Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Hounded to death: the last years of T. E. Shaw. 8. The puer aeternus theory: (ii)

Stained glass window, Longwy steel factory
Louis Majorelle (1859-1926)

"...work is the one disagreeable word which no puer aeternus likes to hear, and Jung came to the conclusion that it was the right answer. My experience also has been that if a man pulls out of this kind of youthful neurosis, then it is through work. There are, however, some misunderstandings in this connection, for the puer aeternus can work ... when fascinated or in a state of great enthusiasm. Then he can work twenty-four hours at a stretch or even longer, until he breaks down, but what he cannot do is to work on a dreary, rainy morning when work is boring and one has to kick oneself into doing it; that is the one thing the puer aeternus usually cannot manage and will use any kind of excuse to avoid." 
Marie-louise von Franz, The Problem of the Puer Aeternus, p. 10

Although T. E. Lawrence often worked extremely long hours in producing Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and it had been a dream of his to make it a great example of English literature, he became doubtful of his abilities as a writer and even when readers praised it highly, his self-doubt could not be budged. Yet he laboured on in rewrites and in editing. This fervor was not that of youthful enthusiasm, but yet another way of hardening himself; of overcoming his physical image of the boy and its characteristic attributes. We should think, again, about the illusory brain/mind separation for it is much like what has been said about London; that no matter what London you are looking for, you will find it there. It is a matter of multiple realities; a transdisciplinary view; the photon acts like a wave when you look for the wave, and it acts like a particle when you look for the particle. Proponents of any differing views of anything can throw proofs in each other's faces constantly and never change their outlook. It is only by finding the T-state of Transdisciplinarity; the included middle instead of the excluded middle of classical logic that we start to see the connectiveness of multiple realities.

In trying to handle his perceived physical shortcomings, T. E. would have also cured himself of the puer aeternus neurosis had he been encumbered by that. His puer aeternus was a physical state. Yet, the work had the same effect on his perception of the problem. Being an introverted intuitive, he had no need to consciously find that T-state and so he never spoke about his work in relation to overcoming his physical appearance. His attitudes toward work would have just felt right without any connections he could verbalize. But this, too, is the nature of the collective unconscious: what is inherited, biologically, is not the mythical contents and images by which the collective unconscious is perceived, but a brain structure that is inherited and allows the mind to frame that structure by the means of such mythical imagery. Even the original myths, themselves, are expressions, in their own right of this translation from brain structure, to instinctive responses to imaginative narrative, each connected at the T-state. We can find an analogy in this, in epigenetics and how it is really quite different from Lamarckism

To end the subject of the puer aeternus theory, I have selected, again, a series of excerpts from his letters that reveal his work-dilligence in matters that no one could mistake for "youthful enthusiasm" and an abandonment of all that could be felt as drudgery. What follows are not the working habits of the psychologically-caused puer aeternus. And we must so assume that the puer aeternus can have a physical correlate that is unresponsive to the problems of its psychological equivalent. I have also included the beginnings of another thread of T. E.'s consciousness; that of his unwelcome fame. Individuals cannot be pigeon holed by single traits and and our multiple concerns all interrelate through other T-states. This is what makes each of us unique.

To his family, June 23rd, 1915 from the Military Intelligence Office in Cairo

"I got a letter yesterday asking for more details of what I am doing. Well, drawing, and overseeing the drawing of maps: overseeing printing and packing of same: sitting in an office coding and decoding telegrams, interviewing prisoners, writing reports, and giving information from 9a.m. till 7p.m. After that feed and read, and then go to bed. I'm sick of pens, ink and paper: and have no wish ever to send off another telegram. We do daily wires to Athens, Gallipoli, and Petrograd: and receive five times what we send, all in cypher, which is slow work, though we have a good staff dealing with them."

To Edward Garnett, August 26th, 1922

"I enlisted in the R.A.F. to find a fresh plane of activity: for it is very difficult for me to do nothing, and I've tried soldiering, and science, and politics, and writing: and manual labour seemed the obvious next."

To Edward Garnett, January 3oth, 1923

"I'm overdue in writing, but have been inordinately worried. The R.A.F. have sacked me, for the crime of possessing too wide a publicity for a ranker: and as I'm as broke as usual the sacking is immediately and physically inconvenient. Also it's annoying to have worked myself up to the point of seeing much good and some thrills in barrack life, and then to be kicked out."

To R. V. Buxton, 10th May, 1928

"Karachi has been bad, lately: and I have asked Sir Geoffrey Salmond to take me away to some squadron up-country. It's not our Section Officers who are concerned. I like the puzzled honesty of F/Lt. Angell, my immediate C.O.: and he is very decent to me. But higher up they panic, apparently, over my mere existence in their camp."

To Jonathan Cape, 30th June, 1928

"I've left Karachi, for good: and have, I hope, settled in this queer little place, a brick and barbed-wire fort on the Afghan border. We are not allowed beyond the wire: so that we have few temptations except boredom and laziness. I'm never bored: and for the laziness I've just done a sample 400 lines of a prose translation of some Greek poetry, for an American firm, that wants to produce something de luxe. If they like it, they'll ask me to do more. My ambition is to earn £200 in the next 19 months, and then come home and buy a motor-bike!"

To H. S. Ede, 30th June 1928 from Miranshah

"Here they employ me mainly in the office. I am the only airman who can work a typewriter, so I do D.R.Os. and correspondence: and act postman, and pay-clerk, and bottle washer in ordinary. Normally flights do two months here, and get relieved: but I will try and get left on. It's the station of a dream: as though one had fallen right over the world, and had lost one's memory of its troubles. And the quietness is so intense that I rub my ears, wondering if I am going deaf. ... and the fellows in camp sit on their beds, round mine, and read tit-bits of their books at me, and say 'Now, who'd have thought that, if he'd known you?' They regard my legend as a huge joke: if it wasn't my legend, I'd do ditto."

To David Garnett, 19th November, 1930

"The Odyssey must finish before the spring and that means 45 hours a week - on top of my R.A.F. 48 hours: and that makes a full working day all through, without the indulgence of weekends."

John's Coydog Community page

No comments:

Post a Comment