The Still Point: Theme and Variations in the Writings of T.S. Eliot, Coleridge, Yeats, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence

The Still Point: Theme and Variations in the Writings of T.S. Eliot, Coleridge, Yeats, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence

The Still Point: Theme and Variations in the Writings of T.S. Eliot, Coleridge, Yeats, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence

The Still Point: Theme and Variations in the Writings of T.S. Eliot, Coleridge, Yeats, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence

Excerpt

Ever since the dawn of consciousness, when man first became aware of the distinction between the self and the not-self, he has been subject to the concomitant desires for individuation and for union; the desire to preserve and develop his individual identity, and the desire to merge himself with something greater than and outside himself, to escape the burden of selfhood by identifying himself with some power that would duplicate or return him to the undifferentiated state from which his awakened consciousness wrenched him. The question of choice, balance, or alternation between these conflicting needs has been the basic problem in man's relationship with his fellow men, his universe, his god. And ultimately, he has but three choices: to preserve his individuality by with- holding himself, being careful, as James put it, not to "melt too much into the universe," but to be "as solid and dense and fixed as you can"; or to merge himself completely, seeking the absolute release from self in a kind of Nirvana; or to attempt some combination of the two that will satisfy one need without denying the other, as, for example, Eliot's dance within the dance.

The problem has been variously put. Lawrence has at different times defined the basic conflict as that of the desire for creation and the desire for dissolution; the desire for life and the desire for death; "the love that makes me join and fuse toward a universal oneness" and "the hate that makes me detach myself." But however one phrases it, the problem of the inner versus the outer, the self versus the not-self, the . . .

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