‘Lady Chatterley Witness’ Appears for Involution-Odyssey

All Rise.

Court in Session
Court in Session

Judge to Jury   We will now continue the case for the Defense on  the  third Charge: That the book Involution-Odyssey persuaded the Author to adopt inappropriate language- something that masquerades as ‘symphonic prose’ and at an inappropriate time.

Bear in mind that even the BBC now operates by Twitter and Soundbite. This Homeric epic must be judged against that prevailing climate.

Counsel for the Defense. I now call Canon Richard Milford to take the witness box. Canon Milford you have appeared as a witness in similar circumstances before. Could you clarify that for the Court?

(An aristocratic old tweed- very frail, it’ll blow him over- gentle man. Court Reporter)

RM Well yes, although I would prefer to forget it. I was a witness for the defense of  Penguin Publishers in the trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

Lady Chatterley's Lover

DEF Counsel  Why did they ask you?

RM Well I had just been appointed as Master of the Temple and I supposed they thought my august position would speak louder than ever I could.

DEF Master of the Temple sounds Masonic. Is it?

RM  Quite the opposite. Far from secret. It is a Royal Appointment that came with a charming house in central London and very few duties except to eat dinners and take a few services in the famous church of the Knights Templars. A figure head that still vaguely connects the Law to the Church, historically, but the modern  Benchers, the senior barristers, would prefer to forget that. They have managed to sever Law from morality. It was a retirement sinecure that I hoped to enjoy; being left alone to study and play chess.

Master's House
Master’s House from Inner Temple Courtyard.

DEF Why did you agree to appear for the defence of Lady Chatterley. Presumably you supported the book?

(Hardly one of the world’s shakers CR)

RM I read it, at the publisher’s request, for the first time, and could see nothing wrong in publishing what essentially is a book about love. Love ennobling sex, as I saw it.

DEF So not one to corrupt the servant classes?That was an allegation wasn’t it?…

RM If they could read it, probably not, but I have never had servants since my nanny departed when I was seven, so I would not know.

DEF Canon Milford you were an incumbent priest at St Mary’s Oxford, the Founder of Oxfam, the Chancellor of Lincoln. What made you expose yourself, if you will forgive the expression, for a highly public trial of a questionable book?

RM Frankly I did not anticipate the consequences. I thought it was a moral question being examined. I simply lent a little weight to the argument for creative freedom. I learned a lot from it. We really were an imprisoned generation. The crippled husband in a wheelchair summed us up. I considered it both brave and poetical, necessary for the time. It banished the fetters of Puritanism, to liberate sex as something joyous. It has now been cheapened, of course…

DEF What were the consequences that you say you regretted?

Temple Hall for Dinner with the Templars
Temple Hall for Dinner with the Templars

RM I was blackballed by the Benchers. After that I ate my dinners off a tray in my charming living room. My poor wife had hoped to be released from cookery, (not her forte- she preferred T’ai Ch’i), instead she had not only to cook but to ferry trays. It was a small kitchen designed for a bachelor with a housekeeper who made tea.

DEF Blackballed why?

RM Rigid protocol really. It was not considered proper, as a member of the Temple, to participate in a show trial that might change the Law. Setting precedents was as reprehensible as appearing in court without a wig, or in church without a surplice, but I did not realise that. I read a book, defended its right to exist, and the sky fell on my head.

Banished
Banished

DEF Well let’s hope this book will treat you more kindly. Please give us your view of this new edition of Involution?

RM Like Lady Chatterley it is equally a necessary new vision for our time. Unlike sex it won’t have the same appeal…God is for Sundays, and rituals, not daily bread and butter.

DEF What does this book require us to banish?

RM  The outdated views of both God (as an external ‘mover’) and the natural world (as also external to us ). There is only consciousness, or God. Tough but there He is. I believe it a valuable contribution to the approach began by Teilhard de Chardin, the perception of the incremental spiritualisation that underpins evolution, what he called Christogenesis…

DEF Which means what?

RM The increasing unity of creation, and particularly in its convergence to Man of a consciousness of all participating in the collective cosmogenesis-the evolution of the Cosmos. I find that a great comfort in reconciling the gulf between science and my own theological belief, it renders the spiritual both magical and rational. Nothing divides us from the world about us, once you understand that.

(Good point. He is quite sharp for all the etiolated frame and thick glasses CR)

DEF  You support this poetic prose language to express that? That scientific view?

RM I suspect it is the only language worth attempting since science will not take this Author seriously anyway. She seems to have found a new way of expressing a very old  and universal understanding, just as de Chardin did.

DEF  We have heard the charge of inappropriate authorship and the book was cleared. So writing poetically addresses another readership?

RM I believe it might. Not many, but some will understand it, if they are ready to…It is not difficult.

DEF So it does not trouble you that the Author has been lassoed by a book for which there will be few readers?

RM That has been true of many. I don’t believe she expected otherwise. To be ignored, or even shunned, is not a crime. You might as well suggest that everyone who fails should never have tried.

DEF No further questions.

PROsecution Counsel. Canon, you befriended the Author over many years. Don’t you think you should have made that clear?

RM I was not asked the question but it is not material to my opinion. Had I thought the Book of no value I would have been the first to spare her both the effort of writing it, and the vilification from the heartless world of academia. That I am more than familiar with; it is brutal.

(Knows whereof he speaks -an otherworldly fellow who started Oxfam! and walked smack into the strong arm of the Law! CR)

PRO What attracted you to the Author and her book?

RM (silent)

PRO Will you answer the question?

RM I will but I doubt you will understand the answer. You are bound to misinterpret. I had spent close to sixty years looking for belief, real belief. I have read widely from the theological convictions of others, but they never reached the core to afford me any kind of peace. I have preached about love, and not practised it enough. I have never been blessed with religious fervour, much as I might have wanted it. When the person you call the Author blew into our lives, barefooted usually, destitute, yet full of joy I knew it could only be because she had found what I had been searching for. She was infectious. I was infected, perhaps at second hand, but undeniably. Not something a court would understand. It wasn’t her theory, although it was interesting as a means of conveying her experience, and something to hold on to, it was simpler than that, simply an irrepressible joy, and a great deal of humour…I loved her. As did my wife…The language of the book is the language of joy, admixed with enough factual logic to make it comprehensible to those whom Joy had eluded…

PROS  Yet it was you who recommended her visit to the Inquisition at Cambridge? You were happy to risk her innocent joy to that destruction.

RM I hoped they might be both kinder and more interested. It was an error of hope over experience. I try and believe declarations sincere…they claimed an interest which proved untrue. But she also understood that, and could forgive it. She was a good mimic and gave a great performance of her reception…

PROS You did not, perchance, hope they would kill it off?

RM I did not. The Author was truly impoverished, living in our modest caravan through the winter, without her children, and I hoped…

PROS That someone would take her off your hands? She and her obsessive Joy!

RM How base a suggestion! No, if she was weighted with anything it was the belief that she had to impart a critical new vision before the materialist viewpoint did any further damage. I wanted to help in any way I could. Contrary to your suggestion, we thoroughly enjoyed her company, my wife had it through the days of sewing and searching for a place for her to live, and I had her in the evenings over the washing up, when we talked about her extraordinary experiences…and de Chardin…and played games finishing each other’s limericks. She taught me some biology, especially about the structure of DNA which she made fascinating; I taught her chess. She was not good on defensive play, good on the attack…

PROS  Extraordinary in what way?

RM  Well constant synchronicities, some almost worthy of calling mystical… They happened to us when she was about. That’s when I began to see the integration of thought and event, not as theory but a living reality. I am naturally sceptic, much too absorbed intellectually to notice such things but once I suspended disbelief they started happening all the time. The more I accepted her reality, the more it became ours…I found a renewed love for my wife, and indeed life itself. It was a wonderful period.

PROS Are you saying that her mere presence distorted time?

RM No, nothing so inflated, what it altered was my perception, and therefore influenced the unfolding of events; they became immediate,

PRO You can judge these? You have had similar encounters with the allegedly mystical?

RM No, unfortunately. I usually take my theology straight, not laced with visions and voices, but I have read enough of the mystics to recognize their qualities. I believed her entirely without pretension, or grandiose inflation. She is very straight forward. That above all is what convinced me that her book was based on genuine experiences, akin to de Chardin… He failed to find the following his work deserved, as she has. Luckily I am not sufficiently worldly wise to rely on the opinions of others. I form my own opinions from what calls to me…Her dedication in the face of extreme hardship was another reason I believed she had something valuable to convey.

PRO What has been the legacy of your relationship with her?

RM That s the first meaningful question you have asked. I came face to face with inhumanity, I leaned about the hypocrisy of academics who claim to seek truth, and the so called spiritual organisations who seek to suppress it. From her I leaned that I needed blinkers to carry on living, and ploughing a narrow furrow. It is not the book that should be on trial but the world itself. You are asking all the wrong questions.The book is on trial because it failed, but its failure was presumed before it was read. Neither it ,nor the Author fitted the mold. Who decided on that mold? The vacuous, conformist, correct-way-to-do-things… It should be the sardonic, contemptuous, self serving institutions…

Judge Thank you Canon. You may stand down…

RM On the contrary it is time to stand up…

Judge. Canon , if you continue I shall hold you in contempt of Court…

RM Don’t worry. I have taken contempt for myself. Save yourself the trouble.

(Wow! Who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him. Must interview him before the fire goes out. This will be worthy of a front page tonight…Yippee. CR)

The Temple Church-Inner Temple London
The Temple Church-Inner Temple London- the original round church visible at the far end.

Judge (to Jury) I direct you to ignore the outburst of the last witness. It is not relevant to your deliberations.

All rise

Barred and bolted. The Inns of Court- Temple gate.
Barred and bolted. The Inns of Court- Temple gate.

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons Masters House By Herbert Railton (1857–1910)[1] [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (Masters House drawing) By Matt Brown (http://www.flickr.com/photos/londonmatt/4272503062) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons (inner Temple Hall) By Patrick Nielsen Hayden (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pnh/464206477) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons (Gate)

Court in Session
Court in Session

Author: philipparees

A writer ( mostly narrative poetry) of fiction and non-fiction. Self publisher of fiction and Involution-An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God (Runner-up Book of the Year (2013), One time builder ( Arts centre) Mother of four daughters: Companion of old man and old dog: One time gardener, lecturer, wannabe cellist, mostly enquirer of 'what's it all about', blogger and things as yet undiscovered.

20 thoughts on “‘Lady Chatterley Witness’ Appears for Involution-Odyssey”

  1. I like this … The language of the book is the language of joy, admixed with enough factual logic to make it comprehensible to those whom Joy had eluded …
    Wonderful support, too.
    Rev. Canon Theodore Milford, MA ten years master of the temple 1958-1968 – a place of great history to delve into: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Church
    Let alone Milford’s input towards the blessings of Oxfam.

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  2. Word have meaning, perhaps that’s just the problem, as Humpty Dumpty suggested – too much meaning. Without language, without words, we might be able to talk to the trees, discuss with them what they think of us. This is the effort of poetry, to communicate without language, without words with any kind of ordinary sense. Robert Bly does this. It’s apparently the only way to communicate the experience of activities like talking to trees (or to fish, waves, or the cosmos, etc.).

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  3. A close friend and a most modest man. I was at his memorial in Milford House, the Headquarters of Oxfam in Oxford. His story of packing up parcels for the starving Greeks after WW1 in the tower of St Mary’s were a quite wonderful beginning to what is now a huge organisation.It was good to re-enliven him!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This may be my favorite court session so far, Philippa. The language is after my own heart. Nothing fancy or clever, overbaked or overdone, no acrobatics or gymnastics, or anything so towering, crowding out the sky, that it overshadows, dwarfs and terrorizes. It doesn’t draw attention to its own skill or talent. This plainness, praise be to God, underlies your entire poetic endeavor, your poetry contained by it and evolving out of it, rooted in it. In becoming music your poetry is the fruit, but this plainness is the trunk and roots which doesn’t get the praise or blame but runs the vital substance, the sap, hidden and unseen up the branches. It’s plain goodness in real modesty, not false, which disarms and is completely approachable and lovable. I feel incredible relief reading it. The bread metaphor you used in another of your comment sections is here in this language, the bread of communion. Anyone who spoke with this voice in the court of law, and was held in contempt, would manifestly reveal the judge to be a bad or corrupt one.

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    1. For reasons that must lie in the bowels of my revived computer I have had no notifications of any of the kind comments above, so forgive the failure to respond to them. I was imagining such support waning, fie upon my doubt! Thank you John and Joe, both willing to climb trees!

      I wanted to expose the savagery meted out in all circumstances where people fail to conform to restrictions placed on them, whether by institutions of law, as in the case of this gentle modest man, or in the case of a book that took on the opprobrium of ‘considered opinion’. What I hoped the trial would illuminate is something larger than the instances alone- the hazardous survival of any unorthodoxy. The ideas need to be strong enough to withstand the consequences of having them!

      Richard Milford features briefly in the next post which I suspect will need to carry a health warning.

      I am very grateful for loyal support. Pity we can’t all gather for a glass!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Joe Linker has spoken of the four seasons of the soul. I think this tree is beautiful and strong even in winter, after all the leaves have fallen off and there’s no fruit for that span of time. The tree is alive in its center, the rings radiating out and protected by a tough, textured bark, and can endure much, though certain branches have become gnarled reaching up into the sky, but that makes the tree all the more full of character, the kind that children might like to climb to test their finesse and strength and to have fun. I’ve played at with others before what kind of animal I might be, if not human, and I think I’m either a slow-moving sloth or a bird of some kind, with fairly uniform-colored feathers. I do know that I’m not a predator. I don’t hunt and kill prey, though I’m pretty good at mimicry. Lately I’ve become a serpent around the like of Brian George, coiling around his staff. But here I unwind into this fair assessment of myself while perched on one of your branches. Now I fly off.

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  5. A decidedly gnarled old tree is grateful for the assumptions of value! A slow moving sloth is not what I would have thought! A magpie ( good at mimicry?) comes to mind, although we have a turtle dove that co-habits and that sees off the magpie with fair dispatch. It is half its size and looks timorous. Just shows you can never tell by the looks!

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    1. Related: I’ve always loved this poem The Albatross, by Charles Baudelaire (there are many english translations):

      This english translation, by William Aggeler:

      Often, to amuse themselves, the men of a crew
      Catch albatrosses, those vast sea birds
      That indolently follow a ship
      As it glides over the deep, briny sea.

      Scarcely have they placed them on the deck
      Than these kings of the sky, clumsy, ashamed,
      Pathetically let their great white wings
      Drag beside them like oars.

      That winged voyager, how weak and gauche he is,
      So beautiful before, now comic and ugly!
      One man worries his beak with a stubby clay pipe;
      Another limps, mimics the cripple who once flew!

      The poet resembles this prince of cloud and sky
      Who frequents the tempest and laughs at the bowman;
      When exiled on the earth, the butt of hoots and jeers,
      His giant wings prevent him from walking.

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  6. Poignant, horrible and comforting at the same time. I know what you intended here! The albatross is much in the news here, its threatened extinction from long line fishing and the defence of the Prince of Wales in trying to alert a need for its protection. ( He is supposed to keep stumm on anything contentious- the one man in Britain denied the freedom of speech through an accident of birth!) The albatross also ends another book I have written and am considering whether to publish. So serendipitous perhaps?

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  7. Serendipitous and pregnant with meaning, Philippa In this reverberation into the natural world the court case is being playing out in another sense. Who is the lawyer of the albatross? Who can speak for its defense? Who is the presiding Judge? The albatross at the end of the story you wrote in some sense must be you, transformed, or in another form. It’s like you’re on the outside looking into your own court case. This has dislodged a memory I share with you here in full. In 2008 I wrote the following email to my parents in a reply to a postcard they sent me –

    “Dear Mom and Dad:

    I just returned to my apartment, it’s after midnight, and I discovered in my mailbox the postcard you sent me from the Galapagos islands, Ecuador, of the Blue-Footed Booby, a magnificent creature, a marine bird perhaps reminiscent of my own nature. The bright turquoise color of its beak and its big flat webbed feet, a cheerful melancholy hue, somber and funny simultaneously, are the color and form of my own soul these days. This creature runs around, I imagine at first like Charlie Chaplin as the tramp, all over the uneven and craggy rocks as around our collective beating heart, and it searches for fish in the murky depths of water which are our surrounding thoughts, scanning the rippling surface. Most often it comes up with nothing in its beak, lets out a raucous sound, hearing not even an echo in return, so sounds in disappointment, then works itself up into anger, which before it can break into fury narrows its tail feathers to a point. Finally, backing off for fear that it might hurt itself, it resigns itself and like a beginner pied-piper, in spirit totally like a child, gives off the only note it knows and feels any sense of self in, a funny kind of whistle, high and thin, which calms and soothes its own high-strung nerves, while shaking the salty, dirty drops of water off its wings and tucking them behind its back. The spirit of this bird in its humor is as as irrepressible as Groucho Marx. It soon scampers along, takes off above the murky depths of the water, gliding and circling around, scanning the surface again, but from a different angle, looking for another place to dive back in. The Blue-Footed Booby is so like me! “The name ‘booby’ comes from the Spanish term ‘bobo’, which means ‘stupid fellow’. This is because the Blue-footed Booby is clumsy on the land, and like other seabirds can be very tame. It has been known to land on boats, where it was once captured and eaten.” I only just received this post card today.

    Thank you – !

    John

    P.S. Note the nature of the Blue-Footed Booby in relation to the creature described in this poem by the 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire, this translation from French into English by Richard Wilbur:

    The Albatross

    “Often, for pastime, mariners will ensnare
    The albatross, that vast sea-bird who sweeps
    On high companionable pinion where
    Their vessel glides upon the bitter deeps.

    Torn from his native space, this captive king
    Flounders upon the deck in stricken pride,
    And pitiably lets his great white wing
    Drag like a heavy paddle at his side.

    The rider of winds, how awkward he is, and weak!
    How droll he seems, who lately was all grace!
    A sailor pokes a pipestem into its beak;
    Another, hobbling, mocks his trammeled pace.

    The Poet is like this monarch of the clouds,
    Familiar of storms, of stars, and of all high things;
    Exiled on earth amidst its hooting crowds,
    He cannot walk, borne down by his giant wings.”

    “I first read this poem while I was in my twenties, and it has never left me as such a striking and moving image of the poet or artist in the world. On the ground, terrestrially, when cold and uninspired and only common and ordinary events occur, which is most of our time here on earth, a poet or an artist is clumsy, awkward, never quite fits in anywhere, stammers and becomes the fool, trips over things, laughs and shouts out, wildly gesticulating, as if overcome with madness, arousing the ridicule, mockery and suspicious glances of others, and usually ends up feeling to be the most wretched and cursed of all creatures on earth. But once a poet or artist becomes hot with the fire of celestial passion and becomes inspired, becoming the golden mean between depth and height in the full measure of human experience, no creature in existence is more profound or sublime. So from the most stupid and dumb creature on earth, easily put down, mocked, ridiculed and ignored, dismissed, and then suddenly, in the majesty of its flight and free play in the open sky – like a butterfly just breaking free of its chrysalis and flittering all around in joy, still delicate and sensitive in its body, still susceptible to injury and harm, but so radiant and triumphant in its magnificent wings – the poet or artist becomes the most beautiful and divine.”

    ——————————————————————

    P.S. Philippa: I note the Phoenix in flames leaving behind its own ashes, rising out of them, on the cover of D.H. Lawrence’s book Lady Chatterley’s Lover – another fabulous winged creature to which I’m intensely drawn.

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    1. Thank you John for doing what you are very good at- pulling in threads to weave a new narrative. I liked both translations, for different reasons. Your understanding of ‘looking in’ to the court case and the demise of the ‘landed’ sea bird will find it bloodied on the deck next time. I was wondering whether to be brave enough to publish it but your anticipation of its inevitability now will encourage me!

      Brian’s suggestion that I should turn the trial into a stage play is now gaining focus. It would be a good touring company show, and who knows? It might even sell a few books! I do wish I was younger with the adventure of living in a caravan and travelling behind a horse with a group of players!

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      1. P.S. You really should not avoid writing publicly John, the Blue Footed Booby empathy is very moving. Pitiable and transcendent. I loved it. You could apply your considerable draftsmanship to a cross-fertilised vision of words and images.

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      2. Thank you, Philippa! The slightest encouragement from either you or Brian goes straight to my heart, and quickens me, lights me up inside. I feel like a kid trying to please his parents. In a way each of you is like a parental figure to me, teachers and guides, disciplinarians when I get out of line, it’s in the riper, more mature spirit of you both – I mean this in the best of all possible senses, with the deepest gratitude. You create the boundaries, and what do I do? Something absolutely necessary for all new and young to learn the sense of who they are and to learn about the world around them, and their actual relation to it. I simply play. Brian’s playground is scarier and more fraught with hidden traps and dangers, yours is more welcoming and edifying, more open to the natural world. I think of you, and I think of flowers, plants and trees, fruit and birds and beasts of all varieties, and insects, and natural settings and humans inhabiting them and their relations. I think of Brian, I think of rare minerals and exotic spices, the lost treasure, the Philosopher’s stone, the gordian knot, diamonds and gold, the hidden city beneath the earth, of course the labyrinth, and disembodied spirits and demons and other things invisible but nonetheless real and felt and vibrating us like tuning forks. You both compliment each other in remarkable ways. Both, however, are absolutely necessary and good for me, places I can really test myself and learn about the nature of reality, both hidden and seen, and of myself, exoteric and esoteric. I feel like I’m sorting you both out inside myself, an alchemy laboratory within, and want to find that harmonious place in the crossroads between the worlds of you both. That’s what I’d love to give voice to!

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  8. “I believe it might. Not many, but some will understand it, if they are ready to…It is not difficult.

    DEF So it does not trouble you that the Author has been lassoed by a book for which there will be few readers?

    RM That has been true of many. I don’t believe she expected otherwise. To be ignored, or even shunned, is not a crime. You might as well suggest that everyone who fails should never have tried.”

    Hee hee, love it !

    Infectious is the word… Keep on keepin’ on, Philippa !

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