Arthurian notes

AZ 76, Arthurianism in 15th century. Wasteland etc. Some of the sexual meaning. Melusine. Malory. 15th century alchemical psychology.. Morte D’Arthur. How Malory applies old legend to his own time. Alchemicalideals of health. The destructive enervating qualities of women as well as their redemptive potential.

SS 23, There is a sense in which Merlin is far more important than the founders of religions.

The lack of competitive success. Merlin as the compensation for this. But the Merlin ideal may be directed outwards to obtain satisfaction. Not just fantasy triumph but genuine success.

Jung on the danger of magic and Gnostic heresy. These are seen as a retreat from healthy competitiveness into fantasies of egoistic omnipotence.
The same criticism is made by the soviet authorities of dissidents genially. Dissidence is interpreted as a form of schizophrenia.

AL 254, Arthurian legend, the archetypal myths of our civilisation, the mythic mode of thought. Perhaps Hegel should have thought about that rather than the trinity.
The war, i.e. the war against Ialdabaoth, has been going on for long time. It preceded intellectualisation. For a long time it worked in the form of myth.
Mythically one could call this the war against the heathen.

AV 200, The holy grail. Not just the female genitals as objects of sexual desire but also the womb as bringer of new life.
Nature of the Wasteland. Feeling of how society itself can some to seem tired, with so many causes defeated. A sort of political despair that takes over. Disillusion, general rottenness. Idea of need for renewal, redemption. Like Wagnerian themes. Legitimacy of this. Birth of a child itself means renewal, redemption. this theme in Christianity is itself a pagan theme. An Easter as well as a Christmas theme.

All the Madonna paintings. Christianity in England has acquired an essentially moral meaning and forms part of the black school. But there are other themes it might have represented.
Renewal. The grail, the Wasteland, Frazer, Jessie Weston, T S Eliot, Wagner, Crowley. Psychological forces to which myth may speak And truths which do need to be emphasised. And culture which could be different.

LL 79,

The Mabinogion. See the evolution of Arthurian romance from primitive folk tale. Refining and refining upon the theme, what is basically the urge to amaze to pleases, manages to express something profound. Thus the origin even of mythical truth, not always something mysterious. Development of Arthurian legend as paralleling the growth of gothic architecture. Development of mathematical regularities. Mystery can deepen with development. That might seem a paradox, but perhaps mystery is the required aesthetic objective. And then it becomes great art, and it moves the spirit to such a degree that it is the beginning of wisdom.

AK 179,
Arthurian myth is far deeper than people realise. It is our civilisation’s equivalent of Greek mythology. Not so rich and varied, certainly. But very one pointed. It runs parallel to Christianity, also a grand unity. It proves what is sometimes denied that that there were individuals in the middle ages.
Mythopoeic imagination.
Cervantes ridiculed a dead tradition.
Wagner, Tennyson.
What should be grasped is the pornographic intensity of it, something which outdoes Freud.
Hargrave Jennings.
Perhaps Colin Wilson was onto something, however badly he put it.
I once wrote of the unsatisfied sexual passion which afflicts all moderns.
The dominant western ideal is that this feeling should be completely resolved in marriage. There are various other ideals that may be held up, Casanova, Don Juan. Don Juan was notoriously unsatisfied.
Wilson said that male frustration underrated. That has to be true, true psychology and secret wisdom.

XX 94, Multidimensionality of Arthurian legend. Side by side with the love stories and the chivalrous love idiom, there is the deeper and more immediate symbolism of objects. There is a direct lyricism of aspects of experience which at other times have been considered obscene or comic.
I do not mean to say that the meaning of the Arthurian legends s sexual, for the sexual is itself a symbol or figure of human happiness in all its manifold variety. The Arthurian is closely involved with esoteric, which means heretical, Christianity.

Energies finding their outlet within more or les Christian framework of symbols and concepts.
A profound form of lyricism so easily debased by such as Tennyson and Wagner.
A product comparable to Greek mythology but different as Aeschylean from Shakespearean tragedy and a Doric temple from a gothic cathedral.
The western barbarian lyric impulse. See as different from the Greek impulse. Western man was confronted with religion, teaching high mysteries and claiming to contain all wisdom. Something concentrated about it, expressing a constructive civilisation building impulse. Remove the emotion from myth and it loses its point. Wagner gave it a kind of emotion but a kind of fascistic, collective emotion.

Through the lyric impulse one’s aim is express truths of the greatest scope and moment, not just particular description.

285, the older I get the more I perceive the great profundity of the legends gathered together by Malory. Esoteric Christianity.. Christianity as a mere magical symbolism the real values of life being heroic (and certainly transcending any conventional ideology).

The round table, what is that? Even that has some obscure sexual significance. I suspect. There are sources of great energy that are sexual in nature.

Modern sexual liberation ins nothing of the sort, it is the imposition of a new set of rules, a new game with its possibilities of success and failure.
The Arthurian legend. The heroic values transcend conventional Christianity because they seem profoundly responsive to historical change, consciously that ideas cultures even religions come and go. Such a consciousness hardly fits into a conventional Christian scheme. It gives rise to an ideal of life which must transcend or underlie whatever are the artificially preached values of life.

NN 9, Celtic culture. Typically one speaks of the Celtic twilight and conjures up images of obscurity. Arthurian legend, one feels, as Dr Johnson felt, is almost unhealthy, or unworthy, while admittedly fascinating.
Surely the Arthurian legends are not mere wonder tales, they do conceal some hidden wisdom?

FF 33&,

Myth, particularly grail and alchemical myth, is a means of ensuring a comprehensive mastery over characteristic forms of experience from many points of view, including those in which the individual might be weak. yet the true point is that there must not be substitute satisfactions. The symbolism is meant to act as an aid, to aid and strengthen us, and not to act as an alternative outlet for our energies. Ambiguous nature of symbolism. Originally it may mobilise us, but then comes the claim that it is comprehensive, that it encompasses all that is necessary for man. It becomes a kind of dogma an oppression. Instead of striking us spontaneously as it should we begin to form theories about how we will only reap the full benefits of it if we believe it, if we accept it if we accept it as a comprehensive account of the spiritual world.

Symbolism again, Christian versus paganism, Mediaeval Catholicism a kind of force factory. A common culture can be established by dogmatic intolerant means. By insisting on a common symbolism. Into this pool of common culture new symbols may be dropped with immediate and spontaneous appeal. But terrible hang-ups can develop concerning the force fed symbols that make up the common culture in fact the whole idea of submission makes the route to fulfilment especially devious and complicated.

67, Back to the Arthurian question. There is no need for illusion, no need to protect the self. The aim, instinct satisfaction is honest enough. More fundamental than the concept of a separate self in fact. But what is the deep satisfaction offered by the resolution of archetypes?. What the deep pain of disillusionment? The loss of certain hope and unrealistic hope no doubt, but a sustaining one. As belief in miracles, perhaps. Insufficient understanding of natural law. Exaggerated expectations.

155, The grail legend, the oracle of Bacbuc. The grail quest corresponds to Hegel’s world of ideas. Stirner’s criticism of Hegel is one that applies to the entire mediaeval gothic culture.
Ideas, archetypes, the infinite possibilities. Perhaps living for an idea instead of simply for appetite, is a way of pre-empting for oneself large areas of potential one could otherwise stand small chance of achieving. satisfaction

314&, Kingship, Malory. The love interest in a man’s life, often an unhappy one. King’s and courts and the restriction on freedom. Curtailment of vengeance drama.
Note what I said of the tremendous spiritual fertilisation offered by love. This aspect of the love ideals of the knights with their deeds. The final and ultimate sexual union of the holy grail, fertilising the whole land. Yet love had all to do with deeds it would fertilise the knight in the accomplishment of his deeds, in respect of which he was powerful independent and individual.
The stylisation of the love cult ensured that it had a very definite and necessary part to play, the inspiration of creative energy and culture. No mere self indulgence or ornamentation. The root of a possible culture and civilisation. Far more serious than was later understood. Courts instead of freedom Fall into the fertility religion as real religion.

AB 84, A man is in a constant state of struggle, of combat.
For long this has not been on the physical level of dogs, nor am I thinking of nations. There is a battle of ideas, of values. Certainly the knights of the round table offer a good symbolic representation of this. Such knights to not merely embody simple physical military virtues. They depend on other factors, like magic, nobility of blood, the virtue of their weapons and their armour.
This makes them unlike cowboys, democratic America’s answer to epic.
Worldly success, what looks from the feminine point of view like the whole end of life, is perhaps to be thought of as one of the possible rewards of the struggle for existence.
The aims of men are tangential to this… the real victories he seeks are not what woman sees as the whole end of life.
He may have worldly success and yet fail in his own terms, be emasculated by woman who forces him to serve her own ends.
The values of worldly success are an incidental product of the various diverse struggles and aims of men.

305, As Nietzsche says. All that will count is the ability to stick by one’s guns. Against this is the feminine proposition that one’s guns are merely where fashion happened to be at some crucial point in one’s youth. Against this it may be objected that the particular form taken by fashion is merely the garb in which the important struggle stake place. Fashion may provide the form of symbolic representation.
Lesson of Arthurian legend. The male is not as he is for the sole purpose of amusing the female. One has to make sense of the experience of one’s own generation. This is the form in which universal issues become apparent and under which one may attack them

316, the Arthurian myths as recorded in Malory providing in a sense the esoteric background of our civilisation. The court of the king as human society. The knight errant- the need for achievement, for deeds. Then the close link of the need for achievement with the sexual quest, the search for a sexual ideal’. The grail symbolism, the physical aspects of sexuality.
Various passages of despair, demoralisation madness, universal factors of experience, as with the symbolism of battle and war and fighting monsters. The large part sex has to play in life, but it is not presented as the whole end.

Also the precarious transient nature of the society and culture that has been established. The idea that fulfilment has to be reached in the context of this immediate moment.
Aside from visions and ecstasies as justification, there are various forms of orthodox optimism, what one may call clichés. The pressure of this can be experienced as the essence of the ugly

BA 166,
Mediaeval chivalry. Reading Arthurian romances from a different perspective.. seeing the practice and religion of a ruling class. Difficulties these days of forming a ruling class. So there is no ruling class, one makes one’s own vision.

Be **
24** Hughes on Malory. My understanding of Arthurian legend is mainly through Malory. What Hughes says about Malory’s genius how he applies the material to contemporary issues, relating him to George Ripley. This sexualisation of the stories, Malory’s concern for virility.`

169 Parzifal. Deep psychology, like Freud, Wagner. Thus key background even to Nietzsche.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License