Unveiling the Collective in Isolation: Thinking the Apocalypse with D.H. Lawrence — XG for Stillpoint Magazine

How do you write about an apocalypse in the midst of one? How do you affirm new connections with the people around you at a time when governments recommend “social distancing”? Perhaps there is no better time to tackle such things, if only so that, once we are on the other side of our present mess, we can begin our collective recovery and become reacquainted. Collective recoveries are never easy, however. The twentieth century demonstrated this repeatedly and relentlessly [and] it is to the early twentieth century that I have found myself returning.

I have a new essay in the April 2020 edition of Stillpoint Magazine on the theme of “Apocalypse”.

Entitled “Unveiling the Collective in Isolation: Thinking the Apocalypse with D.H. Lawrence”, it is about Lawrence’s final works, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Apocalypse, and the desire for a new form of community that bursts from within them — a kind of community that is still yet to materialise. (Or, as Stillpoint themselves introduce it: “An evocation of the potentials for a collective response to apocalyptic murmurs that defies the biblical division between the saved, and the damned.”)

I am very grateful to Anne Marie Spidahl for the invitation and editorial assistance, to David Peterka for his editorial assistance, and also to Kate Holford for reaching out and selecting a series of images from Tatiana Bondareva‘s series “Escape” to illustrate the essay. (The image below reminds me of that most famous scene from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which feels like the perfect bridge between Bondareva’s project and my own.)

Check out the rest of the issue and the previous work published by Stillpoint. They are a brilliant magazine and I’m excited to see what they do next!

This essay is an extension of some of the “philosophy of community” stuff that is central to Egress but it has also been written in light of my present research, which has focused on the literary modernists of the early twentieth century — including, most recently, Lawrence.

It should probably be said that the theme of this edition of the magazine was chosen long before the coronavirus took hold of the world. I’ve also been reading D.H. Lawrence’s later writings on and off since late last year. So, to be honest, it’s very surreal to me how this one came together. None of it was planned but it all feels very prescient.

This essay was initially intended as a sequel to my previous essay, “The Primal Wound”, but the connection may seem wildly tangential at best. Nevertheless, it is a snapshot of where my next book, One or Several Mothers, has taken me of late and I’m excited to be able to tell you that that book will also be coming out on Repeater Books in the future (at least once I’ve finished it.)

Watch this space for more adventures through and around the sentiment of “anti-Oedipus but pro-Antigone”… Lawrence is a particularly interesting figure in that regard. From Son & Lovers to Apocalypse, I think he passes from one to the other quite explicitly.

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