Educating the planet
It is a commonplace that among I.A. Richards’s first achievements was a modern defence of poetry. In the years following the Great War, he saw the world as entering an unprecedented historical crisis. He believed that the collapse of the old ‘Magical View’ of the world had left us in a condition of bewilderment, of deep privation, of affective destitution. People (I think he supposed them to be a minority) who were not content to ‘live by warmth, food, fighting, drink and sex alone’ must ‘require other satisfactions’: but the sources of such satisfactions had been stopped by the advance of knowledge. As throughout his life, he saw in trouble and disorder an immediate invitation to action, though, as at first conceived, this action was of a subtle kind, hardly to be distinguished from contemplation. ‘A sense of desolation, of uncertainty, of futility, of the groundlessness of aspirations, of the vanity of endeavour, and a thirst for a life-giving water which seems suddenly to have failed, are the signs in consciousness of this necessary reorganisation of our lives.’ What distinguishes this sentence from similar exclamations of dismay, which would not be hard to find in the literature of the period, is that it ends with the affirmation of a need to act. The rest of it owes most to Eliot’s Waste Land, as Richards acknowledged in a famous footnote. He valued the poem, not only as an exhibition of disorder and desolation, but as affording us means to contemplate them in a valuable way; it was modern, belonging to a world that had outlived the Magical View; but it offered what must take the place of that view if our psychological privations were to be ended.
In this poem, Eliot had achieved ‘a complete severance between his poetry and all belief’ and that is what modern poetry must do. Eliot mildly objected to this statement, but I doubt if Richards was much bothered. He confided in poems rather than poets, as we see from his version of Shelley’s pronouncement: ‘Poems are the unacknowledged legislation of mankind.’ But in the second edition of Science and Poetry he took the opportunity of explaining himself, and extended what was already a famous footnote. The Waste Land, he claimed, ‘realised what might otherwise have remained a speculative possibility ... by finding a new order through the contemplation and exhibition of disorder’. The poem was a simultaneous image of both – a typical Richards formula, for he liked to hold antinomies in a single thought, to speak, for example, of the ‘interinanimation’ of separate words, and of what he came later to call ‘complementarities’. But the immediate point is that this difficult modern poem was recommended as an example of the ‘necessary reorganisation’.
Thus did Richards help to establish Eliot’s poem as the livre de chevet of a generation of educated readers. He did more: for when he extended the note, Richards added to it some lines, now but not then famous, from Conrad’s Lord Jim. ‘The way is to the destructive element submit yourself ... So if you ask me how to be? In the destructive element immerse ... that was the way.’ This is an instance of his uncanny aptness in quotation: the way to read The Waste Land, and the way to live in the new, more hostile world, is not to try to climb out, but to let the deep, deep sea keep you up. The second edition of Science and Poetry had not been out a year before Stephen Spender entitled his book on modern writers and belief (or unbelief) The Destructive Element, describing Richards’s note as ‘a focal point from which diverge rays towards past and future’. Certainly Conrad’s words give some insight into Richards’s future dealings with the destructive world.
When he wrote this longer footnote, he had been engaged on his modern defence of poetry for more than a decade. His ideas, widely circulated, did not go unopposed. Eliot himself, reviewing Science and Poetry, noted ‘a certain discrepancy between the size of [the author’s] problems and the size of his solutions’. ‘Mr Richards,’ he said, ‘is apt to ask a supra-scientific question and to give a merely scientific answer.’ This is an objection often made, in one form or another, to Richards’s procedures, and I believe it to be, in the end, false. The response of the young was less critical. Christopher lsherwood went as an undergraduate to Richards’s lectures and hailed him as ‘the prophet we have been waiting for ... To us, he was infinitely more than a brilliantly new literary critic; he was our guide, our evangelist, who revealed to us, in a succession of astounding lightning flashes, the entire expanse of the modern world.’ For all its extravagance, that strikes me as a truer response. Richards was much more a prophet than a scientist.
The immediate, but by no means the only, consequence of the early prophecies had been to entrust to poets and their readers an unexpectedly central responsibility for dealing with the world crisis. A great borrower, Richards took from the neurologist Henry Head the notion of ‘vigilance’ – ‘what happens in a given stimulus situation varies with the vigilance of the appropriate portion of the nervous system’ – and explained the extraordinary availability of experience to the poet, and his power to organise that experience, as the consequences of his superior vigilance. The notion is, in literary terms, Romantic, and was stated in other language by Wordsworth and Coleridge. What Richards added to it was his conviction that only in such poetic vigilance could we find a means to construct a new world, difficult but inhabitable. And like Hölderlin he called upon the people (or the best of them) to assist the poet in this work. He is again in the native Romantic tradition when he insists that the poet is possessed of ‘normality’. ‘To be normal is to be a standard, but not, as things are and are likely to remain, an average.’ The object of his new methods of teaching poetry was simply to make others as vigilant as poets, so that the gap between the average and the standard might be progressively closed. The whole plan was conceived as rational, and as supported by modern psychology and physiology.
That is why he could be accused of going in for science and so giving comfort to an enemy. And of course it was always part of his plan that a new poetry and a new criticism should benefit by the very expansion of knowledge that had helped to bring about the world crisis. Just as he had intended, when he decided to be a psychoanalyst, to take a medical degree, so he prepared himself for the task he actually undertook by immersing himself in psychology, physiology and philosophy. In doing so, he drew copiously on the resources of Cambridge at that time. That does not mean he agreed with everything he was told. With G.E. Moore, for example, he had what he might later have called a relationship of complementarity: ‘I feel like an obverse of him. Where there’s a hole in him there’s a bulge in me.’ ‘Moore was vocally convinced that few indeed could possibly mean what they said; I was silently persuaded that they could not possibly say what they mean.’ He held Wittgenstein in only moderate awe. Russell he dismissed in a brisk appendix to The Meaning of Meaning, though he had from time to time to repeat and revise his reasons for doing so.
However, mention of The Meaning of Meaning is a reminder that in his first and seminal book (for The Meaning of Meaning really is the foundation of nearly all Richards’s later work) he had as collaborator C.K. Ogden, a walking encyclopedia of philosophy and science. The union of prophet and polymath was not only extremely productive, but, as Richards often remarked, great fun. Never was a book of such gravity written in such high spirits. The opinions of the great go down like skittles. ‘There’s something insipid about agreeing with an author,’ said Richards long afterwards, ‘especially when you’re young. You feel it’s your business to be other.’ He could give a precise and interesting date for the conception of the book: Armistice Day, 11 November 1918. That day he had watched drunken medical students sacking Ogden’s shop in King’s Parade; they met in the evening to see if they could identify any of the marauders. In the small hours they had a long conversation on the stairs under the flare of an aged bat-wing gas-jet. This was either outside Richards’s rooms in Free School Lane or outside Ogden’s attic above Mac Fisheries in Petty Cury: in two different accounts Richards specifies both places. By the time they parted they had roughed out The Meaning of Meaning. Ogden was at the time editing a weekly paper, The Cambridge Magazine. Its circulation rose to 25,000 and the only way he could solve the paper shortage was to buy books in bulk and pulp them – not, however, before he had looked through them.
Ogden believed in being reasonable if he could find a reasonable auditor (‘Will you change your mind if I convince you?’ he would ask). Richards found in him ‘a central clarifying insistence, a flame of curiosity and impatience, a disdain for the acquiescence of sloth, a trust in mind’ which spoke to the same qualities, differently but complementarily compounded, in himself. The collaboration seems to have been very intimate. ‘It’s a most extraordinary experience, finding you can agree with someone,’ said Richards years afterwards. ‘Decades later it wasn’t the case that we could understand one another at all.’ The book they called The Beadig of Beadig because of the heavy colds they suffered during its composition was, for all its laborious and combative argumentation, an entertainment. Ogden, in fact, seems to have regarded it as a way of relaxing from his work on the translation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Vaihinger’s Philosophy of ‘As If’. But it was an indispensable prelude to the subsequent careers of both authors; and it belonged firmly to the Cambridge of the immediate post-war years.
And indeed at this time Cambridge was virtually the whole world. Some day, I hope, we shall be told more about the intellectual horizons of the early Richards – not only about the precise nature of his collaboration with Ogden, and his beneficent mutual misunderstanding with Moore, but also about his dealings with the psychologists and with Cornford. The four remarkable books of the Twenties were all very Cambridge books. Nevertheless they were read everywhere, and changed attitudes to poetry and criticism throughout the English-speaking world.
It is a curious fact that they were also misunderstood everywhere. W.H.N. Hotopf, author of the most serious book yet written on Richards, notes with astonishment that of all the eminent philosophers and critics who have written on Richards there are very few who ‘do not betray some fairly important misunderstanding’ of his position.[*] What happened in the world at large, I think, was that some notion of the Principles got through, but with much loss of detail and some general distortion. The reasons are doubtless many: careless reading, impatience with the psychology and linguistics, a tendency also on the part of the writer to say too many things in too many ways, and to say them, sometimes, obscurely. But to demand minute consistency and a slow clear progress of argument is to ask the wrong gift of Richards, and to misunderstand his prophetic role. What mattered was the prior conviction of the value of poetry and the importance of language, and of the teachability of right reading. The utilitarian-psychologistic theories were instruments that lay to hand.
It was his fate, then, to be both influential and misunderstood, in Cambridge as elsewhere. Though he was a don for most of his life, Richards was not, I think, a very academic man, and the partial institutionalisation of his method in the English Tripos could not have satisfied him. His unease is demonstrated in the continual recurrence of his worry about correctness in interpretation. As is well-known, he was committed to new and heretical views about meaning in poetry, discounting the simple intentionalist position and placing a high value on ambiguity. Where the conventional pedant found in poetry instances of ‘incorrectness’ or lack of clarity, Richards saw ‘interinanimation,’ ‘a movement among meanings’. All discourse, he maintained, is ‘over-determined’, and ambiguity is ‘the indispensable means of most of our important utterances.’ Professor Kittredge, for example, believed that good writing was writing that left the reader with no need to go in for ‘inference and guesswork’: Professor Richards asked what interpretation could be if it wasn’t inference and guesswork.
But he was very clear that this didn’t mean you could say anything you liked about a poem. It is possible to be wrong. Hence the list, in Practical Criticism, of the ten ‘chief difficulties’ (more properly, causes of error) in criticism; hence the denunciation, in the Clark Lectures he gave almost half a century later, of what he vehemently labelled ‘omnipossibilism.’ And in between he had often returned to the topic. ‘Whatever accounts are offered to a reader must leave him – in a very deep sense – free to choose ... This is not ... any general licence to readers to differ as they please ... For this deep freedom in reading is made possible only by the widest surface conformities.’ I think he was troubled, in later years, by demands for a freedom that defied such a consensus. While he and Ogden were at work on The Meaning of Meaning, they looked at Saussure’s Cours de Linguistique Générale, which had appeared only a few years before, but dismissed it in a page or two. La langue, they argued, was a useless abstraction; the project for a semiology, though ‘a very notable attempt in the right direction’, makes a fatal division between signs and what signs stand for: thus it ‘was from the beginning cut off from any contact with scientific methods of verification’. At about the same time, the Russian Formalists were active: but they were soon suppressed, and perhaps news of them did not reach Cambridge.
In the Sixties, however, both Saussure and the Formalists made a long-delayed and rather spectacular reappearance on the scene, and the consequences have been many, and often omnipossibilistic. Richards gave a characteristically warm though not unqualified welcome to Jakobson’s experiments in poetic analysis, but the new libertarian semiologists of France and America cannot have pleased him. He believed steadfastly that there were such things as wrong readings. And of course he also believed that one could progressively acquire competence in reading, that error could be corrected. The question arises: who shall distinguish right from wrong? And his answer, inevitably, was: those who have acquired competence, the teachers. Thus the belief in the possibility of corrigible error heads directly to a belief in the need for institutions of criticism.
Yet it seems clear that he did not greatly care for such institutions. Of the English School he has few good words to say. ‘It’s hard on the poets to make everybody study them like this ... As far as I can see, making it into an academic subject has not increased the amount of enjoyment taken in the poems.’ The senior members of the critical institution, participants in the consensual establishment of right reading, must perforce be scholars. And although he had a great respect for scholarship, Richards was dismayed at its side-effects. It prevents us ‘from supplying our greatest need – teachers able to help humanity to remain humane’.
In the early Thirties, times were changing, and so was Richards, but this need did not change, and the defence of poetry continued. One of the doctrines of Principles is that the effect of good readings, of equilibrated impulses, achieved poise, is cumulative: we are talking not about discrete, self-sufficient Paterian moments, but about provision for the future, in the form of what he later called ‘feedforward’. Certainly his own experience confirmed the doctrine: directions changed, horizons widened, Richards would ‘cross the tracks’ into educational enterprises improper to Cambridge. But in a sense he did not change, only built on his past. Coleridge on Imagination, published in 1934 when his wider enterprises were already well started, shows no diminution in his hopes for a central and humane criticism of poetry. It is in the ‘searchings for meanings of a certain sort’, he says, that the being of a poem consists; and that search is the best response to the vast alterations in consciousness that beset us, our only way of recovering ‘a less relaxed, a less adventitious order for the mind’. It is the point of Science and Poetry, reinforced by an understanding of Coleridge as the herald of the revolution in consciousness. To attack science, he says, is a futile error, a ‘myth reflecting our unease’. The point is to match and master the new human world, as science does the physical world. And the task still falls to the poet. When all knowledge is either myth or without meaning, he becomes responsible for the very principle of human order. The writing and reading of the necessary new poetry is arduous, but it must be done.
It is here, near the end of his first defence of poetry, that Richards comes closest to Shelley. ‘Poetry acts in a diviner manner,’ says Shelley. ‘It awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought.’ And Richards: ‘Because the universe as it is known to us is a fabric whose forms, as we alone can know them, have arisen through and in reflection; and because that reflection, whether made by the intellect in science or by “the whole soul of man” in poetry, has developed through language ... the study of the modes of language becomes ... the most fundamental and exhaustive of all inquiries. It is no preliminary or preparation for other profounder studies ... The very formation of the objects which these studies propose to examine takes place through the processes ... by which the words they use acquire meanings.’
These words look back to work already done, and forward to a different future. But we may hear in them a note of exaltation that will sound strange to anyone who thinks about the teaching of poetry in modern universities. Perhaps we have lost confidence in the poets, as Richards himself partly did. Certainly most of us are not convinced that he was right when he said, in Coleridge, that ‘critics in the future must have a theoretical equipment of a kind which has not been felt to be necessary in the past.’ In the Thirties, there was an automatic reflex of opposition to the New Criticism, of which he was the chief patron; and any other nouvelle critique must expect a largely contemptuous and unexamined rejection now. Richards saw it happening. Like the Old Testament prophets he liked to quote in his epigraphs – on the whole a disappointed body of men – he found us duller of apprehension and more apt to backslide than he had hoped. Interpretation was teachable: but the institution, with its narrowly conceived and conservative view of scholarship, came between the teacher and the taught.
That was doubtless one reason for ‘crossing the tracks’. The approaching war was another. That poetry could arduously satisfy human needs no longer met by religion and ignored by science was a position tenable only, perhaps, by an élite capable of strenuously and courageously sitting still. It was already under threat, not only from the retreat to primitivism Richards deplored in Yeats and Lawrence, but also from history itself – from Spain most immediately. ‘Today the struggle.’ Julian Bell, whom Richards knew, died there, but not before he had diagnosed the disturbed visions of civilised discontent he found in Freud and Richards as ‘mild troubles’. Poetry seemed unlikely to save us after all.
But even before Spain made a cruder form of action seem urgent, Richards had been considering the problem of right reading on a larger scale, as a problem of universal communication. Of course he always supported Basic English as a general solution, but his Chinese book, Mencius on the Mind, which appeared in 1932, first revealed his new direction. It is an anti-institutional book, for Richards thought it more important to be bold than to be academically cautious. Mencius uses Chinese, a language ‘not governed by an explicit logic’, to explore the principles of ‘Multiple Definition’ and extend our consciousness of what we do with language. He wrote it at Harvard, while lecturing on Joyce and Dostoevsky, but the manuscript was stolen, and abandoned by the thief on a Chinese rooftop. Back in Cambridge, England, he wrote it again. Then the first version was recovered from the roof. One version was affected by Richards’s determination to avoid ‘the intellectual currencies of the Harvard scene’; the other by his equal determination not to get caught up in ‘the local logical game’ at Cambridge. Which one we got I don’t know: perhaps a blend of both.
All this seems characteristic of the independence and the plunging boldness of his approach. He liked best to start a book and then, writing with great speed, find out what the book wanted to be – an admirable method, I think. He was aware of the risks: what justified them was the possibility (repeatedly but not obtrusively mentioned in the prefaces to many books) that the enterprise might be of benefit to humanity. He looks to Mencius, not for information about the truth, but for what, in his view, all philosophy ought to provide: ‘the opportunity of considering modes of meaning carried to their revealing limits’. And he asks us to read his books in the same way, as steps on the road to ‘a single comprehensive view of comprehending’. That his linguistic equipment might be fallible didn’t matter. ‘The detail of my commentary may be a tissue of misconceptions and yet the trouble I share with my readers will be justified’ by the importance of the problems. I have spoken of his ‘uncanny aptness’ in quotation. His epigraphs are also witty. The one to Mencius is from Troilus and Criseyde, where Pandarus is explaining to Troilus that even if his own record as a lover is bad he can still be useful as an example: ‘Thus ofte wyse men ben war by folis,’ he says. ‘By his contrarie is every thing declared.’
And we shall never, I think, have a true sense of the man unless we understand this gay calculated audacity. He rushes forward, as if some gap had opened on the future. He wrote Interpretation in Teaching, a difficult book of over four hundred pages, in six weeks, and in the leisure time of those same six weeks turned out the none too simple Philosophy of Rhetoric. To bring that off you cannot afford to make a cautious survey of the path before you dash down it. All you can hope for is that you are well enough programmed, or ‘taped’, as he used to say – that you have adequate ‘feed-forward’. And you must be very inventive. From The Meaning of Meaning on, Richards prodigally invented new terms; some, like the ‘Canon of Actuality’ and the ‘Utraquist error’ of Meaning, died young; others, like the ‘stock response’ of Practical Criticism and the Tenor-Vehicle distinction of The Philosophy of Rhetoric, have stuck. All were expendable; what mattered was the forward movement. One thinks of the lines, addressed to Mrs Richards, which recall the descent of a glacier, the scrambling across innumerable half-hidden crevasses before being overtaken by darkness on the abrupt edge:
At the stiff-frozen dawn
When time had ceased to flow,
– The glacier our unmade bed –
I hear you through your yawn:
‘Leaping crevasses in the dark,
That’s how to live!’ you said.
No room in that to hedge;
A razor’s edge of a remark.
And so he did not hedge, but wrote precipitately, and precipitately he crossed the tracks. If one looked outside the university, where highly educated people made such a hash of one’s protocols, and equally highly educated people regarded ‘English’ as a joke or a soft option, one saw vaster problems of interpretation, life-and-death problems calling for immediate action and new methods. In the Richards of the Twenties there is a certain not fully conscious élitism – a few would find their salvation in poetry, most of them probably in Cambridge. But the world as a whole needed order, and order could be taught. The world was largely analphabetic; it lacked the means to communicate between different cultures; it lacked the knowledge to resist systematic corruption by fraudulent manipulators of language. Basic English was meant to take care of some of these problems, to help order the world. Basic English and its Uses, published in 1943, begins: ‘This is a reconstruction book. It looks to the future and assumes that the reader enjoys a moderate faith in man.’ Very characteristic; and so is the assumption that the corruption of communications is the source of all modern disasters, including war. Working with language, one fought fire with fire; and one used all forms of modern communication in order to combat their harmful effects. In 1976, he was still saying that ‘TV or satellite-distributed sentence-situation-depiction games are going to be the way to educate the planet.’
Educating the planet was the larger enterprise he took on after he stopped educating Cambridge. In retrospect, he saw Interpretation in Teaching, published in 1938, as ‘the grand hinge’ of his career. However salvific poetry might be for some, the world at large urgently needed instruction in the reading of prose. In came the new prose protocols, and in commenting upon them Richards hoped to found a new discipline. As knowledge, information monitored by feed-forward, had grown towards superior organisation in his own mind, so he hoped that there might be, in this matter of imparting knowledge, a useful and ordered accumulation. He saw Interpretation in Teaching as ‘the beginning of a vast collective clinical study of the aberrations of average intelligence’, and wondered why Practical Criticism, a work of much more limited ambition, should have prospered while this one, ‘though offering a deeper examination of concerns nearer to everyman’s essential capacities, was comparatively little studied’. But of course he did not regret the effort. ‘I had to do something about the general condition of incompetence I had uncovered. I felt (and still feel) it to be too threatening to the human prospect to be left uncured.’ So he wrote in the second edition of Interpretation, 35 years after the first. Interpretation had looked back to Coleridge, having as its aim the increase of ‘organic interinanimation of meanings, the biological growth of the mind in the individual and in a social inheritance maintaining the human advance’: but it looked forward, also, to years of ingenious and indefatigable labour in those causes.
In short, the diagnosis of grosser diseases than those of the academic intellect now absorbed most of his attention. Reviewing Eliot’s Notes towards a Definition of Culture in 1948, he agreed with the author that ‘a high degree of culture (or Education) in an equalitarian society can only be attained if the great majority of men can be raised to a level, and kept at a level, which has never been remotely approached in the past.’ But the truth of this did not, for him, entail the closing down of unnecessary schools and universities. ‘High things are hard,’ he wrote. ‘And I do not see how this greatest of human efforts is to be made wholeheartedly unless the salvation we are seeking is for all.’
Salvation for all! Richards believed that because it was necessary to change everybody, everybody could, given the right, continuous application of intellectual energy on the part of the clerisy, be changed. From the time of The Meaning of Meaning on, he had been sure that atavistic assumptions about language and meaning made ordinary men vulnerable to people who manipulated them for base ends: he particularly feared the application, in times of peace, of methods of manipulation devised for war.
Later, as I’ve mentioned, he tried to use television and radio against themselves, against their venal use. He did not succeed, and he came to think, like many apocalyptic spirits before him, that the times must get worse before the world will be ready to make so great an effort. ‘Much can be done if things get bad enough,’ he said in 1968. ‘Things are going to get bad rather soon, and so I’m hopeful.’ The theory and the method were ready and waiting. Unlike some prophets, Richards believed in theory. Having bad theories makes people misinterpret things: good theories are at least prophylactic. ‘The duties of good critical theory ... are analogous to those of a good police in a society as nearly anarchic as possible.’ He was speaking then of a theory that would protect poets, but good theory would protect ordinary citizens as well. For the poet is normal; there is no difference in kind, only in the measure of sensibility or vigilance, between him and the ordinary man whom the language-manipulators cheat and stupefy. That is part of the theory, and it is also part of the prophecy: the gap between the citizen and the poet must and will be closed.
Richards has been called a mystic, and there is at least a little justice in the description. Behind all his work there is a vision (a poet’s vision, but a vision available to every man) of interinanimation, of opposites reconciled, of peace, as when Isaiah spoke of wolf and lamb feeding together. And there is also that confidence in a participation beyond the ordinary range of sense, the transmission of poetic experience, a sort of fruitful silence beyond the movement of meaning. His tireless forward thrusting, as if to press through a gap into the future, sometimes seems to have that silence as its ultimate goal.
If ever in the windings of the dance,
To-be-said and saying in perfection fit,
Another silence listens ...
And if he was a mystic, he was not the only one we know of who exhibited from day to day an intense practicality. If you want to affirm a principle of order you must work in chaos, and understand the ills besetting ‘the poor loveless, ever-anxious crowd’. Basil Willey called Richards ‘the Coleridge of our time’, and one can imagine the fervour with which Richards read those lines:
Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
Enveloping the Earth –
And from the soul itself must there be sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!
For interinanimation, and the complementarity of opposites, and the apprehension of the world as a single organism, are creative acts of the human mind, of human language ‘carried to its revealing limit’.
It has indeed been argued that Richards, the enemy of Word Magic, was himself a word-magician. Like Russell and Whorf and Wittgenstein, in their different ways, he thought that the purgation of error from language could lead us into a magical peace, a silence beyond all this fiddle. ‘This conception,’ says Dr Hotopf, ‘is magical because they attribute such great power to language, and write as though their mere insight had already given them that power.’ To hold that since language mirrors the structure of reality, we can make the structure of reality our structure is sympathetic magic. So says Dr Hotopf. It may be so: but Richards is a rational magician. As a prophet, he sees the prospect of order; and the image of that order, that interinanimated whole, is language. Within it we may move in our own minds, to a human peace. When to-be-said and saying are one, so are being and becoming.
Language is our programme for that journey into silence. And not ours alone, not just the programme of those already educated: ‘the salvation we are seeking is for all.’ It is hard to conceive of a nobler magic; and Richards never abjured it.
[*] Language, Thought and Comprehension: A Case Study of the Writings of I.A. Richards (Routledge, 1965).