Patterns of Consciousness; An Essay on Coleridge. by Richard Haven

By Richard Haven

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D. LAING Truth has more than one mode; scientific knowledge is only one of its modes. There is another mode, which is knowledge of self. Scientific knowledge is a stricter mode than this, in a definable sense, but it is not truer; it is not certain. J. BRONOWSKI One excellence of the Doctrine of Plato, or of the Plotinoplatonic Philosophy, is that it never suffers, much less causes or even occasions, its Disciples to forget themselves, lost and scattered in sensible Objects disjoined or as disjoined from themselves.

He experiences extremes of agony and ecstasy, of alienation and communion which have no place in a Cartesian view of reality. Yet it is precisely to this experience of alienation and communion that we respond, and which in our depths we recognize. And our recognition makes us realize that the Mariner's experience is not impossible or even unique. It is rather something which we have trouble accounting for, and which we normally therefore disregard or, more usually, suppress. The quality of the Mariner's experience as distinct from the "symbols of time and space" by which it is conveyed becomes clearer when we see it in relation to other accounts couched in different terms.

Impressed by the undeniable subtlety and brilliance of Coleridge's mind but confronted with little more than a mass of fragments, we may be too easily led to extrapolate, to try to create some part, at least, of what Coleridge left undone. An attempt to complete "Christabel" is a harmless if trivial pastime. Attempts to complete or systematize Coleridge's speculative writings may be equally trivial but much less harmless. They are apt to be trivial because they possess neither historical validity nor contemporary value.

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