Time Matters

There is a marvellous gem of elucidation in To Tell a Story: Narrative Theory and Practice. Papers Read at a Clark Library Seminar. February 4, 1972. It is Stanley Fish’s reading of a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes. It is difficult to do the piece justice by selective quoting. But we try:

Ten is an arbitrary number signaling the end of an arbitrary sequence; any number would have done, any order would have served; it is a matter of indifference, an indifference Andrewes displays openly when he closes or rather stops by remarking: “I see, I shall not be able to goe further than this verse.” Here we see exactly how time is at once everything and nothing; presumably the bell has rung and he must giver over, but while time has run out, the sermon is nevertheless complete, for the meaning it offers is found not at the end of it, in the fullness of time, but at every point in its temporal succession. Am I then arguing that the parts of the sermon could be rearranged with no loss of coherence or power? Not at all, for, paradoxically, it is the sequence of the sermon as it stands that leads us to affirm the irrelevance of sequence. The experiential point is realized only through the agency of the structure it subverts, which becomes, in effect, the vehicle of its own abandonment.

At some point the essay will fall into the public domain and some enterprising soul will upload it. Or before then some donor will underwrite the expense of bringing all the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library Seminar Papers to open digital access. I am indifferent to the order of the options but desirous of the essay getting a wide reading.

And so for day 848

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