that he has always been at the center ofnsomething important, that he has a mission.nThe angeHc intermediaries tellnhim to throw away his Bible becausenthey themselves will show him the greatnbook clearly and interpret its meaningnfor him. “I said I am willing, where amnI to go?” He is ready. “Your tongue wasnbound so that in the time of promisenwhich is to come you shall speak wordsnlike a sword going out of your mouth.”nAfter the visits of the angelic intermediaries,nhe has a great desire tonprophesy. Brought back to England, hendiscerns that his mission has somethingnto do with children. “These were childrennwhich He said must be sufferedn….” It is a child he miist protect.nThe irony here is skillfully managed.nWhile Matty looks like the Beast innRevelation who would destroy the child,nhe is actually its protector.n1 he novel now turns to Sophy, whonaptly enough loves and hates her father.nCarrying out the idea suggested in Mattyn—what appears to be and what really isnare radically different—Sophy is strikinglynbeautiful, recalling Henderson’snlyric beauty. Her beauty and exquisitenpoliteness conceal an evil without limit.nLike Cain, she establishes her characternby killing a dabchick with a stone fornthe pure pleasure of it. She discovers then”absolute of being weird.” In her antiepiphany,nshe perceives nothingness, thenawful darkness of the void. The way tonextend simplicity into the absolute ofnbeing weird through outrage comes tonher in a second antiepiphany.n”She found a measuring rod in hernhand. Look at ‘ought’ and ‘must’ andn’want’ and ‘need.’ If they were not appropriatenat the moment . . . then shentouched them with her wand and theynvanished.”nLoving the impossibilities of darknessnand hating the daylight world is herncalling. Filled with a sense of power, shenpersuades her lover and his friend tonkidnap a child at the school where Mattynworks. Her attempt at incest with hernfather having failed, this will demonstratenher commitment to outrage asnthe path to nothingness. Sophy liesn”by doing not by saying.”nSophia (wisdom) is the evil oppositenof everything she should be. Like Lilithnand Jezebel, her wisdom is that of thenserpent, not the dove. She should benthe woman (Revelation) who bears thenchild and protects him with her lifenfrom the Beast. Instead she is the Beastn(the antichrist) who pursues the childnand would destroy him. In a satanic visionnshe images herself mutilating andnmurdering the child. The perfect criminal,nas her twin sister is the perfectnterrorist, she belongs to no one, thenslave, instead, of self, entropy andnnothingness. Her perfect evil is appropriatento the structure of the novel asnthe reader discovers when the angelicnintermediaries tell Matty that she hadnbeen called by the Spirit but would notncome. “A treasure was poured out fornthem and they turned their back on it.nA treasure not just for them but fornall of us.” Through Matty and Sophy,nwho meet only once, the meaning ofnhistory is revealed—the battle betweennGod and Satan. Matty dies-disappearsnas he came, in fire, a “burnt offering,”nwhile protecting the child froni Sophy.nBut it is promised that a “great spirit”nwill stand behind “the being of thenchild” Matty has been guarding. “Thatnchild shall bring the spiritual languageninto the world and nation shall speaknit unto nation.”nIn sorting out the various strands ofnthis rich tapestry, the reader gets somenhelp from Edwin Bell, a teacher, andnSim Goodchild, a bookseller. “He wantsnto get rid of language and has approachedntwo people … who depend onnlanguage more than anything else forntheir existence!” They are convincednby Matty’s silent message and affirmnthat something special has happened tonthem. “We broke a barrier.” The threenmake up a circle as protection from evilnspirits—bell, book and candle. Whatnthey understand from Matty does notnnncome from “mere human breath,” butnfrom Song. “It was a single note, golden,nradiant, like no singer that ever was.”nThey experience the meaning of “In thenbeginning was the Word” in theirnchange of state, a “realm of gold thatngrew from it a vowel lasting for annaeon.” Ordinary words are the “reduplicationnof that endless cackle of men”; itnis in the holiness of absolute silencenbeyond frozen speech that the meaningnof the center is apprehended (T. S.nEliot). Bell speaks his seven wordsn(Revelation, 4:11) in ursprache, theninnocent language of the spirit, thenlanguage of paradise.nCjolding’s concern with the paradoxnof language and silence as communicationnis relevant to the central idea ofnthe novel. His perception of the chaosnof the contemporary world could be construed,nas some did Lord of the Flies,nas pessimism.n”We’re all mad, the whole damnednrace. We’re wrapped in illusions, delusions,nconfusions about the penetrabilitynof particles, we’re all mad andnin solitary confinement.”nThinking he knows is postmodern man’snworst problem, “worse than the atomnbomb, and always was.” He is damnednby his “own triviality.” But light isnshed on this otherwise hopeless situationnby Matty’s message, which does revealnitself in language finally in his secretnjournal, aptly enough, chapters 7 andn14 of the novel. While rationalism isnthe cause of our perceptual problems,nthe answer to chaos is not the gnosticismnof transcendental philosophy. For man,npure reason and pure transcendence (allnself or all other) are equally unsoundnprobes into that center which is thenWord made flesh. The pure, the beautifulnand the good must be found in thenfruitful tension between the profanenand the sacred. The Spirit does indeedngive the essential message in His ownnway, but when Matty discovers he is anman like other men by defiling himselfnin his sleep and by listening to Beethov-n•••i^HllonMay/June 1980n