Can there be major dimensions of a poem a painting a#160;musical composition created in the absence of God? Or is God always a real presence in the arts? Steiner passionately argues that a transcendent reality grounds all genuine art and human communicationA real tour de force All the virtues of the author's astounding intelligence and compelling rhetoric are evident from the first sentence onward#8212;Anthony C Yu Journal of ReligionCan there be major dimensions of a poem a painting a#160;musical composition created in the absence of God? Or is God always a real presence in the arts? Steiner passionately argues that a transcendent reality grounds all genuine art and human communicationA real tour de force All the virtues of the author's astounding intelligence and compelling rhetoric are evident from the first sentence onward#8212;Anthony C Yu Journal of ReligionCan there be major dimensions of a poem a painting a#160;musical composition created in the absence of God? Or is God always a real presence in the arts? Steiner passionately argues that a transcendent reality grounds all genuine art and human communicationA real tour de force All the virtues of the author's astounding intelligence and compelling rhetoric are evident from the first sentence onward#8212;Anthony C Yu Journal of Religion


5 thoughts on “Real Presences

  1. says:

    I was introduced to this book 3 years ago whilst reading Richard Holmes' 2 volume biography of Coleridge I had been particularly interested in Coleridge because I found out that even in the grips of an Opium addiction he had travelled to Germany in 1789 90 at first with Wordsworth in order to learn German so that he could read Immanuel Kant on Metaphysics in the original language As yet there was no English translation only hearsay Having myself struggled immensely to get to grips with reading Kant in English I was under no illusion about the sheer genius of Coleridge actually to undersdtand what Kant had to say Kant argues for the reality of the transcendent and in reading him Coleridge himself took on a similar position in opposition to the scepticism of Hartley and HumeIn a footnote in Holmes' Biography Vol 1 p 320 he recommends the essay our present book by George Steiner who had been his mentor in these words Beyond the problem of 'personal authenticity' seems to be the uestion whether life or literature can have meaning without some form of Divine continuity or assurance within the structure of reality These difficult issues have been most recently raised by Geoge Steiner in 'Real Presences'This is a very difficult read Class 5 in mountain climbing terms and after reading it 3 times I think I begin to understand what is being said and why it is so important in our current cultural and religious climateBy looking at our 'poietics' literature art and music he makes a case that all significant art forms are underwritten or guaranteed by the presence of Word or Logos and Divine Logos at that Attacking the prevalence of secondary literature over creative art and similarly arguing against deconstruction which denies any ultimate meaning behind our words Steiner's case becomes a wager in the manner of Pascal This essay argues a wager on transcendence It argues that there is in the art act and its reception that there is in the experience of meaningful form a presumption of presence p 214 Steiner is well aware that his position is an unfashionable one But as he insists It is I believe poetry art and music which relate us most directly to that in being which is not ours p 226Immensely difficult; richly rewarding


  2. says:

    Steiner's most important work And of poignant interest as it is essentially an apology for having fought so hard to change his own specialist field literary criticism with the unintended result that it is now in sad shape


  3. says:

    no disrespect to the Author but i had to get the dictionary out after the first paragraph I think it could be very inspiring but not for a person who didn't listen to his English teacher in secondary school


  4. says:

    Hard to follow at times but Steiner is worth the effort


  5. says:

    The reader should see in the comments of this book’s reviewers that their task has been a difficult one The material is recondite and the argument perforce elusive The basic outline is clear enough Steiner’s thesis is that all genuine art and human communication is grounded in a transcendent reality God’s presence serves as the underwriter the guarantor of human communication particularly at its most subtle levels and even in its most exotic form Music in which as he writes “form is content content form” is his most prized exampleHe is arguing against a set of alternatives in psychology and linguistics eg but principally against the nihilism of deconstruction He believes that communication particularly aesthetic communication is grounded in transcendence while prevailing orthodoxies argue just the opposite viz the absence of transcendence and the triumph of an often reductive materialism Since he contrasts the example of music especially to a set of arguments that are often rigorously verbal we can see the implicit rhetorical challenge which he has created for himselfHe will argue for ‘real presences’ in the face of postmodern challenges while fully cognizant of the force of those challenges Inevitably being Steiner he will make a powerful argument but ultimately he will be thrown back on the towering examples of those who share his vision He uotes eg Yeats “No man can create as did Shakespeare Homer Sophocles who does not believe with all his blood and nerve that man’s soul is immortal”The nub of the problem in part is that the ‘real presence’ by its very nature is ineffable but in its existence and importance palpable He uotes Sir Thomas Browne to the effect that “we are men and we know not how; there is something in us that can be without us nor cannot tell how it entered into us”In preparing creative work we are recapitulating the work of the Creator He uotes Picasso to this effect cites Joyce’s fingernail paring creator and interestingly suggests that the famous ‘rival poet’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets might well in effect be God In a very gutsy move he argues that the preeminence of male creators might be attributable to the fact that women in giving birth participate in an act of creation so grand and miraculous that writing plays or creating sonatas will always be for them a secondary activityAs always with George Steiner the book is dazzling in its learning and in its insights This is however a rough go for those who are not already immersed in the book’s issues It is very sophisticated and very densely argued In contrasting the agony of a post holocaust humanity with the possibilities for hope that remain one might begin with his book In Bluebeard’s Castle which consists of a series of accessible lectures