Advent Calendar 12th December 2011: Pride

Still in South Africa, we jump right into the action. Page 119 (at the end of chapter 7) in Michael Davidson’s The World, the Flesh and Myself:

‘But that’s ridiculous,’ I remember saying. ‘You see, Mrs Ecks, I can never like you in that way – I like boys!’

She was furious: not disgusted or scandalized, but downright indignant. ‘I shall have that altered at once,’ she said with managerial decision, ‘I shall have you cured’; and at once telephoned to Johannesburg’s most expensive psycho-analyst.

I went to the man only once; and consciously, lying on his sofa, refrained from exposing my unconscious. Deliberately, I edited my answers; for I knew that I didn’t want to be cured.

I don’t think, through all the ups and downs in my life, despite all its humiliations and futilities, I have ever wanted my fundamental emotional nature to be different – not even when I went to prison on account of it; because if that nature, the essence of myself, were changed, then the ‘I’ that I know, the ‘I’ that is myself, would cease to exist – I’d be somebody else, a notion which is inconceivable.

One may despise oneself; one may regret one’s incapacities, ugliness, weakness of mind, deformity or character; and know oneself to be a rotter; but one cannot contemplate surely being a self that isn’t one’s own self.

I have often, during 40 or 50 years, tried to see myself as ‘normal’; but the attempt has been as ineffective as searching for the end of infinity. ‘He is a poor creature who does not believe himself to be better than the whole world else,’ Samuel Butler observed. ‘No matter how ill we may be, or how low we may have fallen, we would not change identity with any other person.’

So I gave that psycho-analyst no help.

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