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The Mind of the Maker Paperback – September 23, 1987
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Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Dorothy Sayers was also a playwright, essayist, and a translator of Dante. C.S. Lewis said that he liked her "for the extraordinary zest and edge of her conversation--as I like a high wind." The reader gets a fair taste of that wind in this book, her study of the human (and divine) creative process. Beginning with some stingingly humorous words for the education process (which has produced, she says, "a generation of mental slatterns") she then explores the Trinitarian nature of creativity. Here she identifies the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity--God, Son, Holy Spirit--with three elements of creation. First, the Idea: "passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning"; then the Creative Energy: "begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to end," manifesting the Idea in matter; and finally the Creative Power: "the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul"--in essence, what she calls "the indwelling Spirit."
In a plain, matter-of-fact style that readers will recognize from her mysteries, she reflects on the question of free will and miracle, evil, and, ultimately, "the worth of the work." It is especially here, I think, in this final chapter that the book remains both timeless and profoundly timely. The artist stands for the true worker, she writes, who, while requiring payment for his work, as an artist "retains so much of the image of God that he is in love with his creation for its own sake." So too, ultimately, should it be for all human work: "That the eyes of all workers should behold the integrity of the work is the sole means to make that work good in itself and so good for mankind. This is only another way of saying that the work must be measured by the standard of eternity." --Doug Thorpe
From the Back Cover
This classic, with a new introduction by Madeleine L'Engle, is by turns an entrancing meditation on language; a piercing commentary on the nature of art and why so much of what we read, hear, and see falls short; and a brilliant examination of the fundamental tenets of Christianity. The Mind of the Maker will be relished by those already in love with Dorothy L. Sayers and those who have not yet met her.
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I also found some chapters far more compelling than others. Perhaps I'm at fault, not being clever enough for the subject, but only select sections kept my attention.
In support of her arguments, Dorothy Sayers spends the remainder of the work discussing the three aspects of the creative process (Idea, Energy and Power) and how they reflect the created order and the Creator. In simplistic terms, the three aspects of the creative process are:
1. Idea, which is the initial concept of the thing to be (or being) created
2. Energy, which is the work, the activity, the process of bringing into being what the idea represents
3. Power, which is how the work is communicated to the world and it is also what produces a corresponding response to the work by those who see it.
She spends a good deal of time refining and clarifying the meaning of these terms, and along the way has some incredible insights into the world in which we live.
The book can be read as Apologetics in defense of certain Christian creeds. But, it can also be read on a purely secular level as a highly insightful discussion of the creative process. In either case, if read with an open mind, it is filled with amazing reflections on creativity.