HELENE – A LIVING NOVEL

‘Eve looking for herself’ Permission granted www.darwinleon.com

HELENE’S CONDITIONS BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS Paul Bowman thought rather highly of himself, and to do so he often imagined that he loved much more than himself; to wit, humanity-at-large. By doing so he actually raised his self-esteem, for humanity-in-general was much less than his socalled self, it was merely a metaphysical figment of his imagination – of course the same might be said of the godly ego of his faithful egotism. Indeed, his impersonal notion of humankind was barely ideal – ideal only to the extent that his vague version of the race did nothing to personally oppose him. Ideally, at least, mankind loved him so much that he might have his way in all things and live forever unimpeded by social impositions – if any such way of life could in fact be his without resistance from without to identify him as a willful entity.

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Until he met Helene Fulsome, Paul’s beloved humanity and he had been largely indefinite. Furthermore, until his romantic encounter with his Her or Other, it was impossible to say exactly what or whom he loved beside himself. Without his Her he was nothing lovable, for it takes two to know one. Indeed, to begin with, he had no idea of who he was but for an inchoate, selfish feeling of others who seemed to be not him. In fact, no individual self may emerge without company. Conceptual humanity, uprooted or abstracted from the so-called original sin of individuality, transcends being all too human hence flatters everyone who repents. Yet humanity in general, conceived of as being at-one with itself, as a Whole or Total presumed to be the Supreme Good, or humanity psychologically unified by a political ideology or theologically atoned to a one-god, is actually inhumane. Utopia, politically actualized in Totalitaria, a totality devoid of presumably defective individuality, is really dystopia. Nevertheless, Paul saw that every individual was flawed, not so much by its individuality as a member of the category of One, but rather by the peculiar coincidence of predicates that made each individual unique; wherefore, to save himself from his own shadow in the pool, he was bound and determined to love the One in the many, in the form of a particular individual, namely Helene Fulsome. Of course Helene’s conditions often gave Paul cause to doubt the possibility of unconditionally loving any one person, and to suspect that only God could love everybody, for he who loves everyone really loves nobody. As the beleaguered reader of our belabored chronicle already knows, Helene saw right through Paul to begin with; we have seen that his friend, the esteemed Manhattan psychoanalyst, Dr. Sagwell, had agreed with her – Paul was a classical narcissistic through and through, a creative author lost in his reflections. Now those reflections had fascinated him almost to no end. The disturbing element was the water, for he was deathly afraid of the water, which symbolized unconsciousness, the death of the ego. So frightened was he by the fluid as a boy that he nearly drowned his swimming instructor in the Muskogee swimming pool when he grabbed her around the throat for dear life. Now he had responded to one of the echoes: He reached out for Helene, a peppermint lifesaver in troubled waters, so to speak, but she turned out to be neither nymph nor perfect Echo – and that was his and her saving grace. Still, he remained for some time bound and determined to keep his vow, to love her unconditionally. Is not love the will to absolute freedom from the conditions that define the individual, the absolute freedom hopefully found in unconditional love, in the unconditional surrender of determining conditions? Unconditional love would repudiate the self and be all; that is, humanity as Man, the cosmic person, the overlord or superman; to wit, God. Such “ethical” love repudiates the sinning self absolutely, does it not? Nevertheless, love is ultimately for the self, and one’s self is loved in others and not in itself, for the self as subject cannot be its own object, both lover and
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HELENE – A LIVING NOVEL

beloved, and must therefore love what it loves. Our sacred selves are hopefully loved by others when we are babes; this care of others for one’s formative self is introjected as an Inner Other to care for its developing Altar Ego when others are absent, and this self-affection is in turn projected onto and reflected, as it were, in its environment. Perchance that projection onto the Other places one beside himself, and is then is loved as if it were the self. The narcissistic self, then, is a sort of echo chamber. There is only one condition: the echo must agree. Helene did not always agree with Paul, nor did he always agree with her; again, that is what saved them both, for what we do not yet know. Paul had almost convinced himself that the individual is an accident and that one might as well unconditionally love the embodied opportunity that happens to arise. He thought he would love what he believed was essentially good in all people, their very Substance, although he had not defined that Essence. In any case humankind must be good at the core, he supposed, and not originally evil, as misanthropes bitterly insist, for humanity is everything, without which a man would be nothing, so one might as well love the one he is with, in effect loving himself through her. But that core of everyone is neither male nor female, or it is split between the two, and the social difference, at least, is a demand for certain characteristic behavior, that each have its role, and a properly played role at that. In truth the amicable relationship, no matter how amicable, is always contested – the socalled battle of the sexes, in which each sex seemingly bound to disappoint the other. But each person desires absolute acceptance and unconditional love, and not resistance. Still the power of love boils down in the end to absolute power, the continuation of life without impedance; that is to say, absolute freedom, which is impossible except in Nothing for Nothing is free. Still, to be one in our divisions, to be friends in life’s battles, is conducive to greater happiness in this world, where there is no power without some inertia. Of what good use is anything without friends? Friendship is the cement from which the foundation of society, from family to civilization, is built. Friendship overlooks faults, for, as Aristotle noted, unanimity is like friendship, to which faction is worst enemy. Indeed, individuation, that which is celebrated as individualism in our society and tends to alienate everyone into the war of everyone against everyone and all, is the original sin and the birth of discontent; the curse is in the knowing of it, in selfconsciousness, in knowing that one is reaching for the apple on the crucifixion tree. Individuation negates the whole with its existence just as an object negates absolute space or nothing, and the individuated entity would be one again with that very nothing rather than suffer existence struggling against gravity’s attraction; thus do things separate tend to coagulate and cohere despite their struggle to be free of restraint; ironically, their freedom is precisely in giving up the struggle against slavery, in being one again without a will of one’s own; in being, as it were, naturally unconscious zombies; or automatons, perhaps subject to Malebranche’s absurd
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HELENE – A LIVING NOVEL

occasionalism, which implausibly reconciled obvious contradictions into God’s singular will; or, if subjective perception is wanted, Leibniz’s windowless monads should suffice; or perchance Benthamite machines would be better – the principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number may make machines of men if realized, but they would be happy machines, so why should we care? Yes, Paul had read Aristotle, Malenbranche, Bentham, Leibniz and many others during his fervent, furtive and fugitive research into the origins of the modern version of The Problem, or we would not bore the reader with bare mention of them here. Aristotle said that legislators care even more for friendship than justice, for when men are friends they have no need for justice: indeed, justice is a quality of friendship. Of course friends want the good for their friends; they want to please them, to be useful to them; but that good might not be what is good for their friends or for them. One may not dispense with justice for long; every adult has a common sense of justice: the ancients, citing Zeus, recommended that anyone without it be put to death. For Paul, the would-be unconditional lover, unanimity with Helene had to involve a compromise of principles he held dear, principles of justice: Justice is to each his own. What is the result of unconditional love? Does it not have an unjust i.e. unethical consequence? For it forgives everything it cannot simply tolerate. Loving and caring unconditionally, always forgiving – is this not a mistake for oneself and society, and not in the best interest of the beloved as well? Unconditional love compromises principles in order to “get along.” A friend is free, is tolerated at worst, is loved for his or her sins at least, for those defects or flaws are her character, otherwise all would be perfect: Nothing is perfect; Nothing is indistinguishable. Was Paul’s unconditional love “at first sight” really self-abuse, or hate-self based love? How can one love anyone without loving oneself first of all? For one is almost identical to another by virtue of categorical oneness or undivided individualism – the unity is in the individual, the concrete universal, not in the multiplicity of ones, the unity of which is tenuous at best. Paul would be the only one who loves her unconditionally, but to what end? Does love that permits everything really heal all? Or is it not better to set conditions? Is so-called tough love, at risk of losing the relationship, true love? The unanimity of friendship is a wonderful thing, but Paul wanted to be more than just friends, thus he had few friends. It behooved him to fall out of love with his reflections, and Helene, albeit unwittingly, was helping him with that project. It is the difference, the resistance, the challenge, the other individual in which one sees oneself as if in a warped mirror – it is the divided hence anguished soul that one really loves in the awful gap. If individuality were the original sin, it would be the final and fatal sin as well, and one might as well not have been born, first of all, and civilization should be sacrificed forthwith in a grand holocaust to incense the fiery nostrils of the dragongod of unity, for it is only the rise of the self-conscious individual, through the conscientious cultivation of individuals in critical contrast to one another, that
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humankind advances as such. Ironically, only a few individuals emerge from the grunting grind, and only then, as undivided individuals in themselves, do they know they are one with the race despite their struggles against it, and that it has been good all along. Once one wises up it is too late to do anything with wisdom except to do nothing and get everything done, and that might be sufficient, for to be wise is to know Nothing and do it well. Moreover, each perception of particularity is a unique psychological coincidence of partial universals or general qualities; no two individualities may be perfectly identical, for ultimately the fact of their quantity, of being two instead of one, is a qualitative difference. There can be no identify without relationship, but to say what any one actually is for certain or to essentially define her is impossible. Each human being is a work in process, a sort of patchwork or hodgepodge, or jumble of qualities haphazardly thrown together, an accident, as it were, if not intentionally devised by Dr. Frankenstein, whose existence is fictitious, but a convenient fiction at that, for the good doctor within is the unity or soul behind the show or monstrance – the tragic monster we generally call man. The monster wants a mate to love him for only that shall make him whole – it is a mistake to say that the individual is sacrificed to relationship, for identity is confused without it. Now Helene Fulsome had become the female representative or goddess of humanity as far as Paul Bowman was concerned, and to that extent he did his best to love her notwithstanding her faults, the very conditions wherein she fell short of perfection; which is to say that he tried to love her unconditionally. But what can be without its conditional predicates? And what are the conditions of perfection? History is a mistake, it always falls shy of perfection, and man is perfected in death. We are each and every one of us bound by our faults, and would be nothing without them. As for the nature of the perfection we want, we find no consensus on the subject, not even in the conception of god incarnate – the rise of the last god to die is still awaited. Of course nothing is perfect. Ultimately a man may have faith in nothing, for nothing is nondenominational and permanent; but how can he grasp the void and love nothing wholeheartedly? One might say that he loves nothing but himself, some thing felt in contrast to empty space, and knows not what that self is but for rudimentary self-consciousness, the feeling of the thing that feels, namely his body, in marked contrast to unconsciousness. Human love is carnal love in the final analysis: nothing can be loved or known without its conditions. Only that supreme concrete universal or divine individual called god, the absolutely uninhibited power of the One, is necessary; the rest, the plurality or All is contingent, and therein is the rub. Unbeknownst to him, Paul loved Helene more for her imperfections than her perfections; since only nothing is perfect, perfection is ultimately a bore. Paul’s faith in his blessed Nothing had weakened since he met her that fateful day when they happened to be holding onto the same stainless steel pole on downtown Miami’s elevated People Mover. She excited him right away. She was, in his eyes, somebody
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worth knowing. He naturally found her fulsome derriere appealing, for one thing, but that superficial aspect was the least of it. Paul has a weakness for actresses, and Helene’s main personal mode or modus operandi is naturally histrionic: in fine, Helene is a drama queen. She took his mind off himself, that much is certain. Thank God for Show Business.

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