From “Movement As Language”

I hate to simply copy-and-paste what has been posted here, but it’s been around three years, and I figure I’ll focus more on poet Laura Riding than on choreographer Len Lye. I’ve been interested in Riding, since I read these interviews with Lisa Samuels, so seeing these portions from the 1935 essay “Movement as Language,” er, moved me. Now I want to read the entire thing:

Movement is the result of a feeling in one thing of strong difference from other things.  Movement is always one thing moving away from other things – not toward.  And the result of movement is to be distinct from other things : the result of movement is form.  The history of any definite form is the movement of which the form is the result.  When we look at something and see the particular shape of it we are only looking at its after-life.  Its real life is the movement by which it got to be that shape.  The danger of thinking of physical things in terms of form rather than of movement is that a shape can easily seem more harmonious, more sympathetic with other shapes than its historical individuality justifies : there is a literary temptation to give it too much meaning, to read truth-signs where there are only life-signs.  But if we think of physical things in terms of movement we avoid the confusion of “life” with “truth”.  Movement is strickly the language of life.  It expresses nothing but the initial, living connotations of life.  It is earliest language.

MOOR EEFFOC

This is Chesterton, and I prefer these ideas to the ones in the response from Tolkien that also appears in the same blog entry. As odd as it may be to link Chesteron with M. John Harrison, this reminds me of “A Young Man’s Journey to Viriconium,” which I love. Anyway, emphases mine:

Herein is the whole secret of that eerie realism with which Dickens could always vitalize some dark or dull corner of London. There are details in the Dickens descriptions – a window, or a railing, or the keyhole of a door – which he endows with demoniac life. The things seem more actual than things really are. Indeed, that degree of realism does not exist in reality: it is the unbearable realism of a dream. And this kind of realism can only be gained by walking dreamily in a place; it cannot be gained by walking observantly. Dickens himself has given a perfect instance of how these nightmare minutiae grew upon him in his trance of abstraction. He mentions among the coffee-shops into which he crept in those wretched days one in St. Martin’s Lane, “of which I only recollect that it stood near the church, and that in the door there was an oval glass plate with ‘COFFEE ROOM’ painted on it, addressed towards the street. If I ever find myself in a very different kind of coffee-room now, but where there is such an inscription on glass, and read it backwards on the wrong side, MOOR EEFFOC (as I often used to do then in a dismal reverie), a shock goes through my blood.” That wild word, “Moor Eeffoc,” is the motto of all effective realism; it is the masterpiece of the good realistic principle – the principle that the most fantastic thing of all is often the precise fact. And that elvish kind of realism Dickens adopted everywhere. His world was alive with inanimate objects.

via The Blog of the American Chesterton Society: The “Mooreeffoc”