Sunday, 17 June 2012

Die Nasty

Hardy in the Dynasts:
The Prime, that willed ere wareness was,
Whose Brain perchance is Space, whose Thought its laws.
Is this is the ugliest couplet Hardy, that expert poet with (in other places, at any rate) such a superb ear for lyric and cadence, ever wrote?  The woo-woo alliteration in the first line, the clumsy archaism ('wareness', 'perchance'), the distracting mathematical ambiguity of 'Prime', the clot of 't' and 's's in the final three words that make them almost impossible to utter without tripping over one's own tongue.  Of course, the whole is contaminated rather by the limitations of what it is expressing: as if God is, like, a really giant giant, and the whole cosmos is, like, his body? What if we're, like, liver flukes swooshing around in his bloodstream?  Or more to the point: if the laws of nature are the thoughts of God, then at the very least we have to say that he thinks with machinic consistency and regularity over very large distances and timescales.  Where's volition here?

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