“Every force evolves a form.”
Posted: 17 July 2013 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hugh MacDiarmid said this was a Scottish proverb (specifically from the Western Isles); Guy Davenport said it was a Shaker saying, originally by Mother Ann Lee; the earliest Google Books hit I’ve found is Oliver C. Hampton, “Forces and Forms,” The Manifesto, Volumes 22-23 (1892), p. 243:

Spirit is ceaseless and eternal activity. The infinite varieties of this energy are called forces. Every force evolves a form. In fact a form is only a crystallized force, so much arrested as to become outwardly visible.

(A similar idea is expressed in a doughier, woolier fashion by Annie Besant in The Use of Evil: A Lecture (1895): “Force and matter alike are living, force and matter alike are active; and every force is but the veil of an Intelligence of a Consciousness which has that force as its outer expression, and the matter which that force energizes yields a form which it guides and inspires.")

Anybody know anything about the history of this quote (which doesn’t sound to me like it could go back to the eighteenth century, or like a folk proverb)?

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Posted: 17 July 2013 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I don’t have it quite yet, but I’m looking further into “...Mother Ann Lee (1736–84), founder of the Shaker movement in America: “Every force evolves a form....”

I thought I’d located a good source. I was wrong.

[ Edited: 17 July 2013 12:07 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 17 July 2013 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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A theosophist origin sounds much more probable to me.  Folk wisdom may not always be sound, but it usually stops short of gobbledygook.

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Posted: 05 August 2013 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Lionello, I think you are spot on. In the theosophy of the Kabbalah, for example, the “force/form” dichotomy is a core theme in understanding the “Sefirot”, the Kabbalistic depiction of the inner processes of the Divine and the human soul.

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Posted: 05 August 2013 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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No dice on my part. The Hampton book is the earliest I can find. I did see two pre-Davenport articles about architecture and design that said it was a Shaker saying, but without ascribing it to Ann Lee.

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Posted: 05 August 2013 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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"The infinite varieties of this energy are called forces. Every force evolves a form. In fact a form is only a crystallized force, so much arrested as to become outwardly visible”

19th C quantum physics?  Now that should be good for gobbledygook !!

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