Saturday, November 27, 2004 +


From Dorothy L, Sayers, The Mind of the Maker, “III. Idea, Energy, Power”

Since this chapter—and indeed this whole book—is an expansion of the concluding speech of St. Michael in my play The Zeal of Thy House, it will perhaps be convenient to quote that speech here:

   For every work [or act] of creation is threefold, an earthly trinity to match the heavenly.
   First, [not in time, but merely in order of enumeration] there is the Creative Idea, passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning: and this is the image of the Father.
   Second, there is the Creative Energy [or Activity] begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to the end, with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of matter: and this is the image of the Word.
   Third, there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul: and this is the image of the indwelling Spirit.
   And these three are one, each equally in itself the whole work, whereof none can exist without the other; and this is the image of the Trinity.

The very formulation of the Idea in the writer’s mind is not the Idea itself, but its self-awareness in the Energy. Everything that is conscious, everything that has to do with form and time, and everything that has to do with process, belongs to the working of the Energy or Activity or “Word.&rdquo . . . That being so, how can we know that the Idea itself has any real existence apart from the Energy? Very strangely; by the fact that the Energy itself is conscious of referring all its acts to an existing and complete whole. In theological terms, the Son does the will of the Father. . . .

The whole complex relation that I have been trying to describe may remain entirely within the sphere of the imagination, and is there complete. . . . To write a poem (or, of course, to give it material form in speech or song), is an act of love towards the poet’s own imaginative act and towards his fellow-beings. It is a social act; but the poet is, first and foremost, his own society, and would be none the less a poet if the means of material expression were refused by him or denied him. . . .