8/28/08

I am Lord Henry.

As I read The Picture of Dorian Grey a week ago, I felt true horror for the first time in my entire life. I had experience anxiety for a test and the burden of guilt for having to confess a wrong, but I’d never before felt truly horrified. However, reading the insidious philosophizing and smooth-talking of Lord Henry opened my soul and filled it with a horrible view of my own selfishness and devilish words; It sickened me. I could see myself giving charming discourses convincing others of philosophies I didn’t even believe myself for the mere amusement of it, or smiling nicely as I tempted others to adopt worldly ideals in a half-serious way.

What really got me was Dorian’s awareness that even his attempts to do good were selfish in their true nature, efforts meant to satisfy his just remorse and guilt and mask his evil nature.

Jami, you were unfortunately right. I am Lord Henry, and God help me change.

(Post publishing edit: This sounded too heavy and out of character, so I'll include an apology for my characteristic moralization that's hiding in there somewhere.)

6 comments:

Jami said...

Matt,
I told you that you were a non-evil version of Lord Henry, which is entirely different from telling you that you ARE Lord Henry. Just thought I'd clarify.

The horrifying and beautiful thing about reading is that we often see ourselves in literary characters. I've been floored from time to time as well.

Sky said...

Matt, at your center, I think you're more like the son in Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD.

Crystal said...

I agree with Jami.

I think you're capable of becoming Lord Henry -but since you know that, you can prevent yourself becoming him.

(I'd probably agree with Sis. Morgan too, but I haven't read that. For an English major, I'm depressingly illiterate)

Matthew R. Hall, Esq. said...

I obsessively read The Road after I read Sis. Morgan's comment and loved the book because of its vivid and haunting images. And I think she was right; I'm just trying to strip away the pretenses and faces and live at that simplicity.

Sky said...

Well, you just read a harsh but astounding Pulitzer Prize winner. I'm not sure it's striping away pretenses and masks for simplicity, but more so you just be who you are. You have a naturally good heart, like the son, but, I think you keep stumbling over it.

I don't know what you thought about the book. I had to turn away a couple of times. But the tenderness between the two and the (no name)father's determination to work to save his son, without any way to predict even the next hour was beautiful. I'm still not sure though that the redemption in it outweighs the heavy tons gray ash and all that went with it. But, it'll stay with me a long while.

Natorade said...

I think you're more like Lord Farquad, but that's just me.