[ilds] baboonism

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 8 06:58:17 PDT 2007

This idea of a fluid self goes back to Nietzsche and D. H. Lawrence (whom Durrell cites in Key, ch. 3) and possibly earlier to Montaigne and further back.  Lawrence talked about breaking away from notions of "the old stable ego" (letter to E. Garnett, 5 June 1914).  It's a nice topic of discussion.  Durrell liked this idea too, but I doubt if any of these people really knew what they were talking about.  I think people who have "unstable egos" are unstable, psychotic, or just plain weird.  Durrell had his moments of instability, but by and large he seems pretty stable to me.  He played around in his fiction with multiple identities, but writers like to do that and that doesn't make him unstable.  He always called himself Lawrence Durrell, a recognizable LD, except during those early moments when he wanted to be known as Charles Norden.  He never put on disguises and impersonate doctors, high court judges, field marshals, and airline pilots.  Some people actually do that, but LD didn't, as far as I know.  He remained a discreet and whole personality.


-----Original Message-----
>From: James Gifford <odos.fanourios at gmail.com>
>Sent: Jul 7, 2007 10:02 PM
>To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca
>Subject: Re: [ilds] baboonism

>Again, I have strong sympathies for these approaches, but for the former 
>in particular, I still can't accept it.  First, this notion of the 
>discrete personality that does not change and admits no internal 
>contradictions would seems to run entirely contrary to Durrell's 
>authorial intentions.  By your own admissions, that means you can't 
>accept it...
>Besides, the worldview of the Durrell who wrote _The Black Book_ and 
>wrote back against Herbert Read's expressions of Surrealism's political 
>agenda is sure not the same worldview of the Durrell who wrote _The 
>Revolt of Aphrodite_ or the _Avignon Quintet_.  Also, before we break 
>this down into "left" or "right" for these worldviews, let's just admit 
>that those are useless terms for anything specific.
>As for core identities, perhaps the author himself should speak (not 
>that any of us trust him, so we're just speculating about the author's 
>intentions, filling in the silences according to our own needs and 
>desires, as per the ending of _Justine_).  In the "Kneller Tape," 
>Durrell says:
>"Human character? A sort of rainbow I should say, which includes the 
>whole range of the spectrum. I imagine that what we call personality may 
>be an illusion, and in thinking of it as a stable thing we are trying to 
>put a lid on a box with no sides."

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