David Jones: Microcosm and Sacrament

I came across this explanation of Jones’ sacramental aesthetic recently:

[U]nlike [Gerald Manley] Hopkins, in Jones’s case the Catholic mistrust of the disembodied concept finds its expression, not in a criticism of Plato, but in a mistrust of rationalism and the ‘fact man’ who applies abstract formula onto a diverse reality and thereby crushes multiplicity. Embodiment is a sign of a real totality, in which the parts are integrated and significant, in contact through the body with that which is external to it. Without a body there is no such contact. Importantly, and ironically, in the modern epoch the body is disregarded precisely because of an immanentist reduction of reality to the entirely material, which separates matter from spirit and so condemns the ‘concept’ and the ‘universal’ to the disembodied realm of transcendentals. This again parallels Lynch’s assessment of the revolutionary as someone so possessed by ideological abstractions that he attempts to impose them onto reality without concern for the details of the situation he is entering – thereby destroying difference. When the role of the body is undermined, so too are locality and the particular – and hence diversity (for these are the concrete manifestations of the universals). Similarly, when history, locality, and diversity are undermined, this represents an attack on the role of the body. Ultimately, the incarnate Word reveals the inadequacy of purely transcendental systems, showing the reality of the universal by mediating it through a particular form in a particular time and place.

“Containing What Cannot Be Contained: David Jones”, The Enclosure of an Open Mystery. Stephen McInerney (2012), p.116

The Chapel in the Park 1932 by David Jones 1895-1974

The Chapel in the Park 1932 David Jones, watercolor.

Advertisements