08 February 2013

Sex Is the Actual Crisis of Love

An audio recording of chapter 6 (full text) of Studies in Classic American Literature by D. H. Lawrence, "Edgar Allan Poe."

But Poe is rather a scientist than an artist. He is reducing his own self as a scientist reduces a salt in a crucible. It is an almost chemical analysis of the soul and consciousness. Whereas in true art there is always the double rhythm of creating and destroying.

This is why Poe calls his things 'tales'. They are a concatenation of cause and effect.

His best pieces, however, are not tales. They are more. They are ghastly stories of the human soul in its disruptive throes.

Moreover, they are 'love' stories.

Ligeia and The Fall of the House of Usher are really love stories.

Love is the mysterious vital attraction which draws things together, closer, closer together. For this reason sex is the actual crisis of love. For in sex the two blood-systems, in the male and female, concentrate and come into contact, the merest film intervening. Yet if the intervening film breaks down, it is death.

So there you are. There is a limit to everything. There is a limit to love.

The central law of all organic life is that each organism is intrinsically isolate and single in itself.

The moment its isolation breaks down, and there comes an actual mixing and confusion, death sets in.

This is true of every individual organism, from man to amoeba.

But the secondary law of all organic life is that each organism only lives through contact with other matter, assimilation, and contact with other life, which means assimilation of new vibrations, non-material. Each individual organism is vivified by intimate contact with fellow organisms: up to a certain point.

So man. He breathes the air into him, he swallows food and water. But more than this. He takes into him the life of his fellow men, with whom he comes into contact, and he gives back life to them. This contact draws nearer and nearer, as the intimacy increases. When it is a whole contact, we call it love. Men live by food, but die if they eat too much. Men live by love, but die, or cause death, if they love too much.


  1. And do we turn to the Holy or, as Lawrence believes Poe did, race toward "the vibrations beyond any human pitch of endurance"? It is an enduring question. "We live to stand alone, and listen to the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost, who is inside us, and who is many gods ... we have to obey the God of the innermost hour." I believe each of us is alone.

  2. This seems to be wholly contingent on one's tribal weather. Poe was indeed profoundly alone. I don't think that of Lawrence.

    Lawrence wants us to be true to our truest selves. And while very nearly or wholly Fascist in much of his writing toward the end of his life, he didn't have a program for turning men and women into any kind of better being OTHER than that each of us has to find that we are many selves and that some of them are liars and some will lead us astray. That we must always be questing within the self for the truest and deepest resonance. We are alone, but we can vibrate in harmony.

    The betterment societies, as represented in Franklin's 13 commandments toward directing our improvement, always know the right way for the whole of us. Their way.