Friday, January 24, 2014

The Island

I finally finished reading HG Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau". It's a really great book...similar in nature to Frankenstein but I think I'm more fond of this one...I think it's because the book revolves around one man facing a madness he did not create.

I don't want to ruin the story too much for anyone who hasn't read it, but I did want to post an excerpt I found pertinent to my life.

"Though I do not expect that the terror of that island will ever altogether leave me, at most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud, a memory and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me at fellow-men. And I go in fear. I see faces keen and bright...perfectly reasonable creatures, full of human desires and tender solicitude...Yet I shrink from them, from their curious glances, their inquiries and assistance, and long to be away from them and alone. Particularly nauseous were the blank expressionless faces of people in trains and omnibuses; they seemed no more my fellow-creatures than dead bodies would be...And even it seemed that I, too, was not a reasonable creature, but only an animal tormented with some strange disorder of the brain, that sent it to wander alone, like a sheep stricken with the gid."

The main character in the novel is one who does not choose his own fate. He is an unwilling participant in an environment he never expected to be in. By chance I was talking to a friend about depression the other night prior to reading this passage, and described melancholia in a similar manner:

"People often say "You're not alone in feeling that way," but in actuality, you truly are. In the face of pain, you suffer alone. That's the hardest thing to shake, that even when people reach out to you, sympathize with you, and love you deeply, you still live on that island. There is nothing more terrifying than the invisible pain that is wrought on by the self, yet through none of your own volition. You have nowhere to run or hide, you're stuck on that island. You can only sleep so many hours of the day to avoid it, but ultimately, you're left staring it square in the face. It distances you from every piece of life you were ever connected to, and haunts your every waking moment. The only thing that mitigates this fear is hope. It seems like a cruel joke at times to tell oneself that things will get better, but it's something one is forced to believe, otherwise, one loses touch with reality."

Oddly enough, Wells finishes the novel in a much similar fashion, albeit far more poetically: "There is, though I do not know how there is or where there is, a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live, And, in hope and solitude, my story ends."

The difficulty coping with the adversity in his life is described as "a shadow over my soul".

And that pretty much sums it up.