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D. H. Lawrence

The Holy Family

Fantasia of the Unconscious: Chapter II

Published on: Wednesday 27 June 2007

D. H. Lawrence, Fantasia of the Unconscious, Thomas Seltzer, Inc., New York, 1922.


We are all very pleased with Mr. Einstein for knocking that eternal axis out of the universe. The universe isn’t a spinning wheel. It is a cloud of bees flying and veering round. Thank goodness for that, for we were getting drunk on the spinning wheel.

So that now the universe has escaped from the pin which was pushed through it, like an impaled fly vainly buzzing: now that the multiple universe flies its own complicated course quite free, and hasn’t got any hub, we can hope also to escape.

We won’t be pinned down, either. We have no one law that governs us. For me there is only one law: I am I. And that isn’t a law, it’s just a remark. One is one, but one is not all alone. There are other stars buzzing in the center of their own isolation. And there is no straight path between them. There is no straight path between you and me, dear reader, so don’t blame me if my words fly like dust into your eyes and grit between your teeth, instead of like music into your ears. I am I, but also you are you, and we are in sad need of a theory of human relativity. We need it much more than the universe does. The stars know how to prowl round one another without much damage done. But you and I, dear reader, in the first conviction that you are me and that I am you, owing to the oneness of mankind, why, we are always falling foul of one another, and chewing each other’s fur.

You are not me, dear reader, so make no pretentions to it. Don’t get alarmed if I say things. It isn’t your sacred mouth which is opening and shutting. As for the profanation of your sacred ears, just apply a little theory of relativity, and realize that what I say is not what you hear, but something uttered in the midst of my isolation, and arriving strangely changed and travel-worn down the long curve of your own individual circumambient atmosphere. I may say Bob, but heaven alone knows what the goose hears. And you may be sure that a red rag is, to a bull, something far more mysterious and complicated than a socialist’s necktie.

So I hope now I have put you in your place, dear reader. Sit you like Watts’ Hope on your own little blue globe, and I’ll sit on mine, and we won’t bump into one another if we can help it. You can twang your old hopeful lyre. It may be music to you, so I don’t blame you. It is a terrible wowing in my ears. But that may be something in my individual atmosphere; some strange deflection as your music crosses the space between us. Certainly I never hear the concert of World Regeneration and Hope Revived Again without getting a sort of lock-jaw, my teeth go so keen on edge from the twanging harmony. Still, the world-regenerators may really be quite excellent performers on their own jews’-harps. Blame the edginess of my teeth.

Now I am going to launch words into space so mind your cosmic eye.

As I said in my small but naturally immortal book, "Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious," there’s more in it than meets the eye. There’s more in you, dear reader, than meets the eye. What, don’t you believe it? Do you think you’re as obvious as a poached egg on a piece of toast, like the poor lunatic? Not a bit of it, dear reader. You’ve got a solar plexus, and a lumbar ganglion not far from your liver, and I’m going to tell everybody. Nothing brings a man home to himself like telling everybody. And I will drive you home to yourself, do you hear? You’ve been poaching in my private atmospheric grounds long enough, identifying yourself with me and me with everybody. A nice row there’d be in heaven if Aldebaran caught Sirius by the tail and said, "Look here, you’re not to look so green, you damm dog-star! It’s an offense against star-regulations."

Which reminds me that the Arabs say the shooting stars, meteorites, are starry stones which the angels fling at the poaching demons whom they catch sight of prowling too near the palisades of heaven. I must say I like Arab angels. My heaven would coruscate like a catherine wheel, with white-hot star-stones. Away, you dog, you prowling cur.—Got him under the left ear-hole, Gabriel—! See him, see him, Michael? That hopeful blue devil! Land him one! Biff on your bottom, you hoper.

But I wish the Arabs wouldn’t entice me, or you, dear reader, provoke me to this. I feel with you, dear reader, as I do with a deaf-man when he pushes his vulcanite ear, his listening machine, towards my mouth. I want to shout down the telephone ear-hole all kinds of improper things, to see what effect they will have on the stupid dear face at the end of the coil of wire.

After all, words must be very different after they’ve trickled round and round a long wire coil. Whatever becomes of them! And I, who am a bit deaf myself, and may in the end have a deaf-machine to poke at my friends, it ill becomes me to be so unkind, yet that’s how I feel. So there we are.

Help me to be serious, dear reader.

In that little book, "Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious," I tried rather wistfully to convince you, dear reader, that you had a solar plexus and a lumbar ganglion and a few other things. I don’t know why I took the trouble. If a fellow doesn’t believe he’s got a nose, the best way to convince him is gently to waft a little pepper into his nostrils. And there was I painting my own nose purple, and wistfully inviting you to look and believe. No more, though.

You’ve got first and foremost a solar plexus, dear reader; and the solar plexus is a great nerve center which lies behind your stomach. I can’t be accused of impropriety or untruth, because any book of science or medicine which deals with the nerve-system of the human body will show it to you quite plainly. So don’t wriggle or try to look spiritual. Because, willy-nilly, you’ve got a solar plexus, dear reader, among other things. I’m writing a good sound science book, which there’s no gainsaying.

Now, your solar plexus, most gentle of readers, is where you are you. It is your first and greatest and deepest center of consciousness. If you want to know how conscious and when conscious, I must refer you to that little book, "Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious."

At your solar plexus you are primarily conscious: there, behind you stomach. There you have the profound and pristine conscious awareness that you are you. Don’t say you haven’t. I know you have. You might as well try to deny the nose on your face. There is your first and deepest seat of awareness. There you are triumphantly aware of your own individual existence in the universe. Absolutely there is the keep and central stronghold of your triumphantly-conscious self. There you are, and you know it. So stick out your tummy gaily, my dear, with a Me voilà. With a Here I am! With an Ecco mi! With a Da bin ich! There you are, dearie.

But not only a triumphant awareness that There you are. An exultant awareness also that outside this quiet gate, this navel, lies a whole universe on which you can lay tribute. Aha—at birth you closed the central gate for ever. Too dangerous to leave it open. Too near the quick. But there are other gates. There are eyes and mouths and ears and nostrils, besides the two lower gates of the passionate body, and the closed but not locked gates of the breasts. Many gates. And besides the actual gates, the marvelous wireless communication between the great center and the surrounding or contiguous world.

Authorized science tells you that this first great plexus, this all-potent nerve-center of consciousness and dynamic life-activity is a sympathetic center. From the solar plexus as from your castle-keep you look around and see the fair lands smiling, the corn and fruit and cattle of your increase, the cottages of your dependents and the halls of your beloveds. From the solar plexus you know that all the world is yours, and all is goodly.

This is the great center, where in the womb, your life first sparkled in individuality. This is the center that drew the gestating maternal blood-stream upon you, in the nine-months lurking, drew it on you for your increase. This is the center whence the navel-string broke, but where the invisible string of dynamic consciousness, like a dark electric current connecting you with the rest of life, will never break until you die and depart from corporate individuality.

They say, by the way, that doctors now perform a little operation on the born baby, so that no more navel shows. No more belly-buttons, dear reader! Lucky I caught you this generation, before the doctors had saved your appearances. Yet, caro mio, whether it shows or not, there you once had immediate connection with the maternal blood-stream. And, because the male nucleus which derived from the father still lies sparkling and potent within the solar plexus, therefore that great nerve-center of you, still has immediate knowledge of your father, a subtler but still vital connection. We call it the tie of blood. So be it. It is a tie of blood. But much more definite than we imagine. For true it is that the one bright male germ which went to your begetting was drawn from the blood of the father. And true it is that that same bright male germ lies unquenched and unquenchable at the center of you, within the famous solar plexus. And furthermore true is it that this unquenched father-spark within you sends forth vibrations and dark currents of vital activity all the time; connecting direct with your father. You will never be able to get away from it while you live.

The connection with the mother may be more obvious. Is there not your ostensible navel, where the rupture between you and her took place? But because the mother-child relation is more plausible and flagrant, is that any reason for supposing it deeper, more vital, more intrinsic? Not a bit. Because if the large parent mother-germ still lives and acts vividly and mysteriously in the great fused nucleus of your solar plexus, does the smaller, brilliant male-spark that derived from your father act any less vividly? By no means. It is different—it is less ostensible. It may be even in magnitude smaller. But it may be even more vivid, even more intrinsic. So beware how you deny the father-quick of yourself. You may be denying the most intrinsic quick of all.

In the same way it follows that, since brothers and sisters have the same father and mother, therefore in every brother and sister there is a direct communication such as can never happen between strangers. The parent nuclei do not die within the new nucleus. They remain there, marvelous naked sparkling dynamic life-centers, nodes, well-heads of vivid life itself. Therefore in every individual the parent nuclei live, and give direction connection, blood connection we call it, with the rest of the family. It is blood connection. For the fecundating nuclei are the very spark-essence of the blood. And while life lives the parent nuclei maintain their own centrality and dynamic effectiveness within the solar plexus of the child. So that every individual has mother and father both sparkling within himself.

But this is rather a preliminary truth than an intrinsic truth. The intrinsic truth of every individual is the new unit of unique individuality which emanates from the fusion of the parent nuclei. This is the incalculable and intangible Holy Ghost each time—each individual his own Holy Ghost. When, at the moment of conception, the two parent nuclei fuse to form a new unit of life, then takes place the great mystery of creation. A new individual appears—not the result of the fusion merely. Something more. The quality of individuality cannot be derived. The new individual, in his singleness of self, is a perfectly new whole. He is not a permutation and combination of old elements, transferred through the parents. No, he is something underived and utterly unprecedented, unique, a new soul.

This quality of pure individuality is, however, only the one supreme quality. It consummates all other qualities, but does not consume them. All the others are there, all the time. And only at his maximum does an individual surpass all his derivative elements, and become purely himself. And most people never get there. In his own pure individuality a man surpasses his father and mother, and is utterly unknown to them. "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" But this does not alter the fact that within him lives the mother-quick and the father-quick, and that though in his wholeness he is rapt away beyond the old mother-father connections, they are still there within him, consummated but not consumed. Nor does it alter the fact that very few people surpass their parents nowadays, and attain any individuality beyond them. Most men are half-born slaves: the little soul they are born with just atrophies, and merely the organism emanates, the new self, the new soul, the new swells into manhood, like big potatoes.

So there we are. But considering man at his best, he is at the start faced with the great problem. At the very start he has to undertake his tripartite being, the mother within him, the father within him, and the Holy Ghost, the self which he is supposed to consummate, and which mostly he doesn’t.

And there it is, a hard physiological fact. At the moment of our conception, the father nucleus fuses with the mother nucleus, and the wonder emanates, the new self, the new soul, the new individual cell. But in the new individual cell the father-germ and the mother-germ do not relinquish their identity. There they remain still, incorporated and never extinguished. And so, the blood-stream of race is one stream, for ever. But the moment the mystery of pure individual newness ceased to be enacted and fulfilled, the blood-stream would dry up and be finished. Mankind would die out.

Let us go back then to the solar plexus. There sparkle the included mother-germ and father-germ, giving us direct, immediate blood-bonds, family connection. The connection is as direct and as subtle as between the Marconi stations, two great wireless stations. A family, if you like, is a group of wireless stations, all adjusted to the same, or very much the same vibration. All the time they quiver with the interchange, there is one long endless flow of vitalistic communication between members of one family, a long, strange rapport, a sort of life-unison. It is a ripple of life through many bodies as through one body. But all the time there is the jolt, the rupture of individualism, the individual asserting himself beyond all ties or claims. The highest goal for every man is the goal of pure individual being. But it is a goal you cannot reach by the mere rupture of all ties. A child isn’t born by being torn from the womb. When it is born by natural process that is rupture enough. But even then the ties are not broken. They are only subtilized.

From the solar plexus first of all pass the great vitalistic communications between child and parents, the first interplay of primal, pre-mental knowledge and sympathy. It is a great subtle interplay, and from this interplay the child is built up, body and psyche. Impelled from the primal conscious center in the abdomen, the child seeks the mother, seeks the breast, opens a blind mouth and gropes for the nipple. Not mentally directed and yet certainly directed. Directed from the dark pre-mind center of the solar plexus. From this center the child seeks, the mother knows. Hence the true mindlessness of the pristine, healthy mother. She does not need to think, mentally to know. She knows so profoundly and actively at the great abdominal life-center.

But if the child thus seeks the mother, does it then know the mother alone? To an infant the mother is the whole universe. Yet the child needs more than the mother. It needs as well the presence of men, the vibration from the present body of the man. There may not be any actual, palpable connection. But from the great voluntary center in the man pass unknowable communications and unreliable nourishment of the stream of manly blood, rays which we cannot see, and which so far we have refused to know, but none the less essential, quickening dark rays which pass from the great dark abdominal life-center in the father to the corresponding center in the child. And these rays, these vibrations, are not like the mother-vibrations. Far, far from it. They do not need the actual contact, the handling and the caressing. On the contrary, the true male instinct is to avoid physical contact with a baby. It may not need even actual presence. But present or absent, there should be between the baby and the father that strange, intangible communication, that strange pull and circuit such as the magnetic pole exercises upon a needle, a vitalistic pull and flow which lays all the life-plasm of the baby into the line of vital quickening, strength, knowing. And any lack of this vital circuit, this vital interchange between father and child, man and child, means an inevitable impoverishment to the infant.

The child exists in the interplay of two great life-waves, the womanly and the male. In appearance, the mother is everything. In truth, the father has actively very little part. It does not matter much if he hardly sees his child. Yet see it he should, sometimes, and touch it sometimes, and renew with it the connection, the life-circuit, not allow it to lapse, and so vitally starve his child.

But remember, dear reader, please, that there is not the slightest need for you to believe me, or even read me. Remember, it’s just your own affair. Don’t implicate me.

View online : Chapter III: Plexuses, Planes and so on

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