glyph 263: Shideler . Tolkien ... evil, darkness, ugliness, images ... good, sunlight, images, joy ... dark-adapted eyes cannot see things in light ... G. K. Chesterton ... inklings


Need for Definite Images of Good

the problem with dark-adapted eyes

From Inklings of Another World, an essay on J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, written in 1966.

It is good for us to confront steadily the ugliness in our world, to follow the histories of anti-heroes, to explore the caverns of meaninglessness, and to be confined within the secular city. But eyes that are fully dark-adapted will be blinded by sunlight, and the imagination and intellect that can discern every subtle variation among evils may not be able to discriminate at all between evil and good. As G. K. Chesterton once said: "we are face to face with the problem of a human consciousness filled with very definite images of evil, and with no definite images of good." But neither physically nor mentally is man a nocturnal creature. He is not only able to see light; he hungers for it; and when he finds it, he runs forth to call his friends to see it and share his joy.

Complete essay at:
entered before July 9, 2006

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