sábado, 21 de abril de 2012

Virginia Woolf, 'Mrs. Dalloway', religion and the city [3 and final]

This new religion is the modernism, with its madness, and the urbe. The old religion with a god that could not be seen has changed for some people for one which the main goal is totally materialist.
Look the unseen bade him, the voice which now communicated with him who was the greatest of mankind, Septimus, lately taken from life to death, the Lord who had come to renew society, who lay like a coverlet, a snow blanket smitten only by the sun, for ever unwasted, suffering for ever, the scapegoat, the eternal sufferer, but he did not want it, he moaned, putting from him with a wave of his hand that eternal suffering, that eternal loneliness. [18]
Septimus didn't want a god of suffering anymore. He has just come back from the war and desires to feel well-being in the new city. But he can't. Before this quote, he had already complained about how men should not cut down trees, because "there is God". His wife, Rezia, tries to make him look at something real, take him out of his war nightmares, that has imprisoned him out of the reality. But she could not.

Later, Septimus thinks himself as the as the peak of the society and "lord of men" [48], and after call Heaven as "merciful, infinitely benignant", he disdains the traditional religion: "But what was the scientific explanation [for one must be scientific above all]?" [49]. The world is changing.

He and his wife go visit a doctor, Sir William, who "never spoke of 'madness'; he called it not having a sense of proportion". Proportion is the reason, the rationality, the science, to know how to live in this new environment. But proportion is not alone at this premisses, it has a "sister", "conversion", that "feasts on the wills  of the weakly, loving to impress, to impose, adoring her own features stamped on the face of the populace". Conversion happens when someone wants to preach and convince someone to accept a new god. Proportion and Conversion are not opposite, they are ways people choose to face the world. But conversion is used more with whom does not know how to protect themselves,
in the heat and sands of India, the mud and swamp of Africa, the purlieus of London, wherever in short the climate or the devil tempts men to fall from the true belief which is her own—is even now engaged in dashing down shrines, smashing idols, and setting up in their place her own stern countenance. [72]
The conversion is fake, "offers help but desires power" [idem] - which echoes the actuality, with new churches trying to grow their congregation.

Clarissa feels the same when she must confront one of the actor of the "conversion", her daughter's teacher, Mrs. Kilman. The teacher wants to catechize the kid to believe in God, in the old God, and to avoid the frivolous life her mother uses to have, just celebrating her life [again, we can think about Nietzsche here].

When Clarissa, at the end of the novel, is informed about the death of Septimus, she feels very unease. It is something that she could predict, is out of religions, the old or the new one. Death could not be fit in the ambiance of a party, mainly if it is her celebration. But, then, she got curious about the death, and about Septimus, who she has never met or heard about before. She concludes: "Death was defiance". And life, "Life is made intolerable".

Septimus' death shows her how life is still fragile, even with the science, the rationalism, the new city. Death is still inexplicable. She could not avoid it from her party, where she thought she could control everything, like in a lab. The party, where the greatest men of the city are joined, but who cares if one dies? Everything ends. And she is not sure if her life was good enough to be comfort with the idea of the death. Her marriage is a problem. Her husband is a very respectful person, she likes him, but has she loved him any time? She knows "every one gives up something when they marry" [47], and "she had given up her home. She had come to live here, in this awful city" [idem].

The new religion, the modern city, is not enough to substitute the ancient one. No religion, imposed, not chosen, would be. You cannot find answers for your questions from anyone but you, yourself, inside. Clarissa learned this. "He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun." [133].

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