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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Christ in De Profundis

In De Profundis Wilde once again writes about Christ, "the most supreme of individualists" (p.168) because of his focus on the soul. Man must be in full possession of his soul in order to "Be thyself," the message of Christ as described in The Soul of Man. Once again, each man is to live for himself and for the prosperity of the soul. "When he says, 'Forgive your enemies,' it is not for the sake of the enemy, but for one's own sake that he says so." (p.170) And it is through this emphasis on the soul that Christ was able to sympathize with others. "He realised in the entire sphere of human relations that imaginative sympathy which in the sphere of Art is the sole secret of creation." (p.165) The realization of this kind of sympathy opens the soul to creativity.

Artists are drawn to Christ because he understands the value of sorrow, which Wilde describes as the only true emotion because it is "the outward...expressive of the inward." (p.160-1) "Truth in art is the unity of a thing with itself" and sorrow is the one emotion in which the "soul and body are one and indivisible." (p.160) Sorrow cannot hide its pain, but it is pain that Wilde has learned to appreciate because sorrow is the way to perfection. He quotes from Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship in making the point that not knowing sorrow means not knowing God:

Who never ate his bread in sorrow,
Who never spent the darksome hours
Weeping, and watching for the morrow,—
He knows ye not, ye gloomy Powers.
Wilde has come to value sorrow as an integral part of life because without it, "we may really be starving the soul." (p. 162)

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