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Bearing in mind these interpretations of Etain and Eochaidh we see that William Sharp's whole life can be expressed in terms of these conflicting values, and the movement of the play tells the story of their conflict in him; of the quest for beauty; the nostalgia for the impossible; the longing of the clay for the spark; the moment when high emotion makes that union seem possible; the gradual severance, and the end which is for the mortal, death, and for the immortal, the inevitable escape back into fantasy, to that Never Never Land which is the Country of the Young. Eochaidh's death represents William Sharp's growing intolerance of his objective life. He became to Fiona Macleod a despicable creature, and she wished him dead. There are many interpretations which regard Etain's return with Midir as a triumph. But even if this was the author's view, we are entitled to differ from him. Midir may well represent the quest of an impossible beauty, but in following him Etain finds escape and not fulfilment.
Furthermore, he recognised, perhaps dimly, that what he wrote was not only due to the influence of racial memory but also contained elements contributed by his personal unconscious. In the foreword to The Immortal Hour he makes this distinction: "Students of Celtic mythology will be familiar with the legend of the love of Etain.... But, lest the old and the new be confused, this should be added...that Eochaidh finds Etain in the way he does, and that Dalua comes and goes between Etain and Eochaidh as he comes and goes, and the meaning that lies in the obscure love of Dalua, and the bewildered love of Etain, and the mortal love of Eochaidh and the immortal love of Midir...this is new, perhaps....Nor has Dalua part or mention in the antique legend." In Dalua, then, there is something peculiarly personal, a myth drawn from William Sharp's own unconscious life. In the light of this distinction between racial and personal elements, two important features of the drama stand out clearly. The first is the theme which is universal, the contrast between the principles represented by Etain and Eochaidh. It may well be that the breadth of appeal which The Immortal Hour possesses is due to its wonderful dramatisation of this contrast which is universal; and is not the less so because this particular expression of it has also, as we have seen, a deeply autobiographical significance.
The second characteristic feature of the drama is the baffling figure of Dalua. The symbolism here is felt to be more complex and obscure than that which surrounds Etain and Eochaidh. The figure of Dalua is the crux of the problem for interpretation. This is less to be wondered at when we remember that the mythology to which Dalua belongs is not
that of Celtic legend, but primarily the mythology of William Sharp's own dream-life. Dalua, in fact, represents obscurity itself: a dark and baffling element in life, a reality which the author was driven to express, while it lay, as it were, only on the fringe of his consciousness. In the foreword to The Immortal Hour William Sharp writes of Dalua:
"Sad shadow of pale hopes
Forgotten dreams and madness of men's minds;
He is too, to my imagining, madness incorporate as a living force. In several of my writings this dark presence intervenes as a shadow...sometimes without being named." This is consistently his part in the drama in relation to Eochaidh:
He shall have madness, even as he wills
It is recognised by Eochaidh finally in his song of fear and disillusionment:
The false grows true, the true grows false
Thus far the significance of Dalua is clear, but the further question arises of the meaning of this shadow in the experience of William Sharp. In a passage already quoted he tells how the elusive vision of ideal beauty appears to him "now in morning loveliness, now in glooms of tragic terror." "There are two William Sharps," he writes to a correspondent, "one of them unhappy and bitter enough at heart, God knows, though he seldom shows it." In another letter he writes of his oppressive sense of fatalism: "What has always impressed me deeply, how deeply I can scarcely say is the blind despotism of fate. It is manifested in Aeschylus, in Isaiah, in all history and in life. This blind, terrible, indifferent fate, this tyrant chance, slays or spares, mutilates or rewards, annihilates or passes by without heed, without thought, with absolute blankness of purpose, aim or passion...."
The shadow in William Sharp's life, which Dalua represents, is the shadow of dissociation and madness which haunted him even in the most distant refuges of fantasy. The solution of the divided life proves no solution, for it is accompanied by a sense of confusion and calamity which cannot be forgotten or evaded. This doom which appears as an inscrutable fate is in fact life's retribution. Dalua represents the age-long experience of the race: that reality shows a harsh face to those who disregard it and refuse to respond to the challenge of life to bring the spiritual to bear upon the material, and to harmonise the conflicting elements in personality. "This divinity hath come secretly upon us in a forgetful time,
new and strange and terrible," writes Fiona Macleod of Dalua, yet there is truth also in the words put into his mouth in The Immortal Hour:
I am but what I am;
I am no thirsty evil lapping life.
Out of William Sharp's intensely personal experience there emerges this strange figure of imagination, who yet represents an aspect of universal experience.
The end of The Immortal Hour-the appearance of Midir, and Etain's return with him to the Country of the Young-has been interpreted by some as a triumph. Certainly it comes with a sense of the inevitable. If the foregoing interpretation be at all correct, however, the end of the drama is tragedy, rather than triumph. I have found great interest in asking people who have seen the drama whether they felt that the end was triumph or failure. Few have any hesitation in expressing a definite view. That view may be taken as a psychological index. It shows almost unfailingly whether the individual leans more to the subjective or to the objective side in life, and this without any implication that the latent content of the drama has been apprehended. But that feeling of inexorable fate which makes so profound an impression in the last scene emerges in William Sharp's own interpretation of life. To some of us life is a challenging adventure, and our Dalua is less cynical and less sinister -powerful, no doubt, but on the whole trustworthy and ready to be propitiated by gallant and high-hearted effort.
The end of the drama represents the complete severance of the two personalities: the death of the one and the retreat into fantasy of the other. The radiant figure of Midir "full of silent laughter" and easy mastery, belongs not to the realm of spirit, but to the fantasy world, as beautiful and as incomplete as childhood. He may stand for that quest of beauty as an escape, rather than as fulfilment, which led William Sharp out to the region
Where human pathways end
And the dark enemy spreads his maddening net.
TECHNICAL TERMS FOR THE VARIOUS DYNAMIC STATES OF THE MIND
BY P. YOULDEN JOHNSON.
THE difficulty confronting a student of psychology to-day is the lack of definite technical terms, and the consequent confusion1 that results from the use of words common in everyday speech to describe the various dynamic processes and states of the mind, as well also as most other psychological processes and states. McDougall truly hits the nail on the head when he writes of those who "perpetuate the chaos of psychological terminology." Ernest Jones recognises the difficulty and at least in three places is at pains to make the psycho-analytical use of certain words clear; to which we shall return shortly. Meanwhile, let us see what confronts us when we turn to differing authorities for knowledge of what are variously called the 'states,' 'regions,' 'strata,' 'streams,' 'tendencies,' 'layers,' 'parts,' 'trains,' 'divisions,' 'currents,' 'contents' and 'mental processes' of the mind. These 'states,' 'regions,' etc., have been variously described as 'unconscious,' 'non-conscious,' 'unconscious proper,' 'sub-conscious,' 'implicit awareness,' 'stationary state,' 'coconscious,' 'pre-conscious,' 'fore-conscious,' 'unawareness,' 'subliminal consciousness,' 'latent,' 'deeper,' 'subliminal,' 'pre-rational,' 'marginal awareness' or 'borderland,' 'consciousness,' 'dim-consciousness,' 'fuller consciousness,' 'distinct consciousness,' 'current or stream of consciousness,' 'threshold of consciousness,' 'the modern,' 'the manifest,' 'the rational,' 'the conscious.' Many of these various terms are used by differing authors to denote one and the same specific dynamic process; or, vice versa, some one term is used by differing authors to denote different dynamic processes. The 'unconscious proper,' again, is subdivided into two classes of mental processes, for which neither names nor technical terms are given 5. Let us take examples.
(a) Ernest Jones tells us the term 'unconscious' has acquired three
1 Baudouin, Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion, p. 274, footnote.
2 McDougall, Social Psychology, 16th ed., p. 144 and p. 145, footnote.
3 Ernest Jones, Papers on Psycho-Analysis, 2nd ed., p. 122, foonote.
5 Ibid. p. 637, which supplements p. 621.
principal and very different connotations1: first, the meaning 'nonmental' as employed in medicine; secondly, what I call the 'place where,' meaning, i.e. a kind of limbo' theory and mostly 'static,' advocated by Jung and others; and thirdly, the psycho-analytical and dynamic conception developed by Freud; with its two divisions into pre-conscious and unconscious proper2. There is also the popular use of the word found in everyday speech, and in addition, this term is used by other writers to denote what in psycho-analysis is called the pre-conscious or foreconscious 3.
(b) Let us take next an example of the dangerous and misleading use of words found in popular speech. Such words as 'subconscious,' 'threshold,' 'layers,' 'regions,' and 'strata' seem to me to imply ‘place where' rather than a 'process' or 'state' of mind. The danger is that a stationary rather than an active conception, i.e. a 'static passivity' rather than a 'dynamic activity,' may result. It is, I understand, true that currents of air or waters at different levels or depths may flow in different directions; but, as far as I understand Prof. Stout's view, no 'stream' or flow exists save one, viz. that of 'distinct consciousness' itself, and that an idea when lost to 'distinct consciousness' exists no longer in any 'stream' or 'current,' but has apparently found a home in some 'stationary place' in the mind where perhaps energy is often absent.
Accepting the view that all processes or states of the mind are dynamic and not static it surprised me to know that, in a science that is the basis of all social sciences, no definite technical terms for these processes or states had been evolved and generally accepted or agreed upon, such as we usually find, for instance, in medicine and theology. When a beginning has been made by finding acceptable technical terms for these processes which are the means whereby all instincts, emotions, and sentiments, or other states of mind, are apprehended, we may then go on to define and give definite technical terms also to these other precise instincts, emotions, sentiments, etc. For instance, Ernest Jones names as among the primary 'instincts' a 'something 5' that others would classify as an 'emotion' or perhaps a 'sentiment.'
1 Ernest Jones, Papers on Psycho-Analysis, 2nd ed., p. 121.
4 The Sub-conscious is compared to the waves of a frozen sea,' vide Stout, Manual of Psychology, 3rd ed. p. 134. On the other hand (p. 23), he writes of an unconscious process which may be set going and then continues during work or sleep until, e.g. the effort to remember is rewarded with success when the name emerges suddenly into the conscious. 5 Jealousy. Ernest Jones, Papers on Psycho-Analysis, 2nd ed. 1918, p. 124.