Sunday, 19 September 2010

What had become of his soul? From Warnie Lewis's diary

Excerpt from Friday 1 June 1951:

"I sat between Gervase and Nevill Coghill, talking mainly to the latter who was, as always, very interesting. (...)

"We then got on to the Russian torturers, and their claim to be able to remake a man and turn him out as [an] obedient and totally different person.

"What, in that case, said Nevill, had become of his soul? Where was it?

"He was thinking, he told me, of writing a play about a man who had been thus tortured; he would always be on stage with a double, one the real or original man, the other manufactured by the NVDK pr whatever it is.

"The other players would of course see only one man.

"A most remarkable fellow is Nevill, I wish I saw more of him."

From Brothers and Friends - The diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis. Edited by CS Kilby and ML Mead. 1982.

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Comment - where *was* the soul?

Still inside him, I guess, only cut off from all communication with others - hence withered and apparently helpless - or, more exactly, unable to help itself.

I think I have known a lot of people who seemed like this - not due to torture, but simply that there seemed to be nothing visible to them except a superficial and unconvincing social personal.

This was not necessarily an horrific social persona - indeed often enough it was a pleasant polite, generous social persona. But one that seemed wholly artificial, rootless, ungrounded.

In fact, I think that *most* people, especially most intelligent people, that I have met in my life seem pretty much like this: such that one wonders where their soul is.

Concealed, in a shell, not perceptible to me, at any rate.

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But I would guess that the (apparently) soul-less-human (actually the soul-dissociated human) was less commonly found in Warnie Lewis's era and environment, when there were more 'whole' men - and that the SDH is substantially a product of late, terminal-stage modernity.