“Oh, wow! Oh wow!”
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself,” wrote D.H. Lawrence. How is it then that our civilzed nature is self-pitying? The libertarians say that government makes us needy. Liberals blame our social structure and the fierce strictures of capital. Tyrants of every kind tell you it’s the Tibetans or the Jews or the Mexicans who have stolen your contentment, probably while you slept. The Freudians say it’s your Mama did it to you. Jungians say it’s the split from ancient Sumeria--everything’s gone down hill after we gave up sun worship.
What I love about Lawrence is his appreciation of death. As Kenneth Rexroth puts it: “In a world where death had become a nasty, pervasive secret like defecation or masturbation, Lawrence re-instated it in all its grandeur--the oldest and most powerful of all the gods.” Rexroth is correct: Lawrence’s “Ship of Death” poems have a vivid ecstatic quality, one that mocks the mordancies of customary death-fearing consciousness.
In Lawrence’s hands the absence of body is not a mineral blank, nor is it the narrative of a risen spirit. He writes:
“And yet out of eternity a thread
Separates itself on the blackness,
A horizontal thread
That fumes a little with pallor upon the dark.”
This is the side of Lawrence who read Whitman.
I think he saw it aright. The flood of light and darkness subsides and the body re-emerges, a flush of rose, and the whole thing starts again.
Whether you buy Lawrence’s gnosticism or not, we can be safe in saying that the journey is not what you’d suppose. Not at all. Oh wow, indeed.