NUNQUAM

Julian said: “Freud says that all happiness is the deferred fulfilment of a prehistoric wish, and then he adds: ‘That is why wealth brings so little happiness; money is not an infantile wish.'” He sat down, musing deeply for a moment; then he got down softly upon one knee and began to do up the little green loaf in its brown paper, tying the string carefully round it. Having secured it he replaced it once more upon the window-sill, in the folds of his overcoat, under the topper. “I have been studying the demonic of our capitalistic system through the eyes of Luther – a chastening experience in some ways. He saw the final coming to power in this world of Satan as a capitalistic emblem. For him the entire structure of the Kingdom of Satan is essentially capitalistic – we are the devil’s own real property, he says: and his deepest condemnation of our system is in his phrase ‘Money is the word of the Devil, through which he creates all things in exactly the way God once created the True Word.’ In his devastating theology capitalism manifests itself as the ape of God, the simia dei. It is hard to look objectively at oneself in the shaving-mirror once one has adventured with this maniac through the ‘Madensack’ of the real shared world – this extended worm-bag of a place out of which squirm all our cultural and gnomic patterns, the stinking end-gut of a world whose convulsions are simply due to the putrefying explosions of faecal gas in the intestines of time.” He paused, musing and shaking his head. “And then gold itself, as Spengler points out, is not really a colour, for colours are natural things. No, that metallic greenish gleam is of a satanic unearthliness; yet it has an explicit mystical value in the iconography of our Churches.” He relit his cigar with a silver lighter.

       “And then from gold to money is only a very short jump, but a jump which spans the shallow trench of our whole culture and offers us some sort of rationale for the megalopolitan men we are and our ways; our ways! For money is the beating heart of the New World, and the power of money to bear interest, its basic raison d’être, has created the big city around it. Money is the dynamo, throwing out its waves of impulse in the interest principle. And without this volatility principle of Satan’s gold there would have been no cities. The archaeologists will tell you that they have noted the completest rupture of the life-style of man once he had founded his first cities. The intrusion of interest-bearing capital is the key to this almost total reorganisation of man, the transvaluation of all his rural values. From the threshing-floor to the square of a cathedral city is but a small jump, but without interest-bearing capital it could never have been made. The economy of the city is based wholly upon economic surplus – it is a settlement of men who for their sustenance depend on the production of agricultural labour which is not their own; it is the surplus produce of the country which constitutes the subsistence of the town. But Nash will hasten to tell you that for the unconscious the sector of the surplus is also the sector of the sacred – hence the towering cathedral-city with its incrustation of precious gems and sculptures and rites; its whole economy becomes devoted to sacred ends. It becomes the ‘divine household’, the house of God.”

       He put back his head and gave a sudden short bark of a laugh, full of a sardonic sadness. He looked so strange, Julian, bowed under the weight of these speculations; he looked at once ageless and very old. “I’ve had difficulty in convincing Nash that our science is still so very backward that for comfort’s sake we still feel the need to build ourselves working models of things – whether trains, turbines, or angels! In aesthetics as against technics, of course, a whole new flock of ideas come chattering in like starlings. We are at the very beginning of a phase – one can feel that; but one wishes that the bedrock were newer, fresher, contained fewer archaic features. No? The old death-figure is there side by side with creative Eros, longing to pull us back into the mire, to bury us in the stinking morasses of history where so many, innocent and guilty, have already foundered. As far as Iolanthe is concerned I freely confess that I am at a disadvantage as compared with you; you knew her, you knew the original, you have something real to compare her with. But I have only a set of data, like outworn microscope slides, with which to compare here; her films, her life – I have assembled the whole dossier. But when I meet her it will be a momentously new experience – I feel so sure of that. Yes.”

Lawrence Durrell, NUNQUAM.
Read the whole book here.

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