Auerbach seems to imply that the Greeks supposed a subject can be exhausted by its surface expression. I think the fact that generations of storytellers passing along the tale which Homer eventually wrote down took the time to digress into a woman’s memory of another person’s childhood experience itself implies a sophisticated knowledge of the occluded depths which might be required to sustain the surface of things. What is the feel of the scar if not a rudimentary sort of anamnesis? And what is anamnesis if not a recognition of our participation in truth’s incarnation?
David Jones, painter, engraver, and writer, worked with as much self-conscious awareness as any other twentieth century author of how literary distortions of time can act as occasions of anamnesis. His written works, much like his later watercolors, lay various moments in time and space bunched up together along the same coordinates.
A mountain seen through a window and a teacup sitting on the table rub against one another. An English soldier in the trenches is simultaneously a Roman soldier in ancient Wales as well as Jack O’ The Green, wearing twigs and leaves as camouflage. The Battle of Mametz Wood is looked over and commented upon by Merlin. In sacrificing an anodyne perspective, Jones achieves, very much like Eliot, suggestions of a deeper wholeness beyond but nevertheless binding our experience of spatial and temporal order.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor