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Section 17

17. The nature of the Reason-Principle is adequately expressed in its Act and, therefore, the wider its extension the nearer will its productions approach to full contrariety: hence the world of sense is less a unity than is its Reason-Principle; it contains a wider multiplicity and contrariety: its partial members will, therefore, be urged by a closer intention towards fullness of life, a warmer desire for unification.

But desire often destroys the desired; it seeks its own good, and, if the desired object is perishable, the ruin follows: and the partial thing straining towards its completing principle draws towards itself all it possibly can.

Thus, with the good we have the bad: we have the opposed movements of a dancer guided by one artistic plan; we recognize in his steps the good as against the bad, and see that in the opposition lies the merit of the design.

But, thus, the wicked disappear?

No: their wickedness remains; simply, their role is not of their own planning.

But, surely, this excuses them?

No; excuse lies with the Reason-Principle- and the Reason-Principle does not excuse them.

No doubt all are members of this Principle but one is a good man, another is bad- the larger class, this- and it goes as in a play; the poet while he gives each actor a part is also using them as they are in their own persons: he does not himself rank the men as leading actor, second, third; he simply gives suitable words to each, and by that assignment fixes each man's standing.

Thus, every man has his place, a place that fits the good man, a place that fits the bad: each within the two orders of them makes his way, naturally, reasonably, to the place, good or bad, that suits him, and takes the position he has made his own. There he talks and acts, in blasphemy and crime or in all goodness: for the actors bring to this play what they were before it was ever staged.

In the dramas of human art, the poet provides the words but the actors add their own quality, good or bad- for they have more to do than merely repeat the author's words- in the truer drama which dramatic genius imitates in its degree, the Soul displays itself in a part assigned by the creator of the piece.

As the actors of our stages get their masks and their costume, robes of state or rags, so a Soul is allotted its fortunes, and not at haphazard but always under a Reason: it adapts itself to the fortunes assigned to it, attunes itself, ranges itself rightly to the drama, to the whole Principle of the piece: then it speaks out its business, exhibiting at the same time all that a Soul can express of its own quality, as a singer in a song. A voice, a bearing, naturally fine or vulgar, may increase the charm of a piece; on the other hand, an actor with his ugly voice may make a sorry exhibition of himself, yet the drama stands as good a work as ever: the dramatist, taking the action which a sound criticism suggests, disgraces one, taking his part from him, with perfect justice: another man he promotes to more serious roles or to any more important play he may have, while the first is cast for whatever minor work there may be.

Just so the Soul, entering this drama of the Universe, making itself a part of the Play, bringing to its acting its personal excellence or defect, set in a definite place at the entry and accepting from the author its entire role- superimposed upon its own character and conduct- just so, it receives in the end its punishment and reward.

But these actors, Souls, hold a peculiar dignity: they act in a vaster place than any stage: the Author has made them masters of all this world; they have a wide choice of place; they themselves determine the honour or discredit in which they are agents since their place and part are in keeping with their quality: they therefore fit into the Reason-Principle of the Universe, each adjusted, most legitimately, to the appropriate environment, as every string of the lyre is set in the precisely right position, determined by the Principle directing musical utterance, for the due production of the tones within its capacity. All is just and good in the Universe in which every actor is set in his own quite appropriate place, though it be to utter in the Darkness and in Tartarus the dreadful sounds whose utterance there is well.

This Universe is good not when the individual is a stone, but when everyone throws in his own voice towards a total harmony, singing out a life- thin, harsh, imperfect, though it be. The Syrinx does not utter merely one pure note; there is a thin obscure sound which blends in to make the harmony of Syrinx music: the harmony is made up from tones of various grades, all the tones differing, but the resultant of all forming one sound.

Similarly the Reason-Principle entire is One, but it is broken into unequal parts: hence the difference of place found in the Universe, better spots and worse; and hence the inequality of Souls, finding their appropriate surroundings amid this local inequality. The diverse places of this sphere, the Souls of unequal grade and unlike conduct, are wen exemplified by the distinction of parts in the Syrinx or any other instrument: there is local difference, but from every position every string gives forth its own tone, the sound appropriate, at once, to its particular place and to the entire plan.

What is evil in the single Soul will stand a good thing in the universal system; what in the unit offends nature will serve nature in the total event- and still remains the weak and wrong tone it is, though its sounding takes nothing from the worth of the whole, just as, in another order of image, the executioner's ugly office does not mar the well-governed state: such an officer is a civic necessity; and the corresponding moral type is often serviceable; thus, even as things are, all is well.

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