[ilds] "there is no exit"

Charles Sligh Charles-Sligh at utc.edu
Thu Oct 22 11:14:39 PDT 2009

-----Original Message-----
From: Julia Roberts <jroboston at gmail.com>

Instead, I think of Pursewarden saying
"There is no Other; there is only oneself facing forever the problem of
one's self discovery!" 


What an interesting discussion thread, Julia.

You call this discovery "a challenge."  Within the fiction, I see Durrell pondering the "inward turn" in a very dark way--self-hood and narcissism as our inevitable trap.

Twins and Incest and Homosexuality -- Durrell seems to use those various states as markers of a more self-conscious, active self-absorption, right?  

That is, Durrell's twins and incestuous siblings and "inverts" make apparent and visible the isolation and unknowing he regards as the basic state of all human beings.

I do not know if I am reading Durrell by Pater's light or Pater by Durrell's light.  (James thought Pater was more a "lucent match-box" than a lamp of truth.)  Perhaps it is now too late to untangle _them_ from _me_. . . . 

Forster lectured on Pater's writings to the Theosophical Society in Alexandria.  

In my imagination, Cavafy was in the audience.  

In my imagination, the seed that became Lawrence Durrell sprang from that fertile confluence.



Pater:  "Experience, already reduced to a swarm of
impressions, is ringed round for each one of us by that
thick wall of personality through which no real voice
has ever pierced on its way to us, or from us to that
which we can only conjecture to be without. Every
one of those impressions is the impression of the
individual in his isolation, each mind keeping as a
solitary prisoner its own dream of a world."


Balthazar said quietly: 'Thank God I have been spared an undue interest in love.  At least the invert escapes this fearful struggle to give oneself to another.  Lying with one's own kind, enjoying an experience, one can still keep free the part of one's mind which dwells in Plato, or gardening, or the differential calculus.  Sex has left the body and entered the imagination now; that is why Arnauti suffered so much with Justine, because she preyed upon all that he might have kept separate - his artist-hood, if you like.  He is, when all is said and done, a sort of minor Antony, and she a Cleo.  You can read all about it in Shakespeare.  And then, as far as Alexandria is concerned, you can understand why this is really a city of incest - I mean that here the cult of Serapis was founded.  For this etiolation of the heart and reins in love-making must make one turn inwards upon one's sister.  The lover mirrors himself like Narcissus in his own family: there is no exit from the predicament.'


Pursewarden:  'Outside in the darkness by the railway bridge the lover of this man waits for him with the same indescribable maggotry going on in her body and blood; wine swilling the conduits, the pylorus disgorging like a sucker, the incommensurable bacteriological world multiplying in every drop of semen, spittle, sputum, musk.  He takes a spinal column in his arms, the ducts flooded with ammonia, the meninges exuding their pollen, the cornea glowing in its little crucible....'

Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Charles-Sligh at utc.edu

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