It is thus slowly passing, with a slowness inconceivable in our measures of time, to new creative

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longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 344, chapter 16) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Clifford read from a book to Connie:“The universe shows us two aspects: on one side it is physically wasting, on the other it is spiritually ascending.” Then Connie said nobody and nothing are getting smaller and disappearing. Clifford continued to say……)

‘Well, hear how he(the author of the book he's reading from) goes on: “It is thus slowly passing, with a slowness inconceivable in our measures of time, to new creative conditions, amid which the physical world, as we at present know it, will be represented by a ripple barely to be distinguished from nonentity.”’

The sentence is really difficult for me to understand. Now I paraphrase it as:
The universe(=it) is thus slowly passing(=dying), with a slowness inconceivable in our measures of time(how to understand measures of time?), to new creative conditions(can a condition be creative?), amid which the physical world, as we at present know it, will be represented (=replaced ?) by a ripple(is there a ripple in the universe?) which is hardly distinguished from emptiness(=the barely to be distinguished from nonentity)

Could you tell me how to understand this sentence please?
Thank you in advance
 
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  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    There are many questions here, some of which are not within the usual scope of this forum. I'll answer the first one:
    "Passing" does not mean "dying" here. The phrase should be read as "passing to new creative conditions...." Just the opposite of dying.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    As one of the 'first responders', I say that this is DHL's idea of seriously flawed 'gobbledy-gook'. It 'means' nothing. It's quite the opposite of DHL's theories. This book seems very typical of the pseudo-religious, quasi-philosophical writings of mid- to late- 19th century thought, through to early 20th-century thought and belief systems.
    This sort of writing can't be literally translated, but we can paraphrase it. Even paraphrased, it might not make any obvious sense.
     

    baldpate

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I can help you a bit with understanding the intended meaning of some of the particular words and phrases you have highlighted. I doubt any rational person can help you understand the meaning of the sentence as a whole, since is metaphysical twaddle of the most egregious kind - which, of course, is precisely what Lawrence intended it to be in the context of this novel.

    "passing" - although this word can indeed be used as a euphemim for dying, I think is is here being used simply to mean "changing".

    "our measure of time" - this means time on the scale directly perceived by individual humans, as measured by the natural cycles of their experience. Human beings exprerience the cycles of day and night, of the phases of the moon, of the changing of the seasons, of the succession of generations with a familly; at most we have an intuitive grasp of the length of time by a single human lifetime. These are "out measures of time". The writer is speaking of a change which happens over geological or even cosmic timescales, of which we humans have no real intuitive conception.

    "creative condition" - no idea what this means - it seem to be mere metaphysical tosh.

    "will be represented by a ripple" - I think you could replace this with "will seem no more than a ripple". A ripple is a barely discernable disturbance (usually referring to the surface of a body of water). I think the writer is simply saying that the phsycal word will eventually become a barely discernable part of , and a totally insignificant disturbance in, the much greater spiritual world.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you a lot
    this is DHL's idea of seriously flawed 'gobbledy-gook'
    Sorry. What's gobbledy-gook please?
    I think the writer is simply saying that the phsycal word will eventually become a barely discernable part of , and a totally insignificant disturbance in, the much greater spiritual world
    I think your explanation is reasonable for me. But do you mean physical world by phsycal word?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Gobbledy-gook is in the WR dictionary. It means pretentious, incomprehensible rubbish.
    'Metaphysical twaddle' as baldpate put it.

    metaphysical twaddle of the most egregious kind - which, of course, is precisely what Lawrence intended it to be in the context of this novel.
    I'm sure baldpate meant 'physical world'. I guess he was feeling as irritated as I was by the twaddle, and this was reflected in his typos!
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    It may be twaddle but there is no other way to understand that passage outside of Maxwell, who was and remains one of the most influential physicists of all time. I think it's fair to say that some metaphysicists got hold of some physics and turned that out. There was a lot of that sort of thing going on, where people of a religious bent would try to incorporate hard science. It still goes on today.

    Seriously, that passage fits right in.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Maybe you are right: the metaphysicist, based on Maxwell's theories, wanted to tell us the universe would turn into heat, which is creative(it would create new species, including new human beings), in the form of heat ripple.

    And now, I think Clifford was trying to convince Connie that physical world would be replaced by spiritual world, and therefore, Connie should care more about mental life, rather her physical body(or, sexual life)
     
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    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    I'm not sure if heat plays a part in it. The universe is supposed to be cooling down. Otherwise I think you've got it. Maxwell had some very esoteric ideas about existence, from what little I've read. Some of it included a discussion of a higher dimension (which we 3 dimensional beings can't understand). Entropy would mean that the physical plane would eventually disintegrate. It isn't that simple and I am not able to understand it much less explain it.

    It 'means' nothing. It's quite the opposite of DHL's theories. This book seems very typical of the pseudo-religious, quasi-philosophical writings of mid- to late- 19th century thought, through to early 20th-century thought and belief systems.
    Yes, I've read a few statements by physicists where they absolutely condemned this sort of thing. There was a mid-century physicist who forbade his graduate students even to mention anything about God or religion.:)

    I don't really know anything substantive about this stuff. I've read several popular physics books where they "try" to explain it to the layman without using mathematics.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    ‘Well, hear how he(the author of the book he's reading from) goes on: “It is thus slowly passing, (with a slowness inconceivable to us because of the way in which we humans perceive time), into new conditions that are conducive to creation, and during all this, everything in the universe, (i.e. 'everything' as we understand it), will be represented by a ripple (waves) of energy that is barely distinguishable from nothing.”’
     
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