Thursday August 6th, 2009

A Selection

From The Bell by Iris Murdoch:

“I cannot agree with Milton,” James was saying, “when he refuses to praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue. Virtue, innocence, should be valued whatever its history. It has a radiance which enlightens and purifies and which is not to be dimmed by foolish talk about the worth of experience. How false it is to tell our young people to seek experience! They should rather be told to value and to retain their innocence; that is enough of a task, enough of an adventure! And if we can keep our innocence for long enough, the gift of knowledge will be added to it, a deeper and more precise knowledge than any which is won by the tawdry methods of ‘experience.’ Innocence in ourselves and others is to be prized, and woe to him who destroys it, as our Lord Himself has said, Matthew eighteen six.

“And what are the marks of innocence? Candour — a beautiful word — truthfulness, simplicity, a quite involuntary bearing of witness. The image that occurs to me here is a topical one, the image of a bell. A bell is made to speak out. What would be the value of a bell which was never rung? It rings out clearly, it bears witness, it cannot speak without seeming like a call, a summons. A great bell is not to be silenced. Consider too its simplicity. There is no hidden mechanism. All that it is is plain and open; and if it is moved it must ring.”