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Dhlawrence-Introduction to These Paintings

Dhlawrence-Introduction to These Paintings

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Published by Erik H Rzepka

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Published by: Erik H Rzepka on Jun 16, 2012
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01/31/2013

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IntroductiontoThesePaintings
THEreaso~theEnglishproducesofewpaintersisnotthattheyare,asana~IOn,devol.dofagenuinefeelingforvisualart:thoughtolookattheirproductions,andtolookatthemesswhichhasbmadeofactualEngli~hlandscape,onemightreallyconcludet~:~theywere,andleaveItatthat.ButitisnotthefaultoftheGodthatmadethem.Theyaremadewithaestheticsensibilitiesthesameasany~odyelse.ThefaultliesintheEnglishattitudetolife.TheEnglIsh,.andtheAmericansfollowingthem,areparalysedby.fear.ThatISwhatthwartsanddistortstheAnglo-Saxon~xlstence,t~isparalysis.offear.Itthwartslife,itdistortsvision,andItstranglesImpulse:thisovermasteringfear.Andfearofwhat.hea''Wh'
,10
.'vensname.atIStheAnglo-SaxonstocktodaysopetrifiedWithfear.abou~?WehavetoanswerthatbeforewecanunderstandtheEnglishfailureinthevisualarts:foronthewhol't'failure.'.e,
1
ISaIt.isanoldfear,w~ichseemedtodigintotheEnglishsoulatthetimeoftheRenaIssance.NothingcouldbemorelovelyandfearlessthanChaucer.ButalreadyShakespeareismorbidwithfearfear.ofconsequences.Thatisthestrangephenomenonofth~EnglishRenaissance:thismysticterroroftheconsequencestheconse~uencesofaction.Italy,too,hadherreaction,attheendofthesixteenthcentury,andshowedasimilarfear.Butnotsoprofound,soover-maste~ing.Aretino*wasanythingbuttimorous:hewasboldasanyRenaissancenovelist,andwentonebetter.Whatappearedtotakefullgriponthenorthernconsciousnessatthee~dofthesixteenthcenturywasaterror,almostahorrorofsexual
life,
TheElizabethans,grandaswethinkthemstarteditThereal'm?rtalcoil'~i~Hamletisallsexual;they~ungman'~horrorofhismothersincest,sexcarryingwithitawildandnam~les~terrorwhich,itseemstome,ithadnevercarriedbefore.OedIp~sandH~m.letareverydifferentinthisrespect.InOedipusthereISnorecoilInhorrorfromsexitself:Greekdramaneversho:"susth~t.Thehorror,whenitispresentinGreektragedy,isagaIn.st
destln?',
mancaughtinthetoilsofdestiny.ButwiththeRenaIssanceItself,particularlyinEngland,thehorrorissexual.
IntroductiontoThesePaintings
249
Orestes*isdoggedbydestinyanddrivenmadbytheEumenides.ButHamletisoverpoweredbyhorriblerevulsionfromhisphysicalconnexionwithhismother,whichmakeshimrecoilinsimilarrevulsionfromOphelia,andalmostfromhisfather,evenasaghost.Heishorrifiedatthemerestsuggestionofphysicalconnexion,asifitwereanunspeakabletaint.This,nodoubt,isallinthecourseofthegrowthofthe'spiritual-mental'consciousness,attheexpenseoftheinstinctive-intuitiveconsciousness.Mancametohavehisownbodyinhorror,especiallyinitssexualimplications:andsohebegantosuppresswithallhismighthisinstinctive-intuitiveconsciousness,whichissoradical,sophysical,sosexual.Cavalierpoetry,lovepoetry,isalreadydevoidofbody.Donne,aftertheexacerbatedrevulsion-attractionexcitementofhisearlierpoetry,becomesadivine.'Drinktomeonlywiththineeyes,'singsthecavalier:anexpressionincredibleinChaucer'spoetry.'Icouldnotlovethee,dear,somuch,lovedInothonourmore,'*singstheCavalierlover.InChaucerthe'dear'andthe'honour'wouldhavebeenmoreorlessidentical.ButwiththeElizabethansthegrandrupturehadstartedinthehumanconsciousness,thementalconsciousnessrecoilinginviolenceawayfromthephysical,instinctive-intuitive.TotheRestorationdramatistsexis,onthewhole,adirtybusiness,buttheymoreorlessgloryinthedirt.teldingtriesinvaintodefendtheOldAdam.*Richardsonwithhiscalicopurityandhisunderclothingexcitementssweepsallbeforehim.Swiftgoesmadwithsexandexcrementrevulsion.Sterne*flingsabitofthesameexcrementhumorouslyaround.AndphysicalconsciousnessgivesalastsonginBurns,thenisdead.Wordsworth,Keats,Shelley,theBrontes,allarepost-mortempoets.Theessentialinstinctive-intuitivebodyisdead,andworshippedindeath-allveryunhealthy.TillSwinburneandOscarWildetrytostartarevivalfromthementalfield.Swinburne's'whitethighs'*arepurelymental.Now,inEngland-andfollowing,inAmerica-thephysicalselfwasnotjustfig-leafedoverorsuppressedinpublic,aswasthecaseinItalyandonmostoftheContinent.InEnglanditexcitedastrangehorrorandterror.Andthisextramorbiditycame,Ibelieve,fromthegreatshockofsyphilisandtherealizationofthe
 
25
0
IntroductiontoThesePaintings
conseq~encesofthedisease.Whereversyphilis,or'pox',camefrom,ItwasfairlynewinEnglandattheendofthefifteenthcentury.Butbytheendofthesixteenth,itsravageswereobvious,andtheshockofthemhadjustpenetratedthethoughtfulandtheimaginativeconsciousness.TheroyalfamiliesofEnglandandScotlandweresyphilitic;EdwardVIandElizabethbornwiththeinheritedconsequencesofthedisease.EdwardVIdiedofitwhilestillaboy.Marydiedchildlessandinutterdepression.Elizabethhadnoeyebrows,herteethwentrotten;shemusthavefeltherself,so~ewhere,utterlyunfitformarriage,poorthing.ThatwasthegnslyhorrorthatlaybehindthegloryofQueenBess.AndsotheTudorsdiedout:andanothersyphilitic-bornunfortunatecametothethrone,inthepersonofJames
1.
MaryQueenofScotshadnomor~luc~thantheTudors,apparently.ApparentlyDarnley*wasreekingwiththepox,thoughprobablyatfirstshedidnotknowit.ButwhentheArchbishopofStAndrewswaschristeningherbabyJames,afterwardsJamesIofEngland,theoldclergymanwasso?rippingwithpoxthatshewasterrifiedlestheshouldgiveittotheinfant.Andsheneednothavetroubled,forthewretchedinfanthadbroughtitintotheworldwithhim,fromthatfoolDarnley.SoJamesIofEnglandslobberedandshambled,andwasthewisestfoolinChristendom,*andtheStuartslikewisediedout,thestockenfeebledbythedisease.WiththeroyalfamiliesofEnglandandScotlandinthisco~dition,wecanjudgewhatthenoblehouses,thenobilityofbothnations,giventofreelivingandpromiscuouspleasuremusthavebeenlike.EnglandtradedwiththeEastandwithAmerica'England,unknowing,hadopenedherdoorstothedisease.
The
Englisharistocracytravelledandhadcurioustasteinloves.Andpoxenteredthebloodofthenation,particularlyoftheupperclasses,whohadmorechanceofinfection.Andafterithadenteredtheblood,itenteredtheconsciousness,andhitthevitalimagination.
It
ispossiblethattheeffectsofsyphilisandtheconsciousrealizationofitsconsequencesgaveagreatblowalsototheSpanishpsyche,preciselyatthisperiod.AnditispossiblethatItaliansociety,whichwasonthewholesountravelledhadnoconnexionwithAmerica,andwassoprivatelyself-containedsufferedlessfromthedisease.Someoneoughttomakeathorough
IntroductiontoThesePaintings
studyoftheeffectsof'pox'onthemindsandtheemotio~sandimaginationsofthevariousnationsofEurope,ataboutthe
time
ofourElizabethans...TheapparenteffectontheElizabethansan~theR~storatlonwitsiscurious.TheyappeartotakethewholethingasaJoke.Thecommonoath,'Poxonyou!'wasalmostfunny.B~thowc.ommontheoathwas!Howtheword'pox'wasineverymindandmeverymouth.
It
isoneofthewordsthathauntElizabethanspeech.TakenverymanlywithagreatdealofFalstaffianbluff,treatedasahugejoke!Pox!Why,he'sgotthepox!Ha-ha!What'shebeenafter?ThereisjustthesameattitudeamongthecommonrU.n.of.mentodaywithregardtotheminorsexualdiseases'.SyphilisISnolongerregardedasajoke,accordingtomyexpenence.Theveryworditselffrightensmen.Youcouldjokewiththeword'pox'..Youcan'tjokewiththeword'syphilis'.Thecha~ge~fwor~haskIlledthejoke.Butmenstilljokeabout
clap!
which
IS
aminor~exualdisease.Theypretendtothinkitmanly,even,tohave~he~Isease,ortohavehadit.'What!neverhadashotofclap!cnesonegentlemantoanother.'Why,wherehaveyOUbeenallyourlife!'.Ifwechangethewordandinsistedon'gonorrhoea',orwhateverItIS,inplaceof'clap',thejokewoulddie.AndanyhowIhavehadyoungmencometomegreenandquaking,afraidthey'vecaughta'shotofclap'.Now,inspiteofalltheElizabethanjokesaboutp~x,poxwas.nojoketothem.Ajokemaybeaverybravewayofmeetmgacalamity,oritmaybeaverycowardlyway.~yself,Ico~si~er~heElizabethanpoxjokeapurelycowardlyattitude.T?eydId,ntthmkitfunnyforbyGodit
wasn't
funny.EvenpoorEhzabethslackofeyebrowsandherrottenteethwerenotfunny.Andtheyallknewit.Theymaynothaveknownitwasthedirectresultofpox:thoughprobablytheydid.Thisfactremains,th~tnoman.cancontractsyphilis,oranydeadlysexualdisease,WIth~utfeehngthemostshatteringandprofoundterrorgothroughhim,throughtheveryrootsofhisbeing.Andnomancanlookwithoutasortofhorrorontheeffectsofasexualdiseaseinanotherperson.Wearesoconstitutedthatweareallatoncehorrifiedandterrified.Thefearanddreadhasbeensogreatthatthepoxjokewasinventedasanevasion,andfollowingthat,thegreathush!hush!w.asimposed.Manwas
too
frightened:that'sthetopandbottomofIt.
 
l'
IntroductiontoThesePaintings
253
252
IntroductiontoThesePaintings
/.Butnow,withremediesdiscovered,weneednolongerbe
too
frightened.Wecanbegin,afteralltheseyears,tofacethematter.Afterthemostfearfuldamagehasbeendone..Foranover~asteringfearispoisontothehumanpsyche.Andthisovermasteringfear,likesomehorriblesecrettumourhasbeen
..
..
'
poisonmgourconsciousnesseversmcetheElizabethanswhofirstwokeupwithdreadtotheentryoftheoriginalsyphiliticpoisonintotheblood.IknownothingaboutmedicineandverylittleaboutdiseasesandmyfactsaresuchasIhavepickedupincasualreading:NeverthelessIamconvincedthatthesecretawarenessofsyphilis,andtheuttersecretterrorandhorrorofit,hashadanenormousandincalculableeffectontheEnglishconsciousnessandontheAmeri.can.Evenwhenthefearhasneverbeenformulated,thereithaslam,potentandovermastering.Iamconvincedthat
some
ofShakespeare'shorroranddespair,inhistragedies,arosefromtheshockofhisconsciousnessofsyphilis.Idon't
suggest
foronemomentShakespeareevercontractedsyphilis.Ihaveneverhadsyphi~ismyself.YetIknowandconfesshowprofoundismyfearofthedisease,andmorethanfear,myhorror.Infact,Idon'tthinkIamsoverymuchafraidofit.Iammorehorrified,inwardlyanddeeply,attheideaofitsexistence.Allthissoundsveryfarfromtheartofpainting.Butitisnotsofarasitsounds.Theappearanceofsyphilisinourmidstgaveafearfulblowtooursexuallife.TherealnaturalinnocenceofChaucerwasimpossibleafterthat.Theverysexualactofprocreationmightbringasoneofitsconsequencesafouldisease,andtheunbornmightbetaintedfromthemomentofconception.Fearfu~thought!
It
istrulyafearfulthought,andallthecenturiesofgettingusedtoitwon'thelpus.
It
remainsafearfulthought,andtofreeourselvesfromthisfearfuldreadweshoulduseallourwitsandallourefforts,notstickourheadsinthesandofsomeidioticjoke,orstillmoreidioticdon't-mention-it.Thefearfulthoughtoftheconse~uencesofsyphilis,orofanysexualdisease,upontheunborngrvesashocktotheimpetusoffatherhoodinanyman,eventhecleanest.Ourconsciousnessisastrangething,andtheknowledgeofacertainfactmaywounditmortally,evenifthefactdoesnottouchusdirectly.AndsoIamcertainthat
some
ofShakespeare'sfather-murdercomplex,
some
ofHamlet'shorrorofhismother,ofhisuncle,ofalloldmencame.~romthefeelingthatfathersmaytransmitsyphilis,orsyphlhs-consequences,tochildren.Idon'tknowevenwhetherShakespeare.~.asactuallyawareoftheconsequencestoachildbornofasyphIlItIcfatherormother.Hemaynothavebeen,thoughmostprobablyhe,,:as.Buthecertainlywasawareoftheeffectsofsyphilisi.tself,.esp.eclallyo~men.AndthisawarenessstruckathisdeepsexImaglOatlOn,athisinstinctforfatherhood,andbroughtinanelementofterrorandabhorrencetherewheremenshouldfeelanythingbutterrorandabhorrence,intotheprocreativeact....Theterror-horrorelementwhichhadenteredtheImagmatlonwithregardtothesexualandprocreativeactwa~atleastp~rtlyresponsiblefortheriseofPuritanism,thebeheadmgoftheking-fatherCharles,*andtheestablishmentoftheNewEnglandcolonies.
If
Americareallysentussyphilis,shegotbackthefullrecoilofthehorrorofit,inherpuritanism.Butdeepereventhanthis,theterror-horrorelement~edtot~ecripplingoftheconsciousnessofman.Ve~yelementarymman.IShissexualandprocreativebeing,andonhissexualandprocreatl~ebeingdependmanyofhisdeepestinstinctsandtheflowofhISintuition.Adeepinstinctofkinshipjoinsmentogether,a~~thekinshipofflesh-and-bloodkeepsthe.warmflowofintUltIOnalawarenessstreamingbetweenhumanbemgs.Ourtrueawareness~foneanotherisintuitional,notmental.Attractionbetweenpeople.ISreallyinstinctiveandintuitional,notanaffairofjud~me.nt.Andmmutualattractionliesperhapsthedeepestpleasuremlife,~utualattractionwhichmaymakeus'like'ourtravellingcompa11l0nforthetwoorthreehourswearetogether,thennomore;.or~utualattractionthatmaydeepentopowerfullove,andlastahfe-~me.Theterror-horrorelementstruckablowatourfeelingofphysicalcommunion.Infact,italmostkilledit.Wehavebecomeidealbeings,creaturesthatexistinidea,tooneanother,rath~rthanflesh-and-bloodkin.Andwiththecollapseofthefeelll~gofphysical,flesh-and-bloodkinship,andthesubstitutionofo~rl~~al,socialorpoliticaloneness,camethefailingofour1.ntUlUveawareness,andthegreatunease,the
nervousness
o~~ank~n~.Weare
afraid
oftheinstincts.Weare
afraid
ofth~int~~tlonwithinus.Wesup,presstheinstincts,andwecutoffourmtult1~nalawarenessfromoneanotherandfromtheworld.Thereasonbeingsomegreat

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