Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Devils of Loudun

Nature abhors a vacuum, even in the mind.

Partisan loyalty is socially disastrous; but for individuals it can be richly rewarding--more rewarding, in many ways, than even concupiscence or avarice. Whoremongers and money-grubbers find it hard to feel very proud of their activities. But partisanship is a complex passion which permits those who indulge in it to make the best of both worlds. Because they do these things for the sake of a group which is, by definition, good and even sacred, they can admire themselves and loathe their neighbors, they can seek power and money, can enjoy the pleasures of aggression and cruelty, not merely without feeling guilty, but with a positive glow of conscious virtue.

Sex can be used either for self affirmation or for self transcendence--either to intensify the ego and consolidate the social persona by some kind of conspicuous 'embarkation' and heroic conquest, or else to annihilate the persona and transcend the ego in an obscure rapture of sensuality, a frenzy of romantic passion or, more creditably, in the mutual charity of the perfect marriage.

Her home was not at Loudun, not among these frumps and bores and boors, but with a god in a private Elysium transfigured by the radiance of dawning love and imaginary sex.

But falling in love, as she now perceived, was not the same as loving. It was as an imagination that one fell in love, and what one fell in love with was only an abstraction. When one loved, one loved a complete existence and loved it with one's whole being, with the soul and every fiber of the body, with the self and this other, this new found alien beneath, beyond and within the self. She was all love and only love. Nothing but love existed--nothing.

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