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about: resting in pizzaronis and panacea. . "The laws of the universe are not indifferent, but are forever on the side of the most sensitive. Listen to every zephyr for some reproof, for it is surely there, and he is unfortunate who does not hear it."

Time In and Time Out: An Essay on Prose and Time in The Sound and The Fury

Metaphysics has been a curious subject of philosophical circles for millennia. Plato believed that knowledge of the universe existed apriori, or before experience, through a higher form of the universe from which souls originate. Similarly, Emmanuel Kant too believed in the apriori existence of universal truths, which allowed him to claim there to be a universal moral law to which all were morally obligated to oblige. However, in the realm of the sciences, metaphysics has always been a subject deemed suspect because often the champions of the subject, Kant, Plato, and more, argued that there is no proof of their metaphysical philosophies in the experienced world because of their apriori origins. In the sciences, induction rather than deduction has lead to theories and scientific laws. Scientists believe that studying the experienced world and documenting those experiences allows them to draw conclusions of the nature of the universe. However, on the individual level, intelligent beings have always been able to create for themselves their own explanations without metaphysics or the sciences. These explanations turn into religions, or philosophies and are ascribed to by those who can understand and agree with the founder. But, sometimes they are not, sometimes a person’s explanation of the universe, how they rationalize their existence remains personal and unique. Each human has their own version of the universe, and only in the realm of literature can human explanations be explored for its own sake. In William Faulkner’s stories, he often narrates from the character’s perspective, which allows the reader to understand the story on a fundamental level. He accomplishes this through modern literary techniques such as prose. Prose in William Faulkner’s The Sound and they Fury works to create the narrator’s specific understanding of time: Benjy’s prose works to conflate the past and present by uniting the two through spontaneous revelation of the past within the present, while Quentin’s prose acts as the unification of the present with the future through explosive and continually rising accounts of present action. These complications of temporality and chronology allow the narrators to come to terms with their lives, for they find that time is either incomprehensible or suffocating under the clock.

            In first section of the novel, Benjy’s prose does not coincide with chronology, instead the prose itself reflects that Benjy does not comprehend the temporal nature of life and thus conflates the past with the present. For example, in 1928 Benjy confuses the present and past: ““Wait a minute.” Luster said. “You snagged on that nail again. Cant you never crawl through here without snagging on that nail.” Caddy uncaught me and we crawled through. Uncle Maury said to not let anybody see us, so we better stoop over, Caddy said” (Faulkner 11). In these lines the reader is notified that Benjy’s recollections interrupt him in the present moment as he finds memories of his now lost sister Caddy. Due to his attachment to Caddy, Benjy continuously revisits moments of the past connected to her; the prose itself muddles the transitions between past and present because “[Benjy] can satisfactorily re-create [Caddy’s] presence through recollection. Memories suffice for Benjy precisely because he does not know that they represent what can never be again” (Burton). Benjy is seemingly unaware of the differences of past and present that life moves forward and onward –Caddy has left the Compson family house and will not return. The prose reflects a confusion and complexity completely outside of Benjy’s comprehension but “the vividness of his memories suggests that he actively cultivates his recollections in a way of granting meaning and order to his world. But because he cannot situate them in a larger context, such as that of biographical time, he can never fully understand what he experiences; his narrative remains partial and incomplete”(Burton). Thus, in the first section of the novel, Benjy’s prose conflates the present with the past in order to demonstrate to the reader that Benjy is constantly attempting to create sense of the world that is impossible for him to comprehend. In the following section of the novel, Quentin will similarly negate temporal constructions to the end of forgetting time itself.

             In the second section of the novel, Quentin’s prose demonstrates a unification of present and future through narrating present actions as erupting impulsively; Quentin’s narration is uncontrolled by notions of temporality because present and future become one through syntax. For instance, Quentin’s unique understanding of time displays itself as he narrates his actions: “I went to the dresser and took up the watch with the face still down. I tapped the crystal on the dresser and caught the fragments of glass in my hand and put them into the ashtray and twisted the hands off and put them in the tray. The watch ticked on” (Faulkner 88). In these lines, the narration is quick and syntactically does not give the reader a moment to pause from the beginning of the second sentence starting with “I tapped,” until the period after “tray.” In the second sentence, the prose acts as a swift and erupting series of actions. This style of prose reflects Quentin’s understanding of time, that “the present rises us from sources unknown to us and drives away another present; it is forever beginning anew…The actions themselves, even when seen by those who perform them, burst and scatter on entering the present” (Sarte). With the style of prose and the symbolic breaking of the family watch, Quentin attempts to escape traditional notions of time by existing on the brink of every present moment. Thus, his manifested experience of the world as described by his narration conforms to its own unique tradition of existence that only when time is not accounted for, when it is not “clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life” (Faulkner 92). Quentin’s time “is the present, and not the ideal limit whose place is neatly marked out between past and future. [Quentin’s] present is essentially catastrophic. It is the event which creeps up on us like a thief, huge, unthinkable - which creeps up on us and then disappears” (Sarte). This meta-physical philosophy of time and existence that is demonstrated through Quentin’s prose hints that the narrator fears the existence of traditional notions of time. Quentin escapes his own life by this negation, which gives him the freedom to end it.

            Prose in William Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury, allows the reader insight on the character’s individual and unique understanding of time; the prose acts as the bridge, for Benjy the prose links the past with the present, and for Quentin the prose allows him to conflate his present with the future. The prose for Benjy’s section skips around chronology, demonstrating how his limited capacity cannot comprehend time’s constant push toward the future. Additionally, the syntax and prose of Quentin’s section elucidates his negation of traditional arrangements of time. Both Quentin and Benjy are forced by their existence in their chaotic and uncontrollable world to formulate their own philosophies on time which in turn help them to cope with their realities. Benjy’s survival depends on Caddy, and thus he demands her existence in his present life through recollecting her, thus uniting the present and the past into one reality. Quentin on the other hand also cannot bring himself to accept the deaf progression of time, the minute clicking of his grandfather’s watch, because it reminds him of his own powerlessness to control his family’s fate. Therefore he negates time, living on the moment of his own death. These personal and individual construed philosophies may be unique to these characters, but the act of creating these philosophies is not. All humans create for themselves their own meanings and philosophies. They may borrow from one another, but in the end every single rational being inherently creates for themselves the universe. Quentin and Benjy are only two examples, while deduction and induction, metaphysics and the sciences are others. We exist in a disordered and often times incomprehensible world. And, although we band together in society and nation, every single member of humanity is left to their own devices by the mere fact that we exist.

Works Cited

Burton, Stacy. “Benjy, Narrativity, and the Coherence of Compson History.” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 7.2 (1995): 207-28. Web.

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print.

Sartre, Jean-Paul, and Jean-Paul Sartre. On “The Sound and the Fury”: Time in the Work of Faulkner. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

9:53 pm     2 notes
May 28 2014
Post tags: work works original post william faulkner the sound and the fury literature lit book books


In the gravest and most bound in truth understanding of freedom, it remains that it is simply an illusion. It is the common-sense explanation of the seeming power of humanity; a Camus inspired explanation to a meaningless world. It allows us to believe that as human, we are entitled to create our destinies through the mechanisms of society.  However, the truth of our existence, in the face of the non-existential reality is much like a seventeenth century sailor stuck on a current less ocean, a fetus in the womb, or an ant. We remain eternally privy to the factors outside of our control and understanding. We are caught in the machine of our surroundings that make our characters and beliefs, our understanding and morality. Due to this reality, we accept that not a single human idea has freedom; we are simply led to conclusions due to the factors of our life. A rodent may decide to run upon the wheel, however the truth of the matter remains that it was not given the choice, it is simply the only device we engineered into the cage. Our reality forces us to believe we have power, but it is a fallacy. The decisions you and I make are the cause of the options we did not decide upon, and thus there exists no true freedom. The system allows us to accept our places, our factors, our failures. You are led to accept that you cannot truly help the beggar, the “underprivileged,” and that they are the results of their circumstances, creating a system of inherent repression. I speak now, as a member of society’s so called “underprivileged.” My life has forced me to refuse our desire of fate disguised as freedom, from this, I know that my place is to disregard my fate and fight my reality.

            To enter the arena, I must first recognize my reality’s weakest point, the underestimated. Throughout history, the driving force, the most influential force on society is that of the underprivileged. Our world has a long legacy of mavericks and “David(s)” opposed to those Goliath forces. These characters look reality in the soul and challenge it. From their unyielding efforts and uncompromising beliefs, society begins to accept new modes of thought. Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas K. Gandhi, Theodore Roosevelt, and many others are the ones who fought the system of inherent repression. Doing so, they were able to help others find self-determination. They found unconventional options, sidestepping their society’s understanding of reality to do battle with their reality. Thus, I have come to understand that the true nature of our reality is based on the conventions of society. Our universe is limited by humanity’s acceptance of societal conventions and how those conventions determine our actions. Through this, we are Dorian Gray, obsessed with what society considers our place, whether beautiful or dreadful, immersing ourselves in our paintings, never looking inward at our own inherent potential.

            I look now at my reality, and I refuse to accept my fate. My fate is to fail, to seek the horizon of victory, but to fall asunder beneath the wrath and indifference of our world. I refuse. I simply and truly refuse. This is my disparity, my destiny, the script God has written for me. If I am to be thrown to perdition for not following my destiny, then so be it, I will go to hell. For society may accept its failures but I do not, I do not believe in freedom, fate, destiny, I believe in myself. The universe has blessed me with certain applications to which I am fortunate enough to use in my life to fight the shackles that bind me to the fire-borne shadows of this cavern called life. I will not accept my place, and by my talents, I will forge my own unique path. Despite the fact that it is written does not mean I have to act my part. I choose to seek other manners of life than those I have been led to believe are the only that I have. Perhaps in the end, this is my true destiny, to fight the mechanical workings of societal conventions so that others may take my torch and pass it along; for I am the unyielding fire of humanity, passed through generations upon generations, and it is my duty to disturb the universe. 

12:20 pm     3 notes
June 1 2012
Post tags: essay work life me

Look Out Your Window, and What Do You See?

  In this world of inequality, in this realm where inhibition to acceptance of differences is common, rapacious nature to human dignity overlooked, and obsession with pleasure exuded, to ask a man where to start at identification of these and the myriad of other moral wrongs in range of some relative importance is to put a weight on his heart. Must I consider these imperceptible evils (invisible as they are to the general people of my country and level of society) to my society and judge thusly? I am often reminded of these malicious natures in my common days, and now to confess them; the task is a vicious blow to one’s charisma and belief for and in the integrity of humanity. However, to deny their existence, further to rather “hack at the branches of evil,” is to but accept them. It is Thoreau whom calls us in Resistance to Civil Government to seek a universal good that persons will always find nestled between their heart and intellect. It is Thoreau whom urges us to seek the cause of evil, and to “hack at the root of evil.” In such a way is any means to a deed of good committed to the annals of justice for some time. And thus, I will not commit myself to explicating the nature of extortion or crime, for rather I believe these to be the symptoms of true roots. Be there a certain source for the toil and tribulation of humanity, I perceive to be in the heart of fear and its dual greed. It is in these two features of the human life that all wretchedness and scorn be birthed aided by the hands of society. In such an establishment where people seek to deliver themselves unto the partiality of one institution that the fermenting of malice exceeds. Be this the form of a homogenized culture or government, it is in these edifices of what we hail as society, that the culmination of fears and greed strangle the throat of justice with deceit. As power concentrates around the will of the few, a plague overtakes the naturally good formed heart of a person. Soon, they will, no matter how, come to take in the part of a greater tragedy that overlooks the basic humanity of others and extorts what life it can from those whom adhere to the institution. It is by these means that we must form shackles to all human institutions for by our foreseeable degradation we may yet find our solace away from our own evils.

            I will list the evils stemming from the causality of fear and greed. By fear, the rich gather their money together and form holes into which they can continue to accumulate wealth while they lie to the masses about the wealth “trickling down.” The wealthy form unjust laws to sentence harsh punishments onto those whom must find a way to live in the harsh realities they have created by their fear and greed. We thus see man steal from man in attempt to handle the evils of his life that have been donned to him from an invisible source to him. We then must witness as the rich, from their fear of the masses, cloak themselves in the false beliefs of their superiority as they claim the poor as weak or just less-work oriented. We see the wealthy, with fear of competition depredate the outsider and sully their dignity in mud of incivility. We expand on illusion of differences, in an attempt to mask our own faults in the truly menial dissimilarities of others. We plunge the beauty of sex into a pool of lust and misogyny in attempt to garner attention. We fear nonsuccess so greatly that we force the youth rigorous lifestyles, often without sufficient love, and are confused when they act out and commit suicide.

            All of this is because we as a society cannot cope with our own fears. Truly, fear is a humane asset to life and allows us to perceive danger. However, we have morphed that fear into a tool to control others. And through its metamorphosis we too become the tool of fear and we begin to mistrust our senses for belief in society and technology and advancement. It is not for the sake of any one field or question that we must continue onwards, but it is for the sake of better world where we may be at true peace. Until we have furbished that world, it is our duty as human beings with intellect and ability to become witness to our own wrongs, fix them, and strive to improve the life around us. Only then can virtue be used as virtue, and not as a tool of fear, or institutionalized greed. We know the problems, we know it stems from our insecurity and doubt. But I say be rid of it. Life is truly lived in simple terms, with a goal of improvement for all. There is no need for fear in a world that we can work towards, it is a setback, and it is forcing us to our lowest degrees. Live simply and honest, and work for your loved ones, and not for yourself. 

5:43 pm     1 note
February 6 2012
Post tags: work thoreau

Denouement of the Imbroglio of Love: An explication of Shakespeare’s 31st sonnet

Thy bosom is endeared with all 
Which I by lacking have supposed dead,
And there reigns love and all love’s loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried. 
How many a holy and obsequious tear 
Hath dear religious love stol’n from mine eye
As interest of the dead, which now appear 
But things removed that hidden in thee lie! 
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live, 
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone, 
Who all their parts of me to thee did give; 
That due of many now is thine alone: 
   Their images I loved I view in thee, 
   And thou, all they, hast all the all of me.

Denouement of the Imbroglio of Love


Kevin M. *****

 “Who, being loved, is poor” (Wilde)? Oscar Wilde questions through the character Hester in his play A Woman of No Importance. This as inquiry to the world as an audience resounds thus in the mind: inhibitions to love shelved and picturesque formulations dreamed. Attribute this to a universal human yearning. Though some may deny its true existence, none can deny its fact as a human condition. It is not a single of many imagined factors to contentment; it is the paragon of prerequisites. This quintessential piece completes the universality of humanity: its most basic, elusive, mellifluous, moiety - love and happiness. Aristotelian virtue dictates life to meet one’s measure of capacity for happiness, in other words, love. For one cannot exist without the other, they coexist and balance one another with equal levels of contingency. Thus, Wilde questions, and to the answer, we can only and simply wish due to their mysterious and abstract nature. We each have our own conceptions how these two natures connect. Persons throughout the ages have contemplated repeatedly their purpose and meaning, and each was forced to come to one’s own personal comprehension. Shakespeare is no different. However, Shakespeare handles a moral problem that all feel having felt love from more than one partner. It is common for us to disregard others that we once loved, and throw the thoughts of them into the fire creating animosity and denial of one’s feelings. Shakespeare knows that this is by no means to contend with love’s presence, be it past or present. Love itself is the ultimate gift. In order to handle having lost love, in his thirty-first sonnet Shakespeare molds his conception of true love into a revival of all love lost. Understandably, the notion he creates is that true love for another person itself is worth all of one’s love regardless of when, or to whom it was given.

            Shakespeare begins his explication by means of amorously founding his past romances within the being of his new love. The first line of the sonnet addresses the new love, “thy” (1) and claims that their “bosom is endeared with all” (1). Assumable here is the concept that this one heart, this bosom, holds all haven been endeared, or lovingly given. At the outset, Shakespeare constructs this ideal good of his newfound love, and thus in the following he brings his own humanity within the scope as he admits, “which I by lacking have supposed dead” (2).  The spondaic nature of “I by,” highlights this personal revelation, by which Shakespeare’s “lacking” focused him not to see the cyclic nature of love he explicates (Appendix B). The cause of the spondee can be accredited to the fact that Shakespeare believes the assumption of the death he mentions is itself a mistake, thus the leap from iambs to spondee is a structural device to represent a real error. Continuing, Shakespeare ties the third line to the first as well: “and there reigns love and all love’s loving parts” (3). His new endeared one holds so much of what Shakespeare values for he credits this love to everything having to do with love itself. He ties the fourth line to the second for he says, “and all those friends which I thought buried” (4). Shakespeare insinuates his “friends” are not in essence dead. His dead friends now rest within the loving parts endeared in the bosom of his new love. By this, Shakespeare is delineating his past loves from his new, defining their ultimate difference to be death. However, he now has outlined the existence of his past loves within the context of the new, as if to describe their true similarity despite their ultimate difference. Here we witness Shakespeare already contending with past and present love, having established through this first quatrain their relativity. Though he has been given much to grieve over, Shakespeare appears anticipative; he willingly admits to and forsakes the beliefs of his past with the epiphany of his present.

Persisting, Shakespeare cedes on the pain of losing love and in a form announces his past infatuations, however he proceeds by ending this quatrain with the rediscovery of these past romances outlined in the first quatrain. In his frustration of his own mortality, he openly questions, “how many a holy and obsequious tear” (5). He yields that in the process of losing love, extreme heartache coursed through him. The lost love, the friends buried, Shakespeare admits a love for, while he explains his experience of pain; “have dear religious love stol’n from mine eye” (6). These two lines retain natural meter, as if to aid to the idea of the “obsequious,” and “religious,” nature of his love (Appendix B). In addition, these lines are wrapped in the rhyme scheme “tear” and “appear,” mimicking the tone and meaning. He speaks to a deserved sadness as he explains that the tears were for the “interest of the dead (7).” In a fashion, Shakespeare here admits to his new love that he once deeply cared for others, so much that they earned his tribulation at their deaths. Proceeding, he ends these reveries of the past: “but things removed that hidden in thee lie” (8). Hoping to synthesize their being in his new love, their essence still existing, Shakespeare places them in the soul of another. He pressures “in thee lie,” with stresses, as if to emphasize their death and resurrection in the heart of his pristine love (Appendix B). Though he has explained their relativity and the strength of his past loves, he must now reconcile his past relationships with the existence of the new.

By fortification of his new love, he solidifies its amiable existence in the fact of his past love, constructing true love by the remnants of bygones. Rendered by the pain of having given such love to those whom now are gone, Shakespeare melds the new love with the given and gone; he credits future with past. Shakespeare begins his last quatrain thus: “thou art the grave where buried love doth live” (9). Having already claimed this person to be “endeared with all,” he now acknowledges all past love, every buried affection, the myriad of love laid rest, to lie within his new love. Love perhaps is brought somewhere after death, but to Shakespeare it is brought to the “bosom” of his new love. Alas, since his new love is the holder of his past, it is “hung with the trophies of [his] lovers gone” (10). Now victory of love itself, of every single of Shakespeare’s adorations is crowned upon the new romance. The victory comes at the hands of Shakespeare’s giving of his love, of himself, to those loves gone: “who all their parts of me to thee did give” (11). These strings of Shakespeare’s essence given, are truly won by their revival in “thee.” Love achieves such a measure by giving the love Shakespeare dealt to gone romances to his new love. However, we are left contemplating that Shakespeare and love-giving, in a sense is very open-ended. In a moment that rings of finality, he finishes that movement: “that due of many now is thine alone” (12). What was once dealt out to romances, is now his new love’s solely and “alone.” This third quatrain contains no irregular stresses and stands alone from the other parts of the poem as it being the only part with perfect iambic pentameter (Appendix B). Furthermore, it is the first part of the sonnet to contain perfect and uninterrupted rhyming, all of which lends itself to the notion that Shakespeare believes what he describes in the third quatrain to be the natural way. It is the ideal order. Reconciling his past and present relationships with one another, Shakespeare has yet to inform as to whether he still has yearnings for his past loves, or whether those feelings are now gone.

In the couplet, Shakespeare asserts his past feelings to remain in the past, but their significance to live in the present. Their existence does not hinder his ability to love, no, it fortifies it. The strength of his past loves that he elaborates on in the second quatrain is now at peace for he claims, “their images I loved I view in thee” (13). He “loved” those images that now exist in his new love, what he once loved he now allows himself to love anew. In the last stanza, since his new love has all his love past existing again, he adds one last movement. His new love is more, for this romance has the ultimate form: “thou, all they, hast all the all of me” (14). Here, he forges past love “they,” with new love “thou,” to say that they are one in same, that love is just love. Shakespeare accepts time as overlapping; all of his love, regardless of when it was given or to whom, in the end rests with the one he truly loves. Considering the instances of triple stresses in this sonnet, in line three, in line eight, and lastly in line 14, Shakespeare unites this sonnet in eight words (Appendix B). In short, all love’s love in his new love lie, it is all the all. Shakespeare has reached his own happiness, his own contentment in love, evolving from the supposed chain of time and death into the eternality of true love.

Shakespeare forgave his past in light of his present, and allowed himself, in essence,  to answer Wilde. Relationships had wrought much pain onto Shakespeare, and when he had met someone he knew was true love, he seamlessly fused his past into his reality. He met his capacity for happiness with the contingency of love. Overcoming pain, overcoming loss, we can see Shakespeare vindicate himself through love. No longer poor in spirit, Shakespeare reaches the wealth of happiness in love. However, he would not have been able to do so without the experience of pain. In the fact that he did not lose himself to pain and anger, and decided to reconcile himself with the truth of death, Shakespeare teaches that no one person or past can decide one’s future. This sonnet is naturally didactic in that it educates with experience. His life taught him not to be selfish with love, not to remain in anger, not to feel betrayed by death. Instead, he chose for life to teach him to find the wealth of happiness that rests universally in love.

Appendix A

Appendix A


Thy bosom is endeared with all 
I by lacking have supposed dead,
And there reigns love and all love’s loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried. 
How many a holy and obsequious tear 
Hath dear religious
love stol’n from mine eye
As interest
of the dead, which now appear 
But things removed that hidden in thee lie! 
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live, 
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone, 
Who all their parts of me to thee did give; 
That due of many now is thine alone: 
   Their images I loved I view in thee, 
   And thou, all they, hast all the all of me.

*Spondee     Trochee


1 Background


-This poem is for the first character of the sonnets that Shakespeare is in love with.


2 Terms and Meanings


-Bosom: By 1525 AD bosom was used as a verb to figuratively men to accept someone intimately. Or, a “specially intimate or beloved friend” (OED). This is used by Shakespeare to refer to his new love.

-Obsequious: Showing respect for the dead, a respectful mourning.

-Trophies: Memorial of victory.

-Images: A person simulating the appearance of someone, or as considered as unreal. Possibly a double meaning adding to a Platonic tone to the vision of the dead.



3 Line-by-line


Octet: Description of true love

Q1: Love rests in his new love.

-He thought love was dead

-It lives again

-Despite it being once dead

Q2: The pain of lost love

-His strong love caused him pain

-Love was strong because it was deserved

-But the dead gone are returned in his new love

Q3: How the love returns, its progression

-The affirmation that the dead rest in the new love

-This includes all the goods from them

-He gave them everything and they gave it to his new love

-It is for the new love alone.

C: What this means to the new love

-He loves the old in the new

-And the new love as all of Shakespeare love and all of him.


4 Rhyme (Standard)







5 Couplet Tie


Love (3, 6, 9, 10, 13)  (In that the image of what one’s true love is composed of is the essence of those things which ones has always loved, as is why it is true love)

Appendix B


Thy bosom is endeared with all 
Which I by lacking have supposed dead,
And there reigns love and all love’s loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried. 
How many a holy and obsequious tear 
Hath dear religious love stol’n from mine eye
As interest of the dead, which now appear 
But things removed that hidden in thee lie! 
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live, 
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone, 
Who all their parts of me to thee did give; 
That due of many now is thine alone: 
   Their images I loved I view in thee, 
   And thou, all they, hast all the all of me.

*Bold is a stressed syllable 

5:03 pm     2 notes
February 2 2012
Post tags: work shakespeare love poem poetry essay oscar wilde aristotle

Nothing can cure the sense but soul, just as nothing can cure the soul but the senses

“Only in love does the carnal become transcendent” (Hedges 117) and love is a constant battle beetween expectation and reality. We find ourselves easily deluded by a compromise of carnal urge and true humanity, by which we generally choose the carnal. As a teenager handling a sex craved society, often have I found it prudent to evaluate the true essence that is consummation. Is it valuable to me for the external pleasure aspect, or for the transcendence in love that it may facilitate? For there have been moments in my life where I have had the ability to experience what that pleasure might be, but I shied away for my heart told me that it was not what I truly wanted. Upon the consideration of these events and the morality of my heart I found a crux. That perhaps all along, the one thing I have yearned for is to give love and be loved in return. In my waiting, I search for a person, a lover that understands me in essence and passion and reciprocates. However, we as a society, in spite of this true passion, have allowed ourselves to be tricked by the delusion of a quickly fading imperfect image of love that mocks its externality and throws to the wind its true essence. Human interaction in terms of this image, this consummate idealism of sexuality, yields startling results that portrays the carnal urge over the essence. Beyond the delusion, consummation has been abused to produce selfish endeavors. Societal avarice becomes a doorway to the convoluted belief that the most prominent value of which to judge by is sexual consummation. Caught between righteousness and consummation the balancing begins; society compromises the two whom should be entirely separate in order to profit from external pleasures, sacrificing justice for perfection, for consummation. We continue this path of self-centered idealism toward an insanity that rips us from substantial love, promoting superficiality and rapaciousness.

The image of sexuality becomes a tool to those in our society that treasure delusion. In the Canterbury Tales the ‘Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” elucidates an abuse of sexuality to the end of gaining material wealth. The Wife of Bath testifies to her sexual endeavors, whilst admitting that through sexuality she controls men:

My husband shall have it eve and morrow

Whenever he likes to come and pay his debt,

I won’t prevent him! I’ll have a husband yet

Who shall be both my debtor and my slave

And bear his tribulation to the grave

Upon his flesh, as long as I am his wife. (Chaucer 280).

Men become futile to overcome her prowess in sexual manipulation. The idea sprouts from her dissertation that she sells her body in order to achieve her delusional belief in monetary wealth. The cost of her body forces her man to become her debtor. A slave is the net result, and she uses her abusive sexuality to conduct her slave husbands as puppets. In the course of this path, we become witnesses to the tool-like wielding of consummation to gain societal standing.  The abuse of such a level of sexuality verily results in a lack of morality.

The wielding of sexuality as a tool elicits internal decimation, for it disillusions us from a sense of righteousness. In the epic poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the girdle acts as a vehicle to illustrate Gawain’s personal destruction and rejection of virtue, through the wielding of sex, done by Bertilak’s wife, in relation to societal laws. Struck by the iniquity of the girdle, donned to him, subversively, through explicit sexual behavior with Bertilak’s wife, Gawain is compelled to “[hide] her love-gift in a secret place / … so he could find it later / [before going] swiftly to the chapel” (Raffel 1874-1876). Gawain’s morality is destroyed as he cowers in light of giving the girdle to Bertilak or telling the priest for fear of societal laws; the uncovering of his actions with Bertilak’s wife would shed light upon his lasciviousness. The abusive sexuality utilized by Bertilak’s wife has placed Gawain in a struggle to maintain his societal endeavors and his carnal urge to consummate. The girdle represents his selfish urge, for society would have him give the girdle up; but he cannot.  Instead, Gawain flees from the problem by means of the easiest possible solution, choosing to seek cowardice and hiding the girdle, the sign of his secret affair, in the face of retaliation for his actions. Thus, has the wielding of sexuality as a tool toward schemes by Bertilak’s wife compromised Gawain’s morality in terms of societal laws, it is an internal decimation created by her abuse.  

The ruin of internal decimation constructs barriers that result in conflict between human understanding and societal convention. As seen in SGGK, Gawain’s compromised morality becomes his downfall as the Green Knight deals him punishment for disregarding societal law. The sentence becomes an attack, not for the kisses bestowed to Gawain from Bertilak’s wife, but rather for his lack of loyalty to societal convention, for the Green Knight confesses, “it was all my scheme! / She made trial of a man most faultless by far… / yet you lacked sir, a little loyalty there” (SGGK 2361-2362 … 2366). Ergo, the internal decimation at the hands of the abuse of sexuality yields a societal response in terms of punishment. This demonstrates society’s obsession with conventional justice in terms of consummation. The interest to live now conflicted by the girdle comes to clash with societal beliefs of repressing consummation, thus Gawain bleeds. The Green Knight understands Gawain’s urge to live, his corrupted moralities in light of the rules of society. However, the punishment must remain, Gawain must live his sin and thus “the nick on his neck he naked displayed / that he got in his disgrace at the Green Knight’s hands, / alone” (2598-2500). In this sense, Gawain’s punishment is a Hawthorne scarlet letter. He will live with the scar of his impudence, a sign that his internal decimation caused him to battle society to his loss. Society has become the tool of sexuality and the enforcer of laws against it; thus, we are left searching for what the world requires of us, repression or abuse.  

Society yearns for justice, but it dually yearns for the external pleasures to be maximized; society focuses to find ways to pleasure itself behind the back of the parenting figure of justice.  Oscar Wilde in his masterpiece The Picture of Dorian Grey demonstrates human obsession with external pleasure. Lord Henry witnesses the beauty of the character Dorian Grey; with his thorough understanding of the conceptions of society, Lord Henry perceives that, “A new hedonism is what our century wants. [Dorian] might be its visible symbol” (Wilde 39). The ideology of hedonism claims pleasure as the ultimate object of good. However, in Lord Henry’s affirmation of Dorian’s born purpose, he has to compromise society’s dual obsession with justice in order to validate his claim. Lord Henry dismisses the obsession entirely as he tells Dorian “don’t squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving your life away to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar” (39). Lord Henry demonizes justice to Dorian; thus he becomes pleasure’s champion, its recruiter, adding to the ranks a perfect embodiment of beauty and external goods, the consummate individual. To Lord Henry, and those of us who are deluded by societal immorality, we value consummation not for the essence of love, but for the externality.

Pleasure becomes the ultimate advocate for the value of consummation, and within society it becomes an esteemed goal. In fulfilling his role as the new symbol for hedonism, Dorian Grey accepts the position and claims a new hedonism for the ages. He figures, “yes, there was to be, as Lord Henry had prophesied, a new Hedonism… It was never to accept any theory or system that would involve the sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience. Its aim, was to be experience itself” (Wilde 143). Thus, Dorian was to be the “completed, perfected, fully accomplished” (OED), consummate individual. By seeking experience solely for the pleasure of experience he sought to be “of the highest degree; absolute, total; supreme” (OED); he sought to become consummate beyond all other goals. Dually, has the word come to exemplify both Dorian’s wishes, but the societal take on external pleasures. Evaluating the verb definition of consummate, which became “(more generally) to have sexual intercourse,” we see the idea of consummation to have evolved into perfection founded in explicit sexual activity and generally the experience of external pleasure. This demonstrates society’s growing obsession with the consummate individual who maximizes external pleasures. Our society elevates humans to super star status, glorifying them for being nothing but people who are enthralled with pleasure. It allows for Dorian’s elevation to a stature of perfection solely for being someone obsessed with pleasure. However, the rest of humanity is not Dorian Gray, and we but finite and faulty beings; what of the outcome of such an endeavor, to be consummate?

To those of us whom strive to be that consummate individual, the one whom maximizes external pleasure, what occurs? In the balancing of society and consummation, human beings are left disheveled in spirit, for in the end, it destroys you. In T.S. Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Eliot describes a man that has sacrificed his passion and morality, hoping instead to be a man of pleasure and life, pleasing societal expectations. The poem resounds as the man recounts his life as an entirety of regret, his life has sent him to his death and Eliot affirms, “We have lingered in the chambers of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed in seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us and we drown” (Eliot 127-130). According to Eliot, Prufrock, and others like him live their life asleep, waiting for the moment they awake to drown by reality. It is a death due to living in a shadow of true reality. In Arthur Miller’s A Death of a Salesman, Willy is shown to be a man that has spent his life being defeated by society, whilst society shoves him back into the ring; he attempts personally to reconcile his failures with sexual endeavors to no avail. In the moment that his farce is uncovered by his son, Biff affirms his father’s failure as he shouts, “You fake! You phony little fake! You fake!” (Miller 1341). This life of striving to be an ideal consummate individual destroys us as surely as Willy is shown to be a phony. In this we are all phony little fakes, waiting for our farce to be uncovered. We destroy our world with this impossible game. What roads must we seek to defeat this destruction?

Consummation is but one avenue to pleasure and happiness. In the most recent episode of New Girl, the character Nick comes to a startling revelation. He tells his friend Jess, at the end of the episode, “I’m not ready for meaningless sex” (New Girl). Nick realizes that despite his urge to have a vanishing external pleasure that instead he wishes to have a life of meaningful love with someone important to him. His experiences have led him to understand the iniquity of endeavoring to be a man obsessed with consummating. Upon the considerations of his heart’s purity and his reason, Nick becomes the opposite of Lord Henry. He becomes not the champion of any such quest to find pleasure, but rather a man who understands its purpose and that to abuse that purpose is to destroy one’s self. I find Nick to be wise, not like the selfish, self-loving, and often, despite their wisdom, cynical and obtuse characters of The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Those character’s elevate happiness and the experience of it through the external beyond all else. The periodical from the pop-culture criticism website VideogumEveryone is Divorced,” demonstrates this inequality. The article evaluates the recent uproarious obsession with the Kim Kardashian marriage and divorce, it reflects upon how much we are obsessed with the idea of happiness, and not its implications. The author states, “we place so much value on the emotional state of happiness while we devalue unhappiness, when the reality is that they are just two emotional states we will all find ourselves experiencing in our lives and… they are actually equal” (“Everyone is Divorced”). Our lives embody pain and happiness, and when we overuse one, we destroy it. Learning from Nick, I use a sense of heart when I am tempted. Witnessing ads in our world, I come across a Budweiser advertisement. I may be a young man, but I now see through the trickery. They cover her body parts with bottle caps while a beer bottle rests in her hand above her waist (Budweiser). The ad whispers to you that consummation rests in intoxication, and they sell this idea to young men for it is what they have come to value. However, if this is the outcome of societal avarice, there has to be a way out.

Continuing upon the idea that Nick subtly found, that to listen to one’s self rather than societal obsessions is to be good, we are left asking: how am I to do this? The answer is not far, and has been discovered long before. You must realize delusions for what they are, and be rid of them. Listen to Thoreau in Where I lived, and What I lived for, as he affirms, “shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life … would be like a fairy tale” (Thoreau 894).  Thus, the key to establish a path to self-reliance is to first realize the potential of living without addictive attachment to illusory obsessions such as sex and external pleasures. He affirms that if we realize the reality, that in consummation exists the essence of love, that our lives become something wonderful, something that he can only describe with the beauty of fiction. For it can be healthy to desire consummation for the sake of love, but to obsess over it for the sake of pleasure, is to destroy it. It is not our natural state as beings of conscience and reason to defy nature and abuse it. Emerson aids in his essay Nature that, “the lover of nature is he whose inward and outward sense are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy into the era of manhood” (Emerson 494). Thus, young men today would know that consummation should be balanced not by society, but by the self. Our heart retains the ability to be loving beings, we must adjust our hearts to our surroundings.

Understanding the circumstances and our abilities to be healthy and loving, we come closer to how we are supposed to live.  Using our hearts, destroying delusions, and adjusting to our natural state, we have found ways to combat societal lust. One last piece exists in this solution, that we should live a life calmly, and purely, for “when we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, -that petty fears  and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality” (Thoreau 895-895). Consummation is but one avenue to pleasure and happiness, let us seek what road suits us best at any moment, never forsaking one for another because of delusions, for we can see beyond that. Our senses have the ability to save our hearts from its own destruction, and our hearts have the ability to cure our senses from its delusions. We are the perfect balance, and we must realize that we have the ability to be soulful. We know that while sex leads to that fleeting moment of ultimate pleasure, that using it in such a way leads to pain despite how society may sell it to us. Let us know that “nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul” (Wilde 37). The heart and the sense will doubly guide us and balance the other. In such a way, are we saved from, and now live in union with, consummation. 

8:39 pm     7 notes
January 4 2012
Post tags: work marie borroff Laura L. Howes Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Budweiser Geoffrey Chaucer the Canterbury Tales Consummate OED Oxford English Dictionary t.s. eliot Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock Ralph Waldo Emerson Nature Videogum Chris Hedges Losing Moses on the Freeway New Girl arthur miller death of a salesman Henry David Thoreau Where I Lived and What I Lived For Walden Oscar Wilde A Picture of Dorian Grey