Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Lecture: March 8th

Today we closed out our study of John Mills by tying together the various strands that we have been following in lecture into one unified fabric.
The abstract concern in Thank Your Mother is with finding reality in a world of appearances. as the book progresses, Mills shows how much of the world that we take for granted is a fraud. We see Mills' adopting a fraudulent "working class" persona to win a desired woman. His friend Richmond puts on a show of being a pukkah Englishman. Institutionally education is presented as a fraudulent means for governments to reduce the unemployment statistics, both by dragging out the time taken to teach the curriculum and by widely -- indeed universally -- expanding the student population. And the profession of teaching is reduced to the duping of gullible parents by ordinary people who merely keep themselves one page ahead of their students.
In short the world of "Jobs" (in his "Book of Jobs" chapter) is mere activity, not meaningful existence -- the appearance of life rather what Mills senses is its deeper reality.
Mills calls this deeper reality the numinous [numena is the - Latin plural- antonym of phenomena] and his book relates the protagonist's slow discovery and eventual full living embrace of it. The early section "The Night of Lucia" is a microcosm of this journey: Mills and a companion come to the point of expiration in a snowstorm in the Swedish countryside [the phenomenal], when by a freak of weather they see a cottage a few hundred yards ahead. Warmed and fed, they are entertained by a young daughter of the cottage, a tiara of candles about her head, singing an ethereal hymn of that day's festival to Saint Lucia - Queen of Light [the numenal.]
Some delighting experiences of the numenal and more, depressing, experiences of the phenomenal - army service, Jobs, etc - led Mills to embrace Christianity: albeit in a robustly carnal version of charitable Anglicanism.

The eventual results of this I will leave for a seperate post, on the topic of the significance of the book's title.

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