Thursday, July 3, 2014

as sheep were placed where there ought to be sheep

The evidence that both Michael and Powys present, for the survival of “personality,” is the same evidence, which is intransigence, or else desire, and also both: my personality is “vital” and “loving,” it belongs to me, and therefore it “must last” or else the universe is fundamentally wrong. As if extinction is the moral flaw of existence, or as though death is a burglar who can be told that it is wrong to steal, or as if the afterlife can be bullied or reasoned with, or have its arm twisted.

Michael associates fairness with the existence of a God. Powys doesn't. God exists in the posthumous Powys books but he behaves like another human character with moods and depressions, not like the ineffable Christian god; he is closer to a Greek or Roman god.

The character from Walter Scott's Heart of Midlothian believes that the character of the post-death personality will depend on the activity of the body prior to its death.

"For ever! -- we are not -- we cannot be lost for ever," said Butler, looking upward; "death is to us change, not consummation; and the commencement of a new existence, corresponding in character to the deeds which we have done in the body."

Butler doesn't doubt that he knows the nature of the being that will pass judgment on that correspondence. This is the same voice that approves of the Highland Clearances in H.H. Dixon's Field and Fern (1865) by calling them “wholesome and right, as sheep were placed where there ought to be sheep, and men where there ought to be men.” It is the tone of the person who knows how winning is done.

Winning, for Butler and for Dixon, is is accomplished through the rhythmic and symmetrical sense of form that the translator of my Buddenbrooks calls “a triumph of style” when he recognises it in Thomas Mann.

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