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

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 Volume 2.9 This View’s Prose November 4, 2002 

    A Perfect Unity of Will and Idea    

Once more, our literary analogy may be used to illustrate this distinction between Evil known by pure intelligence and Evil known by experience. Our perfect writer is in the act of composing a work — let us call it the perfect poem. At a particular point in this creative act he selects the “right” word for a particular place in the poem. There is only the one word that is “dead right” in that place for the perfect expression of the Idea. The very act of choosing that one “right” word, automatically and necessarily makes every other word in the dictionary a “wrong” word.

The “wrongness” is not inherent in the words themselves — each of them may be a “right” word in another place — their “wrongness” is contingent upon the “rightness” of the chosen word. It is the poet who has created the “wrongness” in the act of creating the “rightness.” In making a good which did not exist before he has simultaneously made an evil which did not exist before. Nor was there any way by which he could possibly make the Good without making the Evil as well.

Now, the mere fact that the choice of the “right” word is a choice implies that the writer is potentially aware of all the wrong words as well as the right one. In the creative act, his Energy (consciously or unconsciously) passed all the “wrong” possibilities in review as an accompaniment of selecting the right one. He may have seized immediately upon the right word as though by inspiration or he may actually have toyed with a number of the wrong ones before making the choice. It is immaterial which he did — the Energy has to give out more sweat and passion at some moments than at others.

But potentially and contingently, his intelligence “knows” all the wrong words. He is free, if he chooses, to call all or any of those wrong words into active being within his poem — just as God is free, if He likes, to call Evil into active being. But the perfect poet does not do so, because his will is subdued to his Idea, and to associate it with the wrong word would be to run counter to the law of his being. He proceeds with his creation in a perfect unity of will and Idea, and behold! it is very good.

Unfortunately his creation is safe from the interference of other wills only as long as it remains in his head. By materializing his poem — that is, by writing it down and publishing it — he subjects it to the impact of alien wills. These alien wills can, if they like, become actively aware of all the possible wrong words and call them into positive being. They can, for example, misquote, misinterpret, or deliberately alter the poem. This evil is contingent upon the poet’s original good: you cannot misquote a poem that is not there, and the poet is (in that sense) responsible for all subsequent misquotations of his work. But one can scarcely hold him guilty of them.


Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)


The Mind of the Maker (1941)
Chapter VII “Maker of All Things — Maker of Ill Things” pp. 103ff


    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 2.9 This View’s Prose November 4, 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”