July 20, 2002
v The book is saturated with the aspiration of the courage of the human beings who knew, knew in their memories and blood there is something to be achieved. It is an aspiration that makes human beings a complete Flame that grows forever.
v Rhett Butler and Scarlett embody that fire which is there dormant in us all, but we are unable to express it for want of the psychological infrastructure or the too great a value we attach to social values and personal compunctions.
v The hero and heroine were FULLY devoid of these outer restraints and inner inhibitions. Therefore, the power of social evolution they carry was so vast and intense that the book sold ten million copies. In the first three days of its publication, the book sold 176,000 copies. It is the nascent Power of social evolution.
v As the human personality at its depths spreads like the energy of these people and discards social values as they do, the hero and the heroine have caught the imagination of the readers and live there so long with life.
v Beyond all we see, Butler has in him a vast fund of native goodness that makes him aggressively laugh at the follies of others, especially at Scarlett. His knowledge of human nature is complete and his capacity to act rightly instinctively is consummate.
v His is not love of Scarlett. It is a powerful vital response of seeking to possess what eludes a man. Hers was NOT love of Ashley but a seeking for all the values he stood for.
v It is a truism of the man-woman relationship that the man who seeks psychological fulfilment in the woman must always be rejected in the depths of the woman he is after. The moment she does want him really and expresses it foolishly, he will leave her instantaneously. Butler leaves her the moment she wants him – it is a wanting, not love.
v She is entirely without scruples or regard for convention. Her strength is unmatched, physical as well as psychological. This attracts him and he could not tolerate her eluding him.
v She is downright practical and sensible when it comes to doing a work by itself, not in terms of society, but by itself as a work. That represents the human faculty which built the USA. In its pursuit, pure courage emerges and conventions, formalities, moralities, forms, etc. are thrown to the winds. It is a pursuit for its own sake aiming at the result devoid of trappings of any description. The energy released is nascent, the pursuit is pure, rather naked, the aim is the result. She as well as he secured the results they pursued in abundance.
v What he could not acquire is her love or care. Nor could she interest Ashley in her. Both were outside the line that released this energy. Hers was a cultural aim, his was a psychological dream. Neither had the social sanction or their own inner endorsement, inner in the sense of not desire but the centre that made them powerful.
v The pursuit of results is relentless. All who have achieved results pursue them so. In these people it looks brazen, shameless, wicked, mercenary. Any one who has ever attained results attained them by refusing to taint it with social consciousness or psychological conscience. Not all people do what they do, but the essence is the same, the expression differs. They defy those barriers but behave as if they cared for them. Results in a token act are achieved only like this, especially immensely huge results.
v Rhett made money in the blockade. He was not received anywhere. After the child was born, he won them all over so that his child would not be ostracized. That money will not give this child a glorious life. He was a strong man in the extreme. His money was made out of courageous risk. Had he been not so strong, having shifted to the other side he would have lost his money. The weakest link in his chain of life was the child, as her mother never wanted her, and she was jealous of the child. Atlanta switched over to him for the sake of the child but regretted it. Life did not give the sanction to that child.
v Melanie is pure goodness. It will thrive in an atmosphere of pure goodness. The value of the Southerners was real in earlier times, not then. It was against the spirit of Times. It upheld slavery. Great cultural values reared in an artificial context lose life. Melanie had to put up an appearance. She had to support Scarlett whose values were at loggerheads with hers. It is characteristic that no Southerner even prospered after the war. The post war era could not support Melanie's life.
v The book is full of Life Response, as all other books are. One of Sri Aurobindo's themes -- "Altruism is egoistic" has been developed by us to the annoyance of very many. It is a GREAT theme, which our Indian tradition knows. "One cannot alter another's karma. If he can, he should not." A soul has come on earth to have a certain experience. One who has revelled in riches and reached its acme, the tradition says, desires to enjoy poverty. So, he is born poor. If circumstances come his way to lead him away from poverty, disease, etc. he goes back to his original poverty by choice. That is karma. Great souls say "This is your karma. I cannot do anything." He has an option before him to come out of his karma, if he chooses himself to emerge out of it. The world is Prakriti, i.e. Force. It is Not of Being. Our entire tradition is confined to Prakriti, Time, and Force. So they do not interfere in one's karma. Moksha, liberation is to move from Force to Being. It is for the person who does tapas, not for others. If others get anything from him, it is by his OWN emulation of the guru. All civilisations develop fads. The West had developed the fad of service, of helping the poor. There is no ideal that activates the Westerner as service does. That is why Mother Teresa was given the Nobel Prize for running a free hospital. It has a great attraction to the human mind. Sri Aurobindo says it is egoistic. Every story from the Puranas to folk tales, films, etc. are full of confirmations of Sri Aurobindo's ideas, all of which are fully known in practice to people all over the world, especially in India. They are
1. The recipient of help never fails to hurt – Basmasura .
2. Results are instantaneous.
3. Trouble comes to one ONLY from those he has helped, apart from his own folly.
4. The very first WORD the beneficiary speaks is "I don't like".
5. It is true even in children of our own.
6. Where the service is out of GOOD WILL, not out of ego, it does not hurt at all.
Scarlett wanted the convicts to be better fed and she gave food for that. Immediately she was attacked on her way back home. Kennedy was killed. This was very striking, a striking confirmation of His rule. Sri Aurobindo says the only meaningful ideal for man is to find God and the only service in the world is to help others to discover their souls. Others can be helped at that level, not at other levels.
v The values of the Old Guard are valuable, but are lifeless as they are outside the stream of social evolution. Discussion of Rhett and Scarlett from this point of view will be based on the 25 heads of "Theory of Social Evolution" or the 347 points in it. Questions raised from these points of view and answers given will be a valuable discussion for those who desire to understand Sri Aurobindo in life.
v Rhett had extraordinary strength in the physical and an equally great strength of mind. Strength when it is positive expresses as generosity. He was generous to a fault.
v Melanie's purity is more than the cloistered virtue of Ashley. It had the touch of spiritual purity that never sees evil. To her, Rhett's money will not do any good, maybe it would take her life.
v The values of the old world are genuine, based on inner reverence of culture, like the Indian Brahmins worshipping the tradition, but it was out of tune with the march of times. It is a rewarding experience to read of their devotion to values, their inability to receive help they disapprove of, and truthfulness in their personal lives. Scarlett who was devoid of any of these values thrives by her courage and mercenary attitudes.
v What succeeded for Scarlett was not her ideas, ambitions, or plans, but her nascent energy that was devoid of scruples. What worked for Rhett was not his masterful adjustments with the need of the hour or his money, but it was courage, energy, generosity and the dedicated pursuit of Scarlett whose energy he was attracted by. More so, her refusal of him was the greatest spur.
v Scarlett is without scruples. The only point where she does not part with scruples is in the traditional hospitality of the Southerners and her commitment to Tara.
She does not care about marrying Charles who is betrothed to another.
Nor does she scruple in stealing Kennedy from her sister.
The Cause itself does not claim her loyalty.
Will tells her about people getting compensation for taking the Oath of Yankees. As he was explaining how Gerald was taken by her sister to sign the Oath to get $ 150,000, she remarks,
"For such a small lie, so big a sum. Who will not do it?"
She had married Kennedy for $300. What is a big sum for her and what is not is not clear.
One more Life Response -- As she coveted that dishonest sum, the sum had slipped from her.
v Scarlett is an evolutionary force who utterly disregards all values, scruples, etc. She does it negatively. It is possible to disregard social and psychological values positively. To rise above social moral values is to be neither positive nor negative.