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Emilian Kavalski
MODERNITY AS THE OTHER: THE VISION OF D. H. LAWRENCE


The liminal period between the nineteenth and the twentieth century
was marked by a breach in the traditional, more or less hierarchic,
terrestrial order of things. This breach has divided the god-ordained
universe from what came to be known as human consciousness; or
if we employ the diction of some Augustinian dualists it represented
a separation of the space from the soul. This division came to be
acknowledged as modernity [1]. D. H. Lawrence had a distinct perception
of modernity as the other against which and through which personal
identity was envisaged. For him the establishment of industrial society
exemplified the chain of institutionalized patterns aimed at suppressing
the burgeoning of individuality. Lawrence outlined the promulgation
of new modes of social order which attempted the construction
of collective identity via the checks of unassailable symbols, evaluations,
and activities "of and for society" [2]. As against these assumptions he
rendered modernity as the other - in the sense of the opposite, the
alternative - of the controlling socio-cultural structures. The advancement
of industrial collective identity entailed the definition of the other or
others and the establishment of relationships with them. This effected
the constitution of similarities and attributes of appropriate human types
or "civilized" persons [3]. Lawrence's protagonists were the others who
conceived institutionalized industrial society as the other. He grasped
modernity as the other of the other in the other's identity. This put Lawrence
among the first to probe the depths of the relational self of modern identity:


...[the] self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation's relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation's relating itself to itself... . The human self is such a derived, established relation, a relation that relates itself to itself and in relating itself to itself relates itself to another [4].

However, his reflections into the domains of social life did not lead Lawrence to suspicion. His work is seeped with a desire for transcendence that does not attempt to structure the new experience. Instead he was exploring the creative liberty of the modern self to promote a transformation based on a renewed and more accurate view of identity's nature. He saw in the freedom of individual experience the main asset of modern identity. The dissolution of the integrated and hierarchical society cleared the way for a multitude of combinations of equality and diversity, where otherness was not suspicious. It is only by recognizing and acknowledging of the other that the individual can assert his or her otherness.

In this respect Lawrence was perhaps the first one to attempt bestowing new meaning to old concepts and assail the task of deciphering the new boundaries of the modern self. Lawrence has often been quoted as a proponent of a male self-consciousness, which underlies the language in his writings and this has usually been pointed out as his way of attempting to express the immediate feeling of life. In this study I would like to elaborate on this view and propound the thesis that in his works Lawrence was using notions and ideas which form the backbone of contemporary understanding of modern identity. It is my perception that Lawrence has conceived an alternative to the 'social being', which can only be defined as an underlying individuality. He virtually highlights the emerging trends on the intellectual horizons of his time and sets upon adumbrating the direction the major currents would take. Lawrence envisioned modern identity in its entirety and in his novels the characters strive to come to grips with it. He embarks on the task of depicting this new understanding of the self in its multifaceted diversity [5].

One of his major contributions in depicting the modern self is describing it as inner, drawing its sources from within. Lawrence attempts at retrieving the richness of the inward gaze, and probing the depth of individuality. He achieves this by drawing boundaries of self-expression - regardless of what we try to articulate, there is always more within us, which will remain ineffable. Therefore, the idea of an inner realm is central to the concept of the modern self.

Another aspect of modern identity, as delineated by Lawrence, is the assertion of ordinary life. In this way he rejects all forms of authority and hierarchy and opposes all distinctions based on inequality of the self. However Lawrence's protest is, unlike others before and after him, purely on the individual level; he does not rally for a mass movement, but his is a private dissension to subordination. This is an essentially modern interpretation of human dignity and the individual's power of self-affirmation rejecting all forms of institutional or social hierarchy.

A third source of modernity in the works of Lawrence is nature. He provides a modern definition of nature which explains the feelings it generates in us. In the relationship we establish with nature and just by the mere fact of being in nature we are able to create a particular association with the surrounding environment. The expanse of this intercourse and its personal and detached perspective undermines the institutionalized social order. This particular communion stirs our sentiments and emotions, because it reflects what and how we feel; it either awakens, or intensifies our moral experience. Nature triggers the ability of modern identity to come to terms with itself. Thanks to it, the individual achieves clarity and fullness of self-presence that was lacking before. For instance Ursula's regeneration in The Rainbow, "She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture the old brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heavens" [6]. Nature can awaken the purposes within ourselves and Lawrence's characters try to recover contact with this pool of ideas, by breaking the limitations of social opinion. Lawrence depicts that the modern self declines to act as expected, and rather follows its inner impulse [7].

In this way Lawrence prompts new modes of thought and thinking which trace the multifarious perplexity as well as richness of modern identity. Mapping the territory of such a vast intellectual phenomenon has not been an easy job. Fortunately for Lawrence there has been a trail leading to the wide expanses of modern identity, set by a tradition of writers and thinkers before him. But his contribution was in getting off the beaten track and trodding his own path into the wilderness of modernity. As Lawrence says in Lady Chatterley's Lover,

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habits, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future; but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen [8].

Inner Regions Of The Self

In the depiction of the first source of modernity - the inner domain of the self, Lawrence attempts to unravel the gist of this phenomenon. Eliot suggests, that "Lawrence started like wholly free from any restriction of tradition or institution, he had no guidance except the Inner Light" [9]. And Figs clearly indicates the power of his intuition,

Every fruit has its secret
...
Involved,
Inturned,
The flowering and womb-fibrilled;
And but one orifice

Confronting the problem of modern identity, Lawrence has to probe the depth and relevance of notions like right and good, and distinguish between them. For example, his novel, Lady Chatterly's Lover, portrayed a view of humanity and an order that challenged more orthodox structures, condemning life without joy or beauty. "A man like Lawrence, therefore, with his acute sensibility, violent prejudices and passions, and lack of intellectual and social training, is admirably fitted to be an instrument for forces of good or forces of evil" [10]. Lawrence's characters are constantly haunted by the specter of the modern dilemma whether a right action overlaps with a good one, or vice versa.

Subsequently this causes a crisis of identity, another idiosyncrasy of modernity. Lawrence explores the background of modern limitations, the boundaries within which our actions are realized. Thus he conjures up the notion of a set of values, which orient the individual in the maze of modern identity. These cornerstones circumscribe the horizons of the self, which serve as a link between identity and the surrounding universe. In his works the search for self-consciousness served to "reveal the contingency, the chaos, the underlying stress, of a life from which all wholeness and coherence had gone, and displayed the problem of finding order in a disordered age" [11]. This is a means for breaking up the "old stable ego" [12] and explore the energies of the self. Only within these frames can the individual understand and affirm his/hers identity. Without these horizons, the set of values of the self lose their meaning and become obsolete. In this way, Lawrence depicts an important feature of modernity - the awareness of individual limitations and their importance for self-realization. He is exploring the dissolution and renewal of the inner self; "He doesn't decipher, he experiences" [13] The question of frameworks relates to the modern anxiety of the meaning of human life. Lawrence makes it clear that the horizons of the self are actually the ones which give meaning to life; he "believed in the self as the final arbiter of every question" [14]. He reflects what Weber has termed "disenchantment" of the individual at the loss of the frameworks of the self, "Now the bright page was turned, and the dark page lay before her. How could one write on a page so profoundly black?" [15] Lawrence's characters are in search of a set of values to replace the old ones and within which they can articulate themselves, because language is no longer able to express the deep, inner surges of the self, "The Word is uttered, most of it: we need only pay true attention... . It is the Deed of life we have now to learn: we are supposed to have learnt the Word, but, alas, look at us. Word-perfect we may be, but Deed-demented" [16].

The subject of Lawrence's explorations were passionate changes, violent fluctuations of feeling which form the core of identity, but the obscurity of inwardness was what he was after. Trotter points out that Lawrence would have agreed with Frank Budgen's words, "In my book the body lives in and moves through space and is the home of a full human personality. The words I write are adapted to express first one of its functions then another" [17]. It is this expression, which gives the sense of meaningfulness to the spatial order surrounding the modern self, and which has urged Trotter to call Lawrence an "inventor".

Lawrence points out the importance of the power of articulation in the process of making sense of the world around us. By naming the objects which surround us, we virtually set the horizons of our selves. Through giving meaning to the world around us, we actually give meaning to our lives. So the sequence of self-expression is not a one-way process but a multifarious one. What is important in it is the personal experience. For example, the literary techniques Lawrence used in Lady Chatterley's Lover aimed at confusing the reader's verbal and visual perceptions. Instances of sexual intercourse: a vision by Connie's womb, and conversation about sex while centering on the talkers' heads split the reader's alertness and show how Lawrence was using language to help the reader travel beyond language. Words are so important to Connie and Hilda that they require intellectual discourse before they can be sensually involved, for neither is "ever in love with a young man unless he and she were verbally very near: that is unless they were profoundly interested, talking to one another" [18]. In this way language becomes central to the idea of individual assertion.

A very important part of the process of self-expression is the modern fear of meaninglessness of life. Paul Morel, the character from Sons and Lovers, is an example of this predicament. The fear of meaninglessness is a direct result from the loss of horizons of the self. Lawrence's protagonist is looking for the principles underlying modern behavior after failing to attach himself to the instrumental rationality of the workplace and the collective identity of the social group. Due to the development of modern economic relationships in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the value of work has been impoverished from its institutionalized meaning. That is how the process of giving life a modern interpretation was closely related to detecting a new source of self-worth. Ultimately Lawrence takes up the principle of individuation.

Thus the plight of finding the boundaries of one's selfhood could be overcome only through individual invention, and Lawrence is quick to stress the importance of creative imagination. Creative imagination is central in the process of self-expression, and in England, My England, Lawrence calls it, "the spear of modern invention" [19]. It provides the fuel for conceiving mentally the modes of articulating modern identity, reflecting an ability to express or deliver new ideas. Hence the privileged position of the creative process within modern society, and the people who are involved in it. In the chapter entitled "Fetish," when Birkin, in Halliday's London apartment, encounters an African carving depicting a woman in labor, he immediately classifies it as "art." The following conversation ensues when Gerald requests an explanation:

"Why is it art?" Gerald asked, shocked, resentful.
"It conveys a complete truth," said Birkin. "It contains the whole truth of that
state, whatever you feel about it."
"But you can't call it high art," said Gerald.
"High! There are centuries and hundreds of centuries of development in a straight
line, behind that carving; it is an awful pitch of culture, of a definite sort."
"What culture?" Gerald asked, in opposition. He hated the sheer African thing.
"Pure culture in sensation, culture in the physical consciousness, really ultimate
physical consciousness, mindless, utterly sensual. It is so sensual as to be final,
supreme" [20].

This is Lawrence's way of giving modern meaning to old concepts with the help of universal categories. As Trotter has suggested, what is termed Lawrence's sexual revolution, is in fact and in effect simply providing the words for an essentially modern experience. He also explicates that the sense of being a self is realized in the modern rupture between the outer and inner realms: on the one hand, it arises from the state of belonging to a particular community (miners, bourgeoisie, intellectuals), and on the other it is conceived in the process of communication with others, where the relation to them is important (relatives, neighbors, lovers). These establish the immediate boundaries of identity. Lawrence articulates the modern notion that the self enacts a particular story, depending on the understanding of social interactions and bonding. In modern culture though, this notion has challenged hierarchical order with its concept of individualization. The cognition we have of ourselves as individuals, both as socially determined and privately experienced, has been of central concern to modernity. [21] It was during Lawrence's lifetime that economic relationships started to develop on a more worldwide level, out of the grasp of political or social controls. This led to a division between the now desocialized economic activity and self-identity, which prompted the understanding that we are no longer mere citizens but producers whose identity is increasingly detached from what we do and related to what we are [22]. Lawrence traces the conflict between the two, in this way presenting another perspective on the faculties of the self and its powers of identification.

In Women in Love, Lawrence combines different types of interpretations to show how the modern world reflects the fall from spontaneous being and oneness into a separate ego marked by alienated self-consciousness, which is expressed in sexual conflict between the characters. However, he stresses the central role of the family for modern identity. Lawrence understood the modern need to belong somewhere in particular, not just to an abstract 'society'. In this respect the family or family-like relationships provided a sense of place. Place has the power to give stability to one's identity in the fleeting and fragmented world of modernity. In a period of constantly shifting economic institutions the sense of place had an ever increasing value for the deemed security and stability that it provided in the lodging the boundaries of modern identity [23]. That is how in a world of fragmentation the family established "intermediary territories where thought, collective action and ethics can find a home" [24].

The early chapters of Sons and Lovers are largely concerned with the relationship between Walter and Gertrude Morel and take place for the most part inside the family home. Probably, in this way Lawrence tries to warn of the danger of extreme or anarchist individualism and the ultimate effect it could have on society. In spite of its flaws and imperfections the family is an important source for realizing the boundaries of the self. It is the cultural matrix within which individuation can operate. The family functions as a necessary principle of unity of our life experiences as it stands at a "unique intersection point of human discourses and relationships" [25]. It is an island of security and love, from where the sources of individual identity are drawn. It provides the environment in which private sentiments flourish to the extent that the private realm is no longer part of the larger social structure, but an independent segment detached from the institutional order. In the modern environment, however, even family is to be redefined by different kinds of relationships. Trotter proclaims Lawrence as one of "the most striking examples in British and Irish fiction" of the distinct relationship of the "pseudo-couple" [26]. At its core, the "pseudo-couple" fulfills the same function as the family - giving social stability to the individual. But it is interesting to note, that Lawrence is quick to mark the fact that the family is a union of autonomous selves and it provides the ground for internal self-exploration.

Self-perception is vital in the distinction between inner and outer. For moderns the self has always been located within, coming from the depths of consciousness and it takes an inward gaze to become aware of its potentials. Lawrence, being as McKay says, a replacement of "the old spiritual masters who had not crossed with him into the new" [27], presents this as a modern idea, though one which has its roots in previous generations.

The dichotomy between inner and outer, underlines the modern belief of the separate state of body and self. As Descartes outlines in his Meditations, "bodies are not properly speaking known by the senses or by the faculty of the imagination, but by understanding only, and... they are not known from the fact that they are understood" [28]. Lawrence plays on the distinction between body and self, which enables him to depict so vividly the physical reactions and the inner state of his characters.

Life with its smoky burning gone from him, had left him apart and utterly alien to her. And she knew what a stranger he was to her. In her womb was ice of fear, because of this separate stranger with whom she had been living as one flesh. Was this what it all meant - utter, intact separateness, obscured by heat of living? In dread she turned her face away [29].

One problem embedded in the concept of modernity is the ability to define the self within a world marked by perpetual and multiple processes of change. What Lawrence tries to proffer is the idea to find within ourselves the one universal human nature. "A character in D. H. Lawrence's novel Aaron Rod plaintively suggests that all human beings are equal in their souls" 30, the only constant thing in an ephemeral world. He goes even further to state that the "races of the earth are like trees, in the end they neither mix nor mingle. They stand out of each other's way, like trees. Or else they crowd on one another" [31]. Lawrence proposes self-knowledge as the key to self-acceptance. He remarked that "when he was in the presence of another human being he experienced neither equality, nor inequality, but simply otherness" [32]. The idea of universality involves the concept of identity: at least for certain political purposes all individuals must be treated alike. He says, "We have, thought and spoken till now in terms of likeness and oneness. Now we must learn to think in terms of difference and otherness" [33]. Lawrence is dissatisfied with the social restrictions perverting the notion of human identity. Birkin tells Ursula: "I don't believe in the humanity I pretend to be a part of, I don't care a straw for the social ideals I live by, I hate the dying organic form of mankind" [34].

Identity is one of the pillars of modern thought, in times when many people languish for the lack of it. In Lady Chatterley's Lover, Lawrence suggests the power of novels to help the modern self in accepting its identity and getting rid of old concepts:

It is the way our sympathy flows and recoils that really determines our lives. And here lies the vast importance of the novel, properly handled. It can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead. Therefore, the novel, properly handled, can reveal the most secret places of life: for it is in the passional secret places of life, above all, that the tide of sensitive awareness needs to ebb and flow, cleansing and freshening [35].

In other words, Lawrence spells out the modern problem of accepting one's identity. Objectifying the notion of depth he outlines the importance of the individual self:

I don't so much care about what the woman feels - in the ordinary usage of the word. That presumes an ego to feel with. I only care about what the woman IS - what she is - inhumanly, physiologically, materially... [36]

Thus Lawrence stresses the importance of inwardness over notions of palpability. This is one of the predominant themes in modern culture. It aims at discovering the individual's demands, aspirations and desires and ultimately coming to terms with oneself. The process of self-exploration is central not only to modernity, but also to the works of Lawrence and leads to the articulation of one's essence. What he hints at is that being cognizant of one's true self can help in shaping and transfiguring reality through the powers of creative imagination. The narrator in Sons and Lovers, does not participate in the story and, as Rimmon-Kenan says, has the quality of "omniscience" but nevertheless this even furthers rather than rejects the, "familiarity, in principle, with the characters' innermost thoughts and feelings; knowledge of past present and future" which in essence helps in the representation of the self [37]. Lawrence introduces the modern idea that the self can actually assert itself. The true value of this concept can be realized only when contrasted with concepts like Darwin's belief that the self is determined by laws of natural selection, or Marx's idea of determination by the conditions of existence. The concept of self-assertion gives birth to the modern belief in the infinite dimensions of the self. It has also laid the foundations of modern understanding of free will. This is how Lawrence attempts at reflecting different notions of the inward gaze - one of the sources of modern identity. It had plunged him into the depths of this idea, pushing further the boundaries of the self.

Endorsement Of Ordinary Life

Another source of modernity in Lawrence's works is the notion of ordinary life as opposed to the division between higher and lower modes of life. Perhaps it came as a result of Lawrence's conviction that individuals are the only authors of their own lives, which sprung up from the modern assertion of the inner, private sphere of human existence as separate from the outer milieu of social intercourse. Most importantly his characters indicate a capacity to be aware of this condition. He "was the most vocal of all writers... in celebrating 'life'" [38]. It was everyone's effort to create his or her 'individual' life through which to articulate a particular self-identity. This has brought a clash of values on the issue of life's meaning. As Lawrence states in The White Peacock, "Be a good animal, true to your animal instincts". What he did was simply to show the virtues of ordinary life and their significance for modern identity. Sons and Lovers is indicative of such a development, especially in the life of Lawrence's progenitor Paul Morel. Good life comes to be understood as an interlacing of the sensual and the inner. In this context, a very interesting idea of Lawrence is the notion of transformation through art. Paul Morel explicates that the work of art is a whirlpool of words and images. The work of art is a surge of emotions and feelings, a pool of energy able to penetrate the boundaries of the self and transform it. He nearly equates life and art, "A great deal of the meaning of life and of art lies in the apparently dull spaces, the pauses, the unimportant passages. They are truly passages, the places of passing over" [39].

Within the notion of asserting ordinary life there is a subgroup of ideas refuting all concepts of institutionalized authority. Such an opposition to hierarchy has developed into a trademark of modern identity. What Lawrence hints at is that knowing is different from mere believing. Thus what the modern individual strives to achieve is the concept of truth. The fact that life "'conveys a complete truth' - is grounded in Western, if not specifically Romantic, notions of aesthetic form" [40]. Lawrence was looking for the experience of personal commitment or observation of nature. He was aspiring to the deep subconscious forces of the self, recognizing their influence on the instincts. Charles Russell says that Lawrence tries to "cast light upon the unrevealed and yet revealable portion of our being wherein all beauty, all love, all virtue that we can scarcely recognize in ourselves shine with great intensity" [41]. Each of these formulates the modern concepts of negation of tradition, unbelief and change in morality.

Lawrence is probably one of the few, who has done most to dispel the stereotypes of pre-modernity. John Rodden points out that whenever we think of Lawrence the first word that comes to mind is "passion" [42], which is one reason why he has the reputation of a "rebel" [43], though in fact he was the harbinger of modernity, a sort of "genius... and mystic or proselyte" [44]. Passions are, integral to the emotions of modernity. They beef up the ability of creative imagination; they elevate and free the self from the fetters of old . prejudices and create a state of interior satisfaction. Feelings and sentiments are at the heart of this move, because feeling that something is good, is what makes it such. This is part of the modern mapping of individuality and the important thing is what we make of the feelings within us. In this way sensual fulfillment starts to have a higher significance to the modern self, because as Lawrence says in Women In Love, words themselves do not convey meaning, they are but a "gesture we make, a dumb show like any other".

Lawrence even goes to the extent of stressing the centrality of physical pleasure and fulfillment for modern identity, underlining the physical nature of human desire. For example the daring and bold depiction of Connie's awakening consciousness:

... all her womb was open and soft and softly clamouring like a sea-anemone under the tides... . And she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring and in strange rhythms flushing up into her, with a strange, rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling till it filled all her cleaving consciousness. And then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation, swirling deeper and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness, till she was one perfect concentric fluid of feeling [45].

In this way, Lawrence tries to break the ice of old morality with his eloquent plea for the naturalness of sexual fulfillment. In giving significance to the satisfaction of sensual desire he has helped in expressing another very important concept of modernity, i.e. the relief of suffering. Similar concepts have been at the heart of modern understanding of human rights, based on the notion of individual dignity [46].

Out of the whole group of ideas defying the. role of authority, I think two have played a major role in the works of Lawrence. These are the redefinition of love, and the role of religion.

Lawrence attempts to show the hypocrisy tormenting the ordinary concept of love: "It's a lie to say that love is the greatest... What people want is hate - hate and nothing but hate. And in the name of righteousness and love, they get it. They distil themselves into nitro-glycerine, all the lot of them, out of very love. - It's the lie that kills" [47]. Birkin feels the dirt of overuse and abuse covering the notion of love; it has been abused in all types of contexts. He insists that the "point about love is that we hate the word because we have vulgarised it. It ought to be proscribed, tabooed from utterance, for many years, till we get a new, better idea" [48]. But what I consider crucial in Lawrence is that he is able simultaneously to express the phenomenon of falling in love, while depicting the ensuing change in the individual. He describes an erotic encounter from a male perspective:

... she is the unknown, the undiscovered, into which I plunge to discovery, losing myself... For a man who dares to look upon, and to venture within the unknown of the female, losing himself, like. . . a man who enters a primeval, virgin forest, feels, when he returns, the utmost gladness of singing ... the amazing joy of return from the adventure into the unknown, rich with addition to his soul. . . the inexhaustible riches lain under unknown skies over unknown seas [49].

The sensual fulfilment causes a reciprocal transformation in women as well:

Oh, and far down inside her the deeps parted and rolled asunder, in long, far-travelling billows, and ever, at the quick of her, the depths parted and rolled asunder ... and she was deeper and deeper and deeper disclosed, and heavier the billows of her rolled away to some shore, uncovering her, and closer and closer plunged the palpable unknown, and further and further rolled the waves of herself away from herself, leaving her, till... the consummation was upon her, and she was gone. She was gone, she was not, and she was born: a woman [50].

In both cases, sexual experience brings about an ascendance into the depth of self-knowledge. This change resembles a transformation of the self due to the surge of emotions within the domain of personal experience, which reflects the modern belief that love can alter the personality and elevate the self beyond the restrictions of reason.

The second result from the redefinition of authority is the decline of religion for modern identity. "There is no Before and After" proclaims Ramon in a sermon he delivers at Jamiltepec, "there is only Now" [51]. As a whole, unbelief reflects the very doubt of modernity towards any form of hierarchy. On the one hand, Lawrence represents this as a dichotomy between the "sensuality of male workers and the impotence of upper-class men" [52]. On the other, as Glen Cavaliero points out, Lawrence both despised and mistrusted the occult, the "sense of hiddenness to it embodied all that he viewed as rotten in contemporary attitudes to religion" [53]. Lawrence, "distrusted the professional clergy. In his work, a strong emotional response to landscape is matched with a sharp and at times an angry, awareness of the damaging muddle produced by the philosophy of literal minded materialism: he looks to a recognition of the energies of nature to replace traditional religious pieties" [54]. His criticism of religious order stems from the modern renunciation of religions for seeking to impose so-called truths on people and encouraging devotees to form closed communities. He also reflected a deeper disaffection among his contemporaries from the churches and their message [55]. The modern institutionalization of the 'public' and 'private' domains of ordinary life as separate entities endorses a particular awareness of religious experience. Lawrence foresaw that modernity would breed a sort of discrimination between the religious and secular spheres, which would ultimately lead to the marginalization of religion. Cavaliero also stresses that Lawrence's "preternatural" understanding of the divine is a sort of magical mental cosmos, which can only be felt and experienced in physiological terms:

[ Pan] was the God that was hidden in everything. In those days you saw the thing, you never saw the god in it... If you ever saw the god instead of the thing, you died... Pan was the hidden mystery - the hidden cause. That's how it was a Great God. Pan wasn't he at all; not even a great god. He was Pan. All: what you see when you see in full. In the daytime you see the thing. But if your third eye is open, which sees only the things that can't be seen, you may see Pan within the thing, hidden: you may see with your third eye, which is darkness [56].

Accentuating the importance of this modern understanding of love and religion, Lawrence has tried to introduce modernity, and express some of its source as coming from within the self, and in opposition to any form of hierarchical authority and subordination. Thus he has laid the foundation of ordinary life embedding it in the realm of feelings, asserting values important for the individual in comprehending the surrounding world. The affirmation of conventional identity has been set beyond the horizons of religion; thus giving it an opportunity to free itself from the clerical order of hierarchy, which has triggered the quest for sensual fulfillment and rejection of authority.

Conclusion

This study has attempted to trace the shift to modernity and the role Lawrence played in this process. Per se, the rise of the modern novel exemplifies this new phenomenon and is a reflection of its awareness. The novel emerged as a new literary form out of the detachment of the private domain from the social relations. It has been exploited by Lawrence as his tool to emphasize the inner sources of the self, the assertion of ordinary life and the role of nature in moral discourse as origins of modern otherness. However his approach is less drawn into promoting a balance between the two parts of various dualities but more interested in transcending them.

Lawrence presents the coming of modernity within the context of self-affirmation and opposition to authority, so that he can depict the identity crisis at the loss of frameworks of existence. He mirrors the problems of modern times, in particular industrialization and the changing structure of economic relations, which led to a redefinition of the traditional sources of the self. Lawrence's vision of modernity is to a large extent a reaction to the establishment of industrial society. Control of one's future starts to slip away from the individual and goes into the hands of society. In the process, life is emptied of its meaning and excitement, and the selfs repositories of creative energy and regenerating powers are depleted. This also puts the damper on the source of passion and wonder at the great mystery of existence, and effectually sterilizes the cosmos into an uninspiring mechanic order, "no flowers grow upon busy machinery" [57].

Lawrence sets an example of self-affirmation through the power of the creative process for self-knowledge. He also lays special stress on individual's freedom of identification. Sollors says, "I think of D. H. Lawrence – the boy, the son of a coal miner; his mother a schoolteacher. I cannot imagine writing my story without the example of Lawrence" [58]. In this way, Lawrence has established himself as some sort of paragon of modernity. His works are centered not on the plot or character development, as much as on the individuation of the reader's reaction to what is happening. He is inviting and channeling potential reader's responses. Lawrence tries to make of writing an interactive process, a dialogue between the text and the reader, an aspect, which has developed a modern understanding of literature as such. His aim is not only to influence, but to make the reader think of the social environment and its problems. This makes Lawrence crucial for the understanding of modernity and the sources of the self.

 


NOTES TO THE TEXT:

1. See Alain Touraine, "Can We Live Together, Equal and Different?", European Journal of Social Theory, Nov 1998 v1 n8. P. 165-178.

2. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, (New York, Basic Books: 1973). P. 93-4.

3. Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process, (Oxford, Basil Blackwell: 1982).

4. Sören Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death, (Princeton Un. Press: 1980). P. 13-14.

5. In my study of D.H.Lawrence's vision of modern identity, I am using Charles Taylor's view of modern identity as outlined in Sources Of The Self: The Making Of Modern Identity (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1992).

6. D. H. Lawrence, The Rainbow, ed. Mark Kinkead-Weeks, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1989). P. 459.

7. This study would concentrate only on the first two sources of modernity: the inner domain of the self and the assertion of ordinary life. It is the author's belief that Lawrence's representation of nature and its relation to modern identity have more or less been suggested in other investigations.

8. Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel, (London, Penguin Books: 1993). P. 137.

9. Roger Kojecky, "Knowing good and evil: T.S.Eliot and Lady Chatterley's Lover", American National Quarterly, Summer 1998 vll n3. P. 37.

10. Ibid.

11. Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel, (London, Penguin Books: 1993), p. 184.

12. Ibid. P. 185.

13. Ibid. P. 123.

14. Noel Annan, Our Age:The Generation That Made Post-war Britain, (London, Fontána: 1990). P. 84.

15. D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent, (Cambridge University Press: 1987). P. 51.

16. Isobel M.Findlay, '"Word-Perfect But Deed-Demented': Canon Formation, Deconstruction, and the Challenge of D.H. Lawrence", Mosaic (Winnipeg), Sept 1995 v28 n3. P. 57.

17. David Trotter, The English Novel In History: 1895-1920, (NY, Routledge: 1993). P. 217.

18. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover,(New York, Bantam: 1983). P. 4.

19. David Trotter, The English Novel In History: 1895-1920. P. 162.

20. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1987). P. 79.

21. C. M.Cooley, Human nature and the social order (NY, Charles Scribner's and Sons: 1902).

22. See Alain Touraine, "Can We Live Together, Equal and Different?".

23. In its extremes the sense of place and the need of belonging have led to different forms of ethnic-attachment and nationalism.

24. Alain Touraine, Critique of Modernity (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers: 1995). P. 231-2.

25. R.Harre and G.Gillett, The Discursive Mind (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage: 1994). P. 132-3.

26. David Trotter, The English Novel In History: 1895-1920. P. 281.

27. Ibid. P. 117.

28. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery (eds.) The Philosophical Works of Descartes, (Camb
ridge, Dover: 1955). P. 157.

29. D. H. Lawrence, The Prussian Officer And Other Stories, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1983). P. 197.

30. T. Eagleton, The Illusions Of Postmodernism (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers: 1997). P. 116.

31. D. H. Lawrence. The Plumed Serpent (Cambridge, Cambridge Un. Press: 1987). P. 284.

32. Terry Eagleton, The Illusions Of Postmodernism. P. 120.

33. Isobel M.Findlay, "'Word-Perfect But Deed-Demented'". P. 57.

34. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love. P. 132.

35. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover. P. 105-6.

36. Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics (London, Routledge: 1993). P. 130.

37. Ibid. P. 95.

38. Noel Annan, Our Age: The Generation That Made Post-war Britain. P. 84.

39. Isobel M. Findlay, "'Word-Perfect But Deed-Demented'". P. 57.

40. Brett Neilson, "D. H. Lawrence's Dark Page': narrative primitivism in Women in Love and The Plumed Serpent", Twentieth Century Literature, Fall 1997 v43 n3. P. 310.

41. Charles Russell, Poets, Prophets and Revolutionaries (Oxford Un. Press: 1989). P. 133.

42. John Rodden, The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ' St. George' Orwell,(New York, Oxford University Press: 1989). P. 87.

43. Ibid. P. 174.

44. Ibid. P. 183.

45. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover. P. 133-4.

46. Charles Taylor, "Foucault on Freedom and Truth", in Philosophy and the Human Sciences (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1985).

47. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love. P. 127.

48. Ibid. P. 130.

49. D. H. Lawrence, Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1985). P. 103-4.

50. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover. P. 174.

51. D.H.Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent. P. 175.

52. Bridget Fowler, The Alienated Reader: Women and Popular Romantic Literature in the Twentieth Century (Hartfordshire, Harvester Wheatsheaf: 1991). P. 82.

53. Glen Cavaliero, The Supernatural In English Ficfion (0xford Un. Press: 1995). P. 57.

54. Ibid. P. 140.

55. H. McLeod, "Class, Community and Region: The Religious Geography of Nineteenth- Century England" in M.Hill (ed.), Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain, 6 (1973).

56. Glen Cavaliero, The Supernatural In English Fiction. P. 141.

57. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love. P. 193.

58. Werner Sollors, The Invention of Ethnicity, (NY: Oxford Un. Press, 1984). P. 5-6.

 
 
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Главная » Журнал » Топос № 3, 2000 » Философия и/или литература
 
 
 
 
Emilian Kavalski
MODERNITY AS THE OTHER: THE VISION OF D. H. LAWRENCE


The liminal period between the nineteenth and the twentieth century was marked by a breach in the traditional, more or less hierarchic, terrestrial order of things. This breach has divided the god-ordained universe from what came to be known as human consciousness; or if we employ the diction of some Augustinian dualists it represented a separation of the space from the soul. This division came to be acknowledged as modernity [1]. D. H. Lawrence had a distinct perception of modernity as the other against which and through which personal identity was envisaged. For him the establishment of industrial society exemplified the chain of institutionalized patterns aimed at suppressing the burgeoning of individuality. Lawrence outlined the promulgation of new modes of social order which attempted the construction of collective identity via the checks of unassailable symbols, evaluations, and activities "of and for society" [2]. As against these assumptions he rendered modernity as the other - in the sense of the opposite, the alternative - of the controlling socio-cultural structures. The advancement of industrial collective identity entailed the definition of the other or others and the establishment of relationships with them. This effected the constitution of similarities and attributes of appropriate human types or "civilized" persons [3]. Lawrence's protagonists were the others who conceived institutionalized industrial society as the other. He grasped modernity as the other of the other in the other's identity. This put Lawrence among the first to probe the depths of the relational self of modern identity:


...[the] self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation's relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation's relating itself to itself... . The human self is such a derived, established relation, a relation that relates itself to itself and in relating itself to itself relates itself to another [4].

However, his reflections into the domains of social life did not lead Lawrence to suspicion. His work is seeped with a desire for transcendence that does not attempt to structure the new experience. Instead he was exploring the creative liberty of the modern self to promote a transformation based on a renewed and more accurate view of identity's nature. He saw in the freedom of individual experience the main asset of modern identity. The dissolution of the integrated and hierarchical society cleared the way for a multitude of combinations of equality and diversity, where otherness was not suspicious. It is only by recognizing and acknowledging of the other that the individual can assert his or her otherness.

In this respect Lawrence was perhaps the first one to attempt bestowing new meaning to old concepts and assail the task of deciphering the new boundaries of the modern self. Lawrence has often been quoted as a proponent of a male self-consciousness, which underlies the language in his writings and this has usually been pointed out as his way of attempting to express the immediate feeling of life. In this study I would like to elaborate on this view and propound the thesis that in his works Lawrence was using notions and ideas which form the backbone of contemporary understanding of modern identity. It is my perception that Lawrence has conceived an alternative to the 'social being', which can only be defined as an underlying individuality. He virtually highlights the emerging trends on the intellectual horizons of his time and sets upon adumbrating the direction the major currents would take. Lawrence envisioned modern identity in its entirety and in his novels the characters strive to come to grips with it. He embarks on the task of depicting this new understanding of the self in its multifaceted diversity [5].

One of his major contributions in depicting the modern self is describing it as inner, drawing its sources from within. Lawrence attempts at retrieving the richness of the inward gaze, and probing the depth of individuality. He achieves this by drawing boundaries of self-expression - regardless of what we try to articulate, there is always more within us, which will remain ineffable. Therefore, the idea of an inner realm is central to the concept of the modern self.

Another aspect of modern identity, as delineated by Lawrence, is the assertion of ordinary life. In this way he rejects all forms of authority and hierarchy and opposes all distinctions based on inequality of the self. However Lawrence's protest is, unlike others before and after him, purely on the individual level; he does not rally for a mass movement, but his is a private dissension to subordination. This is an essentially modern interpretation of human dignity and the individual's power of self-affirmation rejecting all forms of institutional or social hierarchy.

A third source of modernity in the works of Lawrence is nature. He provides a modern definition of nature which explains the feelings it generates in us. In the relationship we establish with nature and just by the mere fact of being in nature we are able to create a particular association with the surrounding environment. The expanse of this intercourse and its personal and detached perspective undermines the institutionalized social order. This particular communion stirs our sentiments and emotions, because it reflects what and how we feel; it either awakens, or intensifies our moral experience. Nature triggers the ability of modern identity to come to terms with itself. Thanks to it, the individual achieves clarity and fullness of self-presence that was lacking before. For instance Ursula's regeneration in The Rainbow, "She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture the old brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heavens" [6]. Nature can awaken the purposes within ourselves and Lawrence's characters try to recover contact with this pool of ideas, by breaking the limitations of social opinion. Lawrence depicts that the modern self declines to act as expected, and rather follows its inner impulse [7].

In this way Lawrence prompts new modes of thought and thinking which trace the multifarious perplexity as well as richness of modern identity. Mapping the territory of such a vast intellectual phenomenon has not been an easy job. Fortunately for Lawrence there has been a trail leading to the wide expanses of modern identity, set by a tradition of writers and thinkers before him. But his contribution was in getting off the beaten track and trodding his own path into the wilderness of modernity. As Lawrence says in Lady Chatterley's Lover,

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habits, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future; but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen [8].

Inner Regions Of The Self

In the depiction of the first source of modernity - the inner domain of the self, Lawrence attempts to unravel the gist of this phenomenon. Eliot suggests, that "Lawrence started like wholly free from any restriction of tradition or institution, he had no guidance except the Inner Light" [9]. And Figs clearly indicates the power of his intuition,

Every fruit has its secret
...
Involved,
Inturned,
The flowering and womb-fibrilled;
And but one orifice

Confronting the problem of modern identity, Lawrence has to probe the depth and relevance of notions like right and good, and distinguish between them. For example, his novel, Lady Chatterly's Lover, portrayed a view of humanity and an order that challenged more orthodox structures, condemning life without joy or beauty. "A man like Lawrence, therefore, with his acute sensibility, violent prejudices and passions, and lack of intellectual and social training, is admirably fitted to be an instrument for forces of good or forces of evil" [10]. Lawrence's characters are constantly haunted by the specter of the modern dilemma whether a right action overlaps with a good one, or vice versa.

Subsequently this causes a crisis of identity, another idiosyncrasy of modernity. Lawrence explores the background of modern limitations, the boundaries within which our actions are realized. Thus he conjures up the notion of a set of values, which orient the individual in the maze of modern identity. These cornerstones circumscribe the horizons of the self, which serve as a link between identity and the surrounding universe. In his works the search for self-consciousness served to "reveal the contingency, the chaos, the underlying stress, of a life from which all wholeness and coherence had gone, and displayed the problem of finding order in a disordered age" [11]. This is a means for breaking up the "old stable ego" [12] and explore the energies of the self. Only within these frames can the individual understand and affirm his/hers identity. Without these horizons, the set of values of the self lose their meaning and become obsolete. In this way, Lawrence depicts an important feature of modernity - the awareness of individual limitations and their importance for self-realization. He is exploring the dissolution and renewal of the inner self; "He doesn't decipher, he experiences" [13] The question of frameworks relates to the modern anxiety of the meaning of human life. Lawrence makes it clear that the horizons of the self are actually the ones which give meaning to life; he "believed in the self as the final arbiter of every question" [14]. He reflects what Weber has termed "disenchantment" of the individual at the loss of the frameworks of the self, "Now the bright page was turned, and the dark page lay before her. How could one write on a page so profoundly black?" [15] Lawrence's characters are in search of a set of values to replace the old ones and within which they can articulate themselves, because language is no longer able to express the deep, inner surges of the self, "The Word is uttered, most of it: we need only pay true attention... . It is the Deed of life we have now to learn: we are supposed to have learnt the Word, but, alas, look at us. Word-perfect we may be, but Deed-demented" [16].

The subject of Lawrence's explorations were passionate changes, violent fluctuations of feeling which form the core of identity, but the obscurity of inwardness was what he was after. Trotter points out that Lawrence would have agreed with Frank Budgen's words, "In my book the body lives in and moves through space and is the home of a full human personality. The words I write are adapted to express first one of its functions then another" [17]. It is this expression, which gives the sense of meaningfulness to the spatial order surrounding the modern self, and which has urged Trotter to call Lawrence an "inventor".

Lawrence points out the importance of the power of articulation in the process of making sense of the world around us. By naming the objects which surround us, we virtually set the horizons of our selves. Through giving meaning to the world around us, we actually give meaning to our lives. So the sequence of self-expression is not a one-way process but a multifarious one. What is important in it is the personal experience. For example, the literary techniques Lawrence used in Lady Chatterley's Lover aimed at confusing the reader's verbal and visual perceptions. Instances of sexual intercourse: a vision by Connie's womb, and conversation about sex while centering on the talkers' heads split the reader's alertness and show how Lawrence was using language to help the reader travel beyond language. Words are so important to Connie and Hilda that they require intellectual discourse before they can be sensually involved, for neither is "ever in love with a young man unless he and she were verbally very near: that is unless they were profoundly interested, talking to one another" [18]. In this way language becomes central to the idea of individual assertion.

A very important part of the process of self-expression is the modern fear of meaninglessness of life. Paul Morel, the character from Sons and Lovers, is an example of this predicament. The fear of meaninglessness is a direct result from the loss of horizons of the self. Lawrence's protagonist is looking for the principles underlying modern behavior after failing to attach himself to the instrumental rationality of the workplace and the collective identity of the social group. Due to the development of modern economic relationships in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the value of work has been impoverished from its institutionalized meaning. That is how the process of giving life a modern interpretation was closely related to detecting a new source of self-worth. Ultimately Lawrence takes up the principle of individuation.

Thus the plight of finding the boundaries of one's selfhood could be overcome only through individual invention, and Lawrence is quick to stress the importance of creative imagination. Creative imagination is central in the process of self-expression, and in England, My England, Lawrence calls it, "the spear of modern invention" [19]. It provides the fuel for conceiving mentally the modes of articulating modern identity, reflecting an ability to express or deliver new ideas. Hence the privileged position of the creative process within modern society, and the people who are involved in it. In the chapter entitled "Fetish," when Birkin, in Halliday's London apartment, encounters an African carving depicting a woman in labor, he immediately classifies it as "art." The following conversation ensues when Gerald requests an explanation:

"Why is it art?" Gerald asked, shocked, resentful.
"It conveys a complete truth," said Birkin. "It contains the whole truth of that
state, whatever you feel about it."
"But you can't call it high art," said Gerald.
"High! There are centuries and hundreds of centuries of development in a straight
line, behind that carving; it is an awful pitch of culture, of a definite sort."
"What culture?" Gerald asked, in opposition. He hated the sheer African thing.
"Pure culture in sensation, culture in the physical consciousness, really ultimate
physical consciousness, mindless, utterly sensual. It is so sensual as to be final,
supreme" [20].

This is Lawrence's way of giving modern meaning to old concepts with the help of universal categories. As Trotter has suggested, what is termed Lawrence's sexual revolution, is in fact and in effect simply providing the words for an essentially modern experience. He also explicates that the sense of being a self is realized in the modern rupture between the outer and inner realms: on the one hand, it arises from the state of belonging to a particular community (miners, bourgeoisie, intellectuals), and on the other it is conceived in the process of communication with others, where the relation to them is important (relatives, neighbors, lovers). These establish the immediate boundaries of identity. Lawrence articulates the modern notion that the self enacts a particular story, depending on the understanding of social interactions and bonding. In modern culture though, this notion has challenged hierarchical order with its concept of individualization. The cognition we have of ourselves as individuals, both as socially determined and privately experienced, has been of central concern to modernity. [21] It was during Lawrence's lifetime that economic relationships started to develop on a more worldwide level, out of the grasp of political or social controls. This led to a division between the now desocialized economic activity and self-identity, which prompted the understanding that we are no longer mere citizens but producers whose identity is increasingly detached from what we do and related to what we are [22]. Lawrence traces the conflict between the two, in this way presenting another perspective on the faculties of the self and its powers of identification.

In Women in Love, Lawrence combines different types of interpretations to show how the modern world reflects the fall from spontaneous being and oneness into a separate ego marked by alienated self-consciousness, which is expressed in sexual conflict between the characters. However, he stresses the central role of the family for modern identity. Lawrence understood the modern need to belong somewhere in particular, not just to an abstract 'society'. In this respect the family or family-like relationships provided a sense of place. Place has the power to give stability to one's identity in the fleeting and fragmented world of modernity. In a period of constantly shifting economic institutions the sense of place had an ever increasing value for the deemed security and stability that it provided in the lodging the boundaries of modern identity [23]. That is how in a world of fragmentation the family established "intermediary territories where thought, collective action and ethics can find a home" [24].

The early chapters of Sons and Lovers are largely concerned with the relationship between Walter and Gertrude Morel and take place for the most part inside the family home. Probably, in this way Lawrence tries to warn of the danger of extreme or anarchist individualism and the ultimate effect it could have on society. In spite of its flaws and imperfections the family is an important source for realizing the boundaries of the self. It is the cultural matrix within which individuation can operate. The family functions as a necessary principle of unity of our life experiences as it stands at a "unique intersection point of human discourses and relationships" [25]. It is an island of security and love, from where the sources of individual identity are drawn. It provides the environment in which private sentiments flourish to the extent that the private realm is no longer part of the larger social structure, but an independent segment detached from the institutional order. In the modern environment, however, even family is to be redefined by different kinds of relationships. Trotter proclaims Lawrence as one of "the most striking examples in British and Irish fiction" of the distinct relationship of the "pseudo-couple" [26]. At its core, the "pseudo-couple" fulfills the same function as the family - giving social stability to the individual. But it is interesting to note, that Lawrence is quick to mark the fact that the family is a union of autonomous selves and it provides the ground for internal self-exploration.

Self-perception is vital in the distinction between inner and outer. For moderns the self has always been located within, coming from the depths of consciousness and it takes an inward gaze to become aware of its potentials. Lawrence, being as McKay says, a replacement of "the old spiritual masters who had not crossed with him into the new" [27], presents this as a modern idea, though one which has its roots in previous generations.

The dichotomy between inner and outer, underlines the modern belief of the separate state of body and self. As Descartes outlines in his Meditations, "bodies are not properly speaking known by the senses or by the faculty of the imagination, but by understanding only, and... they are not known from the fact that they are understood" [28]. Lawrence plays on the distinction between body and self, which enables him to depict so vividly the physical reactions and the inner state of his characters.

Life with its smoky burning gone from him, had left him apart and utterly alien to her. And she knew what a stranger he was to her. In her womb was ice of fear, because of this separate stranger with whom she had been living as one flesh. Was this what it all meant - utter, intact separateness, obscured by heat of living? In dread she turned her face away [29].

One problem embedded in the concept of modernity is the ability to define the self within a world marked by perpetual and multiple processes of change. What Lawrence tries to proffer is the idea to find within ourselves the one universal human nature. "A character in D. H. Lawrence's novel Aaron Rod plaintively suggests that all human beings are equal in their souls" 30, the only constant thing in an ephemeral world. He goes even further to state that the "races of the earth are like trees, in the end they neither mix nor mingle. They stand out of each other's way, like trees. Or else they crowd on one another" [31]. Lawrence proposes self-knowledge as the key to self-acceptance. He remarked that "when he was in the presence of another human being he experienced neither equality, nor inequality, but simply otherness" [32]. The idea of universality involves the concept of identity: at least for certain political purposes all individuals must be treated alike. He says, "We have, thought and spoken till now in terms of likeness and oneness. Now we must learn to think in terms of difference and otherness" [33]. Lawrence is dissatisfied with the social restrictions perverting the notion of human identity. Birkin tells Ursula: "I don't believe in the humanity I pretend to be a part of, I don't care a straw for the social ideals I live by, I hate the dying organic form of mankind" [34].

Identity is one of the pillars of modern thought, in times when many people languish for the lack of it. In Lady Chatterley's Lover, Lawrence suggests the power of novels to help the modern self in accepting its identity and getting rid of old concepts:

It is the way our sympathy flows and recoils that really determines our lives. And here lies the vast importance of the novel, properly handled. It can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead. Therefore, the novel, properly handled, can reveal the most secret places of life: for it is in the passional secret places of life, above all, that the tide of sensitive awareness needs to ebb and flow, cleansing and freshening [35].

In other words, Lawrence spells out the modern problem of accepting one's identity. Objectifying the notion of depth he outlines the importance of the individual self:

I don't so much care about what the woman feels - in the ordinary usage of the word. That presumes an ego to feel with. I only care about what the woman IS - what she is - inhumanly, physiologically, materially... [36]

Thus Lawrence stresses the importance of inwardness over notions of palpability. This is one of the predominant themes in modern culture. It aims at discovering the individual's demands, aspirations and desires and ultimately coming to terms with oneself. The process of self-exploration is central not only to modernity, but also to the works of Lawrence and leads to the articulation of one's essence. What he hints at is that being cognizant of one's true self can help in shaping and transfiguring reality through the powers of creative imagination. The narrator in Sons and Lovers, does not participate in the story and, as Rimmon-Kenan says, has the quality of "omniscience" but nevertheless this even furthers rather than rejects the, "familiarity, in principle, with the characters' innermost thoughts and feelings; knowledge of past present and future" which in essence helps in the representation of the self [37]. Lawrence introduces the modern idea that the self can actually assert itself. The true value of this concept can be realized only when contrasted with concepts like Darwin's belief that the self is determined by laws of natural selection, or Marx's idea of determination by the conditions of existence. The concept of self-assertion gives birth to the modern belief in the infinite dimensions of the self. It has also laid the foundations of modern understanding of free will. This is how Lawrence attempts at reflecting different notions of the inward gaze - one of the sources of modern identity. It had plunged him into the depths of this idea, pushing further the boundaries of the self.

Endorsement Of Ordinary Life

Another source of modernity in Lawrence's works is the notion of ordinary life as opposed to the division between higher and lower modes of life. Perhaps it came as a result of Lawrence's conviction that individuals are the only authors of their own lives, which sprung up from the modern assertion of the inner, private sphere of human existence as separate from the outer milieu of social intercourse. Most importantly his characters indicate a capacity to be aware of this condition. He "was the most vocal of all writers... in celebrating 'life'" [38]. It was everyone's effort to create his or her 'individual' life through which to articulate a particular self-identity. This has brought a clash of values on the issue of life's meaning. As Lawrence states in The White Peacock, "Be a good animal, true to your animal instincts". What he did was simply to show the virtues of ordinary life and their significance for modern identity. Sons and Lovers is indicative of such a development, especially in the life of Lawrence's progenitor Paul Morel. Good life comes to be understood as an interlacing of the sensual and the inner. In this context, a very interesting idea of Lawrence is the notion of transformation through art. Paul Morel explicates that the work of art is a whirlpool of words and images. The work of art is a surge of emotions and feelings, a pool of energy able to penetrate the boundaries of the self and transform it. He nearly equates life and art, "A great deal of the meaning of life and of art lies in the apparently dull spaces, the pauses, the unimportant passages. They are truly passages, the places of passing over" [39].

Within the notion of asserting ordinary life there is a subgroup of ideas refuting all concepts of institutionalized authority. Such an opposition to hierarchy has developed into a trademark of modern identity. What Lawrence hints at is that knowing is different from mere believing. Thus what the modern individual strives to achieve is the concept of truth. The fact that life "'conveys a complete truth' - is grounded in Western, if not specifically Romantic, notions of aesthetic form" [40]. Lawrence was looking for the experience of personal commitment or observation of nature. He was aspiring to the deep subconscious forces of the self, recognizing their influence on the instincts. Charles Russell says that Lawrence tries to "cast light upon the unrevealed and yet revealable portion of our being wherein all beauty, all love, all virtue that we can scarcely recognize in ourselves shine with great intensity" [41]. Each of these formulates the modern concepts of negation of tradition, unbelief and change in morality.

Lawrence is probably one of the few, who has done most to dispel the stereotypes of pre-modernity. John Rodden points out that whenever we think of Lawrence the first word that comes to mind is "passion" [42], which is one reason why he has the reputation of a "rebel" [43], though in fact he was the harbinger of modernity, a sort of "genius... and mystic or proselyte" [44]. Passions are, integral to the emotions of modernity. They beef up the ability of creative imagination; they elevate and free the self from the fetters of old . prejudices and create a state of interior satisfaction. Feelings and sentiments are at the heart of this move, because feeling that something is good, is what makes it such. This is part of the modern mapping of individuality and the important thing is what we make of the feelings within us. In this way sensual fulfillment starts to have a higher significance to the modern self, because as Lawrence says in Women In Love, words themselves do not convey meaning, they are but a "gesture we make, a dumb show like any other".

Lawrence even goes to the extent of stressing the centrality of physical pleasure and fulfillment for modern identity, underlining the physical nature of human desire. For example the daring and bold depiction of Connie's awakening consciousness:

... all her womb was open and soft and softly clamouring like a sea-anemone under the tides... . And she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring and in strange rhythms flushing up into her, with a strange, rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling till it filled all her cleaving consciousness. And then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation, swirling deeper and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness, till she was one perfect concentric fluid of feeling [45].

In this way, Lawrence tries to break the ice of old morality with his eloquent plea for the naturalness of sexual fulfillment. In giving significance to the satisfaction of sensual desire he has helped in expressing another very important concept of modernity, i.e. the relief of suffering. Similar concepts have been at the heart of modern understanding of human rights, based on the notion of individual dignity [46].

Out of the whole group of ideas defying the. role of authority, I think two have played a major role in the works of Lawrence. These are the redefinition of love, and the role of religion.

Lawrence attempts to show the hypocrisy tormenting the ordinary concept of love: "It's a lie to say that love is the greatest... What people want is hate - hate and nothing but hate. And in the name of righteousness and love, they get it. They distil themselves into nitro-glycerine, all the lot of them, out of very love. - It's the lie that kills" [47]. Birkin feels the dirt of overuse and abuse covering the notion of love; it has been abused in all types of contexts. He insists that the "point about love is that we hate the word because we have vulgarised it. It ought to be proscribed, tabooed from utterance, for many years, till we get a new, better idea" [48]. But what I consider crucial in Lawrence is that he is able simultaneously to express the phenomenon of falling in love, while depicting the ensuing change in the individual. He describes an erotic encounter from a male perspective:

... she is the unknown, the undiscovered, into which I plunge to discovery, losing myself... For a man who dares to look upon, and to venture within the unknown of the female, losing himself, like. . . a man who enters a primeval, virgin forest, feels, when he returns, the utmost gladness of singing ... the amazing joy of return from the adventure into the unknown, rich with addition to his soul. . . the inexhaustible riches lain under unknown skies over unknown seas [49].

The sensual fulfilment causes a reciprocal transformation in women as well:

Oh, and far down inside her the deeps parted and rolled asunder, in long, far-travelling billows, and ever, at the quick of her, the depths parted and rolled asunder ... and she was deeper and deeper and deeper disclosed, and heavier the billows of her rolled away to some shore, uncovering her, and closer and closer plunged the palpable unknown, and further and further rolled the waves of herself away from herself, leaving her, till... the consummation was upon her, and she was gone. She was gone, she was not, and she was born: a woman [50].

In both cases, sexual experience brings about an ascendance into the depth of self-knowledge. This change resembles a transformation of the self due to the surge of emotions within the domain of personal experience, which reflects the modern belief that love can alter the personality and elevate the self beyond the restrictions of reason.

The second result from the redefinition of authority is the decline of religion for modern identity. "There is no Before and After" proclaims Ramon in a sermon he delivers at Jamiltepec, "there is only Now" [51]. As a whole, unbelief reflects the very doubt of modernity towards any form of hierarchy. On the one hand, Lawrence represents this as a dichotomy between the "sensuality of male workers and the impotence of upper-class men" [52]. On the other, as Glen Cavaliero points out, Lawrence both despised and mistrusted the occult, the "sense of hiddenness to it embodied all that he viewed as rotten in contemporary attitudes to religion" [53]. Lawrence, "distrusted the professional clergy. In his work, a strong emotional response to landscape is matched with a sharp and at times an angry, awareness of the damaging muddle produced by the philosophy of literal minded materialism: he looks to a recognition of the energies of nature to replace traditional religious pieties" [54]. His criticism of religious order stems from the modern renunciation of religions for seeking to impose so-called truths on people and encouraging devotees to form closed communities. He also reflected a deeper disaffection among his contemporaries from the churches and their message [55]. The modern institutionalization of the 'public' and 'private' domains of ordinary life as separate entities endorses a particular awareness of religious experience. Lawrence foresaw that modernity would breed a sort of discrimination between the religious and secular spheres, which would ultimately lead to the marginalization of religion. Cavaliero also stresses that Lawrence's "preternatural" understanding of the divine is a sort of magical mental cosmos, which can only be felt and experienced in physiological terms:

[ Pan] was the God that was hidden in everything. In those days you saw the thing, you never saw the god in it... If you ever saw the god instead of the thing, you died... Pan was the hidden mystery - the hidden cause. That's how it was a Great God. Pan wasn't he at all; not even a great god. He was Pan. All: what you see when you see in full. In the daytime you see the thing. But if your third eye is open, which sees only the things that can't be seen, you may see Pan within the thing, hidden: you may see with your third eye, which is darkness [56].

Accentuating the importance of this modern understanding of love and religion, Lawrence has tried to introduce modernity, and express some of its source as coming from within the self, and in opposition to any form of hierarchical authority and subordination. Thus he has laid the foundation of ordinary life embedding it in the realm of feelings, asserting values important for the individual in comprehending the surrounding world. The affirmation of conventional identity has been set beyond the horizons of religion; thus giving it an opportunity to free itself from the clerical order of hierarchy, which has triggered the quest for sensual fulfillment and rejection of authority.

Conclusion

This study has attempted to trace the shift to modernity and the role Lawrence played in this process. Per se, the rise of the modern novel exemplifies this new phenomenon and is a reflection of its awareness. The novel emerged as a new literary form out of the detachment of the private domain from the social relations. It has been exploited by Lawrence as his tool to emphasize the inner sources of the self, the assertion of ordinary life and the role of nature in moral discourse as origins of modern otherness. However his approach is less drawn into promoting a balance between the two parts of various dualities but more interested in transcending them.

Lawrence presents the coming of modernity within the context of self-affirmation and opposition to authority, so that he can depict the identity crisis at the loss of frameworks of existence. He mirrors the problems of modern times, in particular industrialization and the changing structure of economic relations, which led to a redefinition of the traditional sources of the self. Lawrence's vision of modernity is to a large extent a reaction to the establishment of industrial society. Control of one's future starts to slip away from the individual and goes into the hands of society. In the process, life is emptied of its meaning and excitement, and the selfs repositories of creative energy and regenerating powers are depleted. This also puts the damper on the source of passion and wonder at the great mystery of existence, and effectually sterilizes the cosmos into an uninspiring mechanic order, "no flowers grow upon busy machinery" [57].

Lawrence sets an example of self-affirmation through the power of the creative process for self-knowledge. He also lays special stress on individual's freedom of identification. Sollors says, "I think of D. H. Lawrence – the boy, the son of a coal miner; his mother a schoolteacher. I cannot imagine writing my story without the example of Lawrence" [58]. In this way, Lawrence has established himself as some sort of paragon of modernity. His works are centered not on the plot or character development, as much as on the individuation of the reader's reaction to what is happening. He is inviting and channeling potential reader's responses. Lawrence tries to make of writing an interactive process, a dialogue between the text and the reader, an aspect, which has developed a modern understanding of literature as such. His aim is not only to influence, but to make the reader think of the social environment and its problems. This makes Lawrence crucial for the understanding of modernity and the sources of the self.

 


NOTES TO THE TEXT:

1. See Alain Touraine, "Can We Live Together, Equal and Different?", European Journal of Social Theory, Nov 1998 v1 n8. P. 165-178.

2. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, (New York, Basic Books: 1973). P. 93-4.

3. Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process, (Oxford, Basil Blackwell: 1982).

4. Sören Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death, (Princeton Un. Press: 1980). P. 13-14.

5. In my study of D.H.Lawrence's vision of modern identity, I am using Charles Taylor's view of modern identity as outlined in Sources Of The Self: The Making Of Modern Identity (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1992).

6. D. H. Lawrence, The Rainbow, ed. Mark Kinkead-Weeks, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1989). P. 459.

7. This study would concentrate only on the first two sources of modernity: the inner domain of the self and the assertion of ordinary life. It is the author's belief that Lawrence's representation of nature and its relation to modern identity have more or less been suggested in other investigations.

8. Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel, (London, Penguin Books: 1993). P. 137.

9. Roger Kojecky, "Knowing good and evil: T.S.Eliot and Lady Chatterley's Lover", American National Quarterly, Summer 1998 vll n3. P. 37.

10. Ibid.

11. Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel, (London, Penguin Books: 1993), p. 184.

12. Ibid. P. 185.

13. Ibid. P. 123.

14. Noel Annan, Our Age:The Generation That Made Post-war Britain, (London, Fontána: 1990). P. 84.

15. D. H. Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent, (Cambridge University Press: 1987). P. 51.

16. Isobel M.Findlay, '"Word-Perfect But Deed-Demented': Canon Formation, Deconstruction, and the Challenge of D.H. Lawrence", Mosaic (Winnipeg), Sept 1995 v28 n3. P. 57.

17. David Trotter, The English Novel In History: 1895-1920, (NY, Routledge: 1993). P. 217.

18. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover,(New York, Bantam: 1983). P. 4.

19. David Trotter, The English Novel In History: 1895-1920. P. 162.

20. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1987). P. 79.

21. C. M.Cooley, Human nature and the social order (NY, Charles Scribner's and Sons: 1902).

22. See Alain Touraine, "Can We Live Together, Equal and Different?".

23. In its extremes the sense of place and the need of belonging have led to different forms of ethnic-attachment and nationalism.

24. Alain Touraine, Critique of Modernity (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers: 1995). P. 231-2.

25. R.Harre and G.Gillett, The Discursive Mind (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage: 1994). P. 132-3.

26. David Trotter, The English Novel In History: 1895-1920. P. 281.

27. Ibid. P. 117.

28. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery (eds.) The Philosophical Works of Descartes, (Camb
ridge, Dover: 1955). P. 157.

29. D. H. Lawrence, The Prussian Officer And Other Stories, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1983). P. 197.

30. T. Eagleton, The Illusions Of Postmodernism (Oxford, Blackwell Publishers: 1997). P. 116.

31. D. H. Lawrence. The Plumed Serpent (Cambridge, Cambridge Un. Press: 1987). P. 284.

32. Terry Eagleton, The Illusions Of Postmodernism. P. 120.

33. Isobel M.Findlay, "'Word-Perfect But Deed-Demented'". P. 57.

34. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love. P. 132.

35. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover. P. 105-6.

36. Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics (London, Routledge: 1993). P. 130.

37. Ibid. P. 95.

38. Noel Annan, Our Age: The Generation That Made Post-war Britain. P. 84.

39. Isobel M. Findlay, "'Word-Perfect But Deed-Demented'". P. 57.

40. Brett Neilson, "D. H. Lawrence's Dark Page': narrative primitivism in Women in Love and The Plumed Serpent", Twentieth Century Literature, Fall 1997 v43 n3. P. 310.

41. Charles Russell, Poets, Prophets and Revolutionaries (Oxford Un. Press: 1989). P. 133.

42. John Rodden, The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ' St. George' Orwell,(New York, Oxford University Press: 1989). P. 87.

43. Ibid. P. 174.

44. Ibid. P. 183.

45. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover. P. 133-4.

46. Charles Taylor, "Foucault on Freedom and Truth", in Philosophy and the Human Sciences (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1985).

47. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love. P. 127.

48. Ibid. P. 130.

49. D. H. Lawrence, Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 1985). P. 103-4.

50. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover. P. 174.

51. D.H.Lawrence, The Plumed Serpent. P. 175.

52. Bridget Fowler, The Alienated Reader: Women and Popular Romantic Literature in the Twentieth Century (Hartfordshire, Harvester Wheatsheaf: 1991). P. 82.

53. Glen Cavaliero, The Supernatural In English Ficfion (0xford Un. Press: 1995). P. 57.

54. Ibid. P. 140.

55. H. McLeod, "Class, Community and Region: The Religious Geography of Nineteenth- Century England" in M.Hill (ed.), Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain, 6 (1973).

56. Glen Cavaliero, The Supernatural In English Fiction. P. 141.

57. D. H. Lawrence, Women In Love. P. 193.

58. Werner Sollors, The Invention of Ethnicity, (NY: Oxford Un. Press, 1984). P. 5-6.

 
 
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