Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

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 Volume 2.7 This View’s Prose October 21, 2002 

    The Writer’s Necessity    

The writer, then, if — under the conditions we know — he is to perform an act of power in creation, must allow his Energy to enter with an equal fullness into all his creatures, whatever portions of his personality they emphasize and embody. Not only must his sensitiveness find energetic expression in Hamlet; his insensitiveness must also enter energetically into Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. We all have moments when we desire to take refuge in convention and stand well with every man, and those moments, if the writer will actively embody them in created form, will issue in a true creation — brief and trifling, perhaps, but instinct with power.

This is the writer’s necessity, no matter what he is writing, and whether his diversity is expressed in the creation of character or merely in the creation of an impersonal argument. The writer himself becomes intensely conscious of this necessity when, after some years spent in other kinds of writing, he attempts to write for the stage. In writing a novel, for example, it is only too easy for him to neglect this process of self-expression where minor characters are concerned. Let us say that the situation calls for a dialogue among four or five persons. It is probable that the central character will, so far as he goes, represent a true act of creation: the author will have “entered into him,” and his words will be a lively expression of his creator’s emotion and experience. But some or all of the other personages may be mere dummies, whose only function is to return the verbal ball to the chief speaker’s hand.

In that case, the creative act is a failure, so far as they are concerned; in them, the Energy is not incarnate; they do not, as we say, “come to life,” and as a result of the failure of the Energy to create, no Power flows out upon or from them. The reader, and indeed the writer himself, may not notice this very much in reading a novel; but in writing for the stage the failure becomes very apparent, because the actors who have to play the minor parts become instantly aware that the “characters” are not there for them to play. The Energy has not entered into the lines and in consequence, no Power communicates itself to the interpreters. If such a devitalized character is represented in the theater, any Power that flows from it to the audience can then issue only from the Energy of the actor himself, “creating” the part as well as he may, in accordance with such Idea as he may have been able to find within the resources of his own mind.

The good playwright with dramatic sense — one, that is, who understands the necessity of informing all his characters with his proper vitality — goes through a very curious experience when writing dialogue. He feels within himself a continual shifting of his Energy from the one character to the other as he writes. He is usually (I think) aware of the stage itself in his imagination; by an act of mental vision he disposes his characters upon it, and his center of consciousness shifts as he goes, so that in writing down John’s lines he seems to view the stage from John’s point of view, while in writing Mary’s reply he views it from Mary’s point of view. At the same time, he knows quite well that his responsive Power is sitting, so to speak, in the audience, watching the whole scene from the spectator’s point of view, and he is also dimly conscious of the original and controlling Idea, which does not take the stage into account at all, but accepts or rejects every word according to some eternal scheme of values that is concerned only with the reality of all experience.

It is extremely difficult to make this trinity of awareness and this manifold incarnation of activity clear to those who have not experienced it; but if I have succeeded in interpreting the mind of the maker at all, the reader will see how impossible it is to say that the author is fully expressed in any speech, character, or single work of his. One must first put all these together and relate them to a great synthesis of all the work, which will be found to possess a unity of its own, to which every separate work is ultimately related. If we stop here, we have arrived at a pantheistic doctrine of the creative mind. But beyond that, the sum of all the work is related to the mind itself, which made it, controls it, and relates it to its own creative personality. The mind is not the sum of its works, though it includes them all. Though it produced the works one after the other, we cannot say that it is each of these works in turn. Before it made them, it included them all, potentially, and having finished them, it still includes them. It is both immanent in them and transcendent.


Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)


The Mind of the Maker (1941)
Chapter IV “The Energy Revealed in Creation” pp. 53ff


    The Defense of Liberty    
    What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.
    Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
    from Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois, September 11, 1858
Collected Works
Volume III p. 95

 Volume 2.7 This View’s Prose October 21, 2002 

The View from the Core, and all original material, © E. L. Core 2002. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”