The Daily Eudemon
"The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life."
Samuel Johnson, The Idler, 4/5/1760






Home
  • Favorite Quotes
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • TDE Lens

  • archives
  • April 2019
  • March 2019
  • February 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • July 2018
  • June 2018
  • May 2018
  • April 2018
  • March 2018
  • February 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • October 2017
  • September 2017
  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014
  • June 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007
  • April 2007
  • March 2007
  • February 2007
  • January 2007
  • December 2006
  • November 2006
  • October 2006
  • September 2006
  • August 2006
  • July 2006
  • June 2006
  • May 2006
  • April 2006
  • March 2006
  • February 2006
  • January 2006
  • December 2005
  • November 2005
  • October 2005
  • September 2005
  • August 2005
  • July 2005
  • June 2005
  • May 2005
  • April 2005
  • March 2005
  • February 2005
  • January 2005
  • December 2004
  • November 2004
  • August 2004
  • July 2004
  • June 2004
  • May 2004
  • April 2004
  • March 2004
  • February 2004
  • January 2004


  • syndicate this site
    RSS Feed
    RSS 2 Feed
    Atom Feed
    My Yahoo!
    Comments RSS

    Send Eric Scheske an E-Mail


    D. H. Lawrence

    My reference to D. H. Lawrence yesterday reminded me that I had featured his Studies in one of my “From the Highlighter” posts. For those who weren’t reading TDE back then, FtH was a more elaborate version of the new TDE that I ran about five years ago. I discontinued the series because, when combined with my ordinary blogging and writing commitments, it took too much time. I’ve gone back and reviewed a few of them, though, and I like what I see. I might have to resurrect it. Here’s the one I did on Lawrence:

    D. H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature. My version: Penguin, 1977.

    In his Student’s Guide to U.S. History, Wilfred M. McClay assembled a list of 26 books and called them “An American Canon.” I was acquainted with most of them (The Federalist, Moby Dick, etc.), but four were new to me, including D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature. “What,” I wondered, “does that British pornographer have to say about American literature?”

    For decades I’ve subscribed to an important corollary of the principle of connaturality: distorted living creates distorted thinking. If a person’s life is ruled by passion, his thinking will be distorted by passion. It’s no coincidence that sexually-illicit heterosexuals are more likely to support homosexual marriage. For the sexually illicit, sex is king . . . or at least a queen (and maybe a bishop, if you’re Episcopalian). They don’t think clearly about sex because they’re ruled by sex. People think college professors make students into liberals. Maybe, but the students’ distorted living plays a heavy role, too.

    So I didn’t think the Chatterley dude would have a whole lot to say about the United States, especially since he was from Britain.

    I was wrong. His book is strong, filled with wise and novel (and funny . . . bonus) observations, like this: “But to try to know any living being is to try to suck the life out of that being. . . It is the temptation of a vampire fiend.” He says some stupid things, too, but he makes many observations about American life that rank with de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Chesterton’s What I Saw in America, and Santayana’s Character and Opinion in the United States.

    Sample:

    When America set out to destroy Kings and Lords and Masters, and the whole paraphernalia of European superiority, it pushed a pin right through its own body, and on that pin it still flaps and buzzes and twists in misery. The pin of democratic equality. Freedom.

    There’ll never be any life in America till you pull the pin out and admit natural inequality. Natural superiority, natural inferiority. Till such time, Americans just buzz around like various sorts of propellers, pinned down by their freedom and equality. p. 49.

    Political equality, yes. Divine equality, yes. Social, intellectual, physical equality, no.

    Yet in America, all things—pursuits and interests, opinions and choices—are deemed equal and deserving of respect. The results are often grotesque (NASCAR nation comes immediately to mind).

    Lawrence isn’t beyond the metaphysical, even when he expresses it in the biological:

    The central law of all organic life is that each organism is intrinsically isolate and single in itself.

    The moment is isolation breaks down . . . death sets in.

    This is true of every individual organism, from man to amoeba.

    But the secondary law of all organic life is that each organism only lives through contact with other matter, assimilation, and contact with other life, which means assimilation of new vibrations, non-material. Each individual organism is vivified by intimate contact with fellow organisms: up to a certain point. p. 71.

    In order to have contact with another, we must break down a little, we must lessen our isolation. But if we break down too much, I think Lawrence is saying, we die.

    Death results from termination of isolation, yes, but the termination of isolation is necessary for ultimate communion, which, it seems to me, is the logical extension of what Lawrence is saying: A breakdown of isolation is necessary for important communion with others to take place. Likewise, a complete breakdown of isolation is necessary for final communion with The Other to take place.

    Lawrence believes in the spirit. He even understands it, albeit in a warped way:

    The root of all evil is that we want this spiritual gratification, this flow, this apparent heightening of life, this knowledge, this valley of many-coloured grass, even grass and light prismatically decomposed, giving ecstasy. We want all this without resistance. We want it continually. And this is the root of all evil in us. p. 82

    Well, yes, but that yearning is also the root of all good. That desire for spiritual gratification is nothing less than the summum bonum, the final call, our ultimate destiny. When that divine signal gets distorted, troubles arise. Men seek that spiritual gratification in warped ways, from drugs to love of the malevolent. The desire to seek itself, though, is not the root of all evil. It’s the desire when distorted by Original—and subsequent Actual—Sin that brings about the evil.

    “[P]eople may go on, keep on, and rush on, without souls. They have their ego and their will; that is enough to keep them going.” p. 171 Go to any mass sporting event for confirmation of this observation.

    On a more serious note: Spiritual darkness doesn’t kill a person’s ability to think and act. A person can move forward and regress at the same time. But as he improves his faculties for thought and action, but doesn’t elevate his spiritual nature as well, his capacity—and potential—for doing horrible things increases. Because Society is Man writ large (Plato), the same truth applies to civilization. Eric Voeglin liked to point out that a civilization can progress and regress at the same time.

    “The essential function of art is moral. Not aesthetic, not decorative, not pastime and recreation. But moral. . . . But a passionate, implicit morality, not didactic. A morality which changes the blood, rather than the mind. Changes the blood first. The mind follows later, in the wake.” p. 180. “Art,” Maritain said, “is a virtue of the practical intellect.” The artist must possess the virtue proper to his activity. In this, it is aesthetic. Art is concerned with morality, but I think morality is secondary. The artist paints—writes, sculpts . . . conveys—what is true/real. Morality is nothing less than living in accordance with truth.

    If an artist sets out to be moral, it’s hard to imagine how his art won’t be didactic.

    You sculpt the piece first. The meaning comes later.

    “Hawthorne, Poe, Longfellow, Emerson, Melville: it is the moral issue which engages them. They all feel uneasy about the old morality. Sensuously, passionally, they all attack the old morality. But they know nothing better, mentally. Therefore they give tight mental allegiance to a morality which all their passion goes to destroy. Hence the duplicity which is the fatal flaw in them, most fatal in the most perfect American work of art, The Scarlet Letter.” p. 180.

    Really? I’m no Hawthorne expert, but the witness of his daughter Rose implies that he had a mental and emotional allegiance to traditional morality (whether that’s the same morality Lawrence is referring to, I don’t know). From Flannery O’Connor’s The Habit of Being (a book I hope to feature in “From the Highlighter” at some point):

    You know [St. Rose’s Free Home for Incurable Cancer] was founded by Hawthorne’s daughter? My evil imagination tells me that this was God’s way of rewarding Hawthorne for hating the Transcendentalists. One of my Nashville friends was telling me that Hawthorne couldn’t stand Emerson or any of that crowd. When one of them came in the front door, Hawthorne went out the back. He met one of them one morning and snarled, “Good morning Mr. G., how is your oversoul this morning?”

    Bookmark it: del.icio.us | Reddit | Slashdot | Digg | Facebook | Technorati | Google | StumbleUpon | Window Live | Tailrank | Furl | Netscape | Yahoo | BlinkList

    Comments are closed.

     

     

    Enter Amazon here, buy something, and get me a kickback.


    "The Daily Eudemon is the sort of thing that Chesterton or Mencken would be doing, if they were alive today. It's what, in saner times, was called journalism. In the writing and in the reading, it's exactly the sort of leisure we should want at the basis of culture."
    Mike Aquilina, Author of The Fathers of the Church and TV Talk Show Host.

    "Literate Catholicism-urbane, witty, engaged-is alive and well! If you can read, you should be reading The Daily Eudemon!" David Scott, author of A Revolution of Love: The Meaning of Mother Teresa

    "If you like your blogs pithy, nimble, pointed, high-spirited, and waggish, then bookmmark Eric Scheske's The Daily Eudemon. Ooops! You want prolixity, density, meandering, dull, and sober? Then run (do not walk!) to the blogs of the major news outlets. They have just what you want. Honestly they do." John Peterson, Editor, G.K. Chesterton: Collected Works, Volumes 12 and 13.

    "Eric Scheske's web site is full of information and insight.  Always worth a read."  James V. Schall, Author of Another Sort of Learning.

    "Eric Scheske has one of the few indispensable sites in an overcrowded blogosphere." Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Ph.D., New York Times Bestselling Author and Author of How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

    links
    Abbey-Roads
    Acts of the Apostasy
    After Abortion
    Aggie Catholics
    All Manner of Things
    Belinda’s Brain
    Bethune Catholic
    Betty Duffy
    Book Reviews and More
    Catholic Blogs
    Catholic Exchange
    Catholic Fire
    Charlotte Was Both
    Chesterton and Friends
    Crossroads
    Decent Films
    Digital Hairshirt
    Dyspeptic Mutterings
    EWTN
    Fathers of the Church
    First Principles
    Get Blogs
    Gilbert Magazine
    Godspy
    Happy Catholic
    Mark Shea
    Mere Comments
    Michelle Reitemeyer
    More Last Than Star
    National Catholic Register
    New Advent
    Phat Catholic
    Pillar and Fire
    Post Modern Papist
    PowerBlog
    Pro Ecclesia
    Quaffs and Quibbles
    Reasoned Audacity
    Reconnaissance of the Western Tradition
    Roman Catholic Info
    Ruri et Orbi
    Scholium
    Shadow of Diogenes
    Signs of the Times: Salvo Blog
    Some Have Hats
    St. Blog’s Parish Blog Digger
    St. Blog’s Parish Directory
    St. James Journal
    St. Peter Canisius Apostolate
    Standing on My Head
    Stella Maris
    Stony Creek Digest
    Streams of Mercy
    Stupid Scholar
    Suicide of the West
    Summa Minutiae
    Taki
    The American Conservative
    The Blue Boar
    The Cafeteria is Closed
    The Crescat
    The Curt Jester
    The Dawn Patrol
    The Drunken Dollar
    The Impractical Christian
    The Inn at the End of the World
    The Michiana Blawg
    The Muniment Room
    The Radical Academy
    The Reticulator
    The Saint Wannabe
    The Scratching Post
    The Snoring Scholar
    The Summa Mamas
    The Waffling Anglican
    The Western Confucian
    Things and Stuff
    Thursday Night Gumbo
    Uncovering Orthodoxy
    Victor Lams
    Video Meliora
    Vita Mea
    Vox Nova
    What's Wrong with the World
    With Both Hands
    Within the Garden
    Without Having Seen
    World Wide Words

    the bloghorn
    Abbey-Roads
    Acts of the Apostasy
    After Abortion
    Aggie Catholics
    All Manner of Things
    Belinda’s Brain
    Bethune Catholic
    Betty Duffy
    Book Reviews and More
    Catholic Blogs
    Catholic Exchange
    Catholic Fire
    Charlotte Was Both
    Chesterton and Friends
    Crossroads
    Decent Films
    Digital Hairshirt
    Dyspeptic Mutterings
    EWTN
    Fathers of the Church
    First Principles
    Get Blogs
    Gilbert Magazine
    Godspy
    Happy Catholic
    Mark Shea
    Mere Comments
    Michelle Reitemeyer
    More Last Than Star
    National Catholic Register
    New Advent
    Phat Catholic
    Pillar and Fire
    Post Modern Papist
    PowerBlog
    Pro Ecclesia
    Quaffs and Quibbles
    Reasoned Audacity
    Reconnaissance of the Western Tradition
    Roman Catholic Info
    Ruri et Orbi
    Scholium
    Shadow of Diogenes
    Signs of the Times: Salvo Blog
    Some Have Hats
    St. Blog’s Parish Blog Digger
    St. Blog’s Parish Directory
    St. James Journal
    St. Peter Canisius Apostolate
    Standing on My Head
    Stella Maris
    Stony Creek Digest
    Streams of Mercy
    Stupid Scholar
    Suicide of the West
    Summa Minutiae
    Taki
    The American Conservative
    The Blue Boar
    The Cafeteria is Closed
    The Crescat
    The Curt Jester
    The Dawn Patrol
    The Drunken Dollar
    The Impractical Christian
    The Inn at the End of the World
    The Michiana Blawg
    The Muniment Room
    The Radical Academy
    The Reticulator
    The Saint Wannabe
    The Scratching Post
    The Snoring Scholar
    The Summa Mamas
    The Waffling Anglican
    The Western Confucian
    Things and Stuff
    Thursday Night Gumbo
    Uncovering Orthodoxy
    Victor Lams
    Video Meliora
    Vita Mea
    Vox Nova
    What's Wrong with the World
    With Both Hands
    Within the Garden
    Without Having Seen
    World Wide Words

    << # St. Blog's Parish ? >> 


    The Daily Eudemon is Copyright 2005 Eric Scheske.

    Design by Aquilina Computer Services.