To Sit with a Single Line

GLOUCESTER: Alack, alack, Edmund, I like not this unnatural dealing. When I desired their leave that I might pity him, they took from me the use of mine own house, charged me on pain of perpetual displeasure neither to speak of him, entreat for him, or any way sustain him.

EDMUND: Most savage and unnatural.

King Lear

It is Edmund, whose conception was the result of natural attraction rather that of socially constructed union, who describes Lear’s daughters’ ambitious cruelty as unnatural.

The dramatic irony is thick as fresh sap.

Edmund is both natural and savage and understands the inherent connection in all things. His bloody rebellion is against the unnatural constraints he is obliged to accept as the will of gods.

Does he mean the women’s behavior is savage and unnatural toward their father, or is it savage and unnatural because it encroaches on Gloucester’s own territory and volition?

If we repeat a dogma often enough, we internalise it. But we do so still knowing it isn’t true. It is just accepted. Begrudgingly, and under various forms of threat.

Children have to be taught not to “dash the brains out” of other living things. They have to be taught to put restraints their own drives. Conflict is easy and natural. It’s the way around it that requires some kind of constructed route. What can the nature of any construction be?

I’m going to take Leonard to the dark park. There is always a possibility that things will go wrong when he tests out new relationships or challenges old ones. That’s why it is safer to have him off the leash.

There is an anthology of Furies waiting for me this evening. (For Books’ Sake publishers).


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