Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Annotated Nexus - Pages 39, 40

39.0 Henry wonders about Love: its sincerity, its selfishness, its power to submit us to bondage to another, or to the emotion itself. He appears to speak objectively, without direct reference to himself, saying "we" instead of "I." In context, it's clear he is really talking about his own feelings for Mona (June). This passage actually ends at the top of page 41, bookending the idea of the foolish/brave quest of the Knight Errant [38.6] from Page 38.

39.1 great figures that have accepted their lot...
After a series of rhetorical questions about the sacrifices people make in the name of love, Miller admits that there are a few notible exceptions who have "accepted their lot, who have sat apart in silence and solitude, and eaten out their hearts." He doesn't name these "great figures," and I find myself hard-pressed to think of any other than English queens and other royalty who have been reported to have had romances that went unfulfilled; i.e. Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria. Feel free to add others in the Comments section.

39.2 "In pure love (which no doubt does not exist at all except in our imagination) the giver is not aware that he gives nor of what he gives, nor to whom he gives, still less of whether it is appreciated by the recipient or not."
Miller provides this quote as a concise explanation of true or "pure love." For someone who so freely name-drops writers and thinkers he admires, it's a bit odd that, in this case, Miller merely attributes this quote to "one I admire." I can't find a source for this quote; perhaps the admired one is a friend, or the quote is completely wrong or antiquated. Most references I've found to "pure love" are religious in nature (the religious obsession with purity). Maybe its from a religious source?

39.3 D'Accord
French, meaning "in accordance with"; i.e. "OK!" "I agree." This is Miller's response to the defintion of "pure love" cited above. But he doubts anyone is capable of expressing this level of love, except for those who, ironically, "no longer have need for love."

40.1 God in action, as someone has said
Miller wonders if the "mysterious energy which is identifed with the life of the universe" is in fact a "manifestation of love." He also mentions that "someone" has refered to this as "God in action." This may be Karl Barth, who published an essay called God In Action in 1936.
40.2 Lazarus was raised from the dead, if Jesus rose from the tomb
A reference to the biblical tale of Lazarus told in the Gospel of John, of Jesus bringing one of his believers back to life. And then there's the more famous story of the resurrection of Jesus. This is a highly (excessive!) romantic passage from Miller, in which he states that "whole universes which now cease to exist" can be revived when love conquers wisdom. Both a corpse and a spirit contains life, he says -- using the back-from-death tales of Lazarus and Jesus as his examples of the possibility of physical revival through the power of love. Passages like this confuse me about Miller's stance on religion.

Read page 39 of Nexus at Google Books.

<--- Previous Page 38 . . . . Next Pages 41-42 --->

7 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Lehman said...

"Passages like this confuse me about Miller's stance on religion."

This seems to me to be a central point that begs one of us to write a paper about. Here's my take: These are novels, with a character who is like Miller, but who develops and changes over time. We, as Miller devotees, (and we are not alone - everyone does this with their favorite writers) tend to ascribe philosophical importance to everything said, and to think of the words of our hero as static and immovable. But again, these are novels, not logically ordered philosophical doctrine. That doesn't mean that these problems are always contradictions, necessarily, but rather a development of thought and of character.

Whew. What do you think, RC?

11:28 am  
Blogger RC said...

I agree with you, Eric, and that explains the inconsistencies. But I think I've seen him make literal biblical references in a variety of works. Enough to make me wonder if he really believed in it or not. Then again, perhaps he just liked mythology, and liked to accept the religious figures of all faiths equally, as a pantheon of representative characters of the human condition. In the end, as you say, he probably just used or dismissed these religious figures as his mood and narrative flow dictated.

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