He Saw This From Afar

A few words about TE Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom: Read the book.

Linger over chapter three; only six pages. Better still would be to read that chapter again and again until you’re sated in Lawrence’s narrative.

But at last Dahoum drew me: ‘Come and smell the very sweetest scent of all’, and we went into the main lodging, to the gaping window sockets of its eastern face, and there drank with open mouths of the effortless, empty, eddyless wind of the desert, throbbing past . . . My Arabs were turning their backs on perfumes and luxuries to choose the things in which mankind had had no share or part. (p38)

He was the most familiar of their words; and indeed we lost much eloquence when making Him the shortest and ugliest of our monosyllables. (p39)

Lawrence casts a century old light on the strengths and poverties of the Semitic mind and their undoubting, unimpeachable belief in the congruity of their appositions.

At chapter’s end Lawrence prophetically haunts with what he later in the book describes as theĀ ‘unperceived foreknown”. (p221)

They were as unstable as water, and like water would perhaps finally prevail. Since the dawn of life, in successive waves they had been dashing themselves against the coasts of flesh. Each wave was broken, but, like the sea, wore away ever so little of the granite on which it failed, and some day, ages yet, might roll unchecked over the place where the material world had been, and God would move upon the face of those waters . . . The wash of that wave, thrown back by the resistance of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when in fullness of time the sea shall be raised once more. (p41)

The swell of the sea delivering waves of invaders to shores of Western thought; seen from afar.

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