Friday, February 11, 2022

Patterns of People in the Phases II

(This follows on from the first post, which is here)

Assigning the phases

At least at the initial stages, the assignment of people to their phases was done by George Yeats or the voices speaking through her hand. Yeats appears to have accepted what his wife wrote to a large extent—there are tweaks, questionings, and changes, but in general he sought to understand what she gave him in its own terms.

Leaves from WBY's question notebook (L) and the automatic replies in a separate notebook (R), from 21 December 1917 (see YVP1 168–69). The numbering is slightly out here.
Question 44 (in the lower half of the page) asks "How late can one find a measure of artistic beauty" and the answer (at the top of the answer page) is numbered 45: "till 24".
Q45: "How does literary style differ before and after beauty", referring to Phase 15, and the answer is 46: "Before beauty style is created after beauty it is inherent not sought after tennyson is at twelve Goethe at 18 Dante at 17 Wordsworth at 14".


As with the rest of the script, the names were assigned in the to and fro of the dialogue between the couple, and most of them appeared during relatively few sessions early in the automatic writing sessions in December 1917 and January 1918. So on the pages shown above, from 21 December 1917, just two months after the script had started, we have the guide called Leaf assigning Tennyson to Phase 12, Goethe to 18, and Wordsworth to 14, without any prompting to illustrate a question about literary style. Then Rossetti is assigned to 14 and Browning to 19 in response to WBY’s questions.

List of phase attributions, filed with the AS of 2 June 1918 (see YVP1 549n5, The Making of Yeats's 'A Vision', vol. 2, 418, and A Reader's Guide to Yeats's 'A Vision' 303–8). The zodiac signs or numbers in parentheses refer to the people's "cycle"—how often they had already passed around the circle of phases.


More than a few of these attributions were later changed so that, despite the communicators' input, the Yeatses eventually put Keats at Phase 14 rather than Phase 12, closer to the Full Moon or Beauty but no longer the phase of the hero. Tennyson was also moved from 12 to 14. These were brought together in a list in 1918, only some of which were included in A Vision. (Not all of the names in A Vision are on this early list, but most of them are.) Excluding some fictional characters and categories there are about a hundred names in total.


In the amplified Wheel that follows, the inner names here are those that were not included in A Vision. The earlier phases are far fuller, while the antithetical phases are really just "more of the same", just adding more names and data points to the sample.

The Great Wheel including most of the names from the 1918 lists and A Vision.

Though the panoply is a little overwhelming at first, it also has some of the fascination of Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party (1974–79) or of Simon Patterson's The Great Bear (1992)—who is chosen? what are the connections? how do they relate?

Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party

Simon Patterson, The Great Bear

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Homer was wrong...

"Homer was wrong," wrote Heracleitus of Ephesus. "Homer was wrong in saying: 'Would that strife might perish from among gods and men!' He did not see that he was praying for the destruction of the universe; for if his prayer were heard, all things would pass away." These are the words on which the superhumanists should meditate. Aspiring toward a consistent perfection, they are aspiring toward annihilation. The Hindus had the wit to see and the courage to proclaim the fact; Nirvana, the goal of their striving, is nothingness. Wherever life exists, there also is inconsistency, division, strife.
Aldous Huxley, "Spinoza's Worm," Do What You Will (1928)

'Herakleitos', in John Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy (1892),
see Fragment 43.

Much that I say here is in Herakleitos though the form is different. "Homer was wrong in saying 'would that strife might perish from among gods and men!' He did not see that he was praying for the destruction of the universe; for if his prayer were heard, all things would pass away." & again "War is the father of all ; & some he has made gods & some men, some bond & some free."
W. B. Yeats, drafts of A Vision B, late 1920s, in Rapallo Notebook E (NLI 13,582)
conflict... creates all life
(AVB 72n, CW14 53n)

My instructors identify consciousness with conflict.... 
(AVB 214, CW14 158)