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Ch. 1: Introduction

Let us start by making a little apology to Psychoanalysis. It wasn't fair to jeer at the psychoanalytic unconscious; or perhaps it _was_ fair to jeer at the psychoanalytic unconscious, which is truly a negative quantity and an unpleasant menagerie. What was really not fair was to jeer at Psychoanalysis as if Freud had invented and described nothing but an unconscious, in all his theory.

The unconscious is not, of course, the clue to the Freudian theory. The real clue is sex. A sexual motive is to be attributed to all human activity.

Now this is going too far. We are bound to admit than an element of sex enters into all human activity. But so does an element of greed, and of many other things. We are bound to admit that into all human relationships, particularly adult human relationships, a large element of sex enters. We are thankful that Freud has insisted on this. We are thankful that Freud pulled us somewhat to earth, out of all our clouds of superfineness. What Freud says is always _partly_ true. And half a loaf is better than no bread.

But really, there is the other half of the loaf. All is _not_ sex. And a sexual motive is _not_ to be attributed to all human activities. We know it, without need to argue.

Sex surely has a specific meaning. Sex means the being divided into male and female; and the magnetic desire or impulse which puts male apart from female, in a negative or sundering magnetism, but which also draws male and female together in a long and infinitely varied approach towards the critical act of coition. Sex without the consummating act of coition is never quite sex, in human relationships: just as a eunuch is never quite a man. That is to say, the act of coition is the essential clue to sex.

Now does all life work up to the one consummating act of coition? In one direction, it does, and it would be better if psychoanalysis plainly said so. In one direction, all life works up to the one supreme moment of coition. Let us all admit it, sincerely.

But we are not confined to one direction only, or to one exclusive consummation. Was the building of the cathedrals a working up towards the act of coition? Was the dynamic impulse sexual? No. The sexual element was present, and important. But not predominant. The same in the building of the Panama Canal. The sexual impulse, in its widest form, was a very great impulse towards the building of the Panama Canal. But there was something else, of even higher importance, and greater dynamic power.

And what is this other, greater impulse? It is the desire of the human male to build a world: not "to build a world for you, dear"; but to build up out of his own self and his own belief and his own effort something wonderful. Not merely something useful. Something wonderful. Even the Panama Canal would never have been built _simply_ to let ships through. It is the pure disinterested craving of the human male to make something wonderful, out of his own head and his own self, and his own soul's faith and delight, which starts everything going. This is the prime motivity. And the motivity of sex is subsidiary to this: often directly antagonistic.

That is, the essentially religious or creative motive is the first motive for all human activity. The sexual motive comes second. And there is a great conflict between the interests of the two, at all times.

What we want to do, is to trace the creative or religious motive to its source in the human being, keeping in mind always the near relationship between the religious motive and the sexual. The two great impulses are like man and wife, or father and son. It is no use putting one under the feet of the other.

The great desire to-day is to deny the religious impulse altogether, or else to assert its absolute alienity from the sexual impulse. The orthodox religious world says faugh! to sex. Whereupon we thank Freud for giving them tit for tat. But the orthodox scientific world says fie! to the religious impulse. The scientist wants to discover a cause for everything. And there is no cause for the religious impulse. Freud is with the scientists. Jung dodges from his university gown into a priest's surplice till we don't know where we are. We prefer Freud's _Sex_ to Jung's _Libido_ or Bergson's _Elan Vital_. Sex has at least _some_ definite reference, though when Freud makes sex accountable for everything he as good as makes it accountable for nothing.

We refuse any _Cause_, whether it be Sex or Libido or Elan Vital or ether or unit of force or _perpetuum mobile_ or anything else. But also we feel that we cannot, like Moses, perish on the top of our present ideal Pisgah, or take the next step into thin air. There we are, at the top of our Pisgah of ideals, crying _Excelsior_ and trying to clamber up into the clouds: that is, if we are idealists with the religious impulse rampant in our breasts. If we are scientists we practice aeroplane flying or eugenics or disarmament or something equally absurd.

The promised land, if it be anywhere, lies away beneath our feet. No more prancing upwards. No more uplift. No more little Excelsiors crying world-brotherhood and international love and Leagues of Nations. Idealism and materialism amount to the same thing on top of Pisgah, and the space is _very_ crowded. We're all cornered on our mountain top, climbing up one another and standing on one another's faces in our scream of Excelsior.

To your tents, O Israel! Brethren, let us go down. We will descend. The way to our precious Canaan lies obviously downhill. An end of uplift. Downhill to the land of milk and honey. The blood will soon be flowing faster than either, but we can't help that. We can't help it if Canaan has blood in its veins, instead of pure milk and honey.

If it is a question of origins, the origin is always the same, whatever we say about it. So is the cause. Let that be a comfort to us. If we want to talk about God, well, we can please ourselves. God has been talked about quite a lot, and He doesn't seem to mind. Why we should take it so personally is a problem. Likewise if we wish to have a tea party with the atom, let us: or with the wriggling little unit of energy, or the ether, or the Libido, or the Elan Vital, or any other Cause. Only don't let us have sex for tea. We've all got too much of it under the table; and really, for my part, I prefer to keep mine there, no matter what the Freudians say about me.

But it is tiring to go to any more tea parties with the Origin, or the Cause, or even the Lord. Let us pronounce the mystic Om, from the pit of the stomach, and proceed.

There's not a shadow of doubt about it, the First Cause is just unknowable to us, and we'd be sorry if it wasn't. Whether it's God or the Atom. All I say is Om!

The first business of every faith is to declare its ignorance. I don't know where I come from--nor where I exit to. I don't know the origins of life nor the goal of death. I don't know how the two parent cells which are my biological origin became the me which I am. I don't in the least know what those two parent cells were. The chemical analysis is just a farce, and my father and mother were just vehicles. And yet, I must say, since I've got to know about the two cells, I'm glad I do know.

The Moses of Science and the Aaron of Idealism have got the whole bunch of us here on top of Pisgah. It's a tight squeeze, and we'll be falling very, very foul of one another in five minutes, unless some of us climb down. But before leaving our eminence let us have a look round, and get our bearings.

They say that way lies the New Jerusalem of universal love: and over there the happy valley of indulgent Pragmatism: and there, quite near, is the chirpy land of the Vitalists: and in those dark groves the home of successful Analysis, surnamed Psycho: and over those blue hills the Supermen are prancing about, though you can't see them. And there is Besantheim, and there is Eddyhowe, and there, on that queer little tableland, is Wilsonia, and just round the corner is Rabindranathopolis....

But Lord, I can't see anything. Help me, heaven, to a telescope, for I see blank nothing.

I'm not going to try any more. I'm going to sit down on my posterior and sluther full speed down this Pisgah, even if it cost me my trouser seat. So ho!--away we go.

In the beginning--there never was any beginning, but let it pass. We've got to make a start somehow. In the very beginning of all things, time and space and cosmos and being, in the beginning of all these was a little living creature. But I don't know even if it was little. In the beginning was a living creature, its plasm quivering and its life-pulse throbbing. This little creature died, as little creatures always do. But not before it had had young ones. When the daddy creature died, it fell to pieces. And that was the beginning of the cosmos. Its little body fell down to a speck of dust, which the young ones clung to because they must cling to something. Its little breath flew asunder, the hotness and brightness of the little beast--I beg your pardon, I mean the radiant energy from the corpse flew away to the right hand, and seemed to shine warm in the air, while the clammy energy from the body flew away to the left hand, and seemed dark and cold. And so, the first little master was dead and done for, and instead of his little living body there was a speck of dust in the middle, which became the earth, and on the right hand was a brightness which became the sun, rampaging with all the energy that had come out of the dead little master, and on the left hand a darkness which felt like an unrisen moon. And that was how the Lord created the world. Except that I know nothing about the Lord, so I shouldn't mention it.

But I forgot the soul of the little master. It probably did a bit of flying as well--and then came back to the young ones. It seems most natural that way.

Which is my account of the Creation. And I mean by it, that Life is not and never was anything but living creatures. That's what life is and will be just living creatures, no matter how large you make the capital L. Out of living creatures the material cosmos was made: out of the death of living creatures, when their little living bodies fell dead and fell asunder into all sorts of matter and forces and energies, sun, moons, stars and worlds. So you got the universe. Where you got the living creature from, that first one, don't ask me. He was just there. But he was a little person with a soul of his own. He wasn't Life with a capital L.

If you don't believe me, then don't. I'll even give you a little song to sing.

"If it be not true to me What care I how true it be . ."

That's the kind of man I really like, chirping his insouciance. And I chirp back:

"Though it be not true to thee It's gay and gospel truth to me. . ."

The living live, and then die. They pass away, as we know, to dust and to oxygen and nitrogen and so on. But what we don't know, and what we might perhaps know a little more, is how they pass away direct into life itself--that is, direct into the living. That is, how many dead souls fly over our untidiness like swallows and build under the eaves of the living. How many dead souls, like swallows, twitter and breed thoughts and instincts under the thatch of my hair and the eaves of my forehead, I don't know. But I believe a good many. And I hope they have a good time. And I hope not too many are bats.

I am sorry to say I believe in the souls of the dead. I am almost ashamed to say, that I believe the souls of the dead in some way reŽnter and pervade the souls of the living: so that life is always the life of living creatures, and death is always our affair. This bit, I admit, is bordering on mysticism. I'm sorry, because I don't like mysticism. It has no trousers and no trousers seat: _n'a pas de quoi_. And I should feel so uncomfortable if I put my hand behind me and felt an absolute blank.

Meanwhile a long, thin, brown caterpillar keeps on pretending to be a dead thin beech-twig, on a little bough at my feet. He had got his hind feet and his fore feet on the twig, and his body looped up like an arch in the air between, when a fly walked up the twig and began to mount the arch of the imitator, not having the least idea that it was on a gentleman's coat-tails. The caterpillar shook his stern, and the fly made off as if it had seen a ghost. The dead twig and the live twig now remain equally motionless, enjoying their different ways. And when, with this very pencil, I push the head of the caterpillar off from the twig, he remains on his tail, arched forward in air, and oscillating unhappily, like some tiny pendulum ticking. Ticking, ticking in mid-air, arched away from his planted tail. Till at last, after a long minute and a half, he touches the twig again, and subsides into twigginess. The only thing is, the dead beech-twig can't pretend to be a wagging caterpillar. Yet how the two commune! However--we have our exits and our entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts. More than he dreams of, poor darling. And I am entirely at a loss for a moral!

Well, then, we are born. I suppose that's a safe statement. And we become at once conscious, if we weren't so before. _Nem con._ And our little baby body is a little functioning organism, a little developing machine or instrument or organ, and our little baby mind begins to stir with all our wonderful psychical beginnings. And so we are in bud.

But it won't do. It is too much of a Pisgah sight. We overlook too much. _Descendez, cher MoÔse. Vous voyez trop loin._ You see too far all at once, dear Moses. Too much of a bird's-eye view across the Promised Land to the shore. Come down, and walk across, old fellow. And you won't see all that milk and honey and grapes the size of duck's eggs. All the dear little budding infant with its tender virginal mind and various clouds of glory instead of a napkin. Not at all, my dear chap. No such luck of a promised land.

Climb down, Pisgah, and go to Jericho. _Allons_, there is no road yet, but we are all Aarons with rods of our own.

D.H. Lawrence