man than any church or government can recognize or accommodate. But a purely secular construct, whether humanist or Communist, may be repressing complementary things.

The first person in the modern world who understood that the older mythological construct had collapsed was William Blake. He also, though without direct influence, set up the model for all the nineteenth-century constructs just mentioned, where cultural values float on a perilous sea. In Blake we begin with the Songs of Innocence, which reflect a child's view of the world, in which the world is controlled by a benevolent providence, makes human sense and responds to the human need for love and peace, and was probably made in the first place for the child's own special benefit. As the child grows older, he enters the world of 'experience,' and learns as an adult that the world is not in the least like this. At that point his personality splits in two. His conscious waking adult self, which Blake calls Urizen, [56] struggles to adapt itself to what for it is the real world; his childhood vision, which Blake calls Ore, is driven underground into what we call the subconscious, where it forms a boiling volcanic world of mainly sexual and largely frustrated desire.

A typical song of innocence is the poem called 'The Lamb,' where a child asks a lamb the first question of the catechism, 'Who made thee?' He knows the answer: Jesus made both the lamb and the child himself, and Jesus is also a lamb and a child, a creator whose creation is 'very good' because it is identifiable with his nature. The counterpart to 'The Lamb' in the Songs of Experience is 'The Tyger,' Here, instead of one question promptly and confidently answered, we have a long series of rhetorical questions without any answers, culminating in the crucial question, 'Did he who made the lamb make thee?' This question also has no answer, because in the world of the tiger, the world our adult minds inhabit, the conception of a divine creator makes no sense. The tiger, as Blake sees him, is one of the forms of the angel guarding the tree of life, or what Blake calls the Covering Cherub. Perhaps we can eventually get past him to some vision of creation which will include his glowing and sinister splendour. But such a vision of creation would have to be at the end of a long journey to somewhere on the far side of the tiger. There can be no going back to square one and the child's vision of the lamb. This long-range vision of creation would also have to include and incorporate our own creative powers: we cannot go back either to a ready-made order supplied us by a pre-existing providence.

But Blake, though he destroys a mythology derived from the Bible, is an intensely biblical poet himself. He reads the Bible in what he calls its infernal or diabolical sense. According [57] to him the creation of the world, the fall of man, and the deluge of Noah were all the same event, and the fall was a fall in the divine as well as the human nature. Hence what has traditionally been called the creation is actually a ruin, and there is no creation except human recreation, which is the same humanized form of nature that we find in the paradisal, pastoral, agricultural, and urban imagery of the Bible. Blake is far more interested than the Bible itself is, however, in seeing the relevance of the human arts to this transformation of nature. He speaks of poetry, painting, and music as the three forms of conversing with paradise which the flood did not sweep away.

Blake's perspective on the theme of creation in the Bible begins with the Book of Exodus, with Israel in Egypt and a situation of. injustice and exploitation already present. God intervenes in this situation, telling Moses from the burning bush that he is about to give himself a name and a highly partisan role in history, taking the side of the oppressed proletariat and holding out to them the goal of a 'Promised Land' of their own, which they will have to work towards. Man has to depend at least partly on his own imagination and creative powers to lead him towards the goal symbolized in the Bible by its last book, the Book of Revelation, Blake's favourite biblical book, where the form of the world that man should be living in is set out at the very end, following visions of appalling disasters before that end is reached. The vision of a created order is never an easily attained vision, but comes out of the depths of human anguish and effort. One very clear example in the Bible is the 'Song of the Three Children' in the Apocrypha, meaning the three Jews in Babylon who were flung into Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace because they would not abjure their [58] faith. It was from the midst of the fire that they sang their hymn of praise to God for his beautiful world, just as the hymns of praise in the Psalms and elsewhere come out of Israel's deliverance from the 'furnace of iron' which is what Egypt is called by Solomon.

In Blake's illustrations to the Book of Job, made towards the end of his life, the same attitude to the structure and imagery of the Bible is equally clear. What the Book of Job seems to be saying, as we follow its argument through the deadlocks caused first by Job's three friends and then by Elihu, is that God himself intervenes in the discussion to convict Job of ignorance. He asks Job a series of rhetorical questions about whether he was present at the original creation or could do any of the things then done. Job wasn't and couldn't, and God seems to regard this as a triumphant argument in favour of the wisdom of his ways and the folly of Job's. For Blake, however, God is not indulging in crass bullying: he is telling Job that how he got in his situation is less important than how he is to get out of it again. Job is being pushed away from the creation and all efforts to find his way back to a first cause, and encouraged to look in the opposite direction, where he can see the alienating forms of nature, symbolized by the behemoth and leviathan who appear at the end, as the sources of the repressions, internal and external, which are preventing him from seeing his own original birthright.

Blake's reading of the Bible is so deeply rooted in the structure and imagery of the Bible that it is perhaps worth asking what principle his reading is based on. We cannot read far in the Bible, of course, without becoming aware of the importance of all the standard figures of speech, of which the most important is metaphor. In metaphor, we have two [59] points of verbal reference existing together: 'this is that.' But there are also at least two figures of speech that exist in time. The more familiar of these is causality, which may be suggested by some things that go on in nature, but as a way of arranging words is a rhetorical figure of speech. The verbal progression in causal writing is normally forward from cause to effect: this becomes that, or, this results from that. But the mental operations preceding the writing out of the causal sequence move backwards. The causal thinker is confronted by a mass of phenomena which he can understand only by thinking of them as effects, after which he searches for their preceding causes. The movement backwards reminds us of, and may even be connected with, Plato's conception of knowledge as recollection. Present things are understood by being related to past things in such a way that cognition becomes the same thing as re-cognition, awareness that a present effect is a past cause in another form. Causality is, of course, an essential basis of both scientific and metaphysical thinking, and its verbal expression is that of continuous prose, which seems to have been developed mainly for the purpose of pulling causality into verbal structures.

The Bible is based mainly on another figure of speech which also moves in time, but in the opposite direction from causality. This is the figure traditionally called typology. In the Christian view of the Bible, everything that happens in the Old Testament is a 'type' or 'figure' of which the New Testament provides the 'antitype' or revealed meaning. Thus Paul (Romans 5:14) speaks of Adam as a typos of Christ, and I Peter 3:21 speaks of Christian baptism as the antitypos of the story of the flood. Such typology is not confined to the Christian perspective: the Old Testament, from a Jewish [60] point of view, is quite as typological without the New Testament as with it, and its antitypes are still the restoration of Israel and the coming of the Messiah, though the context of these events is different from that of Christianity.

Typology is clearly not, like causality, anything that can be linked to a scientific or philosophical procedure. It belongs in the area indicated by such words as faith, hope, and vision. It has some affinities with allegory: the stories or myths of the Old Testament become types or parables of existential truths, and many parts of the Old Testament, such as the ceremonial law, have usually been read allegorically by Christians. But the normal structure of allegory, an imaginary narrative paralleled with the moral precepts which are its 'real meaning,' does not fit the Bible, where both Testaments are concerned with actual people and events. What typology really is is a vision of history, or more accurately of historical process. It insists that for all the chaos and waste in human effort, nevertheless historical events, or some of them, are going somewhere and meaning something. Our modern belief in historical process, whether it lakes a democratic or a Marxist form, is an outgrowth of the cultural legacy of the Bible.

In the nineteenth century the conception of evolution suggested certain analogies in human life that gave us a new form of typological thinking. This was because evolution was interpreted purely from the human point of view. Evolution, as we see it, did the best it possibly could when it finally produced us, and whatever more it can do it can do only through us. Hence the kind of typology symbolized by science fiction and by all the forecasts of the future based on present technology: everything we can do now is a type of what we shall be able to do in the future. I spoke a moment [61] ago of the manic-depressive insanity of these and similar attitudes as they shuttle wildly from dreams of unqualified progress to nightmares of unqualified disaster.

Kierkegaard wrote a small book on Repetition in which he proposed to adopt this term as a characteristic of Christian philosophy, one which is thrown forward to the future and is at once a contrast and a complement to the Platonic view of knowledge as recollection of the past. The Christian repetition, Kierkegaard says, finds its final formulation in the apocalyptic promise 'Behold, I make all things new.' It seems to me that Kierkegaard's idea is derived from, as it is certainly connected with, the typological structure of the Bible. In any case the typology of the Bible links it to history in a way impossible for paganism, which remains based on the recurring cycles of nature. To use fairly familiar terms in a slightly different context, biblical mythology is diachronic, pagan mythology synchronic The diachronic dimension makes it possible for personality to emerge in biblical mythology. Jesus and Adonis are both dying gods, with very similar cults and imagery attached lo them, but Jesus is a person and Adonis is not, however many human figures may have represented him. Nietzsche drew from evolution a diachronic vision of human self-transcendence which he called the Superman. But his preference for the synchronic Dionysus over the diachronic Christ forced him to enclose his Superman in a framework of identical recurrence which for me, and I should imagine for others too, totally destroys the dynamic of the conception.

At the same time typology cannot preserve its vitality indefinitely unless it keeps its antitypes in the future. By making the Old Testament a historical process fulfilled in the coming of Christ, Christianity was in danger of losing this [62] vitality as that event receded into the past. A 'second coming' or future transcendence of history had to grow up along with the doctrine of the Incarnation, and is very prominent in every part of the New Testament itself, but had to lead an increasingly furtive existence as the authority of the Church grew and history, like the Marxist state, continued to fail to wither away. What happened, in practice if not in theory, was that the entire Bible, including the New Testament, became a type or parable of which the antitype or revealed form was the structure of Christian doctrine as taught by the church. The role of the doctrine of the Trinity in this process has already been considered.

Some of the Protestant Reformers attempted to cut away this superstructure of doctrine in favour of a more direct dialogue with the Bible. The degree of their success does not concern us here, except for one major work of literature involved with it, Milton's Paradise Lost. We have suggested that an artificial creation myth, with its implication that everything man can do has already been done by God on an infinitely superior plane of reality, is a somewhat hampering one for the human creative impulse. Why, then, did the instinct of so very great a poet lead him in precisely the direction of retelling the story of creation in Genesis, and to retell it expressly for the purpose of rationalizing it, or, as he says, to justify the ways of God to men? It is an attempt to answer this question that takes up the rest of what I have to say, although the answer will take us a long way from Milton.

The basis of Milton's thinking is Paul's conception of the gospel as the fulfilment, or what we are calling the antitype, the revealed form, of the Old Testament law. The external acts prescribed for the specific nation of Israel become what Milton calls 'shadowy types' of an individual's inner state of [63] mind. Again, the law is the myth, the type, the parable; the gospel is the existential reality that the law symbolizes. Similarly, the story of creation functions as a type or model of that inner state of mind in which Adam, at the end of the poem, begins the long climb up towards his original home again. Eden as an external environment disappears, to reappear as the 'paradise within thee, happier far,' which is held out to Adam as a final hope. Once more, the creation myth is a seed that comes to its own real fruition in a recreative effort in which Adam is involved. Adam is, of course, the representative human being, or, more precisely, the representative reader of the Bible. The Bible is in effect being read to him through the last two books of the poem.

It may sound fatuous to say that Paradise Lost was written for the sake of its readers, but Milton's more discerning critics have always recognized that there is something very distinctive about the role of the reader in that poem. Many critics have asked who the hero of Paradise Lost is, and have given various answers: Satan, Adam, Christ. But there is a lurking feeling that the question is somehow inappropriate. In Milton's theology the supreme authority is not the Bible but the reader of the Bible, the person who understands it and possesses what Milton calls the word of God in the heart. From one point of view we can say that this is not the reader as human being, but the Holy Spirit within the reader, so that Milton is keeping the whole operation wrapped up inside God, as his orthodox contemporaries did. But there is enough vagueness and indecision in Milton's view of the Holy Spirit to make it clear that he is moving in the modern direction of regarding the reader, simply as human being, as the real focus of his poem and the final aim of all his 'justifying' of the ways of God.
In my first chapter I quoted a passage from Oscar Wilde's essay 'The Critic as Artist.' This essay builds up an argument that seems to make an exaggerated and quite unrealistic importance out of the reader of literature, the critic being the representative reader. He is paralleled with the artist in a way that seems to give him an equal share at least in what the artist is doing. Here again Wilde is writing from the point of view of a later generation. For many centuries the centre of gravity in literature was the hero, the man whose deeds the poet celebrated. As society slowly changed its shape, the hero modulated to the 'character,' and in Wilde's day it was still the creation of character, as one sees it so impressively in Shakespeare, Dickens, and Browning, that was the primary mark of poetic power. At the same time the Romantic movement had brought with it a shift of interest from the hero to the poet himself, as not merely the creator of the hero but as the person whose inner life was the real, as distinct from the projected, subject of the poem. There resulted an extraordinary mystique of creativity, in which the artist became somehow a unique if not actually superior species of human being, with qualities of prophet, genius, wise man, and social leader. Wilde realized that in a short lime the centre of gravity in literature and critical theory would shift again, this time from the poet to the reader. The dividing line in English literature is probably Finnegans Wake, where it is so obvious that the reader has a heroic role to play.

The literary critic of 1980 finds himself in the midst of a bewildering array of problems which seem to focus mainly on the reader of a text. What is a text, and what does a reader do to it when he reads it? Where is the text -- in the book, in the reader's mind, or lost somewhere between? If a work of [65] literature is read and appreciated centuries later than it was written, what is the social context of its meaning? Some of these questions may be peripheral, or resolved only by some kind of dead-end paradox, but the issue they relate to is still a central one. It seems to me that, once again, some such conception as that of 'recreation' is needed to make sense of such problems. Every reader recreates what he reads: even if he is reading a letter from a personal friend he is still recreating it into his own personal orbit. Recreation of this sort always involves some kind of translation. To read is invariably to translate to some degree, however well one knows the language of what is read.

Let us take translation in its customary sense of changing a structure from one language to another, as a special case of recreation. The question of translation is peculiarly important in the Christian tradition, which has had a close connection with translation from the beginning. Moslem and Jewish scholarship are, inevitably, hound up with the linguistic features of the Arabic of the Koran and the Hebrew of the Old Testament respectively, but the New Testament was written in a koine Greek unlikely to have been the native language of its authors; and when those authors used the Old Testament, whatever their knowledge of Hebrew, they normally relied on the Septuagint Greek version. Then for over a thousand years the only Bible available in Western Europe was a Latin Bible, and modern movements from Luther to the missionary work of the nineteenth century brought with them a strong impulse to translate the Bible into every known tongue.

Everyone concerned with the study of literature knows how much of translation is a settling for the second best. This is most obvious in major poetry, where a translation [66] has to be a miracle of tact without claiming to be a replacement for the original. The particular problem we are concerned with, however, is of a different kind. The cynical Italian proverb traditore traduttore, a translator is a traitor, has two points of reference. Granted sufficient scholarship, a translator does not necessarily betray his text: what he always does and must betray is his own cultural orbit, the socially conditioned limits within which he can operate. The English reader looking for translations of Homer can find an exuberant Elizabethan Homer in Chapman, a periwigged Homer in Pope, a Gothic-revival Homer in the Loeb Classics, a colloquial modern Homer in the Penguins. What he will never get in this world is simply Homer in English.

Similarly with the Bible. There may be something of Paul in the 1611 translation: 'Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.' But we also hear the anxieties of 1611, when the clouds of civil war were gathering and the British Empire was getting started with settlements in America and the founding of the East India Company, and where ambition and aggression seemed the most dangerous foes of charity. In fact Shakespeare's Wolsey, denouncing ambition at roughly the same time, employs a very similar figure to 'is not puffed up' when he speaks of himself as having ventured beyond his depth like little boys swimming on bladders. There may be something of Paul too in the modern Phillips translation: 'This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience - it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.' But there are also the anxieties of middle-class democracy in these cadences, of a world where charity has a good deal to do with being a co-operative committee man.
At this point, translation merges into the wider question of recreation. What can be translated is what is loosely called sense, the relation of many signifiers to a common signified. Each reader, translator or recreator, renders his text into a form determined largely by his own cultural context. To return to the terms of our first lecture, the arts form an extension of our own past, but find their meaning for us in our present situation. That present situation contains elements of vision which we project on the future, and those elements form the recreating aspect of our reading. Every work of literature that we continue to read and study meant something to its own time and something quite different to us. Both poles of understanding have to be kept in mind. If we disregard its original historical context, we are simply kidnapping it into the orbit of our own concerns; if we disregard its relevance to ourselves, we are leaving it unrevived in the morgue of the past. But if we keep the two together and in balance, we are stabilizing a tradition, and are engaged in a process which includes ourselves and yet is something bigger than ourselves. One end of this process is a creation, and the other end a recreation.

There is another aspect of recreation, however, which expands into the whole history of language itself as a form of human communication and consciousness. We mentioned Homer, who is one of the purest poets we have, because his language comes from a time before abstract or conceptual thinking had developed. Homer's vocabulary, as Onian's monumental study of it, Origins of European Thought, shows us at length, is astonishingly concrete. Such conceptions as anger, cunning, thought, emotion, are all solidly anchored in parts of the physical body, such as the diaphragm and lungs. This means essentially that Homer's vocabulary was not metaphorical to him, but must be to us. The metaphor is the [68] figure of speech that expresses most clearly the sense of an identity between subjective and objective worlds, and Homer comes from a time when no very clear line was drawn between them. Since then, there have been several other developments in language, one of them the descriptive language of our own day, which is based on a clear separation between subject and object, between element of personality and element of nature. It is one of the functions of literature in our day, more particularly of poetry, to keep reviving the metaphorical habit of mind, the primitive sense of identity between subject and object which is most clearly expressed in the pagan 'god,' who is at once a personality and a natural image.

This means that the cultural affinities of poetry are with the primitive and archaic, a fact about poetry which has been recognized from early times. The metaphors of poetry take us back to a world of undifferentiated energy and continuous presence. Take these lines from a well-known hymn:
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
We may not be deeply moved by these lines -- I am not presenting them as major poetry -- but we could be by other lines as far removed from descriptive or objective meaning as they are. If we took them 'literally,' whatever that means, we should have an intolerably crude notion of the God they attempt to describe. But, of course, we do not take them in that way; we take them as poetic metaphor. Like other hymns, this one draws on the Bible, and in one of the Psalms it is said that God rode upon the back of a cherub, and did fly. But there the statement is still poetic metaphor. Some [69] mythical rationalizers might want to carry the image back to a society so confused about nature that they would 'believe' that thunder indicated a God riding around the sky in some sort of private aeroplane. But it is not necessary to assume that any such society ever existed: the statement is radically metaphorical. It is a way, perhaps the only type of way, that language has of conveying the sense of a numinous presence in nature, and that is where we stop. We notice incidentally that in these lines the Christian God is being represented by a god. In spite of the achievement of Dante and Milton, poets on the whole feel easier with pagan gods than with the Christian God, because pagan gods are ready-made metaphors, and go into poetry with the minimum of adjustment. We think of the creation story in Genesis as essentially a poetic account. For Milton it was not a poetic account, yet he deliberately poeticizes it. By doing so he turned it into an intricate body of metaphors, conveying the sense of a spiritual force that includes man but does not originate from him. It is particularly in the account of creation itself, in Book Seven, that we realize how the poetic paraphrase renders our sense of creation, not in an ornamental or sophisticated form, but in a far more primitive form than the original does:
Forth flourished thick the clust'ring vine, forth crept
The smelling gourd, up stood the corny reed
Embattled in her field: add the humble shrub
And bush with frizzled hair implicit: last
Rose, as in dance, the stately trees.
The recreation of poetry and its metaphorical use of language leads to two principles, one specific, the other universal. [70] First, it reveals the narrowness of our ordinary descriptive use of language. Nietzsche's statement 'God is dead,' which has been so widely accepted, even in theological circles, is primarily a linguistic statement, or, more precisely, a statement about the limitations of language. The word God is a noun, which within our present descriptive framework of language means that God has to belong to the category of things and objects. We may agree that God is dead as the subject or object of a human predicate. But perhaps using the word God as a noun in this way is merely a fallacy of the type that Whitehead calls misplaced concreteness. We note that in the burning bush story in Exodus, God, though he also gives himself a name, defines himself as 'I am that I am,' which scholars say would be better rendered as 'I will be what I will be.' Buckminster Fuller wrote a book called I Seem to be a Verb, and perhaps God is a verb too, not simply a verb of asserted existence but a verb expressing a process fulfilling itself. Such a use of language revives an archaic mode of language, and yet is oddly contemporary with, for example, the language of the nuclear physicists, who no longer think of their atoms and electrons as things but as something more like traces of processes.

Then again, the traditional doctrine of divine creation, we said, is creation with what we ordinarily mean by words. We have tried to show how the recreating of language attaches man to words in such a way that words become something much bigger than he is, hence we can well understand such thinkers as Heidegger and others when they suggest that language is not a machine or invention that man uses, but something that, in its full range, uses man, man being ultimately the servant rather than the master of language. There is a further suggestion that there may be something [71] linked to the human use of words which is a power of human self-transcendence, a step away from the narrow humanism that has to stop with the psychotic ape in the mirror.

There is also the term 'spirit,' which is so emphasized in the New Testament, with its insistence that the scriptures have to be 'spiritually discerned.' One of the things that 'spiritually' must mean in this context is 'metaphorically.' Thus the Book of Revelation speaks of a 'great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt' and is also identified with the earthly Jerusalem. And one wonders, in studying Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit, which has become a text used by Christians and Marxists alike, whether the antithesis of theist and atheist in our day may not be a quarrel of Tweedledee and Tweedledum over a word that neither really understands. For the atheist is still left with personality as the highest category in his cosmos after he has rejected the theos.

The terms 'Word' and 'Spirit,' then, may be understood in their traditional context as divine persons able and willing to redeem mankind. They may be also understood as qualities of self-transcendence within man himself, capable of pulling him out of the psychosis that every news bulletin brings us so much evidence for. I am suggesting that these two modes of understanding are not contradictory or mutually exclusive, but dialectically identical. Certainly the goal of human recreation, whenever we try to visualize it, bears a curious resemblance to the traditional vision of divine creation at the source. As the fully awakened beings in Blake's Four Zoas say: 'How is it that all things are chang'd, even as in ancient time?'

To extend the meanings of 'word' and 'spirit' into areas beyond the human seems to make them into objects of belief. [72] But it seems to me that there are two levels of belief. There is, first, professed belief, what we say we believe, think we believe, believe we believe. Professed belief is essentially a statement of loyalty or adherence to a specific community: what we say we believe defines us as Christians or Moslems or Marxists or whatever. But then there is another level in which our belief is what our actions show that we believe. With some highly integrated people the two levels are consistent. But professed belief, in our world, is pluralistic and competitive. It is characteristic of believing communities, anxious for their solidarity, to set up elaborate structures of faith that ask too much from their adherents in the way of professed belief, forgetting that any belief which cannot become an axiom of behaviour is not merely useless but dangerous. In some respects professed belief is a solid and satisfying basis for a community, yet in our world it seems that it is the worst possible basis for a secular community. Whether the community is nominally Catholic or Protestant or Jewish or Moslem or Hindu, every secular state guided by religious principles seems to turn them into a form of devil-worship. The same thing is true of Marxism, which when it becomes socially established acquires a religious quality based on the doctrine of the infallibility of the Holy Communist Church. In the Soviet Union, as more recently in China, periodic 'thaws,' or pretences at democratic tolerance, take place for the purpose of discovering who the really dangerous people are, ie, the people who do not subscribe to this doctrine of infallibility.

If there is a creative force in the world which is greater than the purely human one, we shall not find it on the level of professed belief, but only on a level of common action and social vision. At this level all beliefs become to some degree [73] partial, not because they are untrue for those who hold them, but because the human mind is finite and the human will corrupt. To work within such a community no one needs to surrender or even compromise with a professed belief. But those whose professed belief is Christian, for example, would be recognizing the supremacy of charity over faith which is part of that faith itself, as well as the gospel's insistence on 'fruits' as the only valid proof of belief. This conception is close to what Blake, in a phrase taken from the Book of Revelation, calls the 'everlasting gospel,' a conception which implies that the human race already knows what it ought to be thinking and doing, though the voices of repression, made articulate by competing ideologies, keep shouting the knowledge down. They are all voices of Antichrist, whose first act recorded in the Bible was to build the Tower of Babel to the accompaniment of a confusion of tongues.

Every unit is a whole to which various parts are subordinate, and every unit is in turn a part of a larger whole. Religions, theistic or atheistic, are units which define themselves in such a way as to cut off the possibility of their being parts of larger wholes, even when they are compelled to act in that way by expediency. We are perhaps now in a period of history at which this looks more like pride and delusion than like faith. If we could transcend the level of professed belief, and reach the level of a world-wide community of action and charity, we should discover a new creative power in man altogether. Except that it would not be new, but the power of the genuine Word and Spirit, the power that has created all our works of culture and imagination, and is still ready to recreate both our society and ourselves.

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