05 April 2009
The aesthetic solitary, part II
One of my college literature professors used to tell me that I reminded him of Sarah in The French Lieutenant's Woman. I was always puzzled as to whether this was a good thing or a bad thing, and I believed that the comparison had to go beyond our common hair color. Sarah is a controversial character, one who may be found to be both enthralling and cruel. I guess it depends on which ending you choose to uphold. But one thing is for sure: Sarah is not like other people. She has a fire inside of her that is not the norm-- indeed, is not widely accepted-- and that isolates her, but she clings to that mark of uniqueness as a saving grace, even though she knows its presence may cause her to suffer. And while Sarah chose to walk the cliffs of Lyme and wear the badge of her shame, I choose to be my quirky, old-fashioned, what-could-be-seen-as-uptight, intellectual, artistic self in a society full of conformists. It's a struggle, though. I'm sure that Sarah felt lonely a lot of the time, lonely and frustrated with her surroundings and wishful that she could be more simple so that her life could be all happiness.
How do you fix this situation, for a Sarah in the modern day? I do want to be happy, and I want to feel like I belong, but not through the sacrifice of my selfhood. It's a struggle that seems all the more present today, when I was surrounded by blissfully happy couples and strange men who seemed content to just lounge around in a dark bar on a bright afternoon when there was a bustling market and a bubble machine to explore right outside. I meant to buy a scarf, a beautiful, colorful, springy scarf that I could drape around my neck for that oh-so-Left-Bank appeal. But I never got the chance. Today, at least, the outside factors won, and I find myself pulled into my dark thoughts as if by the writhing demons in Ghost.
"We are all in flight from the real reality. That is a basic definition of Homo sapiens."
"[Her eyes] could not conceal an intelligence, an independence of spirit; there was also a silent contradiction of any sympathy; a determination to be what she was."
"Sometimes I almost pity them. I think I have a freedom they cannot understand. No insult, no blame, can touch me. Because I have set myself beyond the pale."
"A remarkable young woman, a remarkable young woman. And baffling. He decided that that was-- had been, rather-- her attraction: her unpredictability. He did not realize that she had two qualities as typical of the English as his own mixture of irony and convention. I speak of passion and imagination."
"Shall I ever understand your parables?"
(all quotations from The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles; photo credit to forgotten flickr user)