Saturday, February 23, 2019

On the Endlessness of the World Story

From James V. Schall, S. J. at the Russell Kirk Center:
A“happy ending” is rather the beginning of a story within a story. It is but a “fragment” of the “seamless Web of Story.” A “happy ending,” in other words, ends nothing but begins everything that we might desire. Stories and lives that have “happy endings” have a “greater sense and grasp of the endlessness of the World of Story than most modern ‘realistic’ stories, already hemmed within the confines of their own small time.” We have, in other words, the sense that the narration of the lives that we live and encounter are indeed “endless.” They are not simply confined to our own time, even though we are given four score years and ten in this world. 
All things, Tolkien thinks, should have names. The very purpose of man in the universe is to name things, because each “this” thing is not that thing. “Namelessness is not a virtue … and should not [be] imitated; for vagueness … is a debasement, a corruption due to forgetfulness and lack of skill.” Things are luminous with their own light that we are to recognize and name. For things that are not ourselves also show us what we are not and therefore, at the same time, they show us what we are—beings who are to know what is not themselves in the very knowing of themselves. 
Timelessness is something else. “Once upon a time” and “they lived happily ever after” drop our lives into the flow of time that is already going on and will go on with us in it, our story. “The beginning is not poverty-stricken but significant. It produces at a stroke the sense of a great uncharted world of time.” We look back, with memory, on what did happen. We live the story of what we are and where we were, with whom we met, with whom we spent time. (Read more.)

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