Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy: A Mirror for Lovers

By Hugh M. Richmond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
The Self as Work of Art

HOW can one resynthesize Occidental experience for minds to which it is scarcely more immediate than that of the Hittites or the T'ang Dynasty ? There are certainly wraiths of the lore of earlier generations faintly visible in America today. A few Jewish students have a mild interest in recent books showing that the New Testament is just a well-intentioned fraud, and my Catholic students often rather like the pseudo-Christian science fiction of C. S. Lewis; but neither group has ever bothered to read Plato or Machiavelli, let alone the Bible, though they continue to think of themselves as "students of the humanities." However, they do have one set of ideas from which it may be possible to work out toward such exotic concepts as Calvin's ideas about original sin, Platonic Eros as the antithesis of Christian agape, or the sociological dangers of the Gnostic heresy as reincarnated in the elitism of American academic intellectuals. This shared set of ideas derives from the Freudian theory of personality. Though it needs some agility to transpose the Platonic system, Aristotelian categories, the doctrine of the Trinity, Hobbesian political theory, and Yeats's masks all into the simple terminology of Freudianism, it can be done.

However, initially the most my students usually have in the way of a sense of personality derives from some vague memory of their divorced aunt's Freudian analysis. Even Jungian psy

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