Inklings fans, take note: A recent episode of The Art of Manliness podcast featured an interview with Joseph Loconte, author of A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, & Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18.
The interview with Loconte taught me new things about the way Tolkien and Lewis viewed life and literature. I also was challenged to think more about my deeply held, Western-world belief in the supposedly inevitable outcome called progress.
Speaking of Inklings, you might also be interested in reading Charles Williams’s take on dogma—and watching a short documentary on Owen Barfield.
Posted in C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, The Inklings, Tolkien
Tagged Brett McKay, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Inklings, interviews, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joseph Loconte, literature, Owen Barfield, podcast, progress, The Art of Manliness
This Owen Barfield quotation might strike some of you as interesting. I’m posting it just as food for thought:
“The extraordinarily intimate connection between language and thought (the Greek word λóγος combined, as we should say, both meanings) might lead one to expect that the philosophers at least would have turned their attention to the subject long ago. And so, indeed, they did, but with a curiously disproportionate amount of interest. The cause of this deficiency is, I think, to be found in the fact that Western philosophy, from Aristotle onwards, is itself a kind of offspring of Logic. To anyone attempting to construct a metaphysic in strict accordance with the canons and categories of formal Logic, the fact that the meanings of words change, not only from age to age, but from context to context, is certainly interesting; but it is interesting solely because it is a nuisance.”
— from Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning, which at least one book publisher described as “The seminal text that inspired Tolkien and C.S. Lewis”
In his essay “The Development of Meaning,” Owen Barfield wrote, “When we are disputing about the proper meaning to be attached to a particular word in a sentence, etymology is of little use. Only children run to the dictionary to settle an argument.” (Found in “Notes on Frey” by Daniel Nester.)
Barfield’s quotation reminds me a little of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s guidance on language, which he summarized with, “don’t think, but look!”
Of course, the best-known Inklings were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. But they weren’t the only Inklings.
During the past year or so, I’ve re-blogged a couple of things by Sorina Higgins, a scholar of the life and works of Charles Williams.
Like Williams, another lesser-known Inkling, Owen Barfield, was a powerful intellectual and imaginative force within the group. The literary output of Williams and Barfield suggest each core member of the Inklings was extraordinary, if only two members were blessed with incredible book sales and international name-recognition.
While Higgins has reasons to call Charles Williams “The Oddest Inkling,” Barfield also might seem a bit odd to Tolkien and Lewis fans.
A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon the following short documentary film about Barfield. It includes an interview with Barfield in his older age. “Owen Barfield: Mean and Meaning” is well-worth the time of any Inklings fan.