Thursday, 16 June 2016

Will the future be Logres or Britain? - a guest post from John Fitzgerald

The Royal Family, as you rightly pointed out in your post, 'What Will Happen When the Queen Dies?'

 http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/what-will-happen-when-queen-dies.html 

have a tendency to polarise opinion.

Some see them as active agents of evil and willing participants in the ongoing dissolution of British culture and society. Others view the Sovereign as a genuine 'still point of the turning world', a bulwark of stability in the face of a collapse which would only career downwards at an even more breakneck speed without the Queen's restraining hand.

There is much, as you say, which is unknown about the aims and intentions of the inner circle of Royals. The truth, I feel, lies (as ever) somewhere between the extremes. There are, however, a series of storm clouds gathering vis-a-vis the succession.

The poet Kathleen Raine (1898 - 2003) had, I recall, a remarkably exalted view of Prince Charles and his role and destiny in our island story. She saw him as standing at the heart of what she called the 'Great Battle', a standard bearer and lightning rod for everything good, beautiful and true.

I've lionised Charles before on these pages to a gentle hum of disapproval, so I won't labour the point, save to say that his tremendous advocacy of Middle Eastern Christians has led some commentators (in The Catholic Herald notably) to speculate that he might be on the point of converting to Orthodoxy. Another potential reason, therefore, why he might find his path to the throne blocked.

I can certainly foresee a degree of tension between partisans of Charles and supporters of William. There is an apocalyptic French prophecy from the Middle Ages (I forget the source) which speaks of great troubles in France followed by a civil war in England sparked by a Sovereign's death and a dispute over the succession.

On that eschatological note, there are three monarchical restorations, I feel, which could potentially occur in the near future and shift the level of debate, due to the extent to which they could possibly be seen as prefigurations of the return of Christ as Judge and King. These restorations could come about as a reaction to political and economic collapse, as an act of defiance against tyranny or as a spontaneous realisation and insight into the spiritual significance and symbolic depth of the Crown.

'If Christ is to return,' as the theologian John Milbank puts it, 'then so too is Arthur.' The three countries in question are France, Russia and Logres. I'll come to Logres shortly, but first the other two points of the triangle -

(1) France, because of her centuries-old commitment to civilised values, especially in scholarship and the Arts; the longevity of her monarchy (496 - 1793), and her Christian witness and elevated status as 'eldest daughter of the Church' - and

(2) Russia, due to the spiritual intensity of her people (as reflected in Russian music and literature) and the idea of Moscow as the 'Third Rome', the true successor to Imperial Rome and Byzantium. Whether this claim is grounded in anything substantial or not, the very fact that it is made reveals a religious vision and an awareness of history way beyond the reach of most Western nations.

Logres is something different. It is the inner, spiritual side of what is commonly known as Britain. It is hidden, invisible, unmanifest - yet always there for discerning eyes to catch a glimpse from time to time. The writer Paddy Leigh Fermor, for instance, saw the ruined abbeys of post-Reformation England as the 'peaks of a vanished Atlantis drowned four centuries deep.'

It is C.S Lewis, however, who really sees beyond the screen of surface appearance in this sizzling passage from 'That Hideous Strength':

'It all began,' said Dr. Dimble, 'when we discovered that the Arthurian story is mostly true history. There was a moment in the Sixth Century when something that is always trying to break through into this country nearly succeeded. Logres was our name for it ... And then we gradually began to see all English history in a new way. We discovered the haunting.' 'What haunting?' asked Camilla. 'How something we may call Britain is always haunted by something we may call Logres. Haven't you noticed that we are two countries? After every Arthur, a Mordred; behind every Milton, a Cromwell: a nation of poets, a nation of shopkeepers. Is it any wonder they call us hypocrites? But what they mistake for hypocrisy is really the struggle between Logres and Britain.' 

Whatever our thrust and counter-thrust regarding the Windsors, it seems fair to say that they belong to Britain rather than Logres. They may well represent the very best of Britain, but there is a qualitative gap between Britain and Logres which they simply cannot bridge. They're not on that level.

Well then, who is? The Jacobite in me would plump for a restoration of the Stuarts and the return of the 'King over the Water' but that again would be to plant my standard on too low - too materialistic - a plane. Logres doesn't work like that. We would be best advised to turn to Lewis again and the continuation of the above-quoted passage, where Dimble asserts that there has been a 'secret Logres in the very heart of Britain all these years: an unbroken succession of Pendragons.'

This suggestion of a secret or alternative line of Sovereigns chimes well with similar motifs in other countries and cultures - the clandestine Merovingian bloodline in France, for example, or the Hidden Imam of Shia Islam. It ties in too with the universal myth of the Sleeping King, as recounted in this part of the world in the story of King Arthur and his Knights asleep in a treasure-filled cave, awaiting the hour of their country's greatest need, when they will wake and rise again to expel once and for all evil from her shores.

These themes, to my mind, have the ring of truth - not the empirical truth of an 'evidence base' but the truth of myth and story, which is an altogether deeper and richer thing, analogous to the 'Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time' that Lewis writes of in 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'.

It is this level of truth that Winston Churchill tuned into during the Second World War. He recognised in his country's story - its highs and lows, twists and turns and narrative ups and downs - a greater depth of truth than the shortfall in money, manpower and arms, which daunted so many. The 'evidence base' spoke of a prudent acquiescence to the inevitable and a necessary accommodation with the enemy. The 'story' (a la Arthur and Alfred the Great) sang of turning the tables and setting the odds at nought.

This is how Churchill won hearts and minds. He backed the story and built his strategy on that. He chose, in short, Logres over Britain.

Which begs the question, did Churchill himself belong to the hidden line of Pendragons? It is an entertaining thought. Let's leave the last word to Lewis:

'Some of the Pendragons have been known to history, though not under that name. Others you have never heard of. But in every age they and the little Logres which gathered around them have been the fingers which gave the tiny shove and the almost imperceptible pull to prod England out of her drunken sleep or to draw her back from the final outrage into which Britain tempted her.'

13 comments:

  1. I just wish "Logres" were a more beautiful name. How do you pronounce it anyway? Does it rhyme with "ogres"? "ogress"? "loggers"?

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  2. @Wm - I have to agree - I have always assumed it is pronounced asif French, rather like LOWgruh - which seems strange as a name for Britain - even allowing for the fact that 'Britain' arguably includes Brittany.

    Lewis (and Charles Williams - from whom he got it) should probably have ruthlessly anglicised the name in terms of both spelling and pronunciation, as all good Britons used to do with 'furrin' words - e. Lowgers.

    It is a shame that the French had already stolen what could have been a suitable term for mystical Briatin - ie. Brittany, or Breton (Britannia sounds too prosaic)

    Indeed, I would prefer to scrap it altogether and use Blake's favoured term for the mystical reality of England (rather than Britain): Albion; or perhaps Avalon could be extended in meaning?

    The thing is, Britain did not exist as a realm until 1603, or 1707 as a political unit - which was too far into modernity to have the necessary mythic connotations.

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  3. The Queen has held the line and preserved the (last remaining?) example of a Christian monarch but has also been much too passive in the face of massive change. She could have done a lot more to resist this change but she has had an immensely difficult task and who knows what the country would be like if she had not been there.

    I can’t see Churchill or Charles as representatives of Logres, the one was too much the politician and the other comes from a line of foreigners shipped in because they weren’t Catholics. That needn’t necessarily matter but it’s not ideal and I incline to the romantic idea of a truth hidden and biding its time.

    According to some occult teachings every country has an outer ‘personality’ and an inner ‘soul’ and these manifest different qualities. Britain would be the personality and this has as its predominating theme what is called the 1st ray influence of Will, probably best exemplified by the Empire. Logres as the soul of Britain has the 2nd ray influence of Love and Wisdom which is the Christ ray. I see nobody in the public eye now as embodying this in any way at all but perhaps it is working away beneath the surface, influencing many people in preparation for the day when it will be more openly demonstrated. The Inklings in general, and Tolkien and Lewis in particular, must have been the main channels for Logres in the 20th century.

    Regarding that name though, it must be Albion, mustn't it? That is, until we learn the real name which hasn't been revealed yet.

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  4. "After every Arthur, a Mordred; behind every Milton, a Cromwell: a nation of poets, a nation of shopkeepers."

    Very interesting, it points to the mixed feelings I always had about England. There is the England I love; the England of Tolkien and CS Lewis and small countryside pubs and green meadows and moors and beautiful castles. A spiritually rich and admirable nation.
    Then there is the England I´m suspicious of; the Empire of merchants and stock markets and petty mercantile values. (Not saying that the British Empire did not have its noble moments and long lasting benefits for the world - but this "England" has a much more ambiguous role in the history of the world).

    Concerning the monarchy we Swedes have a similar dilemma. I believe the royal family (especially the king himself) to be more conservative than the general populace and that they are decent people but its hard to believe that they could or want to play a significant role in a political or spiritual "Reaction". Nevertheless I believe the monarchy to be extremely important - maybe its difficult to find practical and empirical evidence for this importance but somehow I´m convinced that the monarchy is a secret spiritual foundation - a covenant of sorts - of my nation and would it be dismantled it could unleash even more destructive forces.

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  5. @William "I see nobody in the public eye now as embodying this in any way at all "

    Somewhat strangely, I think the ex Chief Orthodox Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is the nearest thing - although *clearly* he is *not* the kind of figure we are talking about. Just that he is a public figure and he does seem to speak with honesty and integrity from a religious perspective.

    What is strange about it is that we are in a position where an observant Jew (of a small sect among Jews), whose loyalty is to his people, should be the nearest approach to what is needed - that it is a Rabbi who is telling us (pretty accurately) the kind of thing we should do!

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  6. "Albion" is all-around better than "Logres" -- more euphonious, more widely recognized. If the latter is given a Frenchified pronunciation it can't very well represent Britain, but if it's pronounced as "Lowgers," it sounds too much like an Oxford slang term along the lines of bonkers, starkers, Twickers, etc. -- in other words, about as prosaic as it gets.

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  7. Somewhat aside - given that CSL will have heard of Logres with the maining of mythic/ Arthurian Britain primarily via Charles Williams poetry book 'Taliessin through Logres' (That Hideous Strength being a notably Williams-esque novel) - it is interesting to speculate how CW would have pronounced the name - given that he had what people described as a 'Cockney' accent.

    http://notionclubpapers.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/is-this-voice-of-charles-williams.html

    For example, despite being a great expert on him, in the comments David LD tells us that Willians pronounced Dante as Dann-tee. We can be pretty sure that his pronunciation of Logres would have been similarly unexpected - I would guess something like LAHW-guws.

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  8. I had a professor once for whom Dante rhymed with Kant.

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  9. I think it can still sound beautiful pronounced with a long 'o' and rhyming with the British pronunciation of 'progress'. When I read That Hideous Strength I heard the name in my mind as always being spoken with reverence.

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  10. Maybe some useful information? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloegyr

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  11. AdamW,

    Yes, thanks (the Talk section being also part of the interest)! I wish I were philologist enough to weigh the etymological suggestions.

    I tend to pronounce 'Logres' something like LOW-grace, but I'm not sure why (some idea of 'continental' vowel values?) - and I think I remember some people who knew Williams (and Lewis) pronouncing it with more of a schwa: LOW-gruhs (all the while mentally kicking myself that I never recorded them, or attempted IPF transcriptions, when I had the chance).

    (I suddenly wonder, having typed it: does LOW-grace provide beguiling or merely ghastly opportunities of wordplay, with respect to even humility depending on Grace?)

    If Wikipedia is here to be relied upon, Franz Bonaventura Adalbert Maria Herzog von Bayern (looking forward to his 83rd birthday on 14 July) is the current Stuart heir, followed by Max-Emanuel Ludwig Maria Herzog in Bayern (79), and then his daughter, Sophie Elisabeth Marie Gabrielle, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein (48). Perhaps we could speculate not unrealistically about her eldest son, Prince Joseph Wenzel Maximilian Maria von und zu Liechtenstein (21 last month) marrying, and producing a princess who could marry Prince George and in the fullness of time reign in a co-equal William-and-Mary-like reign, healing the centuries-old rupture. But then we would probably being thinking of the 2030s, just for the marriage.

    I know too little about the more immediate legal aspects: e.g., whether or not Prince Charles could graciously defer to Prince William, avoiding any problems about eligibility needing thrashing out in public.

    I've never (that I recall) seen attempts to trace a sort of Pendragonian Welsh line, other than 15th-c. ones relating to the current Royal House via the Tudors (if I recall that aright).

    David Llewellyn Dodds

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  12. "secret Logres in the very heart of Britain all these years: an unbroken succession of Pendragons."

    I've believed in this ever since I was a kid. If and when "Logres" triumphs, can those of us across the pond in the US be a part of it? I'm not kidding. Does the spiritual concept "Logres" only include people living in that geographic area. I would hope not.

    I've lost quite a bit of faith in the meaning and importance of the American Revolution over the years. The Revolution never ended. It just morphed from one thing into another over the past two centuries and it is nothing that I can identify with at all these days. Revolution alienates the present from the past, especially the mystical past.

    My ancestors came from both England and Ireland and while culturally I'm "American," spiritually I've always identified with the idea of Logres. It saddens me that you guys in England can talk about this sort of thing in earnest but I cannot because of the American Revolution.

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  13. "secret Logres in the very heart of Britain all these years: an unbroken succession of Pendragons."

    I've believed in this ever since I was a kid. If and when "Logres" triumphs, can those of us across the pond in the US be a part of it? I'm not kidding. Does the spiritual concept "Logres" only include people living in that geographic area. I would hope not.

    I've lost quite a bit of faith in the meaning and importance of the American Revolution over the years. The Revolution never ended. It just morphed from one thing into another over the past two centuries and it is nothing that I can identify with at all these days. Revolution alienates the present from the past, especially the mystical past.

    My ancestors came from both England and Ireland and while culturally I'm "American," spiritually I've always identified with the idea of Logres. It saddens me that you guys in England can talk about this sort of thing in earnest but I cannot because of the American Revolution.

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