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Later, she continues her association with intellectuals–both aristocrats and commoners–via her husband Clifford’s bohemian set, all of them fashionable literati of London society.Since Clifford, who is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of his war injuries, is impotent, his connection with Connie is solely an intellectual one.But in its attempt to bring things back to human scale, vitalists rebel against the notion of transcendence and strive to return to the prelinguistic moment before the origin of language. We have abstracted the universe into Matter and Force, we have abstracted men and women into separate personalities–personalities being isolated units, incapable of togetherness–so that all great relationships are bodiless, dead” (67).My point of departure will be Julian Moynihan’s observation that “dramatizes two opposed orientations towards life, two distinct modes of human awareness: the one abstract, cerebral, and unvital; the other concrete, physical, and organic.” He relates this comment to a passage from Lawrence’s essay “Apropos of ,” where the author says that “There are many, many ways of knowing, there are many sorts of knowledge. Lawrence’s elucidation of the meaning of his own novel should be seen as legitimate, for it is agreed that he has explicitly written a programmatic text (roundly criticized as ideological), with the main character serving as his explicit mouthpiece in condemning the reigning cultural values.
Even their body parts become anthropomorphized by the vitalistic description and transformed into independent agents.
This other way of knowing belongs to vitalist aesthetics and worldview, which can be seen as promoting. Therefore, I will preface my discussion of masochism with some expository remarks on the problematics of vitalism, in order to contextualize my further analysis.
The valorization of cerebral existence is at home in the world of the chattering classes to which the appropriately named Chatterleys both belong, albeit in somewhat different strata.
During their intercourse, “her womb, that had always been shut, had opened and filled with new life,” and so “in her womb and bowels she was flowing and alive now” (747).
In fact, it is her “whole self [that] quivered unconscious and alive, like plasm” (774).
Aligned with (and mapped onto) this division is another binary opposition–that between mental life and life proper, or to put it more judgmentally (as the author’s sympathies are unmistakable here), between sere intellectualism and lusty sensualism.