The Unattended Moment: Excerpts from Autobiographies with Hints and Guesses

The Unattended Moment: Excerpts from Autobiographies with Hints and Guesses

The Unattended Moment: Excerpts from Autobiographies with Hints and Guesses

The Unattended Moment: Excerpts from Autobiographies with Hints and Guesses

Excerpt

As a boy I collected all manner of objects, shells and fossils and pressed flowers and minerals, even feathers and skulls, and found much satisfaction in poring over, arranging and rearranging my collections. I also enjoyed jig-saw puzzles, bringing together the scattered interlocking pieces to make a coherent picture. Making this book has given me similar satisfactions: it is a collection and also a puzzle. Whether any coherent pattern emerges, I must leave the reader to judge. I hope he will at least be rewarded by finding in it some new pieces which he can build into his own pattern if he does not like mine. The pattern is not in any case very important: a shift of the kaleidoscope would produce from the same fragments something quite different and perhaps equally satisfying.

When I arranged those schoolboy collections I was not generally following any system of classification that would have made sense to an expert: I was too ignorant. The grouping was intuitive and aesthetic for children are natural artists but have to grow up to science. Similarly with this book, the arrangement should not be supposed to offer anything so formal as a taxonomy. Distinctions have been argued for; the extrovertive and introvertive mysticism of Professor W. T. Stace and Marghanita Laski's three types of ecstasy, the adamic, the noetic and the unitive representing, in religious terms, a scale of ascending values. But for my purpose the kaleidoscope is a good image because what I want to present is a complicated pattern of reflections and overlapping . . .

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