Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Toward the end of The Immoralist the protagonist possesses no sympathy for others or humility as he regards his quest for life-knowledge supreme, and all others, especially “men of principle,” deluded by their removal from their essential nature. Previously a thinker, a scholar, enrapt with all the subtle beauties of art and the natural world, he says amid the trough of his demise, “Art is leaving me, I feel it. To make room for what else?” That somehow seems one of the more sinister passages of the whole book.

Putting this next to an anecdote told by the rabbi presiding this weekend over a friend’s wedding- since bride and groom were both artists, he mentioned a Kabbalist scholar who interpreted one of the texts dealing with the creation of the universe, saying that G initially filled all space, and there being no room for what he wanted to create, he contracted or withdrew part of himself to make space for man and his world. This, it was proposed, underscores how inseparable humility is in the process of creation. It’s a resonant metaphor, especially when creativity can seem like the most egotistic of pursuits. Anyone who can direct me to a name and/or article that mentions this interpretation more specifically I’d be much obliged to.


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