on April 18, 2012
Do not go into this expecting to get something out of it, political, scientific, or otherwise.
This book is a poem, immense, winding, dazzling, exasperating. Like Poe's "Eureka!", this book is subversive. It dangles the pretty psycho-physics or plexuses and ganglions only to keep your monkey mind distracted, so that he may trick your body, your blood, and your soul into seeing the beauty that the mind kills with its egoism and idealism.
The digressions are the clue to the whole: "We still have in us the power to discriminate between our own idealism, our own self-conscious will, and that other reality, our own true spontaneous self. Certainly we are so overloaded and diseased with ideas that we can't get well in a minute. But we can set our faces stubbornly against the disease, once we recognize it."
"It is the hour of the stranger. Let the stranger now enter the soul."
"To be alone with one's own soul. Not to be alone without my own soul, mind you. But to be alone with one's own soul! This, and the joy of it, is the real goal of love. My own soul, and myself. Not my ego, my conceit of myself. But my very soul. To be at one in my own self. Not to be questing any more. Not to be yearning, seeking, hoping, desiring, aspiring. But to pause, and be alone."
To be alone. To face the facts of reality and your own eternal ignorance. This is what Lawrence suggests you do. Be curious at your own risk.
A brief attempt, a necessary failure: Lawrence here points, again and again, to the quick and marrow of life, to that thing that simply persists in existence, that thing that all words fail to grasp, that thing that pushes out and reaches beyond idealism, that thing that is always here, always now, that constant thing, that beautiful, terrifying soul that huddles in a pretend fear among the mass of men--"I am I, the clue to the whole."
This book is a hearty soup, but beware: within lies a most unique and devastating poison. If you're lucky, and you manage to get through it all, you walk away bewildered but sure of a certain, incomprehensible glimmering... All the while, inside, pulsing within your blood, the poison acts. Eventually, if you're lucky, you'll find yourself strangely hollowed out, every cell devoured and transformed.
If you're interested in unanswerable questions, in life, in trees and babies and mamas and papas, come take a look. Maybe you'll see some light through those tight-squeezed lids.
on November 13, 2012
To the one star reviewer:
Fascism is the implementation of an idea. If you read this book or indeed any of Lawrence's writings with some attention it would be fairly obvious to you that what Lawrence is offering could not be more unrelated to fascism or any political system.
The first thing to get straight is that, taking it on his own terms, Lawrence is talking about a new form of knowledge that was more or less lost to the civilization of his day, but which is actually showing glimmers here and there today. For Lawrence nothing less than a radical mutation in our experience, a deep transformation not just in the way we 'think' about things but in the very way we move and have our being, the very way we percieve space and register time, can lead the human race out of its present crisis of deadness. And the discoverers of this new knowledge would be guided by revelation, absolute intuition. These would be the leaders of the new society, people who would be intuitively alive in the blood, in the bodily consciousness, not idiotic Fuhrers imposing their violent prejudices on the world. As Richard Aldington said, take it or leave it. But please don't get up with all that moral and intellectual criticism, as if your criticism was anywhere near the point.
Keats once said, "All axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proven in the blood". No one has had any problem with that. But in that statement is contained the crux of, to use a rather degrading word, Lawrence's 'method' in the Fantasia of the Unconscious. Many supposedly brilliant, honest thinkers, from IA Richards to Kenneth Burke, have responded to this book in an entirely inadequate and juvenile manner, simply because it completely challenges the foundation upon which Western culture is built, which basically is the worship of the mind, with all its implications of the development of thought, cultivation of wisdom, creation of 'identity' and so on and so on. We keep the Lawrence that is comfortable, self empowering, the lovely social novelistic Lawrence, who was so good at capturing the splendor and shimmer of life, you know really giving you the look and feel of an argument, a glance etc etc, and we scoff at the real core of him.
Now regarding the full content of these books, I can't offer many comments of substance except that it jives fairly well with five thousand plus years of Chinese Taoist/esoteric teachings as well as Indian Yogic stuff, so perhaps one shouldn't be so ready to reject it as a "revolting mass of wordy nonsense", if only to avoid being western-centric. But Fantasia really isn't far removed from us at all. In fact if you begin with yourself, with what is so close to you that it IS yourself, the way you remember something, the way you react to something you desire, what you carry into the start of a new day, you'll find that you can make a beginning.
on March 6, 2014
Lawrence may have claim to be a great novelist (though I don't know whether his greatest claim is SON AND LOVERS or WOMEN IN LOVE, but I personally prefer the former), but as a "thinker", he's on the level of Henry Miller (one of his most ardent followers), Tolstoy at his worst, and a misogynist he outdoes Montherlant.
Why he held an entire generation of "serious" readers captive through his "philosophy" is an enigma to me.
Walt Whitman, a homosexual, is more to be trusted than Lawrence, a soi-disant capital-H heter, when it comes to "cosmic consciousness" and more mundane matters like love between individuals.
Why F.R. Leavis thought Lawrence was the most gifted writer of the 20th century is the apex of the perverse.
But do read SONS AND LOVERS if you want a Lawrence more than worth the effort.
on May 4, 2010
Bertrand Russell called D.H. Lawrence a pure fascist. Why he did that, we can read in these abstruse, completely unscientific texts, which unveil the darker side of the author.
His `scientific' propositions can be childishly innocent, like `the great field of dynamic consciousness established between the four poles of the dynamic psyche, the solar plexus, the lumbar ganglion, the cardiac plexus and the thoracic ganglion', or `coition is the bringing together of the surcharged electric blood of the male with the polarized electric blood of the female'.
A very damaging fascist evangel
But, his romantic anti-rationalism and anti-science stance leads him to very damaging recommendations: `Ideas are the most dangerous germs mankind has ever been injected with. They are introduced in schools and by means of newspapers. Therefore, the great mass of humanity should never learn to read and write - never.'
For him, `understanding is the devil. We don't want to educate children so that they may understand. Understanding is a fallacy and a vice in most people.'
`I would rather listen to an (Afro-American) witch-doctor than to science.'
His perfect society
Society should be `built on a relationship of men towards men in a spirit of unfathomable trust and responsibilities, service and leadership, obedience and pure authority. Men have got to choose their leaders, and obey them to the death. And it must be a system of culminating aristocracy, a society tapering like a pyramid to the supreme leader.'
`It is the business of very few to understand and for the mass it is their business to believe and not to bother. When the leaders assume responsibilities, the populace (!) can again become free and happy and spontaneous.'
It is a wonder that someone who uttered such incredibly naïve, sharply elitist and pure fascist propaganda could write such literary masterpieces as `Sons and Lovers' or `The Rainbow.'
I recommend this book to all D.H. Lawrence fans.
However, this book is in no way a good introduction to his literary work.