Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Descent Into Hell: The Focus of Love

In my last blog, I wrote about how the character Wentworth chose hell by choosing unreality.  In chapter five, "Return to Eden," Williams provides a detailed description of Wentworth's confused and confusing experience.  Wentworth creates an imaginary lover--like Adel only better.  The imaginary lover plays on Wentworth's self pity ("You don't think about yourself enough") to draw him deeper into the imaginary relationship.  

Williams plays out Wentworth's complete acceptance of his imagined lover through a vision of Eden in which Wentworth is Adam, an Adam who rejects Eve, the other, and thus all others, and embraces only himself and his fantasy--the her who is himself.  On his way to the imaginary "bottom of Eden," Wentworth tangentially encounters another soul, a suicide who had committed the deed in the very room in which Wentworth is indulging his fantasy, long ago when the building was under construction.  This soul is wandering the other way, toward the light, even as Wentworth is plunging deeper into the mist, into the forrest of his own delusion.  Wentworth is offended: "He would not have it: no canvassers, no hawkers, no circulars, no beggars.  No; no; no.  No people but his, no loves but his.... [T]he other, the thing seen, the thing known in every fibre to be not the self, [whether it is the] woman [i.e. Eve or Adel or any real woman] or [a] beggar, the thing in the streets of the City [i.e. the world of reality].  Wentworth ran away from any other into the mist to the "she that was he, and all he in the she."

William's use of self pity as the blasting cap to drive Wentworth into his delusion is consistent with my experience.  The faculty of love [in its various species: compassion, pity, care] are designed to point outward toward the other, not toward the self.  Here they can only be destructive.  They are not designed to work on the self.  It is like trying to see your feet with binoculars.  It will only distort the view because binoculars are not designed to see close up.  Similarly love is not designed to be focused on the self.  When we do turn pity on our selves, it is not our selves that we really see, but an imagined self.  We see none of our blessings, our real choices, our opportunities, or our strengths; we see only afflictions magnified to the exclusion to all else, to all others, to all others except those who will enter our fantasy with us.  Self love leads to nothing but delusion and self destruction: over eating, over drinking, sexual indulgence, cutting, hating, death.  The very love that produces life when focused outward on others produces death when it is focused inward.

Human beings need to love and be loved.  They are not designed to love themselves.  Learning to be loved is as difficult as it is to learn to love.  Accepting the love of another and especially of the Other is the only path to psychological (i.e. of the soul) health. 

Wentworth chose the path of self love, and it leads him only into delusion and self destruction.

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