Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Noted: Evelyn Scott

From Part VI of Escapade, wherein Evelyn (named but once in the book) and John have bought some land in the mountains, hoping to make a living raising sheep and various crops--things don't go well and they are living in unbelievable poverty, alarming at times even to the locals (who are themselves very poor):
I love the rich purplish color of the floor where a sun spot moves on it. I lie here. I am better today. I have had my dinner of our unvarying food, boiled red beans and mandioc mush, with a red pepper to make it tolerable and large crystals of salt like gray-white rock. How warm and comforting food is. How entirely worth while to live to be able to eat. Life seems to me so sweet, so precious, that I wonder that everyone is not kind like John. When there is this awful impersonal Enemy to fight why are not people gentle to each other? Why do they not always stand together protecting themselves against it? I feel that I ought to warn them, to tell them of the danger they are in. It is, almost, that I have a mission to the race. I must make others realize what I alone seem to know, that all of us are subject to the obscure attacks of misfortune, that we have nothing to waste in unnecessary struggles which we ourselves precipitate. But, of course, I only mean that I want people to accept my view of life, my way of looking at marriage and at everything else. I have no wish to force myself on the world, but I want at least a tolerance which will allow me to exist. And at home John and I are actually considered dangerous. Do you not see how pitiful we are? I want to say. But in this also they will misunderstand me, for I love myself entirely, completely, and I will not accept from them any criticism of my acts.

I think sometimes that my pride is as strong as my pain--not quite, perhaps, but very nearly so. If I were the only one made to suffer I should accept everything out of pure defiance. It is through John and Jack [their child] that my self-respect can be subjugated. My pride affects me as an exaggeration of myself. Protest expands all of my being. My self-righteousness is much more intense than anything which I can intellectually define or encompass. Because I alone of all the world can understand and pity myself, I am God. I alone of all the world can offer equality to myself.

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