In class we have been discussing the notion of the telos, or end, as one of the four causes of things. There is the material cause, the formal, the efficient, and the final: matter, form, maker, telos. In natural things, these four causes collapse into two, the matter and form: the tree is its own end of being and the thing it is coming to be. In artificial things, we can see these things quite clearly: the sculpture (Aristotle’s example) is made of bronze; shaped as a person; made by the sculptor; its end is to be beautiful.
Unlike for a living thing, whose telos is within it, the sculpture’s telos, its purpose in existence, is outside of itself. The bronze’s telos is to be heavy (not being alive, the metal is a part of the realm where things seek their own level and stop), full of gravitas. The sculpture’s telos is to fulfill the artist’s vision of the beautiful, the good, and the true, as Hans Christian Andersen puts it in some of his fairy tales; or perhaps we might say that is telos is to speak for the artist in the language that is not reducible to speech (as the speech of poetry is not reducible to its component words).
What, then, is the telos of this blog? It is humble: I am working on shaping my writing, and hoping to share it with new friends and old. As I have titled it, it is an inn, meant to be welcoming, a place of good conversation and food for the mind and soul, such as I can offer it.
This blog, the Rose and Phoenix Inn, is a piece of that, a place to write about what I am doing and thinking, trying to learn and not simply feel the point that brevity is the soul of wit, share a little the fruits of my reading and living, my efforts to live as a free citizen. There is perhaps a little desire to share how much joy I receive from my education in the liberal arts, medieval and modern. Not to mention in the byways of many a curious book and town, and the tales of other travellers.
That perhaps sounds grander than I’d thought, now I reflect further. As I said in an earlier post, I am trying to work out what is my part in the City, how I can help shape a shed or a garden, an alley or perhaps a cul-de-sac. This last might be most appropriate, given my generally digressive manner of conversation and delight in the English fantasists. In the French translation of The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo and Frodo are, most felicitously, the “Sacquets de Cul-de-Sac.”