Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Barrie in Love VIII

Barrie in Love VIII

"Life doesn't really matter," Lawrence says. "It is one's art which is central."

Symbolically, then, Barrie witnesses the destruction of his love, or of a part of his own soul, by those beliefs that had been a kind of religion to him in writing Peter Pan.

Barrie himself plays with certain of his worst fears by giving them over to Peter Pan and Captain Hook, who toy with them, inventing for their amusement a mocking dream of the destruction of his world.

Peter Pan invents a perfect explosive that blows up the world, perhaps; or the climate shifts and the world goes cold and snow falls everywhere and "only white creatures, polar-bears, white foxes, and men like awful white snow-birds, persisted in ice cruelty."

This is Lawrence's nightmare, the Apocalypse without resurrection, without meaning; a vision as bleak and as tragically unsentimental as Shakespeare's.

Only in fairytales, in myth, can tragedy be transcended. In Peter Pan, the Christian and the pagan mate, the male and the ephebe come together in a perfect union, and the process of dissolution is halted.

The man who had died awakes in his closet, sickened and despairing, knowing himself moral, not the Son of God but no more than a son of man—and in this realization is his hope, his true salvation.

Barrie is resurrected to the flesh of his own body. Through the warm, healing flesh of the young god Pan, Barrie is healed of his fraudulent divinity.

Poetic, Biblical in its rhythms, Peter Pan is an extraordinary work in that it dramatizes Barrie's own sense of resurrection from near death. He had come through the dying of his young lovers several times and it repudiated his passion for changing the world.

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