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HOME > Classical Novels > Kangaroo > CHAP: XIII. “REVENGE!” TIMOTHEUS CRIES
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 At last he had it all out with himself, right to the bitter end. And then he realised that all the time, since the year 1918, whether he was in Sicily or Switzerland or Venice or Germany or in the Austrian Tyrol, deep in his unconsciousness had lain this accumulation of black fury and fear, like in his soul. And now it had burst up: the fear, then the acute remembrance. So he faced it out, trembling with shock and bitterness, every detail. And then he tried to reckon it all up.  
But first, why had it all come back on him? It had seemed so past, so gone. Why should it suddenly erupt like white hot lava, to set in hot black rock round the wound of his soul? Who knows? Perhaps there is a periodicity even in . Or perhaps it was this contact with Kangaroo and Willie Struthers, contact with the accumulating forces of social violence. Or perhaps it was being again in a English-speaking country, and feeling again that queer revulsion from the English form of democracy. He realised that the oh-so-pleasant democracy of the English lower classes frightened him, always had frightened him. Yet everybody was so very pleasant and easy-going down in Mullumbimby. It really seemed so free.
Free! Free! What did it mean? It was this very ultra-freedom that frightened him, like a still pause before a thunderstorm. “Let him that thinketh he stand take lest he fall.”
Or perhaps it was just the of the season, the climate. His blood, his whole being, expected summer, and long days and short nights. And here he had come into the Southern hemisphere, with long nights of winter, and the late sun rising north-east behind the sea, and travelling northwards up the sky, as if running away, and setting in a cold glare north-west, behind the bluey-black range. It should have been bird-nesting time, and leaves and flowers and tall corn and full summer with cherry blossom fallen and cherries beginning to change colour. Whereas the grass was and brown, the earth had gone winter-numb, the few trees were bare, and only the uncanny coral tree its flowers of red-hot iron.
Perhaps it was just this: the inversion of the seasons, the shock to his blood and his system. For, of course, the body has its own rhythm, with the sun and with the moon. The great nerve ganglia and the subtle have their regular times and motions, in correspondence with the outer universe. And these times and motions had suddenly received a check from the outer universe: a distinct check. He had had an inkling of what it would be when, from the ship in the Indian Ocean he had seen the great and beloved Orion on its head as if pitching head foremost into the sea, and the bright dog Sirius coursing high above his heels in the outer air. Then he had realised the inversion in the heavens.
And perhaps it was this inversion which had brought up all that and bitter fire from the of his unconscious, up again into his full consciousness. If so, then let it be so.
One thing he realised, however: that if the fire had suddenly erupted in his own , it would erupt one day in the of all men. Because there it had accumulated, like a great horrible lava pool, deep in the unconscious bowels of all men. All who were not dead. And even the dead were many of them raging in the invisible, with gnashing of teeth. But the living dead, these he could not reckon with: they with poisonous teeth like hyænas.
Rage! Rage! Rage! The awful accumulations that lie quiescent and pregnant in the bowels of men. He thought of the big gaunt collier with the blunt, seal-like face shorn of its intelligence, naked and ghastly on his heels. It passes, it passes for the time being. But in those moments there is an inward disruption, and the death-hot lava pours loose into the deepest reservoirs of the soul. One day to erupt: or else to go hard and rocky, dead.
Even the young man who wanted to be approved of. Even he. He had not much true . But what was he feeling now? Unless, of course, he had got into business and was successfully coining money. That seemed to be the only safety-valve: success in money-making. But how many men were successful, now?
Of course it was all necessary, the conscription, the medical examinations. Of course, of course. We all know it. But when it comes to the deepest things, men are as as women. You can reason with a sex-angry woman till you are black in the face. And if for a time you do overcome her with reason, the sex-anger only arises more and furiously, later. Perhaps in another .
There is no arguing with the passional self. Not the least use in the world. Yes, you are quite right, quite right in all your . But! And the But just explodes everything like a bomb.
The conscription, all the whole performance of the war was absolutely circumstantially necessary. It was necessary to investigate even the secret parts of a man. Agreed! Agreed! But—
It was necessary to put Richard Lovat and the ugly collier through that business at Derby. Many men were put through things a thousand times worse. Agreed! Oh, entirely agreed! The war couldn’t be lost, at that hour. Quite, quite, quite! Even Richard, even now, agreed to all these contentions. But—!
And there you are. But—. He was full of a lava fire of rage and hate, at the bottom of his soul. And he knew it was the same with most men. He felt . And he knew it was the same with most men. He felt sold. And he knew most men felt the same.
He cared for nothing now, but to let loose the hell-rage that was in him. Get rid of it by letting it out. For there was no digesting it. He had been trying that for three years, and roaming the face of the earth trying to himself with the of travel and new experience and scenery. He knew now the worth of all sops. Once that disruption had taken place in a man’s soul, and in a stress of , under the presence of compulsion, something has broken in his tissue and the liquid fire has run out loose into his blood, then no sops will be of any avail. The lava-fire at the bottom of a man’s belly breeds more lava fire, and more, and more—till there is an eruption. As the lava fire accumulates, the man becomes more and more reckless. Till he reaches a pitch of dehumanised recklessness, and then the lid is blown off, as the top is blown off a hill to make a new volcano. Or else it all sets into rocky deadness.
Richard felt himself reaching the volcanic pitch. He had as good as reached it. And he realised that the Russians must have reached it during the war: that the Irish had got there: that the Indians in India were approaching the point: that the whole world was gradually working up to the pitch. The whole world. It was as as the coming of summer. It might be soon—it might be slow. But inevitable it was. Or else the alternative, the dead-rock barrenness.
But why? Why, oh why? Is human life just opposed to human reason? The Allies did have to win the war. For it would certainly not have been any better letting Germany win. Unless a very great disaster might have shocked men to their deeper senses. But doubtful. Things had to go as they went.
So, it was just Thomas Hardy’s Blind Fate? No, said Lovat to himself, no. Fata volentem ducunt, nolentem trahunt. The Fates lead on the willing man, the man they drag.
The Fates? What Fates? It takes a willing man to answer. Man is not a creature of circumstance, neither is he the result of cause-and-effect throughout the ages, neither is he a product of evolution, neither is he a living Mind, part of the Universal Mind. Neither is he a complicated make-up of forces and chemicals and organs. Neither is he a term of love. Neither is he the instrument of God’s will. None of these things.
Man lives according to his own idea of himself. When circumstances begin really to run counter to his idea of himself, he damns circumstances. When the running-counter persists, he damns the nature of things. And when it still persists, he becomes a fatalist. A fatalist or an opportunist—anything of that sort.
Whose fault is it? Fate’s? Not at all. It is man’s fault for persisting in some idea of himself.
Yet, being an animal saddled with a mental consciousness, which means ideas, man must have some idea of himself. He just must, and those that deny it have got a more fixed idea than anybody.
Man must have some idea of himself. He must live hard, hard, up to this idea of himself.
But the idea is . Say what you like, every idea is perishable: even the idea of God or Love or Humanity or Liberty—even the greatest idea has its day and perishes. Each religion is in the end only a great idea. Once the idea becomes , it is dead. Yet we must have ideas.
When a man follows the true inspiration of a new, living idea, he then is the willing man whom the Fates lead onwards: like St. Paul or Pope Hildebrand or Martin Luther or Cromwell or Abraham Lincoln. But when the idea is really dead, and still man persists in following it, then he is the unwilling man whom the Fates destroy, like Kaiser Wilhelm or President Wilson, or, to-day, the world at large.
For the idea, or ideal of Love, Self-sacrifice, Humanity united in love, in , in peace—all this is dead. There is no arguing about it. It is dead. The great ideal is dead.
How do we know? By putting off our conscious and listening to our own soul.
So then, why will men not forgive the war, and their humiliations at the hands of these war-like authorities? Because men were compelled into the service of a dead ideal. And perhaps nothing but this compulsion made them realise it was a dead ideal. But all those little stay-at-home officers and coast-watchers and dirty-minded doctors who tortured men during the first stages of the torture, did these men in their souls believe in what they were doing? They didn’t. They had no souls. They had only their beastly little wills, which they used to all men with. With their wills they to fight for a dead ideal, and to bully ............
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