Tag: Language

Cracking the Coded Message in Owen Barfield’s Copy of The Allegory of Love

Among the invaluable Inklings books and memorabilia shown to me by Walter Hooper during my visit to his flat on July 22, 2015 was a first edition copy of The Allegory of Love (1936), C.S. Lewis’s own presentation copy to Owen Barfield, later given to Walter by Owen. What made it so interesting was not just its provenance, but more so its inscription on the dedication page encoded in a runic cipher.

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Owen Barfield and the Evolution of Consciousness

The inestimable Owen Barfield differentiates three epochs in the evolution of consciousness. The first he refers to as “original participation.” The anthropologist Lucien Lévy-Bruhl meant to indicate a similar condition under the rubric participation mystique. Other thinkers refer to the same as “tribal” or “primal” consciousness. Original participation denotes a condition of consciousness in which the self has not yet precipitated out of the semantic solution of the world. For this reason, neither “spirit” nor “matter” exists as a concept because each of their meanings depends on just the phenomenological antithesis with its counterpart that is not a characteristic of the mind immersed in the state of original participation.

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