Introduction to Literature ENGL103
I have just finished re-reading Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”. What an amazing story about the way our thinking and our aspirations can lead us so far away from the obvious things in life. This is a story about the dangers of ambition, the dangers of believing in your own powers. The one person who seems to have hold of some kind of truth in this story is the much maligned. physical man, Aminadab. I think we get to see him chiefly through the eyes of the highly prejudiced Aylmer how considers him like the dirt beneath his feet. But it is out of Amindab’s mouth that there comes the one sentence that is most filled with a kind of wisdom: “If she were my wife I’d never part with that birthmark”. He is the only one who seems to know that we need to treasure the only reality we have which is here and now. Aylmer spends all his energy trying to change the present in order to achieve an imagined future ideal. And in so doing he sacrifices that which could be the greatest gift in his life- his wife. I think the concluding sentence says so much: “The momentary circumstance was too strong fro him; he failed to look beyond the shadowy scope of time, and, living once for all in eternity, to find the perfect future in the present”. — The perfect future in the present… that is what we all miss, most of the time… we are always looking to the future, wishing our present circumstances were somehow different… there is a great moral lesson in this story. But it is presented very much as something that is embodied in human experience. We can look on at Aylmer and think what a fool he is… we can also think what a fool Georgiana is for going along with him, but this story can also touch our own lives (as all great stories can and do): to what extent are these events a mirror for me? Even if the events are set some 150 years ago….
Outside a cool Southerly breeze has blown the heat of yesterday away. This morning I went down with my dog Molly to a wonderful creek filled with clear water. She swam, basked in the coolness while a sat and drank in the silence away from the freeway high up on the ridge. This was a moment of blessing with a cool overcast sky, my happy dog, clear water tinkling down the water fall, all enclosed by this perfectly round basin of sandstone rock… we then stumbled and tumbled our way back up the ridge, across the freeway and into the car to begin the day’s activities….
Cheers for now