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Pete Atkin >> Words >> Eye of the Universe
(Message started by: Leslie Moss on Today at 17:54)

Title: Eye of the Universe
Post by Leslie Moss on Today at 17:54
"I am the eye with which the universe beholds itself".

Was Clive thinking of John Wheeler's concept of the participatory universe? The picture on page one of the link is extremely suggestive.



Title: Re: Eye of the Universe
Post by S J Birkill on 13.10.07 at 10:40
I think the concept of human (and individual) consciousness as the culmination of the Universe's blind quest to become aware of its own existence goes back well beyond Wheeler's 'participatory universe', Bohm's 'implicate order' or the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, or indeed Schopenhauer's 'Will', to certain eastern religious philosophies. Although its natural implication is the unity of all conscious awareness, some see it as supporting solipsist ideas (there is only one Mind and I am He), which probably renders it deeply unfashionable.

Still, that's what I thought Clive was getting at. Then someone suggested the 'eye' might be that square one in the corner of the living room...


Title: Re: Eye of the Universe
Post by Pete Atkin on 13.10.07 at 14:00
The 'someone' was me, I think.   It was simply one of the ways I interpreted it, and it it still seems to me to make some kind of sense.   Clive, though, said somewhere that the title phrase comes from Shelley, that its grandiosity struck him, and that he just took it form there.


Title: Re: Eye of the Universe
Post by S J Birkill on 13.10.07 at 14:07
Ah yes, I remember. That's why Percy gets his mugshot here (http://www.peteatkin.com/i24.htm)!

Title: Re: Eye of the Universe
Post by Kevin Cryan on 15.10.07 at 21:37
I rather think that there a lot more to this song than than Clive is -or was- letting on. The song, it has always seemed to me, rings some very modern and carefully thought-out variations on the last sanza of Shelley's posthumously-published Hymn of Apollo (http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/41357-Percy-Bysshe-Shelley-Hymn-of-Apollo).

This stanza runs thus:

I am the eye with which the Universe
Beholds itself, and knows it is divine;
All harmony of instrument or verse,
All prophecy, all medicine, is mine,
All light of art or nature; - to my song
Victory and praise in its own right belong

Whereas Shelley's "Apollo" views and sings a perfect perfect world , Clive's "Apollo" views a fractured and imprefect one, but one which is by no means past redeeming itself.

I have seen the gentle meet the savage day
In the sunlight on the spandrels of the towers
And in the moonlight very far away
The honeymoon canoe glide through the flowers
And the party left behind go on for hours
For a while things were as peaceful as they seemed
I am the eye with which the universe beholds itself
And knows itself redeemed

Some of you will recall that Perfect Moments (http://www.peteatkin.com/d1a.htm) the speaker suggests the that "Perfect moments should redeem the day/Their teeming richness ought to be enough/To take the sting out of the other stuff", but concludes with "A perfect bitch it doesn't work that way", a conclusion that would seem a polar opposite the one arrived at in Eye of the Universe. However, when examined more carefully, are the conclusions necessarily as far apart from each other as they first appear to be? I'm not sure that they are.

Kevin Cryan

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