Six Modern Authors and Problems of Belief by Patrick Grant

By Patrick Grant

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BeruBe felt a strong element of personal assertiveness in the Spiritual Exercises, and rather than struggle to conform to the will to God, his 'French school' recommended the relaxation of personal will and the absorption altogether of egocentric impulses by relinquishing them in abnegation. rulle's genius, which arises rather from two other sources: his peculiar ability with language, and his insight into the complex historical circumstances within which he worked. On the question of language, Berulle deploys an original terminology for describing the life of the spirit, and can move his reader through an elevated, impassioned rhetoric.

That Huxley preferred to castigate the foolishness of temporal concerns rather than celebrate the world of images stems from his conviction that if people are to be happy they should settle for nothing but the best. In a world with no coherent religious commitment, he held that the images of art divorced from the conviction of eternity are too often distractions only, just as the techniques of science in the same situation become instruments of human self-destruction. Yet the world of images is also the world of suffering humanity - the realm of faith and the cross which Fr Benet had insisted must be recalled in a civilisation increasingly bent, with the advent of scientific materialism, on the reification of objects and people alike.

Huxley's favourite avocations, such as hypnotism and drugs, Taoism and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, are all discussed and examined. Events in his personal life appear thinly disguised, for instance the death ofhis wife (the model for Lakshmi) and of his brother Trev (Duglad), or the suggestions of his own early self in Farnaby, so clever and able and avoiding commitment. 38 To read the biography and Island together is to have the impression that Island is a curiously private book, a kind of personal reprise.

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