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The impact of time and memory on Malcolm Lowry's fiction Ramsey, Robin Harold 1970

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THE IMPACT OF TIME AND MEMORY ON MALCOLM LOWRY'S FICTION by ROBIN HAROLD RAMSEY B.A., University of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1967 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in the Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1970 In p resent ing t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study. I f u r t h e r agree t ha t permiss ion f o r ex tens i ve copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s r ep r e sen t a t i v e s . I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l ga in s h a l l not be a l lowed wi thout my w r i t t e n pe rm i ss i on . Department o f English  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date {feptanbqr ?1, 1970 ABSTRACT The aesthetic basis underlying Lowry's work centers around two key ideas, time and memory. Crucial to a l l of his writing i s the need to decipher and to j u s t i f y the past, both as i t i s retained i n memory and as i t recurs i n experience. As complex as such a problem i s , i t be-comes more so when neither memory nor experience conforms to the l i m i t s or patterns that a conventional view of r e a l i t y suggests, and accord-i n g l y , Lowry required a world-view that could accommodate such appar-ently i r r e g u l a r phenomena as premonition, coincidence, recurrence and telepathy. This study w i l l examine some of the shapes which r e a l i t y assumed i n Lowry's l i f e , and the means he employed to represent and to understand i t through his a r t . I t w i l l also suggest the usefulness of comparing Lowry's approach to existence with the theories of Ortega and J. W. Dunne. The f i r s t chapter considers the nature of time and memory i n gen-eral and looks at some of the s p e c i f i c treatments accorded these subjects in l i t e r a t u r e . In addition, i t examines Lowry's special metaphysical needs and his search through a variety of doctrines and philosophies, primary among which are Western mysticism and occultism and various Eastern b e l i e f s , f o r some elucidation of his problems. Throughout, i t attempts to keep Lowry's eff o r t s i n a perspective of contemporary f i c t i o n , since the problems of a universal outlook which he faced and the i v solutions he posed, while i n d i v i d u a l , are neither as unique nor as eso-t e r i c as they might at f i r s t appear. Chapter II focuses on some of the solutions Lowry arrived at. I t assumes that the disparate body of ideas at work i n Lowry's aesthetic can be subsumed, for convenience, within two metaphysical systems--Ortega's philosophy of man and history and Dunne's s e r i a l universe. These theories are considered i n some d e t a i l in an attempt to show that Lowry's conception of the nature and purpose of l i t e r a r y a c t i v i t y paral-l e l s Ortega's hypothesis, while his methodology, the execution of his objectives, makes use of serialism. Chapters I I I and IV analyze Under the Volcano and Dark as the  Grave, respectively, i n l i g h t of the above considerations and try to show how these ideas are operative i n Lowry's work both on the aesthetic l e v e l , i n terms of his approach to l i t e r a t u r e , and also on the thematic and structural levels within the f i c t i v e worlds of the novels. The f i n a l chapter i s a b r i e f summary, synthesizing Lowry's various conceptions of time, memory, and r e a l i t y around a general aesthetic theory. I t w i l l be seen that Lowry makes free use of a number of d i f -ferent but compatible systems of thought i n his w r i t i n g . Thus the chapter w i l l also consider some of the resultant c r i t i c a l problems which beset his work and the corresponding need, i n any evaluation of his a r t , for c r i t i c a l breadth and f l e x i b i l i t y . TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter Page I. TIME AND MEMORY 1 I I . ORTEGA AND DUNNE 19 I I I . UNDER THE VOLCANO 34 IV. DARK AS THE GRAVE WHEREIN MY FRIEND IS LAID 58 V. CONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . 7 7 A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . 86 THE IMPACT OF TIME AND MEMORY ON MALCOLM LOWRY'S FICTION CHAPTER I TIME AND MEMORY Central to a l l of Lowry's work i s the need to recover and to i n t e r -pret the past i n order to establish a d e f i n i t i o n of s e l f based not on error or delusion but on sound understanding and self-knowledge. This, of course, demands that Lowry be thoroughly conversant with his personal h i s t o r y , and i t i s primarily through the agency of memory that this h i s -tory i s rendered accessible to analysis. Lowry realized that at any given moment i n an individual's existence he i s a product of a l l that has gone before, not merely his own experience, but his c o l l e c t i v e social and c u l t u r a l past as w e l l . He found that the reclamation of this exper-ience through l i t e r a r y creation furnished a means of capturing a moment of r e a l i t y , whether i t be past or present, and imposing upon i t order, permanence, and i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y . I f , however, as he also learned, r e a l i t y i t s e l f , i n addition to being elusive and formless, threatened real destruction, the transformation of i t into art was to deprive i t of i t s harmful p o t e n t i a l . Self-knowledge i s a prerequisite to both s e l f -development and f u l l p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the world, but Lowry knew that one's conception of s e l f must encompass the tota l man including his previous i d e n t i t i e s ; to ignore, to evade, or even to deny elements of one's experiences i s to ensure entrapment by them. The process of re-covering s e l f and r e a l i t y i s a psychological one that Jung has defined as in d i v i d u a t i o n , a search for wholeness, for an integration of the per-sonality that makes of an individual a unique, i n d i v i s i b l e u n i t , 2 r e l a t i v e l y free of the supportive structures of his social environmentJ Such a human being creates his own world and structures i t with his own values rooted i n his sense of s e l f . This i s the basic motivation behind Lowry's aesthetic, determining both his conception of the role of l i t e r -ary art i n general and his execution, i n thematic and structural terms, of s p e c i f i c works. His own experiences furnish the substance of his f i c t i o n , but within the f i c t i v e worlds of the novels the characters are themselves preoccupied with time and confronted with the consequences of th e i r respective pasts. Art has t r a d i t i o n a l l y served in the role i n which Lowry casts i t . According to Hans Meyerhoff, the quest f o r disclosing continuity, i d e n t i t y and unity i n experience has been a dominant theme of l i t e r a t u r e and p h i l -osophy from at least as far back as St. Augustine's Confessions, and the 2 key to the quest has been memory. This search, of course, involves writers i n temporal considerations that are more than simply an awareness of the passing of time and of the persistence of thoughts and fe e l i n g s ; i t demands some conception of the nature of r e a l i t y i t s e l f , a s p e c i f i c o r i e n t a t i o n , i n f a c t , towards the universe. A r t i s t s tend to be e c l e c t i c , however, and rarely do they follow any one philosophy consistently. Lowry i s no exception, and he displays a rather discursive metaphysic sharing elements of numerous b e l i e f s . Nevertheless, i t proves a valuable exercise to piece together some of the disparate threads of thought as they are inevitably the strands out of which the novels are made. Indeed, as Margaret Church suggests i n a study of time and r e a l i t y i n f i c t i o n , such a task i s an essential element of c r i t i c i s m since "the understanding 3 of the form, content, thought and motif of f i c t i o n depends on the under-3 standing of an author's attitude toward time and space." Lowry i s situated in an i n t e l l e c t u a l and l i t e r a r y climate i n which ideas concerning time are heavily influenced by Bergson and Marcel Proust. Countering the proposition put forward by Kant that defines time as a homogeneous e n t i t y , Bergson suggests instead two species of time, one extensive and measurable, l i k e Kant's, the other intensive and unmeasurable; the l a t t e r he called duration. In Time and F r e e w i l l , Bergson claims that Kant's mistake i s to confuse symbol and r e a l i t y . He believes that when we try symbolically to represent duration we inevitably replace i t by space; this i s the sense of time we have in which we make 4 d i s t i n c t i o n s and count, the time that a clock measures. In f a c t , suc-cession i s not a property of pure duration which i s the form time assumes when the ordering ego or consciousness refrains from separating i t s present from i t s former states. Consequently, past and present com-prise an organic whole in which one's entire past i s constantly i n exis-tence, even though one may remain unaware of i t . The aggregate, however, is i n an unceasing state of change, of growth through "the continuous progress of the past which gnaws into the future and which swells as i t advances. And as the past grows without ceasing so also there i s no 5 -l i m i t to i t s preservation." Thus, the character of an individual at a s p e c i f i c stage i n his l i f e i s "the condensation of the history" that he has l i v e d from his b i r t h to that point. Bergson's idea of duration saturates twentieth-century l i t e r a t u r e , though frequently in modified form. His view freed man from the 4 a r t i f i c i a l d i s t i n c t i o n s that had been appropriated to time, and, in so doing, bestowed a greater stature on man's past. Much of Lowry's writing exhibits this sense of duration, but his outlook d i f f e r s markedly from Bergson's i n at least one respect; Bergson considered time to be i r r e v e r -s i b l e . While the past was accessible to mental r e c a l l , i t was always past and never repeatable i n experience. Since an individual i s always changing, he can never be the same person he was when an incident f i r s t took place. I t i s the intervening episodes, therefore, which prevent the recurrence of an action. By a s i m i l a r process of thought, Bergson denied the fo r e s e e a b i l i t y of the future which would require either a knowledge of a l l antecedent actions, and he believed this to be impossible, or the experience of a l l preceding events which would dispel the element of f u t u r i t y . Though the p l a u s i b i l i t y of these arguments i s strong, they would not go very f a r i n assuaging Lowry's mind since he seemed constant-l y beset by both recurrence and premonition. Proust, l i k e Bergson, believed that real time was inner and q u a l i -t a t i v e , but he focused his attention on the i n t e n s i t y of the past and on how i t could be recall e d . He f e l t that because of forgetfulness, because of the pra c t i c a l orientation of l i f e toward the future, there existed no li n k between past and present u n t i l a chance occurrence summoned up a previous experience by reanimating the sensations which accompanied i t ; during such a s i t u a t i o n , one i s completely outside of time. In Matter  and Memory, Bergson had di f f e r e n t i a t e d between two forms of memory, one which imagines, characterized by spontaneity and capriciousness, and one which repeats, subject to the w i l l of the active i n t e l l e c t . Proust 5 recognized the same d i s t i n c t i o n s , giving prominence to the spontaneous, involuntary memory that chance or circumstance occasioned. He regarded i n t e l l e c t u a l memory, prompted by the w i l l , as capable of revealing only that past which was, in e f f e c t , dead: "the pictures which that kind of memory shows us of the past preserve nothing of the past i t s e l f . " 7 The other, however, by the chain of association i t sparked enabled one to experience simultaneously an incident in the past and the present. The difference between Proust and Lowry i s that Proust remembered previous experiences and rel i v e d them, but in his mind; there remains a sense of escapism i n his approach. Lowry, on the other hand, actually found himself repeating e a r l i e r events in his l i f e , going through the same motions, facing the same ri d d l e s . Both, however, recognized the role of an agent, a c a t a l y s t , in reviving physical or psychological occasions, and Sigbj0rn Wilderness' stumbling upon the Calle- Humbolt in Dark as the Grave, to mention but one example, has much about i t of the "madeleine" episode in the "Overture" section of Swann's Way. The re-g s u i t i n g associationism, based, as Bergson noted, on the s i m i l a r i t y and contiguity of separate happenings, impelled each author on his respective survey of the past. The narrator of Proust's novel discovers that the taste of the "petites madeleines" recalled in completeness and intensity the Sunday morning a c t i v i t i e s at Combray during his childhood. This led to the conception of the whole great work which was to be a recapturing 9 of a succession of l o s t selves. What he required was a temporal system that could accommodate such an adventure, a cosmic view i n which the end was simultaneous with the beginning, and in which each moment, containing 6 within i tsel f both its past and future, could be viewed in terms of the whole. Memory, sleep, and dreams gave him freedom to roam beyond the logical and psychological conventions of reality and to apply to earlier events a clearer and more precise vision. The similarity between the two authors, in terms of conception, is striking. Each focused on himself, fragmenting his single personality into a variety of characters; each erected constructs of the real and the imaginary to inhabit his f ictive worlds. And for each i t was a quest for identity. Indeed, Lowry's projected work, The Voyage that Never Ends, was Proustian in breadth, comprising five to seven novels focusing on this theme. Proust was well aware of the obstacles that lay in his path. He realized, for instance, the diff iculty of separating the reality of another from what i s , in fact, simply a projection of one's own concep-tion of him. He perceived kinds and degrees of reality, since some remembered events have their origin in a valid personal experience while others are simply constructs of the imagination. He knew, too, that the past not only colours and shapes the present but vice versa, that one's immediate biases interfere with and distort memory. Meyerhoff states the general problems of memory quite clearly by asking how different patterns of memory are related to each other at the same time, how one accounts for the sense of continuity that an individual feels between these different contents at different times, and how one explains the re-lationship of an individual to his total p a s t J 0 His answer to these questions both defines the basic role of memory in literature and also pays tribute to Proust's contribution: 7 [Remembrance of Things Past] reveals how the reconstruction of the s e l f corresponds to the recapture of time in experience; . . . this quest for time and s e l f assigns to memory a unique function. Memory becomes a symbol for the act i v e , creative, regulative func-tions of the s e l f . And this creative aspect of memory (in art) d i s -closes a u n i f i e d , coherent structure of the self, which cannot be otherwise recovered in experienceJl Lowry, too, faced these d i f f i c u l t i e s . He accepted the fact that given the normal role assigned to memory--to r e c a l l the past without d i s -torting it--then the value of remembered experience was i n the fixed and secure standard i t furnished for coping with present r e a l i t y . But the problem lay i n the ins u f f i c i e n c y of the premise. Lowry's l i f e made greater demands on a time-scheme. He found that memory, including the peculiar state of dreams which activate stored memory contents, involves a conscious awareness that extends beyond conventional l i m i t a t i o n s , that the future was indeed as much a part of memory as the past. Accordingly, i t became necessary to d i f f e r e n t i a t e between remembered events, present actions, and anticipated experiences, recognizing that a l l equally affect one's l i f e , modify choices and actions, and l i m i t a l t e r n a t i v e s , and that an aesthetic was required that took account of these d i s t i n c t i o n s . Throughout his poetry, f i c t i o n and l e t t e r s , Lowry's emphasis i s on a personal past, much as i s Proust's, and the theories of time and memory with which he was preoccupied were primarily those which offered elucidation of the complexities of his own l i f e : Like a rotten old ladder cast a d r i f t from a dismantled sawmill . . . seems my conscience--hauled out to dry i n the sun, leaning against nothing, 8 leading nowhere--but to be put to use perhaps, salvageable—to be graved, up and down which each night my mind meaninglessly cl imbs The image suggests an ordeal resembling that of Sisyphus in i t s pain, 13 i t s f u t i l i t y , i t s unrelenting pressure to continue. Indeed, this need haunts Lowry's work and dominates such poems as "The Flowering Past," "Sunrise," "Whirlpool," and "The Ship i s Turning Homeward" among others. Forming, as w e l l , the nucleus of many of his short s t o r i e s , i t appears in various guises, as the search f o r i d e n t i t y i n "The Bravest Boat," as the re-emergence of the past in "Elephant and Colosseum," as the r e l a t i o n -ship of man to his s o c i a l past i n "The Present Estate of Pompeii," and, f i n a l l y , as the destructive past which i s overcome and put to use i n "The Forest Path to the Spring." A l l of these draw on a common body of experiences and confusions--Lowry's; a l l try to order and understand them as prerequisites for Lowry's personal salvation. Although the metaphysical enigmas confronting Lowry were intimate-ly and immediately pressing, nevertheless Under the Volcano extensively and Dark as the Grave to a more limited extent, through such devices as the Faust and P a r s i f a l motifs, expand his thoughts beyond personal con-siderations to include a l l time. He agreed with Jung that the a r t i s t i s in touch with the immemorial forces common to a l l cultures, al1 ages, and was able, through his use of symbolism and mythology, to bridge the abyss of time which separated them. Lowry's f a m i l i a r i t y with Oriental philosophy and the Cabbala suggested common archetypal patterns i n human 9 existence to which his symbolism provided access. He, l i k e Jung, be-lieved that " i t i s only possible to l i v e the f u l l e s t l i f e when we are in harmony with these symbols; wisdom i s a return to them. I t i s neither a question of b e l i e f nor of knowledge, but of the agreement of our think-14 ing with the primordial images of the unconscious." In this sense, the value of mythological allusions i s twofold: they place a present, secular setting within a timeless perspective, and they convey a sense of the continuity and community of a l l mankind. These and s i m i l a r ideas exerted a powerful formative influence on the shape of l i t e r a r y creation in general during this century, although the method that any a r t i s t resorts to i s , ultimately, the one that meets his unique needs and fosters his part i c u l a r objectives. Faulkner, for instance, concentrated on the force of an individual's social past, on the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of escaping i t , on the i n e v i t a b i l i t y , i n f a c t , of re-peating i t since "there i s no such thing r e a l l y as was because the past. 15 i s . " In addition, p a r a l l e l s from Shakespeare and B i b l i c a l analogies lend to his novels a wide scope. In the same manner, Hegelian philos-ophy, Nietschze's eternal recurrence of the same, mysticism, and occult-ism inform the works of Kafka and Thomas Mann, both of whom employ c i r -cular concepts of time and r e a l i t y i n thei r f i c t i o n . While Lowry knew of these a r t i s t s and th e i r approaches to the nature of existence, perhaps the most f r u i t f u l comparison for setting his views i n a perspective of contemporary writing i s with Joyce. In The P o r t r a i t of the A r t i s t as a_ Young Man, a predominantly personal sense of id e n t i t y i s gradually superseded in Daedalus' mind by 10 a commitment to his r a c i a l past. In Ulysses, a r t i f i c i a l time i s juxta-posed against Bergsonian duration and a Jungian persistence of the legendary past, with Homeric p a r a l l e l s , I r i s h nationalism and f o l k l o r e , and l i n g u i s t i c styles furnishing the dominant agents of continuity. Here, clocks and watches abound, though not as extensively as i n Under  the Volcano. The c r i t i c a l time for Bloom i s four o'clock when Molly w i l l rendezvous with Blazes Boylan. But Bloom i s also capable of a larger v i s i o n , of seeing l i f e i n terms of a flowing stream, a never-ending cycle of b i r t h , growth, death, decay, r e b i r t h . Finnegan's Wake i s structured along the lines of Giovanni B a t t i s t a Vico's c y c l i c a l theory of history which comprises a Divine Age, an Heroic Age, a Human Age, and a Recorso. Indeed, Vico's cycles occupy a position i n Joyce's aesthetic s i m i l a r to the place held by Dunne's s e r i a l ism i n Lowry's scheme. These, however, do not exhaust Joyce's techniques; his use of time shows the same diver-s i t y of sources and approaches as does Lowry's, and Giordano Bruno's d i a l e c t i c a l concept of nature, Einstein's r e l a t i v i s m , Dunne's s e r i a l view, as well as A s i a t i c conceptions of c y c l i c a l time a l l contribute to his t o t a l outlook. Lowry's search f o r a comprehensible order i n the world has l i t t l e of the purely theoretical about i t . Time i s , i n f a c t , a symbol that man employs i n order to approach an aspect of ultimate r e a l i t y . For most men, perhaps, the symbol i s s u f f i c i e n t , and they rest with the delusion that they can not only understand, but can manipulate and control r e a l i t y , since t h e i r necessities, the demands they make on r e a l i t y , do not exceed the l i m i t s of the narrow and closed system i n which they operate. In 11 contrast, as his l e t t e r s p a r t i c u l a r l y reveal, Lowry's needs were unique and exacting; his l i f e was plagued with i r r e g u l a r , occasionally extremely bizarre occurrences, which made him sometimes regard himself as a charac-1 c ter i n a Kafka novel. He often seemed to be somehow existing i n d i f -ferent experiential realms at the same moment where events such as those narrated in the published fragment of October Ferry to Gabriola, "The Element Follows You Around, S i r , " were prevalent. His desire f o r under-standing led him to Kant, but the Critique of Pure Reason would seem to o f f e r scant solace or assistance. In Kant's philosophy, although a form of consciousness, time i s s t i l l a l i n e a r concept " i n which a l l d i f f e r e n t times must be located, not as coexistent but as i n succession to one another"^ 7 and which follow each other on the p r i n c i p l e of cause and ef f e c t . A doctrine of this order has l i t t l e room for premonition, even less f o r recurrence. Lowry, however, as Downie Kirk t e s t i f i e s , was fi r m l y convinced of the p o s s i b i l i t y of such things as telepathy and 18 thought transference. He possessed Jung's Psyche and Symbol and must have known his essay on synchronicity which treats of "meaningful coin-cidences" that are not based on any p r i n c i p l e of causality and that are 19 contained i n an irrepresentable space-time continuum. Nevertheless, i t seems to be J. W. Dunne to whom Lowry turned. In a l e t t e r to Conrad Aiken i n 1945, a f t e r having recounted some rather strange s i t u a t i o n s , Lowry goes on to add that "altogether about f i f t y other odd senseless sad t e r r i f y i n g and curiously related things . . . make me sometimes think (taking i t a l l in a l l ) that maybe I am the chap chosen by God or 20 the Devil to elucidate the Law of Series." 12 Before a detailed consideration of Dunne however, there i s another essential ingredient of Lowry's metaphysic to be noted—this i s eternal recurrence, the c y c l i c a l basis of existence. While eternal recurrence is not the same as s e r i a l i s m , nor i s i t even possible perhaps to subsume the containment of one in the other, s t i l l , i n the uses made of each by Lowry, the systems are c e r t a i n l y compatible. The rep e t i t i o n of exper-ience, the extensive use of mythology, plus Lowry's knowledge of Eastern philosophy, neo-Platonism, occultism, alchemy, and the Cabbala, a l l help to promote a c y c l i c a l view of time and r e a l i t y . The focus here w i l l be on the contributions of the East, as some of the neo-PIatonic symbolism 21 in Lowry's work has recently been examined, and the Cabbalistic frame-22 work has been amply f i l l e d out by Epstein. Both these streams of thought, in f a c t , partake heavily of Eastern b e l i e f s . I t should be realized that the complexity of Lowry's symbolism precludes any claim that he made a conscious and determined e f f o r t to draw images from Indian and Oriental doctrines. Nevertheless, his imagery, symbolism, even many of his techniques are informed by the i r ideas. 23 The stages.of mystical experience, as Epstein describes i t , as a journey through seven palaces, i s s t r i k i n g l y s i m i l a r to the myth of Buddha's b i r t h . During the ordeal, Buddha attains the summit of the world i n seven steps, traversing the seven cosmic stories to the seven planetary heavens. In so doing, he transcends time by becoming contem-poraneous with the beginning of the world, as the summit is where creation commences. Here, time i s both reversible and can be anticipated; 24 knowing past and future, he can move in either time d i r e c t i o n . A 13 pertinent corollary of this process i s that the a b o l i t i o n of time i s equivalent to the destruction of memory, not ju s t individual memory, but c o l l e c t i v e consciousness as w e l l . What this amounts to i s a remaking of the world, representative of ignorance, f a i l u r e , and suff e r i n g , without history or memory, and, therefore, without s i n . The entire process offers i n s i g h t f u l p a r a l l e l s into the purgative function of art as Lowry conceives i t . Also important in Indian philosophy i s the idea that the universe undergoes cycles of creation and destruction. Each cycle culminates i n a f i r e which i s extinguished by a flood that preludes re-creation. Fire and water imagery, employed i n a s i m i l a r sense, are of course prevalent throughout Lowry's work, most p a r t i c u l a r l y applied with reference to his burned manuscript of In B a l l a s t to the White Sea and to the charred ruins at Dollarton. To Lowry, each of these represented a cycle of creation halted by f i r e , each destruction culminating i n a r e b i r t h . In Hindu r e l i g i o n , the s e l f , Atman, must be realized f u l l y i n i n -dividual terms, but, ultimately, i t becomes part of an all-pervading unity. Buddhistic b e l i e f , on the other hand, postulates an ever-changing series of states of mind and matter as the basis of s e l f . In both, however, self-knowledge allows one to be delivered from "the i l l u s o r y , 25 ephemeral world . . . [which] i s the world that unfolds i n time," and to a t t a i n salvation. Yet even though the h i s t o r i c a l world, the world of societies and c i v i l i z a t i o n s , i s not of f i n a l importance, one cannot, as the lesson of The Bhagavad Gita makes cl e a r , renounce his h i s t o r i c a l and social locus. The world of time i s i l l u s o r y , not because i t i s unreal, 14 but because, i n terms of cosmic rhythms, i t exists only for a f l a s h , an instant. What man needs i s perspective, seeing his own l i f e in r e l a t i o n -ship to the whole, yet, at the same time, carrying the onus of responsi-b i l i t y for that l i f e . I t i s ju s t this point of view that the Consul lacks i n Chapter X of Under the Volcano when he t r i e s to minimize the value of human intentions. The moral ramifications of the Indian attitude appealed strongly to Lowry and complemented the special value which he accorded Chinese philosophy with i t s basis in ethical imperatives. Rather than an other-worldly outlook, such a text as the I Ching concentrates on the need for harmony in this world, a harmony which i s attained when man and his i n s t i t u t i o n s move i n conjunction with natural law. The p r i n c i p l e under-lying this concord i s Tao: Worthy to be the Mother of a l l things . . . . . . I sha l l c a l l i t "Great." Being great implies reaching out in space, Reaching out i n space implies far-reaching, far-reaching implies reversion to the o r i g i n a l point. . . . Therefore: Tao i s Great, the Heaven i s Great, the Earth i s Great, the King i s also Great. These are the Great Four i n the universe, . . . Man models himself after the Earth; the Earth models i t s e l f a f ter Heaven; ^ The Heaven models i t s e l f after Tao. The i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p between the human and natural worlds finds expres-sion in the s e n s i t i v i t y Lowry displays, in both his l i f e and his a r t , toward the environment, i n the degree to which he i d e n t i f i e s with natural processes, and in the disgust he experiences (as i s evident i n a story such as "Gin and Goldenrod") at man's despoilment of nature's beauty and 15 v i t a l i t y . More important, perhaps, i s the fact that "The Forest Path to the Spring," i n which Lowry wanted to combine the force and stature common to c l a s s i c a l tragedy with the idea of reintegration, should close with the concept of the Tao: Then we saw that the whole dark water was covered with bright ex-panding phosphorescent c i r c l e s . Only when my wife f e l t the warm mild rain on her naked shoulders did she r e a l i z e i t was raining. They were perfect expanding c i r c l e s of l i g h t , f i r s t tiny c i r c l e s as bright as a coin, then becoming expanding rings growing f a i n t e r and f a i n t e r , while as the rain f e l l into the phosphorescent water each raindrop expanded into a r i p p l e that was translated into l i g h t . And the rain i t s e l f was water from the sea . . . raised to heaven by the sun, transformed into clouds, and f a l l i n g again into the sea. While within the i n l e t i t s e l f the tides and currents i n that sea returned, became remote, and becoming remote, l i k e that which i s ca l l e d the Tao, returned again as we ourselves had done.27 Evident in this passage, and crucial to both Lowry's and A s i a t i c b e l i e f , i s the image of the c i r c l e . The unity of Tao i s also that of the mandala, the magic c i r c l e which contains in i t s centre the fountain-28 head of l i f e and consciousness. The concept involves both the marking off of a sacred precinct, the s e l f , and the movement in a c i r c l e around this centre, a rotation that activates a l l facets of the personality. This type of c i r c u l a r i t y informs both the structures of Lowry's separate novels as well as the over-all structure of his projected sequence of novels. Like M e l v i l l e , whose influence on Lowry was especially strong, he recognized that i t i s only through the s t a b i l i t y of i t s centre that the harmony of the c i r c l e can be perceived. In Moby Dick, fo r instance, the c i r c l e represents the universe, t o t a l i t y . Ahab desires to transcend a l l , to be himself an i n f i n i t e circumference with no fixed centre, but he learns that this cannot be done. Ishmael, on the other hand, realizes 16 that through the fixed point of his i d e n t i t y he can perceive the world outside him. Lowry arrives at a s i m i l a r conclusion, and the fixed points, the centres of his c i r c l e s , are self-knowledge and love: Each drop f a l l i n g into the sea i s l i k e a l i f e I thought, each pro-ducing a c i r c l e in the ocean, or the medium of l i f e i t s e l f , and widening i t into i n f i n i t y , though i t seems to melt into the sea, and become i n v i s i b l e or disappear e n t i r e l y , and to be l o s t . Each i s interlocked with other c i r c l e s f a l l i n g about i t , some are larger c i r c l e s expanding widely and engulfing others, some are weaker, smaller c i r c l e s that only seem to l a s t a short while.29 The restoration of i d e n t i t y , through the reclamation of his past, renders the Lowry persona capable of l i f e and love, and of saying of either of 30 these, "Thy firmness makes my c i r c l e j u s t . " FOOTNOTES Psyche and Symbol: A Selection from the Writings of C_. G. Jung, ed. V i o l e t S. Laszlo (New York, 1958), p. x x v i i . 2 Hans Meyerhoff, Time i n Literature (London, Berkeley, Los Angeles, 1955), p. 42. 3 Margaret Church, Time and Reality: Studies i n Contemporary F i c - tion (Chapel H i l l , 1949), p. 4. ^Henri Bergson, Time and Freewi11, trans. F. L. Pogson (London, 1910), pp. 98-110. c Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution, trans. Arthur Mitchell (Lon-don, 1914), p. 5. Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, trans. Nancey Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (London, 1912), p. 102. ^Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Frederick A. Blossom "(New York, 1924), I, p. 33. o Matter and Memory, p. 322. g Proust, pp. 34-36. 1 0Meyerhoff, p. 43. 1 1 I b i d . , p. 44. 12 Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry, ed. Earle Birney (San Francisco, 1962), p. 69. 13 Jim Barnes has recently studied the Consul as a Sisyphus figure and pointed out numerous p a r a l l e l s between Lowry's novel and the myth, in "The Myth of Sisyphus and Under the Volcano," PrS, 42 (1968), 341-348. C. G. Jung, Modern Man i n Search of a^  Soul, trans. W. S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes (New York, 193T), p. 113. 15 Faulkner i n the University: Class Conferences at the University 18 of V i r g i n i a 1957-1958, ed. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner (New York, 1959), p. 85. Selected Letters of Malcolm Lowry, ed. Harvey B r e i t and Margerie Bonner Lowry (Philadelphia, 1965), p. 25. ^Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp Smith (New York, 1950), p. 217. 1 p Downie Kirk, "More than Music," CanL, 8 (Spring 1961), 35. 19 Psyche and Symbol, p. 267. ?n Selected Letters, p. 49. 21 Geoffrey Durrant, "Death i n L i f e : Neo-Platonic Elements i n 'Through the Panama'," CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 13-27. 22 Perle D. Epstein, The Private Labyrinth of Malcolm Lowry: Under  the Volcano and the Cabbala~TN~ew York, 1969). 2 3 I b i d , , p. 17 24 Mircea Eliade, "Time and Eternity i n Indian Thought," i n Man and  Time: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks, 3 (New York, Bollingen Series 30, and London, 1957J, p. 188. 2 5 I b i d . , p. 186. 2 6The World's Great Religions (New York, 1957), p. 96. 27 Malcolm Lowry, Hear Us 0_ Lord, From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place (New York, 1961), p. 282. 28 Psyche and Symbol, p. 323. 2 9Hear Us 0 Lord, p. 282. 30 John Donne, "A Valediction: forbidding mourning," 1. 35. CHAPTER II ORTEGA AND DUNNE Stating the aesthetic basis of a p a r t i c u l a r writer's work i s l i k e deducing a formula after the f a c t ; i t i s a descriptive rather than a prescriptive task. The value of a formula l i e s i n i t s s i m p l i c i t y and conciseness, i t s a b i l i t y to express what i s i n fact a highly complex and i n t r i c a t e process i n a few key symbols and phrases. I t i s in this l i g h t that the theories of Ortega and Dunne ought to be regarded. Considered alone, the insights that they o f f e r into Lowry's art would remain abstract and s i m p l i s t i c . But i n conjunction with the somewhat incremental evidence of the foregoing chapter, they furnish a c r i t i c a l framework around which the e a r l i e r ideas can be systematically grouped. Focusing on Lowry's preoccupation with the past i n terms of Ortega's philosophy of man and hist o r y , seeing the i r r e g u l a r i t i e s of time and experience i n Lowry's l i f e from the point of view of Dunne's s e r i a l universe, discloses a consis-tency of c r i t i c a l approach that can both f a c i l i t a t e and accommodate the discursive genre of int e n t i o n , method, and metaphor which i s Lowry's c r a f t . Ortega's i s an e x i s t e n t i a l i s t view that regards man as e s s e n t i a l l y his own creator. In contrast with inanimate objects, or animals, for which t h e i r p o t e n t i a l i t y coincides with t h e i r r e a l i t y , man determines his own essence. For Ortega, there are only two variables which af f e c t one's being--the I or ego, and the circumstances in which the ego finds i t s e l f . T h eoretically, man's range of p o s s i b i l i t i e s i s i n f i n i t e , but i n practice 20 he i s l i m i t e d . He f i r s t e x i s t s , but not i n i s o l a t i o n ; he exists in a set of circumstances out of which, through his imagination, he invents that which he i s going to be. There is an aspect of d i v i n i t y here, but, unlike God's, man's creation i s not absolute since i t i s limited by i t s se t t i n g : "man i s a God as occasion offers."^ Even with this r e s t r i c t i o n , however, the corollary condition of freedom of choice pertains. Ironic-a l l y , this status i s i t s e l f a constraint; man i s "free by compulsion," and "to be free means to be lacking in constitutive i d e n t i t y . . . to be 2 able to be other than what one was." Man, as i t were, invents for him-s e l f a program of l i f e which, i n conception, i s s t a t i c because he believes that this created character i s his real being. But actually the circum-stances of l i f e vary, and as they a l t e r so must the character change. Man's l i f e thus becomes a course of "accumulating being--the past; he goes on making for himself a being through a d i a l e c t i c a l process of 3 h i s t o r i c a l reason," that i s . a synthesis of past s e l f and present demands, and that produces a new though s t i l l f l u i d personality. Faced with a prospect of continual change man can only understand himself through h i s t o r i c a l reason; not only i s i t i n this l i g h t that " l i f e takes on a measure of transparency," but, in f a c t , history i s man's only r e a l i t y . As such, i t alone can form the basis of a l l subsequent l i f e . Everything that man has been determines what he can become; a l l that he has done, or even f a i l e d to do, l i m i t s his possible alternatives. In this view, to r e a l i z e one's p o t e n t i a l , i t i s necessary to centre one-s e l f i n the past: "To comprehend anything human, be i t personal or 4 c o l l e c t i v e , one must t e l l i t s history." Quite na t u r a l l y , distinguishing 21 one's i d e n t i t y which i s buried i n one's previous l i f e i s a function of memory. According to Ortega, i t i s precisely the faculty of memory that distinguishes man from the animals. Each of the l a t t e r i s doomed to begin l i f e anew, each i s the f i r s t of i t s type. Man, i n contrast, " i s not a f i r s t man, an Eternal Adam; he i s formally a second man, a t h i r d 5 man, etc.," and i t i s memory that both provides him with a record of e a r l i e r experiences on which to build and also yi e l d s continuity to his existence. Ortega believes that to be f u l l y human i s "to be able to continue one's yesterday today without thereby ceasing to l i v e for to-morrow; to l i v e i n the real present, since the present i s only the presence of the past and future, the place where past and future actually e x i s t . " 6 Ortega's philosophy places great worth on individual l i f e ; i t prizes d i v e r s i t y , i n d i v i d u a l i t y , and c r e a t i v i t y . I t also stresses i n d i -vidual r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the way i n which that l i f e i s spent, for the "destiny" that a man i s impelled to follow. Fulfilment i s the goal, a personal salvation irrespective of the imposed d e f i n i t i o n s that family, society, or occupation comprise. Ortega's i s an old view that considers these l a t t e r , the world i n short, dependent upon the former--the reforma-t i o n , the improvement of humanity and i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s i s consequent to self-knowledge and s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n . History as a System enabled Lowry to f i n d i n Ortega a kindred s p i r i t i n terms of the value and v a l i d i t y of individual l i f e , and also, a coherent metaphysical j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r his own special concern—the past. Yet, needless to say, Lowry's was not an unqualified sympathy. One important difference i s that Ortega, l i k e Bergson, disbelieved in the repe a t a b i l i t y of the past. Ortega states 22 categorically that time cannot recur simply because man cannot go back to being what he once was. Obviously, an idea such as this needs to be both amplified and modified before i t can exhib i t any relevance to a novel on the order of Dark as the Grave. Perhaps what i s important i s frequently not so much what a p a r t i -cular philosophy states, but rather the way in which i t gives expression to the ideas i t embodies. Ortega i s an o r i g i n a l thinker because his opinions are the r e s u l t of a fresh and independent approach, a free and unhampered s p i r i t of enquiry coming to i t s own conclusions. But his views are not novel; they share the concerns and the assumptions of a great many thinkers. The impact of his arguments on Lowry, however, originates i n his metaphors. For example, the representation of l i f e as a ship i s common i n l i t e r a t u r e , notably i n conjunction with a mystical, neo-Platonic, or Romantic outlook. Ortega extends the image; to him l i f e i s not a ship, but a shipwreck. The same figure abounds i n Lowry's w r i t i n g , prose, poetry, and l e t t e r s : S.O.S. Sinking f a s t by both bow and stern S.O.S. Worse than both the Morrow Castle S.O.S. and the Tita n i c S.O.S. No ship can think of anything else to do when S.O.S. i t i s i n danger -. S.O.S. But to ask i t s closest friend for help. Ortega would consider the desperation that Lowry's l e t t e r reveals i m p l i -c i t of hope. Only with p e r i l does man lose his i l l u s i o n s of security and begin to exert, to redeem himself: "Consciousness of shipwreck, being p the truth of l i f e , constitutes salvation." The s i m i l a r i t y between Ortega's statement and the epigraph from Goethe at the beginning of Under 23 the Volcano i s immediately apparent. The image, frequently used by Ortega, which impressed Lowry with the greatest force was man as the novelist of himself. The value of this idea i s twofold. In one sense, man makes himself on the order of an a r t i s t ' s creation; i n other words man l i t e r a l l y writes himself, he i s the determiner of the form, the expression of his own l i f e ; no matter i "whether he be o r i g i n a l or a p l a g i a r i s t , man i s the n o v e l i s t of himself." Here l i f e i t s e l f becomes an a r t i f a c t , a record of the confrontation be-tween man and r e a l i t y . This image appears i n Lowry's work through his use of a novelist as protagonist, his autobiographical emphasis, his creating, recovering and recording his own experiences. The other i m p l i -cation of Ortega's metaphor is that man becomes involved i n the creation which is his l i f e as does a novelist in his w r i t i n g , each, creator and creation, being modified, transformed, by the presence of the other. I t i s i n Dark as the Grave that this sense is expressed most f o r c e f u l l y . Man becomes a function of his experiences: "Man i s not his body, which i s a thing, nor his s o u l , psyche, conscience, or s p i r i t , which i s also a thing. Man i s no thing, but a drama—his l i f e , a pure and universal happening which happens to each one of us and in which each one i n his turn i s nothing but a happening."^ In a l e t t e r to Downie Kirk, Lowry discusses these aspects of Ortega's philosophy: This probably recommends i t s e l f to me partly because i f i t i s true, and man i s a sort of novelist of himself, I can see something p h i l -osophically valuable i n attempting to set down what a c t u a l l y happens in a novelist's mind when he conceives what he conceives to be the f a n c i f u l figure of a personage, etc., for t h i s , the part that never gets w r i t t e n — w i t h which i s included the true impulses that made him 24 a novelist in the f i r s t place, and the modification of l i f e around him through his own eyes as those impulses were realized—would be the true drama . . . and I hope to f i n i s h something of this sort one day . . . It's refreshing to read a philosophy that gives value to the drama of l i f e i t s e l f , of the dramatic value of your own l i f e at the very moment you are reading.11 This sense of involvement, of the interpenetration of l i f e and a r t , was something that Lowry knew w e l l , not only i n terms of aesthetics, but also in the day to day r e a l i t i e s of his personal l i f e . He was quick to note the s i m i l a r i t y between Ortega's ideas i n this respect and those of Pirandello. The l a t t e r regarded the a r t i s t as being somehow caught up i n his creation; more than t h i s , i n f a c t , he seemed in some way in c o n f l i c t with i t . Pirandello believed that a character acquired a r e a l i t y , an id e n t i t y of i t s own, a l i f e independent of the work that includes i t which nevertheless requires that work to sustain i t s existence. Here, the author becomes primarily a l i b e r a t i n g force, freeing his characters, giving them b i r t h , to act t h e i r drama in a way that they may understand i t . The complexity of the process increases when those characters are themselves aspects of t h e i r creator; then "you who act your own part be-12 come the puppet of yourself." While acknowledging the profundity of Six Characters i n Search of an Author, Lowry f e l t that Pirandello f a i l e d to r e a l i z e the f u l l implications of his idea, or to carry i t f a r enough. Pirandello stopped short with the idea of art lending order and, there-fore, coherence and value to l i f e . Lowry, however, extends the idea as when Sigbj0rn, in Dark as the Grave, "seemed to see how.life flowed into ar t : how art gives l i f e a form and meaning and flows on into l i f e , yet l i f e has not stood s t i l l ; that was what was always forgotten: how l i f e 25 transformed by art sought further meaning through art transformed by l i f e . " 1 3 To find confirmation of one's b e l i e f s i s more than j u s t a g r a t i -fying experience; i t i s possibly e s s e n t i a l . Ortega presented Lowry with a coherent approach to r e a l i t y , the tenets of which more or less coin-cided with many of his own. There remain, however, many phenomena active in Lowry's experience which never troubled Ortega but which did intrude into the l i f e of J. W. Dunne. Lowry was intrigued by Dunne's book, An  Experiment with Time, which attempts to give a s c i e n t i f i c explanation to such matters as recurrence, coincidence, and pre-cognition, and to place them fir m l y in the normal, not the super-normal or supernatural, world. An a r t i s t ' s technique and his v i s i o n go hand in hand. In Dunne, Lowry found a view of the universe which closely paralleled both his theories and his s t y l e - - h i s involved structure, his layers of meaning, his concep-tion of r e a l i t y as a series of "Chinese boxes." Dunne, an English engineer, became interested for practical reasons in certain occurrences for which modern science seemed unable to account. These practi c a l reasons stemmed from the fa c t that Dunne found himself experiencing a future event in a dream. I t was not r e a l l y what he could c a l l a premonition of the future; rather, the incident displayed a l l the normal q u a l i t i e s of a dream, which i s generally considered to comprise events that have already happened but remain active in the unconscious mind. I t was, i n f a c t , as i f he had already participated in the event; the only unusual quality was i t s displacement in time. Two fundamental questions evolved from t h i s : could such an experience be explained, and, 26 i f one could in some way foresee events, could he then intervene to pre-vent or a l t e r t h e i r outcome? Since neither physics nor metaphysics dealt s u f f i c i e n t l y with these problems, Dunne construed his own theory of a s e r i a l universe which not only accommodated these i r r e g u l a r i t i e s , but showed that they were not irre g u l a r at a l l , that, indeed, they were normal characteristics of both sleeping and waking l i f e . Dunne's scheme i s based on the p r i n c i p l e of i n f i n i t e regression. His basic premise begins with the four-dimensional space-time continuum of modern physics, but he goes on to assume that i f time changes at a l l :before the conventional time-fixed observer, then there must be a second time which times i t , and a t h i r d which times the second, and so on i n a series. Pushed to the extreme, one would find "a single multi-dimension-, al f i e l d of presentation i n absolute motion, t r a v e l l i n g over a fixed substratum of objective elements extended i n a l l the dimensions of time.""'' There w i l l e x i s t an "absolute Time" which times a l l the moments: "The present moment of this absolute Time must contain a l l the moments of 'past', 'present' and 'future', of a l l the subordinate dimensions of 15 Time." From these hypotheses emerge the three fundamental laws of a s e r i a l universe: (1) Every time-travelling f i e l d of presentation i s contained within a f i e l d one-dimension larger and t r a v e l l i n g i n another dimension of time which covers the past, present and future of the smaller f i e l d . (2) The se r i a l i s m of the f i e l d s of presentation involves the exis-tence of a s e r i a l observer. (3) The focus of attention in any f i e l d has the same number of dimen-sions as has that f i e l d , and i t i s a dimensional centre of the fo c i of attention i n a l l the higher f i e l d s J G 27 Dunne concluded from his experiments that regressions of conscious-ness, w i l l , and time were perfectly v a l i d and l o g i c a l , and that they were, i n f a c t , the true foundations of a l l epistemology.^ He completely discarded the two conventional views of time length ( l i n e a r i t y ) and time motion (succession), and saw, instead, man situated within a framework of absolute time i n which a l l times are contained, including the future, which for Bergson does not e x i s t and f o r Ortega exists only as p o t e n t i a l -i t y , and in which a l l times are simultaneously active. Past and future incidents produce images i n man's mind with approximately equal frequency, and man's attention can range i n either d i r e c t i o n . But because of ignorance and habit man regards time i n l i n e a r sequential fashion, and he erects ar b i t r a r y barriers that admit the past and the role of memory while rejecting the future. Dunne's hypothesis i s not wholly unlike that of P. D. Ouspensky with whom Lowry was also f a m i l i a r . Ouspensky, too, believed i n a multi-dimensional universe or cosmos, but his consisted of exactly seven dim-ensions. Access to these planes of experience depended on the degree of one's psychic development. Ouspensky believed, however, that i t was absurd to approach such matters as foresight and telepathy, which are properties of the higher dimensions, by science or mathematics; on the contrary, these things were subjective, mystical experiences and deserved s i m i l a r means of study. Ouspensky does not seem to have exerted the same force on Lowry as did Dunne. For one thing, the role of the obser-ver, so important for both Dunne and Lowry, seems to be, i f not lacking, at least treated in a manner to which Lowry did not respond with the same immediacy as he did to Dunne's "higher order observer." 28 Indeed, Dunne's concept of the s e r i a l or "higher order observer" i s especially relevant to Lowry's work. Serialism discloses the existence 18 of an individual soul with a d e f i n i t e beginning in absolute time. This i s a superlative general or synthetic observer who i s the source of a l l the self-consciousness, intention, and intervention which underlies ordinary thought. He contains within himself a less generalized observer who i s the personification of a l l genealogically related l i f e and who i s capable of thought and prevision beyond conventional human c a p a b i l i t i e s . S p e c i f i c a l l y , observer^ sees field-j-, observe^ sees f i e ^ which includes observer-j plus field-j within i t s broader view. F i n a l l y , the synthetic observer partakes of a l l the l i f e - l i n e s of everyone else since they are a l l within his f i e l d of presentation. Therefore, every lesser observer i s , in a sense, an aspect of the synthetic observer. B a s i c a l l y , " a l l 19 observation i s the observation of a higher order observer." Self-consciousness requires that an individual see himself as an ent i t y in the process of observing, he must be aware of a higher order s e l f viewing the more limited s e l f ; l i k e self-knowledge, memories are also the pro-perty of a higher order observer. One of the immediate implications of this concept i s that i f a s e r i a l observer i s an aspect of one's s e l f , and i f he can experience a 'pre-presentation" of the future, then in theory, at l e a s t , he could i n t e r -vene and influence the course of events. This i s in f a c t the case. A higher order observer can and does intervene, but, again from ignorance or habit, conventional man does not recognize his powers. While in r e a l i t y he may be seeing four-dimensionally, he makes the mistake of 29 interpreting his view in terms of only three dimensions. What he must learn i s that a higher order observer's f i e l d must be examined in the l i g h t of his broader v i s i o n . The application of these ideas to Lowry's technique p r a c t i c a l l y explains i t s e l f . The author fragments himself and structures his exper-ience in a way that each persona becomes, as i t were, an observer of a d i f f e r e n t dimension of r e a l i t y . Self-knowledge, the goal, requires the recognition of a second s e l f and so on. But each i s simply an aspect of the tota l s e l f whose f i e l d of presentation gets broader at each dimen-sional remove. In a sense, Lowry i s the l i m i t i n g dimension embodying for his f i c t i v e world absolute time and maximum powers of intervention, but even this need not be the f i n a l other than for purposes of conven-ience, and Lowry, himself, could be included as simply a part of the scheme, with the reader as observer n with somewhat modified powers of interference. Lowry conveys this sense of being himself a s e r i a l element in the short story "Through the Panama" where one finds Lowry writing about Sigbj0rn who i s writing about Martin Trumbaugh who i s writing about Lowry's l i f e in Mexico. As Sigbj0rn passes through the Panama Canal he notices a man in a control tower who has assembled before him a complete model of the entire system of locks "and thus i s a b l e — g h a s t l y image of 20 the modern w o r l d — t o see what i s happening at every moment." Yet even this man i s not the highest order observer: That man s i t t i n g up in the control tower high above the topmost lock who, by the way i s myself, and who would feel perfectly comfortable i f only he did not know that there was yet another man s i t t i n g yet 30 higher above him in his i n v i s i b l e control tower, who also has a model of the canal locks before him, c a r e f u l l y b u i l t , which registers elec-t r i c a l l y the exact depth of everything J_ do, and who thus i s able to see everything that i s happening to me at every moment—and worse, everything that i s going to happen.21 A crucial implication of a s e r i a l view of existence i s that any series must have a f i r s t term which stands in a d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n to a l l the other terms i n that i t has a beginning and an end. This occurs i n the time-j dimension, of which f i e l d death i s a property. Commentators such as Church and Meyerhoff have pointed out that the idea of death i s frequently at the cornerstone of contemporary thought; i t i s the future, the i r r e v e r s i b i l i t y of time-movement toward death, that defines con-sciousness. But a s e r i a l universe defeats this e f f e c t of this kind of time, and i t fosters the use, in l i t e r a t u r e , of mythological extension, c i r c u l a r i t y , and recurrence. Death i s not a s e r i a l element and appears as the f i n a l and inevitable end of l i f e only to a time^ observer but not to any higher order observer. Ultimate truth i s a property of closed systems such as science or mathematics. Dunne intended his philosophy to survive on the rules of such a given system, and, as such, i t s v a l i d i t y depended on i t s compat-a b i l i t y with those rules. In an a r t i c l e on Lowry's reading which includes a b r i e f discussion of Dunne's influence, W. H. New notes that while s e r i a l ism enjoyed some success, i t was eventually c r i t i c i s e d for treating time i n s p a t i a l terms, for confusing the problems of time passing with those of time passed, and f o r interpreting time as i t s e l f a process i n 22 time. An a r t i s t , on the other hand, conceives a r e a l i t y that i s not a d e f i n i t i o n of the world so much as i t i s a metaphorical expression of 31 his perception of i t . Hence, the v a l i d i t y of the a r t i s t ' s view does not hinge on i t s conformity to accepted axioms. Thus Dunne's view afforded some writers a useful device; s e r i a l ism merits consideration, for instance, in Finnegan's Wake, and i t provides one of the basic frameworks on which Jorge Louis Borges constructs many of his s t o r i e s . And in the a r t i c l e j u st mentioned, New goes on to point out how well Dunne's notion of re-gress served Lowry: Events i n time past, relived in the memory, occur simultaneously in time present, which epitomizes i n i t s way the process of "re-creation" that reading a novel involves readers i n . But further: Wilderness, [ i n Dark as the Grave] returning to his own and his novel's Mexican past, i s s t i l l moving through time into the future. Out of his memory of the past he anticipates events i n the future, which possess a v i v i d and objective r e a l i t y for him and do "happen." On the basis, of this "dream" experience, however, the w i l l may exert i t s e l f and thus a l t e r the nature of the "actual" experience that subsequently occurs. To Lowry this process was extremely important. Certain as he was that there existed a unity between l i f e and death, body and soul, r e a l i t y and un r e a l i t y , he found here a key to the metaphysics that joined them.23 Systems of his t o r y , philosophical world-views, and s c i e n t i f i c con-cepts are abstract; they treat of ge n e r a l i t i e s . Ultimately, Lowry i s concerned with f i c t i o n , which i s s p e c i f i c , with the precise combinations of i n d i v i d u a l s , d e t a i l s , colours, s i g h t s , sounds, thoughts, and actions that make up Under the Volcano or Dark as the Grave. FOOTNOTES 1 "206 Jose Ortega y Gasset, History as a^  System and other Essays To- ward a Philosophy of History, trans. HeTene Weyl (New York, 1941), 2 I b i d . , p. 203. 3 I b i d . , p. 216. 4 I b i d . , p. 214. 5 I b i d . , p. 220. 6 I b i d . , p. 83. ^Selected Letters , p. 11. o Ortega, "In Search of Goethe from Within," in The Dehumanization  of Art and Other Writings on Art and Culture (New York, 1956), p. 127. g History as a System, p. 203. 1 Q I b i d . , pp. 199-200. 1 1 Selected Letters, pp. 210-211. 12 Six Characters i n Search of an Author: A Comedy i n the Making, in Naked Masks: Five Plays by Luigi Pirandello, ed. Eric Bentley (New York, 1952TTp. 214. 13 Malcolm Lowry, Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend i s Laid, ed. Douglas Day and Margerie Lowry (Cleveland, 1968), p. 43. ^ J . W. Dunne, An Experiment with Time (London, 1927), p. 157. 1 5 I b i d . , p. 157. 1 6 I b i d . , pp. 158-159. ^ I b i d . , p. v i . 1 8 I b i d . , pp. 195-196. 33 1 9 I b i d . , p. 168. 2 0Hear Us 0 Lord, p. 61. 2 1 I b i d . , p. 63. 22 W. H. New, "Lowry's Reading: An Introductory Essay," CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 8. 2 3 I b i d . , pp. 8-9. CHAPTER III UNDER THE VOLCANO "Over the town, i n the dark tempestuous night, backwards revolved the luminous wheel."^ In the image which ends the f i r s t chapter of Under the Volcano are contained a l l the implications of the roles of time and memory i n the novel. The book i t s e l f i s designed as, among other things, a wheel with twelve spokes, the motion of which, the progression from f i r s t chapter to l a s t , " i s something l i k e that, conceivably, of time 2 i t s e l f . " The temporal movement, however, extends i n both d i r e c t i o n s , forward into the future of the novel and backward into the past, as the bulk of the work unfolds the events of the same day precisely one year e a r l i e r . The book concerns i t s e l f not only with the personal h i s t o r i e s of i t s main characters, but also through i t s s e t t i n g , i t s imagery, i t s a l l u s i o n s , and i t s language, with the c o l l e c t i v e past and memory of man-kind. A l l of this i s placed i n a context that implies a sense of f u t u r i t y . The stature of the characters and the moral force of the novel require at least the p o s s i b i l i t y of redemption, but i t i s a p o s s i b i l i t y that can be realized only through a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n with the total past. Lowry achieves such a tremendous scope f o r his novel by a variety of techniques. The action i s set i n Mexico, i t s e l f both a meeting place of the world, as well as a kind of archetypal Garden of Eden, whose history of conquest and exploitation provides a perspective from which to view the f a s c i s t rape of Mexico, the Spanish C i v i l War and World War I I . The time i s the Day of the Dead when the l i v i n g turn back to commune with 35 the past. Like Joyce or Cocteau, Lowry juxtaposes modern, personal l i f e against myth and allegory to stress the continuity, and also the diver-gences, between present l i f e and a kind of Jungian unconscious or r a c i a l past. Citations from Dante and Bunyan contribute to this e f f e c t , as do the innumerable references to both Western and Oriental mythology such as David Markson has pointed out in an a r t i c l e emphasizing the textural 3 richness of Under the Volcano. The most extensive and consistently developed motif, however, is that of Faust: Employing the Faust archetype, Lowry has achieved the sense of i r o n i c d i s s i m i l a r i t y and yet of profound human continuity between the modern protagonist and his long dead exemplars; he has also locked past and present together s p a t i a l l y in a timeless unity by trans-muting the time-world of history into the timeless world of myth.4 Underlying these various allusions i s the allegory of the Garden of Eden, furnishing a touchstone of pre-lapsarian harmony and innocence by which man, represented by the Consul,.can be measured. But man in the novel i s f a l l e n man, expelled from Eden, or worse, consigned to a ruined paradise, l i k e Geoffrey's garden, tangled and chaotic as a jungle, and forced "to go on l i v i n g there, alone, of c o u r s e — s u f f e r i n g , unseen, cut off from God" (137). Geoffrey's alcoholism equals the world's drunkenness; his i s o l a t i o n and a l i e n a t i o n , his g u i l t and remorse are also the world's f a i l u r e s ; his search for salvation from the consequences of his previous l i f e i s also.the world's search. The question i s one of time. I t i s too late to recultivate the ruined garden? "Can Geoffrey assume the g u i l t of the world on his shoulders, i s he equipped to perform the Messianic descent; or has he merely become an engine of destruction 5 for destruction's sake?" 36 The use of myth and allegory does more than j u s t eliminate h i s -t o r i c a l b a r r i e r s . P a r t i c u l a r l y where the allusions involve religious or mystical elements a contrast i s established between conventional, mechanical time and cosmic time. Seldom has a novelist been as preoccu-pied with clock time as i s Lowry. Clocks and watches abound i n the novel, b e l l s chime the hour, even the swimming pool as i t f i l l e d "ticked l i k e a clock . . . Tak: tok: help: help" (75). The sense conveyed is that of time running out, of an almost e x i s t e n t i a l i n e v i t a b i l i t y of death and of the consequent need for haste. Yet l i f e and death i n the novel are viewed in a perspective that includes both as elements of a wider gestalt and that extends f a r beyond either. Lowry seems to be suggesting the v a l i d i t y and the importance of each time reference. In terms of e t e r n i t y , man occupies, perhaps, only an interval of a cycle, but this i n t e r v a l i s real and constitutes his chance for redemption; as such, i t cannot be abrogated or ignored. This accounts, i n part, f o r the irony involved when Hugh, who has remained largely oblivious to the e f f e c t of time passing on his l i f e , i s asked the time by E i n s t e i n , whose view was cos-mic and who contributed so much to the diminution of the importance of mechanical time; Hugh could not t e l l him u n t i l he "pointed out the clock which neither of them had noticed" (186). The breadth and d i v e r s i t y thus given to time allows the twelve hours of the novel to be seen as a steadily expanding ent i t y which com-prises progressively a day i n the l i v e s of the characters, the respec-t i v e l i f e t i m e s of each of the characters i n this day, the history and destination of the race, and, ultimately, the creation and impending 3 7 destruction of the universe. Personal salvation i s the goal, s e l f -knowledge the key, to establish some kind of harmony in the day which would reconcile the tensions of a l i f e t i m e , thus becoming exemplary to a world bent on d i s s o l u t i o n ; and this i s possible only through the e f f o r t to recover, via memory, that which has been l o s t , to restore, through action, that which has been destroyed. That the attempt f a i l s i s not as important as that i t has been made, for as Hugh r e a l i z e s , "the past was irrevocably past. And conscience had been given man to regret i t only i n so far as that might change the future. For man, every man . . . must ceaselessly struggle upward" (112). The novel contains lengthy expository passages i n which the h i s -tories of the major characters are revealed. Jacques Laruelle's walk in Chapter I becomes a kind of circumambience of his l i f e with the Cerveceria XX functioning as the hub of his wheel where time i s suspended in the co-existence of past and present. 6 Not only i s his i d e n t i t y d e l i n -eated during his walk, but a l s o , the various themes of the novel and the essential background of the action are exposed. The barranca which he crosses, the f i l m Las Manos de Orlac, the book of Elizabethan plays and the l e t t e r i t contains, a l l trigger Proustian chains of association in his memory that both revive the previous events, and yet foreshadow the succeeding episodes of the book. In f a c t , in one sense, the novel can be seen as Jacques 1 r e c o l l e c t i o n of these experiences. The ravine r e c a l l s to Jacques 1 mind the Hell Bunker which, i n i t s turn, reanimates images of the Taskerson family, his childhood friendship with Geoffrey, and the breaking up of this over an incident with a g i r l 38 on the golf course. Inside the cantina, next to which the same f i l m that was playing a year ago i s being shown, Jacques is presented with Geoffrey's volume of plays which reminds him of his reason for coming to Mexico i n the f i r s t place, his intention to make a f i l m on the Faust theme, and this causes him to note the Faustian overtones of his friend's l i f e . The enclosed l e t t e r impels him further to e l i c i t the memory of his love f o r , and his a f f a i r s with, Yvonne. Accompanying his f e e l i n g for her, however, there persists a very deep sense of g u i l t because deceiving the Consul was, i n a way, the betrayal of something more than friendship. Geoffrey i s shown to have exerted a l a s t i n g influence on Jacques' l i f e , an influence that extends further than t h e i r b r i e f boyhood encounter would suggest—Jacques' English tweed jacket, his.white trousers, his s h i r t , his tennis shoes, the very f a c t that he plays tennis, t e s t i f y to his and Geoffrey's i d e n t i f i c a t i o n , and imply the kind of Cain-Abel betrayal theme that i s extensively developed with Hugh. A l l of these feelings are, of course, reinforced by a perusal of Geoffrey's l e t t e r which bears witness to the c o l l e c t i v e f a i l u r e s of a l l of the characters and to the forceful v a l i d i t y of what becomes one of the major mottos of the novel: "no se puede v i v i r s i n amar." Jacques' presence has a certain aimlessness about i t ; he seems as though suspended i n a complicated web of events that he i s s t i l l trying to piece together. I t i s as i f the year has not passed for him, and the impulse needed to i n s t i l l new purpose and direc-tion i n his l i f e i s lacking. A sudden, unexpected encounter with Yvonne shocks Hugh into an awareness of the nature of his l i f e to this point. Rather unconcerned 39 with time, more or less playing with his destiny, he suddenly awakes to fin d himself " i n the middle of the bloody road of [his] l i f e " (154), not p a r t i c u l a r l y s a t i s f i e d with his accomplishments, and no longer young, no longer a prodigy. Consequently, he turns inward, but his retrospective survey of his l i f e i s , at once, a b a s i c a l l y honest attempt at s e l f -analysis that yet retains a quality of r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n , of s e l f - j u s t i f i -cation about i t . To accept himself he must accept his experience at sea, his i n s e c u r i t y , his i n s i n c e r i t y , his one-time anti-semitism, his seduction of Bolowski's wife, and, most importantly, his betrayal of the Consul through the adulterous a f f a i r with Yvonne. Like Jacques, Hugh i s ambivalent about his experience with Yvonne; desire and c o n t r i t i o n combat each other in his memory. The remorse be-cause of his brother i s deep and powerful, but so i s the remorse over his own loss. Indeed, almost the only sustained harmony in any r e l a t i o n -ship i n the novel i s that evident when Hugh and Yvonne are toge t h e r -sustained largely because Hugh suppresses what he f e e l s . Their long ride i n Chapter IV, while replete with a l l the more s i n i s t e r implica-tions of the book—the Malebolge, the horse branded with the number seven, the ruin of Maximillian's and Carlotta's palace, the p o l i t i c a l and social situations i n Mexico and Spain—nevertheless remains somewhat i d y l l i c i n nature. A mark of this i s the watchfulness and f i d e l i t y of the dog that accompanies them and that contrasts so sharply to the pariah dogs that seem to shadow the Consul's every step. During the r i d e , i n f a c t , Hugh realizes that probably never i n his l i f e w i l l he be happier than at that moment. 40 Hugh's a c t i v i t i e s are inspired by the memory of his f r i e n d , Juan C e r i l l o , who i s a shadowy but ideal figure in the novel. Having worked in Mexico at the dangerous task of delivering money for the Ejido, Juan generously contributed his e f f o r t s to the cause i n Spain. He becomes a model that feeds Hugh's idealism, his need for action and commitment. It i s this need to be involved, for instance, that impels Hugh into the arena at Tomalin. The episode i s symbolic of the r i t u a l of l i f e - - b i r t h , struggle, death, and rebirth--and i t expresses Hugh's i n a b i l i t y to be an observer of l i f e , the imperative of p a r t i c i p a t i o n under which he has placed himself. The same force i s apparent during the encounter with the wounded Indian, i t s e l f a kind of "contemporary re p e t i t i o n of the Spanish conquest" implied by "the pel ado's smeared conquistador's hands" (253). The general paralysis which s t r i k e s the other passengers on the bus, the i n e r t i a produced by fear and "prudence" and lack of d i r e c t i o n , the perversion of the Samaritan i d e a l , a l l serve to render the s i t u a t i o n p a i n f u l l y , f r u s t r a t i n g l y unreal f o r Hugh, as though "a more absolute d i s -location of time could not have been created" (284). In a number of ways, spatial and temporal dislocations have char-acterized Hugh's l i f e . I t i s the sense of not belonging that undermines his experience on board the Philoctetes, his ship-mates conviction that somehow his presence i s a mockery of t h e i r l i v e l i h o o d . The sea voyage, i t s e l f , i s d i s t r e s s i n g l y out of j o i n t with his i l l u s i o n s of l i f e on a ship. He returns to England expecting to be famous as a song writer only to f i n d that he has been v i r t u a l l y forgotten, his songs printed but never di s t r i b u t e d . These and s i m i l a r circumstances re s u l t i n the i n s e c u r i t y , 41 the lack of a real i d e n t i t y that are, i n f a c t , the major forces behind Hugh's various commitments; he i s s t i l l i n search of himself. The question of i d e n t i t y , however, is at work on a number of levels with regard to Hugh. In one sense, Yvonne, Hugh, and Geoffrey are a l l aspects of one whole. Together they can be seen as comprising a t r i n i t y , or a Cabbalistic t r i a d , or even the composite deity of Hindu b e l i e f — C r e a t o r , Preserver, Destroyer. In another sense, Hugh i s l i k e Geoffrey's son, or, more exactly, the Consul i s a kind of father-figure whom Hugh has never forgiven for allowing him his freedom, for robbing his gesture of independence of i t s element of r e b e l l i o n . This aspect of the i r relationship r e c a l l s the or i g i n a l short story, "Under the Volcano," out of which the novel grew and where the Consul i s Yvonne's father, Hugh her lover. The story emphasizes the essential unity of these three figures i n Lowry's mind. On s t i l l another l e v e l , the Consul and Hugh are alter-egos of each other, and here t h e i r i d e n t i t i e s ultimately merge when Hugh returns the Consul's jacket with, i n the pocket, the telegram that implicates Geoffrey with the communists and leads eventually to his murder at the hands of the f a s c i s t police i n the f i n a l chapter. Ultimately, Hugh i s destined to repeat Geoffrey's war-time adven-ture. At the end of the novel, he has directed his quest f o r s e l f toward Vera Cruz, the true cross, where, however, he w i l l s a i l , on what is ostensibly a peaceful voyage, on a ship that actually carries 1,000 tons of T.N.T. for the l o y a l i s t s in Spain. I t i s a gesture naive, romantic, eminently a l t r u i s t i c , and f u t i l e to the same degree. Hugh's sense of s e l f , and the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of this s e l f , must be generated 42 i n t e r n a l l y . Yet, he remains a sympathetic, even admirable character. Not only i s he forceful and v i t a l , but also, Lowry regards him as a kind of Everyman, sharing the hopes, despairs, deceits, and frustrations of o mankind. And in his genuine desire to be, to do good, he represents man's hope for the future. Whereas Hugh l i v e s almost wholly in the present, unaware of the past u n t i l his memory i s severely j o l t e d , and concerned with the future only as i t becomes actual, Yvonne l i v e s f o r the future alone. Fully con-scious of the weight of the past, though not always i t s meaning, she remains almost anesthetized to the present, sensitive to what is going on, yet at a pitch of emotional intensity which permits her to r e a l i z e only the unreality of the day's events, t h e i r incomprehensibility, and, as a r e s u l t , t h e i r rendering the future she so desires more and more unattainable. Yvonne's l i f e seems to her much l i k e the f i l m , Le Destin de  Yvonne G r i f f a t o n , which she began watching when i t was half over. The heroine of the f i l m wanders through, a c i t y haunted by what are presumably symbols and shadows of the past, but Yvonne remains ignorant of j u s t who these figures are or how they are connected with the present, since the appropriate explanations and events are buried i n the beginning of the f i l m . In the same way, she r e a l i z e s , "so much that conceivably lent some meaning . . . to her own destiny was buried i n the distant past, and might for a l l she knew repeat i t s e l f in the future" (267). At the b u l l ring i n Tomalin, Yvonne r e c a l l s meeting Hugh e a r l i e r that morning and almost mistaking him i n his cowboy clothes for the leading man of 43 her acting career. Yvonne's l i f e , i n f a c t , shares some of the character-i s t i c s of Hugh's, and i n the image of herself as an actress i n Westerns, she sees the same playing of r o l e s , the same lack of a substantive i d e n t i t y . Standing i n i r o n i c juxtaposition, the memory of her p u b l i c i t y agents work, painting her i n glamorous and heroic colours, only under-scores the unpleasant r e a l i t y of her l i f e , the unsatisfactory family re-la t i o n s h i p , the b r i e f movie career begun with promise, her f i r s t unsuc-cessful marriage, her dead c h i l d , the period of bewilderment and aimless-ness. A l l this before the Consul. And a f t e r , the bright beginning i n Spain, the a f f a i r s with Hugh and Jacques, both of which, on her part, seem to have been transitory encounters stemming from desperation, i n f a t u a t i o n , perhaps simply from contiguity and convenience, the f a i l u r e to have a c h i l d with Geoffrey, and, f i n a l l y , t h e i r divorce. Yet, i n spite of a l l , the love she has for him, the desire to reclaim t h e i r l o s t l i v e s together are strong enough to have compelled her return, as i f i n telepathic response to the unposted l e t t e r that Jacques finds i n Chapter I: "come back to me, Yvonne, i f only for a day . . . " (46). While Yvonne recognizes the chaotic nature of her existence the problem i s how to break out of i t , how to emerge from under the burden of the past, how i n her l i f e "to find a meaning, a pattern, and answer" (270). She realizes that what i s required i s f a i t h i n something, i n any-thing, and she grasps the vision of an escape to the north which she and Hugh had e a r l i e r , rather j o c u l a r l y , discussed. Her dream of a home b u i l t at the edge of the forest and the sea provides a sense of p o t e n t i a l i t y , of at least the p o s s i b i l i t y of regeneration i n the novel. The north, 44 i t s e l f , i s t r a d i t i o n a l l y i d e n t i f i e d as the proper realm of the s o u l , and, added to t h i s , i s the function of the sea as a restorative force. Indeed, Yvonne comes to represent these elements i n the course of the book's development. The refreshing l i f t she receives from bathing and swimming t e s t i f i e s to her association with the l i f e - g i v i n g powers of water; as an amateur astrologer she i s placed in conjunction with the stars and with the creative force of the heavens i n general: "Yvonne appeared clothed e n t i r e l y in sunlight" (78). On the l i t e r a l l e v e l , Yvonne's dream appears almost too i d y l l i c , almost unreal, but on a symbolic l e v e l , Yvonne's future would amount to a s p i r i t u a l r e b i r t h , an ascendancy from both the mundane and infernal tortures that beset them a l l to a plane of physical and mental harmony. Her house, with i t s pier into the ocean, i s repre-sentative of the future, b u i l t on p i l e s which are the past: "They would build this pier themselves when the tide was out, sinking the posts one by one down the steep slanting beach. Post by post they'd build i t u n t i l one day they could dive from the end into the sea" (271). Yvonne's vis i o n i s characterized by an integration and wholeness symbolized by the marriage, the love, the concord of man and nature, and monitored by the c y c l i c a l regenerative flow of the sea upon which play "the millwheel re f l e c t i o n s of sunlight on water" (271). Having conceived a future, Yvonne's task i s to convince Geoffrey of i t s p r a c t i c a b i l i t y and i t s appeal, but this presupposes his desire to be saved. Act u a l l y , as Hugh suggests, his very strength, indicated by a physical condition that belies his inner weakness and that enables him to endure so much, prevents him from accepting the aid of others. And he i s 45 almost incapable of acting p o s i t i v e l y f o r himself or even of communi-cating; often, when he intends to act or speak, and even feels that he has done so, he has i n fact performed nothing. One of the reasons for this i s that the Consul functions in a separate dimension of r e a l i t y than the o t h e r s — a r e a l i t y both larger and less d i s t i n c t than t h e i r s , fostered by his alcoholism and his mystical bent, and of which hallucina-t i o n , d i s t o r t i o n , and dislocations of time and space are requisite properties. Much of the past that embroils Geoffrey causes him to see himself as both the innocent victim and the culpable agent of destructive forces. A sense of g u i l t plagues his conscience because of his war experience on the Samaritan, even though his actual role i s never made c l e a r , but, at the same time, he values the incident since, when charges were l a i d against the crew, he, l i k e Lord Jim, was the only member to answer them and was not only exonerated, but also, decorated for his action. Simi-l a r l y , a measure of the i s o l a t i o n he undergoes, that of an ex-consul of a country that no longer enjoys the diplomatic favors of his host country, i s only partly his r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . In addition, he i s f u l l y cognisant of Yvonne's behavior, of her a f f a i r s with Hugh and Jacques, and he feels himself betrayed; yet, he also knows himself to be at f a u l t for having driven her to them i n the f i r s t place. I t i s this kind of dual v i s i o n that renders his torment more acute. When he confronts the sign i n his garden, for example, he misreads a section of i t as "Why i s i t yours?" The implication i s that man's position i n the garden i s gra-tuitous, he has been granted i t not out of r i g h t or even merit, though 46 i t i s only through merit that he retains i t . Geoffrey knows t h i s . In a way, he i s a kind of Adam, but unlike the archetype, he i s an Adam with memory, with a history of f a i l u r e that must be accounted f o r . But while his insight i s abnormally penetrating, he i s unable to c a p i t a l i z e on i t , he "perceives the dim outline of the secret path but has no means by which to unify the fractured themes of his l i f e : the c o n f l i c t s between love and death, creative and destructive power, and, above a l l , the g duality inherent in the mystical wine." The Consul does not simply find himself in a metaphorical he l l of drunkenness, but rather, in or headed for a l i t e r a l h e l l as a r e s u l t of his i nterest i n , and his i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with, the mysteries of the Cabbala. The extent of his involvement in occultism i s never quite clear to either Hugh or Yvonne, though they are aware of his c o l l e c t i o n of alchemical and hermetic l i t e r a t u r e , as well as his intention of writing a book on secret knowledge. Central, of course, to his interest i s alcohol. For the Cabbalist, wine embodies the hidden s p i r i t u a l energies underlying a l l things, a secret knowledge that has never been revealed to man. Its beneficial nature i s shown when Geoffrey saves a child's l i f e by rubbing i t s stomach with t e q u i l a . But he has also misused the wine and betrayed his secret mission; his error i s Faust's; i n plumbing the mysteries of h e l l he has been trapped by them. Geoffrey's descent has resulted in a d i f f u s i o n of his i d e n t i t y . The self-knowledge that he requires to reintegrate the fragments of his personality demands a reordering of his past i n which the roots of his i d e n t i t y l i e , but "how indeed could he hope to f i n d himself to begin 47 again when, somewhere, perhaps, i n one of those l o s t or broken b o t t l e s , i n one of those glasses, l a y , f o r ever, the s o l i t a r y clue to his ide n t i t y ? " (294). Recalling Jacques' picture, Los Borrachones, i n Chapter XII, Geoffrey experiences a kind of epiphany during which he realizes that the s a i n t l y individuals represented i n the painting achieve an increasingly sharper d e f i n i t i o n of themselves, while those among whom he belongs destroy t h e i r own separate r e a l i t y : "those people l i k e s p i r i t s appearing to grow more fr e e , more separate, t h e i r d i s t i n c t i v e noble faces more d i s t i n c t i v e , more noble the higher they ascended into the l i g h t ; those f l o r i d people resembling huddled fiends, becoming more l i k e each other, more joined together, more as one f i e n d , the farther down they hurled into the darkness" (361). From Chapter VII to the end of the novel, Geoffrey's process of disintegration i s a rapid one. I t i s depicted most v i v i d l y , perhaps, when he finds himself hurling madly back-wards on "the infernal machine." The scene represents a metaphorical death of s e l f where a l l of his belongings, a l l aspects of his ego are stripped away from him: "Everything was f a l l i n g out of his pockets, was being wrested from him, torn away, a fresh a r t i c l e s at each w h i r l i n g , sickening, plunging, repeating, unspeakable c i r c u i t , his note-case, pipe, keys, his dark glasses he had taken o f f , his small change he did not have time to imagine being pounced on by the children after a l l , he was being emptied out, returned empty, his s t i c k , his passport" (225-226). With the loss of the l a s t item, the passport, he i s unable to confirm his i d e n t i t y either to himself or to the "phantoms of himself" that sur-round him i n the F a r o l i t o . In the end, the only r e a l i t y he can grasp i s that of William Blackstone. 48 Having previously stated that of the types of alcohol he consumed mescal alone would f i n i s h him, Geoffrey, at the Salon O f e l i a , orders mescal; and "from the moment of the f i r s t sip . . . [he] continues i n a visionary state. Because there are no boundaries of time and space i n this superconsciousness . . . [he] i s aware of a l l things at a l l times on many planes . " ^ On one dimension, he sees his own existence as coex-tensive with that of the world, his own death synonymous with i t s des-truction. In the bathroom sequence of Chapter V, foreshadowing a s i m i l a r incident i n Chapter X, he pictures his soul as a town, ravaged, crumbling, with "the l i g h t now on, now off . . . the whole town plunged into darkness, where communication i s l o s t , motion mere obstruction, bombs threaten, ideas stampede" (149). As his soul shatters, so does the universe: Yet who would ever have believed that some obscure man, s i t t i n g at the centre of the world in a bathroom, say, thinking s o l i t a r y miser-able thoughts, was authoring t h e i r doom, that even while he was thinking, i t was as i f behind the scenes certain strings were being pulled, and whole continents burst into flame, and calamity moved nearer . . . Or perhaps i t was not a man at a l l but a c h i l d , a l i t t l e c h i l d , innocent as that other Geoffrey had been, who sat as i f up i n an organ l o f t somewhere playing, p u l l i n g out a l l the stops at random, and kingdoms divided and f e l l , and abominations dropped from the sky. (149-150) In a way, Geoffrey considers himself responsible, not only for foreseeing the d i s a s t e r , but somehow personally involved on this plane of r e a l i t y , somehow directing i t . At the same time, however, he operates on other dimensions as w e l l ; as he s i t s on the stone t o i l e t of the Salon O f e l i a , for instance, he also l i v e s the history of Tlaxcala through the travel brochure, and contributes to the conversation between Hugh and Yvonne taking place i n the next room. I t i s this kind of divided attention and 49 divided l o y a l t i e s to d i f f e r e n t r e a l i t i e s on Geoffrey's part that frus-trates Yvonne's salvage operations, and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p , i n the Salon O f e l i a , deteriorates to i t s lowest point, reaching here the opposite extreme from what i t was in the General i f e Gardens i n Granada. Geoffrey, in moments of r e l a t i v e calm, has enjoyed visions of a future, an imagined paradise so l i k e Yvonne's as to suggest some kind of thought transference—the same shack i n the north at the edge of the f o r e s t , the same conjunction of t h e i r l i f e , the s t a r s , and the sea in a symbol of harmony and regeneration. But because the past l i m i t s the future, Geoffrey's v i s i o n remains unrealizable. In Jacques' tower, Geoffrey i s offered the choice between l i f e , represented by a t r i p to Guanajuato with Dr. V i g i l , and death, represented by the F a r o l i t o i n Parian, and he i n s i s t s on going to Tomalin, rather than accompanying Dr. V i g i l , from where he proceeds more or less d i r e c t l y to the F a r o l i t o . His i n a b i l i t y to choose otherwise, his almost tota l commitment to des-t r u c t i o n , i s demonstrated during his two attempts at love-making i n the novel. In Chapter I I I , with Yvonne, he i s impotent, incapable of making a pact with l i f e , able to think only of the cantina which would be opening at this hour. In a p a r a l l e l s i t u a t i o n in Chapter X I I , however, Geoffrey i s able to consummate his attempt with the whore, Maria, and the f i l t h of the F a r o l i t o , the threat of veneral disease, carry the over-tone of death: "How a l i k e are the groans of love to those of the dying" ( 3 7 4 ) . Only the death of s e l f through the true act of unselfishness which i s love can render salvation possible. But the Consul made his decision in the past, and his declaration i n the Salon O f e l i a , "I choose 50 . . . H e l l " (316), i s simply facing the inevitable consequences of that choice. Lowry regulates the movement of his novel through a confluence of language and action both integrated and purposeful. As Robert Heilman describes i t , his "whole complex of image and symbol i s such as to di r e c t a dissolving order, i n search of a creative affirmation, toward that union of the personal and the universal which i s the r e l i g i o u s . " ^ Dominating this imagery i s , of course, the wheel. In one sense, already mentioned b r i e f l y , the wheel i s time, turning backwards into memory. Its twelve spokes stand for the twelve hours covered by the action of the novel, from Yvonne's a r r i v a l at seven in the morning to Geoffrey's death at seven that evening. They also inf e r the twelve months of the year, the signs of the zodiac, or the twelve hours of Adam from his creation 12 to his expulsion from the garden. Such an extension eventually incor-porates a l l t i m e — e t e r n i t y . Lowry has also i d e n t i f i e d the symbol as Buddha's Wheel of Law, 13 eternal recurrence, and a movie r e e l . The narrative i s , i t s e l f , c i r -c u l a r , returning at the end of the novel to the beginning. There i s a certain symmetry involved i n t h i s , suggested by the rep e t i t i o n of com-plementary events, such as the love-making and bathroom scenes cited above, or Yvonne's search for Geoffrey through the bars in Chapter XI which mirrors his search f o r her through the restaurants along the Via Dolorosa i n Mexico City i n 1936. As the Wheel of Law, the image combines the idea of the c y c l i c a l basis of the universe with the ethical consider-ations appropriate to individual existence; thus the spokes represent the 51 twelve practical precepts f o r the a b o l i t i o n of selfishness and suffering during an individual's h i s t o r i c a l l i f e . F i n a l l y , as Lowry claims, the wheel can be successfully i n t e r -preted as a motion-picture r e e l . Indeed, the f i l m motif pervades the novel, and, in f a c t , everything after Chapter I could be seen as a f i l m made by Jacques of his experiences. Lowry admits that "the idea . . . was . . . to try and give a v i v i d impression of a f i l m a ctually i n pro-gress, a f i l m that one had actually seen, and at the same time a f i l m that, since i t had not been made, l e f t every scope for . . . a director's 14 imagination to work i n . " As i s usual with Lowry's images, nothing i s imposed here, a l l i s organic, inherent i n the tot a l conception. Jacques is a f i l m maker, Yvonne a former actress, and the advertisements for Las  Manos de Orlac weave throughout the action. The l a t t e r i s especially appropriate. A story of a p i a n i s t whose hands have been destroyed and replaced with those of a murderer, i t presents an image of Jungian man in whom merge l i f e and death, c r e a t i v i t y and destruction. In addition, i t i s a remake of the o r i g i n a l f i l m , replaying i n 1938 as i t was on the Day of the Dead, 1937. The implication i s of a r e p e t i t i o n with no pro-gression, l i k e the series of pictures i n El Bosque. This kind of redundance gives both a sense of i n e v i t a b i l i t y to the action of the novel, as well as a sense of recurrence underlying the rhythm of events. Paul Tiessen has noted the f e r t i l i t y of the use of the cinema as a source of both method and metaphor: That the present cannot excape the past, that the impotence of man's present merges with the g u i l t of his past, i s symbolically best 52 expressed i n a cinematic style where the c i r c u l a r i t y of the form, imitating the c i r c u l a r motion of the r e e l , can manipulate the over-lapping and merging of t i m e J 5 While this occurs throughout the novel, a l l times being simultaneously ac t i v e , i t appears most c l e a r l y in the overlapping of the l a s t two chapters when Yvonne is k i l l e d , in Chapter XI, by the destructive powers represented by the horse which the Consul unleashes i n Chapter XII. This type of displacement in time i s , of course, appropriate to a reader who i s an observer, or Lowry's "director," at a further remove than i s the actor in the scene, and whose view includes the other's future in i t s wider v i s i o n . Tiessen also adds a negative q u a l i f i c a t i o n of f i l m - - i t i s i l l u s i o n , i t s scenes a travesty of l i f e , s t a t i c and fragmented i n frames. Such i s the condition of man in the novel, imprisoned in separate com-partments from which he cannot escape, caught i n the grip of the mechan-1 fi ized monster that he has set i n motion. Like the f i l m , Lowry's other major images and devices evolve naturally from the narrative, but, as i s also common in Lowry's work, many of his images convey ambivalent meanings. The ship metaphor of l i f e as a voyage, f o r example, has i t s o r i g i n in the experiences of a l l the major characters; i t s precise meaning, however, varies in each case. In a study of Lowry's sea imagery, Bernadette Wild has noted i t s increasing complexity from Ultramarine which follows the trad i t i o n s of Conrad, Aiken, M e l v i l l e and Grieg, where ship and sea form a microcosm of society and the universe, to Under the Volcano where the metaphor reveals this quality of ambivalence. For Yvonne, any association with water, including s a i l i n g on i t , i s an enlivening event; for Hugh, i t i s a type of i n i t i a t i o n r i t u a l , 53 an i d e n t i t y quest which, having been undergone unsuccessfully, remains incomplete and must be repeated from Vera Cruz. For Geoffrey, on the other hand, i t represents deceit and betrayal and death. Thus, while Yvonne and Hugh refresh themselves after the bull ceremony, Geoffrey finds the natural waterfall only "suggestive of some ultimate organized sweat" (286). A s i m i l a r ambivalence inheres i n the image of f i r e . In one sense, f i r e stands for creative power, a s p i r i t u a l force emanating from the heavens. I t i s also, however, an instrument of destruction. In this r o l e , i t goes hand-in-hand with the idea of eternal recurrence, of the continual creation and destruction of the universe. Fire i s a purgative agent, eliminating man's record of f r u s t r a t i o n and f a i l u r e , and preparing the way for r e b i r t h . And herein l i e s the fate of the future which Yvonne and Geoffrey have conceived. C l i f f o r d Leech has demonstrated that "the 1 g book i n s i s t s on a m u l t i p l i c i t y of futures"; the imagined future of a home in the north, the actual shape which the future eventually assumes, and the p o s s i b i l i t y of some kind of future l i f e a f t e r death are a l l p o t e n t i a l l y r e a l , a l l equally a part of Geoffrey's and Yvonne's experience. Because of the f a i l u r e to reconcile t h e i r pasts, the i r visions remain un-attainable, the purge necessary: "The house was on f i r e . . . everything was burning, the dream was burning, the house was burning . . . the tree was burning . . . the walls with the i r r e f l e c t i o n s of sunlight on water were burning . . . the garden was burning, the porch where they sat on spring mornings was burning . . . Geoffrey's old chair was burning, his desk, and now his book, his book was burning, the pages were burning, burning, burning" (336). 54 From the s t a r t , the characters resembled the two old Indians emerging from the tavern, Todos Contentos y Yo Tambien, the one old and lame, trembling under the weight of the s t i l l older one he carried on his back. While Hugh, Yvonne, and Geoffrey j o i n Mexico in laughing away thei r tragic history on the f e s t i v a l of the Day of the Dead, i t i s the burden of the past that defines them; the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of forget-ting this past for more than a b r i e f interval constitutes t h e i r torment, poisoning t h e i r every moment. Hugh, early in the novel, perceives c l e a r l y the Damocles sword under which a l l the i r l i v e s rest: How marvellous this was, or rather C h r i s t , how he wanted to be de-ceived about i t , as must have Judas, he thought . . . i f ever Judas had a horse, or borrowed, stole one more l i k e l y , after that Madrugada of a l l Madrugadas, regretting then that he had given the t h i r t y pieces of s i l v e r back . . . when now he probably wanted a drink, t h i r t y drinks . . . and perhaps even so he had managed a few on c r e d i t , smelling the good smells of leather and sweat, l i s t e n i n g to the pleasant clopping of the horses' hooves and thinking, how joyous a l l this could be, riding on l i k e t his under the dazzling sky of Jerusalem—and forgetting for an instant, so that i t r e a l l y was joyous—how splendid i t a l l might be had I not betrayed that man l a s t night, even though I know perfectly well I was going t o , how good indeed, i f only i t were not so absolutely necessary to go out and hang oneself. (115) Constantly, the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of this r e s u l t i s enforced. Yet, because destruction i s , i t s e l f , simply a stage of a cycle, the f i n a l implication of the novel i s affirmatory. While on one level Under the Volcano is simply a manifestation of Lowry's ar t i s t i c - i m p u l s e to create, on another level i t i s Lowry's attempt at harrowing his own personal h e l l . He separates his experiences and analyzes each fragment in a search for i t s tot a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , i t s r e l a -tion to the whole which i s his l i f e . As his entire creative l i f e was 55 devoted to such a task, i t i s natural that he should discard nothing that had happened to him. Autobiographical elements are evident i n the Consul's alcoholism, his interest in magic, his marriage problems, his accusation of being a communist spy, his northern, B r i t i s h Columbian paradise. They also emerge in much of Hugh's character, and a great deal of Dana H i l l i o t from Ultramarine, i t s e l f an autobiographical novel, contributes to Hugh's p o r t r a i t . Even Lowry's interest i n and involvement with Hollywood appears i n the f i l m imagery. The Mexican adventures, the cantinas and mescals, are often precise accounts of Lowry's experiences. Such correlations could be repeated i n d e f i n i t e l y . But i t i s the synthesis of these elements, thei r integration into an organic whole with the order and consistency of art that enable both Lowry and the reader to know and understand them, to remove the past from the progres-sion of time, to exorcise memory. FOOTNOTES Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano (New York, 1947), p. 47. A l l subsequent references to this text throughout the chapter w i l l be given i n t e r n a l l y . 2 Selected Letters, p. 67. 3David Markson, "Myth in Under the Volcano," PrS, 37 (1963), 339-346. 4 Anthony K i l g a l l i n , "Faust and Under the Volcano," CanL, 26 (Autumn 1965), 54. 5 Epstein, p. 116. Hilda L. Thomas, "Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano: An Interpre-ta t i o n , " unpubl. diss. B r i t i s h Columbia, 1965, p. 29. ^Epstein, p. 150. ^Selected Letters, p. 75. g Epstein, p. 74. 1 0 I b i d . , p. 171. ^Robert B. Heilman, "The Possessed A r t i s t and the A i l i n g Soul," CanL, 8 (Spring 1961), 15-16. 12 Epstein, p. 27 f n . 13 Selected Letters, p. 71. 1 4 I b i d . , p. 203. 1 5 P a u l G. Tiessen, "Malcolm Lowry and the Cinema," CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 45. 1 6 I b i d . , p. 47. 57 Bernadette Wild, "Malcolm Lowry: A Study of the Sea Metaphor in Under the Volcano," UWR, 4 (F a l l 1968), 46. C l i f f o r d Leech, "The Shaping of Time: Nostromo and Under the  Volcano," in Imagined Worlds: Essays on Some English Novels and Novelists in Honor of John Butt, ed. Maynard Mack and Ian Gregor (London, 1968), p. 338. CHAPTER IV DARK AS THE GRAVE WHEREIN MY FRIEND IS LAID In Dark as the Grave, Lowry has taken what i s i m p l i c i t in Under  the Volcano and made i t the theme. Here, the autobiographical elements are less camouflaged, the sense of aesthetic detachment not as apparent, the f i c t i y e . w o r l d less a self-contained e n t i t y . S i m i l a r l y , the surface of Dark as the Grave i s less opaque than that of i t s predecessor, the machinery more v i s i b l e . The substance of the story comes from the Lowrys' own t r i p to Mexico i n 1945, as Sigbj0rn's notebook i n the novel outlines: "For a . . . short novel begin with 1936-37-38 the material in Mexican notebook, which i s a l l the protagonist knows about Mexico etc., but now a f t e r writing book [The Valley of the Shadow of Death, i . e . , Under the Volcano] (unpublished) about Mexico, he i s going back there at the end of 1945. . . . Subplot should again be the drink c o n f l i c t . " ^ On this base, the in t e r r e l a t e d themes of the tyranny of the past and the ef f i c a c y of subduing i t through writing are erected. As with Under the Volcano, external action and characterization are minimized. Lowry repeatedly de-emphasized the role of character portrayal i n his f i c t i o n . What he i s after i n Dark as the Grave, as f a r as character i s concerned, i s not the depiction of f u l l y drawn, rounded p e r s o n a l i t i e s , but something, to him, more i n t e r e s t i n g , more valuable; i t i s "no less than the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of a creator with his c r e a t i o n -Pirandello i n reverse, or, Six authors i n search of his characters; or 2 otherwise stated, Every Man his own Laocoon." Admittedly, Dark as the  Grave displays l i t t l e of the density of the e a r l i e r novel, but, perhaps, 59 because of Lowry's unusual writing habits and l i t e r a r y intentions, i t i s not wholly u n j u s t i f i a b l e to consider the book in terms of the projected sequence of novels in The Voyage That Never Ends. What seems undeveloped at i t s present stage may very well have reached f r u i t i o n in the whole. Another relevant consideration for any c r i t i c a l evaluation of the novel i s that i t i s unfinished. As Douglas Day elaborates i n the Preface, much more was to have been made of Stanford's r o l e , of the dream of the wife-3 slayer, of the P a r s i f a l and Tristan motifs, among others. The c o n f l i c t between clock time, which does not figure so prominently i n this novel, and r a c i a l or mythic time i s presumably another aspect that would have received considerable attention had the novel come to completion i n Lowry's hands. F i n a l l y , however, a book must be judged as i t stands and in spite of the above q u a l i f i c a t i o n s , Dark as the Grave i s s t i l l meri-torious as the f i c t i v e treatment of an aesthetic. Lowry's protagonist i s "Ortega's fellow, making up his l i f e as he 4 goes along and trying to find his vocation." The problem i s that his destiny to this point threatens to engulf him, thereby n u l l i f y i n g the po t e n t i a l i t y of his future. Haunting the memory of his e a r l i e r t r i p to Mexico are the effects of the physical and s p i r i t u a l suffering he under-went, his unsatisfactory relationship with his f i r s t wife, the f a i l u r e to get his novel published, and his overwhelming, all-encompassing f e a r s — f e a r of heights, fear of discovery, fear of disease, fear of losing his second wife, Primrose, fear of himself. He i s naturally reluc-tant to return to the scene of so much danger and f r u s t r a t i o n , a hesitancy that stems, in part, from a concern that not only is he somehow tempting 60 fate by returning, and placing himself in jeopardy, but also, that he i s not quite sure that he doesn't want to be so placed; the only fear that does not torment him is the fear of death. Indeed, during t h e i r f i r s t night i n Mexico, Sigbj0rn begins to sense "the real positive psychic, i f obscure, danger in which he stood and to which he had de l i b e r a t e l y , and even delightedly, brought himself . . . for one thing by far the most potent ghost he had to encounter was himself, and he had very consider-able doubts as to whether i t wanted to be l a i d at a l l " (93). Sigbj0rn i s aware, however, of the rest o r a t i v e , cathartic e f f e c t of w r i t i n g , of transcribing his history in a way that allows him to control i t rather than vice versa. In the f i r s t place, he faces the need "to j u s t i f y himself" to himself. At the same time, he i s conscious of having once "transcended his own experience . . .by wri t i n g about i t . . . turned i t to account, made i t work" (16). The r e s u l t however is twofold. Not only i s l i f e thus transformed into a r t , but he also finds that a r t , i t s e l f , becomes a reagent, affecting and challenging the l i f e that gave i t form: "An organic work of a r t , having been conceived, must grow i n the creator's mind, or proceed to perish" (154). Accordingly, the events in Dark as the Grave centre around those i n Under the Volcano. Within the novel, Sigbj0rn, having written The Valley of the Shadow of  Death, feels himself ide n t i f y i n g with his creation, so much so, in f a c t , as to become a kind of alter-ego of the Consul. For Lowry, such a s i t u a -tion raised the inevitable questions of coincidence and premonition. Was the e a r l i e r novel anticipatory? Or what i s the p r i n c i p l e behind the incredible coincidences which plagued his return? He regarded Dark as the 61 Grave as "a sort of Under Under the Volcano or fantasia of the Law of 5 Series.' And, indeed, i t i s Dunne's s e r i a l universe that patterns the novel. A number of time dimensions are operative in the book. The present of the novel, the narrative account of the Wildernesses 1 plane t r i p to Mexico and t h e i r experiences while there, can be seen as time 3. Time^, then, would comprise Sigbj0rn's e a r l i e r v i s i t , including among his a c t i v i t i e s at that time the composition of The Valley. Time-] would, consequently, involve the actual episodes of his novel, the actions which the characters undertake within the f i c t i v e world Sigbj0rn has created. Each of these "times" i s one dimension removed from the next and enjoys a " f i e l d of presentation" correspondingly larger. Also, each dimension contains within i t s e l f i t s own, l i m i t e d , past, present, and future. The characters i n The Valley, Geoffrey, Yvonne, and Hugh, play out t h e i r fates in the l i g h t of the i r h i s t o r i e s of betrayal, drunkenness, f a i l u r e , and t h e i r never to be realized future. But containing a l l t h i s , though not limited by i t , i s Sigbj0rn, the w r i t e r . His dimension, t i n ^ , embraces, among other events, his f i r s t experience in Mexico from which he has selected representative episodes for his novel. Obviously, he i s a "higher order observer" than any of his created figures and has con-siderable powers of intervention in the i r l i v e s ; he can compel or impede th e i r future actions, or cause the rep e t i t i o n of previous ones. In the time 3 dimension, however, Sigbj0rn enjoys a v i s i o n which spans a l l the events of his f i r s t Mexican adventure and a l l which has happened since, including the return t r i p . Thus, he can reexperience any element from 62 either of the two lesser dimensions as he participates in those of his own. In f a c t , he can do more than t h i s . Because he, himself, i s not the end of the s e r i e s , his own view i s also contained i n a larger one in which his future i s active and can be p a r t i a l l y anticipated by him. While r e f l e c t i n g over changes he i s contemplating i n The Valley, Sigbj0rn senses that "they were but a prelude to the work that was being created now, or created by another through him by virtue of his return: since at a l l events i t was not a horoscope--or was i t ? " (58-59). And l a t e r , he wakes from a dream with the horrible thought that "he might have been prefeeling . . . the future" (115). There i s a certain s i m i l a r i t y between Dark as the Grave i n this respect and one of the works of Lowry's l i t e r a r y mentor, Conrad Aiken. In Blue Voyage, Demarest's meeting with Cynthia on board the ship r e c a l l s his past, and, at the same time, the encounter possesses an element of f u t u r i t y about i t , of the p o s s i b i l i t y of a subsequent r e l a t i o n -ship. Indeed, one finds numerous p a r a l l e l s between these two novels; the emphasis on memory and reminiscence, the use of Eastern mythology, the P a r s i f a l motif, the idea of the quest f o r s e l f , are a l l common to both. I t i s the l a s t concern that i s most relevant here. Because of the complexity of s e l f , because of the i m p o s s i b i l i t y of ever capturing the t o t a l i t y of an i n d i v i d u a l , Aiken defines human r e a l i t y in these terms: g "We are only what we . . . remember and foresee." Lowry goes much further, however, and his v i s i o n i s more ominous, more mysterious at l e a s t , and this i s what causes Sigbj0rn to feel that he i s being wr i t t e n , that he i s , at once, both Pirandellian author and Pirandellian character. 63 Even Lowry does not constitute the l i m i t i n g time-dimension for his novel. Rather, he occupies merely the time^ f i e l d of the s e r i e s , the f i e l d which contains the composition of Dark as the Grave. Of course, Lowry cannot project the series to the absolute dimension, Time, where one would f i n d Dunne's "superlative general observer"; i t suffices that SigbjjzSrn i s conscious of being somehow manipulated. In an analogy reminiscent of the image of the locks i n "Through the Panama," Sigbj0rn regards his tota l experiences as a "fantastic tower of music; three oratorios, on the f i r s t day one being performed, on the second the second, and on the t h i r d , the t h i r d , and on the fourth evening, a l l three being performed at once with d i f f e r e n t conductors, under the d i r -ection of yet another conductor, the composer himself" (180). Seen i n this way, the Wildernesses 1 t r i p to Mexico " i s the book," and writing i t , as Sigbj0rn r e a l i z e s , i s "the daemon": His notions of a r t , while sometimes perhaps not unlike ours, are simply wider . . . I can feel him . . . wanting us to do good, to be good. The trouble i s . . . we are l i a b l e to get out of hand by taking the b i t of his sentences i n our own teeth. . . . That, indeed, i s his p r i n c i p a l headache, because having given us l i f e of a s o r t , he has also given us a w i l l . . . . We might i n s i s t on a tragic ending and get i t , when what he wants is a happy one. I t i s at such moments that he burns our house down or destroys three quarters of our l i f e work, j u s t to remind us that he i s on. the job. Does that s a t i s f y your tragic i n s t i n c t s , he seems to be saying, now then l e t us see what you do. Perhaps y o u ' l l think that that's the end. But with me i t i s only a beginning. (86) The ultimate penalty f o r transgressing against this highest observer carries the same terror that confronts the Consul through the threat of expulsion from the garden. Here, the punishment i s ejection from "the book": "For did not, conceivably, God himself move within His own 64 creation i n j u s t such a ghostly fashion, and how should we see Him, when we dimly sense that He has the power at any moment to cut us out a l t o -gether from His strange dark manuscript?" (142). Within this framework, the Wildernesses begin the i r journey by f l y i n g forward into the past. The strangeness of this s t r i k e s Sigbj0rn, and he r e c a l l s once before having composed a poem based on a t r i p made to the American border from Vancouver in order to meet Primrose and being turned back without seeing her: "He had wanted to give the impression of the bus going one way, toward the border and the future, and, at the same time, of the shop windows and streets flashing by into the past. . . . [But] these shop windows and streets that he was so g l i b l y imagin-ing i n the past were i n the future too" (14). They e x i s t , however, i n a future subtly altered by the emotional upset Sigbj0rn undergoes when his goal f a i l s to materialize. Everything he sees i s coloured by his disap-pointment. In the same way, the f l i g h t to Mexico i s distorted by his fears, his uncertainty, and his rather curious excitement. Ostensibly, the t r i p i s for Primrose, a kind of honeymoon after f i v e years of marriage that had witnessed and survived a number of severe catastrophes--the burning of t h e i r house, the loss of Sigbj0rn's book, and a quite serious i l l n e s s . Sigbj0rn's apparent desire f o r the v i s i t i s to have a reunion with his f r i e n d , Juan Fernando Martinez. A c t u a l l y , however, the t r i p i s Sigbjjflrn's attempt to disarm the spectres that torment him, to purge his memory of a l l the negative aspects of his l i f e . During the f l i g h t , much of his character i s unveiled. His fears show through his need to hide i n the rear of the plane and his reluctance to 65 remove his shoes; also evident in his obtuseness to almost everything external to his own consciousness. As a w r i t e r , he displays an unusual lack of s e n s i t i v i t y to the d e t a i l s surrounding him, yet, he remains aware of this i n s u f f i c i e n c y i n himself. Indeed, this i s an essential aspect of his personality as Lowry conceives i t : Wilderness i s not, i n the ordinary sense i n which one encounters novelists or the author in novels, a novelist. He simply doesn't know what he i s . . . . He i s not going to be the self-conscious author himself of so many novels . . . even though I have to make him responsible for the Vole. Moreover he i s disinterested in l i t e r -ature, uncultured, incredibly unobservant, i n many respects ignorant, without f a i t h i n himself, and lacking nearly a l l the q u a l i t i e s you normally associate with a novelist or w r i t e r . . . . The Volcano . . . or rather The Valley of the Shadow of Death, appears less as a novel than as a sort of mighty i f preposterous moral deed of some obscure s o r t , t e s t i f y i n g to an underlying toughness of f i b r e or staying power in his character rather than to any p a r t i c u l a r aes-th e t i c a b i l i t y of the usual kind. His very methods of writing are absurd and he sees p r a c t i c a l l y nothing at a l l , save through his wife's eyes, though he gradually comes to see J The f l i g h t , i t s e l f , occupies the f i r s t three chapters. Added interest was to have been supplied by the introduction aboard the plane to Dr. Hippolyte who does appear l a t e r i n a minor role. As i t stands, the time devoted to the f l i g h t i s excessive. Nevertheless, i t does serve to outline a great deal of background information about the Wildernesses, as well as to lay bare the nature of t h e i r relationship. The strength of t h e i r union i s stressed, the closeness of t h e i r a f f i n i t y . Yet within the unit they form, the two are at opposite extremes from each other. Primrose i s as spontaneous, vivacious, and extroverted, as Sigbjgirn i s moody, withdrawn, and sluggardly. She i s meant to represent, i n f a c t , a kind of l i f e force, a person who, rather than reading or writing a poem, 66 would l i v e i t i n s t e a d . S t i l l , i t must be noted tha t P r i m r o s e , i n s p i t e of the f a c t t ha t Lowry i s a f t e r something o ther than v e r i s i m i l i t u d e i n h i s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n , remains a r a t h e r vap id f i g u r e . P r i m r o s e ' s r o l e becomes more and more e s s e n t i a l , however, as S igb j t f r n ' s i n c r e d i b l e i n e r t i a i n c r e a s e s . His i n t e n t i o n was to have f unc t i oned as "her g u i d e , her V i r g i l " ; i n s t e a d , he r evea l s an ever g r e a t e r dependence on her hand l ing o f t h e i r a f f a i r s . At the ho te l du r ing t h e i r f i r s t n i gh t i n M e x i c o , i t i s Pr imrose who ventures out f o r a b o t t l e o f habanero, s i n c e S igb j t f rn i s a t the s tage where to muster even the l i t t l e courage needed to e f f e c t a minor t r a n s a c t i o n i s beyond h i s c a p a b i l i t i e s . He loses con tac t w i th the p r e s e n t , s i n k i n g i n t o a t ime less wor ld o f s e l f . His a s s e r t i v e responses are l i m i t e d to what seem a lmost i n v o l u n t a r y r e f l e x a c t i o n s such as h i s cho i ce of the g h a s t l y Hotel Cornada as a p l ace of r e s i d e n c e . The ho te l r e c a l l s the f i l m , Las Manos de O r l a c , from the e a r l i e r n o v e l ; i t i s " a copy of an American copy of a cheap German copy of i t s own t y p i c a l B e r l i n a r c h i t e c t u r e " (75), s u g g e s t i n g , a g a i n , a l a c k of temporal p r o g r e s s i o n , a more or l e s s s t a t i c r e p e t i t i o n t h a t m i r r o r s h i s own e x p e r i e n c e . On the symbo l i c l e v e l , Sigbj0rn ' s descent i n t o s e l f , l i k e the C o n s u l ' s i n Under the V o l c a n o , i n v o l v e s a k ind o f death as p re lude to a harrowing of h e l l , a l though here the emphasis i s persona l r a t h e r than m y s t i c a l o r m y t h i c a l . In an a r t i c l e on "Through the Panama," Geo f f rey Dur rant e l u c i d a t e s the n e o - P l a t o n i c elements of t ha t s t o r y , many of which P are a p p r o p r i a t e to the p resen t c o n s i d e r a t i o n . Accord ing to t h i s d o c t r i n e , the f l i g h t south o f the Wi ldernesses rep resen ts a journey of the sou l 6 7 from i t s true home i n the north into the world of matter and the senses where i t must undergo p u r i f i c a t i o n . S i t t i n g i n the cantina which had furnished the model for the El Petate of The Valley, Sigbj0rn r e c a l l s the l i n e , "who once f l e d north," from the Consul's poem that Hugh and Yvonne found on the back of a menu: "But the Consul had not f l e d north. . . . And they, Primrose and he, had not f l e d north either . . . They had flown south, a h e l l of a way south" (85). Characteristic of this dark world are the fear and lethargy which dominate Sigbj0rn's s p i r i t and which only an active e f f o r t of the w i l l or the i n t e l l e c t can d i s p e l : "His getting up, as i t were, symbolized the struggle between l i f e and death to him" (191). But f i r s t , his deterioration continues to the point where symbolic death almost becomes actual; he attempts suicide in the tower i n Cuernavaca. I t i s on the f i r s t leg of th e i r excursion to locate Fernando that the Wildernesses arrive in Cuernavaca, the c i t y of Quauhnahuac in Sigbj0rn's novel. At almost every tu r n , something, a street or a cantina, emerges out of his past to confront him. But the sense of coincidence which s t r i k e s him assumes overwhelming proportions when he and Primrose f i n d themselves l i v i n g i n the house of Jacques Laruelle, the tower which figures so prominently i n The Valley. What Sigbj0rn experiences is the confluence of a l l three time dimensions; he stands looking down the Calle Humbolt, at the junction of his novel's Calle Nicaragua and Calle Tiera del Fuego: "The Calle Humbolt. The street of The Valley of the Shadow of Death! His stree t ! Street of the Land of Fi r e ! " (120). The same occurrence i s repeated i n Oaxaca, again centering 68 around the Calle Humbolt where the Banco Eji d a l now happens to be located, extending s t i l l further the degree of improbability. Rendering the si t u a t i o n i n Cuernavaca even more.unreal i s the fact that Sigbj0rn, while using this setting for his novel, had never actually been inside the tower. The entire incident begins to appear, to him, outside the range of coincidence, to be instead "bound up with some fundamental law of human destiny" (109). Not only does Sigbjtfrn find himself, as i t were, residing inside his creation, but he also feels himself merging with his characters. In The Valley, he had the Consul, while he was i n the tower, refuse Dr. V i g i l ' s offer of a t r i p to Guanajuato and i n s i s t , instead, on Tomalin, the F a r o l i t o , and death. Now, Sigbj0rn faces the same choice of l i f e or death; he, too, must decide whether or not to leave the tower and go to Oaxaca, the Parian of his novel, where the Far o l i t o i s located. By par-taking i n a l l the dimensions, a l l the " l i f e - l i n e s " of his created f i g u r e s , Sigbj0rn functions on a plane that seems somehow beyond the conventions of l i f e , almost as though he had died but s t i l l existed: "Here he stood, in the tower of his own creation, surrounded by these ghosts of the past, of his l i f e - - i t was a dream--and about to set off to meet one of his characters. . . . Death i n l i f e " (189). Sigbj0rn had used Fernando as a model for the sympathetic figures of Dr. V i g i l and Juan C e r i l l o in his book. To Sigbj0rn, he i s stamped with the n o b i l i t y of his Zapotecan heritage, defined by his strength, his courage, and his l o y a l t y ; he i s one of those few who could meet the Consul's dictum of drinking with him to the bottom of the bowl. The 69 memory of Fernando, however, cannot be separated i n his mind from that of his other companion during his previous v i s i t , John Stanford. Indeed, the two together are for Sigbj0rn what the Consul's familiars are to him, or, in f a c t , what the Good and Ev i l Angels are to Faustus. Stanford i s associated with the opposite of everything Fernando stands f o r : "Stanford was hangovers; Stanford was l i e s ; Stanford was the prescience of disaster and i t s c o e f f i c i e n t . . . . Stanford was the past and the d i f f i c u l t y of transcending i t " (219). As the i d e n t i t i e s of Hugh and the Consul, in The Valley, came together through t h e i r sharing of Geoffrey's jacket, so here, Sigbj0rn's i d e n t i t y tends to bl u r , to d i f f u s e , through a s i m i l a r sharing of clothes, into the combined personalities of his two former friends. The t r i p to Oaxaca, leading to the meeting with Stanford, repeats the opening image of the novel, the movement into the future which i s also the past. The c i t y , i t s e l f , suggesting the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of t h e i r meeting, i s a place where "past and present and future were one: (214). Conse-quently, a l l of Sigbj0rn's experiences are active and provide a touch-stone against which to test his memory. And he learns that some of the tendencies of memory are to invent, to d i s t o r t , to misrepresent r e a l i t y : "The past grows . . . and confronts you in a l l kinds of strange forms" (220). Stanford, i n f a c t , no longer constitutes a threat to Sigbj0rn; indeed, i f anything, he seems as wary, as embarrassed, as unnerved during t h e i r encounter as Sigbj0rn himself. As David Benham notes: "Stanford represents . . . the impotence of what might be called the objective past, the past as i t i s physically manifested i n the present, as d i s t i n c t from 70 g the subjective distortions of memory." The episode liberates Sigbj0rn to a degree. For one thing, he realizes that an understanding of s e l f , to be valuable must be honest, and to be honest must involve the total personality, and Stanford i s as much a part of his make-up as i s Fernando. A s i m i l a r f a t e , however, awaits the memory of Fernando. In Sigbjjtfrn's mind, "no one could be more a l i v e or l i f e - g i v i n g in spite of a l l than [Fernando] was" (223). But, in f a c t , Fernando has been dead for s i x years, murdered i n the very month in which Sigbj0rn and Primrose were married. Faced with this f a c t , Sigbj0rn undergoes a kind of exis-t e n t i a l awakening that extends the l i b e r a t i o n process the meeting with Stanford had begun. He comes to r e a l i z e that "Fernando was merely the bright side of the same medal: and that medal had equally been forged i n h e l l " (221). Both of his friends represent death, but Fernando suggests the l u r e , the appeal of death, i t s sense of ease, of release. This know-ledge enables Sigbj0rn to view Fernando's murder r i t u a l i s t i c a l l y ; i n a way, his friend was a kind of surrogate for himself, freeing him to the l i f e and creativeness symbolized by his marriage with Primrose. In a state of intense awareness, coloured, at once, by g r i e f and a strange sense of e l a t i o n , Sigbj0rn "prays, for himself, for Primrose, for Fernando, and, reminiscent of the Ancient Mariner, for the entire world, including John Stanford. Like his counterpart, the Consul, he turns to "the Vi r g i n for those who have nobody them with," and he i s able to f i n d Mary, where the Consul found only Maria, the pr o s t i t u t e . At one point i n the novel, Sigbj0rn ponders the nature of sleep 71 and describes i t as "a sinking into one's s e l f . . . reexperiencing one's past, forgetting one's present, and prefeeling one's future" (192). To wake from this dream-state i s to undergo a kind of r e b i r t h . In a number of ways, Dark as the Grave can be regarded as j u s t such a dream. Even the structure of the book partakes of this q u a l i t y . At times, Lowry freezes the action i n the manner of Sterne, as when Sigbj0rn, in Chapter V I I I , stands f o r a few seconds i n the doorway to his room watching Primrose sleep, although his reflections during this moment cover a time-span of f i v e days. Frequently, there i s a displacement i n time, as, f o r instance, in the middle chapters of the novel, so that the journey to Oaxaca, about to commence at the end of the s i x t h chapter, i s held i n check u n t i l the beginning of the ninth. And between, Sigbj0rn, in a kind of reverie, r e l i v e s both his immediate and distant pasts, the excursion to Yautepec, for example, or his w r i t i n g , or the New Year's celebration. A c t u a l l y , many of the separate episodes of the novel have the peculiar nature of a single remembered or dreamed experience. In addition to the i r r e g u l a r i t i e s of time and space which seem to characterize the Wildernesses' t r i p , Sigbj0rn i s subject to the dislocations caused by alcohol. The torment of a hangover i s thus increased as i t i s accompanied by the memories of other hangovers. I t i s through these reveries and r e c o l l e c t i o n s , into which category Sigbj0rn's long monologue with Eddie Kent and Dr. Hippolyte f i t s , that one learns the d e t a i l s of the burning of the Wildernesses' house and of Sigbj0rn's novel, In B a l l a s t to the  White Sea, already once saved from a conflagration by Stanford, of the refusal of The Valley by publishers, of t h e i r charges of plagiarism and 72 imitativeness, of th e i r subsequent, highly tentative, tenuous interest i n the book, of Sigbj0rn's dispassionate attempt to slash his w r i s t s , of the long, almost disasterous sojourn in Cuernavaca. Sigbj0rn possesses s u f f i c i e n t insight to see himself walking in his own dream, but he questions his a b i l i t y or his powers to intervene in the process of the dream. He r e c a l l s having seen a f i l m of The Fa l l  of the House of Usher in which the director had taken the l i b e r t y of alt e r i n g Poe's story i n order to effect a happy, triumphant ending: He realized that he was not only walking i n this unreal landscape, withdrawn into a daydream, but that this daydream was framed . . . in yet another withdrawal, by the cinema, in which again he was watching a shadow show on a screen, not even then an o r i g i n a l story, but as the director had i t , a tran s c r i p t of themes from Edgar Allan Poe. (248) The question, for Sigbj0rn, i s whether or not he enjoys the same leeway as this d i r e c t o r , and can thus a l t e r the outcome of "this f i l m of his l i f e . " The idea of turning impending tragedy into triumph dominates the imagery of Dark as the Grave, appropriately so, as the f i n a l note of the novel i s the restoration of balance. Indeed, i n a sense, the book i s intended as a complement for Under the Volcano, as Lowry t e s t i f i e s i n a l e t t e r : "We progress toward equilibrium this time instead of i n the other d i r e c t i o n . " ^ The pattern which seems to underlie a l l of Sigbj0rn's endeavors r e f l e c t s the cycle of the uni v e r s e — c r e a t i o n , f i r e , destruction, water, re-creation. Complementing Yvonne's dying v i s i o n in Under the Volcano, the Wildernesses actually lose t h e i r home by f i r e . To overcome t h i s , they erect, upon the charred ruins of the o l d , a new house. Yet, 73 l i k e the Consul, they are threatened with e v i c t i o n . To Sigbj0rn i t appears the greater the e f f o r t , the greater the achievement, the greater the subsequent loss and pain: " I t was l i k e the tide at Eridanus. The farther i t came i n , the farther i t went out. Each time had a rebuilding, each time had a f i r e . . . . [The] rhythm had been something l i k e t h i s : s t a r t i n g with dis a s t e r , reaction, determination to transcend d i s a s t e r , success, f a i l u r e ; i t had become e f f o r t , apparent success, something happens, f a i l u r e " (169). Having perceived the pattern, however,.Sigbj0rn must break i t ; he is resolved to set his course on an "upward s p i r a l . " The whole of the novel, in f a c t , i s organized on the basis of this e f f o r t . His f i r s t Mexican v i s i t , rather than establishing a foundation on which to build his present and future l i f e , has proved a barri e r to self-knowledge and s e l f - f u l f i l m e n t . Such knowledge as Sigbj0rn possesses i s merely con-fusion; his memories persist as his present r e a l i t y , thereby retarding development. By returning to Mexico and repeating so many of his e a r l i e r experiences, Sigbj0rn, i n e f f e c t , i s s t a r t i n g a l l over again from the beginning, but with the advantage of hindsight: I t was as i f the funeral pyre had proved inadequate to the phoenix, and he had looked around him for another kind of immolation in the depths of the past. And he would find his old s e l f here in Mexico i f anywhere, face to face . .. . with everything that that s e l f had imperfectly transcended. (91) With the r e a l i t y of Fernando and Stanford recognized and accepted, Sigbj0rn must encounter one more, and more potent than either of the former, vestige of the past--the F a r o l i t o , "the symbol of death." 74 Somewhere inside i t s closed walls and hidden c l o i s t e r s , i t s memories of disease, drunkenness, and debauchery, i s contained the root of the i d e n t i t y he i s seeking, and Sigbj0rn i s inexorably drawn to i t . But he finds the F a r o l i t o gone, i t s entrances boarded up, i t s name painted out. I t has moved to a new locat i o n ; and since i t no longer exists as he remembers i t , there i s no motivation, no compulsion for him to seek i t out. That which has represented death becomes "somehow associated with freedom." Sigbj0rn experiences the release, not of death, which he was actually seeking, but of r e b i r t h , of a movement upward from he l l into l i f e . Images of regeneration and growth dominate the conclusion of Dark  as the Grave. Largely through the work of Fernando and his employer, the Banco E j i d a l , vast tracts of land, formerly a r i d and waste, have become lush and f e r t i l e . Fernando i s associated with P a r s i f a l , restoring and r e v i t a l i z i n g the earth. But Fernando represents more than t h i s . Through his philosophy, La Vida Impersonal, he embodied the idea that "every man was his own Garden of Eden" (239), thereby inserting into the ideal of r e b i r t h the onus of individual r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to bring i t about. Coming across the old s i t e of the Banco E j i d a l , above which Fernando had l i v e d , Sigbj0rn and Primrose f i n d that i t i s a bank no longer. Rather, "the whole place was i n glorious bloom, packed along i t s entire length and breadth with blossoms and r i o t s of roses" (245). A s i m i l a r transfor-mation occurs at the ruins of M i t l a which the Wildernesses v i s i t before leaving. The appearance of the ruins, which date back to prehistoric times, might suggest stagnation, death, and decay, but, instead, they 75 convey both a sense of l i f e , of the joys and p o s s i b i l i t i e s of l i v i n g , and also a sense of continuity that makes Sigbjorn think of Eridanus, " r i v e r of l i f e : r i v e r of youth: r i v e r of death," a sense of l i f e going on in a never ending cycle. "Le gusta este jardin?" The t e r r i f y i n g implications which this sign holds for the Consul have been rendered impotent. I t is a new year. Everywhere that Sigbj0rn looks t e s t i f i e s to c r e a t i v i t y and f r u i t f u l n e s s , to a harmony between man and man, and man and nature, to "the s o i l res-ponding and . . . men l i v i n g as they ought to l i v e " (254). Oaxaca, with a l l i t s infernal s i g n i f i c a t i o n s has, l i k e Sigbj0rn himself, been reborn: " [ I t ] had become the granary of nearly a l l of Mexico . . . a f i e l d of young, new wheat . . . a f i e l d of ripening wheat dimming to gold . . . quince and peach orchards . . . The Banco E j i d a l had become a garden" (255). FOOTNOTES Dark as the Grave, p. 61. A l l subsequent references to the novel i n this chapter w i l l be given i n t e r n a l l y . 2 Selected Letters, p. 180. 3 Dark as the Grave, pp. x x i - x x i i . ^Selected Letters, p. 331. 5 Malcolm Lowry, l e t t e r to David Markson, pub. i n CanL, 44 (Spring 1970), 54. 6Conrad Aiken, Blue Voyage (New York, 1927), p. 248. 7Selected Letters, p. 331. o Durrant, pp. 14-15. g David Stanley Benham, "A Liverpool of Self : A Study of Lowry's Fi c t i o n other than Under the Volcano," unpub. d i s s . , B r i t i s h Columbia, 1969, p. 39. ^ S e l e c t e d Letters, p. 157. CHAPTER V CONCLUSION In an essay which Lowry found i n t r i g u i n g , Ortega states the ap-propriateness of the preoccupation with s e l f that he sees dominating l i t e r a t u r e since Goethe and the l a t e r Romantics: " L i f e i s preoccupation with i t s e l f . " ^ Writers focus t h e i r attention primarily on t h e i r own experiences, not because t h e i r motives tend toward autobiography, nor because i t i s perhaps themselves that they know best, but because they have made "the preconceptual discovery that l i f e i s not a r e a l i t y that encounters a greater or lesser number of problems, but that i t exists 2 exclusively i n the problem of i t s e l f . " The goal i s self-knowledge, an i d e n t i t y delineated by the past and future. The value of the present i s minimal, since i t i s , at best, a f l e e t i n g instant where past and future merge. Ortega feels that man i s r i g h t l y oriented toward the future, but because i t i s always p o t e n t i a l , i t remains problematical, and man looks to the past for the means and methods with which to handle future s i t u a -tions. For the person l i k e Lowry, however, to whom the past, i t s e l f , appears problematical, danger l i e s i n both directions. He s u f f e r s , at once, under the "imperative of r e a l i z a t i o n " of the future, and the neces-s i t y of " s e l f - j u s t i f i c a t i o n " which a f f l i c t s the memory of the past. To meet this task i s a l i f e - l o n g e f f o r t ; a "voyage that never ends," because i t i s , i n f a c t , t h i s charge that constitutes the essence of the aware, responsible l i f e : "A man cannot l i v e without j u s t i f y i n g his l i f e to himself." 3 78 Such a theory goes far toward furnishing an accurate description of Lowry's needs and aims. Certainly, the past, s e l f , and the need to reconcile the two dominated his l i f e ; consequently, they determined the way he could approach his a r t , making of i t a tool to turn the past to account. But Lowry's view of existence could not be contained in a con-ventional scheme of r e a l i t y . Dorothy Van Ghent claims that when the current of ideas already in force in any age do not s u f f i c e to accommodate an a r t i s t ' s l i f e or his work, he i s turned inward, to conceive and to test within his own experience a conceptual and aesthetic approach which 4 w i l l allow him to function in the world. Thus, Lowry's v i s i o n , and, accordingly, his techniques had to include the irr e g u l a r phenomena he encountered—coincidence, telepathy, recurrence—and had to r e f l e c t the rhythm of l i f e he perceived—alternating creation and destruction. A l l Lowry's writing i s , in a sense, autobiographical, but to say this i s to say very l i t t l e . His characters are drawn from a limited supply and show a high degree of s i m i l a r i t y from one work to another, as do Sigbj0rn and the Consul, the Consul and Hugh, Hugh and Dana H i l l i o t , Fernando, Dr. V i g i l , and Juan C e r i l l o , or, f i n a l l y , as do Primrose and Yvonne. A l l are, of course, taken from Lowry's immediate experience, and most, in f a c t , are aspects of himself. In Dark as the Grave, as he i s describing the characters in The Valley to Eddie Kent and Dr. Hippolyte, Sigbj0rn i d e n t i f i e s Hugh as himself and adds, "I might say the same of a l l the other characters too" (149). Such extreme fragmenta-tion of his own personality by an author can make character evaluation highly complicated and can lead to the kind of statement that one c r i t i c 79 applies to Hear Us 0 Lord when he finds three protagonists named Wilderness that are not wholly identical and considers this "an indefen-5 s i b l e lapse." I t has also been said that Lowry's modes of consciousness cannot be thought through and imply only "a profoundly schizophrenic awareness of s e l f . " That his conception cannot be seen in i t s entirety i s true, simply because his characters and the world that contains them are, themselves, not limited or f i n i t e . Yet, there e x i s t a number of d i f f e r e n t but compatible systems of character conception, amenable to his world-view, which can be applied with j u s t i f i c a t i o n to his work and which help to explain his methods. On the most accessible l e v e l , Lowry's method is simply the a p p l i -cation of Ortega's " h i s t o r i c a l reason" by a figure who i s also Ortega's "novelist," both creating his l i f e and trying to understand his creation. To accomplish t h i s , Lowry fragments himself into personae, analyzing each fragment as a synechdoche, then reintegrating them into a unified whole. On another l e v e l , Lowry's characters can be seen as Dunne's observers. This helps to account for the repeated use of the same fig u r e s , the same incidents from one work to another. Each persona becomes a "higher order observer" with a wider range of perception. Here, the ultimate goal i s the integration of the personae in a "superlative general observer." S t i l l another convention into which Lowry's conception f i t s i s the Indian Doctrine of Karma through which the moral consequences of a l l the actions of a l i f e must be faced, either i n one's immediate existence or in a l a t e r one. In this sense, each persona i s an incarnation, condemned through the f a i l u r e s of the past to be born again into the world of 80 matter, to repeat, to correct, and to transcend his experiences. A l l of these devices are at work at once in Lowry's f i c t i o n . Each provides a means of approaching wholeness, a total view of s e l f , but even they must remain incomplete because, f i n a l l y , s e l f can never by wholly apprehended. Indeed, personality, to Lowry, means much the same that i t meant to Herman Hesse, to whom Lowry acknowledges his a f f i n i t y . ^ The protagonist in Steppenwolf considers himself more aware than the average man because he defines human nature in terms of a dualism rather than a monism. He learns, however, that l i f e "consists of a thousand selves, not of two, that i t o s c i l l a t e s . . . not merely between two poles, such as the body and the s p i r i t , the saint and the sinner, but between thousands and o thousands." I t i s only from delusion, or perhaps convenience, that man regards himself as a unity: "In r e a l i t y . . . every ego, so far from being a unity i s i n the highest degree a manifold world, a constellated heaven, a chaos of forms, of states and stages, of inheritances and g p o t e n t i a l i t i e s . " The same complexities that beset Lowry's theories of character t y p i f y his approach to art in general. He held the b e l i e f that a r t , l i k e the universe, was in a continual process of development, and that any attempt to make i t f i n a l was to d i s t o r t , to f a l s i f y i t . Writing about the short story "Ghostkeeper," Lowry claims: The minute an a r t i s t begins to try and shape his material--the more especially i f that material i s his own life--some sort of magic lever i s thrown into gear, setting some sort of c e l e s t i a l machinery in motion, producing events or coincidences that show him that this shaping of his i s absurd, that nothing i s s t a t i c or can be pinned down, that everything is developing or evolving into other meanings, 81 or cancellations of meanings, quite beyond his comprehension. There i s something mechanical about this process symbolized by the watch: on the other hand, the human mind or w i l l or consciousness or what-ever, of which the owner knows nothing at a l l , yet which has a w i l l of i t s own, becomes automatically at such moments in touch, as i t were, with the control tower of this machinery.10 Perhaps this helps explain why so l i t t l e of Lowry's work was completed by him; he could never stop revising as the work never stopped growing. Certainly, an awareness of these facts prohibits the f a c i l e application of c r i t i c a l d i s t i n c t i o n s about art and autobiography, the "biographical f a l l a c y , " or plot and character development. As W. H. New suggests, Lowry's scheme is vaster than conventional c r i t i c i s m may allow; i t i s no less than "to try to render a l l human experience and a l l i t s paradoxes of time, place, and perception, i n something more emotionally overwhelming than abstract terms. Such an awareness on the part of the reader also m i l i t a t e s against making d e f i n i t i v e claims as to Lowry's intentions; i t accentuates the p a r t i a l i t y of any treatment. In an otherwise f r u i t f u l study of Lowry's 12 work, Diane Fernandez f a u l t s on j u s t these grounds. She suggests that the apparent threats to Lowry's security--the past, remorse, entrapment in his c r e a t i o n s — a r e in fact accompanied by fears of repentance and r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . By identifying Lowry solely with the Consul, she goes so far as to see impotence and the lack of hope as the central themes of his f i c t i o n . Such a view ignores important segments of his l i f e and his art and the roles of love, humour, and affirmation in each. Jung has stated that "a great work of art i s l i k e a dream; for a l l i t s apparent 13 obviousness i t does not explain i t s e l f and i s never unequivocal." As 82 the art i s , so, too, i s i t s creator. Lowry assimilated everything he read or came into contact with, and in his mind everything was trans-formed back into primary material for his use. I t i s i n recognition of this fact that this study suggests the relevance of Ortega and Dunne to Lowry's aesthetic. To place Under the Volcano and Dark as the Grave in the l i g h t of Ortega's theories of man and histo r y , to examine Lowry's technique in terms of Dunne's Law of Series, and to postulate as his goal the Indian a b o l i t i o n of memory i s merely to suggest useful analogies, p a r a l l e l vantage points from which to regard, once again, Lowry's work. Possibly the most productive way to achieve a comprehensive view of Lowry's scheme i s to see i t in terms of the c i r c l e , the mandala concept which, through i t s motion, brings into play a l l facets of s e l f and r e a l i t y and integrates them. The basis of Under the Volcano--its theme, structure, and imagery—is c i r c u l a r . The action of Dark as the Grave, returning to Mexico and leaving i t a second time, defines a c i r c l e . In fact the l a t t e r novel completes a c i r c l e begun in the former, the voyage and return, the movement from l i f e to hel l to l i f e . And, f i n a l l y , these movements are incorporated into the greater sphere of The Voyage that  Never Ends, culminating i n the vi s i o n of peace, love, spring, and rebuild-ing that ends the f i n a l work of the s e r i e s , La Mordida: [ I t was not forbidden Sigbjtfrn] to hope that what had died was him-s e l f , and what came about through these confusions, these o s c i l l a -t i o n s , these misunderstandings and l i e s and disasters, these weavings to and f r o , these treacheries, these projections of the past upon the present, of the imagination upon r e a l i t y , that out of these d i s -locations of time, these configurations of unr e a l i t y , and the collapse of w i l l , out of these a l l but incommunicable agonies, as of the mind and heart stretched and attenuated beyond endurance on an eternal 8 3 rack, out of the arrant cowardice before l i t t l e danger, and bravery in the face of what seemed s l i g h t to overcome, and heartache, and longing, had been born, darkly and tremulous, a soul Reality remains p l u r a l ; ultimate r e a l i t y , i f there be such, can never be f u l l y grasped, and the only absolute i s uncertainty. Neverthe-l e s s , man functions in the media of lo g i c a l and psychological time, and i t is the manifestation of experience in time with which Lowry i s con-cerned. He makes us aware of the force of both times, of th e i r mechani-c a l , r a c i a l , and cosmic roles in our l i v e s . He makes us aware, too, of the extraordinary range of memory, the agency through which we reclaim and order manifested experience, and of the "cultural complexity of a 15 human beings store of memory." And to do t h i s , he employs our common Mneme which i s language, and focuses i t on that confluence of time and memory which i s the past. FOOTNOTES '"In Search of Goethe from Within," p. 135. 2IbicU , pp. 136-137. 3 I b i d . , p. 152. ^Dorothy Van Ghent, The English Novel: form and function (New York, 1953), p. 317. . 5Dale Edmonds, "The Short F i c t i o n of Malcolm Lowry," TSE, 15 (1967), 72. 6Benham, p. 47. 7Se1ected Letters, p. 268. Q Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf, trans. B a s i l Creighton (New York, 1969), p. 66. 9 I b i d . , p. 67. 1 0 C i t e d i n Epstein, p. 227. ] 1CanL, 44, p. 10. Diane Fernandex, "Malcolm Lowry et le feu i n f e r n a l , " Preuves, 215-216 (fevrier-mars 1970), 131-133. 13 Modern Man i n Search of a Soul, p. 171. 1 4Malcolm Lowry, La Mordida, unpubl. TSS I.A.b.l. ( x - x l v ) , Special C o l l e c t i o n s , University of B r i t i s h Columbia, p. 345. 1 5Leech, p. 335. A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY I. WORKS BY MALCOLM LOWRY Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend i s Laid. Ed. Douglas Day and Margerie Lowry. Cleveland, 1968. "Garden of E l t a . " United Nations World. 4 (June 1950), 45-47. Hear Us 0 Lord, From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place. New York, 1961. La Mordida. Unpubl. TSS I.A.b.l. ( x - x l v ) . Special Collections, Univer-s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. Letter to David Markson. CanL. 44 (Spring 1970), 53-56. Lunar Caustic. London, 1963. "Preface to a Novel." Trans. George Woodcock. CanL. 9 (Summer 1961), 23-29. Selected Letters of Malcolm Lowry. Ed. Harvey B r e i t and Margerie Bonner Lowry. New York, 1965. Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry. Ed. Earle Birney. San Francisco, T962. "The Element Follows You Around, S i r . " Show Magazine (March 1964), 45-46, 96-103. Ultramarine. London, 1933. Under the Volcano. New York, 1947. "Under the Volcano." PrS. 37 (1963), 284-300. I I . SECONDARY SOURCES Aiken, Conrad. Blue Voyage. New York, 1927. 87 Barnes, Jim. "The Myth of Sisyphus i n Under the Volcano." PrS. 42 (1968), 341-348. Benham, David Stanley. "A Liverpool of Self: A Study of Lowry's F i c t i o n other than Under the Volcano." Unpubl. diss. B r i t i s h Columbia, 1967. Bergson, Henri. Creative Evolution. Trans. Arthur M i t c h e l l . London, 1914. . Matter and Memory. Trans. Nancey Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer. London, 1912. . Time and Freewi11. Trans. F. L. Pogson. London, 1910. The Bhavagad Gita. Trans. Juan Mascaro. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1962. C h i t t i c k , V. L. 0. "Ushant's Malcolm Lowry." QQ. 71 (Spring 1964), 67-75. Church, Margaret. Time and Reality: Studies i n Contemporary F i c t i o n . Chapel H i l l , 1949. Costa, Richard Hauer. "Ulysses, Lowry's Volcano and the Voyage Between: A Study of an Unacknowledged Literary Kinship." UTQ. 36 (July 1967), 335-352. Day, Douglas. "Malcolm Lowry: Letters to an Editor." Shanendoah. 15 (Spring 1964), 3-15. . "Of Tragic Joy." PrS. 37 (1963), 354-362. Donne: Poetical Works. Ed. S i r Herbert Grierson. London, 1933. Dunne, J. W. An Experiment with Time. 3rd ed. London, 1939. Durrant, Geoffrey. "Death in L i f e : Neo-Platonic Elements i n 'Through the Panama'." CanL. 44 (Spring 1970), 13-27. Edmonds, Dale. "Under the Volcano: A Reading of the Immediate Level." TSE. 16 (1968)763-105. "The Short F i c t i o n of Malcolm Lowry." TSE. 15 (1967), 59-80. Eliade, Mircea. "Time and Eternity in Indian Thought," in Man and Time: Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks. 3. New York, Bollingen Series 30 and London, 1957. Epstein, Perle D. The Private Labyrinth of Malcolm Lowry: Under the Volcano and the Cabbala. New York, 1969. 88 Faulkner i n the University: Class Conferences at the University of  Vi r g i n i a 1957-1958. Ed. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner. New York, 1959. Fernandez, Diane. "Malcolm Lowry et le feu i n f e r n a l . " Preuves, 215-216 (fevrier-mars 1970), 129-134. Grieg, Nordahl. The Ship S a i l s On. Trans. A. G. Chater. New York, 1927. Heilman, Robert B.. "The Possessed A r t i s t and the A i l i n g Soul." CanL. 8 (Spring 1961), 7-16. Hesse, Herman. Steppenwolf. Trans. Basil Creighton. New York, 1969. The I Ching: or Book of Changes. Richard Wilhelm, ed. Cary F. Baynes, trans. 3rd ed. New York, 1950. Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Norman Kemp Smith. New York, 1950. Joyce, James. Ulysses. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1968. Jung, C. G. Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Trans. W. S. Dell and Cary F. Baynes. New York, 1933. . Psyche and Symbol: A Selection from the Writings of C_. (5. Jung. Ed. V i o l e t S. Laszlo. New York, 1958. Kafka, Franz. The T r i a l . Trans. Wil l a and Edwin Muir. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1953. K i l g a l l i n , Anthony R. "Faust and Under the Volcano." CanL. 26 (Autumn 1965), 43-54. Kirk, Downie. "More than Music: Glimpses of Malcolm Lowry." CanL. 8 (Spring 1961), 31-38. Knickerbocker, Conrad. "Malcolm Lowry in England." Paris Review. 38 (Summer 1966), 13-38. . "The Voyages of Malcolm Lowry." PrS. 37 (1963), 301-314. Leech, C l i f f o r d . "The Shaping of Time: Nostromo and Under the Volcano," in Imagined Worlds: Essays on Some English Novels and Novelists i n Honor of John Butt. Ed. Maynard Mack and Ian Gregor. London, 1968. Mann, Thomas. Doctor Faustus. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Parker. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1968. 89 Markson, David. "Myth in Under the Volcano." PrS. 37 (1963), 339-346. M e l v i l l e , Herman. Moby Dick: or The Whale. Ed. Charles Feidelson J r . New York, 1964. Meyerhoff, Hans. Time in Literature. London, Berkeley, Los Angeles, 1955. New, William H. "Lowry's Reading: An Introductory Essay." CanL. 44 Spring 1970), 5-12. Ortega Y Gasset, Jose. The Dehumanization of Art and Other Writings on Art and Culture. New York, 1956. . History as a_ System and other Essays Toward a_ Philosophy of History. Trans. Helene Weyl. New York, 1941. Ouspensky, P. D. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown  Teaching. London, 1950. Proust, Marcel. Remembrance of Things Past. Trans. C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Frederick A. Blossom. 2 vols. New York, 1924. Six Characters in Search of an Author: A Comedy in the Making in Naked  Masks: Five Plays by Luigi Pirandello. Ed. Eric Bently. New York, Thomas, Hilda L. "Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano: An Interpretation." Unpubl. d i s s . B r i t i s h Columbia, 1965. Tiessen, Paul. "Malcolm Lowry and the Cinema." CanL. 44 (Spring 1970), 38-49. The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus in Christopher Marlowe: The Complete  Plays. Ed. J. B. Sterne. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1969. Van Ghent, Dorothy. The English Novel: form and function. New York, 1953. Wild, Bernadette. "Malcolm Lowry: A Study of the Sea Metaphor in Under the Volcano." UWR. 4 ( F a l l , 1968), 46-60. The World's Great Religions. New York, 1957. 

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