Saving the Appearances
in detail the questions, and the answers, that led Barfield, anxious to
re-weave the rainbow, to reach the hypothesis of our directionally creator
relation to the world.
Is God's creation less awe-inspiring because I know that the light, for instance, out of which its visual substance is woven, streams forth from my own eyes? "Look upon the rainbow," wrote the author of Ecclesiasticus:
It compasseth the heavens about with a glorious circle, and the hands of the most High have bended it.
Do I echo these words less warmly, when I recollect that [Yahweh] is creating the rainbow through my eyes? When I know that to think otherwise is an illusion or a pretense? Does piety depend on original participation? If so, one thing is certain; there is no future for it. But fortunately it does not. I did not create my eyes. And an understanding of the manner of my participation in the appearance of the rainbow does not diminish my awe before its Creator, why should that be the case with the other more palpable phenomena? What but idolatry could ever make me suppose it was the case? "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me." (159)
directionally creator relation between humankind and nature has major implications
for our relation to art and culture as well, as Barfield explains:
If I know that nature herself is the system of my representations, I cannot do otherwise than adopt a humbler and more responsible attitude to the representations of art and the metaphors of poetry. For in the case of nature there is no danger of my fancying that she exists to express my personality. I know in that case that what is meant, when I say she is my representation, is, that I stand, whether I like it or not, in . . . a "directionally-creator" relation to her. But I know also that what so stands is not my poor temporal personality, but the Divine Name in the unfathomable depths behind it. And if I strive to produce a work of art, I cannot do otherwise than strive humbly to create more nearly as that creates, and not as my idiosyncrasy wills. (SA 132)For Barfield, realization of our directionally creator relation to the "real" thus provides at least part of the answer to what he calls (in "The Harp and the Camera's" closing words) "the ultimate question, to which imagination holds the key":
the question of how we can learn to sign our own names to what we create, whether as myth or in other ways, but so nevertheless that what we sign as our own will also be the name of another--the name I would venture to say, without venturing to pronounce it, of the Author and the Lord of the archetypes themselves. (RM 78)