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Aspects of the quest in the minor fiction of Malcolm Lowry Robertson, Anthony 1966

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ASPECTS OF THE QUEST IN THE MINOR FICTION OF MALCOLM LOWRY. BY ANTHONY ROBERTSON B.A., The University of Brit i s h Columbia (Victoria College), 1 9 6 1 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF Master of Arts i n the department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1 9 6 6 \ In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make i t freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Depart-ment or by his representatives. It i s understood that copy-ing or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of <£- ^ *><-/-f/-/  The University of Bri t i s h Columbia Vancouver* Canada Date ABSTRACT Although Malcolm Lowry i s recognized as a major writer largely for the novel Under the Volcano, his lesser known works, Lunar Caustic, "Through the Panama" and "The Forest Path to the Spring", i n Hear Us 0 Lord From Heaven Thy  Dwelling Place, are as clearly representative of his place as a twentieth century writer as Under the Volcano, These three novellas were intended by Lowry to be a part of his proposed cycle, The Voyage That Never Ends, and their rela-tionship to the rest of his work can be clearly seen. This thesis examines Lunar Caustic, "Through the Panama", and "The Forest Path to the Spring", in terms of the clear relationship to the proposed cycle. They are ana-lysed primarily in thematic terms, through an analysis of each novella as a separate entity. At the same time, the integral relationship between them w i l l be shown. A l l Malcolm LowryTs work i s an attempt to defeat chaos and alienation by establishing identity through the explora-tion of the various masks of self . This process of explora-tion can be called the quest for self . Accepting this as a basis, the thesis attempts to define and clearly evidence the aspects of the quest i n the three novellas. The process i s one of discovering the separate masks of self in each novella, and then establishing the links between each mask and their progressive nature. This should clearly delineate the interconnective nature of the three novellas and their link to the remainder of Lowryfs work. This thesis hopes to prove that the design and pattern of Lowryfs operation of the quest, while beginning i n despair and chaos, eventually moves to a point of order and redemp-tion, while at the same time showing that in personal and creative terms, the quest and i t s literary reconstruction are primarily destructive. In the novella Lunar Caustic, despair and chaos prevail and the protagonist f a i l s i n his quest for self, although the terms of that quest have been established. Sigbjjrfrn Wilderness, the protagonist of "Through the Panama", moves further towards an acceptance of himself in terms of his past and the disordered world around him. It remains, how-ever, for the nameless protagonist of "The Forest Path to the Spring", to f i n a l l y reach a point of self acceptance and of salvation. He does this as a composite figure, made up from his predecessors i n Lunar Caustic and "Through the Panama", and from Malcolm Lowry himself. Table of Contents CHAPTER I I n t r o d u c t i o n p. 1 CHAPTER I I Lunar Cau s t i c p. 8 CHAPTER I I I "Through the Panama" p. 48 CHAPTER IV "The Forest Path t o the Spring" p. 65 CHAPTER V Conclusion p. 89 BIBLIOGRAPHY p. 94 CHAPTER I If i t were possible to find one man to stand as symbol for twentieth century man, Malcolm Lowry could well be that symbol. His l i f e was almost a parody of the times in which he lived, endured within the context of chaos and disorder. Dispossession and alienation, the things about which he wrote, were an integral part of his own l i f e . He appears very much as the Wandering Jew, forced by circumstance and by something in his own being, to throw himself out into the maelstrom, to try to find some kind of caustic for the wound of his own existence. For long periods in his l i f e Lowry sought to either find or avoid this caustic i n alcohol and by moving from place to place, often against his own w i l l . There ap-pears to have been something i n Lowry that made him victim, forced him to suffer and to always seek suffering. The para-dox i s that suffering i s the necessary quality to his work, work that would not have had the impact i t has i f the pain were not so v i s i b l e . Lowryfs peculiar genius derives from his torment, from his own agonizing perception of the neces-sity for that torment, and from the lite r a r y establishment of the conditions and operation of that torment i n his work. Lowry the alcoholic and possessed writer, i s also the Lowry of these lines written by his friend Conrad Aiken: 2 "Music I heard with you was more than music, And bread I broke with you was more than bread." Aiken was LowryTs l i t e r -ary father, and his words say something about Lowry that i s often obscured in the bare accounts of a l i f e that on the sur-face would appear to be one of unrelieved despair and degra-dation. Aiken*s words express very clearly Lowry*s intense joy in l i f e , his sense of wonder and beauty, and his a b i l i t y to communicate that sensitivity to others. In an a r t i c l e in the special Lowry issue of Canadian  Literature. George Woodcock advances the brief that Malcolm Lowry can be called a Canadian writer on the basis of the sensitivity to the Canadian scene i n his primarily 'Canadian* novellas and stories.1 This appears to be a rather limiting assessment of a writer who resists placing within any definite framework by the nature of his a r t i s t i c vision and purpose. No writer can exist within a vacuum of his own particular vision. Lowry i s no exception and he does have discernible influences, although they are surprisingly few. He drew from these writers in a manner a l l his own; taking from them only those elements of their work which directs and compliments his own. Conrad Aiken, Nordhall Greig, and Herman Melville appear to be the writers who most influenced Lowry in a v a r i -ety of ways and that influence i s rarely clearly traceable. These writers would seem to have given direction to Lowry*s George Woodcock, "Under Seymour Mountain", Canadian Literature, No. 8 (Spring, 1961) p.5. 3 thinking rather than to his actual writing. Lowry i s , in his own way, a writer of his time; concerned with basically the same general themes as his contemporaries. His distinc-tion l i e s in his method of dealing with these themes and his a r t i s t i c attitude towards them which remains almost totally unique i n conception and execution. As a writer Lowry cannot be conveniently placed i n a school nor can he be labelled with a philosophy. He i s not an active existentialist, although there are aspects of existentialism in his work, particularly in the idea of choice involved in the process of the quest for self; nor i s he a mystic, although there are strong elements of mysticism in his thematic approach to his work, particularly in Under  the Volcano. Lowry just does not f i t any specific label, despite the fact that many aspects of his work do come under the headings that c r i t i c s use to identify movements and techniques. Many devices are present i n Lowryfs work, but none to the degree that becomes domination or controlling force. Perhaps the best way to place Lowry i n workable order i s to consider him thematically; for i t i s i n theme that Lowry i s basically constant throughout the t o t a l i t y of his work. Much of the literature of the twentieth century i s deeply concerned with the search for identity by man in a disordered world that constantly presents obstacles to f u l -f i l l i n g that search. The quest for identity takes on a more elaborate meaning and method when the individual in search 4 for self i s an a r t i s t who hopes to find identity in the works -which he creates to define and pattern his own quest for self . The writer must turn to himself to discover his identity i n terms of the world which surrounds him: as past and as present world. Within the quest for self the only definite thing i s the past and that past i s an amalgam of conception and percep-tion that depends on the action of the present. The quest be-comes an attempt to establish the past i n terms that are re-cognizable to the present and that can function without stress in the past. The writer, i n turning to himself, turns to a presumably heightened and more aware sensitivity and con-sciousness, and in coming to terms with why he creates comes to terms with himself. He builds his construct hoping to imply order i n a place where order did not exist before. Art takes on a double function: that of creating disorder to lead to order and that of resolving for the a r t i s t his own concep-tion of personal and general disorder in the only terms available to him. The a r t i s t , i n this case Lowry, hopes to find his own identity i n terms of the search for identity made by his characters as they move through the world cre-ated for them. In the work of Malcolm Lowry the search for identity be-comes a search for redemption outside a particularly Chris-tian or religious sense. Redemption i s the necessary out-come of the quest for self and can be defined as a process of self-realization or that point when past and present exist in a state of harmony. This redemption or s e l f -5 acceptance i s an active thing; identity must be sought for, despite the fact that the search i s usually a painful one and success i s not a surety. LowryTs vision of the quest operates within what R.B. Heilman calls Lowry's conception of the 'alienated soul'.^ This i s man fragmented and cut off from himself and his ex-ternal world; finding nothing for himself wherever he turns, either within himself or from the outside world. In the operative world of the quest for self, disorder mirrors dis-order. The quest then becomes a search for order for a kind of harmony of outward self and of inward s e l f . The chaos of the external world both promotes and reflects the chaotic nature of the self complicating the search for identity. What i s necessary in the quest i s that through a series of progressive changes, the disordered world and the disordered self must be moved into a point where they can co-exist without disruption. This i s brought about by the self gradu-a l l y accepting the necessity of disorder, which consequently allows i t to accept i t s e l f as functioning properly. This process of gradual acceptance occurs very clearly in the work of Malcolm Lowry. The quest for self in Lowry operates within a very clearly defined pattern of conditions and responses to those conditions. There i s a certain definite emphasis to the c R.B. Heilman "The Possessed Arti s t and The Ailing Soul", Canadian Literature, No. 8 (Spring, 1961) "p< p.10. 6 quest for self i n Lowrian terms. It i s a never ending voyage, no single step of which may be omitted. Every aspect of the quest i s v i t a l l y important and the sequence of each aspect i s unchangeable. One part of the quest follows another, each a necessary corollary, u n t i l the possible f i n a l moment i s reached and harmonious self-acceptance i s a real thing. Lowry begins the quest for self with Dana H i l l i o t in the novel Ultramarine. This i s Lowry's f i r s t novel and the idea of a cycle of novels involving the quest for self had not yet occurred to Lowry. However, Lowry*s wife, i n her introduc-tion to the 1963 edition of Ultramarine. states that when he had formed the basic pattern for the proposed cycle, The  Voyage That Never Ends, he made several revisions within Ultramarine to make i t f i t more clearly into the cycle. Dana H i l l i o t has only dimly the basic characteristics that are later shared by a l l the Lowry protagonists, but the elements of Plantagenet, Sigbj^rn Wilderness, and the nameless prota-gonist of "The Forest Path to the Spring" are clearly in him. Each of these men are artists or have the sensitivity of the a r t i s t . Dana H i l l i o t has only the frustrated desire; Plantagenet i s a musician; Wilderness a writer; and the nameless protagonist of "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s a composer. These men are a l l on a voyage of self-exploration; both as individuals and as masks of a composite central figure. They each have a specific distance to cover until they are taken over by a successor. Each removal of mask leads closer to the possibility of self-realization, since 7 with each removal comes greater awareness of self. The quest i s not an easy one and the results of the quest are never given as sure. The self must be harrowed: i t must move through the maelstrom of terror and fear u n t i l i t i s purged clean and becomes capable of the necessarily con-scious effort that i s involved in reaching and living with a state of harmony. The horror of the voyage i s cumulative i n that i t s scope becomes increasingly narrowed and intensified. In Lunar Caustic the chaos and disorientation are extreme, but general. In the novella, "Through the Panama" these qualities are more elaborate and somewhat more specific. The cougar in "The Forest Path to the Spring", and the reaction of the pro-tagonist to i t , bring a l l the implications of chaos and dis-orientation to a very specific point and thereby f i n a l l y i n -tensify and make real the positive nature of the act of self-acceptance within the framework that has been established. CHAPTER II Lunar Caustic i s Lowryfs journey through purgatory. In terms of the development of his work i t i s the f i r s t real step on the quest for self, and serves to establish the methods and problems of the quest. These are worked out i n Lunar Caustic, although solution does not come un t i l they have been further elaborated in "Through the Panama", and f i n a l l y resolved in "The Forest Path to the Spring". The conditions of the quest demand of the quester a descent into himself that he may remove each mask of self u n t i l the f i n a l moment of acceptance. William Plantagenet i s the f i r s t mask of the composite self and truly begins The Voyage That  Never Ends. Dante's purgatory i s for him a true reflection of man's condition on earth. So too, i s Lowry's purgatory in Lunar  Caustic. The two do not have the same closeness as do the Inferno and Under the Volcano. The st r i c t parallels are not there; however, the tones do correspond and the chaotic and complex world i s as evident in Lunar Caustic as i s i t i n the Inferno. Plantagenet, the protagonist of Lunar Caustic, i s drawn to the hospital as his place of purgatory. Like Dante, Plantagenet must endure the experience of forced self knowledge as part of a necessary stage in the process 9 of self-realization. Plantagenet's purgatory i s the whole world, including the hospital as well as the heat-ridden city outside i t . For Lowry, the world i s a madhouse; i t i s one colossal Bellvue with a good view of h e l l , a public hospital where the lost cannot stay. It i s a place where refugees are not wanted; the world cannot care for them. There i s just not enough for everyone. Even those who can care, have no time to care, and no space. Hell i s everywhere, but mani-fests i t s e l f most clearly in the hospital. It i s the nature of Lowry's man that he must seek salva-tion, seek the peace that l i e s through and beyond him, some-where beyond the terror and the madness and the open horrors of the barranca. Lunar Caustic was originally entitled The  Last Address, and in i t s i n i t i a l form was completed before Under the Volcano.^ Lowry, however, was never completely happy with Lunar Caustic or with i t s position in The Voyage  That Never Ends. It i s , however, the most similar i n manner and concept to Under the Volcano than any of Lowry's other works. The hospital in Lunar Caustic has a l l the horror of the barranca, with an even greater intensity because i t i s prolonged and the conception of i t s force i s much more em-phatic and less brooding. Plantagenet i n the hospital i s the Consul alive at the bottom of a barranca, that i s the world. 1 Malcolm Lowry, Letter to Albert Erskine, June 22nd, 1946. H. Breit and M.B. Lowry, eds., Selected Letters of  Malcolm Lowry, New York, 1965, pp. 113-14. 10 His suffering i s therefore heightened and elaborated to a pitch of intensity that i s not matched in Under the Volcano. It is-not vo l i t i o n that takes Plantagenet to the doors of h e l l anymore than i t i s volition that leads the Consul to the barranca. They are both doomed through a 'tyranny of s e l f , to f u l f i l l the quest and to search for whatever salva-tion there may be, lasting or false. Plantagenet must go forward into h e l l i n order to -escape damnation. He i s linked to Melville's Ahab, "...stumbling from side to side on the careening bridge, 'feeling that he encompassed in his-stare oceans from which might be revealed that phantom destroyer of Himself.'" 2 The act of destruction that occurs on enter-ing h e l l i s presumably the act of creation; the act of crea-tion i s to enter the hospital and to find the answer to the unanswerable: ...I am sent to save my father, to find my son, to heal the eternal horror of three, to resolve the im-mediate horror of oppositesl (p. 17) The Consul has gone into the barranca and reappeared as Plantagenet. He w i l l suffer yet one more purgatory on the voyage of self in "Through the Panama", before finding peace and resolution of opposites in "The Forest Path to the Spring". Lunar Caustic i s a statement of man alone seeking an-Malcolm Lowry, "Lunar Caustic", The Paris Review. 29 (Winter/Spring 1963) pp. 15-72., p.17. A l l future refer-ences are to this edition. 11 swers to the mystery of existence in himselfPlantagenet i s completely alienated, cut off from active power in effecting any elaboration or change i n his own surroundings. The storm that he endures i s the storm of his own soul, motivating the search for self without knowing what self i s or what i t may be. He i s i n a void and i s doomed to a kind of extinction in the terror of the outer h e l l which surrounds the inner hell of the hospital. Plantagenet i s enduring Dante's downward voyage to h e l l and the dark city i s the dark forest that pulls at him and at the same time paralyzes him and what-ever direction he may have had. The f i r s t chapter of Lunar Caustic brings Plantagenet to the hospital. The technique of this chapter, later comple-mented in the f i n a l chapter, i s fragmentary, developing chaotically to stress the disorder and h e l l - l i k e qualities of the city as metaphor for the world. The signs, and the ad-vertisements and fragments of experience, contribute to the idea of a l i v i n g h e l l . The terror and fear of Plantagenet are given through the disorder of the fragments of experi-ence seen by him. • _Plantage.net,,who likens himself to a ship, i s described by Lowry as a ship leaving the harbour on a s t i l l morning and i s then driven by the storm into desperately trying to find the harbour, (p. 16) In the Lowry mythology the ship becomes microcosm for man and Plantagenet, since he i s a ship, becomes microcosm for man adrift in a maelstrom of self, frantically trying to find a place of peace and refuge 12 where redemption i s not only possible but probable. His harbour in a disordered world i s a saloon, a place of dark-ness and terror, a miniature h e l l ; i t i s one that offers hope, however brief, i n alcohol. The repair i s made, but i t i s not lasting and Plantagenet must wander like the Jew u n t i l he can find redemption. He i s looking for something, looking for sight, seeking sanity as a function of his madness. He is surrounded by heat and noise, the groans of the city that is h e l l , the place which he must go through to reach the pur-gatory of the hospital. Everything that surrounds him as he moves round the circle of his own consciousness has i t s own malignant and macabre purpose and l i f e , always hostile and malevolent. He moves from tavern to tavern and from the gloomy depths of one of them, 'the sound of moaning, and a sound of ticking'. The horror of Plantagenet's voyage i s intensified by the pursuit of time, but the pilgrimage must be played out and Plantagenet must circle the hospital u n t i l he can f i n a l l y enter i t s doors and begin the functional part of his voyage. The old woman, a tattered and corrupted V i r -gin, guards the doors of purgatory and like the Virgin '...for those who have nobody them with'; she i s too late to intercede for Plantagenet and the letter which she sends that might be for him i s too late. Salvation must come from himself. The letter w i l l not be delivered, and communication between the two w i l l break down and f a i l despite his terrible need for i t . In h e l l , lack of communication and consequent loss of identity, i s accepted fact. Plantagenet i s in h e l l and i t 13 surrounds him irrevocably. In his search for his 'phantom destroyer' which i s himself; Plantagenet must carry his quest in the vivid h e l l of the external world where heat, war, and death, are counterpoint to his own condition. The church, as a place of God, offers no r e l i e f be-cause i t i s only a place within h e l l and i t demands the desecration of alcohol which has taken the place of God. (p. 17) Salvation i s not in the church, but in the bottle because i t i s through alcohol as a reliever of self that the possibility of salvation w i l l come. It i s alcohol that dis-integrates Plantagenet to the point where he must f i n a l l y accept the hospital as a place where the 'horror of oppo-sites' may be resolved. The note, however, i s ominous be-cause the ship goes on the rocks and the 'dithering crack' of the hospital door i s not indicative of hope. (p. 17) Plantagenet, in the quest that takes him from saloon to saloon, f i n a l l y 'finds' the hospital. It i s the house of the mad where presumably, with the horror of drying out, he w i l l find the mask of Plantagenet and move to another Plantagenet, changed, and perhaps prodded to salvation by the change. Within the hospital Plantagenet w i l l have to undergo the cauterization of his soul. He w i l l have to destroy himself and in thatactofdestruction, create a new self. He must, for the voyage to be effective, come to total self-acceptance. Chapter two of Lunar Caustic sets a somewhat different scene than the f i r s t , contrasting and complementing the pre-14 vious vision of emphatic and unrelieved h e l l . This i s s t i l l h e l l , but i t i s in a lower key and the horror slowly accretes through mild understatement and effective imagery. The hospital, h e l l or purgatory, i s established within i t s surrounding world. It stands next to the river and be-side the power house. Below i t , down by the river bank, i s the broken coal barge that becomes a recurring symbol of i n -ternal and external chaos within the novella and a reflector of Plantagenet's experience. The malign nature of this ex-ternal world i s relieved by a patch of green grass that of-fers growth and the possibilities of redemption within the destructive elements of Plantagenet's breakdown. Contrasted to this are the pleasure boats with their nostalgic gaiety. A gaiety that has i n i t a hint of the terror and despair of the human condition: ...boats which seemed as they nudged and nibbled ceaselessly at the suicidal blackness of the stream to t e l l tender tales of g i r l s i n the summer, (p. 18) The pleasure boats, despite their jaunty a i r , have in them a l l the poss i b i l i t i e s of the coal barge: ...Sunken, abandoned, open, hullcracked, bollards adrift, t i l l e r smashed, i t s hold s t i l l chocked with coal dust, s i l t and earth through which emerald shoots had sprouted, (p. 18) reflecting the disorder and despair of Plantagenet and his world. It i s a disorder and despair that i s unrelieved by hope. The abandoned coal barge becomes an adequate symbol for Lowry's man and his condition of immedicable chaos and 15 terror. The coal barge rests at the river's edge, the river be-ing metaphor for the harbour and containing a l l the varied aspects of the sea. The river and the harbour become a frame of reference for Plantagenet and the other patients i n the hospital. The patients are expressive of some aspect of the plight of those condemned to seeking identity in a place of madness. For Plantagenet, the link between himself and the river and the harbour i s strongest because at times he sees himself as a ship. The contrast i s directly applied between the ships that move- on the harbour and the hopeless static state of the coal barge broken at the harbour's edge which parallels Plantagenet's condition within the hospital. In Lowry's complex personal mythology ships have a spe-c i a l place: symbolic of man and his being, they are also qualities of hope and some aspect of man's condition that i s not always hopeless. For the patients i n the hospital the ships i n the harbour offer the possibility of r e l i e f , a tenuous connection with reality, ...If there was a ship unloading there i t seemed to them she might have some special news for them, bringing deliverance, (p. 18} that, however, has nothing concrete about i t and offers only a kind of hope: Every so often, when a ship passed there would be a curi-ous mass movement toward the barred windows, a surging whose source was i n the breasts of the mad seamen and firemen there, but to which a l l were 16 tributary: even those whose heads had been bowed for days rose at this s t i r r i n g , their bodies shaking as those roused suddenly from nightmare or from the dead, while their l i p s would burst with a sound, partly a cheer and partly a wailing-shriek, like some cry of the imprisoned s p i r i t of New York i t s e l f , that s p i r i t haunting the abyss between Europe and America and brood-ing like futurity over the Western Ocean. The eyes of a l l would watch the ship with a strange, hungry supplica-tion, (pp. 18-19) This hope i s too easily lost or betrayed as the ship leaves: ...there was a dead silence i n the ward and a strange fore-boding as though a l l hope were sailing with the tide. (p. 19) These are the lost souls in purgatory, restless and damned by their moments of hope and trapped in a world from which there i s no escape save i n death. Plantagenet joins the crew of this vast and purposeless ship without a captain, seeking the answer to his quest in the cauterization of his own soul as one of the lost souls of purgatory. Everything here, except his fellow patients, i s malignant; from the doomed coal barge to the gasworks that i s crouched to spring and devour. Everywhere i s terror and despair and the barranca has l i t e r -a l l y become the world. Plantagenet must f u l f i l l the terms of the quest within the inescapable confusion of a gigantic re-fuse p i t . The patients of the hospital are men without hope. Trapped and afraid, they f e e l the terror of a world where the 17 safety of the ship of man i s always a perilous thing and where the edge of the barranca i s always just underfoot. Facing the open sea, which reflects their condition, i s a l -ways an act of terror. The world i s a place out of balance with i t s e l f and the asylum gives refuge to those whose dis-order too actively mirrors their external world, Plantagenet and his fellow patients are aliens in the spir i t u a l abyss given physical form by the city of New York which i n i t s e l f symbolizes the city of man and by extension, the City of God. It i s a place where supplication and sal-vation in their old sense have become meaningless terms. Salvation and possible redemption i n this place i s , l i t e r -a l l y , a caustic thing. Salvation and intercession no longer exist as passive qualities; man must enter the asylum and cauterize his own soul to find the manifest forms of possible redemption. Plantagenet must himself begin the process of establish-ing his own identity. This occurs primarily in moments of his own terror at his condition or i n terror at the condition of others. His search for self i s incredibly painful and not at a l l sure of success. There i s too much around him and i n himself that stands against the success of his quest. The novella at this point moves directly to Plantagenet himself. He awakens i n h e l l , surrounded by the sounds of h e l l which are, to his alcoholic mind, the sounds of a ship, (p. 19) In his identification with the sea he gives himself the name of a ship, the S.S. Lawhill, and hears the steady 18 doomed tone of Frere Jaques, the rhythmic endorsement of his place and condition. Plantagenet 1s alienation i s complete at this point. He i s not man; he i s ship and he i s on that ship conscious of the, T...racked, trembling, malodorous body' that he i s . (p. 19) This bodily condition i s in counterpoint to the condition of his soul which i s i n a similar, though more intense, state. Hell, given physical body by ship and city, exists only as Plantagenet, as the state of his soul intensi-fied perceptively by alcohol. Alcohol i s the only way to come at the complete despair that i s the lot of twentieth century man for whom Plantagenet i s the collective metaphor. Alcohol brings Plantagenet to the point where, through his complete disintegration, he w i l l be able to reaffirm his identity. The sounds of the hospital reflect the disorder of the external world given i n Chapter One: As day grew, the noise became more ghastly: what sounded like a railway seemed to be running just over the ceiling. Another night came. The noise grew worse and, stranger yet, the crew kept multiplying. More and more men, bruised, wounded, and always drunk, were hurled down the alley by petty o f f i -cers to l i e face downward, screaming, or suddenly asleep on their hard bunks, (p. 19) Plantagenet i s a shattered mirror reflecting a twisted image. There i s no pattern to events, no principle of order or sta-b i l i t y ; Plantagenet i s a fractured man when he awakens from the alcoholic nightmare to face the re a l i t y of the living 19 nightmare of the hospital: He was awake. What had he done last night? Played the piano? Was i t last night? Nothing at a l l , perhaps, yet remorse tore at his v i t a l s . He needed a drink desperately. He did not know whether his eyes were closed or open. Horrid shapes plunged out of the blankness, gibbering, rubbing their bristles against his face, but he couldn't move. Something had got under his bed too, a bear that kept trying to get up. Voices, a prosopopoeia of voices, mur-mured in his ears, ebbed away, murmured again, cackled shrieked, cajoled: voices pleading with him to stop drinking, to die and be damned. Thronged, dreadful sha-dows came close, were snatched away. A cateract of water was pouring through the wall, f i l l i n g the room. A red hand gesticu-lated, prodded him: over a ravage mountainside a swift stream was carrying with i t legless bodies yelling out of great eye-sockets, in which were broken teeth. Mu-sic mounted to a screech, sub-sided. On a tumbled bloodstained bed i n a house whose face was blasted away a large scorpion was gravely raping a one-armed negress. His wife appeared, tears streaming down her face, pitying, only to be instantly transfprmed into Richard 111 who sprang forward to smother him. (p. 20) This i s the total alienation of Plantagenet. It i s madness and a kind of horrible sanity. Here i s the clarity of LowryTs vision of the world. What hope can there be for Plantagenet when the horror i s so vivid and emphatic and so distorting of self? This i s more than a 20 season in h e l l ; i t i s h e l l . This i s the vision of the alco-holic mage, the man who has abused his powers, and who suffers the penalty of this abuse. Where can the mask be, where can the self be, in this kind of nightmare? Plantagenet i s lost i n time and space, imprisoned in the place of his own damna-tion. Salvation, i f i t i s possible, w i l l l i e in his a b i l i t y to create himself away from this place and to build out of this destruction of self, a new se l f . By doing this he w i l l set his world back on i t s proper axis. Plantagenet awakens to see Kalowsky and the boy Garry. These are his companions i n h e l l and aspects of himself, elements of his own character. As mirror images they are terrifying i n themselves, and i n the fact that they are him-self: the boy, an innocent, and the old man, the victim of the experience of l i v i n g . Garry i s the a r t i s t . His stories attempt to put an order to the real i t y of his highly disordered world and succeed only in emphasizing the fragmentary nature of that world» "I'm Garry," said the boy. "My father makes moulds on terra-cotta...One day one of the pipes collapsed and the terra-cotta burst and col-lapsed. It was fall e n through and reached the shore. It was condemned." (p. 20) However, he attempts to create out of the destruction that surrounds him, possibly, therefore, he i s not evading rea l i t y , but seeking i t out. The link with Rimbaud i s ex-p l i c i t , and so too i s the link to the idea of the a r t i s t i n 21 general. These two, Garry and Kalowsky, lead Plantagenet through the rest of the tale. As V i r g i l i s perhaps an aspect of Dante as well as guide, so Garry and Kalowsky perform the same function for Plantagenet. The whole world i s a con-demned building, f u l l of condemned people; they are condemned to seek salvation in themselves, to follow the harrowing of their experience into h e l l , and hopefully out again. After the meeting with Garry and Kalowsky, reality of a sort impinges, and Plantagenet realizes that he i s i n a hos-p i t a l . It i s h e l l , but i t i s also a hospital, and the sounds of h e l l can be identified and placed in their proper perspec-tive. Garry as a r t i s t and Kalowsky as wandering Jew, share their experience with Plantagenet and in so doing their ex-perience becomes more manifestly his experience and their function as distorted mirror images of Plantagenet ^ becomes much clearer. They are lost souls, one and a l l , the world's wanderers, the damned and the innocent. The tools of the quest for identity have been set up. With the image of Battle moving i n and out of the last section of this chap-ter, black and luminous with his power and v i t a l i t y , Plantagenet can begin the harrowing of his soul in the at-tempt to come to himself i n the core of madness and purga-tory. The function of the doctor i n Lunar Caustic i s somewhat obscure. His relationship to Plantagenet i s clearly one of guide, or at least sympathizer. Yet i f Lunar Caustic i s a type of Purgatorio as Lowry conceived i t , the doctor i s not 22 present enough, nor forceful enough to be V i r g i l . However, he does lead Plantagenet at least closer to himse-lf through urging him to recognize his condition. He can offer no f i n a l solution, but as that f i n a l solution must come from Plantagenet himself, the doctor does not have to be a positive force. Sal-vation for Lowry i s an individual thing, and must be won or lost alone. The doctor does lead Plantagenet to a statement of his external condition in order to mirror for him his own internal disorder, (p. 24) Shaken and alone, Plantagenet i s stripped to his bare self . He has none of the conventional r e l i e f valves that allow man to avoid the horror of his condition by hiding himself in his external world. There i s no hole for him to get into and he must face the process of burning off the old self when i t i s vulnerable and weak. His internal world and external world are one constant h e l l that cannot be avoided. The hospital i s like a ship, and looking out from i t Plantagenet sees the broken coal barge: Amid ships where the h u l l had s p l i t , a mass of wet iron bal-anced. He glanced away - the tangled object had become a sailor sprawled broken on the deck i n brown, shining o i l -skins, (p. 25) a vision of things polluted, broken and despairing, with a hanged man hovering over the building. The agony of his position i s manifest to him with slow, feeling horror: Staring out at the river his agony was like a great l i d -less eye. 23 Darkness was f a l l i n g ; through the clearing haze the stars came out. Over the broken horizon the Scorpion was crawling. There was the red, dying sun, Antares. To the south-east, the Retreat of the Howling Dog appeared. The stars taking their places were wounds opening i n his being, multiple duplications of that agony, of that eye. The constellations might have been monstrosities i n the de-lirium of God. Disaster seemed smeared over the whole universe. It was as i f he were livin g i n the preexist-ence of some unimaginable catastrophe, and he steadied himself a moment against the s i l l , feeling the doomed earth i t s e l f stagger in i t s heaving spastic f l i g h t to-ward the Hercules Butterfly, (p. 26) The images are a l l of searing disruption and the malignant horror of his condition. The stars presage the burning of Plantagenet when he too must retreat like the Howling Dog. And as the constellations might have been monstrosities in the delirium of God, man i s that monstrosity, and the state of man i s one of disaster and the resultant madness and despair. The stars, seat of man's wonder, do no more than give to him the mirror of his own condition, lost in the universe and lost in himself. The universe i s a symbol of Plantagenet*s vast disordered self and as he i s the ship, he i s also the earth that 'staggers in i t s heaving spastic f l i g h t ' . Time, never a safe thing for Plantagenet, begins to move again. Never changing his state of Limbo, i t never-24 theless permits him to exist without total madness in that i t does not entirely cease for him. He i s aware now that he can leave the hospital when he wishes to; that he i s not exter-nally trapped and that his i s not the dignity of f u l l mad-ness, only the possible dignity of the drunken Mage whose agony of self i s sufficient qualification for madness and despair at what might have been. (p. 26) Garry t e l l s Plantagenet the story of Pompeii, again an image of disorder and decay, told in a hurried fragmented manner. Everything, even creation, has collapsed and behind everything i s Battle's 'ole man of the mountain' the leader of the assassins and here a symbol of death, (p. 27) Death hovers over the whole novella as the f i n a l quality, the mask that cannot be escaped or concealed in alcohol. It i s part of the harrowing of self that death cannot be evaded, that the fact of death must be accepted as the protagonist of "The Forest Path to the Spring" accepts i t in the body of the cougar. Death i s implicit in the disorder that sur-rounds Plantagenet: the f a l l of Pompeii and Garry's vision of the collapse of the hospital, (p. 27) With death, h e l l w i l l cease to exist, and so death becomes a familiar, a l -though like the old man of the mountain, i t w i l l choose i t s own time. In contrast to this i s the picture of Kalowsky: ...pursing his l i p s continu-a l l y in and out like a dying f i s h . What was that film Plantagenet had seen once, where the shark went on swallowing the live f i s h , even after i t was dead, (p. 27) 25 This i s the nervous reaction of the already dead and doomed, who live despite the fact that they are dead. The previous image of the stars reinforces this; a doomed earth continues to move and therefore live despite the fact that i t i s doomed. So too, the Lowry man, doomed as he i s , must con-tinue to move across his place in time: his quest for self i s inexorable. In their place of h e l l , Plantagenet i s linked to his mirror images of Kalowsky and Garry by a kind of purpose which he suspects i s that of the release of death: ...they were drawn together in a doleful world where their daydreams mingled, and finding expression, jostled irrespon-sibly, yet with an underlying irreducible logic, around the subject of homecoming, (p. 27) They are drawn together as the lost souls i n purgatory are damned together, seeking each others company to wait, i n familiarity and despair, for whatever i s coming. There i s always, with the waiting, the horror of hope as counterpoint in a vicious masquerade. Plantagenet, i n his function as seer, sees the rea l i t y of their situation and the problem of their madness: But trying to explain their whole situation to himself and his mind seemed to fli c k e r senselessly between extremi-ties of insincerities. For with another part of his mind he f e l t the encroachment of a chi l l i n g fear, eclipsing a l l other feelings, that the thing they wanted was coming for him alone, before he was ready for 26 i t ; i t was a fear worse than the fear that when money was low one would have to stop drinking; i t was compounded of harrowed longing and hatred, of fathomless compunctions, and of a paradoxical remorse, as i t f i n a l l y were in advance, for his failure to attempt f i n a l l y something he was not now going to have time for, to face the world honestly; i t was the sha-dow of a city of dreadful night without splendor that f e l l on his soul; and how darkly i t f e l l whenever a ship passedI (p. 28) Here Plantagenet i s like the Consul and the paragraph might almost have been taken from Under the Volcano, for here is the central problem of Lowry and his masks; the terrible need to know self and the equally terrible and equally powerful desire not to know self. The unknown compunctions, the remorse, the harrowed longing and hatred, are a l l ele-ments of the quest and a l l evidence of the necessity of a caustic, of an active search, whatever may precipitate that search. Plantagenet must jump into the barranca and not be thrown; at the same time he must not. The madness l i e s in the point i n between and i s , i f anything concrete, a failure of recognition and of acceptance, which presumably i s what facing the world honestly implies. The shadow of the city, a shadow of despair, i s that of a place without God. Paradox i s everywhere and perhaps there i s no hope, for God i s in man and i f man i s mad and in despair, what then i s God who i s made in man's image? Death w i l l perhaps come for Plantagenet before he has harrowed himself and there w i l l have been no 27 purpose i n his quest; nothing binds him to his s e l f . If i t does, the occupational therapy w i l l have been of no avail. The occupational therapy i s the aimless process of try-ing to unalienate the too deeply alienated. Reality and rea-son have no validi t y here and purposelessness seems to be the keynote of experience that has no f i n a l outcome. The therapy w i l l do the patients no good and the attempt at communication through semaphore, like any other attempt at communication i s doomed to failure, (p. 29) In a world where a l l i s the dis-order of the alcoholics dream of a f l u i d and plastic world things change their shape and being at w i l l . (p. 30) The natural world takes on the neuroses of man: ...even Nature herself i s shot through with jitteriness, the neurotic squirrel and the spar-rows nibbling the dung where the octroons, the ereole and the quadroon have galloped past in the black dust... (p. 20) It becomes a place where, for man and specifically for Plantagenet, the horror of imagination and being merely play over and over to him the cacaphony of his own distorted ex-perience : ...bleed so that he w i l l not have to hear the louse of con-science, nor the groaning of imaginary men, nor see, on the window blind a l l night the bad ghosts - (p. 30) He i s surrounded by the obscene old men, obscene in their l i v i n g death and the pointlessness of their existence as he sees i t . And from them he learns a kind of hopelessness: 28 ...Plantagenet, watching them, gradually thought he understood the meaning of Death, not as sudden dis-patch of violence, but as function of l i f e . He stood up, as i f to strike off an enemy, then let his hands drop limply to his sides, (p. 3D The patients move about the hospital as i n nightmare world that moves but gets nowhere; they walk and walk in purposeless motion as doom ridden as Kalowsky, the wandering Jew: ...the confused story of his wandering seemed to be follow-ing the weary pattern of their walk... And Plantagenet thought that their trampling might have been an extension of that wan-dering; i t was as i f an obscure, yet cogent necessity had arisen out of their meeting, like some meeting at the day and place of judgement, for them to make an account as best they could, to cover again the steps of their l i f e to this encounter at what was, perhaps, the end. (p. 3 3 ) It i s on the day of judgement that Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, f i n a l l y w i l l be able to rest, and i t i s on that day that man w i l l be able to rest free of terror and quest. Plantagenet too, i s the Wandering Jew. He i s linked to Kalowsky as an aspect of himself and faced with making an account of himself; to go into himself and identify his wan-derings, he lays bare his soul to himself. Throughout this section and in contrast to i t , Battle runs with his terrible hell-driven v i t a l i t y and Garry, out of the manifest destruc-29 tion and disorder that surrounds him^ creates his own ver-sion of real i t y where the elephant, a Lowry symbol of strength and continuity, i s captured and negated by man. (pp. 34-35) Plantagenet has now reached a stage in his voyage through purgatory: a half-way point of the move towards se l f -realization and perhaps salvation. Unfortunately Lunar  Caustic has only eleven chapters; were there twelve, i t would be far easier to t i e up the tale neatly and break i t down handily into working divisions that would f i t a symbolic whole. In a -sense this seems to be possible, at least roughly, since there appears to be a definite break at the end of Chapter Six. Continuity does not change, but the tone and approach become more general. The horror and terror of Plantagenet fs plight become almost academic and therefore lose the immediacy of the f i r s t six chapters. This i s per-haps not a serious f a i l i n g since the intensity has been established and Plantagenet 1s condition i s clear. It i s the operation of this condition that seems to weaken. The pat-tern becomes less emphatic, more vague and undirected. The symbolism i s not only less obvious, but less positive, and the design of intensity for the tale seems to demand that the whole remain positive unti l the reader i s able to identi-fy completely with the condition of Plantagenet. Lowry's purpose, the cauterizing of the human soul, seems to waver. The hopelessness of Plantagenet's condition i s there, but in a much more amorphous manner than before. The basic problem would appear to be that Lowry did not complete the tale him-30 s e l f and had reworked i t s e v e r a l times. The fragmentary-nature then, probably d e r i v e s from t h i s . He planned the n o v e l l a as part of the c y c l e , The Voyage That Never Ends, t o provide the P u r g a t o r i a l compliment t o the Inferno of Under  the Volcano: I wrote another short novel c a l l e d Lunar Caustic i n 1936...which has never seen the l i g h t . Under the Volcano was o r i g i n a l l y planned as the Inferno part of a Dantesque t r i l o g y c a l l e d The Voyage  That Never Ends. Lunar Caustic was the p u r g a t o r i a l p a r t , but was t o be much expanded.3 The expansion was never completed and i t becomes tempting t o work w i t h Lunar Caustic i n terms of what i t might have been r a t h e r than what i t i s : a piece of work that has moments of u n r e l i e v e d i n t e n s i t y , but which i s not always c o n s i s t e n t w i t h i t s apparent purpose and t h e r e f o r e has some very s o l i d weak-nesses. The weaknesses of Lunar C a u s t i c , however, do not d e t r a c t from an examination of i t i n thematic terms. Lowry's purpose i s reasonably c l e a r and the elements of quest i n Lunar  C a u s t i c are there and c l e a r l y t h e r e . The barge, l i k e the l i v e s of the p a t i e n t s , i s smashed and broken i n Garry's s t o r y . This counterpoints the nature of the puppet show whose r e a l i t y i s the r e a l i t y of the h o s p i t a l , manipulated and Malcolm Lowry, L e t t e r t o A l b e r t E r s k i n e , D o l l a r t o n , June 22, 1946, Selected L e t t e r s of Malcolm Lowry, pp. 113-114. 31 c o n t r o l l e d by uncaring f o r c e s , (p. 35) P r i o r to the show the h o r r o r of the outside world i s again r e f l e c t e d i n newspaper headlines and fragments of news s t o r i e s , (pp. 35-36) This complements the d i s o r d e r of the p a t i e n t s who are a m i r r o r image of the outside world and gives to the puppet show, des p i t e the doctors words " I t represents a d e f i n i t e l y s o c i a l i z i n g i n f l u e n c e , g i v i n g the p a t i e n t s an opportunity t o get together and c o n t r o l t h e i r u s ual tendencies f o r emotional outbursts...Then too, the p a t i e n t s have a common experience which they can share l a t e r and t a l k about. I t i s sometimes moderately s u c c e s s f u l . " (p. 37) a t o t a l meaninglessness i n terms of the p a t i e n t s . As the world of the h o s p i t a l i s without C h r i s t , so too i s the puppet world and the show i s a senseless e x e r c i s e i n p o i n t l e s s n e s s except f o r Plantagenet who i s only too aware of i t s s i n i s t e r overtones, (p. 37) For him the puppet show r e f l e c t s the d i s a s t e r of h i s own experience. While boring Kalowsky, Garry and the other p a t i e n t s , i t i s a v i v i d v e r s i o n of r e a l i t y f o r Plantagenet: The hand of the b l i n d g i a n t rose a g a i n . Judy was Cap-tu r e d . As the hand plunged about reaching f o r Punch wi t h a weird a c c e l e r a t e d motion which cast glowering shadows f on the w a l l , i t struck Plantagenet t h a t the drama was being d i v e r t e d from i t s course by some s i n i s t e r d i s p o s i t i o n of the puppet-eer's; he sensed, or thought 32 he d i d , the doctors i n c r e a s -i n g d i s c o m f o r t , as of god, he thought, who di s c o v e r s a l l over again that man i s not long t o be t r u s t e d w i t h the s t r i n g s of h i s d e s t i n y . Was i t only h i s ima g i n a t i o n , or was the puppeteer t r y i n g d e l i b e r a t e l y to f r i g h t e n them? (p. 39) The b l i n d g i a n t i s f a t e , or God, or the d e s t i n y of man, a t h i n g t h a t he i s unable to c o n t r o l or d i r e c t . The other p a t i e n t s are i n d i f f e r e n t t o t h e i r f a t e , but there i s s t r u g g l e l e f t i n Plantagenet, s t i l l the h a l f unconscious urge to be subjected to the c a u s t i c of madness and consciousness, and the f e a r of t h a t s u b j e c t i o n : ...nor was he f r i g h t e n e d now so much by the hand, or the shadows, which partook of the f a m i l i a r i t y of h i s d e l i r i u m , as by tha t f a c t . He had the curious f e e l i n g t h a t he had made a s o r t of descent i n t o the-maelstrom, a maelstrom t e r r i f y i n g f o r the l a s t r e a -son one might have suspected: th a t there was about i t sometimes j u s t t h i s l o a t h -some, p a t i e n t calm. (p. 39) This knowledge, and the awareness of the puppet show, leads Plantagenet to h i s most s p e c i f i c p o i n t of awareness as to h i s c o n d i t i o n : My God, he thought suddenly, why am I here, i n t h i s d o l e -f u l place? And without q u i t e knowing how t h i s had come about, he f e l t t h a t he had voyaged downward t o the f u l l core of h i s world; here was the t r u e meaning underneath a l l the loud inflamed words, the squealing h e a d l i n e s , the 33 arrogant years. But here too, e q u a l l y , he thought, l o o k i n g at the doctor, was perhaps the cure, the wisdom and v i s i o n , more p a t i e n t s t i l l . . . A n d good-ness was here too - he glanced at h i s two f r i e n d s - yes, by what m i r a c l e d i d i t come about th a t compassion and love were here too? (p. 39) This i s the most p o s i t i v e statement i n the n o v e l l a . Redemp-t i o n i s p o s s i b l e , almost inherent i n the human c o n d i t i o n , although not n e c e s s a r i l y probable. Plantagenet i s not r e -deemed, but the way i s open f o r those i n Lowry's v i s i o n who w i l l f o l l o w him. The barranca i s not the end, or p o s s i b l y not the end, and the Consul i n Plantagenet i s not i n v a i n . The t e r r o r and s u f f e r i n g i n man are not f i n a l and emphatic. Somewhere, i n goodness and love are hope and p o s s i b i l i t y : the r e a l i z a t i o n of "The Forest Path to the S p r i n g " . Despair and t e r r o r i n the shape of the cougar are not a l l - p o w e r f u l ; the b l i n d g i a n t and h i s attendant puppeteer are not a l l -powerful and t h e i r malignancy i s l i m i t e d and c o n t r o l l a b l e . The t e r r o r of removal of mask can and does lead to s a l v a t i o n . For Plantagenet, however, r e l i e f i s only momentary and despair r e t u r n s w i t h t e r r o r and f o r c e : And he wondered i f the doctor ever asked h i m s e l f what point there was i n a d j u s t i n g poor l u n a t i c s t o a mischievous world over which merely more sub t l e l u n a t i c s exerted almost supreme hegemony, where n e u r o t i c behaviour was the r u l e and there was nothing but hypocrisy t o answer the flame of e v i l , which might be the flames of Judgement, which 34 were already scorching nearer and nearer...He saw t h a t the doctor, sweat- t r i c k l i n g down h i s f a c e , l e a n i n g forward a n x i o u s l y , was almost ex-hausted, (p. 40) The view of the world i s not changed despite the p o s s i b i l i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s a l v a t i o n , and doom f o r Plantagenet i s as r e a l as ever. Paradise and a l l that i t e n t a i l s i s not yet here, and the doctor cannot guarantee the e f f i c a c y of h i s guidance and m i n i s t r a t i o n s . The c o n d i t i o n of man might not be medicin-a b l e . I f the guide i s exhausted, and the c o n d i t i o n of the world and of h e l l hopeless, then a t t h i s p o i n t even the pos-s i b i l i t y of s a l v a t i o n i s remote enough t o be nonexistent. The ships w i l l d r i f t , h e l p l e s s i n the storm and the harbour w i l l not be reached. Claggart as V i r g i l and as the doctor of the human s o u l cannot c a r r y the burden of man's c o n d i t i o n and Plantagenet i s once more a d r i f t : With t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n , h i s mind wandered. He began, as o f t e n before, t o imagine himself abandoned. The doctor, h i s l a s t hope, on h i s f i n a l f r o n -t i e r , would have no time f o r him, or h i s f r i e n d s . He saw the plunging hand only as h i s f a t e , the h i e r o g l y p h i c of "they" which was seeking him out, to take him away: now he became Caspar, dodging ab-su r d l y from one side of the barge to the other; now he en-visaged h i m s e l f i n the f a m i l i a r r o l e of one d r i v e n f r i e n d l e s s through h o s t i l e country i n t o ever darker corners, more r e -mote h i d i n g p l a c e s , (p. 40) The wandering Jew i s moving c l o s e r to the day of Judge-ment and t o t a l l y unable to a f f e c t h i s f a t e . Plantagenet's 35 weakness i s h i s dependence on others and h i s f a m i l i a r i t y with the darkness of h i s own soul. Salvation i s personal and i n d i v i d u a l . At the point of i t s p o s s i b i l i t y and the meaning of cauterization that he has been moving towards, Plantagenet fumbles and accepts the horror of hi s condition rather than make the posi t i v e e f f o r t at salvation that i s necessary to Lowry 1s view of i t s function. I t must be achieved; the pro-cess of unmasking must be conscious and deliberate and i t i s not u n t i l "The Forest Path to the Spring" that the Lowry figure can face the f i n a l peace. This f i n a l peace has a certain t e r r o r to i t , implying as i t does acceptance of s e l f . Plantagenet, f i n a l l y , cannot make t h i s acceptance so must f a i l . He must j o i n , a f t e r the puppet show - when the puppet-eer takes down his f a l s e i l l u s i o n and goes o f f with the doc-t o r as l o s t god and helper - the other wanderers as they move i n t h e i r motiveless way, accepting defeat and a pale judgement: Soon, as i f the patients had been merely r e s t i n g on t h e i r pilgrimage, the obsequious procession round the wards was resumed...their heads bowed...in that marathon of the dead. The audience had broken up, each man to h i s inner A f r i c a , (p. 40) This i s the ceremonial march of the already dead, marking a kind of pointless time u n t i l they are cal l e d to account, each man facing or not facing h i s own 'heart of darkness', con-demned to the meaninglessness of h i s own l o s t soul. H e l l i s everywhere, and being so, i s too powerful f o r the f r a i l t y of 36 the insane or the possessed. The demons of the wrong side of Plantagenet*s ambivalence are too strong and he i s drawn i n t o the maelstrom almost a c t i v e l y . The puppet show has re-created r e a l i t y w i t h a madness tha t i s too s t r o n g . The only occupational therapy i s v i s i o n of s e l f and the v i s i o n has been too b r i e f . Plantagenet has l o s t s i g h t of the a t t i t u d e t o r e a l i t y t hat i s necessary t o h i s s a l v a t i o n . He has f o r g o t t e n the t e r r i b l e need f o r purga-t i o n and the urge t h a t f i r s t brought him to purgatory; the need to face the 'lunar c a u s t i c ' t o t e s t h i s own metal and to bare h i s s o u l t o the hot i r o n of t o t a l s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n . He has f u r t h e r moments of c l a r i t y , but has a t t h i s p o i n t l o s t h i s chance. Chapter nine r e l i e s on the cumulative h o r r o r of merely presenting Plantagenet's predicament i n terms of h i s r e l a -t i o n s h i p w i t h h i s f e l l o w p a t i e n t s . I t i s a chapter of desperation and one o f counterpoint and harmony: the workings of Plantagenet's mind i n c o n t r a s t to the songs he plays on the piano. The s t o r i e s of Garry, t o l d w i t h i n c r e a s i n g desperation, balanced by the songs of B a t t l e , are v i t a l , a l i v e , and so f o r Plantagenet, d i s r u p t i n g . Each element moves ag a i n s t the other elements i n a parody of being and c r e a t i v i t y . Plantagenet plays a type of music which b e l i e s h i s con-d i t i o n ; i t i s romantic, dreamlike and v o c a l of romantic yearnings f o r f u l f i l l m e n t , which are no more than yearnings: Sweet and Low, These F o o l i s h Things, Milneburg Joys, In a 37 r Mist. Singing the Blues. Clarinet Marmalade. He then moves to the hymn Fierce Raged the Tempest O'er the Deep, and to the Death of Ase. i n ragtime. Each song obliquely compli-ments h i s condition of fear and despair and yet cannot reach the other patients, p a r t i c u l a r l y B a t t l e and the other negroes engaged i n the card game. They sense what Plantagenet knows: that t h i s i s not r i g h t , that there i s a sense of f a l s i t y i n Plantagenet's playing, a betrayal of himself and of the music he plays. They create t h e i r own music, much more r e a l , much more v i t a l than Plantagenet•s renderings. Theirs, or rather B a t t l e ' s , i s the song of the Titanic unlike any other song of tragedy, although the implications are there A Battle's song mocks the whole tone and meaning of Plantagenet's playing, but more importantly, i t i s i n contrast to the four t a l e s t o l d by Garry i n an e f f o r t to give Plantagenet the strength that he needs. The f i r s t t a l e i s one of hope and possible peace; i t i s i n tune with Plantagenet's music and as f a l s e , with the r e a l i t y of t h e i r condition, and has no e f f e c t , (p. 43) The second t a l e i s s i m i l a r with i t s 'pretty things' and 'com-f o r t s ' ; there are no comforts for Plantagenet. (p. 45) Garry's t h i r d t a l e i s much more to the mood of Plantagenet and that of the theme of Lunar Caustic: storm on the 'angry sea', thunder, l i g h t n i n g and the implication of death. I t i s death which Garry, as aspect of Plantagenet, cannot face, ^ See pages 43, 44, and 45 for t h i s song. 38 and the ending of h i s t a l e i s of s a f e t y and sure harbour: the hoped f o r image of the e a r l y chapters of Lunar C a u s t i c . Garry's f o u r t h t a l e b r i n g s i n s e v e r a l of the themes of Lunar  Ca u s t i c and has overtones of M e l v i l l e , s p e c i f i c to Lowry's own symbology. Presumably Plantagenet i s something of an Ahab f i g u r e i n Lunar Caustic and a t times a kind of paradigm M e l v i l l e f i g u r e as Lowry conceives him, a man who t h i n k s he i s a s h i p , a man who t r i e s to r e c o n c i l e 'the immedicable horror of opposites'. These elements come together i n Garry's t a l e of the whale hunt i n which Plantagenet s u b s t i t u t e s a white whale f o r Garry's black whale, making e x p l i c i t the l i n k to M e l v i l l e and to the whole problem of Ahab and the whale as aspect of conscious-ness, (p. 45) Behind t h i s e x p l i c i t l i n k i s the note of d e s t r u c t i o n and the p a r a l l e l to the c o a l barge, " a l l broken and smashed", (p. 45) The whale, a symbol of l i f e and v i t a l -i t y , as w e l l as of d e s t r u c t i o n , i s destroyed as Plantagenet i s destroyed and Garry's f i n a l t a l e i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h the s t a t e of Plantagenet and of h i s f e l l o w p a t i e n t s , h e l p l e s s l y sucked i n t o the maelstrom and e f f e c t i v e l y doomed. Plantagenet must now have h i s only r e a l contact w i t h the doctor, Claggart, as guide who cannot help, cannot give Plantagenet s a l v a t i o n . Simultaneous w i t h the doctor's beckoning to Plantagenet i s B a t t l e ' s l a s t song: A l l you good peoples come on down to me. So de d e b b i l turned over i n h e l l And began to laugh and g r i n Say, yo' took a mighty long 39 time comin*, Shine, But yo' welcome i n l (p. 47) which i s i n d i c a t i v e of Plantagenet's f a t e . He cannot remain i n the h o s p i t a l and i s too soon cast out. " I t seems that you can't stay here..." (p. 47) He must leave purgatory, such as i t i s , and r e t u r n to the h e l l of the outside world t h a t i s emblematic of h i s l a c k o f i d e n t i t y . He i s booked i n t o Purgatory as L a w h i l l , and once there goes by the name of Plantagenet, but remains a man i n search of i d e n t i t y ; completing t h a t search i s a process of removal of the f a l s e masks of i d e n t i t y the e x t e r n a l world has f o r c e d him t o apply, (p. 47) He f a i l s because the doctor cannot lead him to s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n and he i s unable to f i n d h i s own way. He looked out over the huge nervous c i t y above which the l a s t blimp of the day was t r a i l i n g an advertisement f o r Goodyear T i r e s w h i l e f a r above th a t i n s t i l l m e r c i l e s s but d e c l i n i n g s u n l i g h t one word was u n r o l l i n g i t s e l f from the wake of an i n v i s i b l e plane: Fury. He was a f r a i d t o leave the doctor and go back to the ward. He was a f r a i d - "the h o r r o r s " , he s a i d a b r u p t l y . "Well - do you see New York? That's where they a r e . They're out there already w a i t i n g , the h o r r o r s of war - a l l of them - already - and a l l t h a t d e l i r i u m , l i k e p r i m i t i v e s , l i k e C h r i s t ' s descent i n t o h e l l . And the t a c t i l e con-sci e n c e , the l o n e l y s o u l f a l l i n g f e a t h e r l e s s l y i n t o the abyss!"(p. 51) The h o r r o r s must be faced; t h a t i s part of the act of being, 40 p a r t of the f u n c t i o n of s a l v a t i o n t h a t Plantagenet seeks. The a c t of c a u t e r i z a t i o n i s an act of h o r r o r ; a l l the d e l i r -ium and t e r r o r of the f e e l i n g conscience and consciousness must be accepted. H e l l must be seen and h e l d , and to run away from the v i s i o n i s t o abandon s a l v a t i o n . The protagon-i s t of "The Forest Path to the S p r i n g " , i n f a c i n g the cougar, does what Plantagenet f a i l s to do: he makes an a c t of P o s i t i v e acceptance. He l e a r n s to Know what i s seen. The h o r r o r of the barranca must be a known t h i n g and not u l t i m a t e l y of d e l i r i u m ; the s o u l must be burnt and i n the burning r i s e w i t h the t r u e knowledge of s e l f . P h o e n i x - l i k e , Plantagenet must r i s e from h i s own ashes. Plantagenet complains t o Claggart of the p a t i e n t 1 s acceptance of t h e i r c o n d i t i o n : a negative acceptance made by those u n w i l l i n g t o face t h e i r own i d e n t i t y : "But good C h r i s t , Doctor, i n t h i s place the people, the p a t i e n t s , are r e s i g n e d , r e -signed! Can't you see the h o r r o r , the horror of Man's uncomplaining acceptance of h i s own degeneration? Be-cause many who are supposed to be mad here, as opposed to the ones who are drunks, are simply people who per-haps once saw, however, con-f u s e d l y , the n e c e s s i t y f o r change i n themselves, f o r r e b i r t h , t h a t ' s the word." (pp. 51-52) , The i r o n y i s t h a t Plantagenet d e s c r i b e s what i s b a s i c a l l y h i s own c o n d i t i o n . He sees the n e c e s s i t y f o r h i s own 're-b i r t h ' , but i s unable to accomplish i t because of the 41 paradox i m p l i c i t i n h i s p l i g h t . Plantagenet must then accept h i s s i g h t , and from t h i s , accept the t r u e m i r r o r of h i s own i d e n t i t y . From th a t acceptance d e r i v e s acceptance of the v a l i d i t y of some m i t i g a t i n g f o r c e on a l l the chaos. The m i t i g a t i n g f o r c e i s l o v e . Plantagenet i s without l o v e , s i n c e i n l o v i n g Garry and Kalowsky he loves only aspects of him-s e l f . His horror i s pure horror aware only of the barranca and not of the l i f e t h a t surrounds i t . He i s unable t o r e a l i z e t h a t i n h e l l there can be more than d e l i r i u m . He i s unable t o accept acceptance and h i s i n a b i l i t y condemns him. Because he c i r c l e s around the problem, Plantagenet defends only those aspects of h i m s e l f which lead to h i s f a i l u r e , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the case of Garry's s t o r i e s which Claggart f e e l s merely encourage Garry to stay i n a dream world (p. 55) and which Plantagenet f e e l s are symbolic of something of meaning: "He l i k e s t o t e l l me those s t o r i e s , and some of them have a queer q u a l i t y . Have you thought of the way they're a l l about d i s a s t e r ? I t ' s a k i n d of prophecy, perhaps. Perhaps? I know. I've seen i t a l l a thousand times i n dreams, and when i t comes i t w i l l be b o r i n g . Garry sees d i s a s t e r encom-passing not only h i m s e l f but the h o s p i t a l , t h i s l a n d , the whole world...I don't know, i t ' s funny how people want t o c r e a t e , and do, i n s p i t e of e v e r y t h i n g - order and chaos both." (p. 55) I f Garry i s an aspect of Plantagenet, then Plantagenet i s 42 r i g h t ; the c o a l barge i s broken and chaos i s t h e r e , and man, as Plantagenet/Garry, w i l l and does c r e a t e . But Plantagenet's words demand that Garry be only an aspect of h i m s e l f and not as Garry an i n d i v i d u a l , whose s t o r i e s are a r e t r e a t from the horror of r e a l i t y t h a t must be faced, and whose s t o r i e s of chaos and the r e t r e a t from chaos m i r r o r P l a n t a g e n e t 1 s r e t r e a t from what he has t o see. The freedom i m p l i e d i n Garry's s t o r i e s through t h e i r concern w i t h c o l l a p s e and decay i s not the freedom of s a l v a t i o n and i s not the freedom of Rimbaud, who Plantagenet w i t h u n i n t e n t i o n a l i r o n y , compares him t o . (p. 56) Garry creates i n a d e s t r u c t i v e sense out of d e s t r u c -t i o n , which i s what Plantagenet i s doing, and t h i s k i n d of c r e a t i o n i s s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e . The f i n a l r e s u l t of c r e a t i o n , however d e s t r u c t i v e to the being of the c r e a t o r , must be c r e a t i o n i n a p o s i t i v e sense: the t e a r i n g down of s e l f . In the case of Lowry and h i s many a l t e r - s e l v e s , i t i s t o reach a new s e l f t h a t w i l l be more than the o l d . Each successive d e s t r u c t i o n w i l l t h e r e f o r e be more c r e a t i v e , since more w i l l be known and greater depths reached. For Plantagenet/Garry to be s u c c e s s f u l , t h e i r c r e a t i o n must be more than h o r r o r , more than c o l l a p s e and decay and the past cannot be 'blasted away'. The c a u s t i c process demands a f i r m past on which t o work and a 'possession' t h a t does not end w i t h mere r e c o g n i -t i o n of h o r r o r . In the words of Dr. C l a g g a r t , Plantagenet 'escapes' i n t o the nightmare world, (p. 59) Escape i s not a c a u s t i c process and Plantagenet gains nothing from the 'Palace of 43 Wisdom* t h a t i s the h o s p i t a l , (p. 58) Plantagenet does not ' l e a r n 1 from the Palace of Wisdom; he only s u f f e r s the ex-perience of i t , a s u f f e r i n g that i s necessary, but which has to be more than the pure s u f f e r i n g i t so obviously i s : "But my God, i t ' s horror!...And i t ' s a l l there w a i t i n g f o r me: the ghosts on the window b l i n d , the s c a r l e t snowshoe, the whis-per i n g of l o s t o p p o r t u n i t i e s , and a l l the f u r y , the anguish, the remorse, the v o i c e s , v o i c e s , v o i c e s , v o i c e s ; the d o l l t h a t t u r n s to Ruth, the brownstone -brimstone - f r o n t s transformed i n t o judges, the interminable h e l p f u l but - a l a s - non e x i s t -ent conversations, c l i n c h i n g one's case and p o i n t i n g a s o l u t i o n , a way out i n t o the morning l i g h t and freedom, o f f e r i n g an outpost between y o u r s e l f and death; though only death i s there i n the morning and the morning i s midnight and y o u r s e l f f o r g o t t e n , only the g u l f i s there...The h o r r o r not woman, not man, not beast, glimpsed through the b e l l -sounding darkness of Death Avenue, and p o s t i n g a l e t t e r w i t h hands t h a t were not hands -" (pp. 58-59) Anguish and remorse are a part of the quest f o r s e l f , but they are only aspects of i d e n t i t y and not i d e n t i t y i t s e l f . The c l a r i t y of the a l c o h o l i c must lead t o something and not t u r n i n upon i t s e l f as Plantagenet's does. He seems to be l o o k i n g i n t o the h o r r o r , and d e s p a i r i n g there f o r an answer and l a c k i n g any k i n d of r e a l i d e n t i t y , h i s search i s doomed to f a i l u r e because he cannot accept a s t a r t i n g p o i n t , (p. 59) L a w h i l l , Plantagenet, Ahab, Ship, M e l v i l l e , Garry, Kalowsky -which one - or a l l ? There are too many fragments of Plantagenet, "...the f u t u r e drones d i s a s t e r and there i s only remorse l e f t f o r the past, which i s a romantic passion..." (p. 59) The doctor as guide cannot help Plantagenet who w i l l always be e i t h e r i n h e l l or i n purgatory and never reach the paradise he so i n e f f e c t u a l l y searches f o r . Without the pos-s i b i l i t y of help from the doctor, Plantagenet i s at the end of h i s 'night journey across the s e a T . There can be no har-bour f o r Plantagenet who i s ship and sea, maelstrom and v i c t i m of maelstrom. Chapter Ten i s probably the most intense and the most d i f f i c u l t i n Lunar C a u s t i c . Here Plantagenet reviews and i s subjected t o , the passage of a l l t h a t has happened to him since he has entered the h o s p i t a l . This cumulative r e g u r g i -t a t i o n i s prompted by the storm w i t h a l l i t s elements of d e s t r u c t i o n and growth. The f u r y of the storm i s symbolic of the storm i n Plantagenet. The r e s u l t of th a t f u r y , r a i n , i s symbolic of the p o s s i b i l i t i e s t h a t Plantagenet, because he i s what he i s , must f o r g o . Here, too, i s the consuming need of man to destroy h i m s e l f that he might r e s u r r e c t h i s being i n t o a new form t h a t i s the combination of a l l t hat he i s i n those around him. Plantagenet's madness i s the madness of closeness to God, the madness of one who at l e a s t momentarily, can see and take i n t o h i m s e l f the f u l l import of what he sees. This Plantagenet does and the c a u s t i c e f f e c t i s too strong, open-i n g to him v i s i o n s of perhaps an u l t i m a t e madness th a t 45 cannot be borne by him as man. What Plantagenet sees i s too much f o r man and i t destroys him, making the sy n t h e s i s an i m p o s s i b i l i t y . There i s hope and p o s s i b l y there i s Paradise, but f o r Plantagenet i n Lunar C a u s t i c , i t i s unobtainable. I t i s a true 'no man's l a n d ' (p. 61) where the r e l i e f of mad-ness i s death and t o t a l d e s t r u c t i o n as symbolized f o r Lowry and Plantagenet i n the white whale of M e l v i l l e ; the urge f o r s e l f - d e s t r u c t i o n r a t h e r than r e b u i l d i n g of s e l f out of d e s t r u c t i o n . Freedom i s d e s t r u c t i o n , i t i s the wind of the storm and i t i s the being of Plantagenet, and i t i s the u n i t y of a l l the l o s t s o u l s , (p. 62) Man and h i s world are d e l i r -i o us "...where everything was uncompleted wh i l e f u n c t i o n i n g i n degeneration..." (p. 63) And the maelstrom becomes Plantagenet, w i t h a l l i t s confused images of t e r r o r and d i s -may, hopelessness and d i s o r d e r . Plantagenet and h i s world are broken and c o l l a p s e d l i k e the barge which i s "...the image of t h e i r own shattered or uninformed s o u l s . . . " (p. 63) and which takes them to the white whale of t h e i r d e s t r u c t i o n : A seaplane was g l i d i n g w h i t e l y past, and now i t was t u r n i n g , t o Plantagenet suddenly i t had the f i n s and f l u k e s and b l u n t luminous head of a whale; now i t roared s t r a i g h t at the win-dow, s t r a i g h t a t him, (p. 67) and: There was a f u r i o u s crash of thunder and simultaneously Plantagenet f e l t the impact of the plane, the whale upon h i s mind. While metamorphosis nudged metamorphosis, a k i n d of order, s t i l l preserved 46 w i t h i n h i s consciousness, and e n c l o s i n g t h i s catastrophe, exploded i t s e l f i n t o the age of Kalowsky a g a i n , and i n t o the youth of Garry, who both now seemed to be s p i r a l l i n g away from him u n t i l they were l o s t , j u s t as the sea-plane was a c t u a l l y t i l t i n g away, swaying up t o the smashed sky. But while t h a t p a r t of him only a moment before i n possession of the whole, the s h i p , was t u r n i n g over w i t h d i s u n i o n of h u l l and masts uprooted f a l l i n g across her decks, another f a c t i o n of h i s s o u l , r e l a t i v e to the shi p but aware of these f a n t a s i e s and s i m u l t a n i t i e s as i t were from above, knew him t o be screaming a g a i n s t the r e -newed thunder and saw the attendants c l o s i n g i n on him, yet saw him too, as the plane seethed away northwards l i k e the disembodied shape of the very act of darkness i t s e l f , passing beyond the asylum w a l l s m e l t i n g l i k e wax, and f o l l o w i n g i n i t s wake, s a i l -i n g beyond the cold coast of the houses and the f a c t o r y chimneys waving f a r e w e l l -f a r e w e l l - (p. 68) This i s the t o t a l i t y of Plantagenet's madness and his.com-p l e t e l o s s of i d e n t i t y . This i s the s o u l i n quest f o r s e l f t h a t i s f i n a l l y defeated by i t s e l f and by the chaos of i t s v i s i o n and the world t h a t surrounds i t . Plantagenet cannot save h i m s e l f , the t e r r o r i s too deep and too f a t a l . The f i n a l chapter i s as fragmented as the f i r s t . The quest, f o r now, i s over. The 'dead end' has been reached and 'womb' begins again: "...soon there would be nothing a t a l l : no s h i p , no church, no f o r e s t , no shadows, no l e a r n i n g . 47 I t would a l l be c o l l a p s e d . . . " (p. 71) And a f t e r f l i n g i n g h i s b o t t l e a t " . . . a l l the indecency, the c r u e l t y , the hideousness, the f i l t h and i n j u s t i c e i n the world..." with the " . . . a t r o c i o u s v i s i o n of Garry f l a s h (ing) across h i s consciousness, and an a t r o c i o u s f e a r . " , Plantagenet moves ".. . d r i n k i n hand, to the very obscurest corner of the bar, where, c u r l e d up l i k e an embryo, he could not be seen at a l l . " (p. 72) At the end of the quest, Plantagenet cannot be seen, nor can he see. The hand of the b l i n d g i a n t has come over h i s eyes, the t r i p through the 'lunar c a u s t i c ' has been a f a i l -u re. He cannot separate h i m s e l f from the d e s t r u c t i o n of a l c o h o l which i s the agent of h i s t e r r o r and at the same time h i s saviour from the f u l l i m p l i c a t i o n s of that t e r r o r . S a l v a t i o n i s not f o r Plantagenet, but i t s p o s s i b i l i t i e s are inherent i n the c a u t e r i z a t i o n of h i s s o u l . Love, the agent of s a l v a t i o n i n Lunar Caustic becomes a p r o b a b i l i t y i n "Through the Panama" and a f a c t i n "The Forest Path to the S p r i n g " where the acceptance of the love and t e r r o r of being come together and form a true and workable s a l v a t i o n . CHAPTER III The novellas and stories of "Hear us 0 Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place, are, Lowry claims, of a piece: belonging together or at least complementing each other and contribut-ing to the total effect: On the other hand i f I can get some of the nonsense out of "Through the Panama" and perhaps the "Elephant" the whole thing does have-a very beautiful sound when taken together: and i t i s a form you can only see when you see the book as a whole.1 This conception of Hear us 0 Lord From heaven Thy Dwelling Place i s enhanced by the more or less common theme of a l l of a l l the tales, and the common nature of their protagonist: Wilderness, Cosnahan, or Fairhaven, who are a l l aspects of the same consciousness. There i s no point in avoiding the issue of Lowryrs identification with his protagonist. It i s a possibility i n Lunar Caustic but a surety in Hear Us 0 Lord From heaven Thy Dwelling Place, particularly in "Through the Panama", where Wilderness i s so closely identified with Lowry to have writ-1 Malcolm Lowry, Letter to Albert Erskine, Selected Let-ters of Malcolm Lowry, p. 335 -49 t e n the same books and to be s u f f e r i n g the same malaise and t e r r o r at h i s own c o n d i t i o n . "Through the Panama" i s a search f o r s e l f - i d e n t i t y through the act of c r e a t i o n as ex-perienced by the p r o t a g o n i s t , Wilderness, but t h i s search i s inseparable from the search of Lowry, h i s c r e a t o r . Conrad Knickerbocker-, i n an a r t i c l e f o r -the s p e c i a l Lowry e d i t i o n of P r a i r i e Schooner, makes the f o l l o w i n g statement about Lowry and h i s work: Lowry could not perform the v i t a l surgery of separating h i m s e l f from h i s c h a r a c t e r s . He suspected a t times t h a t he was not a w r i t e r so much as being w r i t t e n , and w i t h panic he r e a l i z e d t h a t s e l f i d e n t i t y was as e l u s i v e as ever.2 This statement, since i t i s c l e a r l y evidenced i n Lowry's work and i n comments by those who knew him, seems to be a v a l i d one. Lowry i s h i s own protagonist and the search of that p r o t a g o n i s t f o r s e l f - i d e n t i t y through a process of un-masking, i s Lowry's search f o r h i s own i d e n t i t y i n a set of operating circumstances t h a t made i t almost impossible f o r him to make the search s u c c e s s f u l l y . L i k e Plantagenet, Wilderness, Cosnahan, and other s , Lowry's e f f o r t s were doomed to f a i l u r e . The problems of a chao t i c world were f i n a l l y too gre a t , and too v a s t l y manifested. Lowry a t -tempts to come to terms with h i s ho r r o r and bewilderment i n 4 Conrad Knickerbocker, "The Voyages of Malcolm Lowry", P r a i r i e Schooner. V o l . XXXVII (1963/64) p. 305 50 the guise of his protagonist as he strives against terrifying odds to create meaning and identity out of chaos. "Through the Panama", is the journal of Sigbj^rn Wilderness as he sails from Vancouver to England on the S.S. Diderot. Wilderness i s a writer, or at least a man who i s trying to write, to create his own experience. The being of that creation i s a character in Wilderness*s proposed novel, Martin Trumbaugh, who i s also a novelist. The identity of Wilderness and Trumbaugh merges; and what was Wilderness's journal becomes Martin Trumbaugh*s journal. In both jour-nals, which are one and the same, Sigbj^rn/Martin work on a novel or the notes for a novel that i s about a writer writ-ing. Complementary to this and mirroring i t are the nota-tions in the journal about the land that the ship passes, Mexico and Central America, and the sea the ship travels on. Finally, and more specifically, the Panama Canal and i t s operation acts as a reflection on the condition of Wilderness/Trumbaugh. Parallel to this element of "Through the Panama" are the Tside texts': Coleridge's, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", and a book on the Panama Canal that Wilderness/Trumbaugh i s reading throughout the voyage. The f i n a l complication i s the clear intrusion of Lowry himself, usually i n the form of the books that he has written or proposes to write. There i s then, a novella which exists on at least four levels and which cannot be placed conveniently into a specific form. It i s called a novella and since that 51 definition i s the least restrictive i t i s probably the most sensible. It would appear that "Through the Panama" i s no more than jottings, possible material for a story. It i s fragmented and disjointed, but necessarily so. The form of the story i s complementary to the intention and to the theme, which in this manifestation demands chaos as much as i t demands order i n Under the Volcano. "Through the Panama" i s , like Lunar Caustic, a voyage of discovery. The major difference between the two i s that where Plantagenet does not survive the storm, Wilderness/Trumbaugh does i f for no other reason than that he has Primrose, or the love that i s only a possibility in Lunar Caustic. The heightened per-ception of Wilderness as a r t i s t allows him to make a more operative whole out of his experience, although that same heightened perception i s largely responsible for his condi-tion. Lowry is attempting, through his examination of the writer's consciousness, to come to terms with the malaise of the twentieth century that expresses i t s e l f i n a massive sense of alienation. This alienation i s emphasized in those who are trying to create i n the midst of chaos, since creation must operate within the context of perception of the state of the world; complicated by an intense symbolism and interweaving of identities in finding the correct or f i n a l working one. There i s very evident i n Lowry aspects of what has come to be called the 'absurd'. His protagonist, i n whatever 52 guise; Plantagenet, Wilderness, H i l l i o t , Fairhaven, i s a l -ways at loose in a world which for him i s overwhelmingly meaningless and ter r i f y i n g . There seems to be no hope and a l l the forces of the world are malevolent and careless. The world i t s e l f is the 'infernal machine' of "Under the  Volcano", which takes i t s course despite the efforts of man. There i s i n Lowry a sense of wonder that despite his ter-r i b l e alienation, man continues to seek identity i n this place where identity can have no ultimate meaning and i s at best a fragile thing, needing continual reshoring. "Through the Panama" i s the record of a search for identity: a journal which carefully sets down the terrors and the problems of the search and the factors involved i n i t . The familiar Lowry foundations are here. Wilderness, i f not in the acute alcoholic state of Plantagenet in Lunar Caustic, i s very near to i t . He identifies himself with the S. S. Diderot and Trumbaugh much as Plantagenet identifies with the S. S. Lawhill. Central to each tale i s a storm, both physical and symbolic, a storm which Wilderness survives as Plantagenet cannot. In each tale the storm i s the point of f i n a l resolution and intensity. Theme, however, i s the only common ground shared by Lunar Caustic and "Through the Panama". Lunar Caustic i s a clearly structured work while "Through the Panama" takes the free form of a journal or writer's notebook, allowing Lowry to combine the many elements that he does with some hope of at least thema-t i c wholeness. There are, however, problems with "Through 53 the Panama" that a r i s e mainly from the form. C l a r i t y i s perhaps not a s i g n a l v i r t u e , but the confusion of "Through the Panama" makes demands on the reader t h a t may not be e n t i r e l y j u s t i f i e d . The only order t o "Through the Panama" i s thematic. The intense weaving of character and event and p a r a l l e l i n the t a l e i s d e l i b e r a t e l y confusing and fragmented and per-haps has the perverse order necessary to the emphasis of the theme. The problem l i e s i n e s t a b l i s h i n g the theme and the v a r i o u s l e v e l s of complimentary i d e n t i t i e s that f l o w throughout the t a l e : here confusion as technique breaks down. Some c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the problem i s necessary be-cause i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the t a l e tends to take on the same somewhat fragmentary nature. As the Jou r n a l of S i g b j ^ r n Wilderness, "Through the Panama", begins c l e a r l y enough wi t h the departure from the c i t y of Vancouver at midnight on a dark, r a i n y November 7 t h . Aspects of the voyage are c l e a r enough: i t w i l l have the harshness of the night and already the peace of the beach shack i s a precious but l o s t q u a l i t y . ^ There i s a p o s s i b l e anagram or word play i n the name of the ship as comment on the c o n d i t i o n of Wilderness: S.S. Diderot, as S.S. Did-he-rot? There i s no evidence t h a t the pun i s i n t e n t i o n a l , but i t i s a p r o b a b i l i t y since p a r t of the theme i s the Malcolm Lowry, "Through the Panama", Hear Us 0 Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling P l a c e . New York, 1961, pp. 29-98; p. 29 A l l f u t u r e references are t o t h i s e d i t i o n . 54 decay or possible decay of Wilderness or the 'rot' of the human condition. Perhaps 'will he rot?' i s a better anagram for the purposes of the tale. Can man survive and keep his identity in a rotten world? The problem implied in the ques-tion, " w i l l he rot or did he rot?", i s the problem of the search for identity. Wilderness, in search of self i s immediately drawn into the maelstrom of reflected selves as his journal indicates: The further point i s that the novel i s about a character who becomes enmeshed in the plot of the novel he has written, as I did i n Mexico. But now I am becoming enmeshed in the plot of a novel I have scarcely begun. Idea i s not new, at least so far as enmeshment with characters i s concerned. (P. 30) The novel mentioned i s that of the story of Martin Trumbaugh, who later takes over Wilderness's journal and the journal becomes the journal of a journal. Trumbaugh, therefore, i s the character i n the novel who becomes enmeshed in the plot of the novel he i s writing. Wilderness's novel i s , in fact, Lowry's novel, "Under  the Volcano". But the novel that Wilderness i s now en-meshed in, i s his novel about Martin Trumbaugh for which he i s making the notes i n the journal of "Through the Panama." Hence the complexity of evident and possible mirror images. "Through the Panama" is a Chinese box with endless relays of hidden compartments and mysterious components that f i t only after several parts that apparently do not belong are found and placed i n their proper order. .55 Disorder, the focal point of Lunar Caustic, i s perhaps the key, or one of them, to "Through the Panama". Disorder becomes a means of establishing a place from which to work, observing the methods by which the characters attempt to establish order in their world. Plantagenet f a i l s to achieve the integration of character through disintegration, and ultimately remains i n the same condition. Wilderness, however, attempts through active disintegration, to esta-blish his identity within the framework of several possible identities as manifestations of the one discernible central identity which i s himself as Sigbj^rn Wilderness. He is an alcoholic and writer who, on an ocean voyage, makes a voyage of self discovery. He does this through his relationship with his wife and with his alter ego, Martin; through his examination of the physical and metaphysical elements of his active journey along the coast of Mexico, through the Panama Canal, and into the Caribbean; and through the pos-sible identities with the Ancient Mariner, and the story of the construction of the canal, as parallels. A l l these complexities, are offered the possibility of resolution and mitigation in Wilderness's notation in his journal: "Turn this into triumph: the furies into mercies." (p. 3D The furies being the demons of self that are implied in the above case which must be known prior to a state of resolu-tion. Wilderness's journal, that becomes Trumbaugh's Journal, i s f u l l of typically Lowrian statements about the condition 5 6 of man: The i n e n a r r a b l e i n c o n c e i v a -a b l y desolate sense of having no r i g h t to-be where you are: the b i l l o w s of i n e x h a u s t i b l e anguish haunted by the i n s a -t i a b l e a l b a t r o s s of s e l f , (p. 3D This one i s expressive of a q u a l i t y t h a t i s Wilderness's above a l l , h i s anguish at h i s own st a t e that i s mirrored i n the anguish of the Ancient Mariner a t the k i l l i n g of the a l b a t r o s s . E s s e n t i a l l y , t o r e l i e v e h i s own anguish t h i s i s what Wilderness must do: k i l l the a l b a t r o s s of the o l d s e l f i n order to be able to create the new s e l f t h a t i s necessary i n the Lowrian framework. The death of the-old s e l f i s achieved through the c r e a t i o n of the a l t e r ego t o t h a t s e l f as g i v e n i n the character of Trumbaugh. I d e n t i t y i s the one e s s e n t i a l i n a world of chaos and i d e n t i t y as a w r i t e r i s doubly important. Lowry, as Wilderness, must seek out and accept h i s a l t e r egos and i n the acceptance f i n d them un-necessary. He must f i n d them i n a place of a l i e n a t i o n and d i s p o s s e s s i o n . As the Ancient Mariner i s haunted by the a l b a t r o s s as symbol of g u i l t and cannot r e l i e v e h i m s e l f of i t u n t i l he expiates the g u i l t by b l e s s i n g the serpents of the sea; so Wilderness cannot lose the 'al b a t r o s s of s e l f u n t i l he accepts s e l f through a process of r e c o g n i t i o n not-u n l i k e t h a t endured by the Ancient Mariner i n h i s t e r r o r . Wilderness i s aware of the many s i m i l a r i t i e s between hi m s e l f and Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, and the prose p a r a l l e l i n the poem i s used as a prose p a r a l l e l i n Wilderness's j o u r n a l as comment upon what occurs i n the a c t u a l j o u r n a l of both 57 Wilderness and Trumbaugh. The journal of Sigbjjifrn Wilderness now becomes the jour-nal of Martin Trumbaugh as conceived by Wilderness, and the two merge to become aspects of one. Martin allows Wilderness to externalize himself and therefore operate the quest for sel f . Both men, separately and together, allow Lowry to create the past and the quest in terms of the method given later i n "The Forest Path to the Spring". Lowry i s both men i f only because they are separately writing his books: Wilderness, Under the Volcano; and Trumbaugh the proposed, Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend Is Laid. Wilderness Ts jotting of Trumbaugh*s jotting allows cryptic comment on the voyage of the ship, and on the voyage that i s the act of creation and search for self in a l l the possible images and mirrors of self as they may or may not exist as active qualities within the frame work of the quest. The shift from Trumbaugh, to Wilderness, to Lowry, i s rapid and occurs at random. Essential to the technique i s the ease of flow between a l l three and the f i n a l lack of separa-tion between them. They must for the purposes of the story move as one, and the link with a l l Lowry protagonists i s made in the link to Dana H i l l i o t as early Wilderness or precursor of Trumbaugh and Wilderness, and also as an element of Lowry himself whose early voyage gave the material for Ultramarine in which Dana H i l l i o t i s the protagonist, (p. 32) Melville too, i s a kind of dark force lurking somewhere behind a l l the disorder and confusion of "Through the Panama", brooding ob-58 scurely and heavily in the background. Because i t i s i n effect, a journal, "Through the Panama" i s of necessity a fragmented thing; confused and con-fusing, often very deliberately. Fragments of ideas, notes, and possibilities are scattered throughout the novella, at random. They do i n a way contribute to the direction and purpose of "Through the Panama", but to examine each aspect of these notes would require far too much space and contri-bute far too l i t t l e to either analysis or understanding of the novella. If "Through the Panama" i s the journal of a writer, we can perhaps ask and expect a mass of information that might or might not be used. However, "Through the Panama" often reads as though i t were just that: rough notes for a possible novel on the general theme of the problem of the a r t i s t . Despite the nature of the jottings, they seem to give at least echo to the idea of alienation and the search for self i n i t s several forms. The Consul, as brood-ing past-figure, i s almost everywhere, (p. 33) particularly as the S.S. Diderot cruises past the coast of Mexico - which i t s e l f i s in many ways a kind of manifestation of the plight of the Consul, i t reflects the plight of Wilderness as a place where he has been and known the terror of the Consul who comes into "Through the Panama" as a character in Wilderness's last novel, The Valley of the Shadow of Death  (Under the Volcano) and takes part in the forming of the new novel, Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend Is Laid, (pp 35-36) The Consul i s also resurrected as the John Firmin of the 59 newspaper c l i p p i n g (page 33), as someone who p r e c i p i t a t e s bad luck i n k i l l i n g the albatross. This i n turn l i n k s the Consul to the Ancient Mariner who i s already linked to Wilderness. The numberless r e f r a c t i o n s of the single experience with a l l t h e i r permutations and combinations continue i n ever increas-ing cycles of complexity. Conveniently, a Mr. Charon i s on the ship with Wilderness/Trumbaugh, and although he does not ac t u a l l y conduct the tour of s e l f , he i s there with a l l h i s mythical implications despite h i s ordinary e x t e r i o r . There i s l i t t l e point i n going on with any kind of detailed analy-s i s of t h i s aspect of "Through the Panama." It i s a confus-ing novella and u n t i l someone o f f e r s a detailed analysis of a l l i t s elements i t i s perhaps best to remain with those that are f a i r l y clear and evident of the general theme of the novella and of the cycle, The Voyage That Never Ends. The theme that i s central to "Through the Panama", and which i s l a t e r more c l e a r l y worked out i n "The Forest Path to the Spring", i s that of the problem of creation within the framework of the quest for i d e n t i t y and i s embodied i n a l l the complexity of the writer writing about the writer w r i t i n g . ^ Part of the quest f o r i d e n t i t y i s within the acceptance of the past and the working out of that past i n creative terms by building a f i c t i o n a l construct to esta b l i s h and i n a sense r i g i d i f y i t i n a ce r t a i n place. This i s ^ George Woodcock, "Under Seymour Mountain", Canadian  Li t e r a t u r e . No. 8, Spring 1961, p. 5 - . 60 Wilderness's quest through his use of Martin Trumbaugh and through his frantic attempts to assess the literature of his day to find a place within i t for himself (pp 73-78). It moves also through his involvement with the act of creation which for the a r t i s t i s his means of definition and assess-ment of self. Part of this assessment has to come from other people, through recognition by the very c r i t i c s who lack the soul to be able to recognize. Another problem in finding identity in what one creates i s that the construct can, and does for Wilderness, overwhelm and partially destroy the nex* mask of self that tries, with continual creation, to further establish i t s e l f and create the order that is lacking in i t s external world. Wilderness i s terrorized by his last book, The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Under the Volcano) to the point where-he i s a "Man not enmeshed by, but k i l l e d by his own book and "the malign forces i t arouses." (p. 38) The quest through creation seems to be ineffective or at least not without i t s own variations on the theme of h e l l . Creation becomes very evidently a form of destruction and for Lowry the function of his vision i s primarily a destructive thing out of which may come some form of positive resolution: The book should not be three books but six books, to be called The Voyage That Never  Ends, with The Valley in the middle. The Valley acts like a diabolic battery in the middle. Resolution should be triumphant, however. That i s to say i t i s certainly in my 61 power to make i t so. (p. 39) Here is Lowry/Wilderness's proposed cycle with a note of pos-sible positivity at the end. After the self has been torn into, and the masks removed, there i s room for the triumph of resolution that does occur in "The Forest Path to the Spring". "Through the Panama" is essentially destructive in i t s chaotic and fragmentary nature and i s a true reflection of the Lowry protagonist at the stage of approaching resolution. As an act of creation, through i t s form, i t comments on the condi-tion of Wilderness as he faces or does not face the 'albatross of s e l f . Sigb jj-frn Wilderness i s close to Plantagenet of Lunar  Caustic in the often low-keyed, but intense, terror of his position and imagination; which sees the same vague but i n -tense horror of his self: But I dream of death, a horrible dream, Grand Guignol, without merit: but so vivid, so palpable, i t seemed to contain some actual and freightful t a c t i l e threat, or prophesy, or warning: f i r s t there i s dissociation, I am not I, I am Martin Trumbaugh. But I am not Martin Trumbaugh or perhaps F i r -min either, I am a voice, yet with physical feelings, I enter what can only be describe — I won't describe i t , with teeth, that snap tight behind me: at the same time, in an inexplicable way, this i s like going through the Panama Canal, and what closes behind me i s , as i t were, a lock: in a sense I am now a ship, but I am also a voice and also Martin Trumbaugh, and now I am, or he i s , in the realm of death: this i s realm i s . . . . f u l l of noseless white 62 whores and ronyons with pulpy faces, i n fact their faces come to pieces when they touch them....Death himself is a hideous looking red-faced keeper of a prison, with half his face shot away, and one shattered leg whose shredsare s t i l l l e f t "untied"....he i s the keeper of the prison, and leads him or me or i t through the gates....he says i t i s a pity I have seen " a l l the show"....How can the soul take this kind of battering and sur-vive? It i s hard to believe that a disgusting and wicked dream of this nature has only been produced by the soul i t s e l f , in i t s passionated supplication to i t s unscrupu-lous owner to be cleansed. But i t has. (pp 39-40) This self i s , i n Lowry's terms, a product of i t s e l f . The ex-ternal chaos which surrounds i t i s f u l l y mirrored i n the chaos of the dream where identity becomes measured i n terms of death rather than l i f e and l i v i n g , and the fact of self demands pen-ance. This derives from the parallel text (page 40) which i s the prose parallel to the last four stanzas of part V of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". Then as Wilderness awakes from his dream, the parallel from Coleridge i s "The Mariner awakes, and his penance begins anew." The direct application of these parallels i s not clear except perhaps i n the supplication of the soul to cleanse i t s e l f , there i s the idea that this cleansing must be a painful thing and therefore can be seen as penance, a thing that must come, in a theolo-gic a l sense, before resolution and the implied redemption and salvation that are corollary of resolution i n Lowry's vision. 6 3 The self-analysis that occurs in the dream i s part of the quest for self and leads to an awareness of self that did not exist before on any level. The theme of the quest i s clearly here and operates i n the same manner as i t does in Lunar Caustic: Sigbj/^rn Wilderness... .could only pray for a miracle, that mira-culously some love of l i f e would come back. It has: apparently this retracing of a course was part of the main ordeal; and even at this moment knew i t to be no dream, but some strange symbol-ism of the future, (p. 44) The course must be retraced and as Wilderness passes by the coast of Mexico, his past, as man and writer enmeshed in his own novel, i s given to him almost as on a film where he has the strange feeling of seeing himself, isolated and alone i n time and surrounded by the 'infernal machine' of self and chaotic external world. The question 'Who am I?' given as interlineal to the text (page 47), depends entirely on who was I? Particularly: Who was I when that mask of me wrote the novel that now enmeshes me? There i s f i n a l l y , no real way to answer the question 'Who am I?' since 'I' i s i n a con-tinual state of becoming; inside a time that i s in continual state of flux and one which cannot be bound by an identity that i s only valid for the second in which i t i s conceived and then immediately becomes a past state that must i n f l u -ence the states to follow. The voyage, truly, never does end, and must continually repeat i t s e l f within a condition where only physical frames of reference really do change. 64 The basic problem is that self can only be defined under these conditions and these conditions lead to madness or at least to terror and almost complete alienation that must be continually fought in a state of unrelieved despair. Like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, whom 'agony constraineth', the Lowry protagonist travels from land to land within himself i n search of s e l f . There i s no f i n a l peace, not even in human love. There i s only i t s possibility and i n the very possibility l i e s the end of the quest: almost by definition something that cannot be f i n a l l y reached, but whose answer li e s in the reaching. Moving on the voyage both begins and completes the voyage and i n i t s f i r s t step i s i t s resolution. CHAPTER IV "The Forest Path to the Spring"| was intended by Lowry to be the f i n a l point i n the proposed cycle, The Voyage That  Never Ends* As such i t contains the elements, i n varied form, of the other works i n the cycle and brings these ele-ments to a point of resolution. Many things are offered in the cycle as poss i b i l i t i e s i n the quest for self, but they are never successfully accomplished in Under the Volcano. "Through the Panama", or Lunar Caustic. In each of these works, the protagonist, through his search for self, i s shown or has made available to him, the pos s i b i l i t i e s of redemp-tion. However, in no case does he successfully accomplish redemption through the exercise of the quest for self i n i t s varied masks. Human love i s the most consistent operative of redemption after self has been burned away, but i t i s never a complete success u n t i l "The Forest Path to the Spring", wherein the protagonist can and does achieve identity and equanimity of self i n conjunction with a natural world that i s not hostile, and the influence upon him of his love of his wife. In Lunar Caustic. "Through the Panama" and Under the Volcano, the natural world i s usually in counterpoint to the world of self of the protagonist. It i s a place of disorder 66 and chaos t h a t at l e a s t p a r t i a l l y accounts f o r the d i s o r d e r and chaos of the pr o t a g o n i s t ' s s e l f , and a i d s i n p r e c i p i t a t i n g him towards p o s s i b l e a l l e v i a t i o n of the c o n d i t i o n . In t h i s world the Consul i s f a r too a l i e n a t e d to be saved by the love of Yvonne, and Plantagenet cannot f i n d l o v e , t r u l y , i n h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h Garry and Kalowsky. SigbjVrn Wilderness i s put on the path t o redemption p a r t i a l l y through the a i d of Primrose, but i t i s n e i t h e r complete nor sure. In each of the above cases the quest f o r s e l f i s b a s i c a l l y u n s u c c e s s f u l . The masks have been t o r n away i n successive stages and the s o u l i s p r o g r e s s i v e l y more naked and more sure, but never completely so. I t remains f o r "The Forest Path to the Sp r i n g " t o make the completion a sure and p o s i t i v e t h i n g . In "The Forest Path to the Spr i n g " , Lowry i s Lowry. I t i s a long short s t o r y , but there i s no attempt made to give the p r o t a g o n i s t a f i c t i o n a l being. The d e d i c a t i o n i s t o h i s w i f e Margerie, and the whole s t o r y i s a l y r i c a l evocation of Lowry's home on the waterfront at D o l l a r t o n , B.C., and the land and sea that surround i t . The world t h a t was, at the time of w r i t i n g , enmeshed i n the Second War and the evidences of t h i s world, are never f a r away. The landscape too, and the sea of the immediate area, are not always evocative of peace and s t a b i l i t y . There are demons i n t h i s world too; demons that must be faced and accepted. They are faced and accepted and the quest f o r s e l f here achieves i t s meaning and, e s s e n t i a l l y , i t s v a l i d i t y as a purposeful and p o s s i b l e t h i n g . Redemption through self-knowledge i s r e a l and a c t u a l , 67 and occurs for the protagonist. The chaos of self comes to a point of resolution and The Voyage That Never Ends can theoretically begin again with a whole new series of masks to be found, identified and torn off. The protagonist i s a jazz musician and composer and hence generically, a creator who complies with his pre-decessors Plantagenet and Wilderness; who are either creators or those possessed of a creative sensitivity and awareness; giving to their plight i t s heightened intensity and vigor. He i s thus perceptive of his condition and able to examine i t carefully. The f i r s t chapter of "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s pure establishment of setting with i t s description of the others who squat on the beach and the place i t s e l f . The only note in common with Lunar Caustic and "Through the Panama", i s the name of the small community of squatters: Eridanus. This name i s taken from a wrecked steamer of the 'defunct Astra Line' lying in the inlet (p. 225). The wrecked ship has certain a f f i n i t i e s with the broken coal barge of Lunar Caustic, although i t s status as a symbol i s not so harsh or so pervading: This was Eridanus, and the wrecked steamer of the de-funct Astra Line that gave i t i t s name lay round the point beyond the light -house...! spare propellor blade upright against the break of the poop had never been removed. Down below water level weight and f u l -crum slept in an eternity of 68 s t i l l n e s s . Grass grew too from the downfalien cross-trees and in the dead winches wildflowers had taken root -wildflowers, spring beauties and death came with i t s creamy blooms.^-Eridanus too, i s a constellation in the heavens and i s known as the River of Life and the River of Death. Placed there by Jupiter i n remembrance of Phaeton, who like the Lowry protagonist, suffers f i r e to prove himself. Here the ship-wreck and the name of the ship provide for Lowry a combina-tion of images that keep current with the main theme of The  Voyage That Never Ends and provide some links to other works. The most important element i s the combination of the rivers: River of Life and River of Death. The image here i s clearly i n harmony with the problems of the quest for self. In the quest, l i f e and death are essential elements. Each old self in the progression of selves must die to make way for the next mask which in turn must give way to the next. If The Voyage That Never Ends is the quest for self as voyage and as quest i t combines l i f e and death of self i n a never ending cycle even after redemption and salvation have been reached in the moment of resolution. The quest i s a continuous thing and the reach-ing of one of i t s aspects of fulfillment does not preclude further reaching. x Malcolm Lowry, "The Forest Path to the Spring", Hear  Us 0 Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place. New York, 196T7 pp. 215-283, p.- 225. A l l future references are to this edition. 69 The setting of "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s i d y l l i c , but i t i s surrounded by immediate chaos and the peace of Eridanus i s perhaps a momentary thing: But s t i l l we did not see Eridanus as a place to l i v e . The war was on, many of the ships that passed and sent the commotion of their washes over the beach were cargoed with obscenities toward death...The shadow of the war was over everything. And while the people were dying in i t , i t was hard to be really happy within oneself. It was hard to know what was n aPPy» what was good. (p. 230) and the, ...calm sunlit face of the inlet turned...into the banks of some river of the dead, for was not Eridanus also the Styx? (p. 230) This i s the world where identity must be actively sought. The world that makes such seeking a necessary thing and where the effort of l i f e i s perhaps a probationary test for death, (p. 231) Life i s the 'Intermezzo1, a connecting movement, only a small part of something larger. The protagonist who lives "on the windrow of the world", w i l l be caught up and carried away i n the total chaos, his probationary period in the river of l i f e finished. "The Forest Path to the Spring" has the gentle inten-sity of something held onto against impossible odds that never f u l l y make their presence f e l t . It i s a lagoon of calm, on the edge of a maelstrom, that i s so calm that i t diminuendos the maelstrom, reducing i t to a workable size 70 and i n so doing removing much of i t s terror and obscenity; substituting love and joy as the only possible alternatives to such resounding chaos. In the end, nothing else makes sense and the ,'intermezzo' must be lived as symphony because in any other answer l i e s the madness of Lunar Caustic and "Through the Panama". It i s a necessary madness, yet seem-ingly totally destructive and non-redemptive. Self, perhaps, must be accepted as an island of peace provided that aware-ness of chaos i s not forgotten or reduced to a meaningless-ness that i t does not contain. Chaos i s real, but so too i s peace and the joy that i s a part of peace; however close to the edge of chaos i t may be. Peace and joy stem seemingly from human love and the action of that love that has a chance to operate free of the terror of the Consul's Mexico and the infernal city of New York that so plagues Plantagenet. The 'infernal machine' that mirrors man's alienation and loss of identity, does not really exist here, where there i s l i t t l e to interrupt the gradual assessment of self-realization. The possibilities of fragmentation that do exist, can be faced with courage and total being in a world where identi-fication with surrounding does not imply destruction. There i s i n shack and sea as counterpoint of the i n d i -vidual personality, a deep sense of purpose and rea l i t y as a breathing part of the whole universe: And suddenly, as I helped my wife out and tied up the boat, I was overwhelmed with a kind of love. Standing there, in defiance of eternity, and yet 71 as i f i n humble answer to i t , with their weathered sidings as much a part of the natural surroundings as a Shinto tem-ple i s of the Japanese land-scape, why had these shacks come to represent something to me of an indefinable good-ness, even a kind of great-ness? And some shadow of the truth that was later to come to me, seemed to steal over my soul, the feeling of some-thing that man had lost, of which these shacksand cabins, brave against the elements, but at the mercy of the de-stroyer, were the helpless yet stalwart symbol, of man's hunger and need for beauty, for the stars and the sunrise, (p. 232) This quality does not exist in Lowry's other work where the physical world merely reflects the terror of the internal world of the protagonist who seeks himself amidst chaos. Here i s where the possibilities of self l i e : in the harmony of man and nature where the duality of the human experience, the immedicable horror of opposites, can be medicated, despite the existence of the duality as a force of disrup-tion: One night, coming across the porch from the woodshed with a lantern in one hand and a load of wood under the other arm, I saw my shadow, gigantic, the logs of wood as big as a coffin, and this shadow seemed for a moment the glowering em-bodiment of a l l that threatened us; yes, even a projection of that dark chaotic side of my-self, my ferocious destructive ignorance, (p. 333) 72 The Mark chaotic side' of the self of the protagonist i s that in him which i s Wilderness and Plantagenet, the seeker after destruction, the man who i s under compulsion to enter the h e l l of his own being and face the horror therein, forced to do so by the gigantic shadow that i s the world which makes such search a necessity because i t so fosters separation and alienation. In a l l the v i t a l i t y of i t s complexity, the search for self becomes a compulsive act, f i n a l l y worked out by the protagonist through the 'grace' of his wife: And i t seemed to me that u n t i l I knew her I had lived my whole l i f e in darkness, (p. 234) Here i s the force of love that can bring peace and acceptance. The spring in "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s the cen-t r a l image and the place from which l i f e i s drawn. As the protagonist goes back and forth for water he i s able to assess his world and his own place in i t i n terms of the journey up and down the path and the-extensions that this journey allows him to make. The t r i p to the spring i s like a constant re-newal of self; more so in that i t i s not always positive, and the walk allows visions of the terror in the self that i s always there. But i t i s through this journey that the pro-tagonist renews and eventually finds himself: Here, we were living on the very windrow of existence....and yet i t seemed that we were i n heaven, and the world outside - so por-tentous in i t s prescriptions for man of imaginary needs that were in r e a l i t y his damnation - was h e l l , men were k i l l i n g each other, (p. 243) 73 The outside world i n Lowry i s always h e l l , always the place of terror and the place where the soul i s i n a constant state of turmoil and seige. This world can transpose i t s e l f to the world of the path to the world of the spring and can never be completely ignored: But a few evenings later, re-turning homeward along the path, I found myself possessed by the most violent emotion I had ever experienced in my life...A moment before I had been thinking how much I loved my wife, how thankful I was for our happiness, then I had passed to thinking about mankind, and now this once innocent emotion had become, for this i s indeed what i t was, hatred. It was not just ordinary hatred either, i t was a virulent and murderous thing that throbbed through a l l my veins like a passion...It was hatred so all-consuming and so absolutely implaccable that I was astounded at myself...it occurred to me that i n some mysterious way I had access to the fearful wrath that was sweeping the world, or that I stood at the mercy of the wild-forces of nature that I had read man had been sent into the world to redeem, or some-thing that was like the dreadful Wendigo, the aveng-ing, man-hating s p i r i t of the wilderness, the f i r e tortured forest, that the Indians feared and believed i n s t i l l . And in my agonized confu-sion of mind, my hatred and suffering were the forest f i r e i t s e l f , the destroyer, which i s here, there, a l l about; i t breathes, i t moves, and some-times suddenly turns back on i t s tracks and even commits suicide, behaving as though i t 74 had an idiot mind of i t s own; so my hatred became a thing in i t s e l f , the pat-tern of destruction, (p. 243) The hatred later turns back upon the protagonist to exercise i t s self-destructive elements. Here i s the terror of self, the terrible dichotomy of self: the urge and the necessity to destroy i t s e l f in pain and fear. Plantagenet i s faced with this, and so, too, i s Wilderness, a desire, sudden, and with-out real volition, to purge the self; brought on by the realization of the terror of self i n a chaotic world that operates without reason. It moves as mindlessly as an 'in-fernal machine', long beyond the control of i t s human de-signers and operators. The machine moves as the forest f i r e with malignant purposelessness, destroying at random without pattern. The self for Lowry i s like the f i r e i n that i t i s v i r t u a l l y uncontrollable, at the mercy of the demon Wendigo that i s a l l that i s unknown about the self. The vague but terrible emphasis that so affects the Consul and Plantagenet in their hopeless search for being. It i s , too, the demon of self-possession that i s fostered by alcohol, opening up vistas of self that usually remain hidden. For Lowry, this inner terror i s perfectly reflected in the demonology of the forest f i r e with a l l i t s rootless power. The protagonist of "The Forest Path to the Spring" has that element i n man which causes him to destroy a l l that i n himself which i s good; building his 'tower of Babel' that i s only a tower of fragmented alienation where each man needs, 75 but cannot have, the harmony of the rest-cure of the forest and sea-shore. Man i s out of harmony with his world, the real world of place and time. A l l the frantic search for that real world in terms of the false world cannot succeed. Time and space present a vision of horror when they are seen outside their true context, when they are measured against an unnatural world that demands of man that he lose his iden-t i t y in order to function within i t . Identity i s in love and in the harmonious relationship, not necessarily with nature, but with the idea of nature. It i s i n the core of human ex-perience that i s in self-realization within this framework. The chaos is accepted and reduced to i t s proper perspective, choice becomes an operative thing. Renewal i s possible and i t s terms are determined by the world that exists i n chaos. The world outside that of "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s a place of f i l t h , the barranca that the Consul was thrown into. Self cannot be found i n a barranca; a l l that i s there i s the o f f a l of c i v i l i z a t i o n . The quest cannot truly operate under these conditions, only where man i s in tune can he be as a man in a true pattern of self-fulfillment. Damnation is real and ever present, but i t need not be victorious. The protagonist of "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s able to avoid i t by finding what amounts to a healthy self in the 'paradise T of the forest place. Despite the fact that the forest place i s 'paradise' i t i s not a place without doubt. The possibility that i t is a false paradise i s always there i n a very real sense since i t 76 i s separate from what may be the 'actual* world that i s out-side. It cannot be successfully forgotten or ignored even within the happiness of the i d y l l i c world: Could one translate this kind of happiness into one's l i f e ? Since this was only a moment of happiness I seemed involved with irreconcilable impulses. One could not make a moment permanent and perhaps the at-tempt to try was some form of e v i l . But was there not some means of suggesting at least the existence of such happi-ness, that was like what i s really meant by freedom which was like the spring, which was like our love, which was like the desire to be truly good, (p. 255) Escapism, romanticism, the pale harmony of a wispy nature lover? There are elements of a l l these in Lowry and i n his attitude to the nurtured world of "The Forest Path to the Spring". But there are problems. "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s part of the proposed cycle, The Voyage That Never  Ends. The quest for self i s just that voyage, and the im-plications of continuity are not i n the above quotation. Lowry i s seeking a kind of fixed status in a place that i s "out of this world", away from the conditions that give rise to the Consul, Plantagenet, and Wilderness, and horribly or not, this world does exist and the barranca i s there. These are problems the protagonist i s aware of, but for him which he can find no solution even within the framework of peace overlooking h e l l (p. 256). Lowry seems to feel the need for 'paradise', and yet to be always aware that i t exists as a 77 tenuous thing within the centre of he l l and i s perhaps only a resting place offered briefly, and to few. Yet within the cycle, "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s ihe passage of reso-lution and salvation where quest reaches some kind of positive point. Perhaps the positivity l i e s in the ambiguity and the tenuousness of the situation. Perception of self within a , context of quest i s brief and paradisal, a combination of event and feeling against which the mathematical odds are fantastic. This would make i t well won. Part of the prob-lem with "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s that i t i s , or seems, too dearly won in the light of the struggles of the Consul, Plantagenet, and Wilderness. It i s too easy, too i d y l l i c , and at the same time, too tenuous. Peace, i f i t i s attainable for these men as one man, should be emphatically positive and clearly attained. In the season of Spring, the tr i p along the path to the spring brings to the protagonist the f i n a l molding of his position as questing self. Resolution i s offered and salva-tion i s achieved. The validit y of that salvation in external terms is the problem, how far outside the forest world does i t apply and can chaos be so easily met with hope and trust and love? The going to the spring for water i s at f i r s t a pleasant chore; a kind of daily regeneration exists in the physical act i t s e l f and in the joy of return to his wife. Then i t be-comes d i f f i c u l t and without joy: ...I had to find something to 78 i r k me i n t h i s chore. I t was as though man would not be contented w i t h anything God gave him and I could only t h i n k t h a t when God e v i c t e d him from Paradise i t served him r i g h t , (p. 260) At the s p r i n g , wait the 1 a w e - i n s p i r i n g thoughts' t h a t are perhaps those of despair and t e r r o r of s e l f ; faced w i t h nothing t o make the f a c i n g simpler or l e s s i n t e n s e . These thoughts lead him to consider s u i c i d e not i n Lowry's terms, a p o s i t i v e a c t since i t a f f i r m s the d e n i a l of s e l f t h a t he attempt through the quest f o r s e l f to r e f u t e , (p. 260) S u i c i d e i s i m p l i c i t i n the a c t i o n of the chaotic world and the Consul's death i s almost a v o l u n t a r y t h i n g , something he a c t i v e l y seeks out as he moves toward the volcano. The pro-t a g o n i s t ' s f e e l i n g i s more than the malaise of a s i c k world and mixed w i t h i t i s the joy of r e t u r n t o h i s w i f e . But i t i s a journey of anguish; anguish of the voyage of s e l f back-ward c e a s e l e s s l y through the past; a journey t h a t i s empha-t i c a l l y meaningless since i t i s not out of the past as past, that hope and r e s u r r e c t i o n w i l l come (p. 261). The voyage of past i s necessary, but as a s e r i e s of d e s t r u c t i v e crea-t i v e a c t s , not as p a t t e r n or problem f o r the here-and-now. The past, however, remains as part of the present; a part which must be seen and known. The cougar on the path i s Lowry's symbol f o r a l l the t e r r o r of the past that i s the present of the Consul, Plantagenet, and Wilderness. I t becomes the chaos of the demon world t h a t pervades even a s u b s t i t u t e paradise w i t h 79 i t s faceless menace: ...I must have been afraid i n some way of the lion—but at the h i l l on the spring path been already gripped by the anticipation of a so much greater fear that the con-crete fact of even a l i o n had been unable to displace i t . What was i t I feared? Lying in bed with my arms around my wife, listening to the roar of the surf we couldn ft see, for i t was a fierce low t i d e — I f e l t so happy that a l l of a sudden for the l i f e of me I could not give i t a name. It seemed something past, and that was what i t was, though not i n the sense i n which I was thinking...It was as though I had entered the soul of a past self, not that of the self that merely brooded by night, but an earlier self to whom sleep meant delirium, my thoughts chasing each other down a gulf. Half conscious I told myself that i t was as though I had actually been on the lookout for something on the path that had seemed ready, on every side, to spring out of our paradise at us, that was nothing so much as the embodi-ment in some fr i g h t f u l animal form of those nameless somnam-bulisms' s, guilts, ghouls of past delirium, wounds to other souls and lives, ghosts of ac-tions approximating to murder, even of my own actions i n this l i f e , betrayals of self and I know not what, ready to leap out and destroy me, to destroy us, and our happiness, so that when, as i f in answer to a l l this, I saw a mere lion how could I be afraid? And yet mysteriously the lion was a l l that too. (pp 263-264) 80 The cougar then, embodies the t e r r o r of fragmented s e l f , the d e l i r i u m of Plantagenet and the dismay of Wilderness i n t h e i r f r a n t i c search f o r i d e n t i t y and a way out of t h e i r oppressive sense of a l i e n a t i o n . I t i s a l l the nameless horror of end-l e s s h e l l , where every step i s one taken i n f e a r and trembling over the edge of the barranca. The nameless horror i s that of e x i s t e n c e . The s t a t e of being t h a t makes i t necessary t o make the journey of s e l f i s the anguish of being a man and of coming to terms w i t h an existence that seems always to be mere prelude t o death. Death, since i t i s unknown and f e a r e d , must be fought; but i t has the strange and v i t a l a t -t r a c t i o n of the unknown. I t i s as though Lowry seeks t o destroy s e l f i n order to f i n d the peace and order t h a t must e x i s t i n death when the h o r r o r of opposites can no longer e x i s t . P a r t of the anguish i s i n the attempt t o create a c o n s t r u c t t h a t embodies the h o r r o r and the beauty of e x i s t -ence and which comes to terms w i t h a l l the t e r r i b l e d i c h o t o -mies which e x i s t as c o r o l l a r y to being a l i v e I n t h i s world t h a t i s e i t h e r i n , or perched on the edge o f , h e l l . The f e a r and wonder of l i f e are embodied i n the cougar. In acceptance of the cougar and acceptance of the f e a r and wonder of human l i f e i s the r e s o l u t i o n of the 'immedicable o p p o s i t e s ' . Accept death as the end of existence and then there i s time and space enough f o r the acceptance of l i f e and of the c r e a t i o n of l i f e : At the same time I became conscious of my gloomy thoughts again, but i n a 81 quite d i f f e r e n t way: how can I say i t : I t i s as i f I saw those thoughts at a d i s t a n c e , as i f below me. In one sense I d i d not see them but heard them, they flowed, they were l i k e a r i v e r , an i n l e t , they com-p r i s e d a whole p r o j e c t im-p o s s i b l e to recapture or p i n down. Nonetheless those thoughts, and they were abysmal, not happy as I would have wished, made me happy i n t h a t , though they were i n motion they were i n order too: an i n l e t does not overflow i t s banks, however high the t i d e , nor does i t dry up, the t i d e goes out, but i t comes i n again, i n f a c t . . . i t can do both a t once; I was aware tha t some horrendous ex- tr e m i t y of s e l f - o b s e r v a t i o n * was going t o be necessary to f u l f i l l my p r o j e c t , (pp 265-266) The p r o j e c t i s The Voyage That Never Ends, and i t was here t h a t through the 'horrendous extremity of s e l f - o b s e r v a t i o n ' the meaning of the quest was to be found. The b u i l d i n g of a construct based on the harrowing of s e l f would be a s t a t e -ment of order i n the midst of d i s o r d e r , and would provide a rendering t h a t would give experience meaning; i t would i d e n -t i f y the a i l i n g s o u l and i n the process of i d e n t i t y give t h a t s o u l a v a l i d i t y t h a t i t d i d not have before. Chapter Seven of "The Forest Path to the Sp r i n g " con-* I t a l i c s mine 82 t a i n s a b a s i c key to Lowry's conception of h i s work and i t s meaning. In t h i s chapter he de s c r i b e s the problems he has wi t h h i s c y c l e and i t s a c t u a l c r e a t i o n , a l l i n mu s i c a l terms, si n c e i n the n o v e l l a the prot a g o n i s t i s a composer and beset wi t h the complexity of ord e r i n g h i s v i s i o n and c r e a t i n g w i t h i n i t a construct expressive of a l l the nuances of that v i s i o n w i t h f o r c e and i n t e n s i t y . In the p h y s i c a l c r e a t i o n of the v i s i o n l i e s t r u e i d e n t i t y , f o r the v i s i o n must come out of the 'horrendous extremity of s e l f - o b s e r v a t i o n ' and proceed of that s e l f o b s e r v a t i o n . There are problems i n the c r e a t i o n of the symphony, problems immediately bound up w i t h s e l f conception and what amounts to the orde r i n g of s e l f : But d e s p i t e my prayers my symphony refused t o order i t s e l f or re s o l v e i t s e l f i n musical terms. Yet I saw what I had to do c l e a r l y . I heard these thoughts o r -der i n g themselves as i f pushed o f f from me: they were a g o n i z i n g , but they were c l e a r , and they were my own... (p. 267) I t i s necessary t h a t the composer distance h i s thoughts, see them r e f l e c t e d i n the agony of another created s e l f . Remov-in g the mus i c a l to the l i t e r a r y , the intended symphony i s The Voyage That Never Ends, and each sequence of the c y c l e i s an extension of Lowry's own p e r s o n a l i t y , as i f pushed o f f , a g o n i z i n g , and i n terms of i t s own framework, c l e a r . Each f i g u r e i n each part of the c y c l e i s an aspect of the con-sciousness t h a t goes t o the s p r i n g and determines the need 83 for cauterizing the self in order to present the vision of self that i s v i t a l and in need of expression. The symphony must be written because: ....I f e l t that no matter how grotesque the manner in which my inspiration proposed to work through me, I had something original to express. Here was the beginning of an honesty, a sort of truthfulness to truth, where there had been nothing before but truthfulness to dis-honesty and self-evasion and to thoughts and phrases and even melodies that were not my own... Ortega has i t that a man's l i f e i s like a f i c t i o n that he makes up as he goes along, (pp 267-268) Here i s the statement for the need of Lowry's creative con-struct and also one of the basic a r t i s t i c or thematic ele-ments. It i s implied in the paraphrase of Ortega that Lowry turns into an examination of what i s effectively the same central consciousness; the one which he creates in H i l l i o t , Plantagenet, the Consul, and Wilderness, as i t progresses towards some kind of re a l i t y by building on i t s own destruc-tion i n i t s several stages to reach a point of order and f i n a l establishment of self in a process that must become, once travelled, a regenerative thing. The force involved i s that of removing the layers of self in creative agony: As a matter of fact I never doubted that i t was the force i t s e l f that was k i l l i n g me... and I was i n every way de-lighted that i t should, for my whole intention seemed to be to die through i t , without dying of course that I might become reborn, (p. 268) 84 Through the extensive and intense harrowing of self comes peace and acceptance and regeneration which i s the most im-portant fact of a l l . If the result of the quest for self and the terror involved in that quest does not result in the affirmation of self; then the context of quest and the reality of self become i n i t i a l l y meaningless things and the whole con-struct loses what validit y i t might have. If suffering i s a waste of time and energy; i f there i s nothing to be learned from facing self; then the whole question i s absurd and the quest a colossal bad joke with overtones of ironic horror. With Lowry's precepts the movement along the path and a l l that i t implies i s valid and essentially good. The movement along the path becomes an assertion of the vali d i t y of the whole quest for self. It i s f i n a l l y a mysti-cal experience that has no definition only a sense of surety and a l l the possible paths become one, with a l l their possible associations with the many levels of se l f . The act of voyag-ing self that moves along these varied paths in search of identity that i s a merging with time: What i f the path became shorter and shorter u n t i l I should disappear altogether one evening, when coming back with the water? (p. 269) The search for self operates primarily i n a dislocated world. A world like time i s an aspect of that dislocation and chaos, because the world i s centered i n i t s own false conception of time. If the self can merge with time then i t no longer exists in opposition with time. But there are also the 85 elements of h o r r o r i n t h i s f o r the protagonist and h i s wife and the i n f e r e n c e i s not taken up. (p. 270) The path, how-ever, remains a symbol of " c l e a n s i n g and purgation and r e -newal..." becoming the b a s i c theme of the proposed opera t h a t has taken the place of the symphony, (p. 271) The new con-s t r u c t w i l l express the whole complexity of place and being i n the search f o r s e l f . The events of the f i n a l chapter of "The Forest Path t o the S p r i n g " occur some years a f t e r those o f the preceding chapters and narrate the r e t u r n of the p r o t a g o n i s t and h i s wife to the place from which they have moved i n a s p i r i t u a l and a p h y s i c a l sense. The r e t u r n i s described i n tones even more l y r i c a l than those used to narrate the a c t u a l e x p e r i -ence, and the l a s t chapter moves much as the l a s t movement i n a symphony towards restatement and e l a b o r a t i o n of per-s i s t e n t themes w i t h a f i n a l almost e t h e r e a l passage of ac-ceptance and a f f i r m a t i o n . I t i s Lowry's f i n e s t piece o f 'pure' w r i t i n g ; theme and method are combined i n a r e a l har-mony from which d e r i v e s the f i n a l power of the v i s i o n and i t s c o n struct and f i n a l l y , the m y s t i c a l nature of the ex-perience that denies d e f i n i t i o n . The i d y l l i c world of the f o r e s t path has, e s s e n t i a l l y , changed l i t t l e . Some of the i n h a b i t a n t s are gone, but the same mood of place separate from the maelstrom of the world o u t s i d e , i s t h e r e . So too, i s the path; although the reac-t i o n t o the o l d experience has changed: How wrongly we i n t e r p r e t e d 86 t h a t whole strange e x p e r i -ence. Or r a t h e r how was i t th a t i t had never occurred to us, s e r i o u s l y , to i n t e r -p r e t i t at a l l , l e t alone see i t as a warning, a form of message, even as a mes-sage t h a t shadowed f o r t h a k i n d of strange command, a command t h a t , i t seemed t o me, I had obeyedI And y e t , a l l my heeding of any warn-i n g i t contained would not have averted the s u f f e r i n g immediately ahead. Only dimly, even now, d i d I un-derstand i t . Sometimes I f e l t t h a t the path has only seemed to grow shorter be-cause the burden, the can-i s t e r , had grown l i g h t e r as I grew p h y s i c a l l y s t r onger. Then again I could become convinced t h a t the s i g n i f i -cance of the experience l a y not i n the path a t a l l , but i n the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t i n converting the very c a n i s t e r I c a r r i e d , the ladder down which I climbed every time I went to the s p r i n g — i n con-v e r t i n g both these d e r e l i c t s to use I had p r e f i g u r e d something I should have done w i t h my s o u l . Then of course...there was the l i o n . But I lacked s p i r i t u a l equip-ment t o f o l l o w such thoughts through. This much I under-stood, and had understood t h a t as a man I had become ty r a n n i z e d by the past, and that i t was my duty t o t r a n -scend i t i n the present. Yet my new v o c a t i o n was i n v o l v e d w i t h using t h a t p a s t — f o r t h i s was the un d e r l y i n g mean-i n g of my symphony even my o p e r a . . . — w i t h t u r n i n g i t i n t o use f o r ot h e r s . And t o do t h i s , even before w r i t i n g a note, i t was necessary to face t h a t past as f a r as p o s s i b l e 87 without f e a r . Ah yes, and i t was t h a t , that I had begun t o do here. (p. 279) The Voyage That Never Ends i s Lowry's attempt to transcend the past i n the present. He uses the experience of the past to a f f e c t the t r a n s c e n s i o n , to b u i l d meaning f o r the present. • The examination of the past through the v a r i o u s m i r r o r images of the s i n g l e s e l f i n i t s v a r i e d forms or masks, e f f e c t s the tr a n s c e n s i o n through i t s i m p l i e d a c t of tyranny and s e l f -a b s o r p t i o n . To a f f e c t the t r a n s i t i o n , the past must be ex-amined i n h o r r i f y i n g d e t a i l without p i t y or remorse. The quest f o r i d e n t i t y i n the here-and-now must of n e c e s s i t y , proceed from what has gone before; i n the past are the r o o t s of the present. The path leads the protagonist t o acceptance of the f a c t t h a t he must s c a r i f y h i s past i n order to e s t a -b l i s h h i s present. In t h i s a c t of acceptance of the neces-s i t y of s e l f - e x a m i n a t i o n , acceptance of s e l f has been accom- • p l i s h e d . What f o l l o w s i s necessary, but the f i r s t a ct i s the most important. Here i s the a c t of s a l v a t i o n , which f o r Lowry i s a p o s i t i v e t h i n g d e r i v i n g from the p o s i t i v e a c t i o n of ac-cepting the r e a l i z a t i o n t h a t i d e n t i t y l i e s i n r e c o g n i t i o n of past i d e n t i t i e s as they are worked out i n Ortega's 'novel of l i f e ' . The past must be taken, not as a burden or something which denies i d e n t i t y , but as an a f f i r m a t i o n of i d e n t i t y when i t i s used t o e s t a b l i s h the present i n the harmonious tones of u n i t y of s e l f . That Lowry h i m s e l f could not apply what he had appar-e n t l y learned to h i s own l i f e , does not i n v a l i d a t e h i s 88 establishment of the quest f o r s e l f . He could not come t o terms w i t h h i s s e l f w i t h the same ease as h i s protagonist c o u l d . The tyranny and t e r r o r were w i t h him always, and yet h i s m i r r o r image succeeds. The f o r e s t path i s the end r e -s u l t of the quest and that end i n "The Fo r e s t Path to the Sp r i n g " , i s a p o s i t i v e one. The Voyage That Never Ends i s not over; i t can never be 'over* but i t has reached a point where order takes over from d i s o r d e r , o f f e r i n g them the p o s s i b i l i t y of f u r t h e r moves toward harmony of s e l f . The i d y l l i c world can and does e x i s t on the edge of the chaotic maelstrom, but peace and acceptance are th e r e , surrounded by chaos and d i s o r d e r . What has happened i s th a t s e l f and past are seen i n r e l a t e d p erspective i n a st a t e of present being. The t e r r o r of the quest f o r past has been j u s t i f i e d by the harmony of the present. CHAPTER V The preoccupations of Malcolm Lowry as man and w r i t e r are the common preoccupations of many w r i t e r s i n the t w e n t i -eth century. The problem i s one of i d e n t i t y , and the s o l u -t i o n appears to l i e i n the v a r i o u s forms of establishment of s e l f i n a framework of i n t e r n a l and e x t e r n a l order w i t h i n the p a t t e r n chosen by the a r t i s t . The p a t t e r n chosen by Malcolm Lowry i s c y c l i c a l . In the framework of a s e r i e s of r e l a t e d c o n s t r u c t s , he attempts to b u i l d an i n t e g r a t e d t o t a l con-s t r u c t t h a t w i l l express the c o n d i t i o n s of h i s v i s i o n i n t h e i r c l e a r e s t and most l o g i c a l form. The c y c l e , The Voyage That Never Ends, remained incom-p l e t e at the time of Lowry's death i n 1957• I t s extant elements c l e a r l y evidence the theme of Lowry's c y c l e , how-ever, i n t h e i r examination of the problems of the quest f o r i d e n t i t y through statement of the search f o r s e l f i n i n d i v i -d u a l terms. Lowry reaches the i d e n t i t y of h i s pro t a g o n i s t through the v a r i o u s masks of t h a t protagonist i n h i s s e v e r a l works. Dana H i l l i o t i n Ultramarine. Plantagenet i n Lunar C a u s t i c , the Consul i n Under the Volcano. SigbjjZ>rn Wilderness i n "Through the Panama", and the unnamed p r o t a -g o n i s t of "The Forest Path to the Spr i n g " , are the s e v e r a l masks of the Lowry f i g u r e . The i d e n t i t y of the separate 90 selves i s a t i t s r o o t s , a common one. Each share elements of a s i n g l e past which i s e s s e n t i a l l y the past of t h e i r c r e a -t o r ; and each attempt to come to harmonious terms w i t h that past through a k i n d of s e l f - r e a l i z i n g p u r g a t i o n . Lunar C a u s t i c . "Through the Panama", and "The Forest Path to the S p r i n g " , are three steps i n the quest f o r s e l f . As a w r i t e r f i n d i n g i d e n t i t y i n the re-working of h i s own p a s t , Lowry used t h a t past e x t e n s i v e l y . The h o s p i t a l of Lunar Caustic i s New York's B e l l v u e , where Lowry had been as a patient. 1 The sea voyage of "Through the Panama", i s one t h a t Lowry took w i t h h i s wife s h o r t l y a f t e r the p u b l i c a t i o n of Under the Volcano. The 'Eridanus' of "The Forest Path t o the Spring", i s Lowry's D o l l a r t o n home on the north shore of Burrard I n l e t . The Mexico of Under the Volcano and the two unpublished novels, La Mordida and Dark as the Grave Wherein  My F r i e n d i s L a i d , i s the Mexico th a t Lowry knew, Lowry i s w r i t i n g about h i m s e l f , but t h i s does not erase the v a l i d i t y of what he d e r i v e s from seeking, i n h i s work, some clue t o h i s own i d e n t i t y . Lowry regarded the a r t i s t as m i r r o r f o r man and, t h e r e f o r e , while the s p e c i f i c reference of The  Voyage That Never Ends i s Lowry h i m s e l f , the general r e f e r -ence i s to a l l men: The r e a l p r o t a g o n i s t of the Voyage i s not so much a man 1 Conrad Knickerbocker, "Malcolm Lowry and the outer c i r c l e of h e l l " , The P a r i s Review. 29, Winter/Spring 1963, p. 12. 91 or a w r i t e r as the uncon-scious - or man's unconsci-ous - ...2 The unconscious of the w r i t e r or c r e a t o r t h a t i s i n the Lowry p r o t a g o n i s t , i s m i r r o r f o r the unconscious of man i n the tw e n t i e t h century; surrounded as he i s by chaos and the f o r -ces of a l i e n a t i o n and d e s p a i r . The three n o v e l l a s examined i n t h i s paper are evidence of the progressive nature of the quest as Lowry conceived i t . They proceed from a point of almost complete negation i n Lunar C a u s t i c ; through the r a t h e r hazy p o s s i b i l i t i e s of "Through the Panama"; to the f i n a l redemptive note i n "The Forest Path to the S p r i n g " . Man can, and does, achieve s e l f -knowledge i n i t s f u l l e s t sense d e s p i t e the powerful f o r c e s t h a t d i s t u r b the quest f o r that knowledge. Through the open-i n g of the wound of the past, and the c a u t e r i z i n g of that wound; comes acceptance of s e l f . The past must be known and e s t a b l i s h e d i n i t s proper perspective i n terms of the pre-sent. I t must be made to serve the present and not act as an impediment t o the growth of the s e l f t h a t i s accepted by Lowry, i n the t i t l e of h i s pr o j e c t e d c y c l e - The Voyage That  Never Ends - as something necessary to l i f e . The s e l f must move, and i t s movement i s accomplished through the removal of the masks of i d e n t i t y t h a t e x i s t i n the past. d Lowry, L e t t e r t o A l b e r t E r s k i n e , ( D o l l a r t o n Spring 1953), L e t t e r s , pp. 331-332. . 92 The nature of the quest f o r s e l f demands that i t be, a t l e a s t i n i t i a l l y , a d e s t r u c t i v e t h i n g . Each aspect of the past must be destroyed before a new s e l f can e x i s t to be i n t u r n destroyed by another new s e l f . The a r t i s t i c construct that embodies t h i s process of c r e a t i v e d e s t r u c t i o n , e s t a b l i s h e s a f i n a l , o v e r a l l statement of c r e a t i o n ; although the b u i l d i n g of t h i s c onstruct may destroy i t s c r e a t o r . Constant, i n -tense s e l f - a p p r a i s a l can only lead e v e n t u a l l y to s e l f -d e s t r u c t i o n . Lowry, i n h i s i n a b i l i t y t o remove h i m s e l f from h i s work, f i n a l l y and e f f e c t i v e l y , destroyed h i m s e l f . The i m p l i c a t i o n s of Lowry's l i f e and h i s work are that t o be destroyed i s not to be defeated, and t h a t to destroy o n e s e l f , i f one i s an a r t i s t , i s to achieve v i c t o r y . I t was necessary t h a t Lowry l i v e as he d i d t o w r i t e as he d i d ; i t seems e q u a l l y necessary t h a t the c o n d i t i o n s of h i s l i f e should have made i t impossible f o r him t o complete the l i t -e r a r y r e - c r e a t i o n of h i s s u f f e r i n g . The Voyage That Never  Ends can never end, a t l e a s t not by a d i r e c t a c t of w i l l on the part of the voyager. To f u l f i l l i t s own terms, the voyage must be cut o f f i n mid-stream, ending as i t began i n an undetermined place a t an undetermined time. Lowry sought i n h i s work to order and c o n t r o l h i s own existence w i t h i n the world which gave th a t e x i s t e n c e a framework i n which to be, and i n terms of the past which determines the present. He f a i l e d , i f i t i s a f a i l u r e , be-cause of the t o t a l i m p o s s i b i l i t y of being able to do t h i s s u c c e s s f u l l y , using h i m s e l f as e n t i r e f o c a l p o i n t . Such 93 Such self-knowledge i s presumably g i v e n only t o those who a r e , 'close to God', and Lowry was not one of the chosen i n t h a t r e s p e c t . The 'Holy F i r e ' burnt him to death and l e f t The Voyage That Never Ends as a passionate and confused testament to the a b s u r d i t y and the n e c e s s i t y of s a l v a t i o n through s e l f - a c c e p t a n c e . He i s , f i n a l l y , a very good w r i t e r , and could perhaps have been a great one had h i s v i s i o n not taken the d i r e c t i o n which i t d i d , l i m i t i n g him to only one complete, mature, n o v e l . I t i s , however, i n h i s v i s i o n t h a t Lowry i s unique and where h i s p o s s i b l e greatness l i e s ; the f a c t that the v i s i o n d e s t roys, does not d i s t u r b i t s e f f i c a c y . Bibliography Breit, Harvey and Lowry, Margerie B., eds. Selected Letters  of Malcolm Lowry. New York, 1965. Lowry, Malcolm. Ultramarine. Toronto, 1963» . Under the Volcano. New York, 1965. . Hear Us 0 Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place. 196l^New York^? Periodicals: Aiken, Conrad. "Malcolm Lowry - A Note"/ Canadian  Literature..No. 8 (Spring, 1961) pp. 29-30. Heilman, Robert B. "The Possessed Artist and the Ailing Soul". Canadian Literature. No. 8 (Spring, 1961) pp. 7-16. Kirk, Downie. "More than Music". Canadian Literature. No. 8 (Spring, 1961) pp. 31-38. Knickerbocker, Conrad. "Malcolm Lowry and the outer circle of h e l l " . The Paris Review. 29 (Winter/Spring, 1963) pp. 12-13. "The Voyages of Malcolm Lowry". Prairie  Schooner, vol. XXXVII (1963/64) pp. 304-312. 95 Lowry, Malcolm. "Lunar C a u s t i c " . The P a r i s Review. 29 (Winter/Spring 1963) pp. 15-72. Lowry, Malcolm. "Preface to a Novel". Canadian L i t e r a t u r e No. 9 (Summer, 1961) pp. 23-29. McConnell, W i l l i a m . " R e c o l l e c t i o n s of Malcolm Lowry". Canadian L i t e r a t u r e . No. 6 (Autumn, i960) pp. 24-31. Woodcock, George. "Under Seymour Mountain". Canadian  L i t e r a t u r e No. 8 (Spring, 1961) pp. 3-6. 

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