Yesterday, we witnessed the Death Penalty — circa 1931 — with George Orwell’s assistance in “Taking the Mechanism Out of Man.”
Today, we turn to D.H. Lawrence, who wrote about death and democracy and the American spirit in 1923 by critically examining our myths, memes, and folklore as memorialized in American literature.
Here, Lawrence flays our most endearing, democratic, ideal of self-righteousness for all:
Democracy in America was never the same as Liberty in Europe. In Europe Liberty was a great life-throb. But in America Democracy was always something anti-life. The greatest democrats, like Abraham Lincoln, had always a sacrificial, self-murdering note in their voices. American Democracy was a form of self-murder, always. Or of murdering somebody else.
Then he takes on the coldness of the American Self.
All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.
There you have it — courtesy of D.H. Lawrence in 1924 — as he gives us all of us in a nutshell since the founding of our nation: First we slay, then we suicide.
Will the hard heart ever melt?
When you’re born of violence — can it ever?