posted on Dec, 14 2002 @ 12:40 AM
From Collected Letters. Vol. 1. :
TO CECIL HARWOOD (B):
Postmark: 28 October 1926
My Dear Harwood,
Thanks for your letter. I can think of a thousand replies to what you say about Cantos I and II, but you must be right, as Barfield, the reviewer in
the New Leader (my best so far), and the only don who is in my confidence, all think the same. Securus judicat. That is one of the many quotations of
which my knowledge is purely functional: one knows where it applies, but what the deíil it was about I never discovered.
About the powers other than reason ñ I would be sorry if you mistook my position. No one is more convinced than I that reason is utterly inadequate to
the richness and spirituality of real things: indeed this is itself a deliverance of reason. Nor do I doubt the presence, even in us, of faculties
embryonic or atrophied, that lie in an indefinite margin around the little finite bit of focus which is intelligence ñ faculties anticipating or
remembering the possession of huge tracts of reality that slip through the meshes of the intellect. And, to be sure, I believe that the symbols
presented by imagination at its height are the workings of that fringe and present to us as much of the super-intelligible reality as we can get while
we retain our present form of consciousness.
My scepticism begins when people offer me explicit accounts of the super-intelligible and in so doing use all the categories of the intellect. If the
higher worlds have to be represented in terms of number, subject-and-attribute, time, space, causation etc (and thus they nearly always are
represented by occultists and illuminati), the fact that knowledge of them had to come through the fringe remains inexplicable. It is more natural to
suppose in such cases that the illuminati have done what all of us are tempted to do: ñ allowed their intellect to fasten on those hints that come
from the fringe, and squeezing them, has made a hint (that was full of truth) into a mere false hard statement. Seeking to know (in the only way we
can know) more, we know less. I, at any rate, am at present inclined to believe that we must be content to feel the highest truths ëin our bonesí: if
we try to make them explicit, we really make them untruth.
At all events if more knowledge is to come, it must be the wordless & thoughtless knowledge of the mystic: not the celestial statistics of Swedenborg,
the Lemurian history of Steiner, or the demonology of the Platonists. All this seems to me merely an attempt to know the super-intelligible as if it
were a new slice of the intelligible: as though a man with a bad cold tried to get back smells with a microscope. Unless I greatly misunderstand you,
you are (in a way) more rationalist than I, for you would reject as mere ideology my ëtruths felt in the bonesí. All this, by the bye, is meant for
exposition, not argument.
I should dearly like a visit. Term ends on Dec. 11th, but I am not quite certain whether I shall be able to interpose a weekend between that and the
beginning of a scholarship examination. But I will do my best. But seriously, are you certain that I shall not be a bother? I know that even an
intimate friend cannot come to a house without disturbing to some extent the even tenor of its way ñ and thereís the parvus puer. Please make quite
sure about this: and above all donít let Daphne persuade herself that it wonít be a bother, because she thinks youíd enjoy having me. The fact that
you have inflicted the whole of Dymer on her
(Unhappy fate the poetís wife attends
ñ He reads his own stuff, and he reads his friendsí)
has given me such large idea of her altruism, that I am afraid.
Barfield spent a night with me in college last week and we had a golden evening. With best wishes to all of you,
Lewis, C.S. Collected Letters. Vol. 1. Ed. Walter Hooper. London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2000.
[Edited on 14-12-2002 by Savonarola]