Monday, May 13, 2013
In our weekly book club we are working through Edmund Spenser's, The Faerie Queene. In Book One, the evil arch magician, Archimago, features large in the narrative. As we discussed the Canto in question at the time, I mentioned as an aside the inherent evil of Ariel Castro, a topical current event I thought mildly relevent to our discussion. I was immediately challenged by my friend Dennis, who said, "You think you are superior to Castro!" I was taken aback, but in defense I said quickly, " Well, I don't think I would secrete away three little girls and abuse them for ten years with ropes and chains." "Maybe not, he said, "But you are talking about the law, not nature, because none of us is different. We are all of the same substance and have a dark and universal side! It's just that some of us don't recognize it!" I don't want to put words in Dennis' mouth, but it was a week ago and the words of his are roughly as I have related. I have since thought about it and he is right about me. I was too glib and in the right circumstances I believe, I, and many others I venture and hope to say, are capable of almost anything that would seem evil in retrospect. My defense to Dennis was that there needs to be accountability for one's action. He agreed with that, but clearly separated justice and morality. I guess the question is, is there a moral man? Is there an honest man? Do we have the courage to face our dark side? Do we fall back on the idea that the devil made me do it? I have to assent, we are all made of the same clay. I remember the moment of realization that Lawrence of Arabia broke up in, when he said he had shot a man with his gun, and the horror he suddenly realized, when he admitted, not that he killed a man, but that he enjoyed the killing. The insights we gain in the book club, spun from the magic of Spenser, are far more than the narrative itself. It comes also from the clean and honest exchanges that arise from the seed. It must however, as my friend John says, be read as a group to harvest this fruit!