Thursday, February 4, 2016

where you are going

One of the smaller perks of working for SFCV is that I don't have to go into the office, which is good because the office is 50 miles away. But that means that when there is a gathering, once every year or two, I try to go. There was one yesterday, at a board member's house on the very tippy top of Russian Hill in the City. I'm sure the view was spectacular, but by the time we got there it was kind of dark. On the other hand, there's a living room large enough to hold two pianos, on one of which one of our writers performed Ravel's Sonatine, bringing out the Couperin in it. So it was a mini-concert as well.

It was over early enough to give me time to dash over to Oakland in time for a meeting of the C.S. Lewis book discussion group, which I rarely get to. Discussions here are heavily moderated, wisely in this case as attendance was very large. We discussed Surprised by Joy, or rather mostly didn't discuss it. Analysis of what Lewis meant by "Joy" (which he says he's using as a technical term) led to a question of what a metaphor is. My contribution to this was to attempt to describe Barfield's "ancient unities," while another member's definition of a metaphor as a word representing a concept, and his description of that concept as a Platonic archetype [I'd describe that as a sign rather than a metaphor, but whatever], led me to consider (to myself) whether Barfield's idea isn't the reverse of Plato's. A Platonic archetype is the center of a fuzzy set of items that resemble it to a greater or lesser degree, so they all point to it. Whereas a Barfieldian unity is a word that has multiple implications, like musical overtones, all at once, including those we now call metaphors and those which aren't (the "ancient unity" is the proposition that there was once no distinction between "literal" and metaphorical), so by reverse of Plato it (the word) points to all of them (the meanings). I need to mull this over before I suggest it to the Barfield scholars.

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