Review: The Mind of the Maker (Sayers)

Sayer argues that the laws of creative imagination are analogues of the Trinity.   Or to say it another way, there is a Trinitarian structure in the mind of man. This is also mirrored in the writing of a book:

Book as Thought (Idea).

Book as Written (Energy or Word; she is on better ground when she calls it the “form” of the thought.  That at least echoes what St Hilary said).

Book as Read

While she has a fascinating number of insights, this book, rather ironically, suffers from a lack of unity.  It is almost as if there were two books.  One is a theological and trinitarian reflection on the nature of thought and mind.  That book is quite good.  The other book is a sub-conscious literary criticism of then-current England.

A word on the analogies.  She is not saying that the Trinity is like….x.  Rather, she is saying x mirrors (in some limited, analogical way) the Trinity.  That is not heretical.

The Image of God

“The characteristic common to God and man is apparently that: the desire and ability to make things” (22).  Sayers is quick to point out that this is metaphorical and analogical: we can’t make things out of nothing. And then she gives a meditation on what analogical language is.

It is not that both God and man make things that they are similar.  The very structure of thought and imagination are not limited by finite material.  I have to destroy a tree to make a wooden table. Yet, Shakespeare, in order to create Falstaff, doesn’t have to kill Hamlet (29).  Sayers writes, “The components of the material world are fixed; those of the world of the imagination increase by a continuous and irreversible process.”

Idea, Energy, Power

We see Trinitarian patterns in creation.  There is a trinity in sight: the form seen, the act of vision, and the mental attention which correlates the two (36).  Every thought is a trinity of memory, understanding, and will.

Creative Idea–beholding the whole complete work at once

Creative Energy (activity).

Creative Power

When I form the Idea in my mind, the forming of the idea is itself not the Idea.  It is the self-awareness in Energy (38).

Sayers has a fun chapter on Scalene Trinities, in which she points out imbalances in authors.  

Criticism:

I think her analogy (Idea/Energy/Power) is wobbly.  It is confusing for those of us who have studied the Christological controversies.   For example, for Sayers “energy” and “Power” refer to the Son and Spirit, respectively.  But in Greek the terms are roughly synonymous.  And after Paul in 1 Corinthians, few Christians used them exclusively of the Trinitarian persons, since “power” referred more to capacity than divine person.

 

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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