Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

'Spots of Time' in a Passage to India

Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

'Spots of Time' in a Passage to India

Article excerpt

Introduction

Forster, like Wordsworth, believes in the validity of 'spots of time' as transformative and restorative: "There are moments when the inner life actually 'pays', when years of self-scrutiny, conducted for no ulterior motive, are suddenly of practical use" (Forster, 1992, p. 204). Wordsworth's effort to retrieve childhood innocence finds an equivalent expression in moments of intense emotional and mental states. He attaches great value to these moments by virtue of their visionary nature: "Those recollected hours that have the charm / Of visionary things" (1979, I, 632-3). He names them as 'spots of time', which bring about "the power of truth / Coming in revelation" (1979, II, 392-3). His theory of personal growth is explained by his concept of 'spots of time'. They tend to illuminate a significant part of his memory, and this particular chunk of memory is linked with a very intense emotional association in the past. As he writes, "Emotions which best foresight need not fear, / Most worthy then of trust when most intense" (1979, XIV, 122-3). As 'spots of time' occur in the emotional state of an individual, that is why the experience is made meaningful by "subjective, creative consciousness"; Easthope (1993) sees "subjective experience as a domain of transcendence" (p. 33). Wordsworth believes that a 'spot of time' holds in its wake an incredible potential to set before him a whole new range of meanings and significance of his experience of life; it has also an incredible potential to reveal the hitherto unexplored aspects of the nature of things. There is the interplay of the creative powers of his mind and the external objects of Nature in that minimum unit of time. Wordsworth sees his whole existence microscopically focused into those transitory moments. The nature of these moments is ambiguous and problematic because there are no fixed criteria or established tradition or institutional support which can legitimize and determine their authenticity. As Maltby (2002) argues from the post-modernist perspective, "The case for a literary visionary moment is that it is enmeshed in metaphysical and ideological assumptions...the premises that underlie it may be construed as politically suspect and epistemologically unsound" (p. 3).There are two kinds of 'spots of time' recorded in The Prelude - those moments which come from memory, and those which happen in response to a powerful immediate perception. In the former, the experience has already taken place in the past, and it is the force of the present moment which brings it back. The very reason why the moment is brought back to consciousness speaks of its significance in terms of its intense nature. In the latter category, Wordsworth feels the power of the immediate imaginative perception which engenders a special insight into the reality of things. Forster (1992) offers two possibilities of the illuminating moment - of Wordsworth's 'spots of time'; either they may strike one unawares or they may be induced through deep reflection on the inner life: "visions do not come when we try, though they may come through trying" (p. 213). Forster seems to be favouring the instantaneous nature of the illuminating moments which tend to arise from very intense emotional and imaginative states. As Wordsworth (1979) writes in The Prelude, "Emotions which best foresight need not fear, / Most worthy then of trust when most intense" (XIV, 122-3).In this research paper I shall argue that the pattern of growth in A Passage to India is Wordsworthian. Colmer (1975) describes the power of imagination "to seize on the symbolic moments of truth" (p. 12).Though 'the symbolic moments of truth' which occur during the novel appear to be catastrophic, they are not inefficacious; they have a great potential to transfigure a character from deep seated beliefs into a much expanded individual. Though there is an instance of the catastrophic 'spot of time' in The Prelude, it is not inefficacious and does not bring about catastrophic consequences in the sense that inner reconciliation takes place in the end. …

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