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Still life : the life of things in the fiction of Patrick White Whaley, Susan Jane 1987

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STILL LIFE: THE LIFE OF THINGS IN THE FICTION OF PATRICK WHITE By SUSAN JANE WHALEY M.A., University of Windsor, 1979 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA February 1987 ©Susan Jane Whaley In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of fiYltf] {)h The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 DE-6 (3/81) II ABSTRACT t " S t i l l L i f e " argues that Patrick White's f i c t i o n reveals objects in surpri s i n g , unexpected attitudes so as to challenge the process by which the mind usually connects with the world around i t . In p a r t i c u l a r , White's novels disrupt readers' t a c i t assumptions about the lethargic nature of substance; th i s thesis traces how his f i c t i o n reaches beyond familiar l i n g u i s t i c and s t y l i s t i c forms in order to reinvent humanity's generally passive perception of r e a l i t y . The f i r s t chapter outlines the h i s t o r i c a l context of ideas about the "object," tracing their development from the Bible through l i t e r a r y movements such as romanticism, symbolism, surrealism and modernism. Further, the chapter considers the nature of language and the r e l a t i o n of object to word in order to dis t i n g u i s h between the usual symbolic use made of objects in l i t e r a t u r e and White's treatment of things as discrete, palpable e n t i t i e s . The second chapter focuses on White's f i r s t three published novels—Happy Valley (1939), The Living and the Dead (1941) and The Aunt's Storv (1948)--as steps in his n o v e l i s t i c growth. Chapters Three, Four and Five examine respectively The Tree of Man (1955), The Solid Mandala (1966) and The Eye of the Storm (1973); these novels represent successive stages of White's career and exemplify his d i f f e r e n t formal and s t y l i s t i c techniques. White's innovations demand a new manner of reading; therefore, each i i i novel is discussed in terms of objects which r e f l e c t the shapes of the works themselves: "tree" defines the structure and style of Tree of Manf "house" inspires Solid Mandala and "body" shapes Eye of the Storm. Reading White's novels in terms of s t r u c t u r a l analogues not only illuminates his methodology, but also c l a r i f i e s his d i s t i n c t i o n between objective and subjective ways of understanding the world. Further, these chapters also refute c r i t i c s ' arguments that White's objects are merely victims of his overambitious use of pers o n i f i c a t i o n and pathetic f a l l a c y , or that they are the result of his dabbling in mysticism. " S t i l l L i f e " concludes by showing how Patrick White's novels sequentially break down assumptions about r e a l i t y and appearance u n t i l the r e a l i t y of language i t s e l f f a l t e r s . The author restores mystery to things by relocating the p o s s i b i l i t y of the extraordinary within the narrow, prescribed confines of the ordinary. White succeeds in changing readers' notions about the nature of r e a l i t y by disrupting the habitual process by which they apprehend the world of things. iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Key to T i t l e s v i Preface and Acknowledgements v i i CHAPTER I - Introduction 1. Introduction 2 2. Object: History .. 16 3. Object: Language 41 4. Being There: The Object I t s e l f 49 5. Object: White 56 Notes 62 CHAPTER II - Connecting . . . Communicating 68 CHAPTER III - River/Tree 124 1. River/Tree 129 2. Wilderness/Garden 154 3. Rose 163 4. Objects 168 Notes 176 CHAPTER IV - House 177 1. House/Mandala/Body 184 2. White's Houses 187 3. House and The Solid Mandala 193 4. Mandala 206 5. Objects 216 Notes 223 V CHAPTER V - Body 225 1. Whitean Bodies 230 2. Body Language 234 3. The Full-Bodied Novel 243 4. Objects 271 Notes 281 CHAPTER VI - Conclusion 282 Notes 293 BIBLIOGRAPHY 294 v i KEY TO TITLES The following abbreviations are used to i d e n t i f y quotations from Patrick White's works: HY - Happy V a l ^ y (1939) TLATP - The L i v i n g and the Dead (1941) 1ML - The Aunt's Story (1948) TTOJ1 - The Tree of Man (1955) V - Voss (1957) R1TC - Riders in the Chariot (1961) TSM - The Solid Mandala (1966) TEOTS - The Eye of the Storm (1973) AFQL - A Fringe of Leaves (1976) FITG - Flaws in the Glass (1981) v i i Preface and Acknowledgements I confront an obvious Irony in choosing to write a thesis on the works of Patrick White. He has made no secret of his scorn for vulturous academics and too-dry, t o o - i n t e l l e c t u a l graduate students. If I betray my better i n s t i n c t s and his i t is because he himself places hope for future generations in the reading and understanding of his books. I therefore offer a new reading of his novels, one a r i s i n g out of my deep respect and sympathy for White's w r i t e r l y predicament. I lo v i n g l y dedicate t h i s work to my husband Tom, whose un f a i l i n g patience and encouragement helped me over many a hurdle. I would also l i k e to acknowledge my indebtedness to Guy Fournier, Professor of French Language and Literature at the University of Windsor, who f i r s t showed me l a nature morte des choses. My deep appreciation also to Professors William H. New and Diana Brydon at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia for the i r d i r e c t i o n and i n s p i r a t i o n . F i n a l l y , I would l i k e to express my gratitude to L.T., to E.W.S. and to Sam, a l l of whom helped me find my way. Usually things are so concealed by the use made of them that to see them for an instant gives us the sensation of knowing the secret of the Universe. In a word, to cause things to be seen would be equivalent to proving the existence of the Universe, to knowing a supreme secret. --Rene Magritte, Secret A f f i n i t i e s ; WQEdS and Images r e a l i t y . . . impenetrable beyond the structure of a grammar. — Z u l f i k a r Ghose, The F i c t i o n of Reality 2 1. Introduction What is d u l l i s not the universe but the mental operations prescribed for us in observing i t . --Northrop Frye, The Great Code Patrick White is a d i f f i c u l t , i d i o s y n c r a t i c writer, and, frankly, his novels are not for everyone. White writes for a special audience; his style i s provocative and demanding, not e a s i l y penetrable. My purpose i s to make him a more accessible, less off-putting author because I believe he has important things to contribute to the way we l i v e our l i v e s . White is a s i g n i f i c a n t n o v e l i s t : t h i s thesis charts the evolution of a method of reading his works that i s appropriate to his complex s t y l e . We connect with the world mostly through processes of the mind. Patrick White s h o r t - c i r c u i t s this intervention of the mind in the r e l a t i o n between s e l f and world: he shapes things in order to re-shape the process by which we connect with them. White presumes that i f he can get us to perceive objects d i f f e r e n t l y , we w i l l become more observant of and sensitive to the world we occupy, less estranged from i t and more a l e r t to differences and s i m i l a r i t i e s between other things and us. In short, White proposes nothing less than a revolution in the way we inhabit the world. I propose to show that he accomplishes t h i s by evolving a sty l e which turns increasingly from symbolism to fragmentation and d i s l o c a t i o n 3 in order to j o l t us into a new way o£ reading not only the novel, but also the world around us. This new manner of reading is neither hermeneutic nor a n a l y t i c a l but rather something I would label h o l i s t i c . That i s , White's st y l e e l i c i t s a response from a l l of a reader's f a c u l t i e s : v i s c e r a l , imaginative and i n t e l l e c t u a l . Reading White's f i c t i o n demands more than merely cerebral presence from the reader. White's long career represents a process of discovery in which a few novels in pa r t i c u l a r stand out as landmarks. There i s a progress of imagery from the early, uninspired novels l i k e Happy Valley (1939) and The HvJlng and the Pead (1941) to new t e r r i t o r y for the object in The Aunt's Story (1948), The Tree of Man (1955), The Solid Mandala (19.66) and The Eye of the Storm (1973). In order to trace the emergence of White the r e a l i s t symbolist I f i r s t explore the h i s t o r i c a l origins of aesthetic interest in the object. Charting the evolution of the object necessarily touches upon related l i t e r a r y and, philosophical movements such as realism, symbolism, surrealism and phenomenology. But White's work r e s i s t s easy categorization; therefore I neither expect nor assume that he writes out of any pa r t i c u l a r philosophical or l i t e r a r y t r a d i t i o n . S t i l l , these movements provide us with an h i s t o r i c a l context out of which to approach White's f i c t i o n . It i s neither White's nor my purpose to debate the existence of r e a l i t y , but rather to explore the process by which language approaches and transforms the r e a l , thereby 4 shaping our response to i t . For the purposes of t h i s study I d e f i n e the r e a l as t h a t which we g e n e r a l l y acknowledge as e x i s t i n g . Furthermore, r e a l i t y i s m u l t i - l a y e r e d : there i s the r e a l we encounter i n day-to-day l i f e , which i s not to be confused with the r e a l i t y presented i n works of f i c t i o n . These two separate worlds o v e r l a p i n the sense t h a t each depends upon our agreeing to the other's r e a l i t y . Both t e x t and c o n t e n t s , then, are r e a l and i n d i s p u t a b l e by v i r t u e of the f a c t they e x i s t and can be p e r c e i v e d ( i f not known). * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * In White's f i c t i o n the world i s always other, and i t s otherness i s always r e s p e c t e d . At the same time, White tends to view t h i n g s i n a human cont e x t , not because he i s given to romantic anthropomorphising of o b j e c t s , but r a t h e r because he wants to emphasize t h a t c o n n e c t i o n does e x i s t between observer and observed. White does not q u e s t i o n the e x i s t e n c e of r e a l i t y ; r a t h e r , he questions our r o l e as witnesses to and p a r t i c i p a n t s i n i t . We e i t h e r remain p a s s i v e and remote from i t a l l , or we a s p i r e to r e c r e a t e i t . V i s i o n i s but one of our senses and, l i k e a l l p h y s i c a l a t t r i b u t e s , remains capable of e r r o r or i n e f f i c i e n c y . White's e x p l o i t a t i o n of a l l f i v e senses c h a l l e n g e s us to achieve i n s i g h t i n s t e a d of mere p h y s i c a l apprehension of o b j e c t s . A f t e r a l l , s i g h t i s a f u n c t i o n of the b r a i n , not of the eyes; 5 what happens d u r i n g t h i s i n e v i t a b l e , a u t o m a t i c t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of o b j e c t s i n t o language i s f r a u g h t w i t h p e r i l f o r both watcher and watched. Language i n t e r f e r e s i n the r e l a t i o n of s u b j e c t t o o b j e c t ; words, t h a t i s , i n a l l t h e i r abundant a u t h o r i t y , obscure p e r c e p t i o n , making t h a t p r o c e s s d i f f i c u l t and even redundant. M i c h e l F o u c a u l t , among o t h e r s , goes so f a r as t o say t h a t we can o n l y ever know the p r o j e c t i o n s of our language, not the r e f e r e n t s t h e m s e l v e s . White i n t u i t i v e l y u n d e r s t a n d s t h i s , though he never s t a t e s i t . He l e a v e s i t t o c h a r a c t e r s l i k e Mary Hare i n R i d e r s i n the C h a r i o t (1961) t o show us the gap t w i x t the cup and the l i p . When w o n d e r - f u l , i n e x h a u s t i b l e o b j e c t meets a r b i t r a r y , d e r i v a t i v e language--as happens c o n t i n u o u s l y i n the m i n d — t h e former s u r r e n d e r s p o t e ncy t o the l a t t e r . White s t r i v e s t o r e s t o r e v i t a l i t y t o t h i n g s : t h e y a r e themselves so e x p r e s s i v e t h a t language sometimes seems s u p e r f l u o u s . N e v e r t h e l e s s , White's o r n a t e — a t t i m e s even b a r o q u e - - s t y l e a t t e m p t s t o draw o b j e c t s and words t o g e t h e r i n t o new p o s s i b i l i t i e s of meaning: The o n l y way of b e i n g a demiurge i s t o f a s h i o n a m a t e r i a l w o r l d out of t h e one a l r e a d y on hand, not a l l u s i v e l y but c l o s e -up, so much so t h a t t h i n g s the words denote seem r i g h t on t o p of the words, on to p of the r e a d e r t o o . The i d e a l i s t o c r e a t e a complex v e r b a l w o r l d t h a t has as much p r e s e n c e , as much apparent p h y s i c a l b u l k , as the w o r l d around i t . 3 -Language s h o u l d a s p i r e t o r e - p r e s e n t r e a l i t y , t h e r e b y f o r e s t a l l i n g the r e a d e r ' s e x p e c t a t i o n of mimesis. White's 6 i n t e n s e , p o e t i c prose encourages h i s audience t o r e d i s c o v e r the o r e - i n the o r d i n a r y . White s t i c k s t o a s o r t of p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a l i s m i n h i s f i c t i o n : what h i s c h a r a c t e r s b r i n g t o t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n s i s a t l e a s t as i m p o r t a n t as what t h e y p e r c e i v e . F u r t h e r m o r e , he adheres t o what l i t t e r a t e u r s c a l l the "coherence t h e o r y " of r e a l i s m , which h o l d s t h a t the e x t e r n a l w o r l d can be unde r s t o o d by i n t u i t i o n or i n s i g h t and which r e q u i r e s e m o t i o n a l language and a s u b j e c t i v e p o i n t of v i e w f o r i t s e x p r e s s i o n . The Mary Hares and Theodora Goodmans of White's f i c t i o n a l w o r l d b r i n g ample i m a g i n a t i o n and i n s i g h t t o bear not o n l y on t h a t w o r l d but a l s o on t h e m s e l v e s - - t h a t i s t o say, on t h e i r own minds. T h e i r s i s an i n n a t e tendency t o phenomenologize, a l t h o u g h n e i t h e r t h e y nor White would c o n s c i o u s l y admit t o such h i g h f a l u t i n d e s i g n s . Without ever l e a v i n g the c o m f o r t a b l e r e a l m of r e a l i s m , White manages t o i n t o x i c a t e h i s r e a d e r s w i t h the magic and myste r y of t h i n g s . I t ' s not t h a t o b j e c t s p e r f o r m s u p e r n a t u r a l a c t s i n h i s f i c t i o n , or even s t r a n g e ones: i t ' s o n l y t h a t t h e y make us gasp from time t o time j u s t because t h e y appear i n an uncommon l i g h t . P a t r i c k White i s a c o n n o i s s e u r of the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of t h i n g s . He r e c o g n i z e s the gap between the w o r l d and i t s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n i n language; s o , r a t h e r than b e i n g s a t i s f i e d t o evoke o n l y the appearance of t h i n g s or t h e i r c e r e b r a l or a b s t r a c t c o u n t e r p a r t s , he s t r i v e s t o p r e s e n t p a l p a b l e , s i g n i f i c a n t o b j e c t s . A f t e r a l l , t he w o r l d i s made 7 up not of words but- o£ things. In short, Patrick white attempts the impossible. He c u l t i v a t e s the inherent poetry and mystery of the object, opening i t up to question and scrutiny, reassuring us a l l the while that the best remedy for uncertainty or ambiguity i s none at a l l . * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * We value Patrick White's work because he faces the grand questions about l i f e in unsettling ways. White a r t i c u l a t e s our own fears and uncertainties in terms of familiar dichotomies such as good and e v i l , matter and s p i r i t , essence and existence. But what makes White unique as a writer is how he resolves them. It is objects which unite these d i s p a r i t i e s and overcome the distances in his f i c t i o n . Things l i v e on their own terms as phenomena rooted s o l i d l y in the mundane, but also as material manifestations of another world. This is not to say that Whitean things partake of the mystical or the transcendental, nor that they are simply victims of his overambitious use of pathetic f a l l a c y or p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n . He writes l i f e into the habitual, leaving i t fresh and v i t a l and s l i p p i n g the rug from beneath our ready reliance on what passes for r e a l . His treatment of the inanimate shatters l o g i c ; i t c a l l s for a revised understanding of the world we assume we know. Why exalt the object? Because one of t h i s world's 8 g r e a t e s t t r a g e d i e s i s t h a t i t l a c k s m y s t e r y : i t has c e a s e d t o p r o v i d e a d e q u a t e f o o d f o r t h e q u e s t i n g s o u l . A t h i n g o f n a t u r e o r o f man r e m a i n s a g i v e n ; i t i s t h e r e , s i m p l y - - a n open i n v i t a t i o n . W h i t e p a u s e s r e p e a t e d l y b e f o r e o b j e c t s : he o f t e n s l o w s t h e c a m e r a ' s sweep t o f o c u s upon a w r i s t , a h a t , an a n t . Thus m a g n i f i e d and s c r u t i n i z e d , t h e t h i n g a s s umes a p r o m i n e n c e p r o p o r t i o n a t e t o t h a t s t r u g g l e e n g a g i n g t h e m a j o r c h a r a c t e r s . C l u e s t o t h e v u l n e r a b l e , v i t a l now r e s i d e i n o b j e c t s made o r g r o w n : t h i n g s a r e s p e c i a l b e c a u s e i n c o r r u p t and o r i g i n a l . T h e y r e p r e s e n t p o s s i b i l i t y i n a w o r l d where a l l a v a i l a b l e p a t h s seem t o have been t r a v e l l e d . W h i t e s u s p e c t s m a t e r i a l i s m . C h a r a c t e r s i n h i s f i c t i o n who a c c u m u l a t e t h i n g s f o r t h e s a k e o f p o s s e s s i o n end up i m p o v e r i s h e d by them. W h i t e has i d e n t i f i e d a c u l t o f t h e o b j e c t i n w h i c h h a v i n g i s a l l . W h i l e w a n t e d , t h e t h i n g g l o w s w i t h a l l t h e r a d i a n c e o f o u r d e s i r e ; once a c q u i r e d , i t l o s e s i t s u r g e n c y . As N a d i n e G o r d i m e r w r i t e s i n B u r g e r ' s D a u g h t e r : "The a c t o f a c q u i s i t i o n . You have t o a c q u i r e a y a c h t t o e s c a p e i t . " 2 W h i t e i s o u t t o v i n d i c a t e t h e o b j e c t , t o r e s t o r e t o i t i t s n a t i v e m y s t e r y and i t s p o t e n t i a l t o t h r e a t e n o r t o h e a l . S u r r o u n d e d by t h i n g s o f n a t u r e , o f w h i c h we r e m a i n more o r l e s s s u s p i c i o u s , we heap a b o u t us o b j e c t s o f o u r own d e s i g n f o r p r o t e c t i o n and c o m f o r t . I f we t r u s t t h e s e l a t t e r , i t i s b e c a u s e we assume c o n t r o l o v e r them. W h i t e p o i n t s r e p e a t e d l y t o o u r n a i v e t e : t h i n g s do n o t e x i s t m e r e l y t o m i r r o r us i n t h e m i d s t o f o u r p l e n t y . He w o n d e r s w h e t h e r t h e y d e f i n e us o r we 9 them. We do not see o b j e c t s ; i£ some t h i n g happens to f a l l w i t h i n our l i n e of v i s i o n we g e n e r a l l y g l o s s over i t , mentally t i c k i n g o f f i t s name, perhaps, but h a r d l y n o t i c i n g i t I n d i v i d u a l l y . Unless, of course, some unusual aspect about the encounter j a r s the o p t i c nerve. A hammer i n the r e f r i g e r a t o r or an armchair i n the middle of the freeway: remove even the most banal of o b j e c t s from the flow of d a i l y l i f e and i t becomes unquestionably other, u n f o r g i v a b l y a l i e n . P a t r i c k White c o n s t a n t l y c h a l l e n g e s the reader's t a c i t b e l i e f i n the l e t h a r g i c nature of substance. Even i f we were able to c o n s t a n t l y renew the aspect of o b j e c t s around us, we would never succeed i n s e e i n g the same ob j e c t twice. Mankind, the great symbolizer, i s incapable of p e r c e i v i n g an o b j e c t nakedly: we view the world i n terms of symbols. An o b j e c t , however p h y s i c a l , u l t i m a t e l y becomes a mental c o n s t r u c t , an image of i t s e l f . T h e r e f o r e , two people viewing the same o b j e c t w i l l always p e r c e i v e something d i f f e r e n t . Not onl y w i l l they never see the o b j e c t i n i t s e n t i r e t y (there i s always another, and then another, s i d e which escapes d e t e c t i o n ) , but they w i l l take away p i c t u r e s of the t h i n g which d i f f e r a c c o r d i n g to c o l o u r , t e x t u r e , and shape, to name but a few v a r i a b l e s . Mostly they w i l l be tempted to l a b e l the o b j e c t i n terms of t h i n g s a l r e a d y known or f o r m e r l y p e r c e i v e d . Objects s u f f e r from an accumulation of t a r n i s h e d 10 p e r c e p t i o n . As does language. Words, however, are not supposed to be the o b j e c t s they r e p r e s e n t , j u s t as language i s not supposed to be l i f e . Words s i g n i f y o b j e c t s and are themselves o b j e c t s , even a r t i f a c t s , but i s the r e v e r s e true? While employing words to r e p r e s e n t t h i n g s (as he i s c o n s t r a i n e d to do), White d i s r u p t s the i n v e t e r a t e r e c i p r o c i t y between them. He f r e e s language and i t s r e f e r e n t s from each other and from t h e i r c o l l e c t i v e p ast. An umbrella or a mouldy bowl of mutton f a t i n a novel by P a t r i c k White leads a l i f e of i t s own. To d i s c o v e r i n what that l i f e c o n s i s t s i s to expand our own awareness. So much of l i f e remains unknowable to us; so much t h a t we ignore i s i n f a c t a p p r e h e n s i b l e . S t r i p away the f i l m of the f a m i l i a r and n o v e l t y pulses f o r t h . Such an upheaval i n the world of the f a m i l i a r r e q u i r e s language e q u a l l y o r i g i n a l . White's s t y l e d e f i e s the r a t i o n a l , f r a c t u r e s syntax and mangles metaphors i n t u r n . C a l l i t ornate or i n f l a t e d or s e l f - i n d u l g e n t prose: i t i s above a l l a language of c o n f l i c t , an uncanny, d i s r u p t i v e way with words. Language i s a l l any of us have to work with, a f a c t of which White confesses h i m s e l f p a i n f u l l y aware. I t has a h i s t o r y and, presumably, a f u t u r e , hence both l i m i t i n g and emancipating humanity's c r e a t i v e e f f o r t s . L i t e r a r y works knot the untenable present, p r o v i d i n g the necessary hinge between the tenses. They keep language new by d e f y i n g a w e l l p i c k e d -over l i n g u i s t i c i n h e r i t a n c e . P a t r i c k White's novels embody h i s resentment of the common s t o r e . His f i c t i o n r e c o r ds t h i s 11 l i f e l o n g s t r u g g l e with and Journey through a h o p e l e s s l y banal language to a p e r s o n a l d i a l e c t commensurate to h i s v i s i o n . White's nouns stand out i n p a r t i c u l a r : many blazon f o r t h as o b j e c t s of wonder. More than j u s t nouns, images or symbols, however, those nouns which inhabit'White's l i t e r a r y space are weighty, dense, r e a l . As f a r as i s f i c t i v e l y p o s s i b l e , a Whitean t r e e i s a v e r i t a b l e t r e e ; moreover, i t conjures the essence of t r e e n e s s . F e e l the c o l o u r of the f o l i a g e , t a s t e the t e x t u r e of the bark; they are other than what we t h i n k we know. E x p e r i e n c i n g the t r e e i s necessary: i t i s an o b j e c t f a r g r e a t e r than the sum of our senses can r e v e a l . Tree f o l l o w s an inner l o g i c unknown to us, and stands at the p o r t a l to a s i d e of being not normally p e r c e i v e d by us. Not t h a t t h i s dimension i s so hidden or impervious, not t h a t i t i s o t h e r -w o r l d l y or u n r e a l . No: the Whitean o b j e c t s t r i v e s to show i t s e l f to us as something known but new. White's language demonstrates i n time-lapse s t y l e what h a b i t and hurry have de p r i v e d us o f . Things are represented mostly by language because there i s nothing e l s e except p i c t u r e s or symbols, themselves another kind of language. In p a r t i c u l a r , the word-thing connection needs e x p l o r i n g . The way P a t r i c k White uses o b j e c t s i n h i s f i c t i o n c a l l s i n t o q u e s t i o n the r e l a t i o n between s i g n i f i e r and s i g n i f i e d . Objects are handled d i f f e r e n t l y i n d i f f e r e n t n o v e l s ; f u r t h e r , t h e i r usage sometimes changes w i t h i n a p a r t i c u l a r n o v e l . Symbols dominate The L i v i n g and the Dead. 12 f o r example: o b j e c t s used as such always r e f e r to something other than themselves. In The Tree of Man, by c o n t r a s t , f o r many words t h e i r meaning i s t h e i r whole content. White qu e s t i o n s , f o r i n s t a n c e , whether words are about t h i n g s : t h a t pipe) or i s t h e i r obvious meaning t h e i r whole content? Are meaning and content the same? Does a word mean or does i t simply e x i s t ? We can probably agree t h a t while a word i s an o b j e c t , a word i s not the same as the o b j e c t to which i t e x i s t i n g t r e e , i n a f o r e s t , say, which probably looks much d i f f e r e n t from t h i s one. A gap e x i s t s between the two p r o p o r t i o n a t e to that leap from the i n t e l l e c t to the senses. The sensory p e r c e p t i o n and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of the p e r c e i v e d come f i r s t , before the i n t e l l e c t u a l naming of i t . The d i s t a n c e between p e r c e i v e r and p e r c e i v e d can never be overcome but i t can be dimi n i s h e d i f the word-thing conne c t i o n i s r e v i t a l i z e d . Once on new l i n g u i s t i c terms the i n d i v i d u a l can approach the o b j e c t as pa r t of the same world. People and th i n g s r e c o n c i l e , as do t h i n g s with other t h i n g s . Despite t h e i r a v e r s i o n to c a t e g o r i z a t i o n , I propose to read o b j e c t s i n White's f i c t i o n i n terms of the f o l l o w i n g scheme: 'body,' ' r i v e r / t r e e ' and 'house' correspond r o u g h l y to three major s t r u c t u r e s which I b e l i e v e shape White's n o v e l s . These rough-hewn c a t e g o r i e s a l s o o v e r l a p to a l a r g e extent: f o r example, c e r t a i n 'body' c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s a l s o inform i s , are they the th i n g s themselves ( c e c i n'est pas une r e f e r s . Thus, £ r_ §_ §_ i s not mean an 13 'house' and ' r i v e r / t r e e , ' t h u s s u p p o r t i n g W h i t e ' s b e l i e f i n t h e e s s e n t i a l u n i t y and i n t e r r e l a t e d n e s s o f m a t t e r . T h i n g s a r e d i f f e r e n t and t h e same, s i m p l e and a m b i g u o u s a l l a t o n c e . The W h i t e a n o b j e c t r a i s e s p u z z l i n g i s s u e s w h i c h I p r o p o s e t o c o n f r o n t i n t e r m s o f t h e t h r e e a n a l o g u e s s u g g e s t e d a b o v e . 'Body,' ' r i v e r / t r e e ' and 'house' and t h e i r c o r r e s p o n d e n t f a m i l i e s w i l l a f f o r d ample o p p o r t u n i t y t o e x p l o r e o b j e c t s i n t e r m s o f t h e e l e m e n t s , t h e a n i m a l , v e g e t a b l e a n d m i n e r a l k i n g d o m s , t h e t e m p o r a l and s p a t i a l , a n d t h e n a t u r a l a n d a r t i f i c i a l . O b v i o u s d i f f e r e n c e s and d e f i n i t i o n s w i l l b e g i n t o b l u r and r e c e d e , b e c a u s e no s i n g l e t h i n g w i l l s t a y p u t w i t h i n a n y g i v e n c a t e g o r y . F o r I n s t a n c e , o b j e c t s l i k e t h e r o s e i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y f r i c h a s i t i s i n a l l u s i o n s , I w o u l d i n c l u d e f i r s t i n t h e ' r i v e r / t r e e ' g r o u p b e c a u s e o f i t s o b v i o u s , v e g e t a b l e q u a l i t i e s . B u t t h e r o s e a l s o e m b o d i e s a k i n d o f m a n d a l a , t h a t most p e r s i s t e n t o f W h i t e a n d e s i g n s . S i n c e b o d y t o o , i n q u a t e r n a r y f a s h i o n p a r t a k e s o f c e r t a i n m a n d a l i c c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , r o s e and b o d y c o u l d on t h o s e g r o u n d s a l s o s h a r e t h e same c a t e g o r y . F u r t h e r , t h e h a r d - w o r k i n g r o s e i l l u s t r a t e s how i t i s t h a t c e r t a i n o b j e c t s a r e a b l e t o u t t e r l y t r a n s c e n d a m e r e l y s y m b o l i c f u n c t i o n . I t i s r e l e v a n t t o a p o e t i c s o f W h i t e ' s s p a c e t o e x p l o r e t h i n g s i n t e r m s o f t h e i r s y m b o l i c w e i g h t and d e n s i t y o f i m p a c t , and t o a d d r e s s t h e f o l l o w i n g q u e s t i o n s . How i s i t t h a t o b j e c t s d e c i d e d l y d e n s e , s u b s t a n t i a l and c o n c r e t e a r e a l s o n o t ? What s i g n i f i c a n c e s h o u l d be a c c o r d e d c e r t a i n s i g n a l 1 4 o b j e c t s l i k e t a b l e , house, mandala, rose and stone? How can t h e i r q u a l i t i e s change so, not o n l y from novel to novel but d u r i n g the course of each novel? Do t h i n g s manifest open or c l o s e d form, and does t h i s q u a l i t y r e f l e c t the kind of open form White tends to choose for h i s f i c t i o n s ? How do t h i n g s r e s i s t or complement c h a r a c t e r and White's thematic concerns? F u r t h e r , does White's mania f o r the love of the most unn o t i c e a b l e of t h i n g s a f f e c t h i s s t y l e : t h a t i s , how does sentence s t r u c t u r e f a r e i n t h i s upheaval amongst nouns and verbs, s u b j e c t s and o b j e c t s ? Is White working towards a phenomenology of the o b j e c t ? F i n a l l y , i s h i s space h a b i t a b l e or not? I t i s i n terms of these i s s u e s t h a t I explore and assess the l i f e of the o b j e c t i n White's f i c t i o n . F i n a l l y , the words ' t h i n g ' and 'object' are not i n t e r -changeable, though I tend to use them so. 'Thing' immediately sounds more g e n e r a l , l e s s c o n c r e t e , than ' o b j e c t . ' Both prove a p p r o p r i a t e l y vague words when imagination f a i l s to provide something more i n f o r m a t i v e . A glance down the l i s t of usages for each i n the OED r e v e a l s nuances not h a b i t u a l l y a s s o c i a t e d with each word. 'Thing,' f o r example, can mean th a t with which one i s concerned, a doing or event, a s a y i n g or o p i n i o n . I t can be anything or something t h a t i s incapable of being p a r t i c u l a r i z e d - - a n e n t i t y of any kind or an a t t r i b u t e t h e r e o f . A t h i n g e x i s t s i n d i v i d u a l l y as an o b j e c t ( t h e r e ' s t h a t word) of p e r c e p t i o n ; furthermore, i t i s that which i s s i g n i f i e d , as d i s t i n g u i s h e d from the word, symbol or idea by which i t i s 15 r e p r e s e n t e d . The OED s p e c i f i e s a t h i n g as a b e i n g w i t h o u t l i f e o r c o n s c i o u s n e s s : an i n a n i m a t e o b j e c t , a m a t e r i a l s u b s t a n c e ( t a u t o l o g i e s abound) or some a r t i c l e o c c u p y i n g s p a c e . ' O b j e c t , 1 on t h e o t h e r hand, c a n c o n n o t e o b s t a c l e or h i n d r a n c e , whence i t s use as a v e r b . The noun s i g n i f i e s some m a t e r i a l t h i n g p r e s e n t e d t o t h e e y e s or o t h e r s e n s e , w h i c h c a n e x c i t e p a r t i c u l a r e m o t i o n s . O b j e c t s r e c e i v e a c t i o n s , t h o u g h t s or f e e l i n g s ; t h e y r e p r e s e n t p u r p o s e , or t h e end t o w h i c h e f f o r t i s d i r e c t e d . An o b j e c t i s s o m e t h i n g e x t e r n a l t o t h e mind: t h e non-ego as opposed t o t h e ego. ' O b j e c t ' i s a l s o a p a r t o f s p e e c h . F i n a l l y , t h e OED l i s t s ' o b j e c t - s o u l , ' a p h r a s e used t o d e s c r i b e a s o u l b e l i e v e d t o a n i m a t e a m a t e r i a l o b j e c t . O b v i o u s l y P a t r i c k White i s n o t t h e f i r s t w r i t e r t o s u s p e c t l i f e i n t h i n g s . 16 2. O b j e c t : H i s t o r y S t o a n s want t o be l i s s e n t t o . Them b i g brown s t o a n s i n t h e f o r m e r s f e a l t h e y want t o s t a n up and t a l k l i k e men. Some t i m e s y o w l see them l y i n g on t h e g r o u n w i t h t h e r humps and h o l l e r s t h e y w l s a y t o y o u , S i t a wyl and r e s e a s y why d o n t y o u . Then when y o u r e s i t t i n g on them t h e y w l t a l k and t h e y w l t e l i f you l i s s e n . Theywl t e l whats i n them but you wont hea r n o t h i n g what t h e y r e s a y i n g w i t h o u t you go as f a s as t h e s t o a n . You myt t h i n k a s t o a n i s s l o w t h a t s becaws you wont see i t m oving. Wont see i t w a l k i n g a r o u n . T h a t d o n t mean i t s s l o w t h o . T h e r e a r e t h e many c o o l s o f Addom w h i c h t h e y a r e t h e p a r t y c o o l s o f s t o a n . M o v i n g i n t h e r m i l l y i n g s w h i c h i s t h e g i r t d a n t s o f t h e e v e r y t h i n g i t s t h e f a s t e s t h i n g t h e r e i s i t k e a p s t h e s t i l n e s s g o i n g . Reason you wont s e e i t move i t s so f a r a way i n t o t h e s t o a n . I f you cud f l y way way up l i k e a s a d d e l i t e b i r d o v e r t h e s e a and you l o o k i t down you wunt see t h e waves moving youwd see them change 1 way t o a n o t h e r o n l y you wunt see them moving youwd be t o o f a r a way. You wunt s e e n o t h i n g o n l y a c h a n g i n g s t i l n e s s . I t s t h e same w i t h a s t o a n . - - R u s s e l l Hoban, R i d d l e y Walker The B i b l e , i t s e l f an e d i t e d c o m p i l a t i o n o f a v a r i e t y of a n c i e n t myths and s t o r i e s , has p r o v i d e d an i m a g i n a t i v e framework f o r most o f W e s t e r n l i t e r a t u r e t h r o u g h t h e a g e s . N o r t h r o p F r y e , i n h i s The G r e a t Code: The B i b l e and  L i t e r a t u r e , s e e s l i t e r a t e c u l t u r e s as h a v i n g " c o m p l e t e d a g i g a n t i c c y c l e o f l a n g u a g e f r o m Homer's t i m e , where t h e word e v o k e s t h e t h i n g , t o our own day, where t h e t h i n g e v o k e s t h e 17 word, and [we] a r e now a b o u t t o go a r o u n d t h e c y c l e a g a i n , as we seem now t o be c o n f r o n t e d once a g a i n w i t h an e n e r g y common t o s u b j e c t and o b j e c t w h i c h c a n be e x p r e s s e d v e r b a l l y o n l y t h r o u g h some f o r m o f m e t a p h o r . " 3 He t r a c e s t h e e v o l u t i o n o f l a n g u a g e , w i t h t h e h e l p o f V i c o , f r o m t h e b e g i n n i n g s o f t h e w r i t t e n word. B r i e f l y , t h e y i d e n t i f y t h r e e a g e s i n t h e c y c l e : a m y t h i c a l age o f gods i n w h i c h t h e p o e t i c ( a l s o m e t a p h o r i c , h i e r o g l y p h i c ) t y p e o f l a n g u a g e p r e v a i l e d , an h e r o i c age o f a r i s t o c r a c y i n w h i c h t h e h e r o i c ( a l s o metonymic, h i e r a t i c ) t y p e o f l a n g u a g e d o m i n a t e d , and an age o f t h e p e o p l e i n w h i c h t h e v u l g a r ( s i m i l e - p r o n e , d e m o t i c , d e s c r i p t i v e ) t y p e o f l a n g u a g e was f o r e m o s t . F r y e goes on t o d i s c u s s t h e B i b l e as a t y p o l o g y o f t h e s e c o n d phase o f l a n g u a g e . But what emerges as F r y e d e l v e s d e e p e r i n t o t h e d i f f e r e n c e s between t h e s e l i n g u i s t i c ages i s t h e g r o w i n g d i s t a n c e between words and t h i n g s . In p r e - B i b l i c a l c u l t u r e s words c o n t a i n e d m a g i c . " I n t h i s p e r i o d t h e r e i s r e l a t i v e l y l i t t l e e m p h a s i s on a c l e a r s e p a r a t i o n o f s u b j e c t and o b j e c t : t h e emphasis f a l l s r a t h e r on th e f e e l i n g t h a t s u b j e c t and o b j e c t a r e l i n k e d by a common power or energy.'"* F o r p o e t s s u c h a s Homer words were c o n c r e t e and a b s t r a c t c o n c e p t s l i k e t i m e , s p a c e and s o u l p r o v e d v e r y p h y s i c a l b e c a u s e c o n n e c t e d w i t h b o d i l y f u n c t i o n s or w i t h o b j e c t s . H i s was t h e l a n g u a g e o f immanence. P l a t o ' s w r i t i n g s marked t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e s e c o n d phase of more i n d i v i d u a l i z e d l a n g u a g e where words were t h e o u t w a r d 18 e x p r e s s i o n o£ t h e i n n e r s e l f . " S u b j e c t and o b j e c t a r e b e c o m i n g more c o n s i s t e n t l y s e p a r a t e d , and ' r e f l e c t i o n , ' w i t h i t s o v e r t o n e s o f l o o k i n g i n t o a m i r r o r , moves i n t o t h e v e r b a l f o r e g r o u n d . " 9 I n t e l l e c t and t h e e m o t i o n s p a r t e d company and a b s t r a c t i o n became p o s s i b l e . E x p r e s s i o n t h u s moved f r o m t h e m e t a p h o r i c a l , t h i s - ' e q u a l s * - t h a t i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f mankind w i t h n a t u r e t o t h e metonymic t h i s - ' s t a n d s - f o r ' - t h a t where words i m i t a t e d a r e a l i t y o u t s i d e them. Bacon and L o c k e i n i t i a t e d t h e t h i r d phase o f l a n g u a g e i n t h e s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y . "Here we s t a r t w i t h a c l e a r s e p a r a t i o n o f s u b j e c t and o b j e c t , i n w h i c h t h e s u b j e c t e x p o s e s i t s e l f , i n s e n s e e x p e r i e n c e , t o t h e i m p a c t o f an o b j e c t i v e w o r l d . The o b j e c t i v e w o r l d i s t h e o r d e r o f n a t u r e ; t h i n k i n g or r e f l e c t i o n f o l l o w s t h e s u g g e s t i o n s o f s e n s e e x p e r i e n c e , and words a r e t h e s e r v o m e c h a n i s m s o f r e f l e c t i o n . " 6 Language became m a i n l y d e s c r i p t i v e , i t s main f i g u r e t h e s i m i l e . F r y e s e e s In t h i s p r e s e n t age o f l a n g u a g e a r e t u r n t o t h e d i r e c t r e l a t i o n between n a t u r e and words. But i n t h e meantime m y t h o l o g i c a l s p a c e and t i m e have c e d e d t o s c i e n t i f i c s p a c e and t i m e ; t h e d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between i l l u s i o n and r e a l i t y i s p r o b l e m a t i c f o r u s . C o p e r n i c u s , D a r w i n and E i n s t e i n , among o t h e r s , d i s p r o v e d our d e l u s i o n s and ended up c r e a t i n g an o b s e r v e d o b j e c t o u t o f t h e o b s e r v e r . T h e r e i s t h u s no l o n g e r so d i s t i n c t a s e p a r a t i o n between o b j e c t and s u b j e c t . F o c u s i n g d i r e c t l y upon t h e B i b l e , F r y e p r o p o s e s t h a t i t s p r i m a r y i n t e n t i o n i s n o t l i t e r a r y b u t h i s t o r i c a l . C u r i o u s l y , 19 i t s c o n t r o l l i n g mode of e x p r e s s i o n i s m e t a p h o r i c a l and p o e t i c by v i r t u e o f t h e f a c t t h a t " a l l l a n g u a g e i s p e r m e a t e d by metaphor s i m p l y b e c a u s e words a r e j u x t a p o s e d . " 7 One a s p e c t o f metaphor i s m e t a m o r p h o s i s , and t h e B i b l e shows no e x c e p t i o n t o t h i s . The whole t h r u s t o f t h e B i b l e i s t o w a r d s a f u t u r e m e t a m o r p h o s i s o f n a t u r e i n an upward d i r e c t i o n , when i t w i l l g a i n t h e power o f a r t i c u l a t e n e s s i n s t e a d o f l o s i n g i t : F o r ye s h a l l go o u t w i t h j o y , and be l e d f o r t h w i t h p e a c e : t h e m o u n t a i n s and t h e h i l l s s h a l l b r e a k f o r t h b e f o r e you i n t o s i n g i n g , and a l l t h e t r e e s of t h e f i e l d s h a l l c l a p t h e i r h a nds. ( I s a i a h 55: 12)a Whereas i n t h e b e g i n n i n g t h e Word was C r e a t i o n - - G o d spoke and i t was s o — a s book s u c c e e d s book l a n g u a g e r e l i e s i n c r e a s i n g l y on metaphor and t h u s upon t h e d i s t i n c t i o n between s u b j e c t and o b j e c t . But f r o m t h e p s a l m i s t t o t h e p r e a c h e r t o C h r i s t , a l l c o n t r i b u t o r s t o t h e B i b l e s i n g t h e p r a i s e s o f c r e a t i o n . S i m p l e t h i n g s l i k e b r e a d and s t o n e s a l s o r e j o i c e , c l a p hands and s i n g . A c c o r d i n g t o F r y e t h e New T e s t a m e n t w r i t e r s used t h e l a n g u a g e o f t r a n s c e n d e n c e a l m o s t e x c l u s i v e l y i n o r d e r t o s u p p o r t t h e i d e a o f a new w o r l d where t h e r e would be no d e a t h . The body i s p r o c l a i m e d t h e t e m p l e o f t h e L o r d more t h a n once, p e o p l e t h e l i v i n g s t o n e s o f t h e C h u r c h o f God, t r e e s and w ater e q u a t e d w i t h l i f e . F r y e p o s i t s t h a t t h i s a p o c a l y p t i c v i s i o n " p r e s e n t s us w i t h a w o r l d i n w h i c h t h e r e i s o n l y one knower, f o r whom t h e r e i s n o t h i n g o u t s i d e o f or o b j e c t i v e t o t h a t 20 knower, hence n o t h i n g dead or i n s e n s i b l e . " 9 He s e e s i n t h e B i b l e an " e x p a n d i n g o f v i s i o n t h r o u g h l a n g u a g e , " 1 0 e s p e c i a l l y i n books l i k e R e v e l a t i o n . Much l a t e r t h e p o e t B l a k e i n v e r t s t h i s t r a d i t i o n a l , b i b l i c a l f o r m o f t h e t r o p e t o "a metaphor o f p a r t i c u l a r i t y " 1 1 t h a t e n a b l e s h i m "To see t h e w o r l d i n a g r a i n o f s a n d . " C h r i s t i a n m y s t i c s i n t h e M i d d l e Ages a r e known t o have made common t h i n g s t h e o b j e c t o f r e l i g i o u s c o n t e m p l a t i o n . Alchemy, t h e t r a n s f o r m i n g o f t h e s t u f f o f t h e e a r t h i n t o p r e c i o u s goods, was a l s o p r a c t i s e d , and t h e n o t i o n t h a t h e r e a f t e r n o t h i n g would d i e b u t o n l y be t r a n s f o r m e d g a i n e d a s c e n d e n c y . O t h e r r e l i g i o n s l i k e Zen Buddhism w h i c h r e l y upon v i s i o n a r y e x p e r i e n c e have l o n g h e l d w i t h t h e n o t i o n o f i n t e r p e n e t r a t i o n , where e a c h t h i n g p a r t a k e s o f b o t h t h e i n d i v i d u a l and t h e U n i v e r s a l , where t i m e and s p a c e a r e a n n i h i l a t e d and where e v e r y t h i n g i n t h e w o r l d s h i n e s by i t s own l i g h t . I s e e much o f Zen p h i l o s o p h y as r e m a r k a b l y i n t u n e w i t h P a t r i c k W h i t e ' s e l e v a t i o n o f t h i n g s and w i t h h i s a v e r s i o n t o l a n g u a g e and h i s d i s t r u s t o f t h e r a t i o n a l . Zen a b h o r s words and c o n c e p t s , and r e a s o n i n g b a s e d on them. We have been m i s l e d f r o m t h e f i r s t r i s i n g o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s t o r e s o r t t o o much t o r a t i o c i n a t i o n f o r t h e p r e h e n s i o n o f R e a l i t y . We t e n d t o r e g a r d i d e a s and words as f a c t s i n t h e m s e l v e s , and t h i s way of t h i n k i n g has e n t e r e d d e e p l y i n t o t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n o f our c o n s c i o u s n e s s . We now i m a g i n e t h a t when we have i d e a s and words we have a l l t h a t c a n be s a i d o f our 21 e x p e r i e n c e o f R e a l i t y . T h i s means t h a t we t a k e words f o r R e a l i t y i t s e l f and n e g l e c t e x p e r i e n c e t o r e a c h what r e a l l y c o n s t i t u t e s our i n m o s t e x p e r i e n c e . 3 - 2 Zen Buddhism s t r i v e s t o w a r d s immediacy o f e x p e r i e n c e and i n t u i t i v e a p p r e h e n s i o n , and p r o c l a i m s t h e u n i t y and t o t a l i t y o f a l l t h i n g s . I t t e a c h e s t h a t m a t t e r i s a n i m a t e d , t h e s o u r c e of r e v e l a t i o n , and t h a t mankind must purge i t s e l f o f i t s p r o p e n s i t y f o r a n t i t h e t i c a l , b i f u r c a t i n g t h o u g h t i n o r d e r t o g r a s p t h i s dynamism. No more d i v i s i o n between s u b j e c t and o b j e c t : s e e r and s e e n a r e i d e n t i c a l and a l l i s p u r e e x p e r i e n c e . I n d i v i d u a l o b j e c t s r e p r e s e n t n o t o n l y t h e t o t a l i t y o f R e a l i t y , b ut i t s i n f i n i t y as w e l l . F o r t h i s r e a s o n o b j e c t s a r e t o be m a r v e l l e d a t and v e n e r a t e d , b u t t h e y a r e n o t t o be c l u n g t o . Buddha f o u n d t h a t t h e c a u s e o f s u f f e r i n g i n t h i s l i f e i s a t t a c h m e n t . We g e t a t t a c h e d t o t h i n g s ; n o t j u s t t o t h i n g s but t o t h i n g s as i f t h e y p e r m a n e n t l y e x i s t e d . To g e t r i d o f t h i s a t t a c h m e n t , t h e most p r a c t i c a l method i s t o deny the s u b s t a n t i a l i t y o f i n d i v i d u a l e n t i t i e s , t h a t i s , ego s u b s t a n c e . 1 3 Zen t e a c h e s t h a t b e c a u s e e v e r y t h i n g c h a n g e s , a l l i s t h e r e f o r e s u b j e c t t o d e a t h and d e c o m p o s i t i o n . What a p p e a r s n e g a t i v e , however, l e a d s t o h i g h e r a f f i r m a t i o n , and t o p e r f e c t s e l f -f o r g e t t i n g . Zen Buddhism d e n i e s t h a t i t r e l i e s upon m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e , c a l l i n g i t s e l f i n s t e a d a r a d i c a l f o r m o f r e a l i s m . We s h a l l see w i t h r e s p e c t t o t h e modern h i s t o r y o f t h e o b j e c t 22 t h a t a r t i s t s have a b s o r b e d and e c h o e d b i b l i c a l and z en m y t h o l o g y t o some d e g r e e . They a r e b o t h our common i n h e r i t a n c e , c o n d i t i o n i n g much o f our c u l t u r e w i t h o u t our s c a r c e l y r e c o g n i z i n g i t . O r d i n a r y t h i n g s e x p e r i e n c e d an a r t i s t i c and l i t e r a r y r e v i v a l a b o u t two c e n t u r i e s ago. S t i l l l i f e p a i n t i n g s had a l w a y s e n j o y e d enormous p o p u l a r i t y : f l o w e r s , wine g o b l e t s , f r u i t s and c h e e s e were r e p r o d u c e d t o p h o t o g r a p h i c p r e c i s i o n by c o u n t l e s s E u r o p e a n a r t i s t s . O b j e c t s were j u x t a p o s e d i n e n d l e s s c o m b i n a t i o n s f o r c o n t r a s t i n s h a p e , c o l o u r , and t e x t u r e . E x a c t r e p l i c a t i o n seemed t o be t h e p u r p o s e o f t h e s e e x e r c i s e s . U s u a l l y t h o s e t h i n g s d e p i c t e d were c a u g h t a t t h e h e i g h t o f p e r f e c t i o n : s u c h l u s t r o u s g r a p e s , v i b r a n t r o s e s and g l i s t e n i n g d r i n k a p p e a l e d t o t h e s e n s e s c e r t a i n l y , b u t i n t e l l e c t u a l l y t h e y d i d n o t h o l d u s . S t i l l l i f e p o r t r a i t s u l t i m a t e l y d e c e i v e d : t h e y c a p t u r e d l i f e a t i t s b e s t , a r r e s t i n g i t s c a p a c i t y f o r cha n g e . S t i l l l i f e meant d e a t h , ' n a t u r e m o r t e . ' U n l e s s some human c o n t e x t a p p e a r e d t o i n j e c t v i t a l i t y i n t o t h e s c e n e - - a n e x t i n g u i s h e d c a n d l e , s a y , or a p a r t i a l l y p e e l e d o r a n g e — s t i l l l i f e s seemed s u p e r f i c i a l a t b e s t . S t i l l , t h e y d i d d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t a r t i s t s t h o u g h t o b j e c t s f r o m e v e r y d a y l i f e w o r t h y o f n o t i c e . The E n g l i s h R o m a n t i c and t h e F r e n c h S y m b o l i s t p o e t s t o o k up t h a t t r a d i t i o n . As t h e p r o m i n e n t l i t e r a r y movement of t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , R o m a n t i c i s m c e l e b r a t e d t h e t r i u m p h o f i m a g i n a t i o n 23 o v e r r e a s o n and r e a l i s m . A r t i f a c t s s u c h as Greek u r n s , n a t u r e i n t h e f o r m o f w i l d f l o w e r s , b i r d s and m o u n t a i n s s t i m u l a t e d t h e r o m a n t i c i m a g i n a t i o n and c o n j u r e d up reams o f a s s o c i a t e d i d e a s . The p o e t i c e f f u s i o n s o f Wordsworth, S h e l l e y and K e a t s were l i k e homages t o t h e o b j e c t , and t o i t s a b i l i t y t o open up v i s t a s o f f e e l i n g i n them. Whereas R e a l i s m f o u n d i t s v a l u e s i n t h e a c t u a l , R o m a n t i c i s m used t h e n a t u r a l or t h e commonplace as a s p r i n g b o a r d t o t h e i d e a l , e ven t o God. However, i t was a l w a y s t h e i n d i v i d u a l , as o p p o s e d t o t h e o b j e c t , t h a t was a t t h e c e n t r e o f a r t . W i l l i a m Wordsworth i n p a r t i c u l a r f o c u s e d a t t e n t i o n upon s i m p l e o b j e c t s and c a l l e d f o r a c o r r e s p o n d i n g l y e v e r y d a y l a n g u a g e w i t h w h i c h t o a r t i c u l a t e them. In h i s " P r e f a c e t o t h e L y r i c a l B a l l a d s , " Wordsworth p r o p o s e d a l i t e r a r y s t y l e "whereby o r d i n a r y t h i n g s s h o u l d be p r e s e n t e d t o t h e mind i n an u n u s u a l a s p e c t , " c h o o s i n g t o w r i t e a b o u t humble, r u s t i c p e o p l e " b e c a u s e s u c h men h o u r l y communicate w i t h t h e b e s t o b j e c t s f r o m w h i c h t h e b e s t p a r t o f l a n g u a g e i s o r i g i n a l l y d e r i v e d . " 3 - 4 T h i s r e n e w a l o f r e l a t i o n s between p e o p l e and t h e o b j e c t w o r l d was r e c o g n i z e d by Samuel T a y l o r C o l e r i d g e as an a t t e m p t t o g i v e t h e charm o f n o v e l t y t o t h i n g s of e v e r y day, and t o e x c i t e a f e e l i n g a n a l o g o u s t o t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l , by a w a k e n i n g t h e mind's a t t e n t i o n f r o m t h e l e t h a r g y of custom, and d i r e c t i n g i t t o t h e l o v e l i n e s s and t h e wonders o f t h e w o r l d b e f o r e u s ; an i n e x h a u s t i b l e t r e a s u r e , b u t f o r w h i c h , i n c o n s e q u e n c e o f 24 t h e f i l m o f f a m i l i a r i t y and s e l f i s h s o l i c i t u d e we have e y e s , y e t see n o t . . . . x s C o l e r i d g e went on t o p r a i s e t h e p e r f e c t t r u t h i n Wordsworth's d e p i c t i o n of t h i n g s : L i k e t h e m o i s t u r e or t h e p o l i s h on a p e b b l e , g e n i u s n e i t h e r d i s t o r t s nor f a l s e -c o l o u r s i t s o b j e c t s ; b u t on t h e c o n t r a r y b r i n g s o u t many a v e i n and many a t i n t , w h i c h e s c a p e s t h e eye of common o b s e r v a t i o n , t h u s r a i s i n g t o t h e ran k o f gems what had been o f t e n k i c k e d away by th e h u r r y i n g f o o t o f t h e t r a v e l l e r on t h e d u s t y h i g h r o a d o f c u s t o m . . . . i e But t h e R o m a n t i c s p r a c t i s e d s e l f - a b s o r b e d w r i t i n g w h i c h , w h i l e h i g h l i g h t i n g t h o s e o r d i n a r i l y u n n o t i c e d f e a t u r e s o f t h i n g s , s h o w i n g them g l i s t e n i n g w i t h l i f e , m a i n l y u s e d them as r e f l e c t i o n s of t h e m s e l v e s . "To A B u t t e r f l y " was n o t so much an ode t o a p a r t i c u l a r member o f t h e l e p i d o p t e r a as i t was an i m a g i n a r y j o u r n e y back t o t h e p o e t ' s c h i l d h o o d . Wordsworth s i m p l y e x p l o r e d t h e e s s e n c e of b u t t e r f l y - n e s s i n o r d e r t o more p o i g n a n t l y l a m e n t t h e p a s s a g e o f y o u t h . C o l e r i d g e d i s a g r e e d i n p a r t w i t h Wordsworth a b o u t t h e n e c e s s i t y t o employ common l a n g u a g e . H u m i l i t y was n o t e x a c t l y t h e p o i n t , a c c o r d i n g t o C o l e r i d g e , b u t he d i d a g r e e t h a t l a n g u a g e was v i b r a n t : t h e meaning o f a word i n c l u d e d " n o t o n l y i t s c o r r e s p o n d e n t o b j e c t , b u t l i k e w i s e a l l t h e a s s o c i a t i o n s w h i c h i t r e c a l l s . F o r l a n g u a g e i s framed t o c o n v e y n o t t h e o b j e c t a l o n e , b u t l i k e w i s e t h e c h a r a c t e r , mood, and i n t e n t i o n s 25 o£ t h e p e r s o n who i s r e p r e s e n t i n g i t . " 1 7 He t h u s expanded t h e e q u a t i o n between word and t h i n g t o i n c l u d e t h a t c r e a t i v e c o o p e r a t i o n between the mind, t h e eye and t h e o b j e c t p e r c e i v e d . T h i n g s were o n l y as a l i v e as t h e i m a g i n a t i o n and t h e l a n g u a g e u s e d t o d e s c r i b e them. A c c o r d i n g t o S h e l l e y : " A l l t h i n g s e x i s t as t h e y a r e p e r c e i v e d : a t l e a s t i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e p e r c i p i e n t . " 1 8 The R o m a n t i c l e g a c y was t h e v i s i o n o f a u n i f i e d w o r l d , where t h e r e was a c o r r e s p o n d e n c e between a l l t h i n g s , as w e l l as between words and t h i n g s , and, f i n a l l y , between i n d i v i d u a l s and t h e o b j e c t w o r l d . The R o m a n t i c p o e t s championed t h e o b j e c t as a k e y t o t h e i r own s t a t e o f mind, as w e l l as t o t h e kingdom of t h e i d e a l . O b j e c t s l i n k e d p e r s o n s w i t h t h e m s e l v e s and w i t h God. The l a t e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y saw F r e n c h S y m b o l i s t p o e t s s u c h as B a u d e l a i r e , Rimbaud and M a l l a r m e c o n t i n u i n g t h e r o m a n t i c r e a c t i o n a g a i n s t r e a l i s m by e v o l v i n g c o m p l i c a t e d and p e r s o n a l symbol s y s t e m s i n an e f f o r t t o c o n c r e t i z e f l e e t i n g e m o t i o n a l e x p e r i e n c e s . The o b j e c t was e x a l t e d , a g a i n , n o t f o r i t s e l f , b u t as symbol of t h e p o e t ' s i n e f f a b l e f e e l i n g s . The o b j e c t as symbol i n s p i r e d g e n e r a t i o n s o f p o e t s . W i l l i a m York T i n d a l l d e s c r i b e d t h e symbol as a v i s i b l e s i g n o f s o m e t h i n g i n v i s i b l e , t h e outward s i g n o f an i n w a r d s t a t e : he d e f i n e d t h e l i t e r a r y symbol as "a t h i n g made by t h e s h a p i n g i m a g i n a t i o n t o body f o r t h an unknown a i r y n o t h i n g . " 1 9 The S y m b o l i s t p o e t s used c o n c r e t e images as s y m b o l s i n o r d e r t o r e p r e s e n t a w o r l d o f i d e a l f o r m s , f o r w h i c h t h i s m a t e r i a l w o r l d was b u t a 26 mask. F o r them, t h e o t h e r , t r a n s c e n d e n t a l w o r l d was a t t a i n a b l e t h r o u g h p o e t r y . A c c o r d i n g t o B a u d e l a i r e : " I n c e r t a i n a l m o s t s u p e r n a t u r a l s t a t e s o f s o u l , t h e d e p t h of l i f e i s r e v e a l e d i n o r d i n a r y e v e r y d a y h a p p e n i n g s . O r d i n a r y l i f e t h e n becomes t h e S y m b o l . " 2 0 In f a c t , humankind was s u r r o u n d e d by f o r e s t s of s y m b o l s , t o b o r r o w f r o m one o f B a u d e l a i r e ' s famous s o n n e t s . R e a l i t y e x i s t e d as a v e i l between i n d i v i d u a l s and a n o t h e r , i d e a l w o r l d , and o b j e c t s o n l y s u g g e s t e d m e a n i n g s . T h i n g s were named as e v o c a t i o n s o f s o m e t h i n g more i d e a l . A l t h o u g h a l l k i n d s o f f o r m e r l y u n n o t e w o r t h y t h i n g s were r e d i s c o v e r e d by t h e S y m b o l i s t s , t h e l i t e r a r y i m a g i n a t i o n and t h e o b j e c t had n e v e r been f a r t h e r a p a r t . S u b j e c t i v e a w a r e n e s s of o b j e c t s i n c r e a s e d , but t h e i r n a t i v e i n t e g r i t y as e n t i t i e s d i m i n i s h e d . T w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y M o d e r n i s t s l i k e J o y c e and Woolf a l s o e x a l t e d t h e o b j e c t , u s i n g i t t o s y m b o l i z e i n w a r d s t a t e s but g r a n t i n g i t more i n t r i n s i c v a l u e t h a n had t h e F r e n c h S y m b o l i s t p o e t s . C o n t a c t w i t h o b j e c t s c o u l d r e s u l t i n moments of e p i p h a n y , "The sudden ' r e v e l a t i o n of t h e w hatness of a t h i n g , ' t h e moment i n w h i c h 'the s o u l o f t h e commonest o b j e c t . . . seems t o us r a d i a n t . ' The a r t i s t , [ J o y c e ] f e l t , was c h a r g e d w i t h s u c h r e v e l a t i o n s , and must l o o k f o r them n o t among gods b u t among men, i n c a s u a l , u n o s t e n t a t i o u s , e v e n u n p l e a s a n t m o m e n t s . " 2 1 The J o y c e a n v e r s i o n o f t h e i n n e r s p l e n d o u r o f t h e t h i n g d i f f e r e d f r o m t h e W o o l f i a n v a r i e t y where o b j e c t s glowed n o t o f t h e m s e l v e s but f r o m m e n t a l s t a t e s p r o j e c t e d o n t o them. 27 The t e r m ' o b j e c t i v e c o r r e l a t i v e ' b e s t d e f i n e s w o o l f s use o f t h i n g s t o e x p r e s s e m o t i o n s or a b s t r a c t i d e a s . T h i s e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c , as opposed t o t h e r o m a n t i c , i m p r e s s i o n i s t i c o b j e c t i f y i n g o f i n n e r e x p e r i e n c e , on t h e p a r t o f b o t h Woolf and J o y c e , was i n p a r t an a t t e m p t t o f r u s t r a t e r e a d e r s ' d e s i r e f o r v e r i s i m i l i t u d e . O b j e c t s were used n o t f o r r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l p u r p o s e s b u t as t r a n s m i t t e r s o f t h e i m p r e s s i o n s or moods of a c h a r a c t e r or t h e a u t h o r . E x c e p t f o r c e r t a i n e p i p h a n i c moments when s u b j e c t i v e and o b j e c t i v e e x p e r i e n c e merged, t h i n g s were a l s o used by M o d e r n i s t w r i t e r s t o s t a n d f o r s o m e t h i n g o t h e r t h a n t h e m s e l v e s . I f t h e e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c method made use o f d i s t o r t i o n , t h e s u r r e a l i s t i c one r e a c h e d f o r t h e a b s u r d . The 1920s S u r r e a l i s t s were d e v o t e d t o t h e m e r v e i l l e u x , t o t h e wonder-f u l , and t o them a l l o b j e c t s p a r t o o k o f t h o s e q u a l i t i e s . O b j e c t s were n o t s o l e l y a s o u r c e of d e l i g h t , however; t h e y were a l s o p o t e n t i a l l y m e n a c i n g . Because m i r e d i n c l i c h e , t h i n g s t h r e a t e n e d t o s ap h u m a n i t y o f i t s c a p a c i t y f o r i m a g i n i n g . O b j e c t s were s e e n t o p r e s c r i b e t o p e o p l e how t o t h i n k i n s t e a d o f t h e o t h e r way a r o u n d . In t h e v i s u a l a r t s i n p a r t i c u l a r p a i n t e r s l i k e M a g r i t t e worked t o w a r d s s h a k i n g up t h e w o r l d o f o b j e c t s i n n o n - m i m e t i c , e v e n a n t i - m i m e t i c ways. They were o u t t o b r e a k t h r o u g h t h e c l i c h e s o f f o r m and f u n c t i o n , and t o t h a t end made use o f d e b r i s and o t h e r w i s e u n l o v a b l e o b j e c t s . A c c o r d i n g t o B e r g s o n , m a t t e r was q u i c k e n e d by e l a n v i t a l ; a c c o r d i n g t o S a r t r e , t h e en s o i of t h e o b j e c t was more 28 important than whatever use to which i t could be put. S u r r e a l i s t s e x a l t e d o b j e c t s , grouping them together i n i r r a t i o n a l , i l l o g i c a l c o l l o c a t i o n s i n an attempt to s t a r t l e viewers, to shake them out of t h e i r hackneyed response to t h e i r own environment. I t i s worth quoting Andre Breton at l e n g t h from the " C r i s i s of the Object" chapter i n S u r r e a l i s m and P a i n t i n g . T h i s s u r r e a l i s t manifesto s t a t e d t h a t the movement's primary o b j e c t i v e must be to oppose by a l l p o s s i b l e means the i n v a s i o n of the world of the senses by t h i n g s which mankind makes use of more from h a b i t than n e c e s s i t y . Here, as elsewhere, the mad beast of convention must be hunted down. 2 2 S u r r e a l i s t a r t i s t s s t r o v e to r e c o n c i l e t e n s i o n s and c o n t r a d i c t i o n s between i n d i v i d u a l s and o b j e c t s : T h i s a b i l i t y to r e c o n c i l e the two images allo w s such people to transcend the g e n e r a l l y l i m i t i n g f a c t o r of the o b j e c t ' s manifest e x i s t e n c e . With t h i s new focus . . . the same o b j e c t . . . r e v e r t s to an i n f i n i t e s e r i e s of l a t e n t p o s s i b i l i t i e s which are not p e c u l i a r to i t and t h e r e f o r e e n t a i l i t s t r a n s f o r m a t i o n . The o b j e c t ' s c o n v e n t i o n a l value then becomes e n t i r e l y s ubordinate . . . to i t s dramatic v a l u e , l e a d i n g [them] to see i t more i n terms of i t s p i c t u r e s q u e aspect and i t s e v o c a t i v e power. 2 3 What Breton envisaged was nothing l e s s than a r e v o l u t i o n of the o b j e c t . However, s i n c e the o b j e c t u l t i m a t e l y depended upon language f o r i t s p r e s e n t a t i o n , the medium i t s e l f had a l s o 29 t o be r e v o l u t i o n i z e d . The r o l e o f s u r r e a l i s m i s t o t e a r l a n g u a g e away f r o m the r e p r e s s i v e s y s t e m and t o make i t t h e i n s t r u m e n t o f d e s i r e . Thus, what i s c a l l e d s u r r e a l i s t ' a r t ' has no o t h e r g o a l t h a n t o l i b e r a t e words, or more g e n e r a l l y t h e s i g n s , f r o m t h e c o d e s o f u t i l i t y or e n t e r t a i n m e n t , i n o r d e r t o r e s t o r e them as b e a r e r s of r e v e l a t i o n o f s u b j e c t i v e r e a l i t y and of t h e e s s e n t i a l i n t e r - s u b j e c t i v i t y o f d e s i r e i n t h e p u b l i c m i n d . 2 4 M a g r i t t e , f o r example, u s e d e l e m e n t s l i k e i l l u s i o n , dream and t h e f a n t a s t i c i n h i s a b s u r d c o m b i n a t i o n s o f o b j e c t s ; he d i s j o i n t e d t i m e and s p a c e i n o r d e r t o d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t t h e e s s e n c e of t h i n g s was n o t n e c e s s a r i l y l i n k e d t o t h e i r r e a l i t y . M i c h e l F o u c a u l t p o i n t s o u t t h a t " M a g r i t t e ' s s t r a t e g y i n v o l v e s d e p l o y i n g l a r g e l y f a m i l i a r images, but images whose r e c o g n i z a b i l i t y i s i m m e d i a t e l y s u b v e r t e d and r e n d e r e d moot by ' i m p o s s i b l e , ' ' i r r a t i o n a l , ' or ' s e n s e l e s s ' c o n j u n c t i o n s . " 2 3 Language was s e v e r e d f r o m r e p r e s e n t a t i o n : words d i d n o t r e f e r t o t h i n g s t h e m s e l v e s . The t e c h n i q u e u s e d by S u r r e a l i s t s t o j o l t t h e i r a u d i e n c e i n t o new a w a r e n e s s o f o b j e c t s was i d e n t i f i e d by F o r m a l i s t c r i t i c V i c t o r S h k l o v s k y as ' d e f a m i l i a r i z a t i o n . ' As p e r c e p t i o n becomes h a b i t u a l . . . i t becomes a u t o m a t i c . We see t h e o b j e c t as t h o u g h i t were e n v e l o p e d i n a s a c k . We know what i t i s by i t s c o n f i g u r a t i o n , b u t we see o n l y i t s s i l h o u e t t e . . . . H a b i t u a l i z a t i o n d e v o u r s o b j e c t s , c l o t h e s , f u r n i t u r e , one's w i f e , and t h e f e a r o f war. . . . A r t e x i s t s t o h e l p us r e c o v e r t h e 30 s e n s a t i o n o f l i f e ; i t e x i s t s t o make us f e e l t h i n g s , t o make t h e s t o n e s t o n y . The end o f a r t i s t o g i v e a s e n s a t i o n o f t h e o b j e c t a s s e e n , n o t as r e c o g n i z e d . The t e c h n i q u e of a r t i s t o make t h i n g s ' u n f a m i l i a r , ' t o make forms o b s c u r e , so as t o i n c r e a s e t h e d i f f i c u l t y and t h e d u r a t i o n o f p e r c e p t i o n . The a c t o f p e r c e p t i o n i n a r t i s an end i n i t s e l f and must be p r o l o n g e d . 2 6 S h k l o v s k y c o i n e d t h e t e r m o s t r a n e n i e t o d e n o t e t h e e s t r a n g e m e n t or a l i e n a t i o n o f t h e o b j e c t . O t h e r w i s e l a b e l l e d d i s h a b i t u a t i o n , d e f o r m a t i o n or d i s - c i v i l i z a t i o n , t h e d e v i c e a t t e m p t e d t o do away w i t h t h e a u t o m a t i c d i c h o t o m i z i n g o f f o r m and c o n t e n t and t o r e v e r s e t h e e f f e c t s o f m a s s - p r o d u c t i o n on t h e p u b l i c ' s g l u t t e d s e n s e s . D e f a m i l i a r i z a t i o n c o n n o t e d r e f a m i l i a r i z a t i o n ; as a d e v i c e i t was, however, a l s o s u b j e c t t o h a b i t and t h u s t o o b s c u r i n g t h e o b j e c t once so s u c c e s s f u l l y l a i d b a r e . The S u r r e a l i s t s b r o u g h t a f r e s h r e s p o n s e t o l i f e and an expanded a w a r e n e s s o f r e a l i t y t o t h e i r a r t . The f a n t a s t i c became t h e r e a l and m a t t e r a c h i e v e d s u p r e m a c y o v e r mind: t h e o b j e c t took on t h e r o l e o f d i s r u p t i n g and c h a l l e n g i n g an h a b i t u a l l y p a s s i v e i n t e l l e c t . A n i e l a J a f f e , i n h e r c h a p t e r e n t i t l e d " S y m b o l i s m i n the V i s u a l A r t s " i n Man and H i s Symbols by C a r l G. Jung r e l a t e s t h e t a l e of how, i n 1914, " t h e F r e n c h p a i n t e r M a r c e l Duchamp s e t up an o b j e c t c h o s e n a t random (a b o t t l e r a c k ) on a p e d e s t a l and e x h i b i t e d i t . J e a n B a z a i n e w r o t e o f i t : ' T h i s b o t t l e r a c k , t o r n f r o m i t s u t i l i t a r i a n c o n t e x t and washed up on t h e b e a c h , has been i n v e s t e d w i t h t h e 31 l o n e l y d i g n i t y o f t h e d e r e l i c t . Good f o r n o t h i n g , t h e r e t o be u s e d , r e a d y f o r a n y t h i n g , i t i s a l i v e . I t l i v e s on t h e f r i n g e of e x i s t e n c e i t s own d i s t u r b i n g , a b s u r d l i f e . The d i s t u r b i n g o b j e c t — t h a t i s t h e f i r s t s t e p t o a r t . ' " 2 7 O b j e c t s were much more t h a n what t h e i r e x t e r i o r a s p e c t p r e s e n t e d — a s K a n d i n s k y s a i d : E v e r y t h i n g t h a t i s dead q u i v e r s . Not o n l y t h e t h i n g s o f p o e t r y , s t a r s , moon, wood, f l o w e r s , b u t e v e n a w h i t e t r o u s e r b u t t o n g l i t t e r i n g o u t o f a p u d d l e i n t h e s t r e e t . . . . E v e r y t h i n g has a s e c r e t s o u l , w h i c h i s s i l e n t more o f t e n t h a n i t s p e a k s . 2 a Jung h i m s e l f l a m e n t e d t h e f a c t t h a t modern, r a t i o n a l c u l t u r e had p u r g e d i t s l a n g u a g e o f t h e f a n t a s t i c , hence d e s t r o y i n g r e c e p t i v i t y t o t h e q u i e t , s e c r e t s o u l o f t h i n g s . The S u r r e a l i s t s k e p t t h e i r e a r s t o t h e g r o u n d o f t h i s t r e m b l i n g , t i m i d l i f e . L i t e r a r y f i x a t i o n upon t h e o b j e c t r e f l e c t e d p h i l o s o p h i c a l i n t e r e s t i n i t . The s t i r r i n g s o f a p h i l o s o p h i c a l movement w h i c h would l a t e r be known as Phenomenology were f i r s t f e l t i n m i d - e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y when a p h i l o s o p h e r named Johann Lambert, a c o n t e m p o r a r y o f K a n t , e x p l a i n e d phenomena as " t h e i l l u s o r y f e a t u r e s o f human e x p e r i e n c e " and Phenomenology as "the ' t h e o r y o f i l l u s i o n . ' " 2 9 Immanuel Kant went on t o d i s t i n g u i s h between phenomena as " o b j e c t s and e v e n t s as t h e y a p p e a r i n our e x p e r i e n c e " and noumena as " o b j e c t s and e v e n t s as t h e y a r e i n t h e m s e l v e s , i n d e p e n d e n t l y o f t h e forms imposed on them by our 32 c o g n i t i v e f a c u l t i e s . " Phenomena a r e what we c a n come t o know, a c c o r d i n g t o K a n t , whereas noumena, i m p o s s i b l e t o know, a r e th e e n i g m a t i c 11 • t h i n g s - i n - t h e m s e l v e s . * " In 1807 G e o r g H e g e l p r o p o s e d Phenomenology as " t h e s c i e n c e i n w h i c h we come t o know mind as i t i s i n i t s e l f t h r o u g h t h e s t u d y o f t h e ways i n w h i c h i t a p p e a r s t o u s . " Mind t h u s o f f i c i a l l y became t h e o b j e c t o f , i n a d d i t i o n t o t h e s o u r c e o f , knowledge and s t u d y . I t was under Edmund H u s s e r l i n p r e - W o r l d War I d a y s t h a t Phenomenology came t o be s e e n as p r i m a r i l y a d e s c r i p t i v e p h i l o s o p h y whose a i m "was t o d e s c r i b e phenomena by means o f d i r e c t a w a r e n e s s . " Hence Phenomenology, as i t d e v e l o p e d i n t h e t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y under H u s s e r l , M a r t i n H e i d e g g e r and M a u r i c e M e r l e a u - P o n t y , e x p l o r e d phenomena as "whatever a p p e a r s t o us i n 'immediate e x p e r i e n c e . ' " Phenomena were c o n s i d e r e d i n t u i t e d , n o n - e m p i r i c a l e s s e n c e s — e s s e n c e b e i n g d e f i n e d by t h o s e " g e n e r a l , n e c e s s a r y , and i n v a r i a n t f e a t u r e s " t h a t make any g i v e n o b j e c t t h a t o b j e c t and no o t h e r . A s t o n e , f o r example, w h i l e i t may seem an e m p i r i c a l l y v e r i f i a b l e t h i n g , i s i n o b j e c t i v e t e r m s m e r e l y t h e sum o f a l l t h a t c a n be s a i d a b o u t i t . P h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l l y s p e a k i n g , however, e a c h s t o n e has an e s s e n c e w h i c h c a n be i n t u i t e d b u t n e v e r known or v e r i f i e d . Hence t h e i n e v i t a b l y muddled r e l a t i o n s h i p between l a n g u a g e and t h i n g s . P h i l o s o p h e r s , l i k e v i s u a l a r t i s t s and l i t t e r a t e u r s , r e c o g n i z e d t h e u l t i m a t e l y f r u s t r a t e d n a t u r e o f r e l a t i o n s between o b j e c t s and words: "Because we a r e i n t h e w o r l d , we 33 are condemned to meaning, and we c a n n o t do or s a y a n y t h i n g w i t h o u t i t s a c q u i r i n g a name i n h i s t o r y . " 3 0 M e r l e a u - P o n t y v i s u a l i z e d a s t a t e of p r i m a r y s i l e n c e a n t e d a t i n g l a n g u a g e where e s s e n c e c o u l d speak to e s s e n c e : The s e p a r a t e d e s s e n c e s a r e t h o s e o f l a n g u a g e . I t i s t h e o f f i c e o f l a n g u a g e t o c a u s e e s s e n c e s t o e x i s t i n a s t a t e o f s e p a r a t i o n w h i c h i s i n f a c t m e r e l y a p p a r e n t , s i n c e t h r o u g h l a n g u a g e t h e y s t i l l r e s t upon t h e a n t e - p r e d i c a t i v e l i f e o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s . In t h e s i l e n c e o f p r i m a r y c o n s c i o u s n e s s c an be s e e n a p p e a r i n g n o t o n l y what words mean, b u t a l s o what t h i n g s mean: t h e c o r e of p r i m a r y meaning r o u n d w h i c h t h e a c t s o f naming and e x p r e s s i o n t a k e s h a p e . 3 X I t was h i s c o n t e n t i o n t h a t t h i n g s t h e m s e l v e s p r e c e d e d knowledge, and t h a t mankind c o u l d n o t p o s s i b l y a p p r e h e n d a n y t h i n g w i t h o u t f i r s t e x p e r i e n c i n g i t s e l f a s e x i s t i n g i n t h e a c t o f a p p r e h e n d i n g i t : " c o n s c i o u s n e s s , t h e a b s o l u t e c e r t a i n t y of my e x i s t e n c e f o r m y s e l f [ i s ] t h e c o n d i t i o n o f t h e r e b e i n g a n y t h i n g a t a l l . " 3 2 A p r e l i n g u i s t i c , s e l f - r e f l e x i v e s e l f was deemed n e c e s s a r y i n o r d e r t o be a b l e t o see t h e o b j e c t i n i t s e l f : s i n c e l a n g u a g e d e a l t m o s t l y i n a b s t r a c t i o n s , t a l k i n g o n l y a b o u t o r a r o u n d t h e t h i n g , so t o o c o n s c i o u s n e s s , a l r e a d y i n s e p a r a b l e f r o m l a n g u a g e , c o u l d o n l y a p p r e h e n d o b j e c t s w i t h i n i t s own p a r a m e t e r s , s e t by d i m knowledge o f i t s e l f and i t s own f u n c t i o n i n g . M e r l e a u - P o n t y a d v o c a t e d a r e j e c t i o n of i n a d e q u a t e s c i e n c e and a r e t u r n t o t h i n g s t h e m s e l v e s i n o r d e r t o r e - a c h i e v e d i r e c t 34 and p r i m i t i v e c o n t a c t w i t h the w o r l d . He h e l d t h a t mankind c o u l d n o t , p r o b a b l y s h o u l d n o t , possess the w o r l d ; f o r M e r l e a u - P o n t y , the e a r t h d e f i n e d "the permanent h o r i z o n of a l l [ h i s ] c o g i t a t i o n e s and . . . a d i m e n s i o n i n r e l a t i o n t o which [he was] c o n s t a n t l y s i t u a t i n g [ h i m s e l f ] . " 3 3 Not t h a t o b j e c t s c o u l d be c o n s i d e r e d s t a t i c , nor t h a t the human r a c e c o u l d ever know a l l t h e r e i s t o know about them. In a word, " i n e x h a u s t i b l e " 3 4 d e f i n e d the s t a t e of the g l o b e . L a n g u a g e — t h a t i s , how humans f o r m u l a t e t h e i r response t o l i f e - - h a s proved i n e s c a p a b l e , d e r i v a t i v e , u l t i m a t e l y r e d u c t i v e y e t a l s o abundant. The word ' o b j e c t ' promises a r e l a t i o n : an o b j e c t i s no o b j e c t w i t h o u t i t s s u b j e c t . 'Object' s i g n i f i e s p r e d i c a t e , and thus c o m p l e t i o n : language i t s e l f g u a r a n t e e s t h i s . 3 3 Mankind's major b a r r i e r t o renewing c o n t a c t w i t h the a l i e n , put-upon o b j e c t i s the body; t h i s , i t s e l f and o b j e c t , remains i n c a p a b l e of s e e i n g i t s e l f as such. S e e i n g i s the problem. In f a c t , H u s s e r l e a r l i e r d e f i n e d phenomenology as the s e a r c h f o r what s e e i n g i s . . The C h r i s t i a n p h i l o s o p h e r P i e r r e T e i l h a r d de C h a r d i n a l s o d e s c r i b e d the b i r t h of thought as a s o r t of r e f l e c t i o n , the "[knowing] t h a t one k n ows." 3 S In f a c t , he went on t o d e f i n e mankind as " n o t h i n g e l s e than  e v o l u t i o n become c o n s c i o u s of i t s e l f , 1 1 3 , 7 thus r e i n f o r c i n g the n o t i o n t h a t humanity's s u p e r i o r i t y l i e s i n i t s s e l f - r e f l e x i v e n a t u r e . M e r l e a u - P o n t y , however, u n w i l l i n g t o g r a n t us complete s u c c e s s i n h a v i n g broken through the v e i l of o u r s e l f , f e l t t h a t "Our p e r c e p t i o n ends i n o b j e c t s , and the o b j e c t once 35 c o n s t i t u t e d , a p p e a r s as t h e r e a s o n f o r a l l t h e e x p e r i e n c e s o f i t w h i c h we have had o r c o u l d h a v e . " 3 3 He t h u s r e j e c t e d l o o k i n g b e y o n d t h e o b j e c t f o r immanence o r t r a n s c e n d e n c e , a b s t r a c t nouns w h i c h d e f e a t t h e t h i n g - i n - i t s e l f . L o o k i n g i s n o t s e e i n g , j u s t a s s e e i n g i s n o t p e r c e i v i n g : " t o l o o k a t an o b j e c t i s t o i n h a b i t i t , and f r o m t h i s h a b i t a t i o n t o g r a s p a l l t h i n g s i n t e r m s o f t h e a s p e c t w h i c h t h e y p r e s e n t t o i t . . . . e v e r y o b j e c t i s t h e m i r r o r o f a l l o t h e r s . " 3 9 T h i n g s t h e m s e l v e s were h e l d t o be d y n a m i c , s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t , and i n d i v i d u a l , much as t h e s u b j e c t p e r c e i v i n g them. S u b j e c t had t o l e a r n t o p e e l down t o i t s l a s t l a y e r o f r e s i s t a n c e , and t o r e m a i n f u l l y c o n s c i o u s o f i t s e l f d o i n g s o . The d a n g e r i m p l i c i t i n s c r u t i n i z i n g t h e o b j e c t i s t h a t t h e more d e f i n e d i t comes t o b e , t h e more shadowy t h e s u b j e c t seems t o l o o k . A f t e r a l l , c o n s c i o u s n e s s by d e f i n i t i o n means c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f s o m e t h i n g i n r e l a t i o n t o s o m e t h i n g e l s e . C o n t e x t i s a l l . Thus M e r l e a u - P o n t y 1 s r e c i p e f o r s e l f -p e r c e p t i o n p o s e s p r o b l e m s . As c r i t i c W. D. A s h c r o f t h a s w r i t t e n , " I c a n o n l y be c o n s c i o u s o f my b o d y v i a t h e w o r l d , and i n t h i s way t h e b o d y i s t h e p i v o t o f t h e w o r l d , f o r i t i s t h e p o i n t f r o m w h i c h my h o r i z o n s e x t e n d . ' " * 0 I n o t h e r w o r d s , c o n s c i o u s n e s s becomes t h e m e a s u r e o f t h e p h y s i c a l . V o c a b u l a r y l i k e 'immanence' and ' t r a n s c e n d e n c e ' d i d n o t e n t e r M e r l e a u - P o n t y ' s p h i l o s o p h i z i n g , b u t c o n t e m p o r a r y c r i t i c s s u c h a s A s h c r o f t s p r i n k l e them a b o u t w i t h e v i d e n t g l e e . F o r e x a m p l e , h i s f o r m u l a t i o n o f how a w r i t e r l i k e 36 P a t r i c k White p r e s e n t s o b j e c t s r e l i e s upon t h e m y s t i c a l . A s h c r o f t p r o v i d e s t h i s u p d a t i n g o f t h e o r i e s f r o m e a r l i e r p h e n o m e n o l o g i s t s : A l l p o s s i b l e w o r l d s a r e immanent i n t h i s one b e c a u s e t h e y a r e immanent t o c o n s c i o u s n e s s . . . . A p a r t f r o m a c t s o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s t h e r e i s no ' s e l f . ' On t h e o t h e r hand, t h e c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f r e a l i t y d oes n o t p r e c l u d e t h e ' m y s t e r i e s ' f r o m man's e x p e r i e n c e , or deny t h e r e v e l a t i o n o f t h e h i d d e n , t h e t r a n s c e n d e n t . 4 1 T h i n g s a r e n o t j u s t t h e m s e l v e s b u t more t h a n t h e i r immediate f e a t u r e s . "The v i s u a l image i s c h a r g e d w i t h p o t e n t i a l i t i e s . . . a s p e c t s . . . t r a n s c e n d e n t t o t h e i n i t i a l v i e w o f t h e c u p . . . . The p e r c e p t i o n o f any o b j e c t t h e r e f o r e i n v o l v e s a s y n t h e s i s o f a l l t h e a s p e c t s on i t s h o r i z o n , a h o r i z o n a l  s y n t h e s i s w h i c h a c c e p t s i t s p o t e n t i a l a s p e c t s as immanent t o i t . " 4 2 Immanence s u g g e s t s h o r i z o n t a l i t y , t r a n s c e n d e n c e v e r t i c a l i t y : b o t h i m p l y t i m e as w e l l as s p a c e . The o b j e c t i s i n f i n i t e , i t s p o s s i b i l i t i e s e n d l e s s . Phenomenology t r i e d t o s t o p t a l k i n g i n a b s t r a c t t e r m s , e m p h a s i z i n g e s s e n c e i n s t e a d ; somehow, t h o u g h , once p e o p l e s u c c e e d e d i n f o c u s i n g upon t h e o b j e c t t h e y were bound t o l o o k beyond i t . T h i n g s were s u p p o s e d t o mean, n o t j u s t be. O p p o s i t e phenomenology l a y m a t e r i a l i s m , where n o t h i n g e x i s t e d e x c e p t m a t t e r . Ours i s c u r r e n t l y t h e c u l t o f t h e m a t e r i a l , permanence and s a f e t y our r e i g n i n g i d o l s . A c q u i r i n g and p o s s e s s i n g t h i n g s m a t t e r ; o t h e r w i s e , t h e y e x e r t c o m p e l l i n g 37 t y r a n n y . But owning i n h i b i t s i m a g i n i n g ; h a v i n g assumes an end t o t h e t a l e o f t h e o b j e c t . T h i n g s a r e r e s i l i e n t , however: t h e y c a n be and have been a p p r o a c h e d i n a v a r i e t y o f ways. S u r e l y t h e y do n o t e x i s t s i m p l y a l l i n t h e mind, or o n l y i n t i m e and s p a c e , or m e r e l y as d o o r s t o a n o t h e r d i m e n s i o n . S u r e l y e a c h o b j e c t has a d i f f e r e n t s t o r y w h i c h c h a n g e s n o t j u s t a c c o r d i n g t o t h e whim of t h e p e r c e i v e r , b u t a l s o a c c o r d i n g t o i t s own d y n a m i c . P a t r i c k W h i t e ' s o b j e c t s r e v e a l some of a l l o f t h e s e p h i l o s o p h i e s : White i s t h e o r i g i n a l a n t i -m a t e r i a l m a t e r i a l i s t . P h e n o m e n o l o g i s t s and S u r r e a l i s t s managed t o u n d e r mine our a s s u m p t i o n s a b o u t r e a l i t y as s o m e t h i n g d e f i n e d and k n owable. F o r m e r l y we had o n l y c o n c e p t s l i k e ' u n r e a l ' w i t h w h i c h t o d e f i n e -that w h i c h f e l l o u t s i d e t h e r e a l m o f t h e u n d e r s t o o d ; f o l l o w i n g t h e p h i l o s o p h i c a l and a r t i s t i c movements of t h e n i n e t e e n t h and t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r i e s , however, a whole new v o c a b u l a r y s p r a n g t o l i f e . ' S u r r e a l i t y , ' e v e n ' a n t i -r e a l i t y ' were c o i n e d t o d e a l w i t h s h a t t e r e d n o r m a l i t y . L o u i s A r a g o n , S u r r e a l i s t p o e t , on t h e f a t e of t h e r e a l : I t s h o u l d be u n d e r s t o o d t h a t t h e r e a l i s a r e l a t i o n l i k e any o t h e r ; t h e e s s e n c e o f t h i n g s i s by no means l i n k e d t o t h e i r r e a l i t y , t h e r e a r e o t h e r r e l a t i o n s b e s i d e r e a l i t y , w h i c h t h e mind i s c a p a b l e o f g r a s p i n g , and w h i c h a l s o a r e p r i m a r y l i k e c h a n c e , i l l u s i o n , t h e f a n t a s t i c , t h e dream. These v a r i o u s g r o u p s a r e u n i t e d and b r o u g h t i n t o harmony i n one s i n g l e o r d e r , s u r r e a l i t y . 4 3 38 ' R e a l i t y ' as a term l o s t I t s a u t h o r i t y ; I n s t e a d i t became snubbed by some as a b o u r g e o i s c o n c e p t , l i n k e d w i t h complacency and the s t a t u s quo. A c t u a l i t y and r e a l i t y were no l o n g e r synonymous. I n s t e a d , the term ' r e a l i t y ' came t o connote both the a c t u a l , f a c t u a l , v e r i f i a b l e r e a l as w e l l as the i m a g i n a r y , a p p a r e n t , dreamt or nebulous v a r i e t y . The r e a l was seen by o t h e r s as m u l t i - l e v e l l e d , embracing not o n l y n a t u r a l and s o c i a l but o b j e c t i v e and s u b j e c t i v e s p h e r e s as w e l l . In 1908 F. H. B r a d l e y f i r m l y e s t a b l i s h e d r e a l i t y and appearance as c o n f l i c t i n g c o n c e p t s , n e i t h e r of which was e n t i r e l y knowable. He d i s t i n g u i s h e d between them t h u s : " A n y t h i n g the meaning of which i s i n c o n s i s t e n t and u n i n t e l l i g i b l e i s appearance, and not r e a l i t y . " 4 4 'Appearance' c o n t i n u e d t o r e p r e s e n t a c o n v e n i e n t c a t e g o r y f o r tho s e t h i n g s which e l u d e d the o l d d e f i n i t i o n s , and ' r e a l i t y ' was r e s t o r e d t o i t s o r i g i n a l a u t h o r i t y . The concept of r e a l i t y was p r o f o u n d l y r e v i e w e d by t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y t h i n k e r s . Simone W e i l , f o r example, reduced the u n i v e r s e t o a d i v i n e l i t e r a r y c o n c e i t , the beauty of which " i s t he s i g n t h a t i t i s r e a l . " 4 0 S u r r e a l i s t s such as Andre B r e t o n eschewed g o d l y a b s t r a c t i o n s l i k e T r u t h and Beauty i n f a v o u r of more t e c h n i c a l t a l k about r e a l i t y . As an a r t i s t i c movement the S u r r e a l i s t s "attempted t o p r e s e n t i n t e r i o r r e a l i t y and e x t e r i o r r e a l i t y as two elements i n p r o c e s s of u n i f i c a t i o n , of f i n a l l y becoming one.." 4 6 How t o v e r i f y the s u c c e s s of t h i s g o a l was never s u g g e s t e d . Phenomenologists 39 d i s t i n g u i s h e d between t h e phenomenal w o r l d and t h e r e a l one, s u g g e s t i n g t h e y were n o t n e c e s s a r i l y t h e same t h i n g : what i s p r e s e n t e d t o us as a phenomenon may, t h o u g h i t need n o t , be r e a l a t t h e same t i m e . The phenomenal w o r l d i s n o t a g r o u p o f e n t i t i e s c h a r a c t e r i z e d and s e t a p a r t by t h e i r s p e c i a l s t r u c t u r e ; r a t h e r i t i s h e l d t o g e t h e r m e r e l y e x t r i n s i c a l l y by t h e f a c t t h a t t h e s p o t l i g h t o f o b s e r v a t i o n c a t c h e s them t e m p o r a r i l y . 4 7 V i s u a l a r t i s t s l i k e P a u l K l e e r e c o g n i z e d t h a t t h i s s h i f t i n t h e a c c e p t e d and e x p e c t e d had s u c c e e d e d i n t r a n s f o r m i n g t h e r o l e o f a r t . F o r m e r l y we u s e d t o r e p r e s e n t t h i n g s v i s i b l e on e a r t h . . . Today we r e v e a l t h e r e a l i t y t h a t i s b e h i n d v i s i b l e t h i n g s , t h u s e x p r e s s i n g t h e b e l i e f t h a t t h e v i s i b l e w o r l d i s m e r e l y an i s o l a t e d c a s e i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e u n i v e r s e and t h a t t h e r e a r e many o t h e r , l a t e n t r e a l i t i e s . . . . T h e r e i s a s t r i v i n g t o e m p h a s i z e t h e e s s e n t i a l c h a r a c t e r o f t h e a c c i d e n t a l . 4 3 The p r o v i n c e o f a r t was no l o n g e r s i m p l y r e p r o d u c t i o n : i t s mandate was t o d i s c o v e r , t o make v i s i b l e . F i n a l l y t h e l i t e r a r y c r i t i c , whose d u t y i t i s t o m o n i t o r c h a n g e s i n how t h e human r a c e r e a d s t h e s i g n s a r o u n d i t , d i s m i s s e d t h e c o n c e p t f o r good. " R e a l i s m , B a r t h e s t e l l s u s , has n o t h i n g t o do w i t h r e a l i t y ; i t i s s i m p l y a t e x t t h a t i s r e a d a b l e b e c a u s e i t i s composed e n t i r e l y o f what i s a l r e a d y known. The c l a s s i c r e a l i s t i c t e x t i s a t i s s u e o f c l i c h e s . B e c a u s e a l l c o d e s a r e f i n a l l y c o e r c i v e . " 4 9 To be s u r e , r e a l i s m i s n o t r e a l i t y b u t a 40 t r e a t m e n t o f i t , a c o d e . T h i s p r o p e n s i t y t o a d h e r e t o t h e known and t h e v i s i b l e , however, made i n n o v a t i v e t w e n t i e t h -c e n t u r y a r t i s t s s c o r n i t as a v i a b l e mode o f e x p r e s s i o n . M o d e r n i s t and p o s t - m o d e r n i s t w r i t e r s i n h e r i t e d a f r a c t u r e d , f r a g m e n t e d , m u l t i - l e v e l l e d , m u l t i - s i d e d v i e w o f t h e w o r l d and a l a n g u a g e w h i c h had l i t t l e c o n n e c t i o n w i t h a ny o f i t . 41 3. O b j e c t : Language E s t a b l i s h e d l a n g u a g e i s t h e enemy. The p o e t f i n d s i t s o r d i d w i t h l i e s . D a i l y c u r r e n c y has made i t s t a l e . The a n c i e n t m e t a p h o r s a r e i n e r t and t h e numinous e n e r g i e s b o n e - d r y . I t i s t h e w r i t e r ' s c o m p e l l i n g t a s k , as M a l l a r m e s a i d o f Poe, ' t o p u r i f y t h e l a n g u a g e of t h e t r i b e . ' He w i l l s e ek t o r e s u s c i t a t e t h e magic o f t h e word by d i s l o c a t i n g t r a d i t i o n a l bonds o f grammar and of o r d e r e d s p a c e . . . . He w i l l e n d e a v o u r t o r e s c i n d or a t l e a s t weaken t h e c l a s s i c c o n t i n u i t i e s o f r e a s o n and s y n t a x , o f c o n s c i o u s d i r e c t i o n and v e r b a l f o r m . . . B e c a u s e i t has become c a l c i f i e d , impermeable t o new l i f e , t h e p u b l i c c r u s t of l a n g u a g e must be r i v e n . --George S t e i n e r , A f t e r B a b e l Somewhere t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y t h o u g h t has i d e n t i f i e d a c r i s i s o f t h e o b j e c t . T h i n g s have been p a i d i n c r e a s i n g a t t e n t i o n i n p h i l o s o p h y , t h e v i s u a l a r t s and i n l i t e r a t u r e . Whenever t a l k e d a b o u t , c o n c e p t u a l i z e d i n p a i n t , i n k or s t o n e or w r i t t e n a b o u t , t h e o b j e c t a l w a y s comes up a g a i n s t a f u n d a m e n t a l c o n s t r a i n t : t h a t i s , l a n g u a g e . E a r l i e r I t o u c h e d on t h e assumed a f f i l i a t i o n between o b j e c t and word; i t i s n e c e s s a r y t o an a p p r e c i a t i o n o f P a t r i c k W h i t e ' s method t o d e l v e even f u r t h e r i n t o t h e i r t e n u o u s a l l i a n c e . F e r d i n a n d de S a u s s u r e f i r s t p r o p o s e d t h e r e l a t i o n between s i g n i f y i n g sound and s i g n i f i e d c o n c e p t t o be an 42 a r b i t r a r y one. "A s i g n , he d e c l a r e d , i s n o t s i m p l y t h e name f o r a t h i n g b u t a complex whole w h i c h l i n k s a sound-image and a c o n c e p t , " t h e sound-image b e i n g "what we a c t u a l l y h e a r i n l i s t e n i n g t o s p e e c h and what we i m a g i n e we h e a r i n t h e mind's e a r when we r e a d or t h i n k i n l a n g u a g e . " 3 0 T h i s d e f i n i t i o n begs t h e q u e s t i o n o f w h i c h comes f i r s t — t h e sound-image or t h e c o n c e p t . In t h e m i l l i s e c o n d i n w h i c h we f i r s t c a t c h g l i m p s e of an o b j e c t , i s i t t h e t h i n g i t s e l f or i t s r e f e r e n t i a l word w h i c h f i r s t o c c u r s t o us? T h i s k i n d o f p r o c e s s - o r i e n t e d s t u d y was what t h e p h e n o m e n o l o g i s t s e x p l o r e d , t o t h e e x t e n t , as R o b e r t S c h o l e s p o i n t s o u t , t h a t "The l a n g u a g e - p h i l o s o p h e r s i n s i s t e d t h a t t h e r e i s no p o s s i b l e c o r r e s p o n d e n c e between our l a n g u a g e and t h e w o r l d beyond i t . The e x i s t e n t i a l i s t s s poke of i s o l a t e d man, c u t o f f f r o m o b j e c t s and e v e n f r o m o t h e r men, i n an a b s u r d c o n d i t i o n o f b e i n g . " 8 1 F r a g m e n t a t i o n p r o v e d b o t h theme and s t y l e f o r g e n e r a t i o n s o f w r i t e r s , t h e main c a u s e s o f w h i c h were t h i s e x p l o d e d n o t i o n o f r e a l i t y and t h e r u p t u r e d c o n n e c t i o n between r e a l i t y and l a n g u a g e . M i c h e l F o u c a u l t r e a s s e r t e d de S a u s s u r e ' s i d e a a b o u t t h e a r b i t r a r i n e s s o f t h e s i g n , p o i n t i n g o u t t h e e s s e n t i a l l y c i r c u m s t a n t i a l , c o n v e n t i o n a l , h i s t o r i c a l n a t u r e o f t h e bond between word and t h i n g . From a n t i q u i t y t o t h e p r e s e n t , p e r s i s t e n t s t r a i n s o f W e s t e r n t h o u g h t have c o n c e i v e d t h e bond between l a n g u a g e and r e a l i t y as f u n d a m e n t a l l y m y s t i c a l , a m u t u a l s h a r i n g o f e s s e n c e s . I n t h e O l d T e s t a m e n t , t h e 43 Word i s t h e B e g i n n i n g (of. C r e a t i o n ) . F o r t h e G r e e k s , L o g o s c o n n o t e d b o t h r e a l i t y and t h e knowledge (hence e x p r e s s i b i 1 i t y ) o f r e a l i t y . . . . p r i m o r d i a l l a n g u a g e was a t r a n s p a r e n t d u p l i c a t i o n o f t h e U n i v e r s e . . . A f t e r B a b e l , t h e l i t e r a l r e c i p r o c i t y o f l a n g u a g e and t h e w o r l d was d e s t r o y e d . . . . 0 2 R o m a n t i c i s m saw a r e t u r n t o t h e m y s t i c a l s u b s t a n t i a l i t y o f l a n g u a g e , b u t modern a r t i s t s f a c e d a l e g a c y o f b a n k r u p t v o c a b u l a r y where words l i k e ' i m i t a t i o n ' and ' a c t u a l i t y ' were anathema. The q u e s t i o n was: "How t o b a n i s h r e s e m b l a n c e and i t s i m p l i c i t b u r d e n o f d i s c o u r s e " ? 0 3 A r t i s t s ' i n n a t e i m p u l s e has l o n g been t o r e c r e a t e or r e p r o d u c e what t h e y saw i n c o n f o r m i t y w i t h what t h e y b e l i e v e d t o be a c t u a l or v e r i f i a b l e . Once t h e l a t t e r p a r t o f t h e e q u a t i o n c r u m b l e d , t h e y f a c e d a dilemma a p t l y d e s c r i b e d h e r e by Z u l f i k a r Ghose: R e a l i t y o f f e r s s u r f a c e s w h i c h we c a n n o t p e n e t r a t e b u t i t s t i m u l a t e s our p e r c e p t i o n ; t h e e n o r m i t y o f t h e s e n s a t i o n s b e f o r e us a t any g i v e n moment i s o v e r -w h e l m i n g : and s o , we keep t h i n g s i n p e r s p e c t i v e , as t h e common p h r a s e i s , by i n t e r p r e t i n g r e a l i t y w i t h i n t h e n a r r o w framework o f a l a n g u a g e w h i c h t r e a t s o f e x c l u s i v e c a t e g o r i e s . s - a R e a l i t y and l a n g u a g e , t h e m s e l v e s s h i f t i n g , f l u i d c o n c e p t s , r e m a i n t h e i d e o l o g i c a l g i v e n s i n mankind's a t t e m p t t o e x p r e s s i t s e l f and i t s e n v i r o n m e n t . The u l t i m a t e enigma s t a n d s : how does one go a b o u t b u i l d i n g a w o r l d - v i e w o u t o f s u c h s u s p e c t s t u f f ? 44 The n a t u r e o£ l a n g u a g e i s m e t a p h o r i c a l , and d o u b l y s o . Simone W e i l h y p o t h e s i z e d t h a t "The e n t i r e u n i v e r s e i s n o t h i n g b u t a g r e a t m e t a p h o r , " S B e c h o i n g t h e o r i g i n a l , p l a t o n i c p o s t u l a t i o n a b o u t d i s c o u r s e a s t h e i m i t a t o r o f i m i t a t i o n , and t h e a r t i s t a s a t l e a s t d o u b l y d e r i v a t i v e . U n i n t e n t i o n a l l y , i n e s c a p a b l y , "The i d e a i s s i g n o f t h i n g s , a nd t h e image i s s i g n o f a s i g n . " 8 6 L i t e r a t u r e i t s e l f , a s B a r t h e s has commented, i s "a d e l i b e r a t e l y r e f l e x i v e s y s t e m . " * 7 To i t s c r e d i t , h o w e v e r , t h e p o e t i c image s u c c e e d s by d e f a m i 1 i a r i z i n g t h e known. C e r t a i n l y , t h e end r e s u l t o f t h i s m a n i p u l a t i o n o f t h e l i t e r a l i s a v i s i o n o f t h e o b j e c t i n s t e a d o f p o s i t i v e k n o w l e d g e o f i t . W h e ther i t i s d e s i r a b l e t o v e e r s o c l o s e t o t h e t h i n g i s a n o t h e r q u e s t i o n : w o u l d we n o t n e g a t e i t i f we c o u l d once d e f i n e i t ? More c r u c i a l s t i l l , w o u l d we be a b l e t o r e t r e a t , once d e s c e n d e d i n t o t h e d e p t h s o f t h i n g - d o m ? Ghose a g a i n : " O n l y f i c t i o n , w h i c h t a k e s s o m e t h i n g f r o m a l l a c t i v i t i e s , i s c o m m i t t e d t o c o n c e r n i t s e l f e x c l u s i v e l y w i t h r e a l i t y . An i m a g e r y o f t h i n g s i s a l l t h e r e c a n be o f t h e w o r l d . " 3 8 A c o m p r o m i s e , p e r h a p s , b u t t h i s v i e w o f f i c t i o n l e g i t i m i z e s i t s w o r t h as a e s t h e t i c e n t e r p r i s e . Whereas i n l i t e r a l l a n g u a g e t h e c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n s i g n i f i e r a n d s i g n i f i e d i s a r b i t r a r y , s u c h i s n o t t h e c a s e w i t h f i g u r a t i v e l a n g u a g e . D e l i b e r a t e n e s s d e f i n e s t h e u s a g e o f t r o p e s l i k e i m a g e s , s y m b o l s , s i m i l e s and m e t a p h o r s . A l l e x c i t e c o n n o t a t i o n s , f o r s a k i n g a c c u r a c y f o r a n a l o g y . As e t y m o l o g y s u g g e s t s , images s p r i n g f r o m t h e i m a g i n a t i o n : t h e y 45 r e s u r r e c t experience, f r e q u e n t l y c o n f u s i n g or combining se n s u a l memory to s y n a e s t h e t i c or k i n a e s t h e t i c e f f e c t . Whenever the imaginative f a c u l t y l i g h t s upon an o b j e c t , i t tends a u t o m a t i c a l l y to p r o j e c t i t i n t o an i m a g i s t i c beyond, as i f sheer d e p i c t i o n of r e a l i t y were somehow " [ r e s i s t a n t ] to meaning.'" 5 9 T h i s i m i t a t i o n - i m a g i n a t i o n - i m a g e t r i a n g l e s t r i v e s to r e c r e a t e r a t h e r than merely to repr e s e n t r e a l i t y ; somehow i t i s p e r c e i v e d as more s o p h i s t i c a t e d , perhaps even b e n e f i c i a l , to do so. Wr i t e r s use v a r i e t i e s of tropes i n order to s u r p r i s e and c h a l l e n g e readers; t e x t s r i c h i n a n a l o g i e s pretend to remove t h e i r audience from the r e a l , as i f t h a t plane of e x i s t e n c e were too impoverished or evanescent to s a t i s f y . A l l f i g u r e s of speech r e s o r t to o b j e c t s i n t h e i r e quations. Often t h i n g s balance o n l y h a l f of the p a r a l l e l i s m , evoking a b s t r a c t s t a t e s as opposed to other t h i n g s . I f the Preacher was c o r r e c t when he long ago decided t h a t there was nothing new under the sun, then o b j e c t s are indeed h e a v i l y encrusted with s u g g e s t i o n . Northrop Frye repeats t h i s v ery adage i n The Great Code: "The statement 'There i s nothing new under the sun' a p p l i e s to wisdom but not to experience, to theory but not to p r a c t i c e . Only when we r e a l i z e t h a t nothing i s new can we l i v e with an i n t e n s i t y i n which e v e r y t h i n g becomes new." 6 0 The dabbler i n words has more to do than simply scramble connotations i n order to compose something s t r i k i n g . The trope must s t i l l s a t i s f y our 46 twofold d e s i r e f o r i t to make sense and to s t i m u l a t e our i m a g i n a t i o n . F i g u r a t i v e language t r a n s l a t e s the (dead) o b j e c t i v e world i n t o ( l i v i n g ) s u b j e c t i v e awareness. I t i s t h e r e f o r e s e l f -r e f l e x i v e , s e l f - c o n s c i o u s language, aware of i t s e l f as such and c o n s t a n t l y speaking about i t s e l f . Should the sea appear as symbol i n a p a r t i c u l a r l i t e r a r y work, f o r i n s t a n c e , i t trumpets i t s e x t r a - l i n g u i s t i c , l i t e r a r y f u n c t i o n immediately upon our apprehension of i t as a word. The sea has l o s t i t s a b i l i t y to e x i s t f o r us as a s a l t y , blue-green expanse of water. Some o b j e c t s are p l a i n l y overworked as symbols. Yet E r n s t C a s s i r e r has s a i d "The potency of the r e a l t h i n g . . . i s contained i n the word t h a t c r e a t e s i t " * 1 : i n other words, our apprehension of s a i d r e a l t h i n g depends e n t i r e l y upon the kind of word deployed. For W i l l i a m York T i n d a l l , word used as image " i s a s u b s t i t u t e f o r what i t r e p r e s e n t s , " while word as symbol " i s the only p o s s i b l e embodiment of what i t p r e s e n t s . " 6 2 Image, metaphor and s i m i l e r e f l e c t - - p e r h a p s r e f r a c t - - e x p e r i e n c e , whereas symbol swallows i t whole. Veronica Brady b e l i e v e s that symbolic d i s c o u r s e acknowledges the world as p l u r i v o c a l , where "any one o b j e c t , event or person may suddenly swing open to r e v e a l i n t e n s i t i e s and c o m p l e x i t i e s of experience f a r i n excess of t h e i r a c t u a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . " 6 3 According to i t s adherents, symbol r e a l i z e s p o t e n t i a l , m y t h o l o g i z i n g the mundane and c a t a l y z i n g the t r a n s i t i o n from patent to l a t e n t r e a l i t y . 47 Tropes are words and words are o b j e c t s , a l l of which o b j e c t i f y e xperience. Hence, f i g u r e s of speech are both a c t i v e and p a s s i v e u n i t s w i t h i n the l a r g e r s t r u c t u r e of the l i t e r a r y work. The no v e l , s t o r y or poem i s i t s e l f a l s o an o b j e c t - - a r t / i f / a c t - - a n d r e p r e s e n t s a s u b j e c t i v e attempt to o b j e c t i f y e xperience. Words forged one a f t e r the other l i n k to make sense i n themselves and as a whole because they c r e a t e context. The work, however, e x i s t s without immediate co n t e x t . It i s a t h i n g a d r i f t . I n d i v i d u a l s grant i t context once they hold i t , open i t , or read i t . U n t i l they do so, the book might as w e l l be a t h i n g of empty pages, even a hollow o b j e c t whose dummy spine and covers hide any other t h i n g i n s i d e . But i f a book i t be, a l i t e r a r y t e x t to boot, then what the reader grasps r e p r e s e n t s imagination, thought, s o u l embodied. S i m i l a r l y , word embodies o b j e c t and v i c e v e r s a : when a l l we see i s ! i m f e t g . l l a , what we immediately v i s u a l i z e i s f u n c t i o n e d as speech f o r those beings whose p i c t o g r a p h s a r c h a e o l o g i s t s continue to d i s c o v e r i n remote caves. The e s s e n t i a l nature of both words and o b j e c t s , then, i s symbolic. As Symbols they i n c a r n a t e some t h i n g e l s e , whether God or S p i r i t or Nature, hence mankind's d e s i r e to see i n them immanence or transcendence, as opposed to the merely manifest. However, i f words embody o b j e c t s they a l s o m i r r o r them, thus r e f l e c t i n g and d i s t o r t i n g them: however t r a n s p a r e n t or opaque the g l a s s , a l l we ever see i s an image of t h i n g s . something l i k e C onversely, o b j e c t s o r i g i n a l l y 48 T r a n s p a r e n c e o f t h e o b j e c t i s what we s e e k . How c a n we i s o l a t e t h e o b j e c t when i t does n o t e x i s t e x c e p t i n a s t i c k y , a l m o s t i n v i s i b l e web of c o n t e x t ? I f we a l t e r our r e l a t i o n w i t h t h e t h i n g , t h e r e b y e x c h a n g i n g one c o n t e x t f o r a n o t h e r , t h e n by a n a l o g y t h e l a n g u a g e we use t o d e a l w i t h t h e new s i t u a t i o n c h a n g e s t o o . S t i l l and a l w a y s , t h e o b j e c t i s d e e p l y m i r e d w i t h i n a l i m i t e d b ut n e c e s s a r y c o n t e x t , l o s t i n a l e x i c a l h a z e . 49 B e i n g T h e r e : The O b j e c t I t s e l f i t i s n o t t h a t words a r e i m p e r f e c t , or t h a t , when c o n f r o n t e d by t h e v i s i b l e t h e y p r o v e i n s u p e r a b l y i n a d e q u a t e . N e i t h e r c a n be r e d u c e d t o t h e o t h e r ' s t e r m s : i t i s i n v a i n t h a t we s a y what we s e e : what we s e e n e v e r r e s i d e s i n what we s a y . And i t i s i n v a i n t h a t we a t t e m p t t o show, by t h e use o f images, m e t a p h o r s , or s i m i l e s , what we a r e s a y i n g ; t h e s p a c e where t h e y a c h i e v e t h e i r s p l e n d o r i s n o t t h a t d e p l o y e d by our e y e s . - - M i c h e l F o u c a u l t Take a c u p — l e t ' s s a y a t e a cup, w i t h o u t a s a u c e r — a n d s i t u a t e i t on a p l a i n s u r f a c e . I f we f o c u s a l l our a t t e n t i o n upon s a i d r e c e p t a c l e , what do we remark? D i f f e r e n c e s between our p e r s o n a l s e l e c t i o n i n cu p s a s i d e , we o n l y e v e r s e e one p a r t o f t h e v e s s e l a t a t i m e : whether f r o n t or back i s i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e f o r an o b j e c t o f t h i s s h a p e . We n o t i c e t h e f o r m o f t h e h o l l o w t h i n g : i t has a h a n d l e b u t no p e d e s t a l . The e x t e r i o r i s p a t t e r n e d ; l e a v e s and f l o w e r s a r e r e p r e s e n t e d i n e a r t h t o n e s a g a i n s t a w h i t e b a c k g r o u n d . The i n t e r i o r p r o v e s d i f f e r e n t : i t i s a l l w h i t e , a t l e a s t as f a r as i t r e v e a l s i t s e l f t o my e y e . The p o s i t i o n i n w h i c h I have c a s u a l l y p l a c e d t h e c o n t a i n e r p e r m i t s p a r t o f t h e h a n d l e t o be s e e n as w e l l : i t i s a l l w h i t e , a t l e a s t as much o f i t as I can see w i t h o u t s h i f t i n g my p o s i t i o n . Thus, i n f a c e o f a c r u c i b l e s u c h as t h i s one, I a c t u a l l y p e r c e i v e b u t a p o r t i o n o f i t a t 50 any one time. My mind, however, assumes much: what I presume I see i s the e n t i r e o b j e c t . But I am h a r d l y aware of what r e a l l y goes on round the other face of the cup: gazing on one p a r t , how do I know t h a t there i s nothing happening w i t h i n or on the r e s t of the teacup? There may w e l l be tea leaves or a b i t of amber l i q u i d at the base of i t s w e l l ; l i p s t i c k may even mar the cup's other s u r f a c e . I f , upon complete examination such i s found to be the case, then we can reas o n a b l y i n t e r p r e t the s i g n s to mean that the v e s s e l has at some time i n the past been reduced to i t s f u n c t i o n a l i t y as ho l d e r . Despite i t s name, a tea cup i s not c o n s t r a i n e d to handle o n l y t e a , or o n l y l i q u i d , f o r t h a t matter. The volume I t r e t a i n s must be l i m i t e d by i t s s i z e , but any s m a l l e r amount w i l l s i t comfortably t h e r e i n . When we see tea cup, we thin k tea and assume containment, but I might j u s t as w e l l d i g i n the e a r t h with i t , s p i l l milk out of i t or p l a n t a s p r i n g flower bulb i n i t . In which ever way we a l t e r the v e s s e l ' s purpose, however, i t remains a v i c t i m of i t s f u n c t i o n a l i t y , which i s to hold , and of i t s nature as o b j e c t , which i s domestic. Depending upon the kind of m a t e r i a l of which i t i s c o n s t r u c t e d , we may even see l i g h t or shapes through the wa l l s of the cup. We do not q u e s t i o n , of course, t h a t i t i s a china tea cup whereof we speak. But perhaps t h i s p a r t i c u l a r cup i s f a b r i c a t e d of t i n , aluminum, p l a s t i c , or even carved from soap. Is i t then s t i l l a cup? I f made of g l a s s , do we not then l a b e l the o b j e c t a g l a s s ? When i s a cup not a cup but a 51 mug, a g l a s s , a bowl, a c a n o r a p i t c h e r ? F i n a l l y , t h e s e v a r i a t i o n s on a theme a c c o u n t o n l y f o r my v i s u a l a p p r e h e n s i o n o f t h e c u p : my v i e w o f i t would s u r e l y change were I t o t o u c h i t , s n i f f i t or l i s t e n t o i t . La t a s s e would a p p e a r t o f i l l s p a c e - - o r does i t d i s p l a c e i t ? S h o u l d I i n t r o d u c e o t h e r o b j e c t s o n t o t h e t a b l e , t h e a s p e c t o f t h e cup c h a n g e s . I t becomes a n e s t , i f I p l a c e a l i t t l e b i r d n e x t t o i t , or a w e i g h t i f I p o s i t i o n some f e a t h e r s b e n e a t h i t . S l i d e a s t i l l l i f e m u r a l b e h i n d i t and t h e c h i n a w i l l seem an o b j e t d ' a r t , a l t h o u g h p e r h a p s o v e r -c i v i l i z e d . A s t e a m i n g t e a p o t nea r i t b e s p e a k s q u a i n t , c o s y c h e e r ; p e r h a p s i t a l s o s u g g e s t s s o c i a b i l i t y and s h a r i n g , a f i r e p l a c e and a c u r l e d - u p c a t . B r i n g on t h e c o o k i e s and t h e c o n v e r s a t i o n . O b j e c t s l e f t on t h e i r own t e n d t o d i s o r d e r : t h e y g a t h e r d u s t and house c r i t t e r s . I f I t u r n my back on t h i s v e s s e l , e ven m o m e n t a r i l y , o r i f I l e a v e t h e room w h e r e i n i t s i t s , what happens t o i t ? I assume n o t h i n g d o e s , b ut t h e n I d o n ' t r e a l l y know. I t may w e l l be much l e s s p a s s i v e t h a n I b e l i e v e i t t o be. Whatever my s e n s u a l a p p r e h e n s i o n o f t h i s r e c a l c i t r a n t cup, i t i s u l t i m a t e l y much more t h a n I p e r c e i v e i t t o be a t an y one t i m e . An o b j e c t i s a l w a y s t h e sum of i t s p o t e n t i a l , ' of i t s i n f i n i t e p o s s i b i l i t i e s . C o n t e x t and c o n n o t a t i o n a l t e r my v i e w o f t h i s t h i n g ; t h e y a r e , i n f a c t , i n s e p a r a b l e f r o m i t . I t t h u s becomes i m p o r t a n t t o d e t e r m i n e j u s t how much we impose 52 upon o b j e c t s , a s compared t o how much we a t t e m p t t o d i s c o v e r i n them. Do t h i n g s , f o r i n s t a n c e , o n l y d e r i v e l i f e f r o m t h e l i f e w h i c h p e r c e i v e s them, or a r e t h e y f u l f i l l e d i n t h e m s e l v e s , r e g a r d l e s s t h e s t a t e of t h e v i e w e r / v o y e u r ? We h a b i t u a l l y d i s t o r t o b j e c t s by i n f l i c t i n g t h e r e a d y - f o r m u l a t e d upon them, hence o b s c u r i n g t h e i r s h e e r s u g g e s t i v e n e s s . E a c h o b j e c t e x p r e s s e s a u n i q u e mode o f e x i s t e n c e t o be e x c a v a t e d , as opposed t o l a c q u e r e d o v e r . I know, s c i e n t i f i c a l l y , t h a t a ny o b j e c t i s made up o f m o l e c u l e s and atoms i n a v a r i e t y o f c o n f i g u r a t i o n s . I m y s e l f am n o t c o n v e r s a n t i n t h e r e l a t i o n amongst a l l t h e moving, m i n u s c u l e p a r t s , b u t I do know t h a t s u c h i n f o r m a t i o n r e s i d e s i n t h e r e a l m of t h e a c c e s s i b l e . C o l o u r , t e x t u r e and shape a r e a l l p h y s i c a l , v e r i f i a b l e a s p e c t s o f any g i v e n o b j e c t . They d e f i n e i t and make i t i n d i v i d u a l , s e p a r a t e . Once I l e a r n t h e s e q u a l i t i e s i n t h e i r v a r i o u s c o m b i n a t i o n s I am c a p a b l e o f i d e n t i f y i n g an o r a n g e and, more i m p o r t a n t , o f d i s t i n g u i s h i n g i t f r o m an a p p l e . I t i s t h e r e , i n d e p e n d e n t o f me and i n w a r d - -t h a t i s , i t s e x t e r n a l a s p e c t i s n o t a l l t h e r e i s t o i t . I n f a c t , I p r i z e t h i s p a r t i c u l a r f r u i t f o r what i t has i n i t , a l t h o u g h sometimes I a l s o have use f o r what e n f o l d s i t . But i s t h e sum o f i t s p h y s i c a l a t t r i b u t e s a l l t h e r e i s t o t h i s c i t r u s ? P h i l o s o p h e r s s u c h as H e i d e g g e r , M e r l e a u - P o n t y , T e i l h a r d de C h a r d i n and Simone W e i l s u g g e s t n o t . H e i d e g g e r d e f i n e d o b j e c t as "what s t a n d s f o r t h . " 6 ' * He to o k a j u g as h i s s p e c i m e n , d e s c r i b i n g i t as "an o b j e c t 53 w h i c h a p r o c e s s o f making has s e t up b e f o r e and a g a i n s t us. I t s s e l f - s u p p o r t seems t o mark t h e j u g as a t h i n g . , , S B The s i g n i f i c a n t words h e r e a r e 'making,' ' b e f o r e , ' ' a g a i n s t , ' ' s e l f - s u p p o r t ' and ' t h i n g ' : H e i d e g g e r e q u a t e d j u g w i t h b o t h o b j e c t and t h i n g , s u g g e s t i n g t h a t i t s m a n u f a c t u r e was somehow anonymous, or a t l e a s t d i s s o c i a t e d f r o m him, and t h a t once c o m p l e t e d i t p osed i n d e p e n d e n t l y and s t a l w a r t l y - - p e r h a p s even a g g r e s s i v e l y — i n f r o n t o f him. He d e t e r m i n e d e s s e n c e or t h i n g n e s s by f u n c t i o n ; i n o t h e r words, "The v e s s e l ' s t h i n g n e s s does n o t l i e a t a l l i n t h e m a t e r i a l o f w h i c h i t c o n s i s t s , b u t i n t h e v o i d t h a t h o l d s . " s s The e s s e n c e o f j u g n e s s , t h e n , a c c o r d i n g t o H e i d e g g e r ' s f o r m u l a t i o n , l a y i n i t s e m p t i n e s s — t h a t i s , i n i t s p o t e n t i a l t o c o n t a i n . Whereas H e i d e g g e r c o n c e n t r a t e d on t h e o b j e c t i t s e l f , Simone W e i l l o o k e d a t t h i n g s as e v i d e n c e o f t h e u n s e e n . F o r h e r t h e m a t e r i a l w o r l d e x i s t e d as b o t h b a r r i e r and t h e way t h r o u g h t o God: "The e s s e n c e o f c r e a t e d t h i n g s i s t o be i n t e r m e d i a r i e s . They a r e i n t e r m e d i a r i e s l e a d i n g f r o m one t o t h e o t h e r , and t h e r e i s no end t o t h i s . They a r e i n t e r m e d i a r i e s l e a d i n g t o God. We have t o e x p e r i e n c e them as s u c h . " 5 " 7 T h i n g s p r o v i d e d t h e means by w h i c h mankind p r o g r e s s e d f r o m i t s e a r t h b o u n d s t a t e o f b ecoming t o i t s e v e n t u a l , s p i r i t u a l f u l l n e s s o f b e i n g . T h e s e i d e a s were c o m p a t i b l e w i t h T e i l h a r d de C h a r d i n ' s , e x c e p t t h a t he v i e w e d t h i n g s as dynamic and as p a r t o f t h e p r o c e s s e s g o i n g on a r o u n d them. F o r him, m a t t e r and s p i r i t r e p r e s e n t e d two a s p e c t s of t h e g r e a t e r 54 c o s m o s : " M a t t e r i s t h e m a t r i x of. S p i r i t . S p i r i t i s t h e h i g h e r s t a t e o f M a t t e r . " G S S p i r i t r e m a i n e d c o n s t a n t b u t wore an i n f i n i t e number o f m a t e r i a l d i s g u i s e s ; o b j e c t s v a r i o u s l y e n v e l o p e d t h i s u n i t y , t h e c o s m o s ' s s i n g l e e s s e n c e . So t o o d i d man; i n f a c t , s u g g e s t e d T e i l h a r d de C h a r d i n , t h e r e f l o u r i s h e d a n a l m o s t s y m b i o t i c r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n t h e t w o . O b j e c t and s u b j e c t m a r r y and m u t u a l l y t r a n s f o r m e a c h o t h e r i n t h e a c t o f k n o w l e d g e ; and f r o m now on man w i l l y - n i l l y f i n d s h i s own image s t a m p e d on a l l he l o o k s a t . T h i s i s i n d e e d a f o r m o f b o n d a g e , f o r w h i c h , h o w e v e r , a u n i q u e and a s s u r e d g r a n d e u r p r o v i d e s i m m e d i a t e c o m p e n s a t i o n . I t i s t i r e s o m e and e v e n h u m b l i n g f o r t h e o b s e r v e r t o be t h u s f e t t e r e d , t o be o b l i g e d t o c a r r y w i t h h i m e v e r y w h e r e t h e c e n t r e o f t h e l a n d s c a p e he i s c r o s s i n g . 5 9 T h i s s o r t o f i m p r i n t i n g p r o d u c e d i n d i s s o l u b l e bonds b e t w e e n humans and t h i n g s . M e r l e a u - P o n t y r e g a r d e d them a l m o s t a s one. The l i n k b e t w e e n us and o b j e c t s r e f l e c t s t h a t amongst o b j e c t s . M e r l e a u - P o n t y w r o t e t h a t " o b j e c t s f o r m a s y s t e m i n w h i c h one c a n n o t show i t s e l f w i t h o u t c o n c e a l i n g o t h e r s . " " 7 0 Once t h e s u b j e c t o f c o n t e m p l a t i o n , h o w e v e r , t h e o b j e c t c a n n o t h e l p b u t r e v e a l o t h e r s . T h i n g s r e f l e c t one a n o t h e r , and u s . He r e s o l v e d t h e d i f f e r e n c e b e t w e e n s u b j e c t and o b j e c t by a d v i s i n g : "We must n o t , t h e r e f o r e , wonder w h e t h e r we r e a l l y p e r c e i v e a w o r l d , we must i n s t e a d s a y : t h e w o r l d i s what we p e r c e i v e . " " 7 1 C o u p l e d w i t h t h i s m a x i m — " t h e o n l y p r e e x i s t e n t L o g o s i s t h e w o r l d i t s e l f " " 7 2 — M e r l e a u - P o n t y a c k n o w l e d g e d 55 mankind's d e b t t o i t s o r i g i n s . As a l w a y s , h u m a n i t y s e a r c h e s f o r new b e g i n n i n g s . P a t r i c k White i s one s u c h p i l g r i m . 56 5. O b j e c t : White ' E v e r y t h i n g i s so e x t r a o r d i n a r y , ' he s a i d , ' t h a t t h e r e i s some q u e s t i o n o f whether we c a n w i t h s t a n d t h e i m p a c t , whether we ca n s u r v i v e . ' - - P a t r i c k W h i t e , The A u n t ' s S t o r y A l l w r i t e r s a r e p h e n o m e n o l o g i s t s i n s o f a r a s t h e y pay c l o s e a t t e n t i o n t o f e l l o w m o r t a l s and t o how t h e y p e r c e i v e t h e i r s u r r o u n d i n g s . P a t r i c k W hite i n p a r t i c u l a r has p r o v e d h i m s e l f c o m m i t t e d t o w r i n g i n g f r o m words t h e i r i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n t e n t , r e s t o r i n g t o them t h e i r e m o t i o n a l e n e r g y and r e c o n n e c t i n g them w i t h t h e t h i n g s t o w h i c h t h e y r e f e r . He p r e s e n t s h i s v i s i o n i n t e r m s o f d i c h o t o m i e s : o p p o s i t i o n means p r o c e s s when p e r c e i v e r i n t e r a c t s w i t h p e r c e i v e d , o b j e c t w i t h . -s u b j e c t , body w i t h s o u l and e s s e n c e w i t h e x i s t e n c e . T h i n g s r e p r e s e n t a means t o e x p l o r e t h e d i c h o t o m i e s ; h e n c e , t h e y a r e use d n o t m e r e l y as b e i n g s - i n - t h e m s e l v e s , b u t a l s o as l i t e r a r y t o o l s t o complement themes and c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n . More t h a n one l i t e r a r y c r i t i c has r e m a r k e d W h i t e ' s o b s e s s i o n w i t h t h i n g s . Thus f a r t h e r e e x i s t s l i t t l e c o n s e n s u s on h i s r e a s o n s f o r b e i n g so c o m m i t t e d , b u t Z u l f i k a r Ghose s p e a k s f o r many when he s a y s a b o u t W h i t e ' s n o v e l s t h a t P h y s i c a l e x i s t e n c e i s so i n t e n s e l y p r e s e n t i t i s a l m o s t an o p p r e s s i o n i n t h e a i r . A 57 s t i l l n e s s t h a t c h o k e s . . . . T h e r e i s a menace i n t h i n g s : a m a r b l e f l o o r , a h a i r y w r i s t , i s an i n e x p l i c a b l e t h r e a t . S o l i d masses s h u d d e r . And y e t i n t h e u n c e r t a i n -t y o f our p a s s i o n s , t h i n g s a r e what we must h o l d on t o — t h e s a p p h i r e i n t h e hand, t h e s u r f a c e s o f f u r n i t u r e , or a memory of a f u r r y a n i m a l . 7 3 E l i z a b e t h H u n t e r ' s j e w e l s , A r t h u r Brown's m a r b l e s , T h e o d o r a Goodman's b o b b i n g b l a c k r o s e and E l l e n R o x b u r g h ' s s m o u l d e r i n g s i l k l e a d l i v e s o f t h e i r own. T h ey b o t h r e f l e c t and b e stow upon t h e w e a r e r t h i s b r i mming v i t a l i t y . O b j e c t s , whether man-made or n a t u r a l , d o m e s t i c or a l i e n , v e g e t a b l e or m i n e r a l , i n a n i m a t e or l i v i n g , v i s c e r a l or m e c h a n i c a l — a l l p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e l i v e s o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s . Some become c h a r a c t e r s i n t h e i r own r i g h t . O t h e r c r i t i c s o f f e r a v a r i e t y o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s a b o u t what White i s up t o w i t h h i s o b j e c t s . W i l l i a m S c h e i c k l i n k s them d i r e c t l y w i t h t h e s t o r i e s ' p e r s o n a e : o b j e c t s e x i s t as c h a l l e n g e s t o c h a r a c t e r s ' e g o - s e l v e s . The most v e x i n g c o n c e r n f o r W h i t e ' s c h a r a c t e r s i s t h e q u e s t i o n o f whether any-t h i n g e x i s t s b e h i n d phenomena. . . . t h e p e r c e i v e d t h i n g i s , p a r a d o x i c a l l y , b o t h p r e s e n t t o W h i t e ' s c h a r a c t e r s , i n s o f a r as i t e x i s t s as a c o n s e q u e n c e o f t h e i r p e r c e p t i o n of i t , and a b s e n t f r o m them, i n s o f a r as i t may m a n i f e s t an o n t o l o g i c a l v e r i t y or a g r e a t e r d i m e n s i o n a l i t y beyond t h e i r k e n . 7 4 W h i t e ' s ' e l e c t , ' as t h e y have come t o be known, c o n s t a n t l y p e e r i n t o t h i n g s , p a s t t h e i r immediate a s p e c t s and beyond, as 58 i f i n s e a r c h o f a h i d d e n d i m e n s i o n c o n c e a l e d w i t h i n t h e v i s i b l e . U l t i m a t e l y , c l a i m s S c h e i c k , what t h o s e v i e w e r s seek i s "a g l i m p s e o f t h e m s e l v e s as o b j e c t s . "' 7 B To l o s e t h e s u b j e c t i v e s e l f , t o p e e l down t o t h e l a s t of i t s many l a y e r s i s a theme e c h o e d t h r o u g h o u t W h i t e ' s o e u v r e . Not t h a t b e coming an o b j e c t i s i t s e l f t o be so g r e a t l y d e s i r e d - - a f t e r a l l , t h e u l t i m a t e o b j e c t - m a k e r i s d e a t h — b u t s h e d d i n g some o f t h e b l o c k s t o i n t u i t i o n and p u r e s e n s u a l a p p r e h e n s i o n o f t h i n g s i s . P e t e r B e a t s o n e n l a r g e s upon t h i s empathy between c h a r a c t e r s and o b j e c t s : W h i t e ' s c h a r a c t e r s have a l i v i n g , o r g a n i c r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e s e n s u o u s w o r l d t h a t s u r r o u n d s them. T h e r e i s a s e n s e o f ' b e i n g t h e r e ' i n t h e phenomenal w o r l d , an o p e n n e s s t o t h e p u l s a t i o n s and e m a n a t i o n s o f p l a c e s and t h i n g s w h i c h i s more commonly f o u n d i n p o e t r y t h a n i n t h e n o v e l . . . . D i a l o g u e w i t h t h e t h i n g s of t h e m a t e r i a l w o r l d i s a means t o , and a p r o o f o f , e l e c t i o n . 7 6 B e a t s o n s e e s White as a t t e m p t i n g t o r e s t o r e t h e t o t e m i c bonds between human b e i n g s and n a t u r e , t o how i t was b e f o r e t h e y c i v i l i z e d t h e m s e l v e s o u t o f immediacy o f c o n t a c t w i t h t h e w o r l d . B e a t s o n a l s o t a l k s a l o t a b o u t I n c a r n a t i o n , Immanence and T r a n s c e n d e n c e . He s e e s White as a m y s t i c b e n t on o r c h e s t r a t i n g t h e p e r f e c t u n i o n between m a t t e r and s p i r i t . O t h e r c r i t i c s s h a r e h i s c o n v i c t i o n . F o r example, R o b e r t M c D o u g a l l c l a i m s t h a t 59 The m a t e r i a l w o r l d i n Mr. W h i t e ' s v i s i o n d oes n o t m e r e l y e v o k e , p a r a l l e l or s l a v i s h l y r e c i p r o c a t e t h e s p i r i t u a l ; i t becomes t h e s p i r i t u a l and t h e n i s . t h e s p i r i t u a l , c o n s t i t u t i n g a new r e a l i t y f u l l y i n f o r m e d by an a c t o f f a i t h . . . i n th e end i t i s a l l one. The d i c h o t o m y d i s a p p e a r s . 7 7 F u r t h e r , M c D o u g a l l a s s e r t s t h a t White i s an i n t e n s e r e a l i s t whose l a n g u a g e d i s s o l v e s o p p o s i t i o n w i t h i n t h e d i c h o t o m y : "Mr. White b u i l d s h i s s p i r i t u a l w o r l d s o l i d l y o u t of t h e b r i c k s and m o r t a r o f t h e m a t e r i a l w o r l d , t h e w o r l d o f ' r e a l ' a p p e a r a n c e s . " 7 8 Human and phenomenal n a t u r e j o i n so t h a t t h e d i c h o t o m y i t s e l f d i s s o l v e s : a l l i s u n i t y i n s e a r c h o f s o u l . F i n a l l y , P e t e r W o l f e c r e d i t s White w i t h s e a r c h i n g o u t t h e v e r y s t r u c t u r e o f r e a l i t y , sometimes e v e n c r e a t i n g an a l t e r n a t i v e r e a l i t y , and a l w a y s e x p l o r i n g new ways o f i n t e r a c t i n g w i t h i t . White seems t o Wo l f e t o a f f i r m " t h e g o o d n e s s o f m a t t e r " and t o b e l i e v e " i n t h e i n t e r c o n n e c t e d n e s s o f m a t t e r and s p i r i t . " 7 9 W o l f e s e e s White as f o c u s i n g on t h e f a l l i b l e and c o r r u p t as s o u r c e s o f r e n e w a l : e a c h p o l e o f t h e d i c h o t o m y needs t h e o t h e r f o r d e f i n i t i o n and e x c h a n g e . F i l t h i s as n e c e s s a r y as t h e p r i s t i n e , and b o t h a r e good. White has been v a r i o u s l y d e s c r i b e d as a m y s t i c , a meta-p h y s i c i a n and as a w r i t e r a f f l i c t e d by an o v e r w e e n i n g p e n c h a n t f o r p a t h e t i c f a l l a c y and p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n . L a b e l s a s i d e , White has s u c c e e d e d i n c h a r t i n g new t e r r i t o r y i n t h e h i s t o r y o f t h e o b j e c t . He p r o v i d e s t h i n g s w i t h p o i n t of v i e w and t h u s w i t h 6 0 t h e i r own k i n d o f p e r s o n a l l a n g u a g e . E a c h s u c c e e d i n g n o v e l has c o n t r i b u t e d t o a m y t h o l o g y o f t h e o b j e c t i n w h i c h t h i n g s speak and a r e s p o k e n . O b j e c t i s s i g n i f i e r whose p o s s i b i l i t i e s have been p l u n d e r e d ; White s e t s o u t t o r e s t o r e t o t h i n g s t h e i r h o n o u r . F r a g m e n t a t i o n , a l i e n a t i o n , a n n i h i l a t i o n : t h e s e themes permeate t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y l i t e r a t u r e . P a t r i c k W h i t e ' s work i s no e x c e p t i o n . But t h e y do n o t overwhelm h i s v i s i o n e n t i r e l y . B a r t h e s i d e n t i f i e s t h e p o s t - m o d e r n dilemma t h u s : The f a c t t h a t we c a n n o t manage t o a c h i e v e more t h a n an u n s t a b l e g r a s p o f r e a l i t y d o u b t l e s s g i v e s t h e measure o f our p r e s e n t a l i e n a t i o n : we c o n s t a n t l y d r i f t between t h e o b j e c t and i t s d e m y s t i f i -c a t i o n , p o w e r l e s s t o r e n d e r i t s w h o l e n e s s . F o r i f we p e n e t r a t e t h e o b j e c t , we l i b e r a t e i t but we d e s t r o y i t ; and i f we a c k n o w l e d g e i t s f u l l w e i g h t , we r e s p e c t i t , b u t we r e s t o r e i t t o a s t a t e w h i c h i s s t i l l m y s t i f i e d . I t would seem t h a t we a r e condemned f o r some t i m e y e t a l w a y s t o speak e x c e s s i v e l y a b o u t r e a l i t y . T h i s i s p r o b a b l y b e c a u s e i d e o l o g i s m and i t s o p p o s i t e a r e t y p e s o f b e h a v i o u r w h i c h a r e s t i l l m a g i c a l , t e r r o r i z e d , b l i n d e d and f a s c i n a t e d by t h e s p l i t i n t h e s o c i a l w o r l d . And y e t , t h i s i s what we must s e e k : a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n between r e a l i t y and men, between d e s c r i p t i o n and e x p l a n a t i o n , between o b j e c t and k n o w l e d g e . 0 0 The g r a n d d i c h o t o m i e s a r e n e c e s s a r y and hence d e s i r a b l e : t h e i r i n t e r a c t i o n i s what u l t i m a t e l y redeems m a t t e r . They l i f t t h i n g s f r o m t h e i r h i s t o r i c a l i n e r t i a and make them s i g n i f i c a n t a g a i n t o our l i v e s . Whether we c a n w i t h s t a n d 61 t h e o n s l a u g h t on our s e n s e s i s a n o t h e r q u e s t i o n . White s u g g e s t s t h a t we n o t o n l y t a k e o b j e c t s more i n t o a c c o u n t , b u t t h a t we a l s o e m u l a t e t h e i r h u m i l i t y , h o n e s t y , and immediacy. 62 Notes 1 Paul West, "In Defense of Purple Prose," The New York  Times Book Review 15 December 1985: 29. 2 Nadine Gordimer, Burger's Daughter (New York: Penguin, 1980), p.134. 3 Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and  Literature (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982), p. 15. 4 Frye, p. 6. B Frye, p. 7. 6 Frye, p. 13. 7 Frye, p. 59. a Frye, p. 97. 9 Frye, p. 166. 1 0 Frye, p. 167. 1 1 Frye, p. 167. 1 2 Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro, Studies in Zen, ed. Christmas Humphreys (New York: D e l l , 1955), pp. 48-49. 1 3 Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro, The F i e l d of Zen:  Contributions to The Middle Way, the Journal of the Buddhist  Society, ed. Christmas Humphreys (London: The Buddhist Society, 1969), p. 59. 1 4 William Wordsworth, "Preface to the L y r i c a l  Ballads," in English Romantic Poetry and Prose, ed. Russell Noyes (New York: Oxford UP, 1956), p. 358. 1 5 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia L i t e r a r i a , in 63 English Romantic Poetry and Prose, p. 425. x s Coleridge, p. 440. x'7 Coleridge, p. 438 . x a Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, in English  Romantic Poetry and Prose, p. 1110. 1 9 William York T i n d a l l , The L i t e r a r y Symbol (New York: Columbia UP, 1955), p. 11. 2 0 T i n d a l l , p. 74. 2 1 David Myers quotes Richard Ellmann, The Peacocks and  the Bourgeoisie: Ironic Vision in Patrick White's Shorter  Prose F i c t i o n (Adelaide: Adelaide University Union Press, 1978), p. 161. 2 2 Andre Breton, Surrealism and Painting, trans. Simon Watson Taylor (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), p. 279. 2 3 Breton, p. 279. 2 4 Andre Breton, What i s Surrealism? Selected Writings, ed. and in t r o . Franklin Rosemont (New York: Monad, 1978), p. 74. 2 B Michel Foucault, This i s Not a Pipe, trans, and ed. James Harkness, i l l u s . Rene Magritte (Berkeley: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press, 1983), p. 8. 2 6 Victor Shklovsky quoted in Robert Scholes, Structuralism in Li t e r a t u r e : An Introduction (New Haven: Yale UP, 1974), pp. 83-84. 2 , 7 Aniela Jaffe, "Symbolism in the Visual Arts," in Man  and His Symbols, ed. and in t r o . Carl G. Jung (New York: D e l l , 64 1983), p. 290. 2 3 J a f f e , pp. 291-292. 2 9 Richard Schmitt, "Phenomenology," The Encyclopedia of  Philosophy, rpt. edn., 8 vols. (London: C o l l i e r Macmillan Publishers, 1972), 6: 135. The discussion on Phenomenology which follows is based upon Schmitt's a r t i c l e ; succeeding quotations are from his work, pages 135 to 151. 3 0 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, "What is Phenomenology?" in European L i t e r a r y Theory and Practice: From E x i s t e n t i a l Phenomenology to Structuralism,, ed. Vernon W. Gras (New York: D e l l , 1973), p. 83. 3 1 Merleau-Ponty, p. 78. 3 2 Merleau-Ponty, p. 72. 3 3 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of P e r c e p t i o n trans. Colin Smith (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962), p. x i i i . 3 4 Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, p. x v i i . 3 3 Transitive verbs far outnumber i n t r a n s i t i v e verbs. Object becomes secondary to subject, the audience to the performer. Merleau-Ponty makes a case for the a c t i v i t y (as opposed to the perceived passivity) of the object. 3 5 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, trans. Bernard Wall (New York: Harper and Bros., 1959), p. 165. 3 7 Teilhard de Chardin, p. 221. 3 a Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, p. 67. 65 3 9 Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, p. 68. 4 0 W. D. Ashcroft, "More Than One Horizon," in Patrick  White: A C r i t i c a l Symposium, eds. R. Shepherd and K. Singh (Adelaide: Centre for Research in the New Literatures in English, 1978), p. 126. 4 1 Ashcroft, p. 124. 4 2 Ashcroft, p. 125. 4 3 Breton, What is Surrealism? Selected Writings, p. 126. 4 4 F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, rev. 2nd ed. (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1908), p. 76. 4 B George A. Panichas, ed. The Simone Weil Reader (New York: David McKay, Inc., 1977), p. 438. 4 6 Breton, What is Surrealism? Selected Writings, p. 116. 4 7 Herbert Spiegelberg, Doing Phenomenology: Essays on and in Phenomenology (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1975), p. 134. 4 B Paul Klee, Paul Klee: Watercolors. Drawings.  Writings (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1969), p. 8. 4 9 Roland Barthes quoted by Robert Scholes, Semiotics and  Interpretation (New Haven: Yale UP, 1982), p. 12. s o Ferdinand de Saussure c i t e d in Scholes, Structuralism  in L i t e r a t u r e : An Introduction, p. 15. a l Scholes, Structuralism in L i t e r a t u r e : An Introduction, p. 1. a 2 Foucault, p. 6. 66 3 3 F o u c a u l t , p. 8 . 3 4 Z u l f i k a r Ghose, The F i c t i o n o f R e a l i t y (London and B a s i n g s t o k e : M a c m i l l a n , 1 9 8 3 ) , p. 3 2 . 3 3 P a n i c h a s , p. 4 3 7 . 3 6 Umberto E c o , The Name of t h e Rose, t r a n s . W i l l i a m Weaver (New Y o r k : H a r c o u r t B r a c e J o v a n o v i c h , 1 9 8 3 ) , p. 3 1 7 . 3 7 R o l a n d B a r t h e s , I m a g e - M u s i c - T e x t , t r a n s . S t e p h e n Heath (New Y o r k : H i l l and Wang, 1 9 7 9 ) , p. 3 5 . o s Ghose, p. 1 4 3 . 3 9 R o l a n d B a r t h e s , "The R e a l i t y E f f e c t , " i n F r e n c h  L i t e r a r y T h e o r y Today, e d . T z v e t a n T o d o r o v ( C a m b r i d g e : Cambridge UP, 1 9 8 2 ) , p. 1 4 . s o F r y e / p . 1 2 4 . 5 1 E r n s t C a s s i r e r q u o t e d i n T i n d a l l , The L i t e r a r y Symbol, p. 8 . 6 2 T i n d a l l , p. 3 1 . 6 3 V e r o n i c a B r a d y , "Why Myth M a t t e r s , " W e s t e r l y , No. 2 (June' 1 9 7 3 ) , p. 6 0 . 6 4 M a r t i n H e i d e g g e r , P o e t r y , Language, T h o u g h t , t r a n s , and i n t r o . A l b e r t H o f s t a d t e r (New Y o r k : H a r p e r and Row, 1 9 7 1 ) , p. 1 6 8 . S 3 H e i d e g g e r , p. 1 6 7 . G S H e i d e g g e r , p. 1 6 9 . 6 7 P a n i c h a s , p. 3 6 4 . s a P i e r r e T e i l h a r d de C h a r d i n , The H e a r t o f M a t t e r , t r a n s . Rene Hague (London: C o l l i n s , 1 9 7 8 ) , p. 3 5 . 67 s 9 Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, p. 32. Man-image-landscape immediately brings Voss to mind. 7 0 Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, p. 68. 7 1 Merleau-Ponty, "What is Phenomenology?" p. 79. 7 2 Merleau-Ponty, "What is Phenomenology?" p. 84. 7 3 Ghose, p. 77. 7 4 William J. Scheick, "The Gothic Grace and Rainbow Aesthetic of Patrick White's F i c t i o n : An Introduction," in Texas Studies in Literature and Language, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Summer 1979), p. 135. 7 5 Scheick, p. 137. 7 6 Peter Beatson, The Eye in the Mandala (London: Paul Elek, 1976), p. 133. 7 7 Robert L. McDougall, Aus t r a l i a F e l i x : Joseph Furphv  and Patrick White, Commonwealth L i t e r a r y Fund Lecture (Canberra: Australian National UP, 1966), p. 9. 7 3 McDougall, p. 13. 7 9 Peter Wolfe, Laden Choirs: The F i c t i o n of Patrick White (The University Press of Kentucky, 1983), p. 7. s o Barthes, Mythologies, p. 159. 68 I I C o n n e c t i n g . . . C o m m u n i c a t i n g W r i t i n g . . . became a s t r u g g l e t o c r e a t e c o m p l e t e l y f r e s h f o r m s o u t o f t h e r o c k s a nd s t i c k s o f w o r d s . I began t o s e e t h i n g s f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e . - - P a t r i c k W h i t e F r o m w o r d s , w h i c h a r e b u t p i c t u r e s o f t h e t h o u g h t , (Though we o u r t h o u g h t s f r o m them p e r v e r s e l y d r e w ) To t h i n g s , t h e m i n d ' s r i g h t o b j e c t , he i t b r o u g h t . — A b r a h a m C o w l e y , a b o u t F r a n c i s B a c o n 69 Patrick white's f i r s t three published novels--Happy  Valley (1939), The Living and the Dead (1941) and The Aunt's  Story (1948)--chart the steady r i s e of a writer learning his way around in language. White began his n o v e l i s t i c career drawing from the same plundered well that had already nourished a whole generation of angst-ridden, modernist writers. Happy Valley and The Living and the Dead offered t i r e d , derivative symbols of the l i k e employed by other 1930s authors who were also responding to the e x i s t e n t i a l times. White unabashedly played symbolist in order to o b j e c t i f y both the stupefying environment of his homeland and the s t u l t i f y i n g atmosphere of his adopted home of England between the wars. But he eventually abandoned his reliance on imagery of despair for the elegant, post-modernist style of The Aunt's Story. Explored in succession, these three early works reveal the process of authorial discovery which saw White change the shape of the symbol. There i s a progress of imagery from Happy Valley to The  Aunt's Story. To a certain extent, objects l i k e the frolicsome cyclamen in Happy Valley and the mesmerizing glass box in The L i v i n g and the Dead do succeed in conveying an almost palpable sense of the paralysis a f f l i c t i n g both s o c i e t i e s at the time. However, they r a r e l y r i s e above their function as symbols, serving rather to o b j e c t i f y the inner experiences of characters who are themselves l i t t l e more than s e n s i b i l i t i e s . The objects l i t t e r i n g these f i r s t two 70 p u b l i s h e d n o v e l s l e a d no i n d e p e n d e n t l i f e o f t h e i r own: i n s t e a d t h e y e x i s t t o t e l e g r a p h themes l i k e f r a g m e n t a t i o n , d i s i n t e g r a t i o n and a l i e n a t i o n . S t i l l , e a c h o f Happy V a l l e y and The L i v i n g and The Dead p r o f f e r s g l i m p s e s o f t h e w r i t e r W h ite became: t h e p i n k s h e l l g i v e n M a r g a r e t Quong by Rodney H a l l i d a y and t h e r e l a t i o n between Joe B a r n e t t and t h e wooden t h i n g s he c r a f t s bespeak a b u r g e o n i n g a w a r e n e s s o f o b j e c t s as d i s c r e t e , p e r f e c t e n t i t i e s . Happy V a l l e y e x p l o r e s l i f e i n a s m a l l , s u f f o c a t i n g A u s t r a l i a n town. The p l o t f o l l o w s t h e doomed l o v e a f f a i r between t h e town's f r u s t r a t e d d o c t o r , O l i v e r H a l l i d a y , and i t s l o n e l y m u s i c t e a c h e r A l y s Browne. S e c o n d a r y a c t i o n i s s u p p l i e d by t h e s o r d i d l i a i s o n between a d r i f t e r named Clem Hagan and V i c M o r i a r t y , b o r e d w i f e o f an i n e f f e c t u a l s c h o o l t e a c h e r . When E r n e s t M o r i a r t y d i s c o v e r s h i s w i f e ' s i n f i d e l i t y he m u rders h e r and t h e n d i e s o f h e a r t f a i l u r e on t h e v e r y r o a d O l i v e r and A l y s have c h o s e n f o r t h e i r e s c a p e . The t r a g e d y f o r c e s O l i v e r t o come t o t e r m s w i t h h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y t o a w i f e and c h i l d r e n : t h e H a l l i d a y s l e a v e Happy V a l l e y and t h e o t h e r s r e m a i n b e h i n d , s t i f l e d and u n f u l f i l l e d . The n o v e l p o r t r a y s c h a r a c t e r s a d r i f t , u n c o n n e c t e d t o o t h e r s , t o t h i n g s , t o t h e m s e l v e s . T h e i r a t t i t u d e t o t h i n g s b e t r a y s t h e h o p e l e s s s t a t e o f t h e i r s o u l : r o c k s r i n g w i t h " s u l l e n h o s t i l i t y " (HV, 327) when t h e y k i c k them and t h e town t h e y i n h a b i t a p p e a r s a pockmark, "an u g l y s c a b " (HV, 28) on t h e s t u b b o r n f a c e o f t h e e a r t h . T h e r e i s l i t t l e i n t h e way o f human c u r i o s i t y a b o u t 71 t h i n g s , and so o b j e c t s p r e s e r v e t h e i r autonomy by a c t i n g m e r e l y as r e f l e c t o r s - - s i l e n t b u t p o t e n t commentators on t h e a c t i o n a r o u n d them. M o r i a r t y s ' b i g s i l v e r l u s t r e bowl i s one s u c h o b j e c t , c a t c h i n g t h e l i g h t and o f f e r i n g i n r e t u r n d i s t o r t e d r e f l e c t i o n s o f t h e o t h e r o b j e c t s o c c u p y i n g t h e room. W h i l e t h e bowl i t s e l f e x i s t s i n t i m e and t h u s has a p a s t o f i t s own, i t b e t r a y s n o t h i n g o f i t . E v e n t u a l l y i t p r o v e s i t s e l f " t r a g i c a l l y a d a p t a b l e " (HV, 3 2 6 ) , r e p r e s e n t i n g f o r i t s new owner Amy Quong t h e r e w a r d f o r h e r anonymous i n t e r f e r e n c e i n th e l i v e s o f t h e bowl's p r e v i o u s owners, t h e M o r i a r t y s . Amy, who i n r e t a l i a t i o n f o r V i c ' s b i g o t e d t r e a t m e n t o f h e r a l e r t s E r n e s t t o h i s w i f e ' s t r a n s g r e s s i o n s , c u l t i v a t e s a p o s s e s s i o n o b s e s s i o n f o r t h e bowl, i g n o r a n t o f t h e f a c t t h a t a c q u i s i t i o n s t r a d e hands t o o t e r r i b l y e a s i l y . T h i n g s w i l l n o t be owned, nor a r e t h e y c a p a b l e o f l o y a l t y . The bowl s i m p l y b e g i n s t o m o n i t o r i t s new e n v i r o n m e n t , t r a d i n g s t o r m y s c e n e s o f a d u l t e r y and murder f o r o r d e r and q u i e t . The b i g , b r i g h t , g l o b e - s h a p e d ornament e x i s t s a s an o b j e c t i n i t s own r i g h t b u t s e r v e s i n a d d i t i o n a s home t o a c h e e k y l i t t l e c y c l a m e n . T h i s f l o w e r , b l a t a n t l y p h a l l i c and o v e r w o r k e d as s y m b o l , b a r o m e t r i c a l l y c h a r t s t h e o n - g o i n g a f f a i r between V i c M o r i a r t y and Clem Hagan. When f i r s t r e a d e r s meet t h e l u s t y bloom t h e y s e e i t " s p r a w l e d i n wide, v o l u p t u o u s c u r v e s " (HV, 3 3 ) , as i f i n c a r i c a t u r e o f i t s m i s t r e s s . I t c o n t i n u e s t o a c t o u t t h e l o v e r s ' a n t i c s i n 72 p a r o d i c f a s h i o n ; t h e i n g e n u o u s n a r r a t o r comments a t one p o i n t : " I t was f u n n y t h a t y e s t e r d a y t h e c y c l a m e n had s t u c k up s t r a i g h t , a l w a y s c h a n g i n g , sometimes as s t r a i g h t as a p o k e r and t i g h t i n t h e mouth, a l m o s t s p i n s t e r l y , and now i t l o l l e d , c o u l d n ' t h o l d up i t s head, i t l o o k e d s o r t o f abandoned w i t h i t s d r o o p y l e a v e s " (HV, 1 0 9 ) . T h i s o b j e c t p r o v e s non-t r a n s f e r a b l e : i t i s c r u s h e d s h o r t l y a f t e r V i c i s k i l l e d , t h u s f o r g i n g a c o m p l e t e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n o f c h a r a c t e r w i t h o b j e c t . The s h e l l or n a u t i l u s , w h i c h l a t e r p l a y s s u c h a p r o m i n e n t r o l e i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y , a p p e a r s f i r s t i n Happy V a l l e y . I t f u n c t i o n s as g i f t ; young Rodney H a l l i d a y p r e s e n t s one t o s c h o o l - m a t e M a r g a r e t Quong t h a t "was p i n k , o f c u r i o u s s h a p e , f o l d i n g l i k e t h e bud o f a f l o w e r w i t h brown s p o t s on t h e u n d e r n e a t h " (HV, 6 5 ) . A s e a - s h e l l i s an o b j e c t r i c h i n c o n n o t a t i o n s , w h i c h f o r t h a t r e a s o n i m m e d i a t e l y b i d s t h e i m a g i n a t i o n e n t e r i n . The word ' s h e l l ' p r o c l a i m s t h e o b j e c t , i t s c o n s t r u c t i o n and i t s f u n c t i o n , b e c a u s e a s h e l l i s what i t . i s made o f . L i t e r a r y s h e l l s a r e a l w a y s d e s e r t e d : no s i g n o f t h e i r b u i l d e r and o r i g i n a l o c c u p a n t e x i s t s . But s h e l l s a r e n o t empty, e i t h e r . R a t h e r , t h e y a r e f i l l e d w i t h t h e sound and s m e l l of t h e i r o r i g i n s . The s e a means b e g i n n i n g s , e t e r n i t y , f r e e d o m , n o u r i s h m e n t and a n n i h i l a t i o n a l l a t o n c e . So one t h i n g Rodney bestows upon M a r g a r e t w i t h h i s g i f t o f t h e n a u t i l u s i s t h e o p p o r t u n i t y f o r i m a g i n a t i v e e s c a p e and f o r a p e r s p e c t i v e on l i f e g r e a t e r t h a n t h a t Happy V a l l e y a l o n e c a n o f f e r . The s h e l l a l s o c o n n o t e s d o m e s t i c i t y and i n t e r i o r i t y : 73 i t i s s a f e and s e c u r e b u t a l s o i n t r i g u i n g and a r o u s i n g b e c a u s e of i t s s p i r a l s h a p e , s u g g e s t i v e n o t o n l y o f t h e f o r m o f t h e human e a r b u t o f f e m a l e g e n i t a l i a as w e l l . The i n s i d e o f t h i s s e e m i n g l y s m a l l o b j e c t p r o v e s v e r y l a r g e i n d e e d , a l m o s t i n f i n i t e ; i t s m a z e - l i k e c o n s t r u c t i o n c h a l l e n g e s t h e mind w h i l e i t s o r i g i n s f r e e t h e s p i r i t . The s h e l l i s a heap o f p a r a d o x e s : f r a g i l e y e t p r o t e c t i v e , s m a l l y e t i n f i n i t e , d e s e r t e d y e t c o m p l e t e . One o f t h e most c a p t i v a t i n g of n a t u r e ' s s h a p e s , t h e s h e l l i s b e a u t i f u l , m y s t e r i o u s , e n d u r i n g and a l l u r i n g . M a r g a r e t ' s a u n t Amy weaves a p s e u d o - s h e l l a r o u n d h e r t e r r i t o r y t h a t t h e n a r r a t o r c a l l s a c o c o o n . T h i s i s an i m p o r t a n t image t o b o t h Happy V a l l e y and The L i v i n g and t h e  Dead, u s e d t o i d e n t i f y t h o s e who ran k among t h e d e a d - i n - l i f e . A l t h o u g h Amy i s t h e f i r s t o f W h i t e ' s c h a r a c t e r s t o e x h i b i t a p a s s i o n f o r t h i n g s , h e r a c q u i s i t i v e n e s s i s v i e w e d n e g a t i v e l y : "She l i v e d i n a k i n d o f m y s t i c a l a t t a c h m e n t t o h e r t h i n g s ; she l i v e d w i t h them i n t h e c o c o o n o f c u s t o m t h a t l e d h e r t o d u s t them, t o t a k e them up and p u t them down. And she wanted more; she was a l w a y s a n x i o u s t o add a t h r e a d t o t h e s o f t and n e c e s s a r y s t r u c t u r e o f t h e c o c o o n " (HV f 33) . T h i s p a r t i c u l a r p r o t e c t i v e d o m e s t i c e n v e l o p e n e i t h e r f r e e s nor e n l a r g e s : i t l i m i t s . Amy f e e l s h e r l i f e c o m p l e t e and h e r c r a v i n g f o r t h i n g s e n t i r e l y j u s t i f i e d once she f i n a l l y p o s s e s s e s t h e s i l v e r l u s t r e b o w l . But t h e c o c o o n o n l y m u f f l e s t h e s e n s e s : " I t was so e a s y t o s u b s t i t u t e t h e dead f o r t h e l i v i n g , t o 74 b u i l d a c o c o o n o f e x p e r i e n c e away f r o m t h e n o i s e s i n t h e s t r e e t " (TLATD, 1 6 ) . K i t t y S t a n d i s h , f r o m The L i v i n g and t h e  D e a d r t u r n s o u t t o be a n o t h e r s u c h k n i t t e r o f webs a b o u t h e r s e l f , r e d u c i n g l i f e t o t h e m e r e l y e x i s t i n g i n s i d e a h o u s e . In t h i s s e c o n d n o v e l K i t t y and W i l l y S t a n d i s h s t a r t o u t m a r r i e d l i f e p r o m i s i n g l y enough, b u t s e p a r a t e a f t e r two c h i l d r e n and s e v e r a l y e a r s . T h e i r o f f - s p r i n g , E l y o t and Eden, grow up i n w a r - t o r n E n g l a n d : E l y o t s t u d i e s modern l a n g u a g e s and t u r n s i n t o an a c a d e m i c c o m p o s i n g d r y a r t i c l e s on o b s c u r e a u t h o r s and Eden d r i f t s t h r o u g h s e v e r a l l o v e a f f a i r s and j o b s b e f o r e c o m m i t t i n g h e r s e l f t o J o e B a r n e t t and t h e S p a n i s h C i v i l War. As t h e n o v e l o p ens, E l y o t i s s e e i n g Eden o f f on t h e f i r s t l e g o f h e r t r i p t o S p a i n f o l l o w i n g J o e ' s d e a t h th e r e . . L u r k i n g on t h e f r i n g e s o f t h e p l o t a r e C o n n i e T i a r k s , t h e awkward, l u m p i s h s p i n s t e r who t h i n k s she i s i n l o v e w i t h E l y o t , e l e g a n t M u r i e l R a p h a e l , who knows she i s n o t b u t who s l e e p s w i t h him anyway, and J u l i a F a l l o n , who k e e ps house f o r t h e S t a n d i s h e s . T h i s n o v e l a l s o p o r t r a y s c h a r a c t e r s s u f f e r i n g a l o s s o f c o n t a c t w i t h t h e s u b s t a n c e o f t h i n g s - - w i t h l i f e , i n o t h e r words. E v e n t h o s e t o be c o u n t e d among t h e l i v i n g succumb t o t h e i n d i f f e r e n t , d i r e c t i o n l e s s , f r a g m e n t e d t i m e s . The L i v i n g  and t h e Dead a l m o s t c h o k e s on t h i s d e s p e r a t e a t m o s p h e r e ; o b j e c t s s e r v e m a i n l y s t r u c t u r a l e n d s , u n i t i n g themes and o b j e c t i f y i n g t h e s o d d e n i n n e r s t a t e o f c h a r a c t e r s . These a r e d i v i d e d i n t o two camps: t h e c o l l e c t o r s , l i k e M u r i e l R a p h a e l , 75 Connie T i a r k s , Aubrey S i l k and the Standishes versus the r a t h e r s m a l l e r group, made up of J u l i a F a l l o n and Joe B a r n e t t , which claims a r e s p e c t f o r t h i n g s . Of these, honest, simple Joe i s perhaps the most a l i v e , p r e c i s e l y because he "took a pleas u r e i n f a m i l i a r t h i n g s , the c l e a n g r a i n of wood planed i n the workshop, the s t e e l of a c h i s e l t h a t was ve r y c o o l as he l a i d i t i n c a l c u l a t i o n a g a i n s t h i s cheek" (TLATD, 193-4). Joe, l i k e h i s f i c t i o n a l h e i r Stan Parker of The Tree of Man, says l i t t l e but f e e l s much: h i s hands would tremble " f o r a something, f o r a mystery behind the w a l l , t h a t was s t i l l untouched. The days were f u l l of o b j e c t s t h a t h i n t e d at a correspondence" (TLATD, 268). Touch i s perhaps the most pri m a l and immediate form of communicating with the numinous. In The L i v i n g and the Dead, however, hands remain permanently unconnected to t h e i r owners. Detached limbs and faces f l o a t past one another i n t h i s novel a l l the time: they never connect, much l e s s communicate. Joe i s one being conversant i n the language of the senses, J u l i a another, although l e s s so. Her reverence f o r o b j e c t s stops a t the t h i n g i n i t s e l f ; she uses and r e s p e c t s them. Sometimes J u l i a and t h i n g s p h y s i c a l l y i mprint upon one another: "At n i g h t when she l e f t . . . J u l i a l i n g e r e d , p e r c e p t i b l y , i n the o b j e c t s she had touched. There was a correspondence between J u l i a and the form of the y e l l o w t a b l e , more than an echo i n the cheap alarm c l o c k . In the t i c k i n g , c r e a k i n g , groaning n i g h t - l i f e of the desert e d k i t c h e n , the o l d 76 d e p r e s s e d house s h o e s c a r r i e d on a d e p u t y g e n e r a l s h i p " (TLATD, 13) . Here t h e n a r r a t o r h i n t s a t m y s t e r i o u s n o c t u r n a l g o i n g s - o n amongst s u p p o s e d l y i n a n i m a t e ( r e a d ' l i f e l e s s ' ) o b j e c t s . " C o r r e s p o n d e n c e , " t h e key word, s u g g e s t s n o t o n l y p h y s i c a l b u t a l s o n o n - p h y s i c a l c o m m u n i c a t i o n , a s o r t o f w o r d l e s s a r t i c u l a t e n e s s a c h i e v e d between J u l i a and d o m e s t i c t h i n g s . We know she i s t o be c o u n t e d amongst t h e l i v i n g b e c a u s e she and " t h e o b j e c t s t h a t she t o u c h e d were u n i t e d by t h i s s t r a i n o f a b s o r p t i o n . The b a s i n she h e l d i n h e r r e d hands r o u n d e d i n t o shape w i t h t h o s e same h a n d s " (TLATD, 5 8 ) . Here we have an e a r l y example o f W h i t e ' s use o f k i n a e s t h e s i a t o d e s c r i b e t h e i n t i m a c y between c h a r a c t e r s and o b j e c t s . He d e v e l o p s a d m i r a b l e a g i l i t y w i t h t h i s k i n d o f i m a g e r y i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y . S t y l i s t i c a l l y s p e a k i n g W h i t e ' s n a r r a t o r i n The L i v i n g and  t h e Dead e x p l a i n s much and shows l i t t l e ; d i r e c t r e v e l a t i o n o f t h e o b j e c t w i l l have t o w a i t u n t i l The A u n t ' s S t o r y . But t h e p r e v a l e n c e o f hands and t o u c h i n The L i v i n g and t h e Dead s i g n a l s one of W h i t e ' s c a r e e r - l o n g f e t i s h e s . Whether t a l k i n g a b o u t l i t t l e d a r k h a i r s on t h e b a c k s o f men's hands or t h e q u a s i - e l e c t r i c t i n g l e o f r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t o c c u r s whenever two p e o p l e t r u l y t o u c h , White e x a l t s t h e t a c t i l e s e n s e . T h i n g s a r e as i n s e p a r a b l e f r o m t h e i r f u n c t i o n a l i t y a s hands a r e f r o m t h o s e t h i n g s t h e y u s e : e a c h imbues t h e o t h e r w i t h s i g n i f i c a n t l i f e . 77 Three s t r a i n s of imagery pervade the work: water, box-l i k e shapes and road. White uses each image ambiguously: f l u i d , cube and journey can e i t h e r c o n f i n e or f r e e one. Water d e p i c t s q u a l i t y of l i f e i n t h i s and other White no v e l s ; whereas i n The Aunt's Story water r e p r e s e n t s a d e s i r a b l e s t a t e of being, here i n The L i v i n g and the Dead water o n l y confuses and obscures t h i n g s . E l y o t i s o f t e n d e p i c t e d s e a r c h i n g out h i s own image i n the watery depths of m i r r o r s , and many London scenes appear to be t a k i n g p l a c e under the s e a . 1 Faces swim past or up out of murky reaches, impossible to focus or to ho l d . C h a r a c t e r s d r i f t p a s s i v e l y , a v o i d i n g "the submerged element, e i t h e r i n your own l i f e or i n the l i v e s of other people, wherever t h i s was p o s s i b l e " (TLATD, 189) . The n a r r a t o r goes so f a r as to a s s e r t t h a t "The world was p a r t l y s o l u b l e " (TLATD, 304), no doubt t e s t i f y i n g not onl y to c l i m a c t i c c o n d i t i o n s but a l s o to the s t a t e of c e r t a i n soggy s o u l s f l o u n d e r i n g about l i k e f i s h out of t h e i r element. With r e s p e c t to o b j e c t s , c h a r a c t e r s are portrayed as e i t h e r absorbed by them, l i k e J u l i a , or a b s o r b i n g — t h a t i s , consuming--them, l i k e Mrs. S t a n d i s h . Box f i g u r e s mainly as E l y o t ' s g i f t from Connie T i a r k s , but a l s o as metaphor f o r the i n t e r n a l and e x t e r n a l form of the Standi s h e s ' l i v e s . Near the beginning of the n o v e l , E l y o t l i k e n s h i m s e l f and others of h i s acquaintance to boxes; they have a l l , he d e c i d e s , t r i e d to impose some form on the p r e v a i l i n g s hapelessness. Alone i n a room i n what was h i s 78 mother's house, Elyot ponders his own contribution to order. He stands, he figures, a box within a box within a box. This was a receptacle. They were two receptacles, he f e l t , the one containing the material possessions of those who had lingered in i t s rooms, the other the aspirations of those he had come in contact with. Even that emotional l i f e he had not experienced himself, but sensed, seemed somehow to have grown e x p l i c i t . It was as i f this emanated from the walls to find interpretation and shelter in his mind. So that the two receptacles were c l e a r l y united now. They were l i k e two Chinese boxes, one inside the other, leading to an i n f i n i t y of other boxes, to an i n f i n i t y of purpose. (TLATD, 17-18) But Elyot's generous evaluation of himself and his place in the world occurs to him very l a t e : his mother dead, his s i s t e r off to Spain, he stands e n t i r e l y alone in the empty rooms of the hollow house. S t i l l the house preserves Mrs. Standish's imprint years after her death: i t remains her answer to obli v i o n . Even now the walls return her voice to Elyot. While for K i t t y the house represents a show-case for her c o l l e c t i o n of bric-a-brac, for Elyot i t means refuge, merely bricks and mortar separating him from the rest of wandering mankind. It was Pascal who early suggested that a box-like room could contain the world; neither Catherine nor Elyot recognizes such p o s s i b i l i t i e s e x i s t . It takes someone l i k e Joe Barnett to fl e s h out space, as he does when he v i s i t s Elyot's study to say goodbye: "So i t boiled down to t h i s , the 79 f o l d e d hands, the u l t i m a t e s i m p l i c i t y i n the s i l e n c e of a room. . . . A f t e r the groping behind the dry symbols of words, you experienced a sudden r e v e l a t i o n i n a shabby, i n s i g n i f i c a n t room" (TLATD, 308). Houses are s i l e n t l y eloquent, although i n t h i s novel c i t y d w e l l i n g s share the malaise of t h e i r occupants, b l i n k i n g unseeing eyes and needing a Joe or a J u l i a to r e s t o r e t h e i r c i r c u l a t i o n . House comes to p l a y a c e n t r a l r o l e i n l a t e r novels such as The Aunt's S t o r y and The Eye of the Storm (1973), to the p o i n t where, I w i l l argue, i t becomes a kind of s t r u c t u r a l analogue f o r The S o l i d  Mandala (1966). The a c t u a l box Connie g i v e s E l y o t r e p r e s e n t s the shape of her love f o r him. She d e s i r e s to possess him, to c o n f i n e and c o n t a i n him with a l l her d e s p e r a t e l y l o n e l y might. E l y o t , m i s t a k e n l y t h i n k i n g M u r i e l has sent him the ornament, sees i n i t the shape of t h e i r l o v e : c o l d , spare and empty. As such, the g i f t holds a kind of m a s o c h i s t i c f a s c i n a t i o n f o r him. He r e c o g n i z e s i t as symbol r a t h e r than as t h i n g - i n - i t s e l f , and as such i t comes to occupy h i s p e d a n t i c mind more and more. A room w i t h i n a room, the box g l o a t s on E l y o t ' s mantel, p e r f e c t l y of a p i e c e with the r e s t of the p l a c e . M i l k y i n c o l o u r , "only j u s t opaque" (TLATD, 243), i t t i e s i n with the f u t i l e pernods the e l d e r Standishes downed once i n P a r i s i n an e f f o r t to r e v i v e t h e i r f l o u n d e r i n g marriage. The d e c o r a t i o n , while empty of other t h i n g s , remains f u l l of s i g n i f i c a n c e . S t i l l , i t i s p r i z e d f o r i t s symbolic v a l u e . The o b j e c t has 80 y e t t o come i n t o i t s own. P o s s i b l y t h i s i s a d e l i b e r a t e s t r a t e g y on W h i t e ' s p a r t . A f t e r a l l , The L i v i n g and t h e Dead i l l u s t r a t e s a t i m e o f d i s s o l u t i o n and d i s i l l u s i o n m e n t . T h i n g s b r i m m i n g w i t h i n d i v i d u a l i t y w o u l d d i s r u p t t h e sombre mood s o c a r e f u l l y c u l t i v a t e d i n t h e n o v e l . P e r h a p s t h i s e x p l a i n s why, a s Mark W i l l i a m s e x p r e s s e s i t , "The n o v e l c a n n o t o f f e r t h e s u b s t a n t i a l i t y i t c r a v e s . " 2 E v e r y t h i n g and e v e r y one p r o v e s l i s t l e s s , v a g u e , i n d i f f e r e n t , a n d t h e l a n g u a g e u s e d t o d r a w t h i s a t m o s p h e r e i s i t s e l f a s wrung o u t as t h e t i m e s . T h i s " a g o n i z e d s e p a r a t i o n o f l i f e a n d l a n g u a g e " 3 i s most v i v i d l y f e l t f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e i n The L i v i n g and t h e Dead; l i v e d e x p e r i e n c e t u r n s o u t t o be a s m e a n i n g l e s s a nd c o r r u p t a s l a n g u a g e . A c t i o n i n t h e f o r m o f s e r v i c e i n S p a i n a p p e a r s t h e o n l y a n t i d o t e t o t h e e m p t i n e s s o f t h e t i m e s ; t h u s t h e e x o d u s o f l i v i n g s o u l s f r o m E n g l a n d t o c e r t a i n d e a t h i n f o r e i g n s o i l . Hence t h e r o a d a s m e t a p h o r . C h a r a c t e r s s u c h a s M r s . S t a n d i s h a r e " [ t r a v e l l e r s ] who had c h o s e n t o l o s e [ t h e i r ] way" (TLATD, 2 9 1 ) . To E l y o t , "Eden was t h e d a r k s t r e e t " (TLATD, 1 7 2 ) ; t o E d e n , s t r o l l i n g a n y d a r k p a t h w a y home a l o n e was l i k e f o l l o w i n g a way " i n t o t h e more g u a r d e d p l a c e s o f t h e m i n d " (TLATD, 1 8 5 ) . The r o a d b e c k o n s a s e s c a p e a nd p r o m i s e s movement and p r o g r e s s . I t s y m b o l i z e s a way o u t o f t h e e x t e r n a l , s t a g n a n t w o r l d i n t o v i t a l , i n t e r i o r s p a c e s . R o u t e s c o n n o t e d i r e c t i o n and d e l i b e r a t e n e s s : t h e y s e d u c e t h e mind o u t of i t s d e p e n d e n c e upon t h e mundane w h i l e t h e y k e e p t h e b o d y 81 m o b i l e and between d e s t i n a t i o n s . The j o u r n e y m o t i f comes t o be i n c r e a s i n g l y c e n t r a l t o l a t e r n o v e l s s u c h a s The A u n t ' s S t p y y , V P S S ( 1 9 5 7 ) , R i d e r s i n t h e C h a r i o t ( 1 9 6 1 ) and A F r i n g e  o f L e a v e s ( 1 9 7 6 ) , where c h a r a c t e r s s u c h as T h e o d o r a , V o s s , H i m m e l f a r b and E l l e n j o u r n e y home b o t h l i t e r a l l y and m e t a p h o r i c a l l y . Happy V a l l e y and The L i v i n g and t h e Dead b e a r s i g n i f i c a n t p o r t e n t s o f t h e works w h i c h f o l l o w e d . The s e c o n d n o v e l i n p a r t i c u l a r i n t r o d u c e s f a m i l i a r W h i t e a n o b s e s s i o n s s u c h as t h e i n t r a c t a b l e n a t u r e o f l a n g u a g e and t h e s t e r l i n g q u a l i t i e s o f common c h a i r s and t a b l e s . F o r t h e f i r s t t i m e c e r t a i n o b j e c t s e n j o y s p o t l i t s p l e n d o u r . N o t i c e f o r example E l y o t ' s n o v e l r e a c t i o n t o a soup t u r e e n he has a l r e a d y s e e n many t i m e s i n h i s l i f e : E l y o t f e l t t h e t o u c h o f n o s t a l g i a i n t h e g r e e n and g o l d o f t h e soup t u r e e n , a s i t d r i f t e d o u t o f t h e c o n v e r s a t i o n , i n t o a su d d e n f o c u s . T h e r e was a h o r r i d a t t r a c t i o n i n t h e l i t t l e g i l d e d p i n e a p p l e on t h e l i d , t h a t now c o v e r e d what r e m a i n e d of t h e s o u p . I g n o r i n g words, t h a t were i r r e l e v a n t , he c o u l d n o t keep h i s e y e s o f f t h e l i t t l e p i n e a p p l e . I t s t o o d o u t l i k e a b o s s on t h e f a c e o f t h e l a s t t e n y e a r s , a t a n g i b l e r e m i n d e r o f e s c a p e d t i m e . (TLATD., 1 7 3 ) S u d d e n l y i t g l a r e s a t him and he i s t r a n s f i x e d . The s i m p l e , b a n a l o b j e c t i n s p i r e s t h i s l i t e r a r y - m i n d e d man t o d i s m i s s words as ' i r r e l e v a n t ' w h i l e he b a s k s i n i t s l u m i n e s c e n c e . What t h e t u r e e n r e p r e s e n t s t o h im i s t i m e i r r e t r i e v a b l y l o s t ; n o t i c e how i t weaves i t s s p e l l o v e r him. 'Green and g o l d ' 82 s i g n a l n o s t a l g i a , but they a l s o d e s c r i b e the p u s t u l e n t , s i c k l y times. The tureen ' d r i f t e d ' out of i t s v i s c o u s haze, i n which every t h i n g and every one i n the novel seems suspended. By the time E l y o t t urns h i s h o r r i f i e d a t t e n t i o n to the adornment atop the l i d , the pineapple has t a r n i s h e d from 'gold' to ' g i l d e d . ' For a ' l i t t l e ' t h i n g , the anomalous f r u i t holds E l y o t t i g h t i n a s p e l l . His y e a r n i n g a f t e r ' n o s t a l g i a ' turns i n t o a hopeless r e a l i z a t i o n of 'escaped time.' Although a c o r r e l a t i v e f o r the l i m p i d s t a t e of E l y o t ' s s o u l , the homely tureen a l s o r e p r e s e n t s one of the f i r s t Whitean o b j e c t s to shine f o r t h i n a l l i t s t h i n g n e s s . With The Aunt's S t o r y o b j e c t s stand exposed i n s u r p r i s i n g and unexpected a t t i t u d e s . Here White welcomes the reader to "the r i g h t n e s s of o b j e c t s " (TAS, 268), to "the great s u p e r i o r i t y of s t a t i o n a r y o b j e c t s " (TAS, 283), to o b s t i n a t e umbrellas, escaping d o i l i e s and imperious c a c t i . Most c r i t i c s see symbol i n every o b j e c t which makes an appearance; c e r t a i n l y White's complex s t y l e can be s a i d to lend i t s e l f to such p e d a n t i c treatment. But c o n s i d e r i t f o r a moment a book i n which a t h i n g i s simply t h a t t h i n g . Suspend more than your usual a l l o t m e n t of d i s b e l i e f and accept The Aunt's S t o r y as an account of a woman e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y s e n s i t i v e to l i f e on every l e v e l . The novel begins with one of l i t e r a t u r e ' s great opening l i n e s : "But o l d Mrs. Goodman d i d d i e at l a s t " (TAS, 3). Thus her s p i n s t e r daughter Theodora f i n d s h e r s e l f f r e e d from years 83 of s l a v e r y t o h e r m o t h e r ' s s e l f i s h whims. T a k i n g l e a v e o f h e r o n l y f a m i l y i n A u s t r a l i a — a m o n g whose members i s h e r n i e c e and s o u l - m a t e L o u — T h e o d o r a Goodman t r a v e l s , f i r s t t o p r e - W o r l d War I I E u r o p e , a l i g h t i n g f o r a w h i l e i n a h o t e l i n t h e s o u t h of F r a n c e , t h e n t o A m e r i c a , where she r e a c h e s j o u r n e y ' s end. The A u n t ' s S t o r y i s made up o f t h r e e s e c t i o n s : "Meroe" d e t a i l s T h e o d o r a ' s f o r m a t i v e y e a r s on t h e f a m i l y e s t a t e ( a l s o c a l l e d M e r o e ) , " J a r d i n E x o t i q u e " i s t h e a c c o u n t o f h e r s u r r e a l s t a y a t t h e H o t e l du M i d i , and f i n a l l y , " H o l s t i u s " d e s c r i b e s her t r i p by t r a i n and on f o o t t o a humble home i n t h e new w o r l d . A l o n g t h e way T h e o d o r a e n c o u n t e r s a h o s t o f c h a r a c t e r s who e i t h e r h i n d e r ( F r a n k and F a n n y P a r r o t t , H u n t l y C l a r k s o n , o l d Mrs. Goodman) or e n c o u r a g e ( h e r f a t h e r , The Man Who Was G i v e n H i s D i n n e r , M o r a l t i s ) h e r p r o g r e s s . T h e o d o r a Goodman has a c a p a c i t y t o tune i n t o o b j e c t s i n t h e i r s e p a r a t e e x i s t e n c e s ; she n e v e r d o u b t s t h e i r p o t e n t i a l f o r p l a y or h u r t . The A u n t ' s S t o r y c h r o n i c l e s T h e o d o r a ' s j o u r n e y o f d i s c o v e r y f r o m y o u t h t o m i d d l e age i n t e r m s o f h e r e n c o u n t e r s w i t h o b j e c t s . They p r o v i d e c l u e s t o h e r f i r s t d e v e l o p i n g , a s p i r i n g s t a t e o f mind, t h e n t o i t s d i s i n t e g r a t i o n and e v e n t u a l r e s i g n a t i o n . I f , a l o n g t h e way ( e s p e c i a l l y i n t h e " J a r d i n E x o t i q u e " s e c t i o n ) t h i n g s seem t o o f a n t a s t i c a l l y a n i m a t e d , i t i s n o t s o l e l y b e c a u s e t h e y a r e dreamed-up but b e c a u s e as T h e o d o r a ' s s a n i t y c r u m b l e s she becomes e v e r more h y p e r p a t h i c . In o t h e r words, t o use t h e l i v i n g / d e a d d i c h o t o m y White e s t a b l i s h e d i n h i s p r e v i o u s n o v e l , as Theo t u r n s 84 I n c r e a s i n g l y from what the world c o n s i d e r s l i f e to what i t c o n s i d e r s death--that i s , madness--she i n f a c t a t t a i n s a degree of a l i v e n e s s i t simply cannot comprehend. Objects serve as markers along the way; perhaps they not o n l y encourage but a c t u a l l y push her to her achievement. The Aunt's S t o r y r e v e a l s P a t r i c k White's sense of s t y l e and s t r u c t u r e and h i s changing use of symbol. I f the novel can be seen as h e a v i l y symbolic, i t can more p r o f i t a b l y be c o n s i d e r e d White's most concentrated and courageous e f f o r t towards r e e s t a b l i s h i n g communication with w o r l d l y t h i n g s . I t i s t r ue as Peter Wolfe w r i t e s , t h a t "White organizes space, r a t h e r than l e a v i n g i t empty or merely using i t as a s t a t i c r e c e p t a c l e f o r dramatic a c t i o n . Objects impart rhythm and t e x t u r e . " 4 Whitean space i s i n h a b i t e d space. But once presented, o b j e c t s never s t a y the same; they are s u b j e c t to the same f l u x with which White's c h a r a c t e r s contend. Hence, they flow and metamorphose, not o n l y between works, but w i t h i n s i n g l e books. The rose of Theodora's c h i l d h o o d , the one which p l a y s home to a grub, i s not the same flower which l a t e r adorns her hat, nor are t h e i r v a l u e s — s y m b o l i c or otherwise--the same. I t i s n ' t the same blossom as t h a t which enhances Amy Parker's l i f e i n The Tree of Man, e i t h e r . I t i s d i f f i c u l t not to see the u n i v e r s a l i n an o b j e c t l i k e a rose; Love, Beauty and P e r f e c t i o n pop up a u t o m a t i c a l l y l i k e l i t t l e f l a g s whenever s a i d bloom i s invoked. White, however, circumvents such ready jumping to c l i c h e d c o n c l u s i o n s by 85 c o n j u r i n g up s i n g u l a r o b j e c t s worthy of s c r u t i n y . In g e n e r a l , The A u n t ' s S t o r y t a l k s about t h i n g s as t h i n g s perhaps more s e l f - c o n s c i o u s l y than any of the l a t e r n o v e l s . E a r l y on, Theodora and M o r a i t i s a g r e e : "It i s not n e c e s s a r y to see t h i n g s . . . . I f you know" (TAS_, 106 and 107) . While they appear to eschew the s e n s u a l i n favour of the i n t u i t i v e or i n s t i n c t u a l f a c u l t i e s , both are d e e p l y committed s e n s u a l i s t s who, whether i n n a t e l y or e x p e r i e n t i a l l y , 'know' how to apprehend o b j e c t s e x t r a - s e n s u a l l y . On one hand o b j e c t s are spoken of as embodying "a l o g i c a l s i m p l i c i t y " (TAS_, 124); on the o t h e r , " 'The a n t i c s of o b j e c t s are i n d e s c r i b a b l e , ' " (TAS, 199) . Even wor ld-weary A l y o s h a S e r g e i r e p e a t s : " ' E v e r y t h i n g i s e x t r a o r d i n a r y ' " (TAS, 205) . "Simple and e x t r a o r d i n a r y " (TAS, 205) , adds Theodora , to h e r s e l f , ever c o g n i z a n t t h a t o b j e c t s c o n t a i n those p o l a r i t i e s and d i s c r e p a n c i e s i m p l i c i t i n l i f e . C r i t i c s of The A u n t ' s S t o r y n o t i c e d W h i t e ' s new-found i n f a t u a t i o n w i t h t h i n g s . W i l l i a m Walsh p r a i s e d the "almost H o p k i n s - l i k e power i n the way White o u t l i n e s the shapes and u r g e n t l y communicates the i n t r i n s i c energy of t h i n g s . The n o v e l i s t g i v e s the i m p r e s s i o n of h a v i n g . . . an a lmost m o l e c u l a r sense of what i s g o i n g on w i t h i n o b j e c t s . " 3 In e s t a b l i s h i n g such a d i r e c t , i n t i m a t e r e l a t i o n between h i s h e r o i n e and the o b j e c t s w i t h which she comes i n t o c o n t a c t , White a s s u r e s them a s t a t u r e e q u i v a l e n t to T h e o d o r a ' s . She s i m p l y c o u l d not evo lve as she does wi thout the c o m p l i c i t y of 86 t h e b e w i t c h i n g hawk, the i l l - f a t e d n a u t i l u s or t h e t r u m p e t i n g c o r n . B r i a n K i e r n a n s u g g e s t s t h a t " T h e o d o r a f i n d s R e a l i t y w i t h i n t h e w o r l d by s h e d d i n g h e r s o c i a l r o l e s and i d e n t i f y i n g s e l f l e s s l y w i t h t h e e t e r n a l f orms t h a t r e a s s e r t t h e m s e l v e s i n t h e f l u c t u a t i o n s o f t h e n a t u r a l w o r l d , and by r e c o g n i z i n g t h e h o n e s t y , t h e i n t e g r i t y o f s u c h s i m p l e o b j e c t s as t a b l e s and c h a i r s . " s In o t h e r words, as T h e o d o r a s t r i v e s t o become l e s s of a s o c i a l o b j e c t h e r s e l f she s u c c e e d s i n c o n f r o n t i n g r e a l forms w i t h h e r own, raw, r e d u c e d s e l f . I f what she v o c a l i z e s i s t h e d e s i r e t o p a r e down t o t h e l a s t o f her s e v e r a l s e l v e s , what she a c h i e v e s i s a s e l f n e i t h e r c o m p l e t e l y s u b j e c t nor e n t i r e l y o b j e c t . On t h e s e t e r m s she a p p r o a c h e s s i m i l a r l y s e l f - f r e e t h i n g s as " s o l i d s p l i n t e r s i n a m e l t i n g u n i v e r s e . They a r e o b j e c t s w h i c h do n o t c a r r y w i t h them an y s t r o n g s u g g e s t i o n o f an o b j e c t i v e w o r l d . " ' 7 What we end up w i t h i s a s c e n a r i o where an y b i z a r r e t h i n g c a n and does happen. I n t h e m i d d l e s e c t i o n o f The A u n t ' s S t o r y Theo and o b j e c t s bump i n t o e a c h o t h e r c o n s t a n t l y ; t h e y h e e d l e s s l y o v e r s t e p t h e bounds w h i c h o b j e c t i v e h u m a n i t y ' s n o t i o n s o f t i m e and s p a c e have c o n f e r r e d upon them. These a r e " l i v i n g , c o u n t e r s u p p o r t i n g t h i n g s , " 8 w h i c h T h e o d o r a c o n s u l t s r e g u l a r l y , and w h i c h she i n t e r p r e t s f o r o t h e r r e s i d e n t s o f t h e H o t e l . C r i t i c s s u c h as Mark W i l l i a m s see a d e f i n i t e , r e g r e s s i v e p a t t e r n e v o l v e o v e r t h e c o u r s e of t h e n o v e l w i t h r e s p e c t t o t h e r e l a t i o n between T h e o d o r a and t h i n g s . "Meroe," he f e e l s , d e p i c t s "a s h a r p l y p r e s e n t w o r l d o f t h i n g s , d e t a i l e d and 87 d i v e r s e , t hat i s independent of Theodora's p e r c e p t i o n . " 9 What she encounters d u r i n g t h i s f i r s t s e c t i o n are symbols, Williams a s s e r t s , u s e f u l to us because they r e v e a l our heroine's " i n f i n i t e s u b t l e t y and r e s p o n s i v e n e s s , " 1 0 and because they c a l l f o r t h her admirable power of i l l u s i o n . The c e n t r e s e c t i o n of The Aunt's S t o r y r e v e a l s an imagination run amok, a c c o r d i n g to W i l l i a m s : "The o b j e c t s i n the i a r d i n  exotique are symbolic i n the a b s t r a c t and c h i l l i n g sense: they no longer p a r t i c i p a t e i n a f r u i t f u l union between the mind and the world of t h i n g s . They are not p a r t of a world which Theodora's mind can touch and be touched b y . " 1 1 He p r o t e s t s t h a t the garden of the H o t e l du Midi i s no garden but an a b s t r a c t i o n of one: t h i n g s no longer have substance, o n l y s t a t u s as " e q u i v a l e n t s f o r s t a t e s of s o u l . " 1 2 By the time Theodora a r r i v e s i n America, Williams c o n t i n u e s , her world of t h i n g s has become "wholly mental. The music of the corn i s oceanic i n the sense of being an u n d i f f e r e n t i a t e d whole whose p a r t s do not possess i n t e g r i t y . " 1 3 Her journey, then, r e p r e s e n t s a d e c l i n e , a c c o r d i n g to W i l l i a m s ; d e s p i t e the many v i b r a n t encounters between Theodora and t h i n g s i n each of the three s e c t i o n s , he sees her saga as something of a f a i l u r e because of the u n r e m i t t i n g and i n c r e a s i n g divergence of o b j e c t and language. But there i s much more cause f o r confidence and optimism i n the connections between Theodora and words and t h i n g s ; i f they become estranged at one p o i n t i n her p s y c h i c journey they a l s o e v e n t u a l l y r e c o n c i l e . 88 The Aunt's S t o r y i s the f i r s t of White's novels to f e a t u r e t r e e s as o b j e c t s c r u c i a l to the shaping of both n a r r a t i v e and c h a r a c t e r . Trees f i g u r e mainly i n the "Meroe" s e c t i o n of the n o v e l ; not o n l y does Theodora f e e l s p e c i a l correspondence with them, but t r e e s a l s o inform the s t r u c t u r e of t h i s f i r s t p a r t of the book. N a r r a t i v e here i s mostly l i n e a r , t r a c i n g Theodora's l i f e from g i r l h o o d to emancipation f o l l o w i n g the death of her mother. Trees inform many of young Theodora's memorable moments. From the f i r s t Meroe i s r e c a l l e d as framed by t r e e s : The house looked over the f l a t from a s l i g h t r i s e , from a g a i n s t a background of s k e l e t o n t r e e s . But there was no melancholy about the dead t r e e s of Meroe. They were too f a r removed, they were the a b s t r a c t i o n s of t r e e s , with t h e i r r o o t s i n E t h i o p i a . On the n o r t h s i d e of the house there were a l s o l i v e t r e e s . There was a s o l i d m a j o r i t y of soughing p i n e s , which poured i n t o the rooms the remnants of a dark green l i g h t , and sometimes i n winter white s p l i n t e r s , and always a s t i r r i n g and murmuring and brooding and vague d i s c o n t e n t . (IAS_, 13-14) The house i s a s c r i b e d an a c t i v e verb; a g a i n s t a backdrop of t r e e corpses the e d i f i c e watches over i t s acreage. The m y t h i c a l , E t h i o p i a n timber i s never i d e n t i f i e d except i n the a b s t r a c t . S t i l l , these t r e e s c o n t r i b u t e to the m y t h i c a l aspect of the house: both c l a i m p r i m i t i v e o r i g i n s i n an e x o t i c l a n d . The l i v e t r e e s face away from the sun and spend t h e i r time i n melancholy, shedding l i q u i d l i g h t and b i t s of 89 themselves upon the house they shelter. Meroe' appears a kind of tree-house, as dark and moistly green as i t s sentinels. The trees enact the Goodmans' unrest and d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n , providing an eerie echo for house and inhabitants, but they remain forces for good in the f i r s t part of the book. That i s why Theodora likens her father to a tree. She sees him asleep, "only his breath l i f t i n g his beard, as steady as a tree. Really Father was not unlike a tree, thick and greyish-black" (TAS, 16). This equation of man with wood is metaphorical: Mr. Goodman is l i k e a tree, p h y s i c a l l y (complete with beard for foliage, stout of stature and dark of complexion) as well as s p i r i t u a l l y . For Theodora's father is quiet, s t a t e l y and introspective, "thick and mysterious as a tree, but also hollow" (TAS, 19)--physical and not at the same time. This l i n k i n g of him with trees occurs many times over in "Meroe" but comes f u l l c i r c l e in "Holstius" when man becomes tree. As many c r i t i c s have pointed out, holz means 'wood' in the o r i g i n a l German. Hence i t comes as no surprise that Theodora awaits th i s inverted reincarnation of a father-figure, looking "through the trees for the tree walking, which in time would become Holstius" (TAS, 281). Said arboreal being also r e c a l l s a time when Theodora was so c l e a r l y i d e n t i f i e d with wood as to emulate her father. According to Theodora's t e l l i n g of i t , trees play active roles in some of the more s i g n i f i c a n t r i t e s of passage she experiences. While s t i l l a c h i l d , Theo revels in her kinship 90 w i t h t h i n g s o f n a t u r e : She t o o k o f f h e r c l o t h e s . She would l i e i n t h e w a t e r . And so o n h e r t h i n brown body was t h e s h a l l o w , browner w a t e r . She would n o t t h i n k . She would d r i f t . As s t i l l a s a s t i c k . And as t h i n . (TAS, 31) Here s t y l e t o o i s as t h i n and p a r e d down as a s t i c k . White u s e s k i n a e s t h e s i a t o show T h e o d o r a g i v i n g h e r s e l f c o m p l e t e l y o v e r t o p h y s i c a l l y b e coming t h e w a t e r , b e i n g t h e t w i g . Thus, when on h e r t w e l f t h b i r t h d a y she w i t n e s s e s t h e b i g oak r i v e n by l i g h t n i n g , Theo f e e l s t h e s t r i k e deep i n t o h e r own g u t s . 1 4 T h e o d o r a ' s oak s e r v e s as l i g h t n i n g r o d and, b e c a u s e she i d e n t i f i e s s o w i t h t h e t r e e , T h e o d o r a a l s o s p l i t s i n t o two f r o m e x p o s u r e t o t h e b o l t o f l i g h t and f i r e . H e n c e f o r t h t h e young a d u l t T h e o d o r a e x p e r i e n c e s l i f e n o t as a u n i f i e d whole b u t as p o l a r , and, u l t i m a t e l y , as f r a g m e n t e d . T h i n g s a r e d i s i n t e g r a t i n g . The " J a r d i n E x o t i q u e " s e c t i o n b r i m s w i t h c h a o s . T h e o d o r a assumes a d i f f e r e n t i d e n t i t y w i t h e a c h o f t h e H o t e l ' s d e n i z e n s . F o r G e n e r a l S o k o l n i k o v she p l a y s h i s s i s t e r L u d m i l l a , r e l i v i n g w i t h him some o f h i s e s c a p a d e s . O b j e c t s t o o s t e p o u t s i d e t h e bounds o f t h e i r n o r m a l r o l e s . The n i g h t T h e o d o r a / L u d m i l l a f i n d s h e r s e l f a l o n e i n t h e woods a t n i g h t a w a i t i n g S o k o l n i k o v and c o m p a t r i o t s , t r e e s c e a s e t o be f r i e n d s , a l t h o u g h t h e y r e m a i n no l e s s a l i v e . Her f e e t were r o o t e d now i n mute n e e d l e s . She s t o o d c l o s e a g a i n s t t h e t r e e , w h i c h 91 s m e l l e d s t r o n g l y of r e s i n , the t r e e which was rough and so c l o s e t h a t i t had ceased t o be a c o m f o r t or p r o t e c t i o n , as she c o u l d f e e l i t s h e a r t b e a t i n g p a i n f u l l y , e r r a t i c a l l y i n i t s s i d e . R e l e a s e d by the l u s t y , p a l p i t a t i n g g o l d and r e d of f i r e l i g h t , t r e e s l e a p t skyward i n sudden p u f f s of branch and c r e s t . A c r o s s the c l e a r i n g t r e e s had begun t o move. I t was t h e s e t h a t f r i g h t e n e d . (TAS, 206) Trees seem e x c e e d i n g l y v i v i d i n t h i s fantasy/memory p l a y . Not o n l y are t h e y f l e s h y , t h e y a r e t h r e a t e n i n g . Whereas once, i n s y n c h r o n y , Theodora "rose and f e l l on the b r e a t h i n g of the t r e e " (TAS, 3 9 ) , here she i s no l e s s t h a n " r o o t e d , " p r e s s e d c l o s e t o a t e r r i f i e d and t e r r i f y i n g t r e e . E v e n t u a l l y , t r e e s r e t u r n t o t h e i r s t a t u s as f r i e n d s t o Theodora. I n punning good form White w r i t e s of a p a r t i c u l a r American t r e e : " F i n a l l y bark began t o b i t e . She l i f t e d her cheek from where i t had been g r a i n e d by the f r i e n d l y t r e e " (TAS, 263). Throughout the work, even i n the s o - c a l l e d e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c m i d - s e c t i o n , t r e e s m a n i f e s t t e x t u r e and p r e s e n c e . The r e a d e r s e e s , s m e l l s and f e e l s them t h r o u g h the i n t e r v e n i n g s e n s i b i l i t y of Theodora Goodman, but t h e y never descend t o l e s s than r e a l , f i c t i o n a l t r e e s . So t o o do the houses i n The Aunt's S t o r y e x h i b i t p a r t i c u l a r l y v i t a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . From Meroe, where house and p l a c e are i n s e p a r a b l e , t o the H o t e l du M i d i , where garden and e d i f i c e are one, t o the b a r e , abandoned shack i n America t h a t Theodora adopts as her f i n a l home, d o m e s t i c e d i f i c e s do more th a n s h e l t e r t h e i r i n h a b i t a n t s . From the f i r s t page of 92 t h e n o v e l White b e t r a y s h i s o b s e s s i o n w i t h t h e e n c l o s i n g f u n c t i o n o f h o u s e s . The d e a t h of o l d Mrs. Goodman had a l t e r e d t h e s i l e n c e o f t h e h o u s e . I t had a l t e r e d t h e room. T h i s was no l o n g e r t h e bedroom of h e r mother. I t was a w a i t i n g room, w h i c h h o u s e d t h e s h i n y box t h a t c o n t a i n e d a waxwork. (TAS, 3) Boxed w i t h i n a box w i t h i n a box, Mrs. Goodman's c o r p s e r e c a l l s a s i m i l a r l y s t i f l i n g s c e n e f r o m The L i v i n g and t h e Dead. However, t h i s house i s n o t Meroe b u t a t h i n r e d - b r i c k one i n a Sydney s u b u r b . The s h o r t , u n a d o r n e d s e n t e n c e s i m p a r t i n f o r m a t i o n o n l y , d e f t l y s i g n a l l i n g t h e d r y " b r e a t h l e s s " (TAS., 3) a t m o s p h e r e o f Sydney l i f e . The house i s as dead as i t s owner, and a l w a y s has bee n . But M e r o e — a h , t h a t was a n o t h e r s t o r y . T h e o d o r a ' s r e t e l l i n g o f t h e t a l e o f Meroe t o Lou i n s p i r e s p o e t i c d i c t i o n and v i v i d s t y l e : " t o t e l l t h e s t o r y o f Meroe' was t o l i s t e n a l s o t o h e r own b l o o d . . . " (TAS, 1 1 ) . A g a i n t h e r e i s a d i r e c t t r a n s f e r : T h e o d o r a i s Meroe, j u s t as Meroe i s t h e v o l c a n o i n t h e l a n d s c a p e or i t s m y t h i c a l o r i g i n a l i n f a r - d i s t a n t E t h i o p i a . " I t was f l a t as a b i s c u i t or a c h i l d ' s c o n s t r u c t i o n o f b l o c k s , and i t had a k i n d o f f l a t b i s c u i t c o l o u r t h a t s t a r e d s u r p r i s e d o u t o f t h e l a n d s c a p e down a t t h e r o a d . I t was an h o n e s t house . . . " (TAS, 1 3 ) . C o n c e i v e d and e x e c u t e d i n c h i l d - l i k e f a s h i o n , t h e house p e e r s down on a l l a b o u t i t . C h a m e l e o n - l i k e , f o r p r o t e c t i o n , i t has been b u i l t t o b l e n d i n w i t h t h e y e l l o w and a s h t o n e s o f t h e 93 landscape. To others the shabby property s p e l l s "Rack an' Ruin Hollow" (TASf 18), but to Theodora i t provides palpable warmth and security, and ample imaginative stimulation. The shut rooms sound l i k e music boxes that have stopped playing. You hold your ear against the sides, which contain a creaking, of music waiting to burst out as soon as somebody touches the spring. It was l i k e t h i s too with the closed rooms, waiting for someone to walk in and coax l i f e from the furniture. (TAS, 20) Meroe is l i k e t h i s , but not for everyone. Fanny, in emulation of her a c q u i s i t i v e mother, l i v e s a l i f e "of f u l l cupboards. She kept them locked. She made inventories of her possessions" (TAS, 9). While Fanny plays house, Theodora l i v e s i t . Wallpaper breathes, the kitchen nuzzles, furniture presses one back. True to a l l Whitean objects, though, danger l i e s in permitting them to possess one too completely. The Man Who Was Given His Dinner states baldly that his nomadic st y l e is "a [sic] good a way of passing your l i f e . So long as i t passes. Put i t in a house and i t stops, i t stands s t i l l " (TAS., 38). George Goodman's l i f e exemplifies t h i s f a i l u r e : Theodora has consistently pictured her father in his c o f f i n -l i k e , "plain as a white box" (TAS, 15) room on the side of the house where the pines r u s t l e . She learns t h i s from the gold-digger, "that any place i s habitable, depending, of course, on the unimportance of one's l i f e " (TAS, 84). The less one l i v e s externally, the more one inhabits the s e l f — t h a t natural house 94 we a l l hump, s n a i l - l i k e , about . The H o t e l du M i d i , no l e s s r e a l to Theodora than Meroe, o f f e r s more d i s t u r b i n g c o m f o r t s . A g g r e s s i v e l y a l i v e , b u i l d i n g and garden c o l l i d e r e g u l a r l y w i t h the g u e s t s . "Walls yawned" (TAS., 141) , the c o r n e r s of M r s . R a p a l l o ' s room "confessed p h y s i c a l s e c r e t s " (TAS, 187) and Theodora comes to a c c e p t "the t a c t i l e v o i c e s of the v o l u b l e w a l l " (TAS, 197) . Th ings a c t i n an i n c r e a s i n g l y h o s t i l e manner, e cho ing of course the growing antagonism i n p r e - W o r l d War II E u r o p e . Only the n a u t i l u s , whi l e s t i l l a l i v e , s h i n e s f o r t h i n p u r i t y and s i m p l i c i t y . S h a t t e r e d by those who l u s t a f t e r i t , i t s f a t e foreshadows t h a t a p p r o a c h i n g the c o n t i n e n t . S i m i l a r l y , the H o t e l exp lodes as a r e s u l t of the consuming emotions of i t s d e n i z e n s . Mademoise l l e Ber the a s t u t e l y p o i n t s out e a r l y on t h a t "wal l s are no longer w a l l s . W a l l s are a t most c u r t a i n s . The l e a s t wind and they w i l l blow and blow" (TAS, 194) . The " J a r d i n E x o t i q u e " s e c t i o n of the n o v e l r e p e a t e d l y q u e s t i o n s the s u b s t a n t i a l i t y of o b j e c t s a n d , i n d e e d , of the H o t e l . Because a r e p o s i t o r y f o r anguished s o u l s of i n t e r n a t i o n a l o r i g i n , the h o s p i c e r e f l e c t s t h e i r v o l a t i l i t y to an extreme degree , s e l f -immolat ing when t e n s i o n s i n s i d e f l a r e to the p o i n t of c o m b u s t i o n . Once a r r i v e d i n the l and of v a s t s p a c e s , Theodora f i n d s "She d i d not f i t the houses" (TAS, 262) . They are s t r a i g h t , s t a r k , u t i l i t a r i a n i n v e n t i o n s which do not match Theo ' s y e a r n i n g s p i r i t . F i n a l l y , she s tumbles a c r o s s a house her 95 s i z e . I t was a t h i n h ouse, w i t h e l o n g a t e d windows, l i k e a l a n t e r n . The l o w e r p a r t was b l a c k s l a b s o f l o g s w i t h p a l e r c l a y or adobe s l a p p e d i n t o t h e i n t e r s t i c e s , b u t h i g h e r up t h e house became f r a i l e r f r a m e, w i t h t h e e l o n g a t e d windows, t h r o u g h w h i c h n o t h i n g showed o f c o u r s e , on a c c o u n t o f t h e h e i g h t . But t h e windows had a l s o t h e b l a n k l o o k o f windows o f d e s e r t e d h o u s e s . B e c a u s e t h e r e i s n o t h i n g i n s i d e , t h e y do n o t r e f l e c t . ( T M , 276) R a t h e r , she f i n d s an abode s u f f i c i e n t l y b a r e , t h o u g h n o t empty, t h a t she c a n f i l l . The o t h e r h o u s e s , c a p t u r e d i n f l e e t i n g i n s t a n t s w h i l e T h e o d o r a r i d e s t h e t r a i n w est, a r e f i l l e d w i t h o t h e r p e o p l e ' s i n t e n t i o n s . T h i s , H o l s t i u s ' s h o u s e , ( H o l s t i u s b e i n g t h e man/tree w i t h whom T h e o d o r a communes, and who r e s t o r e s h e r t o h e r s u n d e r e d s e n s e s ) , p r o v i d e s ample s p a c e f o r b r e a t h i n g and i m a g i n i n g . W i t h T h e o d o r a i n s t a l l e d i n s i d e , t h e house a t t r a c t s H o l s t i u s b e a c o n - l i k e . I n s c r u t a b l e t o t h e o u t s i d e w o r l d , i t i s t h e l i v e d l i f e i n s i d e w h i c h l i t e r a l l y and f i g u r a t i v e l y r e s t o r e s t h e v a c a n t woman t o h e r s e l f . T h i s c a b i n , l i k e Meroe, does n o t r e s i s t i t s e n v i r o n m e n t . S m e l l i n g of " d u s t and a n i m a l s " (TAS, 2 7 7 ) , p r o t e c t i n g t h e few, d i s c a r d e d , b r o k e n t h i n g s i n s i d e , T h e o d o r a ' s house i s n o t s u s c e p t i b l e t o c o n f l a g r a t i o n . E m p t i e d by h e r e x p e r i e n c e i n t h e o v e r s t u f f e d M i d i ( t h e m i d d l e o f t h e book, h a l f - w a y t h r o u g h h e r j o u r n e y , t h e c e n t r e o f F r a n c e ) , T h e o d o r a r e f u r b i s h e s h e r s e l f i n a humble shack p a s t t h e end of t h e l i n e . B o d y - w i s e , hands p r e d o m i n a t e . White r e l i e s upon t o u c h i n g 96 and gesturing to take over from words, which are hardly as ef f e c t i v e as means of communication. He also probes beneath the skin in order to i d e n t i f y the good guys: s e n s i t i v e , questing individuals l i k e Theodora and Mora'itis are described as bony while the more possessive types l i k e Frank Parrott and wife are substantial, even beefy of build. We picture Theodora as s k e l e t a l , angular and b r i t t l e , a physique reminiscent of her beloved trees at Meroe or her l a s t , simple home in America. Her lean stature enables her to pierce right through others' padded selves. Early on one of Theodora's teachers prophesies to her: "You w i l l see c l e a r l y , beyond the bone" (TAS, 57). But she also l i v e s thoroughly in the bone: "She was as sure as the bones of a hawk in f l i g h t " (TAS, 66). What happens when she makes physical contact with another is a melting away of fle s h and a clashing of bone. With Frank, whom she suspects she could love: "If she had touched him, touched his hand, the bones of her fingers would have wrestled with the bones in the palm of his hand" (TAS, 77). But they never manage to touch in any sense of the word. With Mora'itis, however, whose "bald head shone l i k e a bone" (TAS, 109), actual contact is unnecessary. They have only to exist in one another's presence a short while for Mora'itis to announce: "I s h a l l remember we are compatriots in the country of the bones" (TAS, 107). His music reduces Theodora to her essential frame, so that, l i s t e n i n g to his performance, "The bones of her hands [were] folded l i k e discreet fans on her 97 dress" (TASf 110). Bones are elemental, the body in i t s most reduced state: l i k e the s t i c k s which make up a tree or the wrought iron of the f i l i g r e e b a l l which shines with an inner f i r e , or the f r a g i l e nautilus of Part Two, the s k e l e t a l system is a basic s t r u c t u r e . 1 0 Humble and p r a c t i c a l , u t t e r l y personal, bone speaks to bone. Much disintegrates in the "Jardin Exotique" section of the novel, including bones. Like walls, they can be dissolved at w i l l . And so they are: "Touching the cheek, Katina melted bones" (TAS, 141). S t i l l innocent, Katina's frame i s rather l i k e a newborn's, very f l e x i b l e and s o f t . Following her rendezvous at the Tower with Wetherby, however, Theodora notices of her surrogate-Lou that "the bones had come" (TAS, 242). The value of bones i s here inverted: Wetherby turns out to be " a l l bones" (TAS, 164), while Theodora learns that "she did not r e a l l y control her bones, and that the curtain of her fl e s h must blow, l i k e walls which are no longer walls" (TAS, 197). 1 6 Bones, l i k e a l l else, have a dual nature: they support but they also cage. That which was s o l i d and dependable for Theodora disintegrates just l i k e the nautilus in the topsy-turvy world of the Jardin Exotique. It takes stalwart, oak-like Holstius to restore Theodora's bones to her through touch. Hands further reveal the person. Touching another with one's hand, whether in anger or in love, acknowledges the other and communicates intention. Fleshy hands betray a 98 t e n d e n c y t o g r a s p . T h e o d o r a knows " I t i s n o t p o s s i b l e t o p o s s e s s t h i n g s w i t h o ne's h a n d s " (TAS, 1 2 0 ) , b u t f o l l o w i n g h e r m o t h e r ' s d e a t h h e r s i s t e r and b r o t h e r - i n - l a w a r r i v e , paws p o i s e d f o r t h e t a k e . P r e d i c t a b l y , T h e o d o r a p o s s e s s e s s p e c i a l h a n d s : " h e r h a n d s t o u c h e d , h e r h a n ds became t h e s h a p e o f r o s e , s h e knew i t i n i t s u t m o s t i n t i m a c y . Or she p l a y e d t h e n o c t u r n e , a s i t was n e v e r meant, e x p r e s s i n g some a n g u l a r a g o n y t h a t s h e knew. She knew t h e e x t i n c t h i l l s and t h e l i f e t h e y had once l i v e d " (TAS, 2 4 ) . L i k e J u l i a i n The L i v i n g and t h e  Dead whose hands r o u n d t o t h e s h a p e o f t h e b o w l t h e y c l a s p , T h e o d o r a l e a r n s t h i n g s , much a s a p h y s i c a l l y b l i n d p e r s o n w o u l d , by m a n i p u l a t i n g them. Her h a n ds a r e t h e r o s e , h e r m u s i c i s h e r b o n y , awkward s e l f . T h e o d o r a i s c o n v i n c e d t h a t " o n l y t h e h a n ds t e l l " (TAS, 7 7 ) ; h e r m o t h e r ' s b e j e w e l l e d h a n ds f l a s h h a t r e d , w h i l e M o r a ' i t i s ' s " s m a l l m u s c u l a r . . . t h i n k i n g h a n d s " (TAS, 1 0 6 ) , t r u e t o t h e i r G r e e k o r i g i n s , d r i p h u m i l i t y . When he p l a y s h i s m u s i c r e a c h e s o u t , "more t a c t i l e t h a n t h e h o t w ords o f l o v e r s s p o k e n on a w i l d n a s t u r t i u m b e d " (TAS, 1 1 1 ) . C l e a r l y M o r a ' i t i s ' s c o n c e r t i s a k i n d o f embrace b e t w e e n h i m and h i s i n s t r u m e n t . B u t h a n ds r e f u s e t o a c t p r e d i c t a b l y i n t h e H o t e l du M i d i . J u s t a s w a l l s and b ones d i s s o l v e and v e g e t a t i o n t u r n s h o s t i l e , s o t o o do t h e l i m b s f a i l t o c a r r y o u t t h e i r u s u a l f u n c t i o n . T h e o d o r a f e e l s h e r s e l f d i v o r c e d f r o m h e r h a n d s , "as i f t h e y were r e l a t e d t o t h e o b j e c t s b e n e a t h them o n l y i n t h e way t h a t two f l i e s , b l o w i n g and b l u n d e r i n g i n s p a c e , a r e r e l a t e d t o a 99 china and mahogany world" (TAS., 3). This random, fragmented qu a l i t y of communication occurs f i r s t just a f t e r Mrs. Goodman's death, and then prevails during Theodora's stay in the Hotel. A tentative, waiting atmosphere p r e v a i l s : one hardly owns oneself, much less anything else. Theodora unfolded her hands, which had never known exactly what to do, and least of a l l now. Her hands, she often f e l t , belonged by accident, though what, of course, does not. She looked at them, noticing their strangeness, and t h e i r wandering, ingrained, grimy, gipsy fate, which was the strangest accident of a l l . (TAS. 144) Here, in f a i r l y prosaic fashion, we see Theodora r e f l e c t i n g upon her lack of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with her own body parts. Estranged, only a c c i d e n t a l l y attached to the ends of her arms, Theodora's hands appear to have absorbed much of the chaotic atmosphere of the Hotel. They end up betraying Theodora, performing stunts she could scarcely approve with a w i l l a l l their own. Their most revolutionary act i s the purloining of the nautilus from Mrs. Rapallo's room. Once p i l f e r e d , i t i s gloated over by the General and his accomplice u n t i l i t s owner arrives to claim i t . But as Theodora has always known, possession i s not a function of the hands: "the nautilus became a desperate thing of hands. . . . Hands were knotting the a i r . Then, hands were hands" (TAS, 215). Grabbing holds nothing. Each resident of the Hotel suffers a disease of the hands: the General's are empty and hopeless, and Wetherby's 100 are "squamous" (TAS, 235) to match K a t i n a ' s " c o l d , dead hand" (TAS., 242) . Even the garden p r e s s e s " d r y , paper hands . . . a g a i n s t the windows of the s a l l e a manger" (TAS., 160) . P a t h e t i c , b e s e e c h i n g : hands m i r r o r the c r u m b l i n g wor ld about them i n which no handhold i s to be found anywhere. True to the p a t t e r n of r e g r e s s i o n f o l l o w e d by renewal i n the t h i r d p a r t of the n o v e l , T h e o d o r a ' s hands are r e s t o r e d to her once she reaches A m e r i c a . At J o h n s o n s ' , she l u x u r i a t e s a g a i n i n the f e e l i n g of hands: "Theodora began i n the a g r e e a b l e s i l e n c e of the washhouse to wash her hands . She f o l d e d them one over the o t h e r . She f o l d e d them over the smooth and c o m f o r t a b l e y e l l o w soap" (TAS, 269) . At home w i t h the humble soap , Theodora reawakens to t o u c h . But she i s haunted from her e a r l i e r e x p e r i e n c e by a sense of the l a c k of permanence i n l i f e . No matter how t h o r o u g h l y her hands r e t u r n to h e r , Theodora knows t h a t permanence does not r e s i d e i n t o u c h . Hence, "she c o u l d have touched the body of H o l s t i u s , h i s t h i c k and m u s c u l a r , but q u i e t and s o o t h i n g , hands , the ruddy s k i n , the i n d i c a t i o n of bones , the c o a r s e g r e y i s h h a i r , the eyes , of which the e x p r e s s i o n was not de termined by p a s s i o n " (TAS, 279) . An a p p a r i t i o n to most, to Theodora H o l s t i u s e x i s t s by v i r t u e of the f a c t t h a t 'she c o u l d have touched h i m ' ; 'but d i d n ' t , ' seems to be u n d e r s t o o d . There i s no need to touch him to know h im. Not t h a t t h e r e i s no longer need to t o u c h : love r e p r e s e n t s the h i g h e s t form of communicat ion and hands the in s t ruments of t h a t exchange. 101 "Holstius l a i d his hands on, and she was a world or love and compassion that she had only vaguely apprehended" (TAS, 285-6). His hands banish the shadows and restore to Theodora her too s o l i d f l e s h . If caring, concerned outsiders think of Theodora as less than complete, she acquiesces; but when they arrive to perform their Christian duty they take away no less than a f u l l y connected body, s t i l l oblong, angular, and touching in i t s humility. A short miscellany of other objects also essential to the structure of The Aunt's Story includes the f i l i g r e e b a l l , the hawk, the rose, music and the nautilus. The magical wrought-iron sphere f u l l of i n v i s i b l e f i r e figures mainly in the f i r s t c h a p t e r — t h a t short interim between Theodora's emancipation and her journey abroad. Theodora's soul-mate Lou introduces the enigmatic object when she asks to play with "the brass b a l l " (TAS, 8). She and her brothers appreciate i t s mystery and exoticism: "It was something that Grandmother Goodman had brought from India once, and which, she said, the Indians f i l l with f i r e and r o l l downhill" (TAS, 8). Although now distorted and tarnished green, they s t i l l see in the b a l l some subtle f i r e . Lou's hands meld with the shape of the t i n y globe in order to protect i t from the boys' boredom: "Lou, who continued to r o l l the f i l i g r e e b a l l , flowed, in which d i r e c t i o n you could not t e l l , and for thi s Theodora trembled" (TAS, 8). Lou inhabits the same f l u i d medium as her aunt, and Theodora shivers for thi s recognition. Meanwhile, both also 102 respond to the e l e m e n t a l f i r e housed w i t h i n the b a l l . L i k e Meroe i t s e l f , the c u r i o u s , ornate sphere s y m b o l i z e s m i n e r a l na ture s u b v e r t e d to human w i l l i n order to r e c a p t u r e t ime p a s t . A u s e l e s s t h i n g as modern s tandards go, i t d e f i e s p r a c t i c a l i t y and e x i s t s on terms t h a t o n l y f l u i d , f l e x i b l e be ings l i k e Theodora and Lou a p p r e c i a t e . As f a r as the n o v e l goes , the f i l i g r e e b a l l i s a potent o b j e c t , a p p e a r i n g as i t does r i g h t a t the b e g i n n i n g and then s c a r c e l y a g a i n , and e s t a b l i s h i n g the f i r e - w a t e r d ichotomy which pervades the n o v e l . The f a c t t h a t the a r t i f a c t c o n t a i n s f i r e but i s not i t s e l f consumed by i t marks i t as a h o l y t h i n g . With the hawk we move i n t o the an imal w o r l d , where t h i s p a r t i c u l a r f e a t h e r e d c r e a t u r e h o l d s s p e c i a l r a n k . 1 7 A g g r e s s i v e , independent , f i e r c e l y f r e e , i t encounters i t s human c o u n t e r p a r t i n T h e o d o r a . Once the hawk f lew down, s t r a i g h t and s u r e , out of the s k e l e t o n f o r e s t . He was a l i t t l e hawk, w i t h a r e d d i s h - g o l d e n eye , t h a t looked at her as he s tood on the sheep ' s c a r c a s s , and c o l d l y t o r e through the dead woo l . The l i t t l e hawk t o r e and paused , t o r e and paused . . . . She c o u l d not judge h i s a c t , because her eye had c o n t r a c t e d , i t was r e d d i s h - g o l d , and her c u r v e d face cu t the w i n d . . . . the a c t of the hawk, which she watched, h a w k - l i k e , was a moment of s h r i l l beauty t h a t rose above the e n d l e s s n e s s of bones. The red eye spoke of wor lds t h a t were b r i e f and f i e r c e . (TAS, 26-27) N e i t h e r the b i r d nor Theodora y i e l d s to the o t h e r ; m u t u a l l y r e s p e c t f u l , they c h a l l e n g e one another wi th eyes of f i r e . 103 N a t u r e i s n o t s e n t i m e n t a l i z e d h e r e ; t h e hawk shows T h e o d o r a n a t u r e ' s b r u t a l i t y , b u t i t a l s o p r o v e s t o h e r i t s r i g h t n e s s . A l l i s r e d u c e d t o t h e e l e m e n t a l : bone p r e d o m i n a t e s i n 'the s k e l e t o n f o r e s t , ' i n t h e s h e e p ' s c o r p s e , even i n T h e o d o r a ' s f a c e . The hawk r e p r e s e n t s p e r f e c t b e i n g i n t h e m i d s t o f t r a n s i e n c e . I t s r i g h t t o e x i s t and t o f e e d on n a t u r e ' s o f f a l i s u n a s s a i l a b l e . T h i s i n c i d e n t a l s o d e m o n s t r a t e s T h e o d o r a ' s a b i l i t y t o i d e n t i f y c o m p l e t e l y w i t h o t h e r o b j e c t s . Once more T h e o d o r a a d o p t s a n o t h e r f o r m ; White u s e s k i n a e s t h e t i c i m a g e r y t o show her s t r i v i n g t o f e e l what t h e hawk f e e l s a t t h e s e n s o r y l e v e l . Here h e r own eye i s t r a n s f o r m e d t o ' r e d d i s h - g o l d , ' and h e r ' c u r v e d f a c e ' assumes a b e a k - l i k e a s p e c t . The f i e r c e , hawk-eye i n t r o d u c e s a l a r g e network o f v i s u a l i m a g e r y ; f o r i n s t a n c e , The Man Who Was G i v e n H i s D i n n e r , a n o t h e r c r e a t u r e w i t h whom T h e o d o r a c o m p l e t e l y i d e n t i f i e s , a l s o e x h i b i t s a f i e r c e eye and p r e d i c t s T h e o d o r a ' s c a p a c i t y f o r s e e i n g c l e a r l y . T h e o d o r a ' s u n c o m p r o m i s i n g v i s i o n hampers h e r i n h e r a t t e m p t s t o f u n c t i o n c o n v e n t i o n a l l y , hence h e r s h a t t e r i n g o f t h e r e d e y e . C o m p e t i t i v e as any man (one a s p e c t o f a v a n i t y she t r i e s r e p e a t e d l y t o q u e l l ) , T h e o d o r a f e e l s c o m p e l l e d t o one-up F r a n k P a r r o t t (he, o f c o u r s e , b e a r s t h e name of t h a t f r e q u e n t l y d o m e s t i c a t e d f o w l o f e x o t i c plumage most p r i z e d f o r i t s a b i l i t y t o m i m i c ) . T h e o d o r a t r e a t s h e r f e l l o w h u n t e r l i k e a c h i l d , d e l i b e r a t e l y s h o o t i n g wide i n o r d e r t o b o o s t h i s ego. 104 The hawk, however, i s h e r s , i s T h e o d o r a ; when F r a n k aims t o t a k e i t and m i s s e s , p r i d e and f e a r d i c t a t e h e r r e v e n g e . She aims f o r t h e i r s h a r e d r e d eye and b l a s t s i t , n e g a t i n g h e r s e l f and w h a t e v e r b u d d i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h F r a n k as she does s o . "I was wrong, she s a i d , b u t I s h a l l c o n t i n u e t o d e s t r o y m y s e l f , r i g h t down t o t h e l a s t o f my s e v e r a l l i v e s " ( T A S , 66). E l i m i n a t i n g t h e hawk as one o f h e r p o i n t s o f r e f e r e n c e means T h e o d o r a l o s e s a means of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w i t h s o m e t h i n g o t h e r t h a n , beyond or e x t e r n a l t o h e r s e l f . P e r h a p s a s t e p t o w a r d s m a t u r i t y t h e hawk-murder i s a l s o , p a r a d o x i c a l l y , a k i n d o f s u i c i d e . The d e a d , u m b r e l l a - l i k e t h i n g i s l e f t t o hang, b r u t a l l y , on a f e n c e , r e m i n d i n g T h e o d o r a t h e r e a f t e r o f a s p i r a t i o n and f a i l u r e c ombined, and s t r o n g l y r e m i n d i n g t h e r e a d e r o f t h e s t a k e d dog J o e and Eden s t u m b l e a c r o s s i n The  L i v i n g and t h e Dead. N a t u r e shows i t s e l f n o t n e a r l y so b e s t i a l as man. W i t h r o s e we e n t e r a v a s t , r i c h u n i v e r s e o f s u g g e s t i o n . F o r e m o s t a c a p t i v a t i n g o b j e c t f r o m t h e v e g e t a b l e r e a l m , i t a l s o f u n c t i o n s s y m b o l i c a l l y as a n o t h e r f r a g m e n t o f T h e o d o r a ' s i d e n t i t y . I n z e n - l i k e f a s h i o n , Theo i s a b l e t o merge w i t h a r o s e as c o m p l e t e l y and s a t i s f a c t o r i l y as she i s w i t h t h e hawk. W h i l e s i s t e r F a n n y i s l i k e p i n k r o s e s , T h e o d o r a i s t h e r o s e w i t h a g r u b a t i t s h e a r t . The Goodmans' e n t i r e l i v e s a t Meroe a r e b a t h e d i n r o s e l i g h t ; r o s e s , i n f a c t , d o m i n a t e t h e f i r s t s e c t i o n o f t h e n o v e l . Queen among f l o w e r s , r o s e s a r e i m p o r t e d s t a t u s s y m b o l s Mrs. Goodman ( l i k e Amy P a r k e r o f The T r e e o f 105 Man and Mr. Bonner of Voss) uses as p r o t e c t i o n a g a i n s t the I n h o s p i t a b l e landscape around Meroe. Since roses are as e x o t i c as the f i l i g r e e b a l l Mrs. Goodman br i n g s home from a f a r , i t i s thus perverse t h a t she e s t a b l i s h e s "an a r t i f i c i a l rose garden so u n t i d y that i t looked indigenous" (TAS, 14). For Theodora the rosa f l o r a are weighty presences: " l y i n g i n her bed, [she] c o u l d sense the r o s e s . . . . She f e l t very c l o s e to the roses the other s i d e of the w a l l " (TAS., 14). F l e s h y , heavy roses drench her i n t h e i r scent and l i g h t and compel her to touch them. Despite her mother's attempts to chase her homely daughter from the v i c i n i t y of the p e r f e c t , f l a s h y b e a u t i e s , Theodora continues to d i s c o v e r them. Once she f i n d s a g r u b - t h i n g s t i r r i n g w i t h i n a r o s e . Fanny q u a i l s but her s i s t e r "could not condemn her pale and touching grub. She could not s u b t r a c t i t from the sum t o t a l of the garden" (TAS, 15). Again White presents an o b j e c t i n which c o - e x i s t the p o l a r i t i e s of e x i s t e n c e : the rose i s a p a r t i c u l a r l y potent example of t r a n s i e n c e and p e r f e c t i o n , r e c u r r i n g as i t does i n v a r i o u s forms throughout the book. As with the hawk, p e r f e c t i d e n t i f i c a t i o n r e i g n s between Theodora and r o s e s . Again White uses k i n a e s t h e t i c imagery to show t h a t j u s t as Lou's hands seem to become the f i l i g r e e b a l l , Theodora's hands, when she i s young, "touched, her hands became the shape of rose, she knew i t i n i t s utmost in t i m a c y " (TAS, 24). Again, n o t i c e the importance of hands and t h e i r r o l e i n e s t a b l i s h i n g i n t i m a c y with o b j e c t s . "Intimacy" i s 106 i t s e l f a r e v e a l i n g word, one w h i c h White u s e s o f t e n t o i n d i c a t e t h i s c o v e t e d s t a t e o f u n i t y w i t h t h i n g s . I s he p e r h a p s p u n n i n g when he c l a i m s T h e o d o r a " r o s e and f e l l on t h e b r e a t h i n g o f t h e t r e e " (TAS, 3 9 ) ? Time a f t e r t i m e i n s i p i d l i t t l e F a n n y i s m e t a p h o r i c a l l y l i n k e d t o r o s e s i n t h e a b s t r a c t , w h i l e T h e o d o r a a l w a y s r e a c t s t o a p a r t i c u l a r , s e n s u a l member of t h e r o s e f a m i l y . O t h e r s l i k e H u n t l y C l a r k s o n , who r e l y on r o s e s f o r t h e i r s y m b o l i c , c u l t u r a l v a l u e , and who c a n a f f o r d them, v e r i t a b l y b a t h e t h e m s e l v e s i n t h e p r e s t i g e t h e y c o n f e r . " H u n t l y ' s t a b l e was s m o u l d e r i n g w i t h r e d r o s e s , t h e r o s e l i g h t t h a t T h e o d o r a remembered now, of Meroe. She swam t h r o u g h t h e s e a o f r o s e s t o w a r d s t h a t o t h e r I t h a c a " (TAS, 1 0 4 ) . Roses r e f l e c t H u n t l y ' s o s t e n t a t i o u s h a b i t s , whereas f o r T h e o d o r a i n t h i s i n s t a n c e t h e y a r e t h e means t o memory. O r n a m e n t a l i n f u n c t i o n f o r most c h a r a c t e r s , r o s e s r e m a i n t h e e s s e n t i a l t e x t u r e o f c h i l d h o o d t o T h e o d o r a . Once i n s i d e t h e J a r d i n E x o t i q u e , however, T h e o d o r a e n c o u n t e r s b i z a r r e s p e c i e s o f r o s e s . She f i n d s h e r s e l f r e t r e a t i n g f r o m " t h e jaws o f r o s e s " (TAS, 1 3 7 ) , l i s t e n i n g i n h e r room t o t h e "Maroon r o s e s , t h e symbols o f r o s e s , [ s h o u t i n g ] t h r o u g h megaphones a t t h e b r a s s bed. Remembering t h e f l e s h o f r o s e s , t h e r o s e l i g h t s n o o z i n g i n t h e v e i n s , she r e g r e t t e d t h e age o f s y m b o l s " (TAS, 1 3 6 ) . White u s e s s y n a e s t h e s i a t o g r e a t e f f e c t h e r e ; i t i s a mark o f t h e s t y l i s t he has become t h a t he d a r e s ' l i s t e n i n g t o maroon r o s e s ' and ' r e c o l l e c t i n g s n o o z i n g r o s e l i g h t . ' S t i l l , t h e r e p e t i t i o n o f 107 " s y m b o l s " s i g n a l s t h a t we a r e w i t h T h e o d o r a i n a s p a c e and t i m e when t h i n g s l i k e r o s e s no l o n g e r c o u n t as t h i n g s . Once so much a p a r t o f T h e o d o r a t h e y were h e r l i f e b l o o d ( ' s n o o z i n g i n t h e v e i n s ' ) , t h e y a r e now r e d u c e d t o t h e s t a t u s of i n t e l l e c t u a l c o n c e p t . R e f e r r e d t o i n "Meroe" as f l e s h , r o s e s i n " J a r d i n E x o t i q u e " become a l l mouth, u s e l e s s l y s a w i n g and s h o u t i n g , u n a b l e t o p e n e t r a t e t h e f i l m o f a b s t r a c t i o n t o w h i c h t h e y have been c o n s i g n e d . As a t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f h e r l i f e , T h e o d o r a c o n t i n u e s t o be s u r r o u n d e d by r o s e s , e s p e c i a l l y i n her room a t t h e H o t e l , where t h e " r o s e w a l l " p r o v e s p a r t i c u l a r l y t h r e a t e n i n g . I t began t o p a l p i t a t e , t h e p a p e r mouths o f r o s e s w e t t i n g t h e i r l i p s , e i t h e r v o i c e or w a l l p u t t i n g on f l e s h . She was a l m o s t i n d e c e n t l y c l o s e t o what was h a p p e n i n g , b u t sometimes one i s . Sometimes t h e p a p e r r o s e has arms and t h i g h s . T h e o d o r a r e a l i z e d she must a c c e p t t h e t a c t i l e v o i c e s o f t h e v o l u b l e w a l l . (TAS, 197) D u r i n g h e r d a y s a t Meroe, T h e o d o r a r e v e l l e d i n t h e glow o f r o s e l i g h t w h i c h would i n v a d e h e r room f r o m t h e g a r d e n . She t o u c h e d r o s e , became r o s e . W i t h a wrench she e n t e r s t h e w o r l d o f t h e H o t e l du M i d i , where v a l u e s a r e i n v e r t e d and t h i n g s o n l y t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f t h e m s e l v e s . Here h e r room i s a l s o d r e n c h e d i n r o s e s — b u t t w o - d i m e n s i o n a l l y , on w a l l p a p e r . These blooms, no l e s s s i n g u l a r t h a n t h o s e o f her memory, p r o v e a n g r y i n t h e i r a n i m a t i o n , s t r i v i n g t o b u r s t t h e i r p a p e r c o n f i n e s and 108 g r a p p l e w i t h a r e a l i t y t h e y a r e d e n i e d . To T h e o d o r a t h e r o s e s a r e no l e s s r e a l t h a n t h o s e o f Meroe, o n l y more i n s i s t e n t and y e t d i s t a n t . She has somewhere a l o n g t h e way l o s t t h e a b i l i t y t o communicate and i d e n t i f y w i t h them, and s o , d e s p i t e t h e i r ' v o l u b i l i t y ' she and t h e r o s e s w h i c h s u r r o u n d h e r a p p e a l t o e a c h o t h e r i n mute f r u s t r a t i o n . L a c k o f c o n n e c t i o n between c h a r a c t e r s and t h i n g s l i k e r o s e s r e s u l t s i n them l o s i n g one a n o t h e r ; t h e D e m o i s e l l e s B l o c h , f o r i n s t a n c e , a r e a l w a y s t r a i l i n g a f t e r e r r a n t d o i l i e s and runaway s h o e s . The w o r l d of t h i n g s i s i n r e v o l t i n E u r o p e o f t h e 1930s. The d e c l i n i n g , t h e n r i s i n g , f o r t u n e s of t h e r o s e m i r r o r T h e o d o r a ' s t r e k f r o m b l i s s f u l c h i l d h o o d t h r o u g h p a i n f u l a d o l e s c e n c e and e a r l y a d u l t h o o d t o t h e f i n a l , s a t i s f y i n g w h o l e n e s s she a c h i e v e s i n m i d d l e age. O b v i o u s l y h e r s t o r y d oes n o t end t h e r e , a f a c t s i g n a l l e d by t h e l a r g e , b l a c k , gauze r o s e w h i c h bobs i t s way t h r o u g h t h e " H o l s t i u s " s e c t i o n . In t h i s p a r t o f t h e n o v e l , r o s e s a r e h a r d l y e v i d e n t , e x c e p t f o r t h e one a d o r n i n g h e r h a t . I n s t e a d , p r a c t i c a l , e c o n o m i c a l c o r n t r u m p e t s i t s o v e r w h e l m i n g p r e s e n c e . She removes t h e h a t a t J o h n s o n s ' , o n l y t o f i n d i t c a t c h e s up t o h e r t h a n k s t o young Zack, t h e one who f i r s t r e m a r k s i t s s t r a n g e n e s s , and h i s m o ther. T h i s c u r i o u s , f l i m s y ornament i s t o o much i d e n t i f i e d w i t h T h e o d o r a t o be so c a s u a l l y p u t a s i d e . Thus, when t h e a u t h o r i t i e s come t o t a k e h e r away, she goes crowned: " t h e d o u b t f u l r o s e t r e m b l e d and g l i t t e r e d , l e a d i n g a l i f e o f i t s own" (TAS, 2 9 0 ) . These words c l o s e t h e n o v e l , a t t e s t i n g t o 109 t h e g r e a t i n d e p e n d e n c e o f o b j e c t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y t h o s e w h i c h speak d i r e c t l y t o man. C r i t i c s have r e m a r k e d on t h e p l e t h o r a o f r o s e s i n t h i s n o v e l . P e t e r W o l f e , f o r example, s e e s r o s e s as s y m b o l s o f d i v i n e p a r a d o x : A l t h o u g h t h e r o s e may evoke P a r a d i s e as God's l o v e l i e s t c r e a t i o n , i t a l s o grows ou t of t h e s o i l o f t h e f a l l e n w o r l d . T h a t i t may grow b e s t i n t h e s t e n c h and f i l t h o f a manure p i l e shows waste as an a p p r o p r i a t e s e e d b e d f o r t r a n s c e n d e n c e . B r o a d l y s p e a k i n g , t h e r o s e i n White s y m b o l i z e s t h e c o m f o r t and s e c u r i t y o f t h e f a m i l y . P a r t o f i t s j o y , l i k e t h a t o f f a m i l y l i v i n g , comes f r o m i t s t r a n s i -e n c e . x s L i k e D a v i d T a c e y ' s l i n k i n g o f t h e r o s e w i t h t h e mandala as t h e a r c h e t y p e of w h o l e n e s s , and h i s t r a c i n g o f r o s e i m a g e r y i n The  A u n t ' s S t o r y as s y m b o l i c o f t o t a l i t y o f t h e s e l f ( t h e s e l f b e i n g a u n i o n o f o p p o s i t e s ) , 1 9 W o l f e ' s and o t h e r c r i t i c s ' t h e o r i e s a b o u t r o s e s a r e p e r t i n e n t and i n s i g h t f u l . But many of t h e i r comments a r e a p p l i c a b l e t o any number o f r o s e s i n a v a r i e t y o f n o v e l s . As f a r as W h i t e ' s n o v e l goes t h e y a l l f a l l s h o r t i n d e a l i n g w i t h s a i d p r i c k l y bloom. F o r White p r e s e n t s n o t r o s e - n e s s b u t s p e c i f i c f l o w e r s t h r o u g h o u t t h e work. The f a c t t h a t i t i s n o t t h e same r o s e f r o m P a r t s One t h r o u g h Two and T h r e e i l l u s t r a t e s why e x p l o r i n g W h i t e a n s y m b o l i s m p r o v e s i n a d e q u a t e t o t h e r e a d i n g o f h i s b o o k s . T h i n g s a r e r a r e l y o n l y m e n t a l c o n s t r u c t s ; m o s t l y , as i s t h e c a s e w i t h r o s e s i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y , t h e y a p p e a r as u n i q u e , n o t a b l e i t e m s , l i n k e d 110 by n e c e s s i t y to the common s t o r e of c o n n o t a t i o n s and a l l u s i o n s , but a l s o teeming w i t h independent l i f e . There i s a music i n t h i n g s to which Theodora t h r i l l s even though i t i s agony f o r her to attempt to produce some of her own. Meroe" i s "a go lden murmur of roses" (TAS, 14 ) , her f a t h e r ' s room i s " f i l l e d w i t h a dark murmuring of boughs" (TAS, 15) and the p i n e s b u f f e t i n g a g a i n s t the windows moan " i n t h r o a t y spasms" (TAS, 16) . But Theodora p l a y i n g p iano s t r i k e s out "an a n g u l a r music t h a t d i d not e x i s t " (TAS, 108) . A f a i l u r e a t r e p r o d u c i n g o t h e r s ' m u s i c , what i s s u e s from her f i n g e r s conforms , more i m p o r t a n t l y , to her i n n e r b e i n g . Her e v e r y f i b r e v i b r a t e s to an a r t i s t l i k e M o r a i t i s ' s mus ic : "She was h e r s e l f the f i r s t few harsh notes t h a t he s t r u c k out of h i s ins trument a g a i n s t the t u n i n g v i o l i n s " (TAS, 109) . Theodora i d e n t i f i e s so t h o r o u g h l y w i t h h i s c e l l o she becomes i t , a l o v e r r i s i n g to h i s commanding f i n g e r s . M u s i c , l i k e r o s e l i g h t , i s another of the f l u i d mediums through which Theodora makes her way. But i t i s f o r her a d i f f i c u l t , sometimes tempestuous element because i t arouses depths i n her she would s u f f o c a t e : "The ' c e l l o ' s v o i c e was one long b a r e l y subjugated c r y under the savage l a shes of the v i o l i n s " (TAS, 110) . M o r a i t i s ' s music proves as t o r t u r e d as the man; i t i s the arena i n which he works out the c o n f l i c t s which barb h im. T h e o d o r a , t r o u b l e d by s i m i l a r c o n f l i c t s , p a r t i c i p a t e s f u l l y i n the c l a s h . P a r t Two i n t r o d u c e s a v e r y d i f f e r e n t k i n d of m u s i c , an I l l a g o n i z e d , a l i e n a t i n g r e n d i t i o n . Mrs. R a p a l l o , f o r example, d e s c r i b e d i n t e r m s o f m u s i c , i s " t h e r a t h e r s t i f f o v e r t u r e m u f f l e d by t h e v e l v e t t h r o u g h w h i c h i t p l a y e d , t h e h e a v i l y e n c r u s t e d bows j u s t s c r a p i n g t h e b r e a k i n g g u t " (TAS, 152).. M u s i c i s h e r e a s h r i e k i n g and a wounding; melody has t u r n e d i n t o c a c o p h o n y , c o n s i s t i n g m o s t l y of t h e d i s e n c h a n t e d m u t t e r i n g s o f t h e H o t e l ' s g u e s t s . M u s i c r e t u r n s i n t r i u m p h a n t t u n e w i t h t h e o p e n i n g o f t h e n o v e l ' s f i n a l movement. T h e r e i s a c l a m o u r o f c o r n , a r i c h , f u l l , o v e r w h e l m i n g t r u m p e t i n g o f t h e v e g e t a b l e w o r l d , b e s i d e w h i c h man seems " t h e f r a i l human r e e d " (TAS, 2 5 7 ) . Here m u s i c i s s u e s f r o m t h e many i n s t e a d o f f r o m t h e i n d i v i d u a l . M u s i c i s t h e l a n g u a g e o f t h i s " H o l s t i u s " s e c t i o n ; n o t i c e t h e d i c t i o n i n t h i s p a r t o f t h e s c o r e . Sometimes a g a i n s t t h e f u l l g o l d e n theme o f c o r n and t h e w h i t e r p i z z i c a t o o f t h e t e l e p h o n e w i r e s t h e r e was a c o u n t e r p o i n t o f h o u s e s . T h e o d o r a Goodman s a t . The o t h e r s i d e of t h e i n c e s s a n t t r a i n she c o u l d r e a d t h e m u s i c o f f . T h e r e were t h e s i n g l e n o t e s o f h o u s e s , t h a t g a t h e r e d i n t o g r a v e l y s t r u c t u r a l p h r a s e s . T h e r e was a smooth p a s s a g e o f ponds and t r e e s . T h e r e was a b i g b a s s b a r n . . . . Where c h i l d r e n p l a y e d w i t h t i n s , or a g i r l w a i t e d a t a window, or c a l v e s l o l l o p e d i n l o n g g r a s s , i t was a f r i l l o f f l u t e s t w i s t e d r o u n d a h i g h e r theme, t o g r a c e , b u t o n l y g r a c e , t h e s o l e m n i t y o f l i v i n g and o f d a y s . T h e r e were now t h e two c o i l e d themes. T h e r e was t h e f l o w i n g c o r n s o n g , and t h e d e l i b e r a t e accompaniment of h o u s e s , w h i c h d i d n o t impede, however s t r u c t u r a l , b e c a u s e i t was p a r t o f t h e same i n t e g r i t y o f p u r p o s e and o f b e i n g . (IAS., 261) 112 The landscape i s a symphony i n which Theodora f e e l s h e r s e l f the o n l y note of d i s c o r d . 2 0 B a d l y out of tune w i t h her environment i n the H o t e l du M i d i , Theodora f i n d s H o l s t i u s , a f e l l o w wooden i n s t r u m e n t , who r e s t o r e s her to p e r f e c t p i t c h . "The s t r u g g l e to p r e s e r v e her own ins trument f o r some f i n a l , i f a l s o f a t a l , music t h a t H o l s t i u s must p l a y , had been a t t imes d i f f i c u l t and u n p l e a s a n t , but a t l e a s t i t was p r e s e r v e d " (TAS, 284) . The p a r a l l e l w i t h M o r a i t i s ' s h e a l i n g powers i s c l e a r ; i n both c a s e s , men adept a t communicat ing v i a music r e s t o r e Theodora to h e r s e l f . M u s i c , a s u b t l e , f l e x i b l e and f l u i d means of e x p r e s s i o n f o r t h i n g s i n "Meroe," becomes wooden and j a r r i n g i n " J a r d i n E x o t i q u e " because t h i n g s are 0 j o l t e d from t h e i r n a t u r a l means of e x p r e s s i o n . " H o l s t i u s " f i n d s music r e s t o r e d to t h i n g s and Theodora p r e s e r v e d f o r f u t u r e p e r f o r m a n c e s . The n a u t i l u s a l s o impacts h e a v i l y as o b j e c t . L i k e the rose i t l ends i t s e l f to r i c h and v a r i e d r e a d i n g s , b u t , l i k e the r o s e , the f i l i g r e e b a l l and the hawk the n a u t i l u s e x i s t s i n i t s own r i g h t . Out of i t s proper e lement , the n a u t i l u s e x c i t e s more emotion than any other s i n g l e o b j e c t d u r i n g the course of the book. In terms of form, the s p i r a l s h e l l embodies the shape of the n o v e l i t s e l f . The wide en trance to the n a u t i l u s i s where Theodora beg ins her r e m i n i s c e n c e s about Meroe, the n a r r o w i n g , t w i s t i n g t u n n e l r e p r e s e n t s her s t a y i n the H o t e l du M i d i and , j u s t as corkscrews e v e n t u a l l y r e v e r s e , 113 the s p i r a l f i n a l l y propels her back into the funnel mouth, the open spaces of America. The nautilus dominates the book's middle section as the coveted toy of Mrs. Rapallo. J.F. Burrows suggests i t catalyzes those t i c k l i s h questions of ownership, acquisitiveness and choice which plague the characters, Marjorie Barnard c a l l s i t the g r a i l of pre-World War II Europe and, in similar fashion, Peter Wolfe sees in i t the prize of Europe. The narrator r e l i e s on excess to convey the nautilus's special rank. Here i t ar r i v e s , borne by a rapacious, jaded Venus: "But most marvellous was the nautilus that she half carried in her l e f t hand, half supported on her encrusted bosom. Moored, the s h e l l floated, you might say, in i t s own opalescent r i g h t " (TAS, 153). Mrs. Rapallo's purchase embraces paradox. Land-bound, i t f l o a t s ; s i l e n t , i t sings: Katina, herself a f r a i l s h e l l , "listened to i t s sound. She listened to the thick-throated pines f i l l the room, their clear blue-green water, r i s i n g and f a l l i n g . The music of the nautilus was in her face, Theodora saw, behind the thin membrane that just separates experience from i n t u i t i o n " (TAS, 154). Katina, in Theodora fashion, i s taken over by the vibrant tones which r e c a l l Meroe much more than Europe. To the others l i k e Mrs. Rapallo and the General the nautilus i s something to be fought over: " i t is mine" (TAS, 154, 155), shouts each in turn. The wealthy American assumes ownership is conferred in proportion to d o l l a r s lavished, hence, "I 114 bought my n a u t i l u s " (TAS, 155) . Even so the r e l u c t a n t s p i r a l s a i l s on i n d e f i a n c e of the c o n f l i c t i t a r o u s e s , beauty and p e r f e c t i o n i n c a r n a t e . I t makes everyone hungry for i t s c o o l s e p a r a t e n e s s and wholeness , ye t the n a u t i l u s proves as e l u s i v e as e v e r y other o b j e c t i n the H o t e l and measures to a l a r g e ex tent the growing d i s t a n c e s e p a r a t i n g c h a r a c t e r s and t h i n g s . An o b j e c t of c o n t e m p l a t i o n , and e m i n e n t l y s t r o k a b l e , the s h e l l makes M r s . R a p a l l o f e e l "as i f she were t o u c h i n g a d i s t a n c e " (TAS, 159) . No r e a l c o n t a c t i s ever e s t a b l i s h e d between the l o v e l y s e a - t h i n g and i t s would-be p o s s e s s o r s , and ownership i s a b o l i s h e d once Theodora and S o k o l n i k o v p l o t to p i l f e r i t . The d i s e a s e of the t imes invades Theodora too so t h a t she p l a y s t h i e f i n the n i g h t : "Theodora saw no reason why she s h o u l d n o t . She was h e r s e l f by now as v i b r a n t and t r a n s p a r e n t as a s h e l l . . . . she began to be obsessed by the same o b s e s s i o n as S o k o l n i k o v , to h o l d the n a u t i l u s , to h o l d , i f i t i s ever p o s s i b l e , to h o l d " (TAS, 211) . Words l i k e ' r e a s o n ' j a r when used i n c o n j u n c t i o n wi th our h e r o i n e , f o r she has never been a c r e a t u r e of r a t i o n a l i t y or l o g i c ; n e i t h e r has she been prone to o b s e s s i o n . The mania to h o l d marks her a changed b e i n g . Once she succumbs to greed and grabs the s h e l l , her hands t u r n to "water. . . . Then Theodora made the darkness move. I t was r e l e a s e d . Her s k i r t f l owed . Ferns shook. The d u l l and u s u a l l y u n r e s p o n s i v e t a i l s of pampas gras s flumped a g a i n s t her f i x e d eyes . She was w a l k i n g down the passage w i t h the n a u t i l u s " (TAS., 213) . The c a p t u r i n g of 115 the prize proves such a cataclysmic event that v i r t u a l l y every thing awakens from i t s customary torpor in order to witness i t . The entire sequence seems to occur in slow motion and under water. Returned to i t s proper element, the nautilus s a i l s on towards imminent destruction. As Theodora knows, "the nautilus i s made to break" (TAS, 214). Then follow the transformations from s h e l l to hands to a i r ; s l i v e r s are a l l that remain, ultimately. This s p l i n t e r i n g of the single desirable object in the Hotel du Midi merely r e f l e c t s the p a r a l l e l d i s i n t e g r a t i o n of personae and the closing of ranks by the other objects in sympathy with t h e i r martyred colleague. Following the murder of the s p i r a l "the night was denser. Emotions had trodden into the carpet the s l i g h t white rime which was what remained of the nautilus. Theodora f e l t herself considerably reduced" (TAS, 215). The only things l e f t to happen are the deflowering of young Katina and the Hotel f i r e , both further reductive events. The shattering of the nautilus signals certain decline for the Hotel and i t s guests; for Theodora her part in the abduction and destruction of the innocent s h e l l marks the lowest point in her r e l a t i o n s with things since her shooting of the hawk. Part Three finds her attempting to renew communication with them. Objects provide glimpses into characters: they r e s i s t the possessors l i k e Fanny whose only interest i s in mounting up stores of things, and open to those such as Theodora who 1 1 6 meet them on t h e i r own t e r m s . They open d o o r s t o one a n o t h e r . E s p e c i a l l y as a c h i l d T h e o d o r a seems c a p a b l e o f s u s p e n d i n g r e a s o n i n o r d e r t o merge, z e n - l i k e , w i t h t h e hawk or t h e S y r i a n ' s r a g g e d s h a w l or t h e b l i g h t e d r o s e . T h i n g s and c h a r a c t e r s a r e c o m p l e t e l y i n t e r d e p e n d e n t and e a c h i s more t h a n a l i t t l e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i d e n t i t y o f t h e o t h e r : whereas P e t e r B e a t s o n f e e l s " i t i s t h e s t a t e o f mind t h a t r e l e a s e s t h e p l e a s a n t or m a l i g n a n t a s p e c t s o f t h e s y m b o l i c p r e c i n c t , " 2 1 Mark W i l l i a m s s u g g e s t s t h a t o b j e c t s r e f e r r e d t o "map t h e i n f i n i t e l y s u b t l e r e g i s t r a t i o n s of a p a r t i c u l a r w o r l d on c o n s c i o u s n e s s . " 2 2 White has m a s t e r e d t h e a b i l i t y t o f o c u s upon t h e out w a r d t h i n g w h i l e a l s o k e e p i n g a t t e n t i o n t u r n e d i n w a r d t o t h e s u b j e c t . T h i s b i f o c a l v i s i o n a l l o w s f o r e x t r a o r d i n a r y i n t i m a c y between c h a r a c t e r s and t h i n g s . I t i s o n l y e v e r t h r o u g h l a n g u a g e t h a t o b j e c t s have any v i a b i l i t y . G a s t o n B a c h e l a r d l i k e n s words t o " l i t t l e h o u s e s , e a c h w i t h i t s c e l l a r and g a r r e t t , " a l s o t o " c l a m o r - f i l l e d s h e l l s . T h e r e ' s many a s t o r y i n t h e m i n i a t u r e o f a s i n g l e w o r d ! " 2 3 White s u c c e e d s i n c r e a t i n g o f e a c h word an o b j e c t and of e a c h o b j e c t an e n t i r e s t o r y . W h i t e ' s s t y l e i s a t t i m e s n e c e s s a r i l y i l l o g i c a l and u n g r a m m a t i c a l , e s p e c i a l l y i n t h e m i d d l e s e c t i o n o f t h e n o v e l , b u t a l s o e l s e w h e r e . Words, t h e m s e l v e s o b s t i n a t e t h i n g s f r o m t h e m a t e r i a l w o r l d , White w r e s t l e s i n t o s h a p e s t h e y would o r d i n a r i l y r e s i s t t a k i n g . He e x p l o d e s m e t a p h o r i c a l and s y m b o l i c e x p e c t a t i o n s i n o r d e r t o come d i r e c t l y i n t o c o n t a c t w i t h l i f e . As A.M. M c C u l l o c h 117 p o i n t s o u t : "The a l l e n c o m p a s s i n g [ s i c ] e m o t i o n . . . i s W h i t e ' s y e a r n i n g t o make c o n t a c t l i n g u i s t i c a l l y w i t h t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y b e h i n d t h e o r d i n a r y , t o e x p r e s s t h e i n f i n i t y e x i s t e n t i n l i f e , t o g r a s p t h a t g o a l w h i c h i s t h e p o i n t o f u n i o n , and t o demand of t h e e n e r g y of a r t , t h e t o o l s t o g r a s p what becomes i n e v i t a b l y i n a c c e s s i b l e , t h e n u c l e u s o f l i f e / a r t i t s e l f . " 2 4 M c C u l l o c h ' s s t a t e m e n t d e m o n s t r a t e s t h e c r i t i c ' s dilemma i n d e a l i n g w i t h W h i t e : w h a t e v e r 'the e x t r a o r d i n a r y b e h i n d t h e o r d i n a r y ' means, t h e p h r a s e o r i g i n a t e s w i t h White and has p r o v e d a l i f e - j a c k e t t o t h o s e who a t t e m p t t o e x p l a i n h i s d e f i a n c e o f t h e f o r m a l l i m i t a t i o n s o f metaphor and s y m b o l . The f a c t t h a t p a r t i c u l a r o b j e c t s s u c h as r o s e s change n o t o n l y f r o m n o v e l t o n o v e l b u t a l s o w i t h i n e a c h n o v e l s u p p o r t s t h e i r c l a i m t o s e l f h o o d . Were t h e y o n l y s y m b o l i c , r o s e s c o u l d n o t so v a r y f r o m one c o n t e x t t o t h e n e x t : t h e y would be c o n f i n e d t o t h e p r e - e s t a b l i s h e d s y m b o l i c p r e c i n c t s o f r o s e -n e s s . M c C u l l o c h a g a i n : " K a f k a ' s comments on t h e i n e v i t a b l e f a i l u r e o f s y m b o l i s m a l s o e x p r e s s W h i t e ' s a r t i s t i c dilemma. He s a i d , s y m b o l s a r e 'of no use i n d a i l y l i f e , w h i c h i s t h e o n l y l i f e we h a v e'; t h e y ' m e r e l y e x p r e s s t h e f a c t t h a t t h e i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e i s i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e , and we knew t h a t a l r e a d y ' . . . " 2 B C h a r a c t e r s c a n n o t i n t e r a c t p h y s i c a l l y w i t h s y m b o l s ; t h e p a r a d o x i c a l n a t u r e of M c C u l l o c h ' s e v a l u a t i o n o f W hite as r e d i s c o v e r e r o f t h e r e a l i s m o f t h e symbol c a p t u r e s W h i t e ' s dilemma as w r i t e r : he " r e j e c t s t h e symbol w h i c h r e f e r s t o a b s t r a c t i o n s i n t h e manner o f an a l l e g o r y . W h i t e ' s 118 l a n g u a g e . . . d e s c r i b e s ; and i n d e s c r i b i n g i t opens our e y e s t o what r e a l l y i s . " 2 6 C o n c r e t e d i c t i o n p l u s t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y s e n s i t i v i t y o f c h a r a c t e r s t o t h e t e x t u r e s o f e x i s t e n c e g i v e us r e a l o b j e c t s w h i c h a l s o ( n o t o n l y ) open e x p e r i e n c e t o t h e u n f a t h o m a b l e . White eschews metonymy and s i m i l e f o r s i m p l e e q u i v a l e n c e , t h u s p u r g i n g f i g u r a t i v e e x p r e s s i o n o f i t s s e c o n d - h a n d t e n d e n c i e s . T h i n g s a r e n o t l i k e o t h e r t h i n g s , t h e y a r e o t h e r t h i n g s . T h e o d o r a , f e l t H u n t l y C l a r k s o n , i s an u p r i g h t c h a i r , a S p a n i s h l e a t h e r , i n w h i c h an I n q u i s i t o r has s a t , a s h a b b y r a g o f s k i n p a s s i n g judgment on s o u l s . F o r a few moments he h a t e d T h e o d o r a . The way you c a n h a t e s o m e t h i n g t h a t i s u n t o u c h a b l e . (TAS. 105) H u n t l y ' s s u b j e c t i v e o p i n i o n e q u a t e s h i s m y s t e r i o u s l a d y - f r i e n d w i t h an o b j e c t d e c i d e d l y u n f e m i n i n e . Y e t s u r p r i s i n g as i t seems, h i s a p p r a i s a l o f h e r makes s e n s e i n t e r m s o f what we know of T h e o d o r a . She i s s t i f f and d i s t a n t , t h e s e l f -d e s c r i b e d s o u l o f s h a b b i n e s s , and a c r e a t u r e o f ambiguous s e x . So, t h e i n q u i s i t i v e / I n q u i s i t o r i a l e x o t i c S p a n i s h r a w h i d e , w h i l e h a r d l y f l a t t e r i n g , s t r i k e s us as a s u r p r i s i n g b u t a p p r o p r i a t e t h i n g t o e q u a t e w i t h our h e r o i n e , d e s p i t e what we know of h e r s p e c i a l q u a l i t i e s . Words a r e o b j e c t s a r e t r u t h , and t h e r e i s p e r h a p s n o t h i n g more s t a l w a r t or h o n e s t t h a n a s t r a i g h t - b a c k e d l e a t h e r a r m c h a i r . W h i t e ' s n o v e l s , The A u n t ' s S t o r y i n p a r t i c u l a r , t e n d t o 119 open form, and o b j e c t s r e f l e c t t h i s . A c c o r d i n g to B a c h e l a r d , "By means of p o e t i c language , waves of newness f low over the s u r f a c e of b e i n g . And language bears w i t h i n i t s e l f the d i a l e c t i c s of open and c l o s e d . Through meaning i t e n c l o s e s , wh i l e through p o e t i c e x p r e s s i o n , i t opens u p . " 2 7 W h i t e ' s language i s p r e d o m i n a n t l y p o e t i c , d e s c r i p t i v e and c o n c r e t e throughout The A u n t ' s S t o r y : words evoke the t h i n g s themse lves . They do not mean—which, as B a c h e l a r d has s a i d , e n c l o s e s — b u t r a t h e r a r e , and hence , open. W h i t e ' s f r a c t u r e d , fragmented language , the c o n f u s i o n of f a n t a s y and dream w i t h he ightened r e a l i t y and an i n v e r t e d s t a t e of b e i n g where p l a n t s and f u r n i t u r e are more animated than c h a r a c t e r s o f f e r something of a c h a l l e n g e to the reader of The A u n t ' s S t o r y . I t seems to me, though , t h a t the n o v e l s erves as model for the i d e a l way to read P a t r i c k W h i t e ' s f i c t i o n s . I t asks us to approach h i s work the way Theodora Goodman ' r e a d s ' or comes to terms w i t h her w o r l d : t h a t i s , r e l a x i n g the i n c l i n a t i o n to i n t e r p r e t and a n a l y s e and t r u s t i n g i n s t e a d i n a more v i s c e r a l than c e r e b r a l r e s p o n s e . Theodora Goodman r e p r e s e n t s the f i r s t i n a long l i n e of Whitean c h a r a c t e r s who l ead s e v e r a l l i v e s , a l l of whom a l s o c l a i m ambiguous s e x u a l i t y . The l i s t i n c l u d e s Mary Hare of R i d e r s , A r t h u r Brown from S o l i d Mandala , E d d i e Twyborn of The  Twyborn A f f a i r (1980) and A l e x Xenophon D e m i r j i a n Gray from Memoirs of Many i n One (1986) . Theodora f r e q u e n t l y i n d u l g e s her many s e l v e s and m u l t i p l e i d e n t i t i e s i n order to be some 120 t h i n g or some one e l s e . She s t r i v e s t o c o n t a i n o t h e r t h i n g s l i k e t h e hawk, t h e s t i c k , t h e r o s e and t h e n a u t i l u s , j u s t as she w i l l i n g l y a c t s out t h e p a r t s o f p e r s o n s l o n g d e a d , l i k e L u d m i l l a , or n o n - e x i s t e n t , l i k e H o l s t i u s . A l l a r e p a r t o f h e r , and she o f them. L i k e t h e n a r r a t o r o f Walt Whitman's "Song o f M y s e l f , " T h e o d o r a c o n t a i n s m u l t i t u d e s . In o r d e r t o meet t h e demands of s u c h complex c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n , W h i t e ' s l a n g u a g e i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y t h u s s t r e t c h e s o u t o f t h e more r e g u l a r , l i n e a r shape i t wore i n Happy V a l l e y and The L i v i n g and t h e  Dead. He employs s t r e a m - o f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s t e c h n i q u e as w e l l as k i n a e s t h e t i c and s y n a e s t h e t i c i m a g e r y , s t a r t l i n g j u x t a p o s i t i o n s o f words and f r a c t u r e d s y n t a x i n p u r s u i t o f a s t y l e commensurate t o h i s s u b j e c t m a t t e r . W h i t e ' s l a n g u a g e i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y marks t h e r e t u r n t o a m a g i c a l , m y t h i c a l age when p o e t i c , h i e r o g l y p h i c l a n g u a g e p r e v a i l e d . R e s t o r e d p o t e n c y t o words means new l i f e i n t h i n g s , hence t h e c a t a l o g u e o f r e m a r k a b l e o b j e c t s i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y . F i r e - b a l l , hawk, r o s e and s h e l l : a l l a r e examples o f p e r f e c t i o n i n t h e m i d s t o f t r a n s i e n c e . The n o v e l w h i c h f o l l o w s , The T r e e o f Man r o f f e r s a d r a s t i c change o f p a c e : i t u s e s r i c h , r h y t h m i c , B i b l i c a l l a n g u a g e t o d e p i c t c h a r a c t e r s engaged i n t h e s e a r c h f o r permanence. 121 Notes 1 Elyot's descent into the watery depths of the mirror i s strongly reminiscent of White's own account of venturing through the looking glass as a boy: There was the Long Room, at one end the garden, at the other the great gilded mirror, a l l blotches and dimples and r i p p l e s . I fluctuated in the watery glass; according to the l i g h t I retreated into the depths of the aquarium, or 1 trembled in the foreground l i k e a thread of pale-green samphire. Those who thought they knew me were ignorant of the creature I scarcely knew myself. Patrick White, Flaws in the Glass: A S e l f - P o r t r a i t (New York: Viking, 1982), p. 1. 2 Mark Williams, "Remittance Bards: The Places, Tribes, and Dialects of Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry," Diss. The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1983, p. 157. 3 Williams, p. 160. 4 Wolfe, p. 67. B William Walsh, Patrick White's F i c t i o n (Sydney: George Allen and Unwin, 1977), p. 25. s Brian Kiernan, "The Novels of Patrick White," in The  Literature of Au s t r a l i a , ed. Geoffrey Dutton ( V i c t o r i a : Penguin, 1976), p. 465. 7 William Walsh, A Manifold Voice: Studies in 122 Commonwealth L i t e r a t u r e (London: Chat to and Windus, 1970) , p . 95. 8 Wol f e , p . 71. 9 W i l l i a m s , p . 284. 1 0 W i l l i a m s , p . 277. 1 1 W i l l i a m s , p . 298. 1 2 W i l l i a m s , p . 295. 1 3 W i l l i a m s , p . 315. 1 4 N o r t h r o p F r y e , d i s c u s s i n g v a r i e t i e s of b i b l i c a l imagery l i k e t r e e s , f i r e and water , remarks p e r t i n e n t l y t h a t "Whatever i s s t r u c k by f i r e from the s k y , whether b e n e v o l e n t l y or i n w r a t h , i s s y m b o l i c a l l y a t the h i g h e s t p o i n t i n the w o r l d . " F r y e , The Great Code, p . 158. 1 B What bone reminds us of most p o t e n t l y i s the f a c t t h a t we are a l r e a d y o n l y s k e l e t o n s . T r a n s i e n c e c o - e x i s t s w i th permanence; we are never f a r from the g r a v e . 1 8 T h i s r e i n f o r c e s M i l e B e r t h e ' s e a r l i e r pronouncement about the t e n t a t i v e nature of w a l l s (TAS, 194) . 1 7 Hawks seem to h o l d s p e c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e f o r P a t r i c k Whi te : i t i s the f i r s t t h i n g we meet i n h i s n o v e l Happy  V a l l e v . 1 8 W o l f e , p . 83. 1 9 see Dav id Tacey , "The S e c r e t of the B l a c k Rose: S p i r i t u a l Alchemy i n P a t r i c k W h i t e ' s The A u n t ' s S t o r y . " A d e l a i d e ALS Working P a p e r s . 2, No. 2 (1977), . 36-78. 2 0 Music I would p l a c e i n the r i v e r / t r e e scheme of t h i n g s 123 because both r i v e r and music in pa r t i c u l a r have t r a d i t i o n a l l y been used to symbolize f l e e t i n g time. Smetana's Ma_Vlast, for instance, depicts the changing fortunes of the Vltava River from stream to r i v e r to sea using modulations in notes, volume and tempo. 2 1 Beatson, p. 137. 2 2 Williams, p. 29. 2 3 Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, trans. Maria Jolas (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969), pp. 147 and 179. 2 4 A.M. McCulloch, A Tragic Vision: The Novels of  Patrick White (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1983), p. 110. 2 5 McCulloch, p. 143. 2 6 McCulloch, p. 154. 2 7 Bachelard, p. 222. 124 I I I R i v e r / T r e e o n l y a l e a f f a l l i n g a t dusk w i l l d i s t u r b t h e r e a s o n w i t h o u t r e a s o n . --The T r e e of Man In c o u n t r i e s where t h e l e a v e s a r e l a r g e as hands where f l o w e r s p r o t r u d e t h e i r f l e s h y c h i n s and c a l l t h e i r c o l o u r s , an i m a g i n a r y s n ow-storm sometimes f a l l s among t h e l i l i e s . And i n t h e e a r l y m o r n i n g one w i l l waken t o t h i n k t h e g l o w i n g l i n e n o f h i s p i l l o w a n o r t h e r n d r i f t , w i l l f i n d h i m s e l f m i s t a k e n and l i e back w e e p i n g . --P.K. Page, " S t o r i e s o f Snow" \ 125 T r e e s and r i v e r s c o n j u r e up v i s i o n s o£ n a t u r a l g r a n d e u r and d i g n i t y . L o n g and l i n e a r , t h e y p r o v i d e a s u f f i c i e n t l y roomy s t r u c t u r e f o r t h e n o v e l i s t t o f l o w i n t o . The T r e e o f  Man i s j u s t s u c h an e x p a n s i v e , u n h u r r i e d n a r r a t i v e a b o u t t h e c u l t i v a t i o n o f t h e A u s t r a l i a n o u t b a c k . J u s t as t h e New T e s t a m e n t a s s u r e s us n o t a s p a r r o w f a l l s , nor h a i r f r o m a head t h a t God i s unaware o f , so t o o c a n t h e same be c l a i m e d o f P a t r i c k W h i t e ' s n o v e l : no l e a f t h a t p a r t s f r o m a bough goes u n r e c o r d e d i n t h i s e p i c , a l l - e n c o m p a s s i n g n a r r a t i v e o f l i f e on t h e l a n d . S t a n P a r k e r s t a r t s h a c k i n g h i s way t h r o u g h t r e e s and s c r u b as a young man, b u i l d s h i m s e l f a house, m a r r i e s , has c h i l d r e n , and m a t u r e s w a t c h i n g t h e g r a d u a l t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f bush i n t o town. The book c h r o n i c l e s S t a n ' s r e l a t i o n s w i t h h i s w i f e Amy and t h e i r e v e n t u a l c h i l d r e n Ray and Thelma, a l o n g t h e way a l s o r e c o u n t i n g l o c a l e v e n t s s u c h as f l o o d s and f i r e s and more u n i v e r s a l d i s r u p t i o n s s u c h as W o r l d War I . A v a s t s e n s e of t i m e and s p a c e r e i g n s t h r o u g h o u t t h e work. Whereas t i m e and s p a c e were c o m p r e s s e d i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y t o t h e p o i n t where t h e r e was l i t t l e s e n s e o f t i m e p a s s i n g or o f l o c a t i o n , The T r e e o f Man d e p i c t s b o t h as moving, i n t e r c o n n e c t e d s t r e a m s w h i c h sweep c h a r a c t e r s t h r o u g h t h e i r l i v e s . F u r t h e r , s t y l e c o n f o r m s t o s t r u c t u r e : s e n t e n c e s t e n d t o be l o n g and t r a d i t i o n a l l y p u t t o g e t h e r , as s i m p l e and humble as t h e main c h a r a c t e r s and l i f e s t y l e d e p i c t e d . The A u n t ' s S t o r y combined v a r i o u s s t y l e s and s t r u c t u r e s t o c h a o t i c e f f e c t ; The T r e e o f  Man s t i c k s w i t h t h e p r o s a i c and t h e l i n e a r as e v i d e n c e o f t h e 126 permanence and continuity Stan pursues throughout his l i f e . Tree and r i v e r seem to me objects which best i l l u s t r a t e the shape of The Tree of Man. I j o i n them because together they embody the l i m i t s of man's p o s s i b i l i t i e s : both inhabit time and space, the one expressing h o r i z o n t a l l y what the other suggests v e r t i c a l l y . Their long, linear form bespeaks d i r e c t i o n a l i t y and the beyond. Firmly rooted in the v e r i f i a b l e , r i v e r s and trees also compel humanity's gaze into and beyond i t s e l f : they act as hinges between the r e a l and the numinous. They also link those p o l a r i t i e s which define the human race's view of the world: heaven and h e l l , sunrise and s u n s e t — t r e e s and r i v e r s hold together the opposites. Both, however, prove to be victims of t h e i r extensive past; for instance, r i v e r s have h i s t o r i c a l l y been c a l l e d upon to symbolize f l e e t i n g time and trees to symbolize the s e l f as process of growth. While th e i r appropriateness for these chores i s indisputable (sanctioned mainly by centuries of being used in just these ways), i t i s peripheral to their best role as themselves. When i s a r i v e r not a r i v e r ? When i t i s a symbol, or, more to the point, when i t i s a word. Surely r i v e r s and trees, in a l l th e i r amplitude and r i c h allusiveness, can s a t i s f y any number of readerly and w r i t e r l y intentions, not because of t h e i r well-documented f l e x i b i l i t y as symbols, but also because they remain superb, complex, indi v i d u a l creations? Consider, for example, theologian Martin Buber's approach to trees: 127 I contemplate a t r e e . I can accept i t as a p i c t u r e . . . I can f e e l i t as movement . . . I can a s s i g n i t to a s p e c i e s and observe i t as an in s t a n c e . . . Does the t r e e then have consciousness, s i m i l a r to our own? I have no experience of t h a t . . . . What I encounter i s n e i t h e r the s o u l of a t r e e nor a dryad, but the t r e e i t s e l f . 1 Whatever they invoke or connote must always a r i s e from what they a r e . Somehow l i t e r a t u r e has misplaced t r u e r i v e r s and t r e e s , f o r g o t t e n t h a t they are wet or rough, c o o l or green. Novels l i k e The Tree of Man recover them from u n j u s t e x i l e i n the land of a b s t r a c t i o n and r e s t o r e them to the eroded landscape of modern f i c t i o n . Subject as they are to l i f e , death and change, r i v e r and t r e e cannot help but embody t i m e l e s s n e s s w i t h i n temporal parameters. Because time remains a p r a c t i c a l l y opaque concept, o b j e c t s l i k e r i v e r s and t r e e s s i z e the daunting down to human terms. For a l l t h e i r t e x t u a l and elemental r e a l i t y , r i v e r and t r e e cannot help but tempt our imagin a t i o n beyond them as o b j e c t s . T h i s i s as i n e v i t a b l e as our c o n t i n u a l posing of those q u e s t i o n s t o which we cannot expect answers. What we are l e f t d e s i r i n g , u l t i m a t e l y , i s renewed connection with t h i n g s because they are a l s o , e s s e n t i a l l y , important i n themselves. Water and v e g e t a t i o n come to d e s c r i b e the t e x t u r e of l i f e i n many White n o v e l s . In Voss, f o r example, there i s sometimes l i t t l e to d i f f e r e n t i a t e f l e s h from herbage, j u s t as 128 i n The L i v i n g and t h e Dead c h a r a c t e r s and o b j e c t s seem t o d r i f t h e l p l e s s l y t h r o u g h l i f e . M i r r o r s t a k e on t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f f l u i d s and f l o r a h a b i t u a l l y s n a t c h a t l a d i e s ' s k i r t s i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y , The T r e e o f Man and V o s s . Mary H a r e ' s r i o t o f g r e e n e r y i n R i d e r s i n t h e C h a r i o t p r o v e s p a r t i c u l a r l y t e n a c i o u s : "As M i s s Hare p a s s e d , s e v e r a l b a r b s o f s e v e r a l s t r a n d s a t t a c h e d t h e m s e l v e s t o t h e f o l d s o f her s k i r t , p u l l i n g on i t , t i g h t , t i g h t , t i g h t e r , u n t i l she was a l l s p r e a d o u t b e h i n d , p a r t woman, p a r t u m b r e l l a " (RITC, 9 ) . T h i n g s t r y t o communicate. 129 1. R i v e r / T r e e C o n s i d e r f i r s t any t r e e — t h a t i s , whatever " t r e e " c o n j u r e s up. My p a r t i c u l a r t r e e i s a t a l l , mature d e c i d u o u s , l e a f y and green and m u l t i - b r a n c h e d . C e r t a i n l y a common enough o b j e c t , a t r e e n e v e r t h e l e s s y i e l d s much i n the way of d i s t i n c t i v e n e s s . Take any t r e e — a n a t u r a l , v e g e t a b l e phenomenon—and the most o b v i o u s of i t s p h y s i c a l a s p e c t s a r e i t s v e r t i c a l i t y and d i r e c t i o n a l i t y . Some o t h e r - w o r l d l y a l i e n , e n t i r e l y u n f a m i l i a r w i t h the concept of " t r e e " might be a t p a i n s t o d e s c r i b e i t . To him i t might appear a l o n g , l i n e a r form w i t h f o r k - l i k e o f f - s h o o t s a t e i t h e r end of a rough, brown, c y l i n d r i c a l stem. Our a l i e n might go on t o p e r f o r m s e e m i n g l y a b s u r d t e s t s on the t r e e i n o r d e r t o d i s c o v e r more about i t : he might t a s t e i t , or put h i s ear t o i t and the n come up w i t h h i s own p e r s o n a l , u n c l l c h e d i d e a of what t r e e i s . S u b s t a n t i a l , c o n c r e t e and l i v i n g — a l t h o u g h o n l y a r g u a b l y a n i m a t e — t r e e s respond even t o tho s e senses not u s u a l l y employed t o v e r i f y them, l i k e h e a r i n g or t a s t e . Rene M a g r i t t e o f f e r s t h i s c o ncept of t r e e as arch-m e t a m o r p h i z e r : Pushed from the e a r t h toward the sun, a t r e e i s an image of c e r t a i n h a p p i n e s s . To p e r c e i v e t h i s image we must be immobile l i k e a t r e e . When we a r e moving, i t i s 130 the t r e e t h a t becomes the s p e c t a t o r . I t i s w i t n e s s , e q u a l l y , i n the shape of c h a i r s , t a b l e s , and doors t o the more or l e s s a g i t a t e d s p e c t a c l e of our l i f e . The t r e e , h a v i n g become a c o f f i n , d i s a p p e a r s i n t o the e a r t h . And when i t i s t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o f i r e , i t v a n i s h e s i n t o the a i r . 2 Not o n l y a r e t r e e s s u b j e c t t o change, t h e y a l s o embody l i f e ' s b a s i c d i c h o t o m i e s : t r e e t r u n k s , c o a r s e o u t s i d e , prove smooth and h i e r o g l y p h i c i n s i d e , and branches and r o o t s r e a c h i n o p p o s i t e d i r e c t i o n s f o r l i g h t and nourishment. U n l e s s i n t e r f e r e d w i t h i n some way, t r e e s u s u a l l y l i v e l o n g y e a r s and d i s p l a c e i n c r e a s i n g amounts of space, d i g g i n g ever deeper i n t o the e a r t h i n which t h e y anchor and s n a t c h i n g ever l a r g e r h a n d f u l s of s k y . C o n f r o n t e d by any l a r g e , mature t r e e , one's gaze i s co m p e l l e d upwards and beyond the s e l f . T r e e , a l t h o u g h f a m i l i a r , remains u n d e n i a b l y o t h e r . U s u a l l y the c o n t e x t i n which a g i v e n t r e e i s found i n c l u d e s a v a s t backdrop of s k y , a l t h o u g h a t t i m e s o t h e r t r e e t o p s or c l o u d s or p a s s i n g b i r d s e n l a r g e the scene. As independent and a l i e n t o human co n c e r n s as i t seems, t r e e i s n e v e r t h e l e s s s u b j e c t t o the same n a t u r a l laws which a f f e c t humankind. The t r e e t r u n k , f o r i n s t a n c e , f u n c t i o n s as the f i e l d of t e n s i o n f o r the f o r c e s of g r a v i t y as w e l l as f o r the c o n f l i c t between motion and s t a s i s . Somehow the stem w i t h s t a n d s the p u l l of the branches up and away i n t o u n d e f i n e d s p ace, even w h i l e i t s lower body responds t o the p u l l i n t o e a r t h l y o b l i v i o n . Trees e x i s t as dynamic phenomena, 131 i n tune with n a t u r a l c y c l e s , l o s i n g and r e g a i n i n g c o l o u r or f o l i a g e i n t u r n . People see t r e e s as f u n c t i o n a l , and use t h e i r matter f o r lumber, t h e i r bulk f o r shade or t h e i r produce f o r food, j u s t as n e s t i n g animals look on t r e e s as n a t u r a l abodes. Hence, t r e e as s t r u c t u r e shares a f f i n i t i e s with both body and house. These v e r y d i f f e r e n t forms a l s o share some of the same terminology: 'limb* a p p l i e s t o both t r e e and body, and "f a m i l y t r e e ' p r o v i d e s the metaphorical e q u i v a l e n t to 'house of Windsor,' f o r example. Consider t r e e as upside-down man or woman, where the i n t r i c a t e r o o t system i s l i k e long, f l o w i n g h a i r . Or t h i n k of t r e e r o o t s as l a b y r i n t h i n e , i n v i t a t i o n s to a maze impossible to f o l l o w . Consider the branches of a f i r t r e e , poised a r r o w - l i k e towards the s t a r s , or deciduous branches as the hideaway of gods. Trees evoke powerful a s s o c i a t i o n s , o r i g i n a t i n g i n no l e s s than humanity's f i r s t d e f i a n c e of God. The t r e e of knowledge of good and e v i l p r e c i p i t a t e d a drama which saw man and woman reduced to temporal beings i n an imperfect world. L a t e r , however, t r e e took on a redemptive f u n c t i o n as c r u c i f i x . Trees f i g u r e l a r g e l y i n C h r i s t i a n mythology, from the beginning u n t i l the very end, or new beginning, as foreseen i n John's R e v e l a t i o n of a new heaven and new e a r t h , made p o s s i b l e by C h r i s t ' s s a c r i f i c e upon the h o l y rood. More p o p u l a r l y , t r e e came to be synonymous with gallows as w e l l as with v a r i o u s wooden implements l i k e the s h a f t of a spear or the framework of a 1 3 2 saddle. Its form has also prompted the invention of domestic, u t i l i t a r i a n objects l i k e the clothing tree. Throughout the ages trees have inspired a r t i s t i c contemplation of a l l kinds, and Patrick White i s obviously a l e r t to t h i s a l l u s i v e richness of tree in his novel The Tree  of Man. His tree stands in d i r e c t contrast to and defiance of the o r i g i n a l , b i b l i c a l version of tree. White p l a i n l y attempts to demythologize tree in t h i s his fourth published novel. As Vincent Buckley points out, i t is a tree trimmed down to s i z e . The tree of man: in short, unspectacular and unobtrusive, half of whose l i f e i s a spreading and deepening of roots, not an explosion and d i f f u s i o n of heroic gestures. It survives, in so, far as i t survives at a l l , because i t has a real r e l a t i o n s h i p with the earth. It does not ponder, does not consciously accept or re j e c t , i t s bonds with the earth. It simply has, i_s_ those bonds. 3 Despite overwhelming c u l t u r a l accretion, much of which i s admittedly foregrounded in a novel l i k e The Tree of Manf tree s t i l l pulses with some uniqueness of being. Not only does i t s form inspire the structure of the novel, tree also l a r g e l y informs the character of humble, stalwart Stan(d) Parker. Just as tree cleaves sky, so r i v e r cleaves land. It i s that copious stream of water flowing in a channel, always towards another body of water: the sea, a lake, or another stream. It is l i q u i d and moving, hence dynamic and 133 c h a n g i n g — a g a i n , o n l y a r g u a b l y a n i m a t e . L i k e t r e e , r i v e r ' s f o r m i s l i n e a r , i n v o k i n g d i r e c t i o n and d i s t a n c e ; as t r e e b r a n c h e s , so t o o may r i v e r , t h u s making i t m e t a p h o r i c a l l y s u i t e d f o r e v o k i n g v a s t r e a c h e s o f t i m e and s p a c e . L i k e t r e e , r i v e r i s s u b j e c t t o f o r c e s o f g r a v i t y , a l t h o u g h i t c o n t i n u a l l y d e f i e s t h e s e i n t h e c o u r s e o f t h e g r e a t c y c l e o f w a t e r e v a p o r a t i n g and t h e n c o n d e n s i n g a g a i n . R i v e r e s t a b l i s h e s laws o f i t s own i n t h e f o r m o f c u r r e n t s and e d d i e s , and i t , l i k e t r e e , s e r v e s as abode f o r i n f i n i t e v a r i e t i e s o f c r e a t u r e s . J u s t as t r e e i s n o r m a l l y v i e w e d i n t h e c o n t e x t o f s k y , so i s r i v e r s e e n f l a n k e d on two s i d e s by l a n d . The word i t s e l f d e r i v e s f r o m t h e F r e n c h " r i v e , " meaning "bank," b u t i t a l s o d e n o t e s " c l e a v e , " "open," or " s e v e r , " and i n a d d i t i o n l e n d s i t s e l f t o v a r i a t i o n s l i k e " r e v e r . " F o r i n a s y m b o l i c s e n s e , r i v e r has l o n g been s e e n as r e p o s i t o r y f o r dreams. M y t h o l o g i c a l l y , r i v e r r e p r e s e n t s t h e b o u n d a r y between l i f e and d e a t h . I t i s s t i l l l o o k e d t o as t h e s o u r c e o f l i f e and r e n e w a l : c o n s i d e r , f o r i n s t a n c e , t h e m y s t i q u e o f t h e Ganges and t h e r o l e i t c o n t i n u e s t o p l a y i n I n d i a n r e l i g i o u s l i f e . Water a l s o p l a y s a c e n t r a l r o l e i n b i b l i c a l m y t h o l o g y : i t i s t h e r e , i n t h e b e g i n n i n g , even b e f o r e t h e t r e e s . In t h e O l d T e s t a m e n t w a t e r p r o v i d e s t h e means f o r many o f God's m i r a c l e s as p e r f o r m e d i n E g y p t by Moses. The New T e s t a m e n t f i n d s water t h e c e n t r a l i n g r e d i e n t i n t h e l i f e - a f f i r m i n g r i t u a l o f b a p t i s m as p r a c t i s e d by J o h n t h e B a p t i s t . Whatever t h e m y t h o l o g y , w a t e r i s f e a r e d and r e v e r e d a s s o u r c e o f b o t h l i f e and d e a t h . 1 3 4 River does not p l a y as prominent a r o l e i n The Tree of  Man as does t r e e . Except as d e s t r u c t i v e f o r c e d u r i n g the f l o o d , r i v e r s c a r c e l y s u r f a c e s at a l l , although, agai n , l a c k of water almost d e s t r o y s the land d u r i n g the f i r e . But as we have seen i n The Aunt's Story, water as medium f r e q u e n t l y informs the t e x t u r e of c h a r a c t e r s ' l i v e s . Whenever they peer i n t o m i r r o r s , c h a r a c t e r s l i k e Theodora and Stan and Amy gaze hot upon g l a s s , but i n t o the dark mysterious depths of some t r o u b l e d p o o l . But i t i s not so much r i v e r as water as i t i s the long, winding form of the t h i n g i t s e l f which j u s t i f i e s i t s l i n k to t r e e and to my c l a i m f o r i t as i n s p i r i n g the s t r u c t u r e of the n o v e l . What t r e e i s to space i n The Tree of Man, r i v e r i s to time. White's novel i s i t s e l f a t r e e . White s p e c i f i e s i t a t r e e of man, but, by v i r t u e of i t s s t r u c t u r e , the book i s f i r s t and foremost a t r e e p l a i n and simple. The novel u n f o l d s a c c o r d i n g to a c h r o n o l o g i c a l , l i n e a r sequence of events which s t a r t a t s e v e r a l beginnings: of Stan Parker's l i f e on the land, of the land as c u l t i v a t e d and i n h a b i t e d , of P a r k e r s ' marriage and t h e i r house, and of t h e i r community. F i r s t comes one, then two, then many. S t o r y develops a c c o r d i n g to numerous a r r i v a l s and d e p a r t u r e s : the B i b l e p e d l a r , appearing as he does at the beginning, complements the b i b l i c a l nature of the book's opening and, d i s a p p e a r i n g as he does, i n t r o d u c e s the novel's f i r s t l o s s — t h a t of the s i l v e r nutmeg g r a t e r ; the a d o p t i v e boy, coaxed a g a i n s t h i s w i l l by Amy f l e e s , l e a v i n g 135 b e h i n d h i s f r a g m e n t o f r o s e - t i n t e d g l a s s , w h i c h o b j e c t , l i k e t h e g r a t e r , s e r v e s t o l i n k b e g i n n i n g w i t h end ( t h a t i s , b o t h a r e r e - d i s c o v e r e d — t h e f i r s t by P a r k e r s ' g r a n d s o n Ray, t h e s e c o n d by Amy h e r s e l f ) ; F r i t z t h e German, whose h e l p f u l p r e s e n c e becomes s u c h a l i a b i l i t y d u r i n g t h e war y e a r s t h a t he imposes e x i l e upon h i m s e l f ; Con, s e c o n d a f t e r M o r a l t i s i n a l o n g l i n e o f Greek c h a r a c t e r s t o p e o p l e W h i t e ' s n o v e l s , who i n s p i r e s t h e P a r k e r s w i t h e x o t i c t h o u g h t s and t h e c h i l d r e n w i t h d a r k p a s s i o n s , and who u l t i m a t e l y l e a v e s t o make i t b i g i n t h e c i t y ; f i n a l l y , Ray and Thelma t h e m s e l v e s , b o t h o f whom f o r s a k e t h e l a n d f o r t h e c i t y and who b o t h come t o be v i r t u a l l y d e ad t o t h e i r p a r e n t s . From s o l i t u d e t o community t o c i t y , f r o m s e l f t o f a m i l y t o s h a t t e r e d f r a g m e n t s t h e r e o f , The T r e e o f Man t r a c e s a d e c l i n i n g q u a l i t y o f l i f e . S e l f -r e l i a n c e and s t r e n g t h o f c h a r a c t e r h o l d no c u r r e n c y i n Sydney, where c o n n i n g r e p r e s e n t s a way o f l i f e and i m m e r s i o n i n t h e m a t e r i a l d e f i n e s t h e i n d i v i d u a l . The n o v e l ' s s t r u c t u r e i s c a r e f u l l y b a l a n c e d . Seven c h a p t e r s c o m p r i s e t h e f i r s t and l a s t o f i t s p a r t s , f r a m i n g t h e c e n t r a l two s e c t i o n s ' s i x c h a p t e r s e a c h . As b o t h L e o n i e Kramer and M a n f r e d M a c k e n z i e have p o i n t e d o u t , The T r e e o f  Man's f o u r - p a r t s t r u c t u r e c a n be s e e n t o c o r r e s p o n d t o o t h e r s t r u c t u r e s o f man and n a t u r e w h i c h a l s o a p p e a r i n m u l t i p l e s of f o u r , namely: t h e f o u r a g e s o f man and t h e f o u r s e a s o n s , where y o u t h c o r r e s p o n d s t o s p r i n g , m i d d l e age t o summer, o l d age t o f a l l and d e a t h t o w i n t e r . These p e r p e t u a l c y c l e s a r e 136 p u n c t u a t e d by n a t u r a l , as w e l l as m e t a p h y s i c a l e v e n t s w h i c h , when t r a c e d , r e v e a l a k i n d o f r i s e and f a l l c u r v e : t h e f l o o d w h i c h o c c u r s i n P a r t One c o r r e s p o n d s t o S t a n P a r k e r ' s s e n s e of v i r i l i t y and s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y ; t h e f i r e i n P a r t Two comes i n S t a n ' s m a t u r i t y , r e p l e t e f o r him w i t h w i f e and c h i l d r e n b u t a l s o w i t h vague gnawings o f d o u b t , f o r i t i s d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d t h a t he r e s c u e s M a d e l e i n e f r o m t h e f i r e a t G l a s t o n b u r y , and a l s o t h a t he goes t o war; P a r t T h r e e b r i n g s t h e f o r m e r l y b u r g e o n i n g d o u b t s i n t o s h a r p e r f o c u s , w i t h S t a n ' s d i s c o v e r y o f Amy's i n f i d e l i t y , o f h i s s o n ' s d i s r e p u t a b l e ways and of d a u g h t e r T helma's r e j e c t i o n o f h e r p a r e n t s ; P a r t F o u r moves f r o m S t a n ' s c o m p l e t e d i s s o l u t i o n and d e n i a l t o h i s e v e n t u a l r e t u r n t o some k i n d o f peace w i t h h i m s e l f . A g a i n , t h e q u a l i t y o f l i f e d e p i c t e d d e c l i n e s s t e a d i l y . L i k e a t r e e , w h i c h b r a n c h e s o u t b o t h above and b e l o w t h e g r o u n d , The T r e e o f Man e x h i b i t s open f o r m . The n o v e l ends no t w i t h S t a n ' s d e a t h b u t w i t h a n o t h e r b e g i n n i n g i n w h i c h h i s g r a n d s o n d i s c o v e r s l i f e , d e a t h and a r t i n t h e f o r m o f t r e e s . N a r r a t i v e p r o c e e d s e p i s o d i c a l l y , and W h i t e ' s s t y l e r e m a i n s e n t i r e l y r e a l i s t i c t h r o u g h o u t . C r i t i c s s u c h as M a c k e n z i e and Kramer p e r s i s t i n s e e i n g The T r e e o f Man as p a r a d i g m a t i c and a p o c a l y p t i c , and as u n a b a s h e d a l l e g o r y i n w h i c h o b j e c t s and e v e n t s t a k e on h e a v i l y s y m b o l i c v a l u e . B u t , w h i l e b i b l i c a l o v e r t o n e s a r e c e r t a i n l y e v i d e n t i n t h e n o v e l , b i b l i c a l s t r u c t u r a l m y t h o l o g y i s n o t s t r i c t l y a d h e r e d t o ; I t h e r e f o r e s u g g e s t t h a t t h i s work d e p i c t s no a l l e g o r i c a l f a l l 137 from Eden. I would also argue with Mackenzie's distinguishing between White as r e a l i s t i c in manner but not in method; i t seems to me that White inje c t s realism back into the symbol in t h i s novel so that the reader never ends up with s t a t i c trees or cabbages or roses. The f i r s t paragraph of Part One, Chapter One, begins the novel in a l l due s i m p l i c i t y . A cart drove between the two big stringybarks and stopped. These were the dominant trees in that part of the bush, r i s i n g above the involved scrub with the s i m p l i c i t y of true grandeur. So the cart stopped, grazing the hairy side of a tree, and the horse, shaggy and s t o l i d as the tree, sighed and took root. (TTOM, 9) Man appears nowhere in t h i s scene: the cart moves and stops of i t s own accord, i t s only witnesses a horse and two t r e e s — s p e c i f i c a l l y , "two big stringybarks." The name conjures a v i s i o n of lean, humble trees, but, as the narrator informs us, they represent royalty in that part of the bush. The fact that the cart stops i s repeated, s i g n i f y i n g t h i s to be a momentous pause, as indeed i t i s . For what next occurs i s a kind of reversal, where tree i s "hairy" l i k e the horse and horse, "shaggy and s t o l i d as the tree, sighed and took root." Taking root quickly turns into the dominant metaphor for the entire novel: The Tree of Man proves to be about nothing less than Stan Parker's "melancholy longing for permanence," (TTOM, 13) his desire for "the peace of permanence," (TTOM, 14) and 138 his search to find i t . The novel, which traces the span of Stan's l i f e , bears witness to him as a kind of b a t t l e f i e l d on which "the nostalgia of permanence and the fiend of motion" (TTOMf 14) f i g h t i t out. Permanence i s unchanging and f o r e v e r — a deceptive yet appealing (and hence cruel) state that humanity covets to no a v a i l ; permanence i s also a tree — the tree of man: changing but enduring. When next tree appears, two paragraphs l a t e r , i t i s in human company. Again, the encounter proves momentous: Then the man took an axe and struck at the side of a hairy tree, more to hear the sound than for any other reason. And the sound was cold and loud. The man struck at the tree, and struck, t i l l several white chips had f a l l e n . He looked at the scar in the side of the tree. The silence was immense. It was the f i r s t time anything l i k e t h i s had happened in that part of the bush. (TTOM, 9) The man, who w i l l remain unnamed for almost two f u l l pages, meets a tree with violent gesture in order to a f f i r m his own presence and strength. The arboreal recipient of the man's blows, "hairy" as before, i s scarred by the attention, as the man notices. The "cold . . . loud" sound of the thwacks emphasizes the i s o l a t i o n the man faces; hence his reason for swinging at the embodiment of that solitude. Before long the man sets out to r i d the land of i t s long-lived denizens, putting up shelter for himself and building a f i r e at their expense. Strangely enough, in seeking his own permanence, the 139 man d e s t r o y s t h e sy m b o l s t h e r e o f . C l e a r l y t h o u g h , by t h e end of h i s f i r s t d a y on t h e l a n d , a t r a n s f e r e n c e has o c c u r r e d : "He s m e l l e d t h e s m e l l o f g r e e n wood b u r n i n g . . . . And t h e c a v e r n o f f i r e was enormous, l a b y r i n t h i n e , t h a t r e c e i v e d t h e man. He b r a n c h e d and f l a m e d , glowed and i n c r e a s e d , and was s u d d e n l y e x t i n g u i s h e d i n t h e l i t t l e p u f f s o f smoke and t i r e d t h o u g h t s " (TTOM, 1 0 ) . The man has t a k e n on c e r t a i n t r e e - l i k e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . As he u p r o o t s , he h i m s e l f t a k e s r o o t , b r a n c h i n g o u t and i n c r e a s i n g i n r e c i p r o c i t y w i t h l a n d and t r e e s ; a s he s h a p e s t h e l a n d , so t o o does h i s l i f e t a k e s h a p e . S t a n ' s c l a i m i s n o t s t a k e d w i t h o u t a c e r t a i n amount o f v i o l e n c e . P u r p o s e he d e f i n e s as t h e " o p p o s i n g [ o f ] s i l e n c e and r o c k and t r e e " (TTOM, 1 5 ) . So, as he a d v a n c e s t h r o u g h t h e s c r u b , hewing and c l e a r i n g , t h e d i c t i o n becomes i n c r e a s i n g l y m i l i t a r i s t i c : As t h e d a y i n c r e a s e d , S t a n P a r k e r emerged and, a f t e r g o i n g h e r e and t h e r e , s i m p l y l o o k i n g a t what was h i s , began t o t e a r t h e bush a p a r t . H i s f i r s t t r e e f e l l t h r o u g h t h e w h i t e s i l e n c e w i t h a v o l l e y o f l e a v e s . T h i s was c l e a n enough. But t h e r e was a l s o t h e meaner w a r f a r e o f t h e s c r u b , d e a d l y i n t e c h n i q u e and o m n i p r e s e n c e , t h a t would come up f r o m b e h i n d and l e a v e w a r n i n g on t h e f l e s h i n messages o f b l o o d . (TTOM., 16) The a s s a u l t of man on n a t u r e i s n o t o n l y r u t h l e s s b u t a l s o r e c i p r o c a t e d : S t a n wrenches t h e bush back f r o m t h e l a n d and v e g e t a t i o n a v e n g e s i t s e l f by c l a w i n g b a c k . The n a r r a t o r d e s c r i b e s S t a n as " p o s s e s s e d by h i s daemon o f p u r p o s e " (TTOM, 140 16 ) , hence a d d i n g a ma levo l en t note to h i s i n t r u s i o n . "The l o g s of s l e e p l a y dead heavy" (TTOM, 16) sugges ts not j u s t S t a n ' s exhausted slumber a t the end of a l o n g , l a b o r i o u s day but a l s o the corpses of t r e e s t h a t l i t t e r the ground on which he l a y s h i s head . S t a n ' s wish f o r change le s snes s b r i n g s d e v a s t a t i n g change to the l and a n d , what i s more, i t a l t e r s the v e r y na ture of t ime i t s e l f . The book's opening c h a p t e r harbours many b e g i n n i n g s , among them S t a n ' s own. As f a r as he remembers, h i s own o r i g i n s c o i n c i d e somehow w i t h the p a l e - b l u e g e n t l e God of h i s mother , and the f i e r y , gus ty God of h i s f a t h e r . "Anyway, i n the b e g i n n i n g . At W i l l o w C r e e k , God bent the t r e e s t i l l they streamed i n the wind l i k e beards" (T_T_OM_, 11)—God's b e a r d , of c o u r s e . God and b e g i n n i n g and t r e e remain a l l lumped t o g e t h e r i n h i s young b o y ' s mind and , d e s p i t e h i s r e a d i n g f o r a y s i n t o Hamlet and the New Testament , i n t e r p r e t a t i o n e ludes him: "Anyway, not ye t" (TTOM, 12 ) . As a young man, Stan content s h i m s e l f w i t h a l o n g i n g f o r permanence and s p o r a d i c at tempts a t s h a r i n g the d i s t a n c e between h i m s e l f and other p e o p l e . Grown o l d e r , he opts f o r s o l i t u d e and sheer l i v i n g i n the moment: "His p l a c e i n the presen t was warm enough. . . . Because the p r e s e n t p r e v a i l s " (TTOM, 13, 15 ) . But as he s t r u g g l e s w i t h the bush , he works h i m s e l f i n t o a f r e n z y of tomorrow: " A n a e s t h e t i z e d by the f u t u r e , he f e l t n e i t h e r whips nor a c t u a l wounds" (TTOM, 16) . From f o r m l e s s n e s s , Stan s t r i v e s towards form. 141 There in the scarred bush, that had not yet accepted i t s changed face, the man soon began to build a house, or shack. He brought the slabs he had shaped for logs. Slowly. He p i l e d his matchsticks. So the days were pi l e d too. Seasons were closing and opening on the clearing in which the man was at work. If days fanned the fury in him, months soothed, so that time, as i t passed, was both shaping and dis s o l v i n g , in one. (TTOM, 16) Time and space come to wear a human face in the form of pil e d logs. Stan's e f f o r t s , slow and deliberate as always, represent his f i r s t step towards establishing the longed-for permanence. In time, the stumps cease to bleed. Riot in the underbrush s e t t l e s down and the "blunt" house, "plain but honest" (TTOMr 17) f u l f i l s necessity. His spurt of c r e a t i v i t y complete, Stan pauses in his labour to find himself a mate. The opening chapter closes on thi s promise of a future. The language of thi s f i r s t chapter marks the novel as e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t from The Aunt's Story. Cart, tree, horse and dog f i l l the f i r s t few pages with real presence. Here, where words are the things themselves, is ground-zero writing. Mark Williams puts i t t h i s way: His [Stan's] world i s one of at-homeness between things and s e l f . This f e e l i n g of being at home in the world allows a sense of intimate connection between words and things, actions and meanings. Stan's world i s commensurate to his d e s i r e s . 4 142 N e i t h e r words nor t h i n g s f u n c t i o n as s y m b o l s : t h i n g s a r e what t h e y s e e m — e x c e p t t h a t t h e y manage t o e x h i b i t some v i t a l i t y : f i r e , f o r i n s t a n c e , " l i c k e d a t and s w a l l o w e d t h e l o n e l i n e s s " TTOM, 9 ) — a n d nouns e x i s t i n t h e i r d e n o t a t i v e f u n c t i o n . The w r i t i n g s t y l e s t r i v e s f o r and a c h i e v e s an e v o c a t i v e e f f e c t , w i t h i t s l o n g , r h y t h m i c s e n t e n c e s , r e p e t i t i o n s and b i b l i c a l r e s o n a n c e s . But S t a n has n o t d i s c o v e r e d Eden, and t h e s t y l e sometimes r e f l e c t s t h i s : "A dog l i f t i n g h i s l e g on an a n t h i l l . The l i p d r o o p i n g on t h e s w e a t y h o r s e " (TTOM, 9 ) . As s i m p l e and humble as s t y l e a p p e a r s , however, i t r e m a i n s d i s t i n c t l y i m p e r s o n a l , as i f t o d e m o n s t r a t e S t a n ' s p l i g h t as man i n t h e m i d d l e of a v a s t nowhere. By t h e end o f t h e f i r s t s e c t i o n t h e homestead S t a n has c a r v e d o u t o f t h e bush i s p a r t o f a community named D u r i l g a i . The s c r u b has been s u b d u e d , S t a n has m a r r i e d Amy and she has f u r t h e r c i v i l i z e d t h e i r l a n d by p l a n t i n g r o s e b u s h e s . So f a r , P a r k e r s ' f l e d g l i n g f a m i l y numbers two, t h e boy f r o m t h e f l o o d s a t W u l l u n y a h a v i n g d e c l i n e d t o j o i n them. Even s o , a t t h i s e a r l y s t a g e i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n b o t h S t a n and Amy f e e l t h e m s e l v e s c o m p l e t e , and t h e i r common l i f e t o be good. U n a b l e t o a r t i c u l a t e h i s s a t i s f a c t i o n , S t a n l o o k s once a g a i n t o t r e e as a p o i n t o f r e f e r e n c e f o r h i s l i f e : "They were c l o s e . T h e i r l i v e s had grown t o g e t h e r . T hey would c o n t i n u e i n t h a t way, b e c a u s e i t was n o t p o s s i b l e t o d i v i d e t h e i r common t r u n k " (TTOM, 9 8 ) . F u r t h e r on, t h e i r b o d i e s a r e r e f e r r e d t o as " stems" (TTOM, 9 8 ) , t h u s r e i n f o r c i n g t h e p h y s i c a l n a t u r e of 143 t h e i r a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h e a c h o t h e r and w i t h t h e l a n d . S t a n f e e l s most g r a t i f i e d t o n o t i c e i n Amy what he b e l i e v e s t o be a change f r o m h e r s h a l l o w , g i r l i s h s e l f t o t h e woman h i s w i f e . A g a i n , t h i s improvement i n h e r S t a n gauges a c c o r d i n g t o Amy's b u r g e o n i n g r e l a t i o n w i t h t h e l a n d : "She had begun t o see t h e s h a p e s o f t h e t r e e s , t h e w h i t e c o l u m n s , and t h e h u m b l e r , s h a g g y o n e s , s t i r r i n g and i n c l i n i n g t o w a r d s them i n t h e m o r n i n g l i g h t " (TTOM, 9 8 ) . H o s t i l i t y between man and n a t u r e seems t o have begun w i t h S t a n ' s f e l l i n g o f t h e f i r s t t r e e , t o have c r e s t e d w i t h t h e d e v a s t a t i n g f l o o d s and f i n a l l y t o have a b a t e d w i t h t h e p r o m i s e o f a f r u i t f u l t r e e o f man. Near t h e end o f t h e n o v e l S t a n i s once a g a i n r e f e r r e d t o i n a r b o r e a l t e r m s . The s p e a k e r i s h i s d a u g h t e r Thelma, who, i n her u s u a l d e n i g r a t i n g f a s h i o n , " t o o k Dad f o r g r a n t e d , he would s t i l l be s t a n d i n g t h e r e , h i s h a r d and s u r p r i s i n g t r u n k , r o o t e d " (TTOM, 3 4 6 ) . The p a r a l l e l s w i t h T h e o d o r a ' s f a t h e r i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y a r e c l e a r : b o t h men, q u i e t and s t a l w a r t , s i m p l e and h o n e s t , r e m a i n somehow i n c o m p l e t e and u n s a t i s f i e d - -Mr. Goodman b e c a u s e he has b e t r a y e d h i s p o t e n t i a l by s e t t l i n g f o r c o n v e n t i o n and S t a n b e c a u s e he n e v e r manages t o a d e q u a t e l y c o n v e y t h e s e n s e o f wonder t h e w o r l d i n s p i r e s i n him. In V o s s , man i s a l s o l i k e n e d t o t r e e , t o i t s c a p a c i t y f o r b o t h e n d u r a n c e and c h a n g e . J u d d , t h e e x - c o n v i c t , a b o u t t o accompany V o s s i n t o t h e unknown h e a r t o f t h e c o n t i n e n t , "was, i n f a c t , a u n i o n o f s t r e n g t h and d e l i c a c y , l i k e some g n a r l e d t r e e s t h a t have been t o r t u r e d and t w i s t e d by t i m e and w eather 144 into exaggerated shapes, but of which the leaves s t i l l quiver at each change" (V, 133). For each of these men trees remain potent witnesses of their internal struggles. Like Joe Barnett in The L i v i n g and the Dead, Stan enjoys wood-working and takes up carpentry in later l i f e as a hobby: he had developed a passion for carpentry in recent years, and could now see with peculiar distinctness the grain of the p a r t i c u l a r wood on which he was working, and the l i t t l e nick near a dovetail which had been worrying him because of the blemish i t would leave. (TTOMf 391) His i s such an intimate r e l a t i o n with his materials to the extent that "There were certa i n objects, p a r t i c u l a r l y an axe and the hacksaw, that he could not bear other people to touch" (TTOM, 231). Fashioning objects out of wood s u i t s Stan because i t i s humble, useful, even creative work which sees him transforming one beloved thing into another, a chaos of trees and scrub into the order of home and hearth. To him, the surface of the wood he works on bears signs and hieroglyphs: " i t i s l i k e a map. There are the mountains. That i s a mountain peak. The round one. That i s the highest" (TTOM, 392). Wood i s substantial, s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t , a thing of beauty and of truth whose r e l i a b i l i t y affirms for Stan the r e a l i t y of his own existence. The a f f i l i a t i o n of man with tree and tree with man continues throughout the novel. In Part Two, for instance, the reader i s introduced to the Quigleys in what are by now 0 145 not u n f l a t t e r i n g terms: [Doll and Bub] were l i k e the furniture, or doorposts rather, t h e i r long wooden frames. Sometimes Doll nursed the baby, and the folds of the shawl hung from her long arms in long folds of carved wood, as i f she were holding the c h i l d not according to her own i n s t i n c t , but after some honest sculptor's plan. (TTOMf 117) We recognize in t h i s description of crafted wooden madonna with c h i l d that these are homely, simple and honest people, for White's highest praise i s always meted out to those who share the attributes of r e l i a b l e things l i k e wooden tables and chairs. There i s , however, a minor d i s t i n c t i o n to be made: Quigleys, despite their e l i t e q u a l i t i e s , do not continue but die out, i n f l i c t i n g barely a sign on the land which held them. Bub Quigley seems to be one of those minor characters destined for e l e c t i o n early on. He notices things; even a leaf is to him a wondrous sign. 'Look,' said Bub, 'that i s a l e a f . See? But a skeleton l e a f . You can look right through i t . It's l i k e a sheep's skeleton, or a cow, only t h i s i s a leaf. My s i s t e r says i t i s made of lace. Fancy, a lace l e a f . From a lace tree.' (TTOM, 117) L i t t l e Ray, to whom Bub shows his prize, can only think in his mother's possessive terms. He covets the l e a f , but Bub cannot bear to part with i t . It was of most curious, mysterious workmanship, which he kept in a book that 146 had belonged to his grandfather, and which nobody read. He could not part with the l e a f . C i r c l e s of mystery, beauty, and i n j u s t i c e expanded inside him, d i s t o r t i n g his face. (TTOM. 118) Leaf, emblematic of tree, represents for Bub a kind of mandala—the f i r s t in a long l i n e of such designs which c l e a r l y fascinate White. The lace leaf, i n t r i c a t e and f r a g i l e , reveals the state of Bub's own being. He marvels at things and reveres them, looking through the part to the whole beyond. The a r t i s t Gage i s another character who notices things. His story unfolds in Part Three of the novel, when, after his suicide, his private musings in the form of his paintings go public. Considered quite mad by the locals before his demise, Gage's tortured visions occasion even more embarrassment and shame once his widow f l i n g s them to an incredulous public. Amy withholds judgement as she gazes on Gage's mysteries. Of ants, of Christ, of trees: He seemed to have painted a great many trees, in various positions, their limbs folded in sleep or contemplation, or moving in torture. And the dead trees. The white forms of these did not look a b i t dry and s c e p t i c a l , as bones do in a paddock. So also a bottle can express love. She had never before seen a bottle of adequate beauty. This one tempted her to love her neighbour. (TTOM. 282) Gage's trees exhibit human c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , yet t h e i r form also f l i c k e r s and wanes into other shapes that c a l l forth from 147 the viewer emotions scarcely recognized. The misunderstood painter i s the f i r s t of a series which w i l l include A l f Dubbo from B-ldjejLs. and Hurtle Du f f i e l d of The Vlvlsector (1970), and he is part of a continuum of a r t i s t s which has already been introduced in the person of Mora'itis in The Aunt's Story. A l l of these characters, shaman-like, see c l e a r l y to the bone. As in The Aunt's Story, the way characters interact with objects reveals a good deal about them. The Parker children, for example, i n h e r i t their mother's propensity to want to possess: Thelma feels comfortable only when surrounded by p i l e s of things vouchsafed indispensable by her material ideals and, while Ray i s governed by a t o t a l irreverence for things, he does not believe in anything he cannot touch. Part Three of The Tree of Man d e t a i l s Ray's re l a t i o n s h i p with Con the Greek and the eventual loss of his hero. Notice how trees figure in that scene- of angry separation: He had thinned right out, t i l l he was exclusively of that place, as exhalation of leaf or bark, his hanging hands no longer i d l e , except that they did nothing, otherwise there was purpose enough in being, amongst the grey scraggy trees. . . . After a b i t he stopped. It was under a tree. It was a big old banksia f u l l of dead heads, the trunk and branches of the tree tortured into abominable shapes, f u l l of dust and ugliness. A l l beauty and goodness were excluded from that place, the sky being obliterated for the moment. (TTOM. 234, 235) Here in heavy-handed d e t a i l , tree functions as objective 148 c o r r e l a t i v e f o r the ' t h i n * s t a t e of Ray ' s s o u l . " T h i n " d e s c r i b e s both Thelma and Ray innumerable t imes d u r i n g the course of the n o v e l . In t h i s c a s e , t r e e s expose R a y ' s t w i s t e d s t a t e of mind: they prove " s c r a g g y , " " t o r t u r e d , " "abominable ," "dusty" and "ugly" i n t u r n . Ray i s no t r e e of man, d e s p i t e the f a c t t h a t he does produce an h e i r . R a t h e r , he i s a u s e r , as d e s t r u c t i v e of t h i n g s as of p e r s o n s . I t i s l e f t to h i s young son Ray to redeem both S t a n ' s and h i s own thwarted a s p i r a t i o n s . For h i s g r a n d f a t h e r young Ray w i l l a r t i c u l a t e a l l of l i f e , and f o r h i s f a t h e r he w i l l t r a n s f o r m impotence i n t o a c t i o n , coming to know t h i n g s and a s s i g n i n g them meaning. The l a s t c h a p t e r of The Tree of Man i s devoted to young Ray. I t b e g i n s , a p t l y , "In the end" (TTOM, 479) and ends , i n open but p a r a d o x i c a l f a s h i o n , w i t h " i n the end , t h e r e was no end" (TTOM, 480) . T h i s s h o r t c h a p t e r f o l l o w s Stan P a r k e r ' s death but r e f u s e s to p r o v i d e the ending to h i s l i f e . Denying end , i t a f f i r m s o n l y b e g i n n i n g , and , i n f a c t , r e - p r e s e n t s what was t h e r e a t the s t a r t . In the end t h e r e are the t r e e s . These s t i l l s tand i n the g u l l y behind the house , on a p i e c e of poor l and t h a t nobody wants to use . There i s the u g l y mass of s c r u b , f u l l of whips and open s e c r e t s . But there are the t r e e s , q u i t e a number of them t h a t have s u r v i v e d the axe , smooth ones , a s c u l p t u r e of t r e e s . On s t i l l mornings a f t e r f r o s t these s tand s t reaming w i t h l i g h t and m o i s t u r e , the white and the ashen , and some the c o l o u r of f l e s h . (TTOM. 479) 149 The p r e s e n t - t e n s e r e f r a i n o f c o n t i n u i t y — " t h e r e a r e t h e t r e e s " — i m m e d i a t e l y a n n u l s t h e " i n t h e e n d " s e t t i n g . T h i s p a r a g r a p h p r o v e s i n r e t r o s p e c t t o be an expanded v e r s i o n o f t h e c h a p t e r ' s / p a r t ' s / n o v e l ' s c l o s i n g words: "So t h a t , i n t h e end, t h e r e was no e n d " (TTOM, 4 8 0 ) , d e l i v e r e d i n p a s t t e n s e as i f i n e v i d e n c e o f t h e p e r p e t u i t y t h e y p r o m i s e . T r e e s p r o v e t o be s u r v i v o r s ; t h e y l i v e on i n t h e f o r m o f s c u l p t u r e , or a r t , t h e y e n d u r e i n t h e f o r m of f l e s h , or young Ray, and t h e y a c h i e v e permanence i n t h e f o r m o f t h i s n o v e l . The n o v e l ' s f i n a l c h a p t e r r e - c r e a t e s t h e f i r s t : we have a b e g i n n i n g , t r e e s , a dog, and a boy-man. What i s m i s s i n g i s t h e i n i t i a l h o s t i l i t y o f man t o w a r d s t r e e ; i n s t e a d , t h e boy e n t e r s t h e clump o f t r e e s as i f i t were a t e m p l e , i n o r d e r t o see and f e e l h i s way t o making s e n s e o f t h e d e a t h o f h i s g r a n d f a t h e r . The r a t h e r l e g g y , p a l e boy comes down l a t e r i n t o t h e b u s h . He i s mooning t h e r e , and r u b b i n g h i s f o r e h e a d a g a i n s t t h e b a r k o f t r e e s . He i s b r e a k i n g t w i g s , and making l i t t l e heaps o f s t i c k s i n v a r i o u s p a t t e r n s . He i s w r i t i n g i n t h e s a n d , and e x p e c t i n g p r e c i o u s s t o n e s i n t h e s u r f a c e s of r o c k s . . . . He l a y on h i s back, on t h e s a n d y e a r t h , on t h e r o o t f i b r e s and d e c o m p o s i n g l e a v e s , and l o o k e d t h r o u g h t h e g l a s s a t t h e c r i m s o n m y s t e r y o f t h e w o r l d . . . . The c r i m s o n s k y d r i f t i n g on h i s f a c e , and t h e p u r p l e s n a k e s o f t r e e s . (TTOM. 479) Here i s a p o r t r a i t o f t h e i n c i p i e n t a r t i s t : d r e a m i n g , c r e a t i n g d e s i g n s , s e a r c h i n g f o r m e a n i n g — a l l on n a t u r e ' s t e r m s . T r e e s 1 5 0 p r o v i d e t h e p a l i m p s e s t f o r young Ray's b u d d i n g g r e a t n e s s and s o , t h e a l m o s t s y m b i o t i c r e l a t i o n between p e o p l e and t r e e s goes on. Whenever t r e e a p p e a r s i n The T r e e o f Man i t s h i n e s w i t h some s p e c i a l l i g h t . No o r d i n a r y t r e e s d o t t h e l a n d s c a p e ; t h e y a l l p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e s e t t l e r s ' l i v e s on t h e l a n d . I n t h i s r e m a r k a b l e e v o c a t i o n o f t r e e , t h e n a r r a t i v e v o i c e f o r g e s a l i n k i n n o r m a l l y n o n - r e f l e c t i v e Amy between h e r p r e s e n t and h e r p a s t a t a p a r t i c u l a r l y c r u c i a l moment of h e r l i f e . F a c e d w i t h p u r s y L e o , h e r f o r m e r and p e r h a p s s t i l l l o v e r , Amy s e t t l e s i n t o an u n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s t i l l n e s s i n w h i c h "she c o u l d h e a r t h e shape o f o b j e c t s " (TTOM, 3 1 9 ) . Then f o l l o w s h e r ode t o t h e p e p p e r t r e e s . In e x p e c t a t i o n , c o n s i d e r a b l e l i t h e n e s s had c r e p t i n t o t h o s e p e p p e r t r e e s r o u n d w h i c h f o w l s were s c r a t c h i n g . T h e r e was a n e r v o s i t y o f f r o n d s j u s t t w i t c h i n g i n a l i t t l e b r e e z e . The woman remembered how, as a g i r l , she had r u n up t h e s i d e o f a h i l l , g a t h e r i n g h e r b r e a t h and l a u g h i n g , and had l a i n on t h e t o p . She remembered t h e c o o l t o u c h o f t h e f r o n d s o f p e p p e r t r e e s , and now t h i s same sm o o t h n e s s and l i t h e n e s s had r e t u r n e d t o h e r , i f she c o u l d t e l l him. (TTOM, 319) But when Leo l o o k s a t Amy, what he s e e s d i f f e r s d e c i d e d l y f r o m her own v i e w o f h e r s e l f : Leo r e m a r k s i n s t e a d a s a l l o w o l d woman whose s t o c k i n g s s a g and w r i n k l e a b o u t h e r a n k l e s . I n c o n t r a s t , Amy's t h o u g h t s r u n w i t h h e r s e l f as young g i r l , d i s c o v e r i n g h e r own s e n s u a l i t y b e n e a t h t h e c a p t i v a t i n g p e p p e r 151 t r e e s . E v e n now t h e y t w i t c h and f l u t t e r i n a n t i c i p a t i o n o f a n o t h e r steamy e n c o u n t e r between Amy and L e o ; c l e a r l y , p e p p e r t r e e s - - c l o s e t o t h e g r o u n d and o r n a m e n t a l — a r e Amy's t r e e s , i n v e s t i n g h e r w i t h l i f e when young and c o n t i n u i n g t o r e s p o n d t o h e r d e s i r e s when o l d . Those c r i t i c s , t h e n , who d i s m i s s Amy as r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of e v i l or as a l e s s s u c c e s s f u l c h a r a c t e r t h a n h e r husband S t a n m i s s or i g n o r e t h o s e moments when she t o o shows i n s i g h t . C o r r e s p o n d e n c e does e x i s t between Amy and o t h e r t h i n g s , and she i s p o s s e s s e d o f a c e r t a i n amount o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g . I f S t a n o u t s h i n e s h e r i n t h i s , i t i s b e c a u s e Amy a l s o b a t t l e s t h e g r i p o f m a t e r i a l i s m . F r e q u e n t l y t h o u g h she t o o y e a r n s f o r t h e s o m e t h i n g more, t h e unnameable, w h i c h she s u s p e c t s S t a n o f knowing o f and k e e p i n g f r o m h e r . The T r e e o f Man i s a book, a n o v e l , a f i c t i o n a l p r o s e e p i c d e p i c t i n g most o f one man's l i f e on t h e l a n d as he p r o g r e s s e s f r o m y o u t h t h r o u g h m i d d l e and o l d age t o d e a t h and a l l t h e a c c o m p a n y i n g s t a g e s i n between. H i s o u t e r e x i s t e n c e amongst t h e t h i n g s o f t h e e a r t h i s f o r t h e most p a r t i n d i s t i n g u i s h a b l e f r o m h i s i n n e r q u e s t f o r , as he c a l l s i t , permanence. What he l e a r n s d u r i n g t h e c o u r s e o f t h e book ( o f ) h i s l i f e i s t a u g h t by t r e e : n e v e r s t i l l , e v e r c h a n g i n g , i t t o o i s permanence. The t r e e o f man i s a l s o t h e book o f m a n — t h e c h r o n o l o g y o f h i s d a y s i n w h i c h g e n e r a t i o n s u c c e e d s g e n e r a t i o n — t h e f a m i l y t r e e , a s t h e y s a y . T h i s t o o i s permanence: b o t h t h e book and t h e f a m i l y o f man. The book i s 152 a t r e e b o t h l i t e r a l l y and f i g u r a t i v e l y : n o t o n l y i s i t p h y s i c a l l y c o n s t r u c t e d o f p a p e r p r o d u c t s , i t s l i t e r a r y s t r u c t u r e a l s o m i r r o r s t h e t r e e ' s l i n e a r f o r m . T r e e r e p r e s e n t s t h e open and c y c l i c a l a t once, r e a c h i n g b o t h up and o u t , deep and down and a n s w e r i n g t o n a t u r e ' s e t e r n a l c a l l f o r i t t o bud, bloom, grow, sh e d and r e s t i n t u r n . So t o o does t h e book, b o t h as p h y s i c a l a r t i f a c t and as a r t . And t r e e c o n t r i b u t e s n o t o n l y t o f o r m b u t t o c o n t e n t as w e l l : t r e e s a r e r e m a r k a b l e o b j e c t s i n The T r e e o f Man, b o t h o p p o s i n g and a n s w e r i n g t o man's n e e d s , r e s i s t i n g and c o m p l e m e n t i n g him i n t u r n . F i n a l l y , t r e e s r e m i n d man o f t h e d i c h o t o m i e s i n t h e m i d s t o f w h i c h he e x i s t s , t h e p a r a m e t e r s o f w h i c h d e f i n e h i s a b i l i t y t o make s e n s e o f or t o d e r i v e meaning f r o m t h e w o r l d . As much as t h e n o v e l i s a t r e e , and S t a n t o o , t h e y a r e a l s o r i v e r s . W a t e r — o r l a c k o f i t - - b o t h p h y s i c a l l y and f i g u r a t i v e l y d e f i n e s t h e n o v e l and i t s c h a r a c t e r s , f r o m t h e g r e a t f a c t o f t h e f l o o d s a t W u l l u n y a t o t h e c o n s i s t e n t l y f l u i d d e s c r i p t i o n s o f t h e t e x t u r e o f P a r k e r s ' l i v e s . Young S t a n , on h i s way back f r o m v o l u n t e e r i n g a t t h e f l o o d s , t a k e s t o m u s i n g . In h i s e x h a u s t i o n h i s own l i f e ebbed and f l o w e d , a l o n g o t h e r r o a d s , or he opened d o o r s and went i n t o t h e ho u s e s t h a t he had known, i n w h i c h t h e f a m i l i a r f a c e s were l o o k i n g f o r him t o behave i n an e x p e c t e d way. But b e c a u s e he t o o , f o r a l l h i s a p p a r e n t s o l i d i t y , was as f l u i d and u n p r e d i c t a b l e as t h e s t r e a m o f l i f e , he l e f t them s t a n d i n g w i t h t h e words h a l f o u t of t h e i r mouths and a s u r p r i s e d row o f t e e t h . (TTQM, 91) 153 Long and sinuous as a tree i s t a l l and stra i g h t , r i v e r and tree i d e n t i f y Stan as outwardly steadfast but inwardly s h i f t i n g . Amy too is vouchsafed t h i s q u a l i t y : following the b i r t h of her second c h i l d she "was at l a s t continuous. She flowed" (TTOMf 117). Conversely, unoriginal, pretentious Thelma i s dismissed in t h i s t r i a l by water: "She had an i n s t i n c t for f l o a t i n g " (TTOM, 336), for r e s i s t i n g water. F l u i d i t y not only defines l i f e but i t i s also the medium for dreaming and, f i n a l l y , for death. Mrs. O'Dowd's l a s t scene, for example, shows there is no dam or natural barrier between the two halves of l i f e : death and l i f e are not opposites but the mingling of two streams, both of which flow towards the same destination. 154 2. W i l d e r n e s s / G a r d e n The A u n t ' s S t o r y showed us an o v e r - c i v i l i z e d g a r d e n f r o m w h i c h most o f t h e e x o t i c f l o r a were t r y i n g t o e s c a p e . The  T r e e of Man, by c o n t r a s t , i n t r o d u c e s us t o a w i l d e r n e s s o f i n d i g e n o u s t r e e s w h i c h needs s u b d u i n g . S t a n s u c c e e d s i n t r a n s f o r m i n g t h e h o s t i l e , untamed bush i n t o a g a r d e n — e v e n a k i n d o f Eden, and t h e n s e e s i t t u r n a g a i n s t him y e t a g a i n b e f o r e i t f i n a l l y e n f o l d s and e n c l o s e s h i m a t t h e end o f h i s d a y s . S t a n l e a r n s t o i n h a b i t s e e m i n g l y h o s t i l e s p a c e . He thwacks i n t o one, t h e n two, t h e n s e v e r a l s t r i n g y b a r k s i n o r d e r t o c r e a t e s p a c e f o r h i s s h a c k . T h i s d o m i c i l e u n d e r g o e s l a t e r t r a n s f o r m a t i o n , b u t f r o m t h e f i r s t S t a n c r e a t e s room and o r d e r where t h e r e was none. When f i r s t she e n c o u n t e r s h e r new home, Amy i s s t r u c k by i t s d i m i n u t i v e s i z e and r e m o t e n e s s . Here i s s p a c e she q u i c k l y s e t s o u t t o c o n q u e r , t a k i n g i t o v e r e v e n a s S t a n w r e s t e d i t f r o m t h e l a n d . She s e t s up h e r s i l v e r nutmeg g r a t e r and p l a n t s h e r r o s e b u s h , t h e one a f r i v o l o u s b i t o f i m p r a c t i c a l i t y and t h e o t h e r a complement t o h e r b u r g e o n i n g r o l e as w i f e and mother. As t h e i r l i v e s p r o c e e d , S t a n and Amy i n c r e a s i n g l y push t h e w i l d e r n e s s b a c k , e n l a r g i n g t h e i r house and g a r d e n t o make way f o r c h i l d r e n , a n i m a l s and w o r k e r s . The 155 garden becomes a kind of paradise in i t s abundance: roses Increase and l i e heavy on th e i r stems, cabbages swell and conceal dew drops in their leafy recesses, vines f l o u r i s h as well as do luxurious, sensual blossoms l i k e dahlias, camellias, l i l i e s and fuchsias. But as the novel unfolds, garden turns increasingly unwieldy so that by Part Four i t threatens to engulf the Parkers. By the end of the book garden does in fact swallow gardener, a l b e i t in a peaceful, beneficent manner. Throughout Parkers' sojourn on the land, mention i s made of the produce th e i r garden y i e l d s . Amy, greedy for exotic flowers, not so much plants as s t i c k s greenery here and there. Part Four opens with the re s u l t s of th i s slipshod hobby. The garden at Parkers' had almost taken possession of the house. It was a haphazard sort of garden. Mrs. Parker would plant a shrub with passion, something she had seen and desired intensely, would plant i t , and forget about i t . Then suddenly i t had grown and was sawing at i t s neighbours. A l l flowers, a l l leaves, were interlocked in that garden. The shrubs were blooming in each other. . . . Branches of trees, twigs of shrubs, would catch at her hair and draw i t out. It got in a mess sometimes, but what can you do? . . . Then she would go inside her house, rather a secret woman, into the brown house, inseparable from the garden, from the landscape in which i t was. (TTOM, 359) Parkers' i s a tree-house of man, t r u l y native to i t s environment. And the vegetation surrounding i t c l e a r l y leads a l i f e o f i t s own, h o s t i l e and t e a s i n g i n t u r n , e x t e r n a l l y m i r r o r i n g t h e i n c r e a s i n g l y u n s e t t l e d , d i s o r d e r e d r e l a t i o n between S t a n and Amy. The p l a n t s a r e a l s o b l a t a n t l y s e x u a l , m i m i c k i n g t h e g r a s p i n g , p o s s e s s i v e way o f Amy w i t h h e r men. House n e v e r a c q u i r e s a name, and g a r d e n t o o r e m a i n s anonymous, e v e n a l o o f . We l a t e r l e a r n t h a t Amy, as keen a p l a n t e r as she i s , " c o u l d n o t name t h i n g s " (TTOM, 4 1 8 ) . T h i s d y s f u n c t i o n of t h e l a b e l l i n g h a b i t , r a t h e r t h a n d i s t a n c i n g t h e r e l a t i o n between p e o p l e and v e g e t a t i o n , e m p h a s i z e s t h e u n i m p o r t a n c e o f l a n g u a g e i n t h a t e x c h a n g e . F u r t h e r m o r e , i t e m p h a s i z e s t h a t a d i f f e r e n t s o r t o f c o n n e c t i o n e x i s t s between woman and v e g e t a t i o n . Amy seems c o n t e n t t o n u r t u r e g r o w t h f o r i t s own s a k e ; she e x h i b i t s no u r g e t o a r t i c u l a t e t h e e x p e r i e n c e . Thus t h e g a r d e n grows, a l m o s t o v e r w h e l m i n g them b o t h p h y s i c a l l y and p s y c h i c a l l y . F o r t h e d a r k , s e c r e t i v e v e g e t a b l e l i f e seems t o e v o k e , f r o m Amy e s p e c i a l l y , memories o f p a s t c r i m e s and o t h e r d e e d s . P l a n t s come t o seem t h e t e x t u r e o f h e r own remembered p a s t . L o s t a t t i m e s i n t h e j u n g l e o f h e r p a s t f a i l u r e s , Amy P a r k e r had her p l a n t s , n o t so much t h o s e s h r u b s w h i c h had grown and o p p r e s s e d t h e house i n o v e r b e a r i n g clumps and t h i c k e t s , t h e m s e l v e s a j u n g l e w h i c h e n t i c e d w i t h o b s e s s i v e s m e l l s of r o t and s c e n t s o f c o l d f l o w e r s i n t o t h e lemon-c o l o u r e d l i g h t o f s e c r e t s and of l a r g e l e a v e s , n o t so much t h e s e , b u t t h o s e p l a n t s w h i c h she k e p t a r o u n d t h e v e r a n d a s of t h e h ouse, t h e more t e n d e r , waxy ones i n p o t s , t h a t she would p r o d and s i g h 157 over, looking into them t i l l she saw the insects there, and pores and knobs of dark leaves. These plants that she loved, and for which she had made moist nests of bark and f i b r e , were almost a l l dark and fleshy. (TTOM. 418) Amy's choice of plants betrays her s t i l l sensuous nature and her nurturing of them her frustrated maternal i n s t i n c t . Elsewhere in The Tree of Man i s stated that Amy had f a i l e d to love; here, amongst the herbage, she seems to have found a sort of fulfi l m e n t to replace the kind denied her by her husband and her son. So that Ray, on his one return t r i p to his childhood home, meets only with coldness when he warns his mother, concerned-like: "'You've l e t yourself get overgrown. I t ' l l push you out, Mum'" (TTOM, 419). Above a l l , Amy's remains a r e a l garden, complete with bugs and earthy odours, exis t i n g not only to r e f l e c t the thematic concerns of the novel. By the end of the story, garden is once again wilderness. Both Stan and Amy, old now, have l e t the garden go. But there is s t i l l a kind of order reigning even amongst the disorder. Some c r i t i c s have c o r r e c t l y pointed out the mandalic design of the plot wherein Stan passes his l a s t l i v i n g moments. Notice how each d e t a i l contributes to the t i r e d , dilapidated but s t i l l v i t a l f e e l of the garden and the man. That afternoon the old man's chair had been put on the grass at the back, which was quite dead-looking from the touch of winter. Out there at the back, 158 the grass, you could hardly c a l l i t a lawn, had formed a c i r c l e in the shrubs and trees which the old woman had not so much planted as stuck in during her l i f e t i m e . There was l i t t l e of design in the garden o r i g i n a l l y , though one had formed out of the wilderness. It was pe r f e c t l y obvious that the man was seated at the heart of i t , and from th i s heart the trees radiated, with grave movements of l i f e , and beyond them the sweep of a vegetable garden, which had gone to weed during the months of the man's i l l n e s s , presented the austere skeletons of cabbages and the wands of onion seed. A l l was circumference to the centre . . . [and] he was the centre of i t . (TTOMr 474) Notice too the l e v e l l i n g of language: "lawn" i s rejected in favour of the less pretentious "grass." Stan and Amy are reduced to "the old man" and "the old woman"—as they were in the beginning, but for the adjective. It appears a design has formed despite Parkers' haphazard h o r t i c u l t u r e , and that Stan now waits at i t s "heart." As Peter Beatson explains, using an archetypal system of exegesis, God also waits at the heart of the labyrinth: The Eden that Stan had found or created in the beginning, and which was taken from him in middle l i f e , i s returned to him in a dying v i s i o n . He finds himself at the centre of a boundless Garden, which i s also a t e r r e s t r i a l mirror-image of the C e l e s t i a l Rose. B "Boundless" (TTOM, 478) is o r i g i n a l l y Amy's perception: Stan's death seems to liberate time and space from the precincts of the garden. 159 The g a r d e n ' s s e x u a l / s e n s u a l n a t u r e must n o t be o v e r l o o k e d . T h e r e i s f r e q u e n t c o n f u s i o n and i n t e r m i n g l i n g o f f l e s h and v e g e t a t i o n , a t r a d i t i o n begun, as we have s e e n , i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y and p e r f e c t e d i n V o s s . The most o b v i o u s example o f t h i s t r a n s f e r e n c e i s S t a n , who s t a n d s , r o o t e d and g n a r l e d , a t r e e . But c a b b a g e s , d a h l i a s , c a m e l l i a s and l i l i e s a l s o p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h i s exchange between i n d i v i d u a l s and f l o r a . Most a s t o n i s h i n g , p e r h a p s , a r e t h e c a b b a g e s , f i r s t i n t r o d u c e d n e a r t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e n o v e l and t h e n r e t u r n e d t o d u r i n g i t s c l o s i n g p a g e s . N o r m a l l y one o f t h e more i n s i p i d v e g e t a b l e s , c a b b a g e s a r e h e r e i n v e s t e d w i t h r e a l , f l e s h y p r e s e n c e : A l l a l o n g t h e m o r n i n g s t o o d t h e e a r s o f young c a b b a g e s . Those t h a t t h e r a b b i t s d i d n o t n i b b l e o f f . I n t h e c l e a r m o r n i n g o f t h o s e e a r l y y e a r s t h e c a b b a g e s s t o o d o u t f o r t h e woman more d i s t i n c t l y t h a n o t h e r t h i n g s , when t h e y were n o t m e l t i n g , i n a t e n d e r n e s s o f l i g h t . The young c a b b a g e s , t h a t were s o o n a p r o s p e c t o f v e i n e d l e a v e s , m e l t e d i n t h e m o r n i n g s o f t h a w i n g f r o s t . T h e i r b l u e and p u r p l e f l e s h r a n t o g e t h e r w i t h t h e s i l v e r o f w a t e r , t h e j e w e l s o f l i g h t , i n t h e s m e l l o f warming e a r t h . But a l w a y s t e n s i n g . A l r e a d y i n t h e h a r d , l a t e r l i g h t t h e young c a b b a g e s were r e s i s t a n t b a l l s o f m u s c l e , u n t i l i n t i m e t h e y were t h e b i g , p l a c i d c a b b a g e s , a l l h e a r t and l i m p p a n n i e r s , and i n t h e m i d d l e o f t h e d a y t h e r e was t h e g l a n d u l a r s t e n c h o f c a b b a g e s . (TTOM, 31) D i c t i o n s u c h as " e a r s , " " v e i n e d , " " f l e s h , " " m u s c l e , " " p l a c i d , " " h e a r t " and " g l a n d u l a r " s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e v e g e t a b l e kingdom 160 shares much wi th the human. T h i s drawing t o g e t h e r of d i s p a r a t e worlds one to the o ther i l l u s t r a t e s W h i t e ' s f i r m b e l i e f i n the e s s e n t i a l u n i t y of a l l m a t t e r . Thus not o n l y v e g e t a t i o n but a l s o m i n e r a l s p l e n d o u r s speak each to each and to mankind. As people a s s o c i a t e w i th the t h i n g s of the e a r t h , so do the s i m i l a r i t i e s between them grow. No t h i n g sh ou ld be f o r e i g n to any o ther t h i n g . Take W h i t e ' s l i l i e s , f o r i n s t a n c e . Hi s s c a r c e l y resemble the p r i s t i n e , hard-worked v a r i e t y of the f lower lauded i n the B i b l e . Here a g a i n t h e r e i s correspondence between Amy and t h a t most b l a t a n t l y s e x u a l of f l o w e r s : "Big s t i c k y l i l i e s are too heavy to h o l d t h e i r heads up a f t e r r a i n , or w i t h the dew even , but bask i n t h e i r f r e s h f l e s h " (TTOM, 292) . T h i s a f t e r l u s t y O'Dowd has j u s t peered d e l i b e r a t e l y i n s i d e M r s . P a r k e r ' s b louse and g i v e n her a momentary surge of e x c i t e m e n t . He makes her f e e l young and d e s i r a b l e , i f o n l y f o r an i n s t a n t — she f e e l s q u i t e p r o p e r l y d i s g u s t e d but a second l a t e r . Encounters w i t h men other than her husband o f t e n b r i n g f l o r i d c o l o u r to Amy's f a c e . Here i s a scene i n which she chats w i t h a p a s s e r b y : 'Go o n , ' he s a i d , l e a n i n g more h e a v i l y on the fence and l o o k i n g a t the m y s t e r i o u s g r e e n i s h f l e s h of her f a c e , t h a t the d a h l i a s made, the b i g , heavy c u s h i o n s of magenta d a h l i a s r u b b i n g and crowding her i n t o t h e i r green gloom. (TTOM. 208) These t a l l , l u x u r i o u s blooms seem to be a c t i n g somewhat 161 p r o t e c t i v e l y towards Amy, and , i n f a c t , n o t h i n g ever comes of t h i s c a s u a l mee t ing . But Amy i s c o n s i s t e n t l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h l u s h blossoms and c e r t a i n p r o d u c e , whereas Stan and t r e e s , or Stan and honest wooden t h i n g s , prove to have much more i n common. For both Stan and Amy, however, v e g e t a t i o n proves to h o l d the key to memory. S t a n , f o r example, on a w i l d duck chase , ends up a t G l a s t o n b u r y y e a r s a f t e r h i s rescue of Made le ine from the f i r e . He h a r d l y r e c o g n i z e s the d e r e l i c t mans ion , of which v i n e s have taken over the b e t t e r p a r t . Under the wide s k y , t h i c k e n i n g i n t o n i g h t , a t the top of the d e s e r t e d , d e s e c r a t e d house , v i n e s crumpled i n h i s hands w i t h a f l e s h i n e s s , a s o f t muskiness of f l e s h . Only he c o u l d not remember enough. He c o u l d not remember the pores of her s k i n , the v e i n s i n her e y e s , her b r e a t h on h i s neck , however hard he t r i e d t o . Whole rooms of h i s mind, i n which each s e p a r a t e d e t a i l had been s t o r e d , seemed to have gone . . . Now the m i d d l e - a g e d man s tood c r u m p l i n g the v i n e s a t the top of the u g l y house . (TTOM, 217) White uses s y n a e s t h e s i a i n the above passage to show how S t a n ' s c r u m p l i n g of the f l e s h y v i n e s takes him back i n t ime but does not succeed i n i n d u c i n g i n him the s p e c i f i c , e r o t i c memories a d v a n c i n g age d e p r i v e s him o f . However, memory f o r Amy seems to be a d i s t i n c t l y v e g e t a b l e phenomenon. Here she i s , towards the end of the book, once a g a i n amongst her cabbages: 162 Then i t was h e r y o u t h t h a t began t o come back i n t h e w o r l d o f c a b b a g e s . She h e a r d t h e d r a y come up w i t h t h e mound o f b l u e c a b b a g e s , and t h e s n a p o f s t r a p s i n t h e f r o s t , a s p u t t i n g h e r s h o u l d e r s t h r o u g h t h e window she spoke t o h e r h u s b a n d . She was remembering a l l m o r n i n g s . (TTOM, 397-398) S e n s o r y i m p r e s s i o n s f r o m v i n e s and c a b b a g e s t r i g g e r t h e p a s t w i t h P r o u s t i a n immediacy. Not t h a t t h e y r e p r e s e n t memory. I f a n y t h i n g , v i n e s and c a b b a g e s s u g g e s t permanence, i t s e l f a k i n d o f e t e r n a l p r e s e n t . 163 Rose The o b v i o u s c o r r e s p o n d e n c e between Amy and t h e u n l i k e l y c a b b a g e s e x t e n d s t o r o s e s w h i c h , i n f a c t , p h y s i c a l l y r e s e m b l e t h e s l o w , r u b b e r y v e g e t a b l e i n t h e e n d l e s s u n f o l d i n g o f p e t a l upon p e t a l . B o t h o b j e c t s exude e a r t h y s e n s u a l i t y , and b o t h — l i k e t h e nutmeg g r a t e r and t h e f r a g m e n t o f c r i m s o n g l a s s — l i n k t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e n o v e l w i t h i t s n o t - e n d i n g . L i k e c a b b a g e s f o r Amy and t h e v i n e s a t G l a s t o n b u r y f o r S t a n , r o s e s t o o b r i n g memories t o t h e f o r e . As t h e y d i d i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y , r o s e s i n The T r e e o f Man seem t o i n d u c e a s t r a n g e , h a l f - d r e a m , h a l f -memory s t a t e . I n r e t r e a t f r o m Mrs. O'Dowd's p o i n t e d c r i t i c i s m o f h e r p a s t y c h i l d Thelma, f o r example, Amy l a p s e s i n t o s i l e n c e . I f Amy P a r k e r c o n t i n u e d t o s i t , i t was b e c a u s e t h e r o s e i s r o o t e d , and i m p e r v i o u s . The b i g m i l k y r o s e s nodded on t h e window f r a m e . She was f i r m l y r o o t e d i n t h e p a s t , as o l d r o s e s a r e . T h i s was her s a l v a t i o n i n t h e f a c e o f words . . . She had grown up f u l l and m i l k y o u t o f t h e p a s t , e v e n h e r l i t t l e g i r l must w a i t f o r r o s e s , w h i l e n o d d i n g and s t i r r i n g h e r mind t w i n e d a g a i n , t w i n i n g t h r o u g h t h e m o o n l i g h t n i g h t on w h i c h i t had h a l f -s p o k e n , h a l f - d r e a m e d t h e r o s e . (TTOM, 121) Here i s no mere m e t a p h o r i c a l l i k e n i n g o f woman t o r o s e ; 164 instead Amy i s equated to the d i s t i n c t i v e flower. Amy firmly i d e n t i f i e s herself with the sexual, perennial nature of roses —even her meandering thoughts "twine" in the fashion of cert a i n roses. Another remarkable passage has Mrs. Armstrong gathering reams of great lush blooms from her formerly grand mansion at Glastonbury, as i f by grasping them she could reconnect with the happier past. She would "tear the roses from th e i r bushes in g u i l t y handfuls. Great handfuls of her own roses. She could not gather too many too quickly, almost as i f she wanted them and they were not hers" (TTOM, 215). Ultimately unsatisfied, she would then toss them out the window of her car, wondering a l l the while why she had picked them in the f i r s t place. Roses seem to trigger memories but they remain incapable, f i n a l l y , of r e t r i e v i n g the past. S t i l l , characters—almost exclusively female—bend over them, peering into their jewelled depths as i f in search of an oracle. Even level-headed Laura in Voss succumbs to the s p e l l of roses: "But the g i r l was dazed by roses. She continued to cut the big heads . . . She bent to reach others, t i l l r o s e l i g h t was flooding her face, and she was forced to lower the l i d s of her eyes against the glare of roses. Then she became caught . . . She was held" (V, 159). Throughout White's novels roses give off dazzling, mesmerizing l i g h t which induces in the admirer a never s a t i s f i e d greed for them. The roses' l i f e cycle follows the Parkers' declining 165 f o r t u n e s . Amy f i r s t imposes the e x o t i c bush upon u n f r i e n d l y ground: "She t h r u s t her s h o u l d e r s through the window, o u t s i d e which i t was determined she s h o u l d p l a n t the white r o s e , and where the s l o p e of the l and was s t i l l r e s t l e s s from the jagged stumps of f e l l e d t r e e s " (TTOM, 28) . When next we see t h i s phenomenon, i t boas t s a f e s t i v a l of c o l o u r s , aromas and t e x t u r e s . There was a rosebush now, growing a g a i n s t the v e r a n d a , a white rose . . . I t was a l r e a d y a b r a n c h i n g , i r r e g u l a r bush , w i t h the b i g wads of s h a p e l y paper r o s e s j u s t s m e l l i n g of t o b a c c o . C o l d p e r h a p s . I t be longed to the dank green l i g h t on t h a t s i d e of the house . . . I t s branches would grow b l a c k and s t r a g g l y l a t e r on . But the rosebush of Amy P a r k e r was s t i l l g r e e n , sappy wood. The marble rose s were s o l i d i n the m o o n l i g h t . The white r o s e s g l a r e d back a t the heavy l i g h t of noon or f l u t t e r e d papery down i n t o the y e l l o w -green of the c o w - i t c h . (TTOM, 43) A queer r o s e b u s h , to be s u r e , o f f e r i n g g r e a t "wads" of blooms which range from "paper" to "marble" and which responds i n t u r n to v a r i o u s q u a l i t i e s of l i g h t throughout the day . Amy's i s a d i s t i n c t l y i n d i v i d u a l r o s e b u s h - - p l a y f u l , even: "Then her own pregnancy s t r e t c h e d out be fore her i n heavy d a y s . The t h o r n s of the s t r a g g l y rose bush caught a t the harsh b lue of her j a c k e t as she passed" (TTOM, 56) . D u r i n g the r a i n s , the bush puts on an a p p r o p r i a t e l y soggy, r o t t i n g mien but a f t e r w a r d s b l e s s e s P a r k e r s ' w i t h t h a t benevo lent g r e e n i s h l i g h t so p r e v a l e n t from A u n t ' s S t o r y r o s e s . By the end of 166 Part One the roses are in f u l l bloom, as are Parkers' l i v e s . The f i r s t ominous note sounds in Part Two. Early on Amy makes love with Stan as i f she at l a s t possesses him. In the cool of the released world, amongst the dreaming furniture, at the heart of the staggy rosebush that pressed into the room and wrestled with them without thorns, the man and woman prayed into each other's mouths that they might hold t h i s goodness forever. But the greatness of the night was too vast. (TTOM. 112) Cl e a r l y the passionate s p i r i t of the rose has influenced Stan and Amy in the summer of th e i r l i v e s , and as c l e a r l y as night follows day, so w i l l the passion fade. The narrator has some fun with Amy and her modest pretensions when he describes, through the eyes of Mrs. O'Dowd, Amy's big papery roses as those of "crushed country brides" (TTOM, 120). Later the comedy continues as Amy, v i s i t i n g O'Dowds' for the f i r s t time in a long while, takes in th e i r new decor: "Roses had been pasted in wrinkles over every possible crack of escape, with the res u l t that l i f e had given up and was l i t t e r i n g the window s i l l with wings and s h e l l s and pale spidery legs" (TTOM, 143). Roses appear to be coveted for both i n t e r i o r and exterior display. The rose, which has passed from idea to young r e a l i t y to full-grown splendour and then to i t s paper surrogate, declines into shabbiness as Parkers' r e l a t i o n s h i p deteriorates. The day Amy meets lover Leo for the l a s t time, "The dead b a l l s of 167 brown r o s e s were h a n g i n g on t h e o l d s t a g g y b u s h , t h a t b r u s h e d h e r as she went down" (TTOM r 3 1 1 ) . The f l o w e r s d r o o p , d e p l e t e d , as i f t o s u g g e s t t o Amy t h a t she i s t o o w e l l p a s t h e r p r i m e f o r t h a t s o r t o f t h i n g . Such empathy e x i s t s between Amy and t h e bush t h a t i t s own c h a n g e s measure o u t t h e rhythms o f h e r l i f e . 168 4. Objects Certain objects in The Tree of Man glow with the same sombre in t e n s i t y which animates Stan Parker. He proves consistently sensitive to the honesty and s i m p l i c i t y of t h i n g s — e s p e c i a l l y of crude objects crafted by hand—and he tends to weigh a l l things in terms of thi s natural elegance he cherishes. Even Amy Fibbens at f i r s t appeals to him as one such object: "Stan Parker knew t h i s g i r l . As a l l oblivious objects become known, and with the same nostalgia, the t i n cup, for instance, standing in the unswept crumbs on the surface of your own table. Nothing is more desirable than t h i s s i m p l i c i t y " (TTOMf 22). The words "knew," "oblivious," "known," "nostalgia," "desirable" and " s i m p l i c i t y " weave a tale of the object as something intimately perceived and ardently yearned for. When the narrator so disarmingly states, near the end of the novel, that "There i s a mysticism of objects, of which some people are i n i t i a t e s " (TTOM, 384), he refers to just t h i s aura of virtuous other-worldliness that Stan feels but does not a r t i c u l a t e , right from the beginning. In his own way, Stan fashions order out of the chaos around him by improvising "honest objects in wood and iron, which, i f crude in design, had survived to that day" (TTOM, 269). 169 O b j e c t s r e p l a c e t h e words S t a n does n o t u t t e r , n o t s t a n d i n g f o r them b u t o b v i a t i n g any need f o r them a t a l l . B o t h S t a n and t h e o b j e c t s w i t h w h i c h he s u r r o u n d s h i m s e l f a r e s u r v i v o r s and t h u s s i g n s o f t h e permanence he so l o n g s f o r . " M y s t i c i s m " seems an odd c h o i c e o f d i c t i o n , c o m i n g as i t d o e s f r o m a w r i t e r b e n t on r e l o c a t i n g t h e m y s t e r i o u s and awe-i n s p i r i n g i n t h e p a l p a b l e now. The T r e e of Man d e m o n s t r a t e s how i t i s p o s s i b l e t o p r e s e r v e t h e numinous i n t h e r e a l . A l o n g t h e way t h e n o v e l i n t r o d u c e s c e r t a i n i n i t i a t e s i n t o t h e m y s t i c i s m o f o b j e c t s b e s i d e s S t a n P a r k e r , namely Bub Q u i g l e y , Mr. Gage and e v e n Amy. Bub i s a u t o m a t i c a l l y one o f t h e s e l e c t b e c a u s e o f h i s m a r v e l o u s s i m p l i c i t y i n c o l l e c t i n g t h i n g s f r o m t h e n a t u r a l w o r l d , l i k e t h e l e a f f r o m t h e l a c e t r e e , and l i v i n g i n t i m a t e l y w i t h them: "He had f o u n d a c u r i o u s r o u n d s t o n e , t h a t had been r o l l e d and p o l i s h e d i n o t h e r f l o o d s . . . The w o r l d was c o n c e n t r a t e d i n h i s hand" (TTOM, 8 4 ) . T h i s p a s s a g e i s d i s t i n c t l y r e m i n i s c e n t o f B l a k e ' s famous q u a t r a i n f r o m " A u g u r i e s o f I n n o c e n c e " : "To s e e a W o r l d i n a G r a i n o f Sand/And Heaven i n a W i l d F l o w e r , / H o l d I n f i n i t y i n t h e p a l m o f y o u r hand/And E t e r n i t y i n an h o u r . " As t h e n a r r a t o r l a t e r w r i t e s , "Rocks . . . a r e s u f f i c i e n t i n t h e m s e l v e s " (TTOM, 4 0 6 ) , c o m p l e t e l i t t l e w o r l d s c a p a b l e o f u n i f y i n g t h e e x t r e m e s o f t i m e and s p a c e w i t h i n t h e i r l i m i t e d c o n f i n e s . Gage b e l o n g s t o t h e same l e a g u e of madness or u l t r a - s a n i t y as Bub: "He would s i t l o o k i n g a t an empty p l a t e as i f i t were an o b j e c t o f i m p o r t a n c e , or on t h e o l d i r o n b e d s t e a d under t h e p e p p e r t r e e , 170 i n h i s s i n g l e t , as everyone had known him, j u s t s i t t i n g " (TTOM, 280) . Mr . Gage c o n v e r t s these t h i n g s which take h i s f a n c y i n t o o ther t h i n g s , l i k e p a i n t i n g s , which f i n a l l y serve to f r i g h t e n a b l i n k e r e d populace used o n l y to t h i n g s as f u n c t i o n a l . Gage's d i s t u r b i n g works produce a sense of wonder i n Amy. No a f f i c i o n a d o she , but s t i l l she senses and r e s p e c t s the tormented s p i r i t the p a i n t i n g s b e t r a y . I t i s a mark of Amy's worth t h a t she too shares moments of r a p t u r o u s u n i t y w i t h o b j e c t s : "So a l s o a b o t t l e can express l o v e . She had never be fore seen a b o t t l e of adequate beauty . T h i s one tempted her to love her ne ighbour" (TTOM, 282) . Amy does not a r r i v e a t t h i s communion w i t h the b o t t l e on her own, but through the i n t e r m e d i a r y of Gage. Were i t a ' r e a l , ' g r a s p a b l e b o t t l e , she would more than l i k e l y want to possess i t ; h e r e , due to Gage's t r a n s f o r m i n g v i s i o n , Amy faces the essence of the b o t t l e , and i t i g n i t e s i n her emotions s c a r c e l y f e l t b e f o r e . The Tree of Man puts the l i e to ownership of o b j e c t s e a r l y on. As White r e a s s e r t s throughout h i s oeuvre , t h i n g s cannot be p o s s e s s e d , and o n l y those c h a r a c t e r s most c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h t h i s t e n e t l i v e i n harmony w i t h the t h i n g s around them. The f l o o d , f o r i n s t a n c e , becomes a k i n d of huge y a r d s a l e i n which v i c t i m s c l u t c h what they can of t h e i r own goods and o t h e r s grab f o r the r e s t : In a f l o o d many o b j e c t s change hands . There i s no v i c e i n t h i s . I t i s not a 171 s t e a l i n g . It is merely a change of ownership. This way various pots and pans, a cheese, a length of rope, a world gazetteer, even a hip bath, had passed 1 honestly enough to the passengers in Peabodys' dray. (TTOM, 90) The p r a c t i c a l i t y of t h i s solution to the watery chaos of the flood nets Parkers a young boy and his precious piece of crimson glass. Objects are reduced to their net worth: whoever needs something, claims i t . Sentimental attachments mean nothing against the great fact of the flood. Amy does not manage to hold on to her treasure from the d i s a s t e r : her possessiveness frightens off the strange boy who i s not, l i k e the other objects, "oblivious" to his chances in l i f e . The crimson glass, however, remains, a memento to be inherited by the one male Amy does not attempt to own. Domestic things in p a r t i c u l a r glow with special worth. Inside Parkers' r u s t i c house, "there were many objects that had been shaped and worn by th e i r own hands. These are the things that e x i s t " (TTOM, 93). Their furniture, for instance, "was worn by and accustomed to the habits of people" (TTOM, 29), much as a favourite pet might a f f e c t i o n a t e l y indulge in i t s owners' quirks. The most surprising characters come up with appreciative comments about the value of trustworthy furniture. Mrs. Armstrong, for example, says "'Louis This and Louis That i s a l l very well. But a comfortable chair is something you cannot buy with money'" (TTOM, 174). Her claim may well serve to show up her c o l o n i a l roots, but i t f i t s in 172 v e r y w e l l w i th W h i t e ' s b e l i e f t h a t t h i n g s s y m p a t h e t i c to humans can s c a r c e l y be bought or s o l d . Even the aged M r s . Made le ine F i s h e r p r o t e s t s , d u r i n g a v i s i t to P a r k e r s : " ' B u t u g l y f u r n i t u r e can be most i n t e r e s t i n g . . . I t has r e a l i t y ' " (TTOM., 425) . So the homely, the u g l y , the unwanted a l s o have v i r t u e — a s o r t of t r u t h or u n d e n i a b l e t h e r e n e s s . B r e a d , f o r i n s t a n c e , remains the o r i g i n a l , humble s t u f f of l i f e : Bub "would eye m i l k or b r e a d , of which the shapes themselves are good and t o u c h i n g , b e g i n n i n g and end, i n f a c t , p e r f e c t i o n " (TTOM, 462) . And a g a i n , "The s u b s t a n t i a l squares of bread were t r u e by the v e r y f a c t of t h e i r substance" (TTOM, 414) . Th ings l i k e bread remain complete and whole , v i t a l to mankind f o r more than j u s t i t s nour i shment . Stan i s rewarded near the end of h i s l i f e f o r h i s l o n g b e l i e f i n the r i g h t n e s s of s i m p l e o b j e c t s . "At t h i s age, anyway, he c o u l d see an o b j e c t as i t was, and i n t e r p r e t a ges ture as i t was meant. H i s l i f e was no l e s s wonderfu l f o r t h i s ba ldnes s" (TTOM, 391) . "Baldness" i s a w o n d e r f u l l y a p p r o p r i a t e c h o i c e of d i c t i o n h e r e , i m p l y i n g t h a t j u s t as Stan faces the w i n t e r of h i s l i f e , so too the t r e e of man i s bare of i t s l e a v e s . But bare i s not b a r r e n : Stan has a t t a i n e d the c l e a r - s i g h t e d n e s s he long d e s i r e d as w e l l as the a b i l i t y to a r t i c u l a t e some p a r t of what he f e e l s . C a r p e n t r y , f o r example, comes to express h i s a c h i n g love for h i s w i f e , f or h i s l a n d , and for h i s t h i n g s . But the e f f e c t of S t a n ' s c e r t a i n t y about h i s own c l e a r v i s i o n i s m i t i g a t e d somewhat by 173 t h e end o f t h e book, when t h e n a r r a t o r a n n o u n c e s t h a t , j u s t b e f o r e h i s d e a t h , S t a n ' s " e y e s had been r e d u c e d t o a r u d i m e n t a r y s h a p e , t h r o u g h w h i c h was o b s e r v e d , y o u f e l t , a v e r s i o n o f o b j e c t s t h a t was p o s s i b l y t r u e " (TTOM, 474 ). " P o s s i b l y " u n d e r m i n e s t h e e a r l i e r e v i d e n c e f o r S t a n ' s a c h i e v e m e n t . But p e r h a p s " p o s s i b l y " i s a l l t h e r e c a n e v e r be, a t l e a s t as f a r as one man's d i s c o v e r y o f t h e i n t e r r e l a t e d n e s s and u n i t y o f a l l t h i n g s g o e s . C r i t i c s p r e s e n t v a r y i n g o p i n i o n s as t o t h e s u c c e s s o f S t a n ' s f i n a l v i s i o n . L e o n i e Kramer, f o r example, s u g g e s t s t h a t "The major weakness o f t h e book i s W h i t e ' s f a i l u r e t o make c r e d i b l e c o n n e c t i o n s between S t a n ' s a c t u a l l i f e as a s m a l l f a r m e r , and h i s r o l e as d i s c o v e r e r o f a d o c t r i n e o f t h e u n i t y o f human l i f e and m a t e r i a l o b j e c t s . " 6 She goes on t o e x p l a i n t h a t S t a n ' s p r o b l e m i s t o o much God, t h a t i t i s o n l y once he r i d s h i m s e l f of s u c h i n f l a t e d baggage t h a t he i s a b l e t o t r u l y s e e and b e l i e v e i n t h e w o r l d . T h e r e has been so much c o n j e c t u r e d a b o u t t h e r o l e o f God i n t h i s n o v e l , and r e s p o n s e s have r a n g e d f r o m t h o s e who b e l i e v e t h a t S t a n v o m i t s Him o u t o f h i s s y s t e m once f o r a l l i n Sydney, t o t h o s e who see S t a n as f i n a l l y r e a c c e p t i n g Him i n t h e g a r d e n . But j u s t how r e l e v a n t i s God t o t h i s work anyway? He i s r a r e l y m e n t i o n e d u n t i l t h e end o f t h e book, and when He i s , i t seems t o me i t i s o n l y i n o r d e r t h a t S t a n comes t o r e l i e v e h i m s e l f o f o t h e r s ' p e r c e p t i o n s o f God. F o r o t h e r s ' d o c t r i n e s p r o v e t h e main o b s t a c l e t o S t a n ' s d i s c o v e r y o f what God i s . I f God e x i s t s 174 f o r him, t h e n He i s n o t o n l y i n t h i n g s t h e m s e l v e s — y e s , e v e n i n t h e gob o f s p i t t l e — b u t He i s t h i n g s t h e m s e l v e s , b o t h t h e i r s u b s t a n c e and t h e i r m y s t e r y . N e i t h e r Stan" h i m s e l f nor t h e n a r r a t o r makes c l a i m s f o r S t a n as m y s t i c or v i s i o n a r y , n o r does e i t h e r i n f l a t e t h i n g s or e v e n t s t o meanings beyond what t h e y s h o u l d b e a r , as Kramer c o m p l a i n s . O b j e c t s and e v e n t s a r e a l w a y s e q u a l t o t h e words t h e y c a l l f o r t h . Whereas i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y w r i t i n g i s d e n s e and s t y l e c omplex, i n The T r e e of Man l a n g u a g e i s r e d u c e d t o i t s s i m p l e s t , l e a s t s e l f - c o n s c i o u s a s p e c t . Mark W i l l i a m s e v a l u a t e s t h e n o v e l t h u s : W h i t e ' s p r o s e a s p i r e s t o w a r d s a s t y l e o f a b s o l u t e s i m p l i c i t i e s , t h a t i s , t o w a r d s t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f s t y l e l e s s n e s s . Words p o s s e s s o n l y t h e i r b a r e s t , d e n o t a t i v e f u n c t i o n . Y e t , p r e c i s e l y b e c a u s e t h e r e i s s u c h an e q u i v a l e n c e between words and t h e few, f u n d a m e n t a l o b j e c t s t h e y d e n o t e — t r e e , a x e , man, dog, f i r e — w o r d s a c h i e v e t h e e p i c , i n c a n t a t o r y and u n i v e r s a l q u a l i t i e s o f B i b l i c a l n a r r a t i v e . 7 By l e v e l l i n g l a n g u a g e , by making s t y l e as humble as s u b j e c t m a t t e r , t h a t w h i c h White s e e k s t o i l l u m i n a t e — t h e e x t r a o r d i n a r y b e h i n d t h e o r d i n a r y — s h i n e s f o r t h as i f i n r e l i e f f r o m t h e d r a b b e r b a c k g r o u n d o f mundane d e t a i l s t h a t sum up s i m p l e l i v e s . B o t h White and h i s p r o t a g o n i s t S t a n P a r k e r r e j e c t i d e a s a b o u t t h i n g s i n f a v o u r o f t h i n g s t h e m s e l v e s ; i t i s m a t t e r t h a t m a t t e r s . I f t h e r e i s i n d e e d a s e a r c h f o r God g o i n g on i n t h e n o v e l , i t ends w i t h t h e u n a l t e r a b l e f a c t o f 175 S t a n ' s b a l l o f s p i t . T h e r e i s no need t o l o o k beyond t h e w o r l d o f s u b s t a n c e when s u c h p e r f e c t i o n c a n be f o u n d t h e r e i n . Some c r i t i c s s e n s e t h a t The T r e e o f Man c h a r t s a s t e a d y d e c l i n e f r o m t h e b e g i n n i n g , when S t a n f e e l s t h o r o u g h l y a t home i n t h e w o r l d and when he e n j o y s a r e a l f e e l i n g o f c o n n e c t i o n between words and t h i n g s and t h i n g s and t h e s e l f t o " t h e b r o k e n p o s t - E d e n i c w o r l d where e v e r y t h i n g becomes t e x t , and he must l e a r n t o ' r e a d . ' N a t u r e becomes a s e t o f s i g n s w h i c h p o i n t t o some immanence." 8 But S t a n , d e s p i t e h i s s e n s e o f b e t r a y a l f o l l o w i n g h i s d i s c o v e r y o f Amy's i n d i s c r e t i o n and d e s p i t e h i s f e e l i n g s of a l i e n a t i o n f r o m h i m s e l f and h i s f a m i l y , n e v e r d e s p a i r s o f h i s f a i t h i n t h e s i m p l e , h o n e s t - t o -g o o d n e s s o f t h i n g s . 'Immanence' h a r d l y a p p l i e s t o S t a n ' s q u e s t f o r m eaning: t h a t i s a c r i t i c ' s p e r c e p t i o n , c e r t a i n l y n o t S t a n ' s . The a n t i - r e s o l u t i o n / r e v e l a t i o n a t t h e end o f t h e n o v e l r e a f f i r m s what has been e v i d e n t t o S t a n a l l a l o n g : what he s e e s he knows and v i c e v e r s a . Words l i k e 'God' r e q u i r e s u b s t a n c e t o make them r e l e v a n t — t h u s t h e gob o f s p i t t l e . S t a n d i v i n e s , f i n a l l y , t h a t " a l l phenomena s h a r e a s i n g l e s u b s t a n c e ; d i v i s i o n i s mere i l l u s i o n . The w o r l d i s n o t m e r e l y c h a r g e d w i t h God, i t is_ G o d." 9 The w o r l d r e m a i n s s u f f i c i e n t i n i t s e l f i n The T r e e o f Man. W i t h The S o l i d M a n d a l a , however, p u b l i s h e d e l e v e n y e a r s a f t e r T r e e , White r e v e r t s t o e x p l o r i n g t h e d i v i d e d , f r a g m e n t e d s e l f he f i r s t i n t r o d u c e d i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y . 176 Notes 1 M a r t i n Buber , I and Thou , t r a n s l . Wal ter Kaufmann (New Y o r k : C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ' s Sons , 1970) , pp. 57, 58-59. 2 H a r r y T o r c z y n e r , M a q r i t t e : Ideas and Images, t r a n s . R i c h a r d M i l l e r (New Y o r k : H a r r y N . Abrams, 1977) , p . 109. 3 V i n c e n t B u c k l e y , " P a t r i c k White and h i s E p i c , " i n A u s t r a l i a n L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m , , e d . Grahame Johns ton (Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1962) , p . 188. 4 W i l l i a m s , p . 35. a B e a t s o n , p . 140. 6 L e o n i e Kramer, "The Tree of Man: An E s s a y i n S c e p t i c i s m , " i n The A u s t r a l i a n E x p e r i e n c e : C r i t i c a l Es says on  A u s t r a l i a n N o v e l s , e d . W.S. Ramson ( C a n b e r r a : A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y , 1974) , p . 278. 7 W i l l i a m s , p . 334. a W i l l i a m s , p . 391. 9 W i l l i a m s , p . 394. IV House The house i s b l e e d i n g . A house i s s t r o n g . . . and has i t s own t i m e . A house s h o u l d be l i k e a c a v e . . . c l o s e d and d a r k . My house i s a c o n c h . . . By and by i t w i l l r i n g i n t h e w i n d . The house e n d u r e s . — R a n d o l p h Stow, V i s i t a n t s t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f r e l a t i v e s o l i d i t y i n my g r a n d m o t h e r ' s house was d e c e p t i v e . I t was an i m p r e s s i o n c r e a t e d by t h e p i a n o , and t h e s c r o l l e d c o u c h , and t h e b o o k c a s e s f u l l o f a l m a n a c s and K i p l i n g and D e f o e . F o r a l l t h e a p p e a r a n c e t h e s e t h i n g s gave o f s u b s t a n c e and s o l i d i t y , t h e y m i g h t b e t t e r be c o n s i d e r e d a d a n g e r o u s w e i g h t on a f r a i l s t r u c t u r e . . . . I t i s b e t t e r t o have n o t h i n g , f o r a t l a s t e ven our bones w i l l f a l l . I t i s b e t t e r t o have n o t h i n g . — M a r i l y n n e R o b i n s o n , H o u s e k e e p i n g 178 Whereas t r e e i m p l i e s l o n g e v i t y and s p a c i o u s n e s s - - t h e u l t i m a t e i n f r e e d o m — h o u s e s u g g e s t s c o n t a i n m e n t , b o t h t i m e and s p a c e c o n d e n s e d . And whereas t r e e b e l o n g s t o t h e n a t u r a l w o r l d , an o b j e c t c r e a t e d , n o t made, house i s p a r t o f t h e d o m e s t i c s c e n e , an o b j e c t d e s i g n e d and c o n s t r u c t e d . When we e n c o u n t e r h o u s e , we f a c e g e o m e t r y , f o r what i s one's d o m i c i l e b u t a c o l l e c t i o n o f l i n e s , a n g l e s and c u r v e s , a l l come t o g e t h e r i n p l e a s i n g p r o p o r t i o n f o r t h e p u r p o s e s o f p r a c t i c a l i t y and a e s t h e t i c harmony? W i t h m i n o r e x c e p t i o n s , a d w e l l i n g t a k e s t h e f o r m of a c u b e , w h i c h u s u a l l y i n c l u d e s v a r i a t i o n s on t h e q u a t e r n a r y theme. I t s v e r t i c a l a s p e c t s e e s t h e h a b i t a t i o n s t r e t c h e d between s k y and e a r t h , w h i l e h o r i z o n t a l l y house e x i s t s between t h e bounds o f i t s o u t e r w a l l s . N o t a b l e e x c e p t i o n s t o t h e s e g e n e r a l i t i e s a b o u t d o m e s t i c d o m i c i l e s i n c l u d e I n d i a n l o n g h o u s e s and r a i l r o a d r o u n d h o u s e s , e a c h o f w h i c h s e r v e s a s p e c i f i c c u l t u r a l or i n d u s t r i a l f u n c t i o n . What c o m p r i s e s house a r e w a l l s and r o o f , w i t h t h e o c c a s i o n a l a r c h or t u r r e t or o t h e r e m b e l l i s h m e n t i n d e f e r e n c e t o t h e s t y l e o f t h e t i m e s . A l o d g i n g g e n e r a l l y i n c l u d e s u s e f u l a d d i t i o n s l i k e windows and d o o r s , and i s a l s o u s u a l l y d i v i d e d i n s i d e i n t o v a r i o u s s t o r i e s s u c h as g a r r e t , l i v i n g q u a r t e r s and c e l l a r , and f l o o r s a r e i n t u r n mapped ou t i n rooms. Thus w h i l e t h e s t r u c t u r e o f f e r s a p i c t u r e o f u n i t y f r o m t h e o u t s i d e , i t p r e s e n t s a honeycombed e f f e c t i n s i d e , somewhat l i k e t h e u n i f i e d y e t d i v i d e d f o r m o f t h e m andala. I f we e n c o u n t e r g e o m e t r y when f i r s t we c o n s i d e r what 179 house i s , we a l s o e n c o u n t e r d o m e s t i c i t y . House c o n n o t e s h e a r t h and home, p r o m i s i n g warmth, c o m f o r t , s e c u r i t y and t h e f a m i l i a r . I t i s n o t m e r e l y i n c i d e n t a l t h a t 'house' wears t h e f e m i n i n e g e n d e r i n t h e romance l a n g u a g e s , f o r i t f u l f i l s a l l t h e f u n c t i o n s o f womb; f u r t h e r m o r e , i n s e x u a l t e r m s , house i s where one e n t e r s i n t o . One's h a b i t a t i o n i s a h a v e n , a k i n d o f c a v e or r e t r e a t where t h e known and t h e p e r s o n a l r e i g n . I t i s s p a c e a r t i f i c i a l l y c o n s e c r a t e d t o our d e s i r e s and t o our p e r c e i v e d need f o r s h e l t e r and p r i v a c y . The i n h a b i t a n t o f any g i v e n e d i f i c e l e a v e s h i s or h e r mark on t h e s t r u c t u r e , a r r a n g i n g i t and t h e o b j e c t s i t h o u s e s t o p e r s o n a l t a s t e s and n e e d s . Here one e x i s t s as i f i n an o a s i s , where t h e r e i s n o t h i n g t o c h a l l e n g e or d i s r u p t . House g u a r a n t e e s g e n t l e n e s s , c a l m , a f f e c t i o n , s a n i t y and i n t i m a c y . A s o l i d , c o n c r e t e , i n a n i m a t e s t r u c t u r e , one's abode p r o m i s e s s t a b i l i t y and permanence. Or does i t ? Does o r d e r r e i g n supreme, or i s house r e a l l y a den o f d i s o r d e r and i n t r i g u e , as J e a n C o c t e a u i n L e s E n f a n t s T e r r l b l e s or as G a s t o n B a c h e l a r d i n The P o e t i c s  o f Space c o n t e n d ? The l i v i n g i n a house does n o t demand or e v e n e x p e c t one's p a s s i v i t y . To i n h a b i t assumes a c t i v i t y on t h e p a r t o f a l l d e n i z e n s of h ouse, i n c l u d i n g i t s t a b l e s and c h a i r s . House c a n be c o n s i d e r e d a m i c r o c o s m o f t h e e x t e r n a l w o r l d : c o n c e n t r a t e d , i n t i m a t e s p a c e w h i c h r e f l e c t s i t s owner's b i a s . But t h e r e i s a l s o a p o t e n t i a l l y i n s i d i o u s s i d e t o l i v i n g i n a h o u s e : as much as i t i s a f u n c t i o n o f i n h a b i t i n g , house a l s o 180 f u n c t i o n s as e n c l o s u r e , and as much as i t p r o m i s e s permanence, house a l s o l e a n s t o t h e s t a t i c . Home i s e n c l o s e d a s house i s e n c l o s i n g : t h e r e i s but a s h o r t l e a p f r o m one's d w e l l i n g a s f o r t r e s s t o one's abode as p r i s o n . T h e r e e x i s t s q u i t e as much d a n g e r as d e l i g h t i n a house, f o r a d o m e s t i c h a b i t a t i o n c a n c l o i s t e r as much as i t can r e p e l t h e o u t s i d e w o r l d . Y e t house a l w a y s b e c k o n s one e n t e r i n ; house presumes e x i s t i n g w i t h i n , or i n t e r i o r i t y . The q u e s t i o n t o be c o n s i d e r e d , w h i c h was f i r s t p o s e d i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y by The Man Who Was G i v e n H i s D i n n e r , i s : does a man's l i f e s t o p once i t i s p l a c e d i n s i d e a house? B r i c k s and m o r t a r or wood and s t u c c o c o m p r i s e t h e p h y s i c a l d w e l l i n g w h i c h we c a l l h o use, and home s p e c i f i c a l l y r e f e r s t o i t s i n t e r i o r , w h i c h i s p e r s o n a l and i n t i m a t e . Many a r t i s t s have drawn p a r a l l e l s between house and home and body and s p i r i t ; body h a s , s i n c e t h e New T e s t a m e n t , o f t e n been r e f e r r e d t o as t h e t e m p l e o f t h e s o u l . The r a t i o n a l i t y o f t h e a t t i c has f r e q u e n t l y been m e t a p h o r i c a l l y c o n t r a s t e d w i t h t h e i r r a t i o n a l i t y o f t h e c e l l a r . 1 I n f a c t , as G a s t o n B a c h e l a r d , t h e p h e n o m e n o l o g i s t o f i n t e r i o r i t y c o n c l u d e s , " t h e house image would a p p e a r t o have become t h e t o p o g r a p h y o f our i n t i m a t e b e i n g . " 2 House i s i n d e e d as i n t i m a t e , as f e l i c i t o u s , as p o e t i c i z e d a s p a c e as body. B a c h e l a r d a g a i n : "Our s o u l i s an abode. And by remembering 'houses' and 'rooms,' we l e a r n t o ' a b i d e ' w i t h i n o u r s e l v e s . Now e v e r y t h i n g becomes c l e a r , t h e house images move i n b o t h d i r e c t i o n s : t h e y a r e i n us as much 181 as we a r e i n t h e m . " 3 House, l i k e body, combines t h e d i a l e c t i c s o f l a r g e and s m a l l , o f i n s i d e and o u t s i d e , and o f open and c l o s e d . House i s no i n e r t box; house i s dream s p a c e . Once opened i t r e v e a l s a p s y c h i c s t a t e , an i n t e r i o r l a n d s c a p e , a k i n d o f " l i v i n g v a l u e . " 4 B a c h e l a r d s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e house we were b o r n i n r e m a i n s a l w a y s t h e f u n d a m e n t a l house, o f w h i c h a l l o t h e r s we e x p e r i e n c e a r e b u t v a r i a t i o n s ; f u r t h e r , t h a t our o r i g i n a l d w e l l i n g we i n h a b i t o v e r and o v e r a g a i n , u n t i l i t i s as much a p a r t o f our i n s c a p e a s we were once p a r t of i t s . House t h u s s t i m u l a t e s memory and i n s p i r e s f l i g h t s o f f a n c y : i t i s t h e s p a c e t o wh i c h we r e t r e a t i n o r d e r t o s i n k , u n o b s e r v e d , i n t o r e v e r i e . S a f e w i t h i n i t s w a l l s , one's d w e l l i n g v o u c h s a f e s p r i v a c y and s e q u e s t e r s one f r o m e x t e r n a l demands. One c a n be t h o r o u g h l y o n e s e l f , or anyone e l s e one d e s i r e s . House accommodates e v e r y whim; a l t o g e t h e r i t i s t h e a r c h i t e c t u r e of our p r i v a t e e x p e r i e n c e . And t h e h o u s e s o f o t h e r s o f f e r p a r t i c u l a r a l l u r e : our e y e s a r e o f t e n drawn t o t h e windows o f h o u s e s we p a s s , as i f by p e e r i n g l o n g or p e n e t r a t i n g l y enough we w i l l know a l l we need t o a b o u t a n o t h e r ' s l i f e . T h i s knowledge i s power. C o n s i d e r a l s o our f a s c i n a t i o n f o r h o u s e s i n m i n i a t u r e : d o l l h o u s e s , dog h o u s e s , b i r d h o u s e s . We e x p e c t t h e most u n l i k e l y c r e a t u r e s t o s e t t l e c o n t e n t e d l y i n t o our i d e a o f d o m e s t i c s p a c e . And our own h o u s e s : we s p e n d e n t i r e l i f e t i m e s f u r n i s h i n g and a r r a n g i n g them a c c o r d i n g t o o f t e n b o r r o w e d n o t i o n s o f p e r f e c t i o n . .182 Houses e x e r t b e w i t c h i n g power o v e r u s . House h o u s e s n o t o n l y p e r s o n s b u t t h i n g s . A c c o r d i n g t o B a c h e l a r d , h o u s e s " b e a r w i t h i n t h e m s e l v e s a k i n d o f e s t h e t i c s o f h i d d e n t h i n g s . To pave t h e way now f o r a phenomenology of what i s h i d d e n , one p r e l i m i n a r y remark w i l l s u f f i c e : an empty dra w e r i s u n i m a g i n a b l e . I t c a n o n l y be t h o u g h t o f . " B The same goes f o r an empty h o u s e . C o n s i d e r t h e c h e s t s , d r a w e r s , c l o s e t s , c a b i n e t s and c u p b o a r d s w h i c h h i d e away our most p e r s o n a l and c h e r i s h e d p o s s e s s i o n s . House p r o v e s h i g h l y p o p u l a t e d , when you s t a r t t o c o n s i d e r i t s i n v e n t o r y : boxes w i t h i n boxes w i t h i n b o x e s . House, o n i o n - l i k e , h a r b o u r s m u l t i p l e l a y e r s and deep, d a r k r e a c h e s . I t s a n c t i f i e s p a s t and f u t u r e i n t h e t h i n g s i t s h e l t e r s — t h o s e t h i n g s w h i c h p r o v i d e us w i t h our i d e n t i t y . House i s t h e n o t - I i n m i n i a t u r e . Many k i n d s o f h o u s e s e x i s t , t h e most o b v i o u s b e i n g t h a t f o u r - s q u a r e b u i l d i n g u s e d f o r human h a b i t a t i o n , t h e d w e l l i n g p l a c e o f a f a m i l y . But as we have s e e n , house a l s o f u n c t i o n s as r e c e p t a c l e or r e p o s i t o r y f o r t h o s e t h i n g s w i t h w h i c h we a d o r n our l i v e s — a k i n d o f p e r s o n a l museum. House c a n a l s o r e p r e s e n t t h e abode o f an a n i m a l : c o c o o n , f o r i n s t a n c e , s e r v e s as home t o t h e l a r v a i n t r a n s f o r m a t i o n , c o n c h f o r t h e d o m i c i l e o f a s e a c r e a t u r e and s h e l l f o r t h e t u r t l e ' s p r o t e c t i v e c o v e r i n g . 'House' i s i n c l u d e d i n many compound words, w h i c h , t a k e n as a g r o u p , g r e a t l y expand t h e p r i m a r y meaning of 'house': a l m s h o u s e , b a k e h o u s e , g r e e n h o u s e , p u b l i c h ouse, 183 b o a r d i n g h ouse, p l a y h o u s e and h o u s e h o l d a l l i m p l y s p e c i f i c u s e s t o w h i c h t h e b a s i c c o n c e p t of house c a n be p u t . F u r t h e r m o r e , 'house' c o n n o t e s a w e a l t h o f r e l a t e d i d e a s : i t c a n be u s e d t o d e s c r i b e a l i n e a g e or a r a c e , much l i k e ' f a m i l y t r e e ' — a s i n 'house o f R o m a n o v ' — i t c a n r e f e r t o a p l a c e o f w o r s h i p — a s i n 'house of G o d ' — t h e p l a c e o f abode o f a r e l i g i o u s f r a t e r n i t y , a c o l l e g e i n a u n i v e r s i t y , t h e b u i l d i n g i n w h i c h a l e g i s l a t i v e a s s e m b l y meets, a p l a c e o f b u s i n e s s , a v i n e y a r d . More e s o t e r i c a l l y , 'house* c a n be u s e d t o r e f e r t o a t w e l f t h p a r t o f t h e h e a v e n s , or t o e a c h i n d i v i d u a l s q u a r e o f a c h e s s b o a r d . What a l l o f t h e s e v a r i o u s c o n n o t a t i o n s s h a r e i n common i s t h e i r f u n c t i o n a s d w e l l i n g p l a c e s . House i s t h e l o c a t i o n w h e r e i n some t h i n g l o d g e s . I n h a b i t i n g , i n f e r i o r i t y , i n t i m a c y , d o m e s t i c i t y a l l d e s c r i b e what house r e p r e s e n t s : i t i s e a r t h b o u n d , m a t e r i a l , e v e n mundane, y e t i t has t h e c a p a c i t y t o l i b e r a t e , t o open i n t o a n o t h e r d i m e n s i o n . House i s a f t e r a l l s h o c k i n g , u n p r e d i c t a b l e , u n s e t t l i n g s p a c e . 184 1. House/Mandala/Body House and body have much i n common: b o t h a r e s t r u c t u r e s w h e r e i n d w e l l s s p a c e — l i t e r a l s p a c e , as f a r as house i s c o n c e r n e d , m e t a p h o r i c a l s p a c e as f a r as body g o e s . B o t h c o n t a i n whole w o r l d s i n m i n i a t u r e . But c o n s i d e r house and body as r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e o u t e r c i r c l e o f t h e m a n d a l a , t h a t e n i g m a t i c s i g n w h i c h p l a y s s u c h a c e n t r a l r o l e i n W h i t e ' s s e v e n t h p u b l i s h e d n o v e l The S o l i d M a n d a l a . B o t h forms a r e , i n f a c t , s o l i d , and b o t h s t r i v e t o w a r d u n i t y and w h o l e n e s s , w h i c h q u a l i t i e s a r e a l s o c e n t r a l t o t h e m a n d a l i c d e s i g n . M o r e o v e r , house and body b o t h r e f l e c t t h o s e t e n s i o n s a t work i n them between t h e i r own p a r t i c u l a r f o r m and t h e c o n t e n t t h e y e n c l o s e . What P e t e r B e a t s o n p o i n t s o u t as t r u e o f body i s a l s o t r u e o f h o u s e : s i m p l y , t h a t i t i s s i m u l t a n e o u s l y t h e most and l e a s t i m p o r t a n t o f t h e s o u l ' s p o s s e s s i o n s . He l a t e r d e f i n e s t h e W h i t e a n v e r s i o n o f mandala t h u s : The mandala i s a s q u a r e w i t h i n a c i r c l e , w i t h a s y m b o l i c c e n t r e t h a t r e p r e s e n t s t h e i n - d w e l l i n g god w h i c h i s d o u b l e - n a t u r e d or h e r m a p h r o d i t i c . The s q u a r e i s a symbol f o r l i f e i n t h e m a t e r i a l w o r l d , t h e l i f e t r a p p e d i n t h e body and i n t h e h o u s e . . . . The o u t e r c i r c l e i s t h e w o r l d o f B e i n g , w h i c h t h r e a t e n s t h e d e f e n s i v e w a l l s o f t h e f o u r - s q u a r e h o u s e . The end o f t h e s p i r i t u a l c y c l e i s t h e t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f 185 t h e o u t e r l i m i t s of. t h e p e r s o n a l i t y f r o m t h e s q u a r e t o t h e c i r c l e . . . 6 T h i s c o n j u r e s up v i s i o n s o f t h e R e n a i s s a n c e p r o p e n s i t y f o r d e s i g n i n g c h u r c h e s a c c o r d i n g t o p l a n s b a s e d on t h e body's p r o p o r t i o n s , s y m b o l i c o f t h e u n i o n between s p i r i t u a l and e a r t h l y man. Hence man-dala's s i g n i f i c a n c e as r e s o l u t i o n o f t h e f u n d a m e n t a l t e n s i o n between o p p o s i t e s . M a n d a l a s c a n assume many d e s i g n s , b u t m o s t l y t h e y a p p e a r as a s q u a r e w i t h i n a c i r c l e . M a n d a l a , a H i n d u word meaning "magic c i r c l e , " i s a m y t h o l o g i c a l r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e S e l f , where r o u n d n e s s s y m b o l i z e s a n a t u r a l w h o l e n e s s and s q u a r e n e s s — o r t h e q u a d r a n g l e — r e p r e s e n t s t h e r e a l i z a t i o n o f t h i s w h o l e n e s s i n t h e c o n s c i o u s mind. C i r c l e a l s o s y m b o l i z e s t h e p s y c h e , and s q u a r e t h e e a r t h b o u n d body. S p i r i t c o n f r o n t s m a t t e r , t h e n , i n a s o o t h i n g , r e s t o r a t i v e way. S i n c e house i s most o b v i o u s l y s q u a r e , i t i s a p p r o p r i a t e t o s e e i t as t h e f o r m e n c l o s e d w i t h i n t h e magic c i r c l e . Thus house e x i s t s w i t h i n s p i r i t u a l p r e c i n c t s . Body t o o forms a q u a d r a n g l e w i t h i n l a r g e r , s p i r i t u a l c o n f i n e s : p r o o f t h a t one c a n n o t e x i s t w i t h o u t t h e o t h e r . In b o t h c a s e s , t h e n e c e s s a r y f e a t u r e r e m a i n s t h e t e n s i o n between o p p o s i t e s . House and body, t h e n , a r e c l o s e l y a l l i e d i n many o f W h i t e ' s n o v e l s . C r i t i c s s u c h a s B e a t s o n have r e m a r k e d upon t h i s r a p p o r t between W h i t e a n h o u s e s and t h e i r o c c u p a n t s : W h i t e ' s c h a r a c t e r s wear t h e i r h o u s e s as i n t i m a t e l y as t h e y wear t h e i r b o d i e s . . . . 186 h i s c o l l e c t o r ' s e n t h u s i a s m and a r c h i t e c t u r a l v e r v e make h i s h o u s e -b u i l d i n g one of t h e most memorable a s p e c t s o f h i s d e s c r i p t i v e power. In a l m o s t e v e r y page o f t h e w r i t i n g , t h e r e a d e r i s aware o f t h e a l m o s t o r g a n i c l i n k between t h e house and t h e e m o t i o n a l l i f e o f i t s o c c u p a n t . Houses l i v e t h e l i v e s o f t h e i r owners . . . T h e i r t o p o g r a p h y r e v e a l s t h e t o p o g r a p h y o f t h e s o u l . 7 T h i s r e l a t i o n between house and body p r o v e s e s p e c i a l l y p e r t i n e n t t o The S o l i d M a n d a l a : n o t o n l y a r e t h e s e two o b j e c t s or s t r u c t u r e s l i n k e d w i t h e a c h o t h e r , t h e y a l s o s h a r e c l o s e t i e s w i t h t h e c e n t r a l m a n d a l i c s y m b o l . F u r t h e r m o r e , e a c h o f t h e Brown b r o t h e r s m a n i f e s t s an i n d i v i d u a l r e l a t i o n t o h i s h ouse, t o h i s body, and t o t h e s i g n o f t h e m a n d a l a . The i n t r i c a c y o f d e s i g n o f t h e n o v e l i s i t s e l f m a n d a l i c . 187 2. W h i t e ' s Houses Throughout h i s oeuvre , White has p a i d p a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n to houses . And he has c r e a t e d some e x c e p t i o n a l ones: Meroe, Rhine Towers , Xanadu, Sunningdale and E l i z a b e t h H u n t e r ' s mansion a t Moreton D r i v e immediate ly s p r i n g to mind. House proves more than s i m p l y p l a c e or l o c a t i o n to White : i t i s a l s o d e s t i n a t i o n , d e s t i n y , even s t a t e of mind . As White h i m s e l f admits i n Flaws i n the G l a s s (1981), " T i l l w e l l i n t o my l i f e , houses , p l a c e s , l andscape meant more to me than p e o p l e . I was more a ca t than a dog" ( F I T G , 16 ) . When he hearkens back to the summer he was f o u r t e e n and h i s p a r e n t s had taken the f a m i l y to Fe lpham, Sussex , what White remembers best i s the n e o - G o t h i c house i n which " l i f e seemed to be forming" ( F I T G , 1 ) , and c e r t a i n rooms and f u r n i s h i n g s which made the p l a c e u n f o r g e t t a b l e . True to h i s own e x p e r i e n c e , houses and c h a r a c t e r s i n W h i t e ' s f i c t i o n i n t e r a c t a good d e a l , each r e v e a l i n g the o t h e r . W h i t e ' s houses , whether opu lent or r a m s h a c k l e , a l l l e a d l i v e s of t h e i r own. Numerous c r i t i c s have remarked on the phenomenon of house i n the f i c t i o n and drama of P a t r i c k Whi te . As Pe ter Wolfe s u g g e s t s , White lauds d o m e s t i c i t y because i t s p r i n g s from the same humble impulse as c h a i r s and t a b l e s . House i s the abode of a l l wholesome v a l u e s : 188 The s t r e s s he p l a c e s upon f e e l i n g u n c o v e r s a c i v i l i z i n g p o i n t o f v i e w i n White t h a t c a n be d e s c r i b e d a s f e m i n i s t . L i k e many women w r i t e r s , he f i n d s v a l u e c l o s e t o home. He e n j o y s d e s c r i b i n g d o m e s t i c r o u t i n e s l i k e b a k i n g and w a s h i n g , a n d , aware t h a t h o u s e s a c q u i r e s o u l s a l o n g w i t h t h e i r i n h a b i t a n t s , he s e e s t o i t t h a t many o f h i s major f i g u r e s ( t h e P a r k e r s i n Tree., t h e Brown b r o t h e r s i n The S o l i d M a n d a l a , H u r t l e D u f f i e l d o f V i v i s e c t o r and E l i z a b e t h H u n t e r o f Eye) l i v e i n t h e same house f o r many y e a r s . 8 Memorable s c e n e s o c c u r i n s i d e h o u s e s , e s p e c i a l l y i n k i t c h e n s and bedrooms, a l l o w i n g White t o e x p l o r e two o f mankind's most p l e a s u r a b l e y e t complex a c t i v i t i e s : e a t i n g and s e x . Houses i n White a l w a y s seem so p e r f e c t l y a p p r o p r i a t e t o t h e i r owners, t o o , r e s i s t i n g t h e m — a s H u r t l e ' s sometimes does i n V i v i s e c t o r — a n d c o m p l e m e n t i n g t h e m — a s does E l i z a b e t h H u n t e r ' s i n Eye — i n t u r n . W i l l i a m S c h e i c k goes so f a r as t o s u g g e s t t h a t " t h r o u g h o u t W h i t e ' s work h o u s e s and b u i l d i n g s o b j e c t i f y t h e s e l f . " 9 He o f f e r s t h e example o f t h e b u r n i n g synagogue i n R i d e r s a s o b j e c t i v e c o r r e l a t i v e f o r t h e l i v e s o f H i m m e l f a r b and h i s f e l l o w Jews. T h i s seems t o me p e r f e c t l y t r u e of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r n o v e l , b u t few o f W h i t e ' s works a r e s o d e p e n d e n t on s y m b o l i s m as i s R i d e r s . B e a t s o n a l s o p r a i s e s W h i t e ' s way w i t h h o u s e s . " W h i t e ' s s e n s i t i v i t y t o t h e a u r a s and e m a n a t i o n s o f h o u s e s makes them an a l m o s t i n f i n i t e l y f l e x i b l e l a n g u a g e f o r t h e e x p r e s s i o n o f many a r e a s o f e x i s t e n c e t h a t r e a s o n c a n n o t r e a c h . " 3 - 0 I t i s e m i n e n t l y t r u e t h a t t h e r a t i o n a l i s n o t t h e l a n g u a g e o f h o u s e -189 n e s s ; n o oks, c r a n n i e s and t u r r e t s a l l s t i r t h e e m o t i o n s and s t i m u l a t e t h e i m a g i n a t i o n . B e a t s o n p r o c e e d s t o examine W h i t e a n h o u s e s i n t h e a b s t r a c t , d i v i d i n g them and t h e l a n d s u r r o u n d i n g them i n t o a r c h e t y p a l Edens and W a s t e l a n d s , Temples and P r i s o n s , r e d u c i n g them i n a way White n e v e r d o e s . B e a t s o n ' s t h e s i s i s t h i s : "The i n d i v i d u a l , o f t e n u n c o n s c i o u s l y , i s p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n a w i d e r human drama . . . w h i c h r e c e i v e s s y m b o l i c r e i n f o r c e m e n t f r o m two g r e a t a r c h e t y p e s . . . on t h e a p o c a l y p t i c s i d e , t h e G a r d e n . . . and, on t h e d aemonic s i d e , t h e D e s e r t , W a s t e l a n d or L a b y r i n t h . " 1 3 - He goes on t o expand t h i s i d e a : f i r s t t h e s o u l i n h a b i t s an e a r t h l y p a r a d i s e , where i t i s i n t o u c h w i t h i t s e l f , i t s body, and w i t h t h e phenomenal w o r l d . E d e n i c e xamples i n c l u d e Meroe ( f r o m A u n t ' s S t o r y ) , R h i n e Towers ( i n V o s s ) , Xanadu ( i n R i d e r s ) , and C o u r t n e y s ' s h e e p s t a t i o n ( f r o m V i v i s e c t o r ) . I n e v i t a b l y , however, t h e g a r d e n becomes o v e r g r o w n and s t a r t s t h r e a t e n i n g t h e h o u s e : hence t h e d e r e l i c t s t a t e o f Xanadu and of Browns' house ( i n M a n d a l a ) . As t h e b e s i e g e d d w e l l i n g b e g i n s t o f e e l l i k e a p r i s o n t o t h o s e who c o n t i n u e t o l i v e i n i t , t h e l i n k between house and o c c u p a n t s l o w l y d i s s o l v e s , u n t i l a t some c l i m a c t i c moment t h e house i s a b andoned. B o t h B e a t s o n and K a r i n Hansson p o i n t o u t t h a t t h i s p a t t e r n i s r e p e a t e d t h r o u g h o u t W h i t e ' s o e u v r e . E v i d e n t l y , h o u s e s a r e t o be s h e d much l i k e outgrown c l o t h i n g . The g r a n d e r t h e e d i f i c e , t h e more l i k e a p r i s o n i t i s , and t h e more i n s i g n i f i c a n t t h e s t r u c t u r e , t h e more t e m p l e - l i k e 190 i t a p p e a r s . Hansson l i s t s H i m m e l f a r b ' s s h e d , V o s s ' s t w i g h u t , H u r t l e ' s dunny and H o l s t i u s ' s s h a c k as t e m p l e s " c o n n e c t e d w i t h moments o f s p i r i t u a l i l l u m i n a t i o n , whereas t h e P r i s o n s a r e p r o u d , s t r o n g and s o l i d b u i l d i n g s , r e l a t e d t o i d e a s l i k e f a l s e p r i d e , t r a p p i n g and m a t e r i a l i s m . " 3 - 2 An example she g i v e s o f one s u c h p r i s o n i s Mrs. F l a c k ' s Karma i n R i d e r s . Hansson goes on t o echo B e a t s o n ' s t h e o r y t h a t e v e n t h e t e m p l e s a r e s o o n e r or l a t e r d e s t r o y e d or q u i t t e d " i n t h e c l i m a c t i c moment when t h e s e e k e r i s a b o u t t o r e a c h h i s g o a l . " 3 - 3 S i n c e t h e s e g o a l s a r e a l w a y s s p i r i t u a l , t h e p a r a l l e l between house and body i s o b v i o u s . J u s t as t h e D o s t o e v s k i e p i g r a p h t o The S o l i d M a n d a l a s u g g e s t s t h a t t h e b a r e s t c h u r c h e s a r e b e s t f o r p r a y i n g i n , so t o o does White r e l e n t l e s s l y a d v o c a t e t h e p e e l i n g away o f l a y e r s , t h e p a r i n g down t o e s s e n t i a l s , o f b o t h body and s o u l . The l i g h t e r t h e baggage, t h e more l i k e l y t h e p i l g r i m t o r e a c h h i s g o a l . The p r i s o n / t e m p l e , a p o c a l y p t i c / d a e m o n i c d i c h o t o m i e s a r e p e r h a p s u s e f u l t o o l s f o r d i s t i n g u i s h i n g among and e v a l u a t i n g W h i t e ' s many k i n d s of h a b i t a t i o n s . But u l t i m a t e l y we a r e drawn t o t h e h o u s e s t h e m s e l v e s . E s p e c i a l l y t o t h e l a r g e o n e s . W h i t e ' s manors i r r e s i s t i b l y draw one i n , even t h e s e e m i n g l y i n h o s p i t a b l e o n e s . None, however, i s w i t h o u t blame. As B r i a n K i e r n a n w r i t e s , t h e o s t e n t a t i o u s d w e l l i n g s o f C o u r t n e y s , Goodmans, A r m s t r o n g s , Mustos and H a r e s " a r e monuments t o t h e i r e f f o r t s and a m b i t i o n s , a s s e r t i o n s o f a w i l l t o e s t a b l i s h some permanence i n t h e f l u i d i t y o f e x p e r i e n c e , r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s o f 191 t h e h i e r a r c h i c s o c i a l i d e a l s t h e y have s o u g h t t o impose on, and m a i n t a i n i n a s o c i e t y i n w h i c h t h e s e have n o t d e v e l o p e d o r g a n i c a l l y . " 3 - 4 The S u n n i n g d a l e s , M eroes, G l a s t o n b u r y s and Xanadus p r o v e v a i n and i n s u b s t a n t i a l f o l l i e s a f t e r a l l ; one c a t c h e s f i r e , a n o t h e r i s s o l d t o v u l g a r p e o p l e and y e t a n o t h e r c r u m b l e s q u i e t l y away, a l l p u t t i n g t h e l i e t o w h a t e v e r permanence, s e c u r i t y or s o l i d i t y t h e i r o r i g i n a l owners t h o u g h t t h e y were g u a r a n t e e d when t h e y f i r s t i n v e s t e d i n them. K i e r n a n r i g h t l y p o i n t s o u t t h e i r o n i c t e n s i o n t h a t b u i l d s b e c a u s e o f t h e h o u s e s ' e x o t i c names and e x a l t e d p r o m i s e and t h e end t o w h i c h t h e y come. He goes on t o s u g g e s t t h a t d o m i c i l e s embody n o t o n l y ways o f l i f e b u t a l s o t h e b a s i c d i a l e c t i c i n W h i t e ' s v i s i o n , namely: " t h e c o n f l i c t between t h e i m p u l s e t o s u r r e n d e r t o t h e f l o w o f l i f e [ l i k e t h e Cox S t r e e t s h a c k i n V i v i s e c t o r or J i l d r a i n V o s s ] and t h e s t r u g g l e o f t h e w i l l t o impose i t s e l f on e x p e r i e n c e [ l i k e C o u r t n e y s ' or B o n n e r s ' m a n s i o n s ] . " 3 - 0 E v e n t h o u g h White r e m a i n s a m b i v a l e n t a b o u t a l l s u c h r e p o s i t o r i e s f o r t h e s o u l , whether r a m s h a c k l e or o p u l e n t , he does n o t skimp on l a v i s h d e t a i l s a b o u t e i t h e r s t y l e of d w e l l i n g . House v a r i e s w i l d l y f r o m f i c t i o n t o f i c t i o n . F o r c r i t i c H a r r y H e s e l t i n e , home i n The B u r n t Ones " i s n o t a c e n t r e o f warm f u l f i l m e n t b u t a m a t e r i a l o b j e c t d e s i g n e d t o d i s p l a y w o r l d l y s u c c e s s . " 3 - 6 As we have s e e n , h o u s e s i n The V i v i s e c t o r r e p r e s e n t two ways o f l i v i n g : t h e n a t u r a l and t h e s o c i a l . And d w e l l i n g s i n The A u n t ' s S t o r y , f r o m Meroe t o t h e H o t e l du 192 M i d i t o t h e s h a c k where T h e o d o r a e n c o u n t e r s H o l s t i u s , a l l s e r v e t o c h a r t h e r m e n t a l r e g r e s s i o n - p r o g r e s s i o n . One o f t h e most l i v e l y o f W h i t e a n abodes a p p e a r s i n The Ham F u n e r a l ( 1 9 6 5 ) . H e re, where e x p r e s s i o n i s t i c t e c h n i q u e p e r m i t s much, house s p e a k s , and i t does so f o r a l l i t s i n a r t i c u l a t e o c c u p a n t s . The Twyborn A f f a i r u s e s a v a r i e t y o f d o m i c i l e s : E d d i e moves f r o m a v i l l a i n t h e s o u t h o f F r a n c e , back t o E d d i e ' s p a r e n t s ' home i n Sydney, t o a s h e e p s t a t i o n and, f i n a l l y , E a d i e t a k e s up r e s i d e n c e i n a bawdy h o u s e . E d d i e ' s / E a d i e ' s r o l e s a l t e r w i t h t h e p l a c e i n w h i c h s/he p e r f o r m s , e a c h p e r s o n a d i c t a t e d t o i n some d e g r e e by l o c a l e . House and t h e d w e l l e r s t h e r e i n a f f e c t e a c h o t h e r r e c i p r o c a l l y . 193 3. House and The S o l i d Mandala The Tree of Man i n s p i r e d r e f l e c t i o n on the n o v e l as t r e e ; c o n s i d e r now the n o v e l as house i n The S o l i d Manda la . Waldo and A r t h u r Brown are b r o t h e r s who i n h a b i t a house n o t a b l e f o r i t s c l a s s i c a l pediment i n an o therwise unnoteworthy suburb of S a r s a p a r i l l a . Waldo, a d r y , b o o k i s h s o r t l i k e E l y o t S t a n d i s h i n The L i v i n g and the Dead f works i n a l i b r a r y most of h i s l i f e and spends the r e s t of h i s t ime ashamed of h i s s low, s e n s i t i v e b r o t h e r A r t h u r (descended from Bub Q u i g l e y i n The  Tree of Man) . P r i g g i s h , f r i e n d l e s s Waldo i s p a t h o l o g i c a l l y j e a l o u s of h i s l e s s p r e s e n t a b l e but more popu lar b r o t h e r and of A r t h u r ' s u n d e l i b e r a t e but e f f e c t i v e way of o u t - d o i n g h im. T e n s i o n b u i l d s between these two throughout t h e i r l ong l i f e t oge ther u n t i l i t e r u p t s i n t o v i o l e n c e . The c a s t of c h a r a c t e r s a l s o i n c l u d e s Browns' ne ighbour M r s . P o u l t e r and f r i e n d D u l c i e F e i n s t e i n , both of whom look to A r t h u r as a s o r t of shaman. Browns' house p l a y s a c r i t i c a l r o l e i n the s h a p i n g of t h e i r l i v e s . The c o n v e n t i o n a l house takes l i n e a r form and bends i t i n t o geometr ic shapes l i k e the cube . Then i t d i v i d e s the cube i n t o m i n i - c u b e s or c e l l s , each of which l eads an autonomous l i f e w i t h i n the l a r g e r f u n c t i o n i n g of the whole . N o v e l s , polymorphous i n form, can a l s o be shaped t h i s way. W i l l i a m 1 9 4 Walsh n o t e s o f The S o l i d M a n d a l a t h a t " t h e p r o c e d u r e h e r e i s . . . one o f s h a d i n g and e m p h a s i s , o f v a r y i n g f r o m t h e p o i n t o f e n t r a n c e and s w e e p i n g b a c k w a r d s and f o r w a r d s f r o m t h e r e , so t h a t The S o l i d M a n d a l a i m p r e s s e s t h e r e a d e r as a ' c o m p o s i t i o n ' r a t h e r t h a n t h e l i n e a r p r o g r e s s w h i c h i s more c u s t o m a r y w i t h P a t r i c k W h i t e . " 1' 7 I n f a c t , a c c o r d i n g t o W i l l i a m York T i n d a l l , l i t e r a r y f o r m c a n i t s e l f be s e e n as a k i n d o f h o u s e , i n w h i c h words a r e b r i c k s , images a r e windows and d o o r s and themes a r e c o r r i d o r s . 1 8 The f o r m o f The S o l i d M andala b r i n g s t o mind a s u b - d i v i d e d house or d u p l e x , where t h e two b r o t h e r s ' l i v e s n o t o n l y c o n n e c t b u t i n t e r s e c t and o v e r l a p as w e l l . E a c h s e c t i o n o f t h e house has i t s c e l l a r and g a r r e t , and, w h i l e i t i s c a p a b l e o f s u p p o r t i n g i t s e l f , i t a l s o depends t o a l a r g e e x t e n t on i t s o t h e r h a l f . The n o v e l i s much l i k e t h i s , i t s two main s e c t i o n s e a c h d e v o t e d t o a b r o t h e r and e a c h p a r t c a p a b l e o f s t a n d i n g on i t s own. But t h e p e r i o d o f t i m e c o v e r e d by P a r t s Two and T h r e e i s t h e same, and t h u s many o f t h e e v e n t s r e l a t e d o v e r l a p . B u t , j u s t as t h e r e e x i s t two ' s i d e s ' t o t h e b r a i n and two s i d e s t o e v e r y s t o r y , so do t h e two c e n t r a l s e c t i o n s o f t h e n o v e l e s p o u s e two p o i n t s of v i e w . The common w a l l s e p a r a t i n g t h e two h a l v e s o f t h e s t r u c t u r e r e p r e s e n t s what t h e two b r o t h e r s i n e s c a p a b l y s h a r e : t h e i r r a m s h a c k l e house and t h e i r T a l l b o y s h e r i t a g e . S t r u c t u r a l l y , t h e n , The S o l i d M andala i s a l a r g e , d i v i d e d h o u s e . The n o v e l ' s p r o g r e s s , however, i s b r o a d l y c y c l i c a l : a c t i o n b e g i n s w i t h t h e two b r o t h e r s as o l d men s h a m b l i n g a l o n g 195 t o g e t h e r d u r i n g a walk , then f l a s h e s from past to p r e s e n t from Waldo's p o i n t of v iew, then a g a i n from past to p r e s e n t from A r t h u r ' s p o i n t of v i ew, and ends l a t e r t h a t same day the a c t i o n began. So, b e g i n n i n g and end meet, a l t h o u g h t h e r e i s r a m b l i n g between the two d u r i n g the course of the n o v e l . T h e m a t i c a l l y , the q u a t e r n a r y , f o u r - s q u a r e nature of house t i e s i n w i th the mandala symbol which pervades the work. The book's complex b a c k - a n d - f o r t h m a n i p u l a t i o n of t i m e , se t w i t h i n a l a r g e r , c y c l i c a l frame, can a l s o be seen as manda l i c i n d e s i g n . I f n o v e l i s a house , t h e n , and house i s a mandala , then s y l l o g i s t i c a l l y s p e a k i n g n o v e l i s a l s o a mandala , hence i t s vaunted ' s o l i d i t y . ' White i n t r o d u c e s a v a r i e t y of houses i n The S o l i d Manda la . S a r s a p a r i l l a makes a r e t u r n appearance from R i d e r s i n the  C h a r i o t , Four P l a y s (1965) and The Burnt Ones (1964) and a g a i n bears the brunt of W h i t e ' s s c o r n f o r s u b u r b i a . The grander homes are p r o v i d e d by F e i n s t e i n s , Saportas and M r s . Musto of F a i r y F l o u r ; u l t i m a t e l y , though, P o u l t e r s ' and Browns' p l a c e s , a c r o s s from each other on Terminus Road, c l a i m most of W h i t e ' s a t t e n t i o n . S a r s a p a r i l l a e l i c i t s comment f i r s t from M r s . P o u l t e r , then from Waldo Brown. The former , on her way i n t o town by bus , has o c c a s i o n to i n s p e c t and admire the suburb: "She was proud of the g l o s s i e r s i d e of S a r s a p a r i l l a , of the p i c t u r e windows and the t e x t u r e d b r i c k " (TSM, 5 ) . S u b s t a n t i a l i t y appears to be what S a r s a p a r i l l a has to o f f e r , and i t i s what even Waldo, as r e f i n e d as he b e l i e v e s h i m s e l f 196 t o be, c a n n o t h e l p c r a v i n g . The s u b u r b r e p r e s e n t s t h e " f a m i l i e s i n a d v e r t i s e d c l o t h e s , who b e l o n g e d t o F e l l o w s h i p s and a t t e n d e d L o d g e s and were n o t a f r a i d o f e l e c t r i c a l g a d g e t s . Waldo y e a r n e d s e c r e t l y f o r t h e b r i c k boxes t o an e x t e n t where h i s l o v e had become h a t r e d " (TSM, 2 4 ) . I n Waldo h a t r e d a l w a y s looms d a n g e r o u s l y c l o s e t o l o v e . N o r m a l i t y and c o n v e n t i o n a l i t y r e i g n i n S a r s a p a r i 1 1 a , and i t i s what Waldo i n h i s m e d i o c r i t y i d e n t i f i e s w i t h : " I n any c a s e , t h e r e were t h e s h o p s , t h e r e were t h e h o u s e s o f t h e s t r e e t you knew, p r o v i d i n g s i g n s t h a t a man i s a r a t i o n a l a n i m a l . . . . From a r e a s o n a b l e a n g l e t h e h o u s e s r e m a i n e d t h e l a b e l l e d boxes w h i c h c o n t a i n , n o t p a s s i o n s , b u t f u r n i t u r e " (TSM_, 5 2 ) . "Knew," " r a t i o n a l , " " r e a s o n a b l e " and " n o t p a s s i o n s " i d e n t i f y t h e l e v e l on w h i c h Waldo f u n c t i o n s most c o m f o r t a b l y . Were i t n o t f o r h i s b u m b l i n g , s h a m e l e s s b r o t h e r A r t h u r , Waldo's r e a s o n would n e v e r s u f f e r r u f f l i n g i n a p l a c e l i k e S a r s a p a r i l l a w i t h i t s l u d i c r o u s l y l a b e l l e d boxes l i k e "Ma Reve." F e i n s t e i n s and Mrs. Musto p r o v i d e t h e more g l a m o r o u s r e s i d e n c e s i n t h e n o v e l . F o l l o w i n g t h e i r m a r r i a g e and Mr. F e i n s t e i n ' s s t r o k e , D u l c i e and L e o n a r d S a p o r t a move i n t o t h e o r i g i n a l F e i n s t e i n d w e l l i n g . The F e i n s t e i n s ' house l o o k e d enormous b e c a u s e o f t h e many f l o u r i s h e s i t m a d e — b a t t l e m e n t s and t u r r e t s , s p i r e s and b a l c o n i e s , b u l l ' s - e y e s and d o r m e r s , e v e n a g a r g o y l e or two, w h i c h t h e w eather was c r a c k i n g and c h i p p i n g t o o s o o n . A l t h o u g h i t l o o k e d l i k e a p a r t l y f o r t i f i e d cement c a s t l e , w i t h v e i n s i n i t a f t e r t h e l e a v e s 197 of the V i r g i n i a c r e e p e r had f a l l e n o f f , i t was a f a i r l y n o r m a l , human house i n s i d e . From the b e g i n n i n g D u l c i e d i d n ' t a l l o w the i n h e r i t e d f u r n i t u r e to take o v e r . I t was she who pushed i t a r o u n d , o f t e n i n t o unpremedi ta ted g r o u p s . (TSM, 268) T h i s i n h o s p i t a b l e , anomalous g o t h i c e d i f i c e f i r e s A r t h u r ' s i m a g i n a t i o n . U n l i k e Browns' house w i t h the c l a s s i c a l ( im)pediment , F e i n s t e i n s ' i s a r o m a n t i c f o l l y which draws A r t h u r to i t a f t e r Waldo's d e a t h . "The house on the edge of the park i n c r e a s e d i n p o s s i b i l i t i e s a t n i g h t . D a r k n e s s , by d i s s o l v i n g i t s i r o n w o r k , i t s g i n g e r b r e a d co lumns, i t s cement s h e l l , had made i t more t r u l y a c a s t l e , the e l e c t r i c s t a r s screwed i n t o s i l h o u e t t e d b a t t l e m e n t s " (TSM, 304) . A r t h u r does not f e e l he can t r e s p a s s on S a p o r t a s ' c e l e b r a t i o n , so he l eaves "without a t t e m p t i n g to s torm t h e i r f o r t r e s s " (TSM, 305) . F a m i l y seems to be what t u r n s clammy c a s t l e i n t o p r o t e c t i v e f o r t r e s s . S t i l l , the ambiguous na ture of ' f o r t r e s s ' ensures we do not f o r g e t t h a t f a m i l y and s e c u r i t y can be as d e v o u r i n g or as p a r a l y z i n g as they can be S a p o r t a / s u p p o r t i v e . P o u l t e r s ' house l i e s a c r o s s the way from B r o w n s ' , and i t s b e g i n n i n g s are r e m i n i s c e n t of P a r k e r s ' s t a r t on t h e i r l a n d . To Browns' g r e a t annoyance, P o u l t e r s put t o g e t h e r t h e i r "blank box . . . In the end the s t r u c t u r e looked l e s s a square house than an oblong houseboat" (TSM, 134) . The h a b i t a t i o n seems a shabby a f f r o n t to Browns' p r e t e n t i o u s domest ic a s p i r a t i o n s , but i t d o u b t l e s s ho lds some charm, for the marine metaphor i s 198 repeated more than once. As we have seen, f l u i d i t y guarantees some grace in White's scheme of things. Poulters' had "that abrupt look, not so much of house, as of houseboat moored in a bay of grass. . . . Mrs. Poulter used to come on deck, and lean upon the gunwale of her boat, in her capacity as captain and lookout" (TSM, 177, 178). If B i l l Poulter proves to be no more than the average Australian male, his wife appears to be somewhat more inspired. Despite her s i m p l i c i t y and banality, she recognizes Arthur as someone s p e c i a l , and proves at the end to be his anchor. Browns may consider Poulters' place an i n s u l t to their s e n s i b i l i t i e s but their own abode inspires the same sort of sideways, d i s t r u s t f u l glances. No more than a wooden box l i k e a l l the others, positioned at the end of Terminus Road, Browns' only claim to a r c h i t e c t u r a l c u r i o s i t y proves to be i t s rather bizarre front. As Mrs. Poulter explains to Mrs. Dun, a fellow Terminus Road denizen, Browns' i s now surrounded by a thick hedge, "'for privacy l i k e , ' " and their veranda, well, " ' I t sort of come up to a peak . . .Mr. Brown to l d me the front was in the c l a s s i c a l s t y l e ' " (TSM, 7). The pediment may have been George Brown's idea o r i g i n a l l y , but between him and his wife Anne with her Quantrell heritage, they share a common fund of strange tastes in houses. The boys, Waldo in p a r t i c u l a r , love to hear their mother reminisce about the family seat, "'a shocking a r c h i t e c t u r a l muddle"* (TSM, 157), named Tallboys. Waldo eggs her on to 199 v e r