Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Brief musings on DH Lawrence and Lady Chatterley's Lover

DH Lawrence's 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' was banned for over 30 years in the writer's home country of England. The reason for this, as with the work of Henry Miller, was the frankness with which the relationship between man and woman is treated, especially the sexual aspect of this relationship...

The animal/spiritual fusion of sexual love is the key to the lock of the soul....it is alchemy, that process in which the extraneous elements of the self are burnt away like dross...leaving only the immortal current of life itself - bright, electric.

This process is also an anamnesis. It is a remembering of what has long been forgotten... namely the meaning of human existence itself, which is to nurture the spark of the soul into a flame through love.... to gratefully embrace the exquisite sensuality of corporeal existence - to honour the flesh as divine, and as divine guide, and to use the body to incarnate spirit....for it is in this way that the kingdom of heaven is realised, and only this.

It is perhaps moot to dwell on the curious fact that avowedly spiritual writers, like Lawrence and Miller, should be seen to be so dangerous, at least in their day. The logic here is clear, and no different really today: men of God have always been seen as dangerous...and they have often been killed. This simple historical truth, what Reich (himself killed) called the ongoing 'murder of christ', is perhaps too simple, too obvious to have much effect....perhaps... in any case we reach an inescapable conclusion from it.... the very one that has propelled our greatest poets, rebels and saints: we live in a world that is against life, that is at war with life, with nature....and therefore to champion life - which is always and everywhere the life of the spirit - is to be at odds with the world.

Perhaps the misunderstanding is due to the fact that life and spirit have become distinct concepts....but what else is spirit, literally, but breath?....that is the meaning of the word - that very thing that is the sine qua non of life. Life, nature, is spirit manifest...to fight against nature, to deny one's deepest feelings, to make of passion something contrary to compassion! how absurd. Compassion means simply 'with passion'.

What does 'spiritual' mean to us today? Is it not true to say that we use the word to refer to a sort of vague numinosity? And the very vagueness of the notion is the point here....the spirit wants to become concrete, real, felt intensely....not remain as a vague numinosity....and it does this through the body, through living flesh.

How deep the scars are! We are the result of centuries of perversity! 'Dirty' and 'Naughty'....the totems of the depraved.

Lawrence died young...he didn't belong. He was a working class kid from the midlands. His Da was a coal miner. He was bright and won scholarships and became someone of status, and discovered that he belonged to neither strata....he was, like Rimbaud, someone without antecedents, a primitive, a mystic....and therefore very much alone in industrial England.

But the artist needs to be alone, he needs loneliness in order to be cast back upon himself as his only resource. Only then is he able to be find (because he must!) the treasure he has sought: the elixir of life.

What can be said? That men like Lawrence existed and gifted us their soul - what can be said? Simply to take in that gift and let it kindle our own divine spark.....that, - that honour and pleasure - that is how a man repays a man like Lawrence.

We have it easy!!! At our hands, for a few bucks, magic spells that can transform the world from within, for that is how the world is transformed, transubstantiated....

There is no excuse to ignore our own souls. To let ourselves sink down to the level of vegetative life - we are free to do so, but why?

To assimilate Lawrence is not hard, and it is the only thing that does justice to his life, and to life itself. There are so few people worth reading, really worth reading: Lawrence is not only one of them, he is the soul of England - the tortured, proud, indomitable soul of his, and my, people.


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