Hieroglyphics PDF Book by Arthur Machen


Click here to Download Hieroglyphics PDF Book by Arthur Machen English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 66.

I think I pointed out at the time that even horse-racing and an interest in “events” are preferable to stagnation, and that there is something august in the universal human passion for gambling. And, after all, the office-boy who “puts on” half-a-crown is really only an example of the love of man for the unknown; the half-crown is a venture into mystery.

Hieroglyphics PDF Book by Arthur Machen

Name of Book Hieroglyphics
Author Arthur Machen
PDF Size 1 MB
No of Pages 66
Language  English
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With that due flavour of commercialism which we in England add to most of our interests. But you see, don’t you? that gambling, even under its most sordid aspects, is not altogether sordid; it’s the mystery, the uncertainty, the hours of “strange surmise” that the smallest bet gives to the bettor that make the real delight of betting.

When the office-boy wins and gets ten shillings for the risk of his two-and-six, his delight is not by any means pure love of gain, it is distinguished by a very marked line from the constantly repeated joys of the grocer, who is always buying delicious tea at ninepence and selling it at one-and-six.

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Here you have commercialism in its simplest form; but our office-boy, though he likes the money well enough, stands on a much higher plane. For the moment he is the man who has succeeded in solving the enigma of the Sphinx, in discovering the unknown continent, in reading the cypher, in guessing at the song the Sirens sang.

In unveiling the hidden treasure that the buccaneers buried on the lonely shore; he has ventured successfully into the dim region of surmises. And when he loses, there are always consolations; the Indies have not been discovered on this voyage, certainly, but there have been wonders on the way, he has enjoyed many hours of delicious expectation.

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The proof that he likes the sport, even when he loses, is that he invariably takes the first opportunity of venturing again in the same manner. And, by the way, perhaps I was a little severe just now on trade, and especially on the grocer’s sugary and soapy enterprise. Perhaps if we were to look with a rather finer vision into the commercial spirit, we might find that it is not wholly commercial, not altogether sordid.

Of course if the grocer opens his shop with a certainty, mathematical or almost mathematical, that the public will buy his wares, he is a wicked fellow; he is gambling with loaded dice, betting against a horse that he knows is to be made “all right,” playing cards with honours up his sleeve, and I am sure that if this be his enterprise, it will always meet with our sternest disapproval.

Casanova died towards the close of the last century, and since then cardsharping has become impossible to a man of taste. But seriously, I suspect that a good deal of the allurement that trade possesses for so many of us is the risk which it almost always implies, and risk means uncertainty, and uncertainty connotes the unknown. Hieroglyphics PDF Book

So you see our despised grocer turns out, after all, to be of the kin of Columbus, of the treasure-seekers, and mystery-mongers, and delvers after hidden things spiritual and material. I suppose we have here the real explanation of the human trading passion, and the solution of a problem that has often puzzled me.

The problem I mean is this: how does it happen that the English are both the greatest poets and the greatest tradesmen of the modern world? Superficially, it seems that keeping shops and making poetry are incompatibles, and Wordsworth and Coleridge, Keats and Shelley, Tennyson and Poe, should have come from Provence or Sicily, from the “unpractical,” uncommercial Latin races.

But if we trace back the trading instinct to that love of a risk—or in other words to the desire for the unknown— the antinomy disappears, and it will become perfectly natural that the race which has gone to the world’s end with its merchandise, has penetrated so gloriously into the further regions of poetry. Hieroglyphics PDF Book

But there is another interest of a much higher kind, and that is the sensational. We have done some excellent books of this sort in England, and perhaps you will understand the class I mean when I say that a novel of this description is hard to lay down, and harder still to take up again when you have once found out the secret.

This is not high art; you are always at liberty to put down “Lycidas,” but then you are compelled to take it up again and again, and the secret of “Lycidas” is always a secret, and one never fails to experience the joy of an artistic surprise. Still the books I mean sometimes show very high artifice, and in itself, perhaps, the quality that I am talking about.

The power of exciting a vivid curiosity, an earnest desire to know what is to come next is not, like the vulgar roman à clef curiosity, in actual disaccord from the purpose of art. Indeed I imagine that this trick of stimulating the curiosity may be made subservient to purely æsthetic ends. Hieroglyphics PDF Book

It may become a handmaid to lead one towards that desire of the unknown which I think was one of the synonyms I gave you for the master word—Ecstasy. Still, though the trick is a good one, it will not, by itself, make fine art. You may discover so much by reading the “Moonstone,” that monument of ingenuity and absurdity.

On the face of it all detective stories come under this heading: formally, no doubt, they must all be reckoned as tricks, and they may vary from the infinitely ingenious to the infinitely imbecile, and so far as I remember, the famous French tales of detection verge towards the lower rather than the higher ground.

But I am inclined, not very logically, perhaps, to make an exception in favour of Poe’s Dupin, and to place him almost in the sphere of pure literature. Logically, he is a detective, but I almost think that in his case the detective is a symbol of the mystagogue. As I say, I should be pressed hard if I were asked to make out my case in terms and syllogisms. Hieroglyphics PDF Book

But if you require me to do so, I would say first of all that the atmosphere of Dupin—and you must remember that in literature everything counts; it is not alone the plot, or the style that we have to consider— has to me hints of that presence which I have called ecstasy. Listen to this: “It was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else shall I call it?

To be enamoured of the Night for her own sake; and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon. The sable divinity would not herself dwell with us always; but we could counterfeit her presence. Yes; but what I am afraid is still lurking somewhere in your skull is this: that if only the stuffing is extremely well made.

If only the sauce is an exquisite concoction, the turkey is, somehow or other, changed into a bird of paradise. That is, to translate the analogy, if only the plot is very ingenious, if only the construction is well carried out, if the characters are extremely life-like, if the English is admirably neat and sufficient, then reading-matter becomes fine literature. Hieroglyphics PDF Book Download

Make the bonfire high enough and your young ducks will be burned into phœnixes fast enough; let the artifice be sufficiently artificial and it will be art. Indeed you might as well maintain that a wooden statue, if it be really well carved, is thereby made into a gold statue. Well, I remember saying one night that you were here that ecstasy is at once the most exquisite of emotions and a whole philosophy of life.

And it is to the philosophy of life that we are brought, in the last resort. You know that there are, speaking very generally, two solutions of existence; one is the materialistic or rationalistic, the other, the spiritual or mystic. If the former were true, then Keats would be a queer kind of madman, and the “Morte d’Arthur” would be an elaborate symptom of insanity; if the latter is true.

Then “Pride and Prejudice” is not fine literature, and the works of George Eliot are the works of a superior insect—and nothing more. You must make your choice: is the story of the Graal lunacy, or not? You think it is not: then do not talk any more of turning glass into diamonds by careful polishing and cutting. Hieroglyphics PDF Book Download

Do not say: Mr A. spends five years over a book, and therefore what he writes is fine literature; Miss B. polishes off five novels in a year, and therefore she does not write fine literature. Do not say, Mr Shorthouse has got the name of a man who kept a private school in the time of Charles I. quite right; therefore “John Inglesant” is fine literature, while the archæological details in “Ivanhoe” are all wrong.

Therefore it is not fine literature. Good Lord! You might as well say: but my landlady’s name is Mrs Stickings, and the girl (who left last month) was really called Mabel; therefore that story of mine was fine literature. What’s that about sustained effort? Can you turn a deal ladder into a golden staircase by making it of a thousand rungs?

What I say three times is right, eh? and if I tell the tale of Mrs Stickings so that it extends to “our minimum length for three volume novels,” it becomes fine literature. Now, I think, you ought to see what I have been trying to express about the gulf that may open always between the conception and the plot, or story, that does divide the conception from the plot of “Jekyll and Hyde.” Hieroglyphics PDF Book Download

Of course the analogy is not perfect, because the magnum chaos that yawns between the unformulated Idea and the formulated plot, between pure ecstasy and ecstasy plus artifice, is much vaster than the distinction between English and French, indeed between the two former there is almost or altogether the difference of the infinite and the finite.

Of soul and body; still, you see how a book is a rendering, a translation of an Idea, and how a very fine idea may be embodied in a very mechanical plot. You remember the “Socialist and Baroness” novel that we were talking about the other night. We placed it outside of literature firstly and chiefly because it was not based on ecstasy.

On an idea of any kind, and secondly, and by way of consequence, because in its execution and detail it was so thoroughly insignificant, because it played Hamlet with the part of the Prince omitted. Now I think that it is strong evidence of the soundness of my literary theory that we are enabled by it to take two books so utterly dissimilar in manner and method. Hieroglyphics PDF Book Download

In story and treatment, and to judge them both by the same scale. For this is what it really comes to: we say that the “Tragic Comedians” is not literature because it simply tells of facts without their significance, because it deals with the outward show and not with the inward spirit, because it is accidental and not essential.

And in just the same way we say that “Jekyll and Hyde” (its conception apart) is not literature inasmuch as it too has the body of a story without the soul of a story, the incident, the fact, without the inward thing of which the fact is a symbol. For if you will consider the matter you will see that a fact qua fact has no existence in art at all.

It is not the painter’s business to make us a likeness of a tree or a rock; it is his business to communicate to us an emotion—an ecstasy, if you please—and that he may do so he uses a tree or a rock as a symbol, a word in his language of colour and form. It is not the business of the sculptor to chisel likenesses of men in marble; the human form is to him also a symbol which stands for an idea. Hieroglyphics PDF Book Free

Well, it would be easy enough to solve the problem by saying that the emotions of children are of no consequence and don’t count, but then I don’t think that proposition is true. I think, on the contrary, that children, especially young children before they have been defiled by the horrors of “education.”

Possess the artistic emotion in remarkable purity, that they reproduce, in a measure, the primitive man before he was defiled, artistically, by the horrors of civilisation. The ecstasy of the artist is but a recollection, a remnant from the childish vision, and the child undoubtedly looks at the world through “magic casements.”

But you see all this is unconscious, or subconscious (to a less degree it is so in later life, and artists are rare simply because it is their almost impossible task to translate the emotion of the subconsciousness into the speech of consciousness), and as you may sometimes see children uttering their conceptions in words that are nonsense. Hieroglyphics PDF Book Free

Or next door to it, so nonsense or at any rate very poor stuff suffices with them to summon up the vision from the depths of the soul. Suppose we could catch a genius at the age of nine or ten and request him to utter what he felt; the boy would speak or write rubbish, and in the same way you would find that he read rubbish, and that it excited in him an ineffable joy and ecstasy.