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Sharing D.H. Lawrence on the Cosmos

Sharing D.H. Lawrence on the Cosmos

D.H. Lawrence is most well-known for his loverly novels, but I am most fond of his book “Apocalypse.” I picked it up again when it caught my eye, patiently waiting, wedged between Bataille and Baudrillard – out of order, why? I opened it up to a random page, and found this passage. I loved it so much that I want to share it with you.

Perhaps the greatest difference between us and the pagans lies in our different relation to the cosmos. With us, all is personal. Landscape and the sky, they are to us the delicious background of our personal life, and no more. Even the universe of the scientists is little more than an extension of our personality, to us. To the pagan, landscape and personal background were on the whole indifferent. But the cosmos was a very real thing. A man lived with the cosmos, and knew it greater than himself.

Don’t let us imagine we see the sun as the old civilisations saw it. All we see is a scientific little luminary, dwindled to a ball of blazing gas. In the centuries before Ezekiel and John, the sun was still a magnificent reality, men drew forth from him strength and splendor, and gave him back homage and lustre and thanks. But in us, the connection is broken, the responsive centers are dead. Our sun is quite a different thing from the cosmic sun of the ancients, so much more trivial. We may see what we call the sun, but we have lost Helios forever. We have lost the cosmos, by coming out of responsive connection with it, and this is our chief tragedy. What is our petty little love of nature – Nature!! – compared to the ancient magnificent living with the cosmos, and being honored by the cosmos!

And some of the great images of the Apocalypse move us to strange depths, and to a strange wild fluttering of freedom: of true freedom, really, an escape to somewhere, not an escape to nowhere. An escape from the tight little cage of our universe: tight, in spite of all the astronomist’s vast and unthinkable stretches of space: tight, because it is only a continuous extension, a dreary on and on, without any meaning: an escape from this into the vital cosmos, to a sun who has a great wild life, and who looks back at us for strength or withering, marvellous, as he goes his way. Who says the sun cannot speak to me! The sun has a great blazing consciousness, and I have a little blazing consciousness. When I can strip myself of the trash of personal feelings and ideas, and get down to my naked sun-self, then the sun and I can commune by the hour, the blazing interchange, and he gives me life, sun-life, and I send him a little new brightness from the world of the bright blood. The great sun, like an angry dragon, hater of the nervous and personal consciousness in us. All these modern sunbathers must realize, for they become disintegrated by the very sun that bronzes them. But the sun, like a lion, loves the bright red blood of life, and can give it an infinite enrichment if we know how to receive it. But we don’t. We have lost the sun. And he only falls on us and destroys us, decomposing something in us: the dragon of destruction instead of the life-bringer.

And we have lost the moon, the cool, bright, ever-varying moon. It is she who would caress our nerves, smooth them with the silky hand of her glowing, soothe them into serentiy again with her cool presence. For the moon is the mistress and mother of our watery bodies, the pale body of our nervous consciousness and our moist flesh. Oh, the moon could soothe us and heal us like a cool great Artemis between her arms. But we have lost her, in our stupidity we ignore her, and angry she stares down on us and whips us with nervous whips. Oh, beware of the angry Artemis of the night heavens, beware of the spite of Cybele, beware of the vindictiveness of horned Astarte.

For the lovers who shot themselves in the night, in the horrible suicide of love, they are driven mad by the poisoned arrows of Artemis: the moon is against them: the moon is fiercely against them. And oh, if the moon is against you, oh, beware of the bitter night, especially the night of intoxication.

Now this may sound nonsense, but that is merely because we are fools. There is an eternal vital correspondence between our blood and the sun: there is an eternal vital correspondence between our nerves and the moon. If we get out of contact and harmony with the sun and the moon, then both turn into great dragons of destruction against us. The sun is a great source of blood-vitality, it streams strength to us. But once we resist the sun, and say: It is a mere ball of gas! – then the very streaming vitality of sunshine turns into subtle disintegrative force in us, and undoes us. The same with the moon, the planets, the great stars. They are either our makers or our unmakers. There is no escape.

We and the cosmos are one. The cosmos is a vast living body, of which we are still parts. The sun is a great heart whose tremors run through our smallest veins. The moon is a great gleaming nerve-centre from which we quiver forever. Who knows the power that Saturn has over us, or Venus? But it is a vital power, rippling exquisitely through us all the time. And if we deny Aldebaran, Aldebaran will pierce us with infinit dagger-thrusts. He who is not with me is against me! – that is a cosmic law.

Now all this is literally true, as men knew in the great past, and as they will know again.

By the time of John of Patmos, men, especially educated men, had already almost lost the cosmos. The sun, the moon, the planets, instead of being the communers, the comminglers, the life-givers, the splendid ones, the awful ones, had already fallen into a sort of deadness; they were the arbitrary, almost mechanical engineers of fate and destiny. By the time of Jesus, men had turned the heavens into a mechanism of fate and destiny, a prison.

The Christians escaped this prison by denying the body altogether. But alas, these little escapes! especially the escapes by denial! – they are the most fatal of evasions. Christianity and our ideal civilisation have been one long evasion. It has caused endless lying and misery, misery such as people know today, not of physical want but of a far more deadly vital want. Better lack bread than lack life. The long evasion, whose only fruit is the machine!

We have lost the cosmos. The sun strengthens us no more, neither does the moon. In mystic language, the moon is black to us, and the sun is as sackcloth.

Now we have to get back the cosmos, and it can’t be done by a trick. The great range of responses that have fallen dead in us have to come to life again. It has taken two thousand years to kill them. Who knows how long it will take to bring them to life?

When I hear modern people complain of being lonely then I know what has happened. They have lost the cosmos. – It is nothing human and personal that we are short of. What we lack is cosmic life, the sun in us and the moon in us. We can’t get the sun in us by lying naked like pigs on a beach. The very sun that is bronzing us is inwardly disintegrating us – as we know later. Process of katabolism. We can only get the sun by a sort of worship; and the same with the moon. By going forth to worship the sun, worship that is felt in the blood. Tricks and postures only make matters worse.

D.H Lawrence, Apocalypse. Viking Compass Edition, 1966, pp. 41-47. Copyright The Estate of David Herbert Lawrence, 1931.



Cold Moon

Cold Moon

Nestled front and center against a huge cumulus cloud, the moon looks like a hole in the sky tonight. My camera can’t capture the mood, but there is a fiery/faerie halo around the whole moon. It’s beautiful. It rained last night, so the full moon was hidden, but tonight’s moon still looks pretty full to me.

Moon over Atlanta
Moon over Atlanta

“Then came old January wrapped well
In many weeds to keep the cold away;
Yet did he quake and quiver, like to quell,
And blow his nails to warm them if he may.”
– Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen

I’m cold. I can’t get warm tonight.

I’m sending out hope and care and love and light to so many people I know, people I care about who have lost jobs and lost houses. There’s one smashed up car and one damaged car, a fire, and several scary medical emergencies. I’m hearing about a fair bit of smallness and meanness and drama of one kind or another, and also about how people are having a hard time making ends meet, and who are trying to navigate very difficult terrain. It seems like this should be a time when we all pull together and be more helpful and supportive of one another. Even among those who are doing relatively fine, there seems to be a widespread tendency to depression and fatigue. Perhaps it’s normal for the post-holiday January blahs, especially considering the snow and ice and flooding and who knows what else.

I’m thinking about one friend in particular tonight, a woman who not only had to go through what had to be a very frightening experience when her lovepartner had a brain aneurysm, but then had to deal with a family member who blamed the incident on the fact that her religious beliefs weren’t identical to his own. As if God would punish her – and through someone she loved – for her non-compliance to some spiritual midget’s unthinking person’s standards. Now she’s being threatened with disassociation from the rest of the family because she had the courage to point out that such a statement wasn’t very caring or supportive of family in a medical crisis. This young woman has already been through so much. She is a very compassionate and caring person. She is blunt when confronting unfairness, but she is also just learning how to really articulate a lot of things that have been painful and destructive to her – as well as things that she has learned through her own experience and insight. She is courageous and curious and she loves her boyfriend and the animals she rescues and the friends in her life. She will be ok, I know – but I can also palpably feel her sense of betrayal and pain. It must be awfully hard to deal with that on top of navigating the medical system and trying to make sure that her boyfriend is taken care of properly. He’s a stellar guy – intelligent and creative – and I know they’ll support one another through all this. He’s already doing much better. I hope that she can focus on being with him, and bracket out the rest – at least for a little while until the whole situation has a time-out.

Sometimes, though, when I hear about these things, I’m struck by the anti-agapic qualities of so many people who think they are religious, and I feel a little sick. I know that it means a lot to offer caring and support, but I also feel helpless. I have empathy, and a tendency to try to heal hurts – even just imaginatively. You never know what might help. But what do you say to someone when you can’t make anything better or easier for them? I’m thrashing around half the time myself.

I tried to watch the news tonight, and I actually couldn’t bear it. I had to walk away. I’m freezing and I can’t seem to reset my thermostat. I can’t get warm. I’m tired.

I’m thinking about all kinds of changes – how life moves on, whether or not you’re ready. I know that I have to keep starting again, and that a more hopeful-trusting-positive attitude would be vastly preferable for me. It works… then it doesn’t work. I’m full of confidence and creative ideas, then everything deflates and I find myself looking at some small small rock on the ground for ten minutes – or I realize that I’ve daydreamed several contradictory scenarios trying to work something out when I haven’t even identified what I’m practicing for – why am I creating conversations in my head? They have nothing to do with the dialogue that I’ve been trying to write – it would be great if they were. I’ve dreamed people that don’t exist, and places I’ve never been, and situations that will never exist. And I revise them – for nothing, really. It doesn’t help to know that my internal scenes are passing, and what seems so emotionally fraught will seem somewhat inconsequential and silly at some later time. It’s like when you’re a kid and you attach yourself to a song and it seems so meaningful, and then years later you have to laugh, just remembering how important and serious it seemed at the time.

I’ve been fine, then not fine, then depressed, then creative, then hopeful, then tired, then depressed again… and I’m really losing interest in my own thoughts and feelings. I just want to curl up with a book. Everything I have on hand that I haven’t already read is spiritually uplifting and hopeful and again – another wave of nausea at the thought.

I know it’s all very silly. I know that I am loved – despite how difficult I can make that – and that the wheel will turn. As scary as it can sometimes be, change is something that can be counted on. Things will change, and then they’ll change some more – everything is always in process. Trying to hang on to a static reality is deadly, anyway. It’s best to pay attention, adjust, ride it through – or surf it if you can – and be open to the bl(i)ssings as they arrive over the top of the other side.

Self-Centeredness and Anthropomorphic Projection

Self-Centeredness and Anthropomorphic Projection

In which the author of this blog indulges in an freewheeling rant over a fairly trivial irritation:

Clouds!!!! Gotta get those clouds, man! They are SO DOOMED.

I KNEW IT!!!! I knew that something would interfere!

All I wanted was to see the MOON! Is there something WRONG with that?

I mean, how often do I get to see the gorgeous beautiful full moon, and during a partial eclipse too!

I had it all built up. No detachment for me. I had EXPECTATIONS. And I got Ben all excited about it too.

We all went out to see “Journey to the Center of the Earth” in 3D and it was fun. Then we went to the little airport near here and watched planes take off and ate calamari and chicken fingers and all that kind of thing. And we didn’t even mind when it started to rain, because it was muggy and the water was refreshing at first. We did eventually have to come inside… Of course, when the under-trained manager wanted to tell us where we could and couldn’t sit (the place was half-empty) I had to explain that our waiter was a bright boy and I had every confidence in the world that he could find us again. She actually persisted! So we all just sat down and I had to say in a sweet – really! – but firm tone, “we’re sitting right here.” But things were still good. They WERE.

As we drove home, I observed that the heat was steaming the recent rain right up into the air. Ben and I laughed about driving through a baby cloud. And then the sweet little bits of wispy evaporation had the NERVE to turn into cloud cover and deprive me of my moon tonight!

John crashed early, but Ben and I were determined to see that moon. Oh, we walked. Finally, we even drove. We climbed up to “top field” at his school, we went over to the grocery store area, where there were no trees. Not ONE BIT OF HINT OF THE MOON IN ANY DIRECTION!

We drove all around and I finally had to give up. We came back. Ben was mopey from the hopeless search. Where is the MOON? Where IS it?

I looked up moonrise, moonset, the direction.

Yes! Just as I thought. From our back deck, straight back into the horrible horrible woods full of huge menacing oak trees. Those trees, dropping huge limbs every time there’s a breeze, covered with purple meat-like fungus clusters, and all kinds of other unidentifiable sporey creatures.. Those TREES – always threatening to fall down and kill us, leaning toward the house with their rotten cavities gaping…. oh, they don’t like me. And I don’t like them right back. No wonder my boys can’t breathe right.

The trees often block my view of the moon, but once in a while they filter the moonlight in a charming blue-silver pattern so I try to forgive them. But it doesn’t matter WHAT I do, does it?!?! Nothing is ever good enough! I try and I try and it’s never enough to matter for anything! If I’m so damn smart why can’t I EVER EVER EVER…..

Those CLOUDS!!!!! They aren’t even pretty clouds. No individual formations are visible… it’s just a high diffuse COVER dense enough that all you can see is the pink-orange reflection of the city lights. Not a star. Not a moonbeam, not even a GLOW. Nada. Nothing. Zilch.

Ahhhh….. why is it that the universe conspires against me like this? Once in a while, can’t you choose somebody else??? I just want to be invisible. I don’t ask for much. Once in a while, can’t you be a little more F’ing BENEVOLENT? What do you WANT from me anyway? Don’t you have some peers for your reindeer games?

Bam! Bam! BAM-BAMMMM!

Blasted clouds. Stupid city where you can’t see any stars. Ridiculous pink-orange night sky. I hate it.

I hate it all. I hate this city. I hate this place. And it’s all the clouds’ fault.

WHY DID I EVER COME TO THIS PLACE?

ATLANTA? WAS I OUT OF MY MIND?

I thought I’d be here for a couple-few years, get my Ph.D., get a job at Berkeley maybe or in New England, and LEAVE. I never intended to put myself in this position forever.

And then it took forever. really. forever.

And my advisor… and then I … and I met… and I couldn’t even.. and it…. and it was suddenly too late… everything was too late… AND THESE CLOUDS ARE REALLY PISSING ME OFF!

ARGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I can deal with people hating me for being an educated white female liberal from Massachusetts (or Massa-TWOSHITS), I can deal with every insincere “bless your heart,” and every attempt to indoctrinate my son, I can even forgive idiotic and self-righteous conformity to profoundly destructive viewpoints, but really, NOW I CAN’T EVEN SEE A FULL MOON WHEN I WANT TO?

The CLOUDS ARE OUT TO GET ME! IT’s NOT FAIR!!!!!!!! And I’m SICK of IT. Sick of it. Sick of it. And I don’t CARE that I’m being unreasonable!

I’m sick of being forgiving. I’m sick of being an adult. I want to have a gigantic tantrum, and shake the earth! Thunder! Lightning! Wind! I want to SHAKE things and scream “What is WRONG with you?” And then, “JUST DO WHAT I SAY! DON’T THINK, JUST DO IT!” ARGGGGGGG!

EVERYTHING! I Fu…

Deep breath.

Loop it. Reality check – completely missing of course, but in kind of a cute way. Liking the clouds anger. Good scapegoat target for pent-up frustration. Kind of a Peanuts “curse the darkness” thing going.

I’m gonna SMACK those clouds, man. SMACK! Right in the face. SMACK. Hee hee.

Whew. That felt great.

Gotta let it out every once in a while. I think the clouds can take it. They’re stronger than they’re given credit for.

But those clouds – and water in general – owe me one.

Let’s review, class: I can’t even get up a full rant. It didn’t even generalize completely. Still, I think we’ve covered Projection, Paranoia, Anthropomorphism, Infantile Regression, Displacement, Scapegoating, Power – Command/Control, Catharsis, Humor, Cultural Intertextuality and therefore Intellectualization, ending with light touching of Magical Thinking. Oh, right, and Self-Pity, Self-Centeredness – an overall Temper Tantrum.

Because I was denied an archetypal experience of cool serenity, the antidote to my lonely bit of nothingless in the cosmos… and yet, I am detached from it, too.

Actually, things have gotten a lot better in the last year or so. Most of this anger is just old echoing stuff that I’m actually done with now. Atlanta’s not so bad, and it’s not as if I ever really belong anywhere anyway.

I do feel better. I just hate being disappointed.

If I can’t soak up the cool moon, a homeopathic dose of fire will suffice.

JW News – Former JW Protests at Memorial

JW News – Former JW Protests at Memorial

Man protests Jehovah’s Witness teachings
By Robert Mills, Lowell Sun, Lowell Massachusetts, April 13, 2006

WILMINGTON — Rick Fearon stood outside the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall just off Main Street last night knowing a daughter who will no longer speak to him would soon be inside.

That daughter, as well as several other family members, stopped speaking to Fearon a few years ago when he left the church and began speaking out about problems he sees in the Jehovah’s Witness religion.

A Jehovah’s Witness for more than 40 years, Fearon now wants to inform people of accusations that the church does not adequately react to reports of sexual abuse of children, and charges the church’s teachings on blood transfusions have needlessly killed Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide.

“I attended this congregation and never realized the problems they had,” he said.

Fearon stood across the street from the Kingdom Hall with about a half-dozen others in the hopes they would make those new to the church look into it more deeply.

Those inside the Kingdom Hall were observing The Memorial of Christ’s Death, in which they celebrate the death of Jesus on the first full moon of the Vernal Equinox. Those new to the church or not yet part of it often attend the observance, Fearon said. Fearon cites national studies and news reports on a growing sexual-abuse crisis in the Jehovah’s Witness religion, which he says has not done nearly enough to keep pedophiles away from children.

He also says the churches previous ban on members getting blood transfusions, and other confusing teachings about accepting blood have led to what he said are thousands of unnecessary deaths.

He was joined by John Harris, of Norwood, who was one of hundreds of clergy-abuse victims who sued the Archdiocese of Boston. Harris, who said he was abused by Father Paul Shanley, said he settled with the archdiocese in December of 2003. He said he is fighting all religions and cults in which abuse is not adequately responded to, and that he is pushing for federal laws to make it easier to prosecute and prevent abuse.

A man who answered the telephone at the Kingdom Hall declined comment last night.

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