“And yet,” said Mr. Beavis, “there are times when he seems strangely indifferent.” The memory of that episode in the train had not ceased to rankle. For though, of course, he wanted the child to be happy, though he had decided that the only happiness he himself could know henceforward would come from the contemplation of the child’s happiness, the old resentment still obscurely persisted: he felt aggrieved because Anthony had not suffered more, because he seemed to resist and reject suffering when it was brought to him. “Strangely indifferent,” he repeated.
Mrs. Foxe nodded. “Yes,” she said, “he wears a kind of armour. Covers up his vulnerability in the most exposed place and at the same time uncovers it elsewhere, so that the slighter wounds shall act as a kind of distraction, a kind of counter-irritant. It’s self-protection. And yet” (her voice deepened, thrillingly), “and yet I believe that in the long run he’d be better and spiritually healthier, yes, and happier too, if he could bring himself to do just the opposite—if he’d armour himself against the little distracting wounds, the little wounds of pleasure as well as the little wounds of pain, and expose his vulnerableness only to the great and piercing blows.”
Eyeless in Gaza
Aldous Huxley 1936
Cribb Comment: This passage eloquently touches on numerous intricacies that might be overlooked. The father has brainwashed himself into believing that he wants his child, who has lost his mother, to be happy, but in reality he despises his child for not displaying suffering in the manner in which would comply with his world. The suggestion of a father of a lower and more basic awareness and a child with a higher and more advanced awareness is strong and the implications of such conflicting existences and the inabilities to relate in a familial union implies that a progressive and sprouting tragedy has already set it’s seed in the little boy. It will be an ultimate tragedy of isolated introversion and emotional unavailability to most, if not all. The survival mechanism must set early and profoundly in those of higher awareness if they are to survive their alienation from all of those around them. This is potentiated to the extreme when coupled with coinciding events of harsh and brutal suffering and/or tragedy.
Fixating on slighter wounds is certainly a form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disease) or an addiction. Such a “shield” creates a very hard outer shell around its bearer and is constantly reinforced through the distraction and infinite availability of such slight offenses in every realm of existence. While a shield of this nature may be mandatory for acute survival, it invariably becomes toxic and poisonous if melded into an accepted chronic necessity by perpetual fear. The isolation that allows for the preservation of individual existence, can also become the isolation that inadvertently sequesters the heart and soul away from the vulnerability that is required for love, union, and transcendence.
Most hyper-aware individuals are never able to shed the chronic “curse” of their survival mechanism after once employing its acute salvation.