By Murdoch, Iris; Murdoch, Jean Iris; Woolf, Virginia; Woolf, Adeline Virginia Stephen; Lazenby, Donna J.; Woolf, Virginia; Murdoch, Iris
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Additional resources for A Mystical Philosophy: Transcendence and Immanence in the Works of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch
157 While the open ‘doors’ and ‘windows’ bring ‘a perpetual sighing and ceasing sound, the voice of the transient and the perishing . . ’158 Furthermore, we are told that the mistress of the house ‘Isabella Tyson . . carrying a basket . . ’ But ‘then by degrees some logical process set to work on them and began ordering and arranging them and bringing them into the fold of common experience. ’161 Isabella, too, returns to be framed by the glass in ‘that pitiless light. And there was nothing.
Together with a sense of unity and form’ which ‘often seems to us mysterious because it resists the easy patterns of the fantasy . . ’168 The question is one of balancing form and life: the former must never exist at the expense of accurate depictions of the latter. Woolf ’s story not only responds to the aesthetic temperament of Fry’s theory, but also to aspects of Bell’s depiction of significant form. ’169 Bell identifies as common to all great art an appeal that ‘is universal and eternal,’ namely an emotional appreciation of significant form which simultaneously transcends the specificity of individual taste, which is itself interpreted as the particular instantiation of a universal appreciation of form.
According to Woolf and Fry, art was not to be considered mystical in Russell’s sense. Over dinner on 3 December 1921, Woolf distinctly argued the possibility of an impersonal aesthetic with Russell, and recorded their conversation in her diary:121 ‘If you had my brain you would find the world a very thin, colourless place’ he said. But my colours are so foolish I replied. You want them for your writing, he said. Do you never see things impersonally? Yes. I see literature like that; Milton, that is.