Friday, February 10, 2017

"Metaphor is the only means"

According to Wikipedia, "One of [Austin Farrer's] closer friends was the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis who dedicated his book Reflections on the Psalms to him. Farrer took the last sacraments to Lewis before his death. Others included J.R.R. Tolkien and Dorothy Sayers." From Parker Bauer, in "Mirrors to God":
.... Imagination, in Farrer's view, is not simply the formation of images but of images that function as metaphors, pointing to something else, both reflecting it and shedding new light on it. (Arguably, any image that comes to mind has metaphorical undertones, however minor, but Farrer is looking at a larger canvas, the essences of life.) The image tells us not what something is, directly; it reveals what something is like. A kiss might be described in terms of the chemistry of saliva, but if anyone asks, we compare it to a night-blooming jasmine.

Farrer discerns a category of "primary images" in the Bible that reveal (as far as we can understand them) the essential truths about God, man, and nature. Among these primary images are Son of Man; Father, Son, Holy Spirit; and Kingdom of Heaven. In light of these we are, then, to interpret lesser images—for example, Farrer's title The Glass of Vision. As MacSwain notes, this alludes not only to a pane, as usually understood by Paul's "Now we see through a glass, darkly," but originally to a mirror, what Paul's word meant when he wrote. Either way, it points to man's inability to perceive spiritual truth directly. Metaphor is the only means. ....

Wit—that is, inventiveness, not humor—is given by grace, a manifestation of divine love. In the prophet, it calls up "a process of images which live as it were by their own life and impose themselves with authority." ....

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