"Recession and thickness through": the debate over nature and grace in David Jones's Roman poetry and painting.
"Chaps refer to the 'mystery' or 'subtlety' or 'illusiveness' or 'fragility' or 'waywardness' or 'complexity' or 'fancyfulness' etc., etc.--well, Christ almighty! what else is there in a bunch of flowers or a tree or a landscape or a girl or a sky but these qualities? ... It isn't the artist's 'fancy' or 'imagination' that imposes these qualities on a work ... [rather] how to 'transubstantiate' these qualities into whatever medium one is using, whether paint or words or whatever." Letter to Harman Grisewood, May 22, 1962 (1) "According to St. Thomas, divine life is not laid over the surface of our understanding like an external additive; rather it is infused at the root of our being. Divine life is built up in us according to the framework of our nature, even as it surpasses our nature ontologically. We can say that grace is within us after the fashion of a (super)nature; that is to say, after the fashion of a principle most interior to ourselves, most our own, at the same time that it is divine. It is the dynamic force of grace that makes us capable of living communion with God." Marie-Dominique Chenu, Aquinas and His Role in Theology (2)
THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY Anglo-Welsh artist and poet, David Jones, as a convert to Roman Catholicism, was involved in the intellectual and cultural circles of the European Catholic Renaissance. He could not help but be influenced by its theological controversies, including one over the relationship of nature and grace. Jones's essays, paintings, inscriptions, and poetry were all shaped by its questions, in part because the resources of the debate helped him to sort through the possibilities of spirituality in British post-Impressionism. In his own art, he was struck with the particular problem of embodying the thick metaphysical quality of reality. This problem he partially solved by the layering of the persons or places in his paintings with their analogical and allegorical associations. Both this quandary and his method have their parallel in Jones's writing, in which he tries to theorize and to embody the natural and supernatural aspects of humanity. His last published collection, The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments, as well as the posthumously published poems and fragments, The Roman Quarry and Other Sequences, builds its effect on the divine echo of the Gospel in the pre-Christian cultures of Rome and Roman Britain, and in turn upon the vestigial presence of the old Roman order in Christian Wales and in the twentieth-century Mass. In these poems he offers examples of a "natural" orientation to the supernatural. It is the fluid, and yet anchored, nature of this orientation that makes of interest Jones's mixed stance, for he sought both to puzzle out the material and spiritual worlds, and to do so within the Catholic debate over nature and grace.
The Terms of the Debate
Jones was influenced by both sides of the debate. On one side, the reading of Thomas Aquinas exemplified by French philosopher Jacques Maritain shaped Jones's aesthetic, especially through the influence of sculptor Eric Gill, (3) who introduced Jones to Maritain's important volume Art and Scholasticism in Fr. John O'Connor's translation, The Philosophy of Art. (4) Likewise, the counter-movement most pronounced in the theology of Pierre Rousselot and Joseph Marechal also shaped Jones, primarily through the thought of his close friend, the historian Christopher Dawson. (5) One of the debate's most important questions was whether the intellectual, moral, and cultural life of non- and pre-Christian civilizations could be said to be already oriented toward the highest good of union with God, or whether humanity's secondary, natural end was the penultimate goal of human happiness and justice alone. (6)
Modern scholastics such as Maritain generally admitted that there was no actual state of pure nature. The distinction was hypothetical but important in that it helped to distinguish two potential finalities for human beings--a natural one of human happiness and a supernatural one of the beatific vision. Without the former end, neo-Scholastics worried that human nature would be too highly exalted and self-sufficient, for they insisted there can be no natural inclination toward the beatific vision; grace must be offered in complete gratuity. And without a purely natural end, there was no easy way to account for the good works of those outside the Church, works that were admirable and good for people and for their cultures, but that nonetheless seemed to have no eternal benefit. But as the historical research of Etienne Gilson, Henri Bouillard, Henri De Lubac, and Marie-Dominique Chenu showed, neither the Patristic Fathers nor Aquinas ever considered a state of pure nature or two delineable ends for humanity. Instead, humanity's one end had always been to behold God face-to-face. The concept of two ends, their work showed, had been introduced by the sixteenth and seventeenth century commentators of Second Scholasticism--Tommas Cajetan, John of St. Thomas, and Francisco Suarez. (7)
Theologians like Rousselot, in not following the tradition of Suarez, held that the only true orientation of the human person is to the beatific vision. Rousselot showed that the Second Scholastic commentators had overlooked the Platonic metaphysic that Aquinas had married to an Aristotelian ethic. Charity (divine caritas), Rousselot insisted, fulfills the orientation of natural self-love. Intellectus, as Aquinas understood it, is "sharing in the life of another person." (8) According to Rousselot, the infusion of faith elevates intellectus to the supernatural, allowing it to assent to the truths of revelation, and this grasp of truth is itself love. A new love, affected by faith, then, arises in the person in an "apperceptive synthesis" of what one beholds and what one desires; thus, the person's free will is in harmony with the gift of faith. (9) For Aquinas, "the ultimate end of all creation ... is beauty, which is intelligibility because it is assimilation to God, the representation of divine perfection by creatures." (10) Otherwise, those like Rousselot feared that human free will would be violated by grace, wresting the will toward an alien supernatural end. Every human judgment, asserted Marechal, is an implicit move towards God's being, an "ontological affirmation" or a teleological orientation because each partial, intermediate solution in our human questioning leads us onward toward Truth. (11) In sensing the real, we always desire some measure of the Divine, a desire native to us but in need of God's grace to truly move toward God.
To those outside the debate, I suspect, Maritain's position in practice does not seem that far removed from those who rejected the doctrine of two ends, and indeed, Maritain throughout his career moved to a mediating position. Maritain, for example, shared with Rousselot and Marechal a trust in the mind's connaturality (i.e. natural fit or similarity) with the real and with love for the real, as well as with Rousselot a belief that through cultural development the person can become more inclined to the real. (12) They also shared a hierarchical organization of the ascent of knowledge and the descent of revelation, for Maritain agreed that love is a medium of knowledge. And with Marechal, he shared a trust that the elements in the hierarchy of knowledge interpenetrate one another; (13) the traffic between nature and grace is constant. Maritain was quite willing to admit that "the actual natural end of the world is this natural end superelevated" by God's constant free grace at work in the world. (14)
In particular, Maritain's stress on the analogical relationship of art and poetry to that of the supernatural allowed him to offer elaborate comparisons between the two. For instance, in his Art and Scholasticism, Maritain suggested that non-Christian art "is already Christian" when its "grandeur and purity" foreshadow the "divine harmonies of the Gospel." God inspires artists in the natural order of things, and this inspiration is itself "a symbol of supernatural inspiration." (15) In his essay "The Frontiers of Poetry," he offered that the making achieved by poetry is comparable to the creation of God in "a spiritual resemblance. ... a transcendental realism." "Such divination of the spiritual in the things of sense ... will express itself in the things of sense, [in] what we properly call poetry." (16) This was not to suggest that poetry could in and of itself obtain to what grace offers even while it symbolized the supernatural, (17) but such a close resemblance nonetheless allowed Maritain to offer the art of non-Christians as pointers to the Divine. (18)
In David Jones's 1947 essay "Art and Democracy," the influence of Maritain is clearly present. Art for Jones, like Maritain, is culture-making; humans are "the animal-who-is-the-artist." (19) Jones, too, was anxious at first to keep a distance between nature and grace, as the latter elevates the former. He stresses that this cultural end is the natural end of human beings and not their supernatural one, "to put it clumsily and for want of better words, 'man as artist' rather than 'man as moral being'. ... We are groping at a humbler level in the hierarchy of being." (20) In his 1951 essay-length preface to The Anathemata, he explores further how poetry is tied up with the mythos and ethos of a culture, arguing that the human capacity for social myth is concentrated in the works of the poet. (21) Jones, like Maritain, sees the poetic existing in tandem with God's higher ends: "And no less certainly than we ourselves will they be caught in the complex of Jocasta and her son. And if we are involved in what is indicated under the terms Theotokos and Logos, will not they be?" (22) The "natural" mythoi--the shaping beliefs of a culture, like ourselves--are included within the concerns of Christ.
"Art and Sacrament," Jones's 1955 essay, has often been cited as his most important development of Maritainian thought, and rightly so. Jones continued to stress the artist as one who makes things but also one who subsumes ars under prudentia: "So that it is here supposed that man is a creature whose end is extra-mundane and whose nature is to make things and that the things made are not only things of mundane requirement but are of necessity the signs of something other." (23) Art, Jones insisted, is more than just making useful things, it is also the making of gratuitous objects that are symbolic and beautiful. While art's intermediate end is certainly that which cannot await the final teleological judgment, it does act as that which not only must point to, but also even assist that final end. Because signs reveal the esse of a thing, its actual reality, they function in a sacred manner for ultimately sacred ends. (24) The artist or poet must work in this world to critique and to perfect his or her art, yet in that making, the art also points to God's ultimate purposes for humanity and for the cosmos. This kind of understanding on Jones's part could be said to reflect Maritain's understanding of a theoretical, pure, natural end; that is, both an end that the poet would have been capable of achieving without human fallenness, and also the actual natural end of poets, which is assisted by grace toward the spiritual.
Yet Jones here, too, sounds more like Rousselot and Marechal. I would contend that Jones's central development of the notion of art as sacramental fits more seamlessly with a single end rather than dual ends for human beings. In discussing the natural and supernatural direction of humanity, Jones holds that human rationality points to a supernatural telos and that even the natural end of humanity is "eternal felicity." (25) It is with this in mind that Jones's discussion of the human, including the Paleolithic human, as "a sacramental animal" makes the most sense. (26) He insists that while one may speak of art as secular or profane, ultimately in its sign-making nature all art is sacred, sacred in its very esse. Art is significant for that which is real, good, and therefore holy, and it follows then in Jones's reasoning that all art is religious whether it is put to good or to bad uses.
Form and the World: The Visual Component
To put this in context, let us consider Jones's relationship to the spirituality of visual art. Jones began his career as an artist amidst a generation concerned with the metaphysical ground of visual art. British neo-romanticism arose in the 1930s and 40s, not as a defined art movement, but as a broad sensibility owing its use of line, spirituality of place, and respect for English tradition to the Romantic painters/engravers Samuel Palmer and William Blake. (27) Paul Nash, for example, was particularly concerned with investing his landscapes with deeply ethical and mystical associations and looked to Blake as a model: "If I were asked to describe this spirit I would say it is of the land; genius loci is indeed almost its conception. ... For [Blake], Albion possessed great spiritual personality." (28) Nash was particularly interested in how various aspects of a landscape could be connected to one another in large, symbolical ways. His Solstice of the Sunflower (1945), according to the painter, embodies the "mystical association of the sun and sunflower." (29) His Pillar and Moon explores a similar connection between the spherical stone pillar and its mother, the moon. (30) Paintings like this implied a component to the world that stretched beyond and outside the simply material factors.
Nor was Nash alone in this concern. Ivon Hitchens, the son of a Congregational minister who had turned to Theosophy, conducted a similar visual search for spiritual powers in nature, (31) as did the Gnostic painter Cecil Collins, (32) who described himself as "being turned towards the sun." Collins rejected English surrealism as a Romanticism terribly off-course and insisted that the problem of modern civilization was in not having a metaphysical basis. (33) Yet surrealism, in turn, had its own spiritual preoccupations. The Quaker critic Herbert Read would defend surrealism (or, as he preferred, "super-realism") as the natural extension of English romanticism. (34) Surrealism, he insisted, offered a "monism or identity of spirit and matter." (35) It sought to bridge the gap between classicism and romanticism by a kind of irrational, even transcendent nonmaterial world picture. (36) Not surprisingly, neo-romantics such as Nash learned from surrealism a particular mythic approach to the painted object. Yet neither the surrealists, the Gnostics, nor the romantics could claim a monopoly upon spiritual aspirations. Even opponents to neo-romanticism, such as the modernist abstractionist Ben Nicholson, could look to Plato's example in the search for universal, aesthetic forms: "'Painting' and 'religious experience' are the same thing. It is a question of the perpetual motion of a right idea," (37) an opinion he shared in a way both with his first wife, the painter Winifred Nicholson, as a Christian Scientist, and with his second, the sculptor and agnostic Barbara Hepworth. What they all were united in, if anything, was a belief that their approaches were more authentic than those of traditional painting and traditional Christian theology. Winifred, for example, saw Ben's and her work as "sweeping away Victorian, Edwardian, Old Theology, [and] Old Tory views." (38)
These various options in play in twentieth-century British art could not help but be an influence on Jones, for they raised a fundamental set of questions: if the nature of the world is more than that of the physical alone, can one portray that nonmaterial portion somehow in paint and sculpture? Likewise, what exactly is the relationship between the material and nonmaterial world? I have chosen to speak of these phenomena in Jones's visual art and poetry as forms of "metaphysical thickness." In his preface to The Anathemata, Jones insisted on the large associative range of things in the world: "The arts abhor any loppings off of meanings or emptying out, any lessening of the totality of connotation, any loss of recession and thickness through." (39) As he points out, mysteries are revelations; they cloak some things in order to uncover others: "All 'mysteries' are meant to disclose, to show forth something." (40) Jones struggled throughout his career to express a truth about the places and people in the world: that they transcend mere materiality, and yet that those material natures are not disposable. The materials are mediators of the universal and of the supernatural. (41) They can neither be flattened to their physicality nor absolved of it. Objects are clustered inside and out with historic and mythic references, as well as supernatural connections. (42) This is what they in reality are, and for Jones, this thick reality is more than just the vertical relationship of matter to spirit, it is also the horizontal relationship of the saeculum to the eschaton. He insisted to Harman Grisewood: "It isn't the artist's 'fancy' or 'imagination' that imposes these qualities on a work--the blasted stuff is there as plain as a pikestaff ... [the trouble is] how to 'transubstantiate' these qualities into whatever medium." (43) For Jones, the artist finds in the past aspects of the nature of things, which are then disclosed for others to behold. (44)F In "Art and Sacrament," Jones draws upon lessons that he learned from his post-Impressionist context: "The mountain [is] under the form of paint" he insists. (45) All art represents, that is, it makes present what it reveals. The shrimp girl is made present in some actual sense in William Hogarth's painting. In Jones's view the cross and the Eucharist would not take the form they do unless human beings were already oriented to a sign-making that attests to the supernatural, eternal end, (46) and, thus, an art that is capable of showing more than its simple material or verbal components. Like Rousselot and Marechal, for Jones the sacramental is based in a natural capacity of perceiving the real essence behind the material accidents, and this capacity is strengthened by grace. Jones asserts, "It would appear, to me, impossible that at the Redemption of the World anything should have been done which committed man to any activity not utterly inalienable from his nature. In such a context the extraneous is inconceivable." (47)
In 1971, Jones would look back on the flower paintings of Winifred Nicholson and express his appreciation with scholastic language: "Perhaps we can say, by analogy, that she showed forth the 'substance' rather than the 'accidents' shining through the apportioned parts of matter that Aquinas said constituted 'beauty', and this is best exemplified in Winfred's best wonder-making." (48) Nicholson in her paintings of the thirties, Jones held, had transubstantiated the essence of floral beauty. He made a similar discovery about his own paintings of flowers and glassware. He came to speak of them as chalice paintings. Briar Cup (1932), July Change, Flowers on a Table (1932), Mehefin (1950), Flora in CalixLight (1950), and Gwyll Dewi Sant: St. David's Day (1954) offer us the thin outlines of cups and glasses that at times are washed in blues and yellows and at other times overflow with long vines of thorns and flowers. The flowers especially overtake the picture, for, as Jones came to understand, their true substance, which is Eucharistic grace, pours out from the accidents of the glassware. Rowan Williams, in describing these paintings, observes that "the pencil lines, very delicate and exact, present superimposed layers of representation" and that these layers refuse to let the eye settle on one thing. (49) Color, then, predominates ironically by its spatial brevity, thereby suggesting energetic, even dangerous overgrowth. Their delicacy is nevertheless superabundant--flowing out into all the space of the paintings. (50)
Typology and Theosis: The Historical Component
To better understand why Jones's own aesthetic theory inclined to a single rather than a dual end for humanity, I believe we should also look to Christopher Dawson's influence on the poet. (51) In his essay "On Spiritual Intuition," part of the collection, Enquiries, Dawson cites Marechal authoritatively, even as he admits that it is often difficult to decide between a position more like Rousselot's or more like that of Maritain's. (52) Yet Dawson finally holds that the cases in non-Christian philosophical and mystical experience do point to something like a natural orientation to the final end of human beings in the beatific vision, an orientation that is realized by the action of grace. (53) In his "The Nature and Destiny of Man," Dawson argues that ideologies that have sought to separate or deny either the material or spiritual aspect of human beings ultimately fail. The majority of history has believed rightly in a transcendent and moral reality, and Dawson sees the greatest cultural achievements of humanity arising from rational and spiritual resistance to mere animal and instinctive existence. (54) Human systems of natural religion, as well as the cultural cement they provide, begin in the spiritual consciousness of all human beings. In Dawson's understanding, nature and grace express themselves historically and culturally. The Christian God has made a world in which human cultures are already oriented and thus prepared for the news of the gospel.
Jones's The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments (1974), a sequence of nine poems, was assembled in part by the poet from his larger project, The Roman Quarry, which he had begun working on in the 1940s. Five of the poems focus on Roman echoes of coming Christianity, as do several portions of The Roman Quarry. Because of these typological anticipations, they parallel both sides of the nature and grace debate, but increasingly embody a position like that of Rousselot and Dawson. (55) For example, with the poem, '"The Narrows," we enter the mind of a Roman soldier stationed near the English Channel. He wonders aloud to his companion how much longer the empire can hold out against the barbarians outside the metaphoric walls of the imperium. The war cry of their enemies can now be heard in their own multi-ethnic ranks, and he fears that the gods will judge them, that is if the divine beings have not already abandoned Rome. His language is evocative of the biblical Epistle to the Ephesians:
when the cosmocrats of the dark aeon find themselves wholly at a loss in the meandered labyrinth of their own monopolies.
His regret for the horrible harvesting of the World Mother also points to the maternal compassion of Mary, who takes into herself "the iron thrust / that gives not life." (56) And his final sober reflections ponder the shape of the afterlife:
I wonder how the Dialectic works far-side of the Styx ... if the withering away is more remarked than hereabouts. (57)
The dim premonition of the death of the gods and of the harrowing of Hades hints that the wasting away of the old order brings something new, if only sensed in outline.Yet this historical fading in Jones's view also has aesthetic possibilities. For Jones, the loss of something removes it from the realm of the useful to the crafting of that which can transcend it. "From the inevitable failure the splendour of the extra-utile will shine out." (58) Human cultural forms, such as the Roman, are ultimately all made for the glory of the Creator, "the numina of localities and differentiated traditions;" (59) thus, the premonitions of the Christian gospel are not surprising.
The poem "The Wall," likewise, illustrates the obvious inseparability of the utility of war and of the extra-utile of Roman religion. "The Wall" takes its name from the religious/mythic form of sacred architecture that once laid out the Roman sacred city and its territories, but it is now breaking down before multicultural imperial realities.The divine origins of Rome are still expressed in the narrator's free association. He calls up her creation myths: the she-wolf, the twins Romulus and Remus, the marriage of Illia and Mars, and so forth, but the narrator now wonders what their sacred geometry was actually for in the face of their world empire:
Did that wall contain a world from the beginning did they project the rectilineal plane upwards to the floor of Heaven ... that we should sprawl from Septimontium a megalopolis that wills death? (60)
In the poem, too, the Celtic King of the Bean, who is subject to Roman mockery, serves as a type of Christ, even though he is dismissed by the narrator: "But you and me, comrade, the Darlings of Ares, who've helped a lot of Gauls and gods to die, we shall continue to march and bear in our bodies the marks of the Marcher-by whatever name they call him." (61)
Similarly, in "The Fatigue," the low-ranking Roman sergeant in Jerusalem lectures his lazy Celtic underlings that they will be assigned duty at the crucifixions. He does not realize, however, that his own beliefs act as typoi for the Christ event, invoking imagery of baptism, world trees, altars, stripped tables, and bodily immolation. (62) This pattern is even more pronounced in the poem "The Tribune's Visitation," which Jones clearly connects to the Roman sacramentum, the oath of allegiance taken by new recruits. (63) The Roman tribune, angered at the troop's lack of discipline, refuses the old goddess religion and the dying Gaul; (64) indeed, he holds no belief in any real religious reality, yet he too, preaches to the soldiers a renewed communion of "mutilated signa" with language preparatory for Christ and his Mother.
from Caesar's womb we issue by a second birth. Ah! Lucina! what irradiance can you bring to this parturition? What light brights this deliverance? (65)
With such imagery, we are only a step away from John chapter 1 and the light of the Logos and John chapter 3 and the new birth. Certainly, here Jones shares a concern with Dawson as to this predictive element and nature of human history.Yet Maritain, too, had this kind of question in view at times.
Maritain held that "a natural spirituality" of various kinds, as well as "the natural love of God inscribed in the depth our being" existed in some definable form. (66) Such connatural categories, therefore, also obliged Maritain to compare and distinguish artistic production and metaphysical intellection, (67) as well as poetic experience from mystical experience, even "natural" mystical experience. (68) In his classic work, The Degrees of Knowledge, he held that to accept Rousselot and Marechal's position was to radically confuse the categories of nature and grace, so he insisted that "there can be no 'immediate grasp' of God in the natural order," (69) and yet Maritain was quite willing to accept that there were apparent exceptions to this--mystics in Hinduism and Sufi Islam. These, he posited, experienced the true God only by virtue of infused grace, and thus were members of the universal Church in a special sense. (70) In similar fashion, "the Gentile world before Christ ... in a merely inchoate way" pointed to Christ as murky prophetic "Sibyls" (113). (71) Jones's sergeant and tribune, I suspect have this Sibyl-like, albeit unconscious, quality. It is not surprising, for example, that Jones places a special emphasis on the medieval reading of Virgil's Fourth Eclogue. Jones's painted inscription Syng Hevin Imperiall (1961) was originally created for reduction as Christmas cards by his publisher Faber and Faber. The inscription places William Dunbar's Renaissance hymn of the Incarnation center stage and borders it with the Latin line from the Eclogue, "Now comes the final age of the Sibyl's song." Together, the two texts announce the Nativity, merging Roman and Christian eras, yet the angelic injunction for all the earth to make harmonious music is clearly for Jones the hoped-for event. The two texts do not receive equal visual authority.
Still, some of Jones's Roman poems go beyond a vague Sibylline intuition and suggest a more pronounced natural orientation to the supernatural, even a sacramental capacity. In part this is because we move to the mind of simple soldiers rather than their superiors, and ones touched to some degree with Celtic love of place and of mother. In "The Dream of Private Clitus" a Roman solider recounts a dream of himself and his now dead Celtic bunkmate who lie in the compassionate presence of the sculptured relief of the Tellus Mater along the Roman Way. Clitus connects her with the Celtic goddess of whom his companion had spoken, (72) yet in the dream he also recalls a childhood lamb sacrificed for the March feast; and as in childhood, he "bellows" tears for the lamb and awakens. He finds himself longing for a new world order without the Roman administrators who cannot love.
Dea Roma, Flora dea meretrix or world-nutricula ... There are some things that can't be managed even in these dreams. (73)
As the narrator realizes, even with an awareness of a different possible order, not much can be accomplished. Dawson held that this pessimism was emblematic of the limits of nature without grace. The world-denying nature of Buddhism and that of Sufi Islam, sans their exceptional mystics, he cited as examples of human religious limitations. Even though human capacities are oriented to the higher end of caritas and world civilizations evince this, they are not finally capable of such a love without supernatural grace. The Christian faith, Dawson insists, brings something historically unique to the table. Jesus Christ is held to be the restorer of humanity--the New Man who has come to bring up what was at best a weak "potentiality awaiting realization than ... a force dominating the whole nature of man." (74) Christ's grace is made manifest in those being saved by the power of caritas, which includes a profound spiritual and mystical love that transcends normal human desire and willpower. "From the Catholic point of view, it is just as false to treat nature and grace as mutually exclusive things as it is to oppose body and soul, or matter and spirit, to one another; for the union of nature and grace makes up the Christian, just as the union of body and soul makes up the natural man. The supernatural is not the contradiction of nature, but its restoration and crown." (75) While he would share with Maritain some sense of the distance between natural and special revelation, Dawson holds that grace is not only above nature, it also continually interpenetrates and draws nature upward, not against its earthly orientation but in fulfillment of it. Ultimately, for the historian the end of human beings is theosis, for "the whole material world, will be brought into a true relation with the soul, so that everywhere matter is the extension of spirit" and "the earthly, elevated with the divine, [will] be freed from corruptibility, and transfigured." (76) What Dawson helps Jones to understand is that nature and grace exist not only in a ontological (vertical) relationship of orientation and gratuity, but also in a historical (horizontal) relationship of temporal type and ante-type. And the former necessitates the later.
In the 1960s, this strong emphasis on nature being oriented toward grace, as well as theosis being the telos of history became even more essential to Jones's thinking, and his language in his essays began to risk the conflation that Maritain and others feared, though in all fairness it is a conflation that Maritain all but models. (77) The extra-utile--that which is beyond mere utility--for Jones simply is the sacramental for which human beings thirst. (78) The art of Picasso and of Joyce in this sense possesses "exceptional sacramentality," (79) and, thus, Jones can speak of their "transubstantiations" to describe the act of art; for the splendor of form, the fidelity to nature, includes some "fidele to super-nature." (80) "The artist is anthropomorphic to the core; so that unless his anthropos is also Unbegotten, he must be an idolator. There is no other way." It is the splendor of form that then draws us to God. (81) The Incarnation and Eucharist cannot be separated: "showing forth the invisible under visible signs." What signs do is finally truly significant, that is, "the Logos" because the sacramental is the "normal mode of apperception," and natural subjects and objects "channel grace." (82)
The theme of the sacramental as that natural apperception that can channel grace is perhaps most pronounced in Jones's poem "The Tutelar of the Place," in which we finally enter the mind of a Celtic recruit, and here especially we see both the advantages and dangers upon which the nature-grace debate focused. The Mater Tellus, the narrator reflects, "loves place, time, demarcation, hearth, kin, enclosure, site, differentiated cult ... to each she is other, named of some name other." (83) "She is a rare one for locality," for she embodies that knowledge that is embodied in family, tribe, stream, and field, and as Earth Mother she also echoes the Christian God the Father, "the unmade begetting and precessions of fair-height." (84) In the poem, the king and the queen of the Celt's faith, with their honey-cakes and men-geld, also act as typoi of Mary and Christ, (85) as does the soldier's grandmother who all but prays the Lord's prayer.
Sweet Jill of our hill hear us bring slow bones safe at the lode-ford keep lupa's bite without our wattles make her bark keep children good. (86)
And in the end, the soldier himself prays that "Sweet Mair devise a mazy-guard" to protect them from the Roman imperium: "Open unto us, let us enter a second time ... Womb of the Lamb the spoiler of the Ram." (87) Of course, even these gropings toward the truth of the Christian new birth are finally left incomplete without the knowledge of the Gospel that interprets and completes, yet the high level of echo with the Christian faith in these later poems suggests a direction already present in culture and persons awaiting the incoming of grace, though the poems run the risk of muddying that distinction, too. (88)
It would be, however, a mistake to read a universal pluralism into Jones's vision of grace in history. The world's religions in his soteriology are preparations for the Christian gospel. In one of the more revised portions of the poem entitled "The Roman Quarry," a soldier predicts to his comrade that on the one hill, the Roman and the Semitic world pictures may gather together their past struggles into a divine unity only if something like the Christian Incarnation takes place: "Unless some Lars named of all the names and master of them in very flesh on known-hill drags their convenient abstractions down and with hooks pinions the sky-plan to place and time." (89) In a moment of profound insight, he sees that such a lord is lord of "each locality" when the descending god offers "the blood of this body moist here this cranny of this rock on this parched alien hill far side Our Sea," and that such a sacrifice at Golgotha is open and actual for humans to really behold. This sacrifice of blood is "fertile flood" and flows back to the Earth Mother. (90) Just as the Welsh Earth Mother is preparation for the coming of Christianity and a wiser, more merciful vision, so the Roman cultic language of blood sacrifice opens up the possibility of understanding the atonement.
It helps to keep in mind that Jones was exploring these themes as early as the 1940s, and in some ways he visualized these in his paintings before he clearly theorized their implications in his essays. Jones's 1942 painting The Mother of the West, for example, also functions as a similar counter allegory. The lupine mother of Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome, is transformed here to a symbol of the coming of Christianity. The she-wolf gives suck not to the twins but to the Lamb of God. A holly wreath is about her neck, and what stands to her left among the ruins of the unraveling Roman imperium is a bombed-out church with the altar of the Eucharist still alight. A similar theme is also present in the painting Vexilla Regis (1947-48), named for one of Jones's favorite Latin hymns sung on Good Friday. Jones felt the painting was evocative of the Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood. (91) At one level, the three trees are a muted rucifixion scene: the ascendant central tree as the sacrificed yet victorious Christ; the tree on the left as the good thief in whose branches nests the pelican feeding her chicks; and the barren and broken tree on the right as the rebellious thief who refuses to repent. Yet the tree on the left also has the imperial emblems of leopard pelt and trumpet, while the one on the right, is, according to Jones "partly tree and partly triumphal column and partly imperial standard--a power symbol." In a letter to Mrs. Ede, 1949, Jones pointed out that St. Augustine's remark that "'empire is a great robbery' influenced me here." Jones explains the allegorical possibilities in Vexilla Regis are not meant to be "all that rigid, but very fluid." Still, to him it is significant that the imperial tree is overshadowed by the tree of the cross and "somehow or other, he is 'redeemed' too." (92) For Jones, the Roman mythos continues to dwell under the shade of the Christ tree, even as its imperialist aggressions have been broken.
The supernatural orientation of certain cultures, then, for Jones (and Dawson (93)) merges with the actual unfolding of history. Near the end of his life, Jones wrote an introduction to a reissue of his copper engravings for Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Jones, perhaps not surprisingly reads the poem as full of echoes of the Christ-event, Christian history, and the answer of the Virgin to the prayers of the faithful. He reviews the cultural history lying behind the poem typologically. Both the death of the Albatross and the suffering of the Mariner are types of Christ's cross. The ship itself, especially its keel, is also a type of Christ and Church, and he sees in these sign-systems the workings of providential history. God, if one will, has prepared such matters to speak of the Logos at time's center. Unfortunately, most of us are blinded to these central realities:
The apparent realness and effectual triumph of what is inimical (and to that extent deficient of reality), obscures for most of us, most of the time, and for some of us all of the time, that Reality upon which fixed lode philosophers cyn Cred ['before the creed'] and Christian theologians alike would have us take our bearings. What has the majority of us ever made of a Reality in which it is said that the good and the real are interchangeable terms? (94)
This way of reading story and history, Jones defends as being founded on the manner in which the patristic fathers reread Homer's The Odyssey as a prefiguration of Christ. Human beings are blinded to reality, including the signa of reality in their mythoi that precede and prefigure the eternal God. Indeed, as Jones points out, only in God can the eternal transcendent of goodness and that of absolute being be said to be brought together.
Obedient, Vestigial Presences
The poems in The Sleeping Lord that are set in early Christian Wales come at this relationship of history from the opposite direction. If the Christian Gospel has answered the typological expectations in pre-Christian Rome, it has not banished them. The preparation that is nature's cultural orientation is brought upward and forward by grace, not cut off in a non-human or ahistorical manner. In Jones's poem "The Hunt" the tapestry-like visual narration acts as a sacramental transubstantiation and Arthur and his men as Christ types. Arthur's wounds won in fighting the boar Trwyth are stigmata upon his brow and side and feet.
This was the Day of the Passion of the Men of Britain when they hunted the Hog life for life. (95)
Yet these lords are still kindred of Virgil "(who learned from the Sibyl the Change Date and the Turn of Time)." (96) In "The Sleeping Lord," the priestly prayer as a "creature of the Logos" (97) still absorbs in some way the sacred geometry of his Roman cultural ancestors. His remembrance of the dead reaches back cyn Cred to the foundational Greek and Latin authors who undergird his education, which is passed down from the patristic fathers, as well as to the pre-Christian Celtic lords and ladies whose nobility still informs the Arthurian and Welsh present. (98)
Another painting by Jones that embodies this pattern of Christian ascending upon the older pagan mythos is his Y Cyfarchiad I Fair (1963), a reworking of the Annunciation to Mary in the form of the Welsh legend of the beautiful Olwen who must be won by Culhwch, assisted by Arthur. The Angel Gabriel, who wears the winged sandals of Mercury, comes with a sword, which lighted by heaven's star, must pierce Mary's heart. The sword is encircled by the thorns her Son will wear. Yet the angel is also Culhwch surrounded by those beasts--owl and salmon and eagle and stag--that are associated with his quest to find Olwen.The ruins of the old imperium lay in the background of the painting with the constellations of Virgo (virginity) and Libra (justice) above and the sacred wattle and brook below. Mary holds the apple as a Second Eve and is adorned with a crown as the Queen of Heaven, yet she too holds not only foxgloves, the flower of death, but also the thorns with pierced hand, and the blood flows down protectively over the lupine mother of Rome. At Mary/Olwen's feet are trefoils in bloom that spring forth as the love which all who behold her must feel. Again, we see there-in Jones's synthesis of Roman and Welsh history, salvific destiny, and thick metaphysical reality, for the Welsh Arthurian legends link the Christian and Roman stories, embodying in history and a people's legends the ante-type that fulfills them.
This kind of link can also be seen in Jones's portrait of the mythic Arthurian Christ-figure in The Lord of Venedotia (1948). The lord represents the historical transition period between Roman Britain and the coming Bret-Weales world. He is a figure both wary and yet marked by a measure of hope; his off-set face is a study of two visages (left and right) in tandem. His hunting bird, the hilt of his sword, and his regalia all suggest a warrior, and yet he is set against a rural world of horses and goats wandering in the hills. The runic marker to the right bears the Chi-Rho of the Christian faith, while in the sky to the left is the iconographic pelican of Christ. The lord is both a military and a cultural savior. He is individualistic yet larger in cultural and historical meanings, and these are not imposed or alien to the lord, rather they are his innate self. He is also, I suspect, something of a typological referent to and from Jones's own time, perhaps even an autobiographical one. (99)
However, this pattern of type and ante-type is most explicit in Jones's poems built around the Mass. "The Kensington Mass," for example, follows the thoughts of the officiating priest. He reflects that the kiss given to the altar reaches back to the beautiful Ellen of Arthurian legend, who in turn reaches back to the Roman imperator, the land-surveyor, and the she-wolf and twins of Roman faith, and the celebrant knows that the Roman soldiers who saluted Mars and Phoebus were saluting unaware of the Christ "his gleaming axle-tree / still unseen." (100) Peter's denial strangely shares, too, in Roland's horn winded at Roncesvalles. All this flows onward from its cultural sources: "Down the meander and crooked labyrinth of time and maze of history, or historia intermeddled with potent and light-giving, life-giving, cult-making mythos." (101) Jones recognizes in the myth-making power of human beings the necessary preparation for the sacramental mediation of the Eucharist. We bring all we are and have been historically to the altar.
The argument of "The Grail Mass" explores this theme further, for Jones intends the poem as an answer to John Milton's "Ode to the Nativity." Jones believes that the old gods are not banished but brought under the authority of Christ. They are present in some way in the Mass still. "Ceres and Liber / and the dancing naiad" are in attendance as wafer and wine and water. They act as signs of Christ, themselves and him together. The narrator urges them not to flee but to wait on Christ as "his figura." The Egyptian god of death, Anubis, is also present. Indeed, all the old divines are instructed to "kneel / every Lar of you / numen or tutelary." Just as old Rome is present in the priest's garments and in some of the Latin Mass, so gargoyles are signs of the gods, "the proper image / and very figure / of us all" (102) The gods are the weak, natural, cultural mythos of human beings now transfigured by the Real Presence.
And does the sacristan fetch out the jackal's head? He does well for all must die who would eat the Bread. (103)
In this way, just as the sign-making capacity of pre-Christian cultures prepares them for the reception of grace, so the vestiges of pre-Christian mythoi, as natural expressions of historic, human cultures are taken up by grace into the Incarnate Logos.
For David Jones, if artists must seek to embody the genius of a place in paint and words, they must also remember that that numena is metaphysically thick--its sacramental sign-making a capacity made for the gift of grace to bring us all to that Vision where embodied love will finally be fulfilled. While one need not insist that Jones was consistent as a poet and artist or as a theorist in response to his creative works, nonetheless, his vision of culture and history helped him to offer an answer to the relationship of matter and spirit, history and telos. "What a criminal waste of time and energy at the moment of truth," Jones wrote, "supposing the utile to be all." (104) In this, he summed up much that was at stake in the question of nature and grace.
(1.) David Jones, Dai Greatcoat: A Self Portrait of David Jones in his Letters, ed. Rene Hague (London: Faber and Faber, 1980), 189.
(2.) Marie-Dominique Chenu, Aquinas and His Role in Theology, trans. Paul Philibert (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2002), 47.
(3.) Jones's time at Gill's artistic community at Ditchling is discussed in Jonathan Miles and Derek Shiel, David Jones: The Maker Unmade (Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1995), 42-60. Likewise, their time together in the Black Mountain border country is examined by Jonathan Miles, Eric Gill and David Jones at Capel-y-ffin (Bridgend, Wales: Seren, 1992).
(4.) Maritain's influence upon Jones's overall aesthetic theory has been explored especially by Thomas Dilworth, "David Jones and the Maritain Conversation," David Jones: Diversity in Unity, eds. Belinda Humfrey and Anne Price-Owen (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), 43-55; as well as Bernard Bergonzi, "David Jones and the Idea of Art," David Jones, Artist and Poet, eds. David Michael Jones and Paul Hillis (Aldershot, UK: Scholar Press, 1997), 89-101; Brian Keeble, "Epoch, Art, and Utility: Some Notes on David Jones and 'The Traditional Doctrine of Art,'" The Anglo-Welsh Review 25 (1975): 39-54 also provides a helpful discussion of Jones's aesthetic theory and its relationship to Catholic reflection on analogical hierarchies.
(5.) Along with Christina Scott's biography of Dawson, Christina Scott, A Historian and His World: A Life of Christopher Dawson, 1889-1970 (London: Sheed and Ward, 1984); Paul Robichaud's article, Paul Robichaud, "David Jones and Christopher Dawson," Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 6:3 (2003): 68-85 constitutes the most sustained exploration of their friendship and its impact on Jones. Robichaud's essay traces the two men's shared involvement in a number of Catholic cultural movements: the Order men with Tom Burns, Essays in Order (which surprisingly included Herbert Read), the Chelsea group and T. S. Eliot, as well as Jones and Dawson's friendship in the forties. See also Paul Robichaud, Making the Past Present: David Jones, the Middle Ages, and Modernism (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2007),104-19; as well as Kathleen Henderson Staudt, At theTurn of a Civilization: David Jones and Modern Poetics (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994), chapter 6; James R. Lothian, The Making and Unmaking of the English Catholic Intellectual Community, 1910-1950 (Notre Dame: Notre Dame Press, 2009), chapter 4; and Adam Schwartz, The Third Spring: G. K. Chesterton, Graham Greene, Christopher Dawson, and David Jones (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2005), chapters 3-4.
(6.) Tellingly, in a conversation about Thomas More's Utopia with Jones in 1970, William Blissett discussed the book as a meditation on nature and grace in light of the discovery of civilizations in the New World and supposed "natural men." As they talked of such ideas, the elderly Jones was mostly concerned to know that Blissett believed in the Christian doctrine of an original fall of humanity. William Blissett, The Long Conversation: A Memoir of David Jones (Oxford University Press, 1981), 56.
(7.) Gerald McCool, From Unity to Pluralism: The Internal Evolution of Thomism (NewYork: Fordham University Press, 1992), 205-08.
(8.) Gerald McCool, The Neo-Thomists (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1994),99-102.
(9.) Ibid., 110-12.
(10.) Pierre Rousselot, Intelligence: Sense of Being, Faculty of God, trans. Andrew Tallon. L'Intellectualisme de saint Thomas (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1999), 105-06.
(11.) Joseph Marechal, Studies in the Pyschology of the Mystics, trans. Algar Thorold (London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, 1927), 127-28.
(12.) McCool, From Unity to Pluralism, 125.
(13.) Ibid., 139, 146-47.
(14.) Jacques Maritain, On the Philosophy of History, ed. Joseph W. Evans (London: Geof-frey Bles, 1959), 102.
(15) Jacques Maritain, Art and Scholasticism with Other Essays, trans. J. F. Scanlan (London: Sheed and Ward, 1930), 69.
(16) Ibid., 96.
(17.) Ibid., 99.
(18.) One of Maritain's chief critiques of symbolism and romanticism was that they conflate the analogy between the artistic vocation, personality, and suffering with metaphysical elements and with the higher spiritual and supernatural life into an undifferentiated univocality. He was convinced that by keeping these separate one could better keep the vertical direction clear--the poetic points to the supernatural, just as natural mysticism points to supernatural mysticism. Cf. Jacques Maritain, Art and Poetry, trans. E. de P. Matthews (New York: Philosophical Library, 1943), 74-77; Jacques Maritain, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1953), 79-90, 187-95.
(19.) David Jones, Epoch and Artist: SelectedWritings, ed. Harman Grisewood (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), 90.
(20.) Ibid., 96. In 1946, Jones could use a very Maritain-inspired analysis of the art of factory workers as being concerned with "no end but its own perfection," for it has only vaguely in view the final end of humanity, and thus, while in some since human making is heavenly in that "it has outflanked 'the fall'--it is analogous not to faith but to charity." David Jones, The Dying Gaul and OtherWritings, ed. Harman Grisewood (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), 164.
(21.) Epoch and Artist, 117.
(22.) From the essay "Past and Present," Epoch and Artist, 142.
(23.) Epoch and Artist, 150.
(24.) Ibid., 157.
(25.) Ibid., 147-48.
(26.) Ibid., 155.
(27.) Jones's place in neo-romanticism is not acknowledged by everyone. MalcolmYorke sees him at best on the fringes of the movement. MalcolmYorke, The Spirit of Place: Nine Neo-Romantic Artists and their Times (London: Tauris, 2001), 24. Yet certainly, Jones's involvement in post-Impressionism is rather established. Jones for a time was part of the artistic collective, the 5 & 7 Society, which also included at one time or another, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Paul Nash, Henry Moore, and John Piper. Jones's cordial relations with the Nicholsons is also important. Cf. Paul Hillis, David Jones (London: Tate Gallery Publications, 1981), 33-37, as well as Miles and Schiel, (120-22,) 132-39.
(28.) Spirit of Place, 51.
(29.) David Fraser Jenkins, Paul Nash: The Elements (London: Scala, 2010), 72.
(30.) Ibid., 152-53.
(31.) Peter Khoroche, Ivon Hitchens (Burlington: Lund Humphries, 2007), 14, 78. "Hitchens was constantly speculating on 'the universal mind of God' ... 'the uni-verse only shows us as much as we can see.' [His] "desire to give expression to his deeper intimations about life and the spiritual forces at work in the world." Khoroche, 164.
(32.) Jones and Collins were friends and exchanged a number of letters throughout their lives. Miles and Schiel 201-02; Naomi Rowe In Celebration of Cecil Collins, Visionary Artist and Educator (London: Tate Gallery, 2008), 257, 292.
(33.) In Celebration, 242-44.
(34.) Herbert Read, "Surrealism and the Romantic Principle," Selected Writings, Poetry and Criticism (New York: Horizon, 1964), 246-82, 247.
(35.) Ibid., 266.
(36.) Jones's friendship with Read did not extend to Read's philosophical subjectivism (Dilworth, 53). Cf. Jones's review of Read's Poetry and Anarchy republished in The Chesterton Review 23 (1997): 89-91. Jones agreed with Read's stress on human freedom, especially creative freedom, but Jones did not hold that political freedom had any real bearing on artistic freedom.
(37.) Norbert Lynton, Ben Nicholson (London: Phaidon, 1993), 64, 243.
(38.) Ibid., 23.
(39.) Epoch and Artist, 120.
(40.) Ibid., 129.
(41.) Jonathan Miles observes of Jones's 1926 engraving The Artist (a cover for Eric Gill's Christianity and Art) that it "expresses the strange fluidity that the practice of art creates: the interplay of matter and spirit" (Eric Gill, 116); perhaps this is so because it seeks to picture the artist as both craftsman and as scriptural scribe. The artist is a maker at the center of the fecund, active vegetative and animal world, yet he is centered in the church and (perhaps unknowingly) blessed by the hand of Christ reaching from his ascendant position. David Blamires, in similar fashion, sees in Jones's mature style a juxtaposition of line, color, and perspective in which "a degree that things are perceived through and beyond each other in a manner which suggests that space is transcended" (Artist and Writer, 67).
(42.) Rowan Williams describes this phenomenon in Jones's art as "[t]he sense of ontological depth to metaphor, the awareness of participatory patterns under the surface of appearance to that thinking itself is always allusive and (in every sense) involved." Rowan Williams, Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love (London: Continuum, 2005), 76-77.
(43.) Dai Greatcoat, 189.The notion of transubstantiation, as Carson Daly recognizes, not only assisted Jones in resisting modern notions of subjectivism, but also the modern effects of technology. Carson Daly, "Transubstantiation and Technology in the Work of David Jones," Notre Dame English Journal 15 (1982): 217-30, 217-21.
(44.) Epoch and Artist, 139.
(45.) Ibid., 171.
(46.) Ibid., 173-75.
(47.) Ibid., 169.
(48.) Hillis, 34-35.
(49.) Williams, 68.
(50.) His sea paintings of the late twenties and early thirties, such as The Terrace (1929) and Manawydan's Glass Door (1931) have another kind of sacramental quality. They infuse (or better said, immerse) the scenes with a watery Prussian blue that shines through and over the focusing device of the central windows. While the window in each canvas offers a frame within a frame to isolate the seascape, the water's color and light washes the drapes and wall panels. It is not presumptuous to see in these a baptismal quality. Christopher Neve, for example, argues that Jones's stress on water and light in his paintings are emblematic of his attempt to capture the spiritual in movement and transformation. Christopher Neve, Unquiet Landscape: Places and Ideas in Twentieth-Century English Painting (London: Faber and Faber, 1991), 93. Jones can also impart a similar sacramental immersion to other subjects, such as his treatment of Rene Hague's Press (1930). The small press is submerged in color, while its appendages take on the animal-like qualities of claws, pads, and wings. The press has come alive, a thing of time and not space alone. Rather than being simply a tool, the press is animated by human freedom and energy.
(51.) Jones owned 12 books by Dawson, including Age of the Gods, Enquiries into Religion and Culture, Progress and Religion, and Religion and Culture. Huw Ceiriog Jones, The Library of David Jones (1895-1974): A Catalogue (Aberystwyth: The National Library of Wales, 1995), 82-84.
(52.) Christopher Dawson, Enquiries into Religion and Culture (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2009 (1933), 160, n. 5. As Dawson asserts:
But it is difficult to decide, in concrete cases, whether the supreme intuition of the Neoplatonist or the Vedantist philosopher is simply the intuition of pure being interpreted in an ontological sense, or whether it is a genuine intuition of spiritual reality. There is no a priori reason for excluding the later alternative; indeed, in some cases it seems absolutely necessary to accept it. ... In such cases the obvious explanation is that such experience is mystical in the full sense of the word, since we need not deny the existence of supernatural grace wherever the human mind turns towards God and does what lies in its power. ... [Even while we admit] that this higher experience may have its psychological roots in a rudimentary natural capacity of the soul for the intuition of God (160-61).
(53.) For MarEchal the mark of mystical experience is the feeling of the presence of Infinite Being. It becomes clear that his discussion of presence is to consider the feeling/sense of presence in various forms of mysticism, including non-Christian ones. For example, he considered whether Hallaj the Sufi mystic could be favored with something akin to the graces he claims to have received--the Christian God providentially awarding him these as "a door towards supernatural faith, and consequently to safeguard the individual possibility of salvation for [Muslims] of good will" (278). Marechal anticipated Maritain's point about natural mysticism being different from the additional level of supernatural mysticism (288, 300-03, 316), and he takes the trouble to tease out the differences between Christian mysticism and Sufi mysticism. Moreover, he argues that natural forms of mysticism share with supernatural mysticism similar psychological approaches to self-negation and an expectation that the ego-less state leads to a higher experience of reality; at the same time, Marechal is convinced that the various metaphysical pessimisms of Eastern mysticism would, if practiced consistently, lead to great psychological damage, though they are not so practiced, and many ethically noble persons are engaged in them (334). Finally, he holds that the experiences and tools of natural mysticism are similar to the preparation of the Christian mystics for the gift of supernatural mystical relationship (338).
(54.) Dawson, Enquiries, 262-63.
(55.) Dawson's The Age of the Gods also had a noticeable impact on the history that Jones used to craft the Roman poems. Jonathan Miles, Backgrounds to David Jones: a Study in Sources and Drafts (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1990), 130-34.
(56.) David Jones, The Roman Quarry and Other Sequences, ed. Harman Grisewood and Rene Hague (New York: The Sheep Meadow Press, 1981), 62.
(57.) Ibid., 63.
(58.) Ibid., 70.
(59.) Epoch and Artist, 270.
(60.) David Jones, The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragments (London: Faber and Faber, 1974), 12-13.
(61.) Ibid., 14.
(62.) Roman Quarry, 35-36.
(63.) Sleeping Lord, 43.
(64.) Ibid., 53, 57-58.
(65.) Ibid., 58.
(66.) Art and Poetry, 48, n.1.
(67.) Ibid., 10-11. In 1923, Maritain describes the lyricism in Chagall's art as "a virtue already almost Christian." Jacques Maritian and Jean Cocteau, Art and Faith, trans. John Coleman (New York: Philosophical Library, 1948), 19; yet in 1934, he is also careful to stress the Jewish imagination of the painter (Art and Faith, 22).
(68.) Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry, 234-35, 179.
(69.) The Degrees of Knowledge, 287.
(70.) Ibid., 7, n. 5, 287. Cf. Jacques Maritain, "Natural Mystical Knowledge and the Void" Ransoming the Time, trans. Harry Lorin Binsse (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948), 255-90 for his answer to Rousselot. Natural contemplation of God is not a mystical experience of union with God (259, 260-61); there can be no natural intuition of the divine light of God; this only happens by the gift of grace. Contrary to Marechal, he holds to John of St. Thomas and John of the Cross; and yet there is the possibility of a negative natural mysticism that contemplates the void and thereby arrives at "the substantial esse of the soul by means of negative, or rather annihilating, intellectual connaturality" (263-64, 272). But this is not the same as the void experienced by the en-graced mystic as a condition for "the union of love" through the power of the Spirit of God (276).
(71.) However, as best I can tell, while Maritain speaks of typological laws for history, with the exception of the experience of Israel, he sees more rupture than continuum between the "exceptional and sporadic manner" of pagan intuitions of the Gospel and the coming of Christianity. Jacques Maritain, On the Philosophy of History, ed. Joseph W. Evans (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1959), 113-14.
(72.) Sleeping Lord, 20.
(73.) Ibid., 23.
(74.) Dawson, Enquiries 270.
(75.) Ibid., 281.
(76.) Ibid., 284-86. Similar, more developed discussions can be found in both Progress and Religion and Religion and Culture. In Progress, chapter 4 is particularly important. Dawson concludes that primitive religious impulses and Christian mystical aspirations share some important aspirations. Christopher Dawson, Progress and Religion, (New York: Image, 1960), 76-77. He stresses the central importance of the Incarnation as bringing together nature and grace (126-29, 140-41).
(77.) For example, in his Answer to Jean Cocteau, Maritain compresses the analogical space between poetry and the supernatural to a razor thin distinction. He certainly insists that such a relationship has "all that it implies for them of kinship and distance," yet this kinship highly exalts poetic inspiration by its participation in the transcendentals as a kind of supernaturalism, and the poet is like the saint in suffering for a calling, in expressing a radical purity of purpose, in possessing "a pure spiritual essence" (Art and Faith, 88-91).
(78.) Dying Gaul, 178, 182.
(79.) Ibid., 180-81,
(80.) Ibid., 141, n. 14.
(81.) Ibid., 142-43, as well as 141, n. 14.
(82.) Ibid., 171-74.
(83.) Sleeping Lord, 59.
(84.) Ibid., 60.
(85.) Ibid., 61.
(86.) Ibid., 61-62.
(87.) Ibid., 64.
(88.) Maritain described this possibility as the danger of art, which, in its mimicry of perfection and the pursuit of the transcendental, can deceive human beings into believing that achieving the natural ends of human culture and justice are actually possible, and thus it acts as an idol, for "art is un-human, as sainthood is super-human" (Art and Faith, 96).
(89.) Roman Quarry, 42-43.
(90.) Ibid., 43.
(91.) Epoch and Artist, 260-61.
(92.) Dai Greatcoat, 150.
(93.) Dawson opines, "It is certainly more rational to suppose that the world of thought and of spiritual values, on the threshold of which man has the consciousness of standing, is a real world, an order no less great than the material order, and it is in this alone that we shall find a solution to the otherwise hopeless conflict between man's spiritual aspirations and the limitations of his material existence" (Enquiries, 262).
(94.) Dying Gaul, 24.
(95.) Sleeping Lord, 69.
(96.) Ibid., 66.
(97.) Ibid., 79.
(98.) Ibid., 83-85.
(99.) Compare The Lord of Venedotia with Jones's self-portrait, Human Being (1931).
(100.) Roman Quarry, 90-91.
(101.) Ibid., 92.
(102.) Ibid., 107-08.
(103.) Ibid., 110.
(104.) Dying Gaul, 184.
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|Author:||Mitchell, Philip Irving|
|Publication:||Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2012|
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