A Vision and the Image of Life

I haven’t talked about the Yeatses’ Vision materials in a dog’s age. There isn’t much more to be said that wouldn’t involve getting over-invested in the obscurities particular to their experience. Reversing the direction somewhat, though, there is one thing worth mentioning by way of extraction and magnification. Alongside the traditionally spiritualist model in A Vision, there  is also a biological model of spiritual life in play. William aligns the lunar cycle that sits at the heart of the Yeatsian model with a life cycle, most especially a plant’s life. So, by way of a somewhat late footnote:

This gives it a point of connection to the evolution aesthetic I’ve talked about more recently and sets it up as something of a precursor to forms of ecologically-minded theology. In tracing the cyclic movement of a soul through different lifetimes, it suggests a route through which the soul can be extracted from more teleological models of spiritual advancement.

It also takes the soul out of the realm of the human. The Yeatsian model ascribes souls to movements and ideas as much as to specific individuals. Start to map those onto the cones of history Yeats describes in A Vision and you can see how souls might communicate across the divide of history to form ‘timelines’ internal to themselves. The neat cycles of history get swallowed up in a whirling gyre of transhistorical alliances.

Beneath the neat categories, a complex network of disparate moments of personal and collective experience communicating with each other and it is the moments of communication that animate spiritual forms. Different peoples and movements follow their own life cycle, as entire civilizations play out their death, there may be individuals, communities, and civilizations playing out their vibrant midlife, or their birth. That midlife, that birth, may even be dependent on the death throes, or their cause.

Nothing that lives, nothing that possesses soul, lives alone. Its life cycle is overlapped by and intertwined with other life cycles.

Here is the point I’m aiming toward: it’s okay to be in a different place than someone else and it’s okay to be caught up in a communal soul that is in a different place than someone else’s. Misunderstanding that, trying to live with or amidst a potency that is not yours just makes a mess. Find the level proper to where you are at and proceed from that place, rather than try to make your place like how you imagine it ought to be.

That means sometimes you have to stumble and grope when you would rather be at the height of your power. Sometimes, it means standing in the height of your power when you would like to do nothing more than stumble and grope.

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