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Dr. Robert W. Dillon, Sr.

 

“Teufelsdröckh’s Zodiac:  Krishna’s Calendar in


Thomas Carlyle’s
Sartor Resartus.”    © 1984, 2006

 

 

 

 

                        1

     In Sartor Resartus, Diogenes Teufelsdröckh summarizes Thomas

Carlyle's theory of the symbol: 'Man thereby, though based. to

all seeming, on the small Visible, does nevertheless extend down

into the infinite deeps of the Invisible, of which Invisible, in-

deed, his life is properly the bodying forth.'1  Man is essentially

a duality of body and spirit, both descendental and transcendental,

visible as clothes and invisible as god-soul-geist.  Diogenes

Teufelsdröckh is per se a symbol, a man yet a god, a body yet a mind,

a personality who conceals as well as reveals himself and his clothes

philosophy under the vesture of time.  He is a man with no distinct

earthly origin, who was apparently sent from heaven as a prophet to

mankind.  Wrapped in Persian clothes, Teufelsdröckh has Eastern origins

and an Eastern philosophy.  All we know of his life is found in six

bags delivered to Herr Heushreck, the Editor of Sartor, who has the

thankless task of building the "hell bridge" over the chaos of six

bags of incoherent, disorganized, and incomplete biographical fragments.

The six bags--the key to Teufelsdröckh's character and the entire

clothes philosophy--are labeled with the last six signs of the Zodiac.

The Zodiac's enigmatic role in Sartor, Book Second, remains an odyssey

for the Editor, but a thorough theory on its role as symbol in Sartor

has yet to be undertaken.  Even the reader familiar with Carlylese

feels that the Zodiac conceals more than it reveals, but this is not

the case--a fact that is to be investigated in the ensuing pages.

 

     1. Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr
Teufelsdröckh.  Ed. Charles Frederick Harrold. (New York: Odyssey, 1937),
pp. 217-18.  All subsequent primary references will be to this edition,

hereafter called Sartor.
 

 

                                             2

     Carlylean criticism either ignores the Zodiac in Sartor or
treats it inadequately, if not apologetically. G. B. Tennyson                                                                                               
establishes some significance in discussing the Zodiac bags:   "In
short, Carlyle has taken the zodiac as another means of symbolizing events."2

But Tennyson's study, although an admirable analysis of
the total Sartor, sees the Zodiac as just one image in a larger net-
work of concerns. The problem that still remains regarding the use
of the Zodiac is twofold: first, why these particular signs?;
second, why the Zodiac in the first place? Both questions require
more thorough and exclusive analysis.
Teufelsdröckh's character and dilemma are archetypal, and the
Zodiac depicts his mythic pattern. Just as Teufelsdröckh moves
from Genesis to the Everlasting Yea, a Bildungslehre or study in
character growth emerges. Teufelsdröckh's character growth and
peregrinations on this earth are symbolized on a cosmic scale in
the figure of the sun which symbolizes Teufelsdröckh moving through
the constellations that constitute the signs of the Zodiac. As will
be explained, each sign is symbolic of a particular stage in this
process of Bildung, with each sign appearing in a deliberate order of
experience. A study of Teufelsdröckh's life in terms of the zodiacal
signs will form a strategic unifying symbol for all of Sartor because
Teufelsdröckh is Gemut (Character), Werden (Origin) and Wirken (Effects)
in one symbol, and therefore he is the key to die Kleider (Clothes).

 

     2. G. B. Tennyson, 'Sartor' Called 'Resartus':   The Genesis, Structure, and Style of

Thomas Carlyle's First Major Work (Princeton UP, 1965), p. 220.

 

                                                           3

To discover a principle of unity for Book Second is to find

the principle of unity for all of Sartor. This key to das gemut of
Teufelsdöckh is the Zodiac. If Thomas Carlyle is to be consistent, unity can only be found in seeming chaos. The editor insists in "Prospective" that "Selection, order, appears to be unknown to the Professor. In all Bags the same imbroglio."3   No "recognizable coherence" exists, or so the Editor believes, but the Editor too must be edited by the reader. Carlyle deliberately leaves the reader with apparent chaos, believing that anything worthwhile must be enigmatic, that some principle of silence or mystery is necessary. Although a totally Utilitarian, mechanical explanation of the Zodiac in Book Second might seem anti-Carlylean (too much Sprechen. not enough Schweigen), a definite pattern is evident:  first, in the choice of the Zodiac as symbol in the first place; second, in the choice of the last six signs (Libra through Pisces) as the transcendental correlatives to Teufelsdröckh's Wanderlahre. The chaos is a matter of surface style concealing geistig. As symbols within a symbol, as clothes themselves, the signs of the Zodiac must reveal,  not just conceal. 
The Zodiac, therefore, is just so much clothing, but like all cloth, it is the descendental  key to the transcendental Pericardial

 

3 Sartor, p. 78


 

                                    4
 

tissue of Sartor. The only information available to the Editor

about Teufelsdröckh is contained in the six bags of autobiographi-

cal fragments from which the Editor tries to derive some principle

of order for Sartor. Carlyle's use of the occult reinforces the

significance of man as mystery, while it simultaneously reinforces

man's rage for order and a sense of place in the cosmos.  In draw-

ing zodiacal distinctions, man seeks the transpersonal coalescence

and coherence among such distinctions.  Carlyle's Zodiac is tradi-

tional in its mythic quest to unify opposite psychical states of

mind and states of being. The zodiacal signs have traditionally

been used as a symbol for the wholeness and coherence of created

multiplicity:

The division of the Zodiac into twelve sections (or into eight, sixteen, or twenty sections) is based fundamentally upon the belief that the universe is coherent and that the numbers are not mere inventions of man allowing him

to make purely quantitative distinctions, but rather the symbolic keys to qualitative laws that govern the coherent universe. All esoteric traditions have always sought to express the multiplicity within unity, and this has always involved the use of numbers, and the use of symbols; astrology is a particularly ingenious method of combining them.4

Teufelsdröckh's Zodiac in Sartor continues this symbolic tradition
of relating the part to the whole, the many to the one, the material to the immaterial, and the
personal to the transpersonal. 'The first problem is to unite yourself with some one

 and with somewhat,' says the professor.5  The Zodiac is his vehicle to body forth this unity.

So far, no thorough investigation of the Zodiac as a principle
 

4. John Anthony West and Jan Gerhard Toonder, Astrology (New York: Coward-McCann, 1970),  p. 30.
        5. Sartor, p. 129.

 

                                                 5

of imagination has been undertaken, and certainly no attempt has
been made to focus it clearly in terms of the stages in Teufels-
dröckh's life and in terms of Carlyle's overall aesthetic.
That Carlyle knew astrology and its associated myths can be proven
 inductively by an analysis of the undeniable facticity of their
applied presence in Sartor. He was well trained in science and expressed
a desire to be an astronomer. His knowledge of astrological myth, based on vast readings, based on personal contacts with Schlegel's and Emerson's direct knowledge and translations of Sanskrit, and on his awareness of public and universal knowledge, make valid application of Oriental and Occidental zodiacal myths an inevitable reality in Sartor. Carlyle's only problem was to unify man and myth in the biography and character of the hero Teufelsdröckh. The use of the Zodiac to explain the human psyche is not a new phenomenon, but it is as old as man himself. This article will attempt to shed some imagination (Vernunft), not metaphysics (Verstand), on the greatest "Sphinx riddle" in Sartor--the Zodiac.

One fact is clearly becoming accepted among Carlylean critics of Sartor, i.e.,
that the signs refer somehow to the stages in the life of Teufelsdröckh.
But no definitive analysis has been made. In essence, Teufelsdröckh is the sun who travels the symbolic journey through the signs of the Zodiac. The zodiacal pilgrimage from Libra through Pisces is the cosmic equivalent of his earthly pilgrimage


 

                                                        6

from his "Genesis" through the "Everlasting Yea." Carlyle calls

this process Palingenesia, an early equivalent of Jung's archetype

of transformation. Thomas Carlyle's principle of Palingenesia

(literally meaning "many origins") has, as its major symbolic

vehicle, the zodiacal signs.

                                                      Libra  

Thomas Carlyle uses zodiacal signs seven through eleven as he

symbolizes life and its archetypal stages through astrology.  Sign

seven is Libra .   Its dates  extend  from September 23 to October 22--

the beginning of autumn.  Its traditional symbol, like the others,
is basically Oriental:      As is the case with all signs

of the Zodiac, it consists of a dualistic or dialectical

principle which creates a unity or implies a stage in the development

or disintegration of a unity.  Christian interpretation sees in the

above sign the symbols of the cross and the sword, stressing both the

necessity of death as the purpose and end of birth, as well as the

principle of struggle found in the church-militant metaphor.  Another

Western interpretation sees the Libra symbol as the beam of a balance

and the top of an altar--a more likely interpretation.  Libra is

symbolized by the zodiacal scales and is, above all, a sign of balance.

Libra encompasses Chapters I and II of Book Second of Sartor ("Genesis"

and "Idyllic").  The sign, Libra, directly symbolizes the serenity and

pastoral harmony of Teufelsdröckh's early years with the Futterals, a

 

                        7

period largely untouched by discord. Libra is psychical balance

of childhood innocence, the equilibrium between the spiritual

ego of man (Selbst)and the external ego (personality), between 'Me'

and 'Not-Me,' between good and evil. The Editor says, quoting

 Teufelsdröckh, “In the village of Entepfuhl,” thus writes he in

the Bag Libra, on various Papers, which we arrange with difficulty

 “dwelt Andreas Futteral and his wife; childless.” 6    In des-

cribing the arrival of the stranger carrying the baby-basket,

Teufelsdröckh continues, 'Into this umbrageous Man's-rest, one

meek yellow evening or dusk, when the Sun, hidden indeed from

terrestrial Entepfuhl, did nevertheless journey visible and radiant

along the celestial Balance(Libra) ••••” 7

And so, Teufelsdröckh arrives in a basket, Moses-like, but
dressed in Oriental clothes, "overhung with green Persian silk."
The Editor repeats '••••• the Sun was in Libra ••••••' 8   Libra is the
only constellation mentioned in Book Second until Chapter III and, logically as well as symbolically, it bodies forth Teufelsdröckh's
idyllic childhood("Happy Childhood"). This happy time is not ex-
posed to Time the destroyer and to the evils of Blakean experience:
'The young spirit has awakened out of Eternity, and knows not what
we mean by Time; as yet Time is no fast-hurrying stream, but a
sportful sunlit ocean… years to the child are as ages.'9 Youth is
man's only truly happy period mostly because of its lack of the consciousness of evil.  Maturity brings only blasted fruit. In

6.

Ibid.

pp. 81-82.

7.

Ibid.

p.

83.

8. Ibid..,

p.

85.

9.Ibid.,

p.

90.

 

 

 

                                                      8

 

Wordsworthian terms, the child is closer to his heavenly home and
to God. The child still has his intimations of immortality, is
still uncorrupted by his human prison, including Utilitarianism, "Necessity," and human habit.

But akin to Blake's Innocence, there is a blindness in child-
hood where creativity often gives way to mimesis and obedience. Teufelsdröckh's only criticism of his childhood was that it was 'rigorous,' 'too frugal,' 'too Stoical.’10  But this deference to 'Obedience' and 'Duty' was to become a formative element in his
later adult character--the Hindu, ascetic element of the mature Brahman Teufelsdröckh. It is in Libra that he experiences birth
and childhood;  therefore, Libra functions for the process of Palingenesia as the Child is Father of the Man. Like Wordsworth's six-year old of pygmy size in the Intimations Ode, the child be­
comes the victim of habit. Teufelsdröckh says,
'My Active Power ••• was unfavorably hemmed-in.’ 11  As in Blake's Songs of Innocence,
the experience to be realized is always latently present in the idyllic childhood. Childhood is not all carefree joy; therefore, in the symbol of Libra, both lines of the zodiacal sign are not perfectly straight and parallel.

In the book, Outer Space, the Jobes speak of the personality traits of the Man under Libra--shy, mild-mannered, humane, but

 

10 Ibid., p. 98.
11 Ibid.

 

                                                     9

above all, intellectual and pleasure-loving.12 The latter qualities
fit Teufelsdröckh's early life well. Also, the sign of Libra
portrays light held mythically by darkness, an ironic fact found in
the innocence-experience of the to-be professor's childhood. There-
fore, the zodiacal sign of Libra is the perfect symbol of Teufels-
dröckh's character in the first two stages of his Palingenesia--
"Genesis" and "Idyllic."
                                      Scorpio
The eighth sign of the Zodiac is Scorpio, the scorpion. Ac-
cording to astrological calendars, its dates span the days from
October 23 through November 21. As the sun enters Scorpio, it
moves toward winter. Teufelsdröckh passes from his idy1lic in-
nocence and enters the first of several incidents that will form
his experience as he moves farther into the rite of passage and
enters the fringes of the heart of darkness. His childhood
of light ends. In Scorpio, darkness comes more quickly as days
grow shorter.
The symbol for Scorpio is   --a crowned snake
or basilisk with the arrow denoting the tail of the scorpion.
Again, the astrological symbol is dialectical in nature, indicating
a tensional motion in many directions. In Book Second, Scorpio
embodies the first half of Chapter III--the Hinterschlag Gymnasium
episode. Hinterschlag can mean back-biting, the physical


     12. Gertrude and James Jobes, Outer Space: Myths, Name, Meanings,
Calendars from the Emergence of History to the Present
Day
(New York and London: The Scarecrow Press, 1964), p. 204.
Henceforth cited as Outer Space.

 

                                                          10

action of the scorpion biting defensively, claws forward, from behind. The scorpion is Teufelsdröckh engaged in verbal assault  about his early education and the uselessness of book learning:
"My teachers ••• were hide-bound Pedants, without knowledge of man's nature.'13  It is at this point that Teufelsdröckh ex-
periences human inanity and has his first encounter with evil
through miseducation: 'With my first view of the Hinterschlag
Gymnasium ••• my evil days began.’14  The Scorpio stage in Teufels­dröckh's Palingenesia is a prolonged Carlylean criticism of educa-
tion based on memory, metaphysics, and the rod (ala Dickens' Grinders Academy). Teachers used the birch-rod freely, were 'mechanical
Gerund-grinder (s),' who served only to destroy the creative, active imagination of youth.

Also, under the sign of Scorpio, Teufelsdröckh's stepfather,
Andreas Futteral, dies. For the first time, Teufelsdröckh experien-
ces acute human isolation. He now assumes the role of Ishmael say-
ing, 'I was like no other.’15  He reasserts his isolation amid his
academic wasteland: “I was among strangers, harshly, at best indif-
ferently, disposed towards me; the young heart felt, for the first
time, quite orphaned and alone.”16  Like Scorpio, Teufelsdröckh has
his claws facing Libra, recollecting his idyllic days, contrasting
them in anger with his unhappy present in the Hinterschlag Gymnasium.

 13. Sartor, p. 105.

14.

Ibid.

p.

103.

15.

Ibid.

p.

107.

16.

Ibid.

p.

103.

 


                                                   11
 

The initial reaction to his present education is a perverse back-

biting, a profound bitterness of soul at being so misled and

used. Of the scorpion character, the Jobes say that he is strong-

willed, self-absorbed and sarcastic. 17  Teufelsdröckh shows strength

of will in asserting the Self against the death of Andreas; he shows

sarcasm in what is the theme of this Scorpio stage in his Palingenesia

--sarcastic criticism: "As if in the Bag Scorpio, Teufelsdröckh had not al-

ready expectorated his antipedagogic spleen ••••” 18

                                             Sagittarius

The Editor, rummaging through the Bag Sagittarius, the ninth

sign of the Zodiac, discovers that Teufelsdröckh has journeyed

from the Gymnasium to the University. Sagittarius spans the dates

of November 22 through December 21--taking Teufelsdröckh up to the

beginning of the winter solstice. In Book Second, the Bag Sagittarius

encompasses the last half of Chapter III dealing with University

life: "In the Bag Sagittarius, as we at length discover, Teufels¬

dröckh has become a University man •••• "19 Both the symbol of Sagit-

tarius and its thematic content body forth the psychical stage of

Teufelsdröckh as he enters a darker stage in his rite of passage

than that found in the earlier sign. The symbol for Sagittarius is
. The symbol denotes the bow (tension) and the arrow of
Sagittarius the Archer.


17. Outer Space, p. 243.
18. Sartor, p. 109.
19. Ibid., p. 10

                                        


                                                      12

Again, this sign is a dualistic contrast of two linear formations.
The arrow represents what is now Teufelsdröckh's  positive, pointed
criticism towards the academic life in the University: "As if,
from the name Sagittarius, he had thought himself called upon to
shoot arrows.”20   The arrows resemble the barbs of criticism thrown

at university professors. The criticism is direct, rarely sarcastic,
but always incisive. For example, he refers to the cliche of
the 'blind leading the blind,' as  'Deception takes the place and wages
 of Performance.' 21  He refers to the pseudo-professors who can no
longer teach, but who only live in ease on their reputations.

In Sagittarius, Teufelsdröckh aims his arrows at short range;  
he has no specific long range goal or target in life. He is still
caught between his past and his present. In astronomy, the arrow
of Sagittarius is aimed at Scorpio indicating the dialectical tend­
ency of the mythical signs to point in two directions, like the

human mind--one forward, one backward in time. The bow in Sagittarius
symbolizes, perhaps with some influence from Heraclitus, the tensional
principle which sustains all of Sartor.

The tension most evident in the Sagittarius stage of Teufels-
dröckh's Palingenesia is one between belief and skepticism. He
suffers from an "impotent Scepticism." According to Carlyle, ages
of skepticism must alternate in dialectical fashion with ages of
faith, 'As in the long-drawn systole and long-drawn diastole, must

 

20. Ibid., p. 109.

 21.  Ibid., p. 110.

 

                             13

the period of Faith alternate with the period of Denial.'22  This
notion later becomes the "Phoenix" doctrine of Book Third of
Sar-
tor
. Within Teufelsdröckh, negativity alternates with positivity.
He suffers 'fever paroxysms of Doubt,' undergoes a 'nightmare of
Unbelief,' and 'Purgatory pain.' It is during the University period
that he realizes the necessity of suffering during the rite of pas-
sage;  however, it is also from this suffering that Teufelsdröckh
realizes his own formative genius and has inklings of the clothes
philosophy to come. He has achieved his first "toughguttism"
against the insipidity of the world with its mechanical systems of
education.

The sign Sagittarius, with the arrow thrusting through the
parallel lines, symbolizes Teufelsdröckh's subconscious 'Me' sur-
facing through into consciousness. The arrow emerges, along with
his manhood, from the threshold of the submerged Self, indicating
upward movement and character growth. Education has proven to be his negative key to self-consciousness. Like Sagittarius the
Archer, Teufelsdröckh is a centaur figure—half intellect, half ­
animal. The zodiacal sign upholds the dualistic principle of the
character as avatar whose time of public life nears and whose

doubt begins to vie with certainty for the man's soul. Like a Biblical figure,
Teufelsdröckh is in a 'desert waste and howling with savage monsters.'
As Teufelsdröckh is about to enter the winter solstice of his life,
where he learns to cultivate his intellectual side as a defense against the

 

22. Ibid., p. 112.

 

                                   14

world and its evils. It is also interesting to note that Ishmael,
here Teufelsdröckh's prototype, became an archer (Genesis xxi, 20).23
     In Sagittarius, Teufelsdröckh emerges as the prophet, stres-
sing eternity as man's goal through work in time (the "Seed-field")--
'For man lives in Time, has his whole earthly being, endeavor and
destiny shaped for him by Time. Only in the transitory Time-Symbol
is the ever-motionless Eternity we stand on made manifest.' 24 It is
in Sagittarius that Teufelsdröckh first formulates the basis of
the Carlylean theories of Time and Natural Supernaturalism. The
Jobes, in Outer Space, note the character traits of the Sagittarian--
he is candid, impatient, ambitious, just and prophetic--some of
Teufelsdröckh's major qualities during the University stage of his
Palingenesia. 25
                                               Pisces
     Instead of proceeding to Capricornus, the next and tenth sign of
the Zodiac, Teufelsdröckh's life is now in the Bag Pisces—the
twelfth sign of the Zodiac. Therefore, Teufelsdröckh's rite of initia-
tion does not follow the chronological order of signs 7,8,9,10,11, and
12. Instead, the sun follows the following path through the zodiacal
chain-- 7,8,9,12,10, and 11. This break in the sequence might be called
the displaced Bag theory in Sartor. Theoretically, Pisces should come
last;  instead, it comes two-thirds of the way through the journey.
This displacement problem and its solution reside in the fact that the


23. Ibid., p. 114.
24. Ibid., p. 112.
25. Outer Space, p. 239.

 

                                               15

reader, weaned on western archetypes, expects Teufelsdröckh's Ever-
lasting Yea to occur in Spring. We are accustomed to equating
resurrection with Easter and the vernal equinox, i.e., with Pisces
(March). However, the Oriental mind does not draw such an equation.
Death and resurrection are simultaneous and they occur, in the
Oriental liturgy, during the winter solstice. By going directly
from Sagittarius to Pisces, Carlyle applies an Oriental pattern of
dark initiation, not an Occidental pattern of light and reason.

Another solution to the Pisces displacement problem is the
fact that Carlyle was fond of deliberately breaking and thwarting
the reader's logical, habitual patterns of thinking. Like Laurence
Sterne, Carlyle deliberately breaks a pattern previously set up just
to disrupt the metaphysician's Verstand. Carlyle's approach is
intuitive and imaginative, not empirical and rational. Carlyle
was fond of structural irony, i.e., using asymmetrical structure to
satirize symmetry itself. For example, Teufelsdröckh engages heavily
in metaphysics in his autobiographical scraps, but Carlyle detested
metaphysics. He uses the structural technique of metaphysics to
satirize metaphysical content in Western thinking. The Oriental
mind, unlike its Western counterpart, is accustomed to the irrational
and the illogical. Therefore, Carlyle deliberately breaks the
slavishly chronological pattern of the pattern from Libra through Pisces.   

A third solution to the displacement of Pisces (placed between
Sagittarius
and Capricornus) lies in the autobiography itself.  The
displacement is organic to the man, Teufelsdröckh, and to his Palingenesia.
.The "Springtime" of  Teufelsdröckh's life, his "Easter"

 

                                   16
of sorts, is in his young manhood. Carlyle uses Pisces to symbolize
the character's coming-of-age; therefore, Pisces naturally follows
Sagittarius as manhood follows the University life. The reader must
remember that Teufelsdröckh's life after the University covers an in-
definite number of years. The winter months of the Zodiac encompass
months from different years, not months from the same year. Therefore,
a slavishly chronological order would be both foolish and inappropriate
for Carlyle's purpose and for Teufelsdröckh's character development.
As G. B. Tennyson notes, "But Teufelsdröckh's life is measured not by
months, but by years.”26 Chances are that there are at least five
years of the professor's life covered between Chapter IV and Chapter
IX, between his graduation from the University and his Everlasting Yea.
     Pisces, embodying the birth dates between February 19 and March 20,
is the crucial time of Teufelsdröckh's Bildung. He now applies his
previous knowledges to a new confrontation with the external world, a
confrontation between the 'Me' and the 'Not-Me.' Pisces covers Chapter
IV ("Getting Under Way") and the early part of Chapter V. In the Bag
Pisces, early indications of love for Blumine are to be found, but the
love crisis itself is not in Pisces. According to Oriental mythology.
Pisces represents self-assertion against the world, and the 'Me' con-
tains within itself the beginning of a new cycle in life. 27   Under
Pisces,  Teufelsdröckh applies the "thaumaturgic art of thought" to the
Self and its relationship to the 'Not-Me.'  Teufelsdröckh says, 'But


26. Tennyson, p. 219.
27. J .E. Cirlot, Dictionary of Symbols, trans. Jack Sage.
(New York: Philosophical Library, 1962), p. 244.

 

                                      17
the hardest problems were ever this first'—“To find by study of your-
self, and of the ground you stand on, what your combined inward and
outward Capability specially is.” 28   During Bildung, while the sun
is in Pisces, Teufelsdröckh learns the essence of the work philosophy
--the discovery and application of an innate capability to the environ-
ment ( Not-Me).  Bildung, as bodied forth under Pisces, is the key to
Carlyle's theory of work.
     In Pisces, Teufelsdr
öckh's psychical progression takes on a
greater tension, beginning with an archetypal falling pattern that
will reach its dark night of the soul in the love fiasco with Blumine.
The Editor sets the stage for the fall to come: "We see here, signifi-
cantly foreshadowed, the spirit of much that was to befall our Auto-
biographer, the historical embodiment of which, as it painfully takes
shape in his Life, lies scattered, in dim disastrous details, through
this Bag Pisces and those that follow.”29  Teufelsdröckh now confronts
the world--alone and without guidance. The "Son of Time" suffers from
der Angst, has "No Object.” 29  He practices law (auscultator-
ship), even serves as a tutor. He fails at both.
     Furthermore, in Pisces, Teufelsdröckh suffers from nineteenth-
century dualism. The symbol for Pisces further bodies forth Teufels-
dröckh's dualistic character as he gets under way in the world:
. Pisces
is Latin for fish (plural) represented by the
two curved lines in the diagram. The horizontal line represents the
fixed element. The two fish are parallel, but are facing different

28. Sartor, p. 119.
29. Ibid., pp. 120-121.

 

                                       18

directions, indicating dualism and tension. Both are half in and

half out of the universal solvent--water. From an Oriental view­
point, the upper halves represent evolution, while the lower halves
represent involution. Cirlot stresses the left fish as involution,
the right as evolution. 31  Either way, the evolution stage implies
Teufelsdröckh's radicalism, his Bildung that wants to progress
in the world outside the self. The involutive half is Teufelsdröckh's
desire to return to an old cycle, perhaps with new manifestations.

The latter is his Stoical half. his "Hindoo" passivity. He is caught
between two worlds: the past dead, the future uncertain. This
dualism is aggravated by his predeliction for metaphysics. Like an
early Prufrock, Teufelsdröckh desires without acting, is aware of
Time as both Kronos (Destroyer) and Chronos (Creator and Preserver).  He falls upon the thorns of life. The result, in Pisces,
 is a nightmare of uncertainty.

Therefore, in Pisces, Teufelsdröckh emerges as a character distinct
from his submerging environment, but the emergence is incomplete. The
Messianic implications of fish as a Christ symbol are probable and are
certainly not in conflict with Teufelsdröckh's role as avatar. Cirlot
mentions in relation to Pisces that the piscean  avatar was in the form
of a fish or Vishnu in Indian mythology.31  Above all, the Pisces sym-
bol represents the character's nineteenth-century psychical schizophrenia
and its ensuing stasis. He suffers from what Carlyle called the disease
of the age--self-consciousness: '0 Time-Spirit! How hast thou environed
and imprisoned us •••• Me. however, as a Son of Time. unhappier than some

30. Cirlot, p. 244.
31.Ibid.

  

 

                          19

others, was Time threatening to eat prematurely; for, strive as
I might, there was no good Running, so obstructed was the path,
so gyved were the feet.’32  So the character feels stopped in his
path. Of interest, the Jobes list the traits of the Pisces char-
acter-- sensual, sensitive, psychic, restless and unaggressive.33
Teufelsdröckh refuses the attitude of bold attack against the world

and becomes "too defensive," i.e., involutive. He is a creature of
"Division, not union."

Capricornus

Teufelsdröckh's most vulnerable stage in his Bildung, the most
critical step in the entire Palingenesia, is the romance with Blumine.

This occurs during, and is found in, the bag Capricornus. In Sartor,
the Bag Capricornus encompasses the end of the "Getting under Way"
phase and proceeds through the "romance" itself (Chapter V), through
the "Sorrows of Teufelsdröckh" (Chapter VI) into, but not including, the
actual Everlasting No of Chapter VII. Teufelsdröckh's actual denial
of the Everlasting No, which occurs at the very end of Chapter VII,
is not under Capricornus. Therefore, the chapters of Teufelsdröckh's
life encompassed by Capricornus are late IV through most of VII.
This can be proven both by occasional references to Capricornus during
this stage of development, as well as by a particular reference to

the adjacent Bag theory. The Editor states in Chapter V:  "From
multifarious Documents in this Bag Capricornus, and in the adjacent

 

32. Sartor, pp. 127-128.
33. Outer Space, p. 232.

 

 

                          20

ones on both sides thereof, it becomes manifest that our philosopher,
as stoical and cynical as he now looks, was heartily and even frantic­
ally in Love."34. Therefore, amid the chaos of autobiographical Bags,
love elements are found scattered in Pisces and in Aquarius, but
evidence proves that Capricornus is the primary zodiacal sign for the
jilt by Blumine.

Capricornus spans the days from December 22 through January 19;

the sun enters the winter solstice in Capricornus. The love affair
with Blumine and its subsequent jilt and chronic despair occur during
the heart of winter--a fitting and organic symbol for Teufelsdröckh's
dark night of the soul, his winter of discontent brought on by Blumine's
jilt. It is both fitting and necessary that Capricornus occur between
Pisces
and Aquarius because, organically, Teufelsdröckh's naivete in
love and his doubt brought on by his University years are
responsible for his inability to love fully. Subsequently, his failure at love
brings on the confrontation with the Everlasting No. The jilt by
Blumine makes the 'No' possible by the acute despair it effects.
Psychical descent makes ascent and subsequent resurrection possible.
Like Eliot's Prufrock and Dostoyevsky's underground man, Carlyle's
Teufelsdröckh is incapable of physical confrontation with the 'Not-
Me.’ He sees Blumine in zodiacal terms as totally transcendental,
and his idealization of her is a probable cause of the jilt.  She
is an 'Angel,' a work of 'Celestial Art,' the 'Goddess of Flowers.'
Teufelsdröckh states his heavenly love in zodiacal
terms:  'It was
appointed…that the high celestial orbit of Blumine should intersect
 

34. Sartor, p. l34.

 

                                  21

the low sublunary one of our Forlorn.’ 35  Far from sublunary,
Teufelsdröckh has no confidence in himself; he is no match
for the "Queen of Hearts." He engages in "Fantasy" and "Aes-
thetic Tea," and so the hyacinth girl deserts her Tiresias. The
Editor describes the fall from love in zodiacal terms: "Suffice
it to know that Teufelsdröckh rose into the highest regions of
the empyrean, by a natural parabolic track, and returned thence
in a quick perpendicular one.” 36
     As a sign of the Zodiac, Capricornus bodies forth Teufelsdröckh's
"Romance" episode. In astrology, Capricornus begins the process of
dissolution with a distinctly sexual basis, an appropriate descrip-
tion of the professor's dilemma. His character traits are also typi-
cal of the Capricorn in that the Jobes say he is one who suffers
much tragedy.37 Because Capricornus marks the lowest point in Teufels-
dröckh's journey, other mythical facts increase the interest in this
sign. Joseph Campbell makes note in The Masks of God of the cycle of
God Enki or Ea in Occidental mythology.38  Ea was the god of the
house of water. Ea myth is embodied in the symbol of Capricornus--

The god Ea had the foreparts of a goat, but the
body of a fish. In the context of Book Second, the fish element of
the dualistic Capricornus refers to Pisces where fish and water are
predominant elements. The goat element of Capricornus stresses the
element of earth. Both elements symbolize the dual tendencies of


35. Ibid., p. 136. 
36. Ibid., p. 145.
37. Outer Space, p. 142.
38. Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Occidental Mythologv
(New York: Viking, 1964), pp. 349-50.

 

                                      22

life toward the abyss (water and fish) and toward the heights (the
goat).  In Hindu myth, both fish and goat represent the involu-

tive and evolutive tendencies of the human psyche. In Occidental
mythology, the goat is frequently a symbol of sterility and lust.

In the Old Testament, the animal is frequently linked with
the purgative element of fire as a sacrificial animal. If not immolated,
the goat is a scapegoat, forced into the desert bearing the sins of
the people. In Capricornus, the contrasting elements of sea
and earth, water and fire, are symbolized.

On December 25, in Capricornus, the sun enters fully the winter
solstice for rebirth, according to Oriental myth. Ea, according to
Campbell, functioned as a god of purification in the water rituals.
Ea's Greek name (Occidental mythology) was Oannes, i.e., John in
English, John the Baptist in Christian thinking.39  The idea of re-
birth subsequent upon death and purification by water is a fact in
Teufelsdröckh's fiasco with Blumine. It is on December 25 that the
Hindus celebrate the New Year by the rebirth of the new god through
the death of the old god pulled from the Ganges. The Western cycle
of Easter, with its Crucifixion and Resurrection, occurs in Oriental
ritual on December 25--ironically the Western date for Christmas.

Both events, of course, are connected because there is no resurrection
without birth and death, but the two are simultaneous in the Brahman's
ceremony at the dawn of the new year. In short, Blumine is both
Teufelsdröckh's death and the seed of his potential resurrection

from that death. He is the Sol  Invictus, the resurrected sun whose
 

39. Ibid.


 

                             23   

cycle will take its final form in Aquarius, although it commences with death in Capricornus.

Aquarius

As Teufelsdröckh, the "Son of Time," enters Aguarius,
the process of Palingenesia reaches its redemptive climax. Teufels-

dröckh undergoes what was later to be called the archetype of
transformation (Jung). Aquarius encompasses the dates from January

20 through February 18. In Book Second of Sartor, this period in­
volves the very end of Chapter VII (Everlasting No) through Chapter
IX (Everlasting Yea)--the very heart of Sartor Resartus and Teufels-
dröckh’s transformation. The conversional pattern of Nea-Indifference­
Yea is Pauline and Augustinian (Confessions), a cataclysmic, traumatic
transmogrification of a character's entire personality. The change

is both mystical-- fast and drastic-- but nevertheless real and total. The
archetypal symbol of this conversion is found in the sign of Aquarius
with its implications of rebirth by water. Capricornus ends and
Aquarius
begins at the point in Teufelsdröckh's life where unrest
ceases to be his sole guidance, He may still have doubt, but his

doubt has a "fixed centre" to revolve around. He stops running from
himself and decides to face his own fears. At the end of Chapter VII,
the professor says, 'Despicable biped! What is the sum total of the
worst that lies before thee? Death?' He asks the crucial question,
'What art thou afraid of?’ 40  Teufelsdröckh rejects the Devil and the
so-called "Satanic School" of thinking (damning the world without con-
structive action and recreation); he rejects the capacity of the
 

40. Sartor, p. 167.


 

                           24

world to destroy his existence, 'I will meet it and deny it!'

Teufelsdröckh's own 'No' is the rejection of the Everlasting

No's rejection of him. Defiance defies all, and then :

My whole Me stood up, in native God-created majesty, and with emphasis recorded its Protest •••• The Everlasting No had said, "Behold, thou art fatherless, outcast, and the Universe is mine (the Devil's)," to which my whole Me now made answer, "I am not thine but Free, and forever hate thee!"41

This is Teufelsdröckh's 'Baphometic Fire-baptism' whereby he "began

to be a Man." The element of water found in baptism exists literally

in Aquarius, the water constellation, and is implied in the

death and purification by water in Capricornus. The fire element was

also implied in Capricornus in the image of the sacrificial goat.

Buddhistic asceticism demands the cleansing of the Self by fire as well as
by water (cf., "The Wasteland") as preliminary to what Carlyle
calls Selbsttödtung (self-annihilation), and subsequent absorption into

the transcendental All.

Teufelsdröckh's self denial is the conscious beginning of the

Self's rebirth. But his soul is not yet ready for redemptive action--

"The end of Man is an Action, and not a Thought."  The Centre of In-

Difference (Chapter VIII) is also experienced under Aquarius. This

"Centre" is the void world, like the infinite spiral, dark staircase

(St. John and Eliot) that exists between the realization of

the necessity of action and the action itself, between the denial and

the affirmation. During this period, Teufelsdröckh engages in Carlyle's

"secular well" theory of redeeming the time before action through

physical contact with the 'Not-Me' for "wholesomer food" for the soul.

He visits the Great Wall of China, battlefields, much like Childe
 

41. Ibid., pp. 167-68.

 


                            25

Harold, but with an acute sense of purpose. He concentrates on the

Not-Me, awaiting the time and opportunity for redemptive action.

The Everlasting Yea is the zenith of the Aquarian cycle. Here
 the actual rebirth occurs in all its psychical and physical manifes-

tations. Carlyle combines the path of the Karma Yoga with the Cal-

vanistic doctrine of work to form the Everlasting Yea. Action is the

only cure for uncertainty and the hell of the Self. This redemptive

process of Yea involves distinct stages. First, the character under-

goes the fire cleansing of the 'No'; then he denies the physical

world as être-en-soi; both are followed by "Close thy Byron; Open thy
Goethe," i.e., the doctrine of Entsagen (Renunciation). Next the

character undergoes Selbsttödtung or the destruction of the ego. You

'lessen your denominator,' says Teufelsdröckh, i.e., your old ego and

concern for the 'Me.'  Lastly, a love for the 'Not-Me' eclipses the

love for the 'Me.' The character shows pity for mankind where formerly

he had shown only scorn: 'Love not Pleasure; love God. This is the

Everlasting Yea, wherein all contradiction is solved: wherein whoso

walks and works, it is well with him.' 42      Teufelsdröckh realizes that

he must "Produce," he must work: ••••• “the problem is not now to deny,

but to ascertain and perform."  He realizes that the only impediment

to action is the Self: 'Fool! the Idea is in thyself, the impediment

too is in thyself.' Man positively redeems himself out of the negativity
of his own human condition. 43

42.  Ibid., p. 192

                43. Ibid., p.196.

 


                                         26

Aquarius marks the heart and culmination of Teufelsdröckh's

resurrection. Because the dates of Aquarius span January 20

through February 18, resurrection occurs not in springtime, but

in the heart of winter and in the heart of darkness--an Oriental

notion. The symbol for Aquarius, like the other five zodiacal signs

discussed, is graphically based on a dualistic, tensional principle,

a unity of two life principles. But unlike the other signs of the

Zodiac, the two lines in Aquarius are absolutely parallel and identical,

symbolizing a harmony or synthesis achieved by tension:

The top line is involution; the bottom is evolution. For the first

time in his life, Teufelsdröckh has achieved synthesis of involution

and evolution, the two tensional stages formative of human development.

His Everlasting Yea is representative of the final stage in a series of

steps in his Palingenesia. He has completed one revolution in the

Oriental wheel of rebirth. The lines of the Aquarian symbol denote the
flux (parallel)of water itself, a symbolic flood, the end of one formal

universe and the completion of a cycle. The dark night of the soul

has run its course. The 'Me' is reabsorbed into the Oneness, the God

whence it came, and all preceding elements, which originally lead to

individual extremes and dualisms, become One. Aquarius represents decom-
position and dissolution (Goethe's Selbsttödtung) originally recorded by

the flooding of the Nile. It represents the imminence of liberation and

the dissolution of the phenomenal world--both primary elements in Carlyle's


 

                                       27

transcendental aesthetic. The phenomenal world is clothing and its

only function is to symbolize and body forth essence and infinity.
The world is geistig, first and last.
     Teufelsdröckh's journey as Sol Invictus of Sartor Resartus ends
fittingly and organically in Aquarius, in winter, in the house of

the water carrier where the soul is reborn. Therefore, it can be

seen that Carlyle follows more the Hindu paths and its calendar,
less the Occidental path and its calendric archetypes. After
all, a tailor retailors many suits of clothes. The importance is to
retailor into a harmony. The Jobes state that the Aquarian is
"fortunate," that he is "life-giving.”44   Sartor Resartus is not an

Occidental book in texture, but is a beautiful and violent reaction to
mechanical, Occidental thinking. Its solution is one of imagination,
not of understanding--as Carlyle defines the terms.

Life is one situation with two homes--earth and heaven. We live

on the descendental earth with our heads in the transcendental heavens.

Carlyle says that there is a "Godlike in human affairs." Man is god-­
Krishna--this is Carlyle's rich synthesis as he combines Oriental and

Occidental religious myths, as he combines Romanticism and Utilitarianism.

Everything man does is godlike and his redemption must come from his

physical actions in time--a not unwholly Christian good deeds notion.

Man's acts are mirrored in the cosmos because Carlyle, like the

Orientals, postulates a god not distant and different from man.
     This divinity, seen through the Zodiac in Sartor, is both immanent
and transcendental simultaneously. As Campbell states regarding the
 

44. Outer Space, p. 116.

 


                          28

Oriental cults, 'The two strengths, outside and within, are finally
to be recognized as identical."45  These are the involutive and
evolutive principles seen in every sign of the Zodiac, and which are
bodied forth in the life of Carlyle's modern Everyman--Diogenes
Teufelsdröckh. The Zodiac, embodying Carlyle's theory of the symbol
and man, represents the psychical stages of every man's character
growth as he/she passes through the Palingenesia. This world is not
distinct from eternity. God-man, as seen in Teufelsdröckh, is time-
in-eternity. God is a state of awareness based on action. Campbell
best sums up the relation between sign (Zodiac) and God in myth when
he says that God is "to be attained by way of the initiatory, knowledge-
releasing imagery of the 'God' as through a sign. The function of
such signs is to effect psychical change of immediate value in itself.”46
This is identical to what Carlyle says of Hierograms in Sartor:  “The

Man is the spirit he worked in;  not what he did, but what he became.
Facts are engraved Hierograms, for which the fewest have the key."47

 

45. Campbell, p.257. 
46. Ibid.

       47.Sartor, p.203

 


 

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