Phase Twenty-Three

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The attributes of the Faculties when Will is at Phase 23derived frommodified byfromdescription
WillThe Receptive Man 23
MaskTrueWisdom 9BF 7Enforced sensuality
FalseSelf-pityCM 21Self-dramatisation
Creative MindTrueCreation through pity 7BF 9Adventure that excites the individuality
FalseSelf-driven desireFCM 23Dogmatic sentimentality
Body of FateSuccess 21
Composite of Faculties
trueThe receptive man seeks to deliver creation through pity, modified by adventure that excites the individuality, from wisdom, modified by enforced sensuality, with the help of success.
falseThe receptive man is misdirected to self-driven desire, modified by dogmatic sentimentality, bringing self-pity, modified by self-dramatisation, separated from success.
The disposition of the FacultiesAttributes of Phase 23affectsmodifies
WillThe receptive man 23-
MaskT: Facility
F: Obscurity
Creative MindT: Heroic sentiment
F: Dogmatic sentimentality
7 21 TM

23 FCM
Body of FateEnforced triumph of achievement 21 9 FCM
7 TM

See AV B 163-69 & 99.

Rembrandt, Synge

Yeats’s description of the phase from A Vision

When out of phase, for reasons that will appear later, he is tyrannical, gloomy and self-absorbed. In phase his energy has a character analogous to the longing of Phase 16 to escape from complete subjectivity: it escapes in a condition of explosive joy from systematisation and abstraction. The clock has run down and must be wound up again. The primary tincture is now greater than the antithetical, and the man must free the intellect from all motives founded upon personal desire, by the help of the external world, now for the first time studied and mastered for its own sake. He must kill all thought that would systematise the world, by doing a thing, not because he wants to, or because he should, but because he can; that is to say, he sees all things from the point of view of his own technique, touches and tastes and investigates technically. He is, however, because of the nature of his energy, violent, anarchic, like all who are of the first phase of a quarter. Because he is without systematisation he is without a master, and only by his technical mastery can he escape from the sense of being thwarted and opposed by other men; and his technical mastery must exist, not for its own sake, though for its own sake it has been done, but for that which it reveals, for its laying bare—to hand and eye, as distinguished from thought and emotion—general humanity. Yet this laying bare is a perpetual surprise, is an unforeseen reward of skill. And unlike antithetical man he must use his Body of Fate (now always his 'success') to liberate his intellect from personality, and only when he has done this, only when he escapes the voluntary Mask, does he find his true intellect, is he found by his True Mask.

The True Mask is from the frenzied Phase 9 where personal life is made visible for the first time, but from that phase mastered by its Body of Fate, 'enforced sensuality', derived from Phase 7 where the instinctive flood is almost above the lips. It is called 'wisdom' and this wisdom (personality reflected in a primary mirror) is general humanity experienced as a form of involuntary emotion and involuntary delight in the 'minute particulars' of life. The man wipes his breath from the window-pane, and laughs in his delight at all the varied scene. Because his Creative Mind is at Phase 7, where instinctive life, all but reaching utmost complexity, suffers an external abstract synthesis; his Body of Fate which drives him to intellectual life, at Phase 21; his Will at a phase of revolt from every intellectual summary, from all intellectual abstraction, this delight is not mere delight, he would construct a whole, but that whole must seem all event, all picture. That whole must not be instinctive, bodily, natural, however, though it may seem so, for in reality he cares only for what is human, individual and moral. To others he may seem to care for the immoral and inhuman only, for he will be hostile, or indifferent to moral as to intellectual summaries; if he is Rembrandt he discovers his Christ through anatomical curiosity, or through curiosity as to light and shade, and if he is Synge he takes a malicious pleasure in the contrast between his hero, whom he discovers through his instinct for comedy, and any hero in men's minds. Indeed, whether he be Synge or Rembrandt, he is ready to sacrifice every convention, perhaps all that men have agreed to reverence, for a startling theme, or a model one delights in painting; and yet all the while, because of the nature of his Mask, there is another summary working through bone and nerve. He is never the mere technician that he seems, though when you ask his meaning he will have nothing to say, or will say something irrelevant or childish.

Artists and writers of Phase 21 and Phase 22 have eliminated all that is personal from their style, seeking cold metal and pure water, but he will delight in colour and idiosyncrasy, though these he must find rather than create. Synge must find rhythm and syntax in the Aran Islands, Rembrandt delight in all accidents of the visible world; yet neither, no matter what his delight in reality, shows it without exaggeration, for both delight in all that is wilful, in all that flouts intellectual coherence, and conceive of the world as if it were an overflowing cauldron. Both will work in toil and in pain, finding what they do not seek, for, after Phase 22, desire creates no longer, will has taken its place; but that which they reveal is joyous. Whereas Shakespeare showed, through a style full of joy, a melancholy vision sought from afar; a style at play, a mind that served; Synge must fill many notebooks, clap his ear to that hole in the ceiling; and what patience Rembrandt must have spent in the painting of a lace collar though to find his subject he had but to open his eyes. When out of phase, when the man seeks to choose his Mask, he is gloomy with the gloom of others, and tyrannical with the tyranny of others, because he cannot create. Phase 9 was dominated by desire, was described as having the greatest belief in its own desire possible to man, yet from it Phase 23 receives not desire but pity, and not belief but wisdom. Pity needs wisdom as desire needs belief, for pity is primary, whereas desire is antithetical. When pity is separated from wisdom we have the False Mask, a pity like that of a drunken man, self-pity, whether offered in seeming to another or only to oneself-. pity corrupted by desire. Who does not feel the pity in Rembrandt, in Synge, and know that it is inseparable from wisdom? In the works of Synge there is much self-pity, ennobled to a pity for all that lived; and once an actress, playing his Deirdre, put all into a gesture. Conchubar, who had murdered Deirdre's husband and her friends, was in altercation with Fergus, who had demanded vengeance; 'Draw a little back', she cried, 'with the squabbling of fools'; and a moment later, moving like a somnambulist, she touched Conchubar upon the arm, a gesture full of gentleness and compassion, as though she had said, 'You also live'. In Synge's early unpublished work, written before he found the dialects of Aran and of Wicklow, there is brooding melancholy and morbid self-pity. He had to undergo an aesthetic transformation, analogous to religious conversion, before he became the audacious, joyous, ironical man we know. The emotional life in so far as it was deliberate had to be transferred from Phase 9 to Phase 23, from a condition of self-regarding melancholy to its direct opposite. This transformation must have seemed to him a discovery of his true self, of his true moral being; whereas Shelley's came at the moment when he first created a passionate image which made him forgetful of himself. It came perhaps when he had passed from the litigious rhetoric of Queen Mab to the lonely reveries of Alastor. Primary art values above all things sincerity to the self or Will, but to the self active, transforming, perceiving.

The quarter of Intellect was a quarter of dispersal and generalisation, a play of shuttlecock with the first quarter of animal burgeoning, but the fourth quarter is a quarter of withdrawal and concentration, in which active moral man should receive into himself, and transform into primary sympathy, the emotional self-realisation of the second quarter. If he does not so receive and transform he sinks into stupidity and stagnation, perceives nothing but his own interests, or becomes a tool in the hands of others; and at Phase 23, because there must be delight in the unforeseen, he may be brutal and outrageous. He does not, however, hate, like a man of the third quarter, being but ignorant of or indifferent to the feelings of others. Rembrandt pitied ugliness, for what we call ugliness was to him an escape from all that is summarised and known, but had he painted a beautiful face, as antithetical man understands beauty, it would have remained a convention, he would have seen it through a mirage of boredom.

When one compares the work of Rembrandt with that of David, whose phase was Phase 21; the work of Synge with that of Mr. Wells; one compares men whose antithetical tincture is breaking up and dissolving, with men in whom it is, as for a last resistance, tightening, concentrating, levelling, transforming, tabulating. Rembrandt and Synge but look on and clap their hands. There is indeed as much selection among the events in one case as in the other, but at Phase 23 events seem startling because they elude intellect. All phases after Phase 15 and before Phase 22 unweave that which is woven by the equivalent phases before Phase 15 and after Phase 8.

The man of Phase 23 has in the Mask, at Phase 9, a contrary that seems his very self until he use the discord of that contrary, his Body of Fate at Phase 2 1, to drive away the Mask and free the intellect and rid pity of desire and turn belief into wisdom. The Creative Mind, a discord to the Will, is from a phase of instinctive dispersal, and must turn the violent objectivity of the self or Will into a delight in all that breathes and moves: 'The gay fishes on the wave when the moon sucks up the dew'.

(AV B 163-69)

Symbol of Phase 23: ‘blind folded man ballanced on point of pike & juggling’ (see YVP 3 400-01)

See a broader view of the Phase in the consideration of the Phase Triads.

The Faculties

The Wheel


The Phases in History


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