Saturday, October 11, 2008

Camp Concentration 018 - Now that I know

A question that has been raised about the novel is: “Does Sacchetti’s portrait in the novel reveal an increasing intelligence? Do you feel he’s really becoming more intelligent? If so, why doesn’t he realize that he has been innoculated with Pallidine like everyone else?”

A possible answer is: Intelligence is, in a sense, “more of the same”. More intelligence doesn’t necessarily imply more and deeper self-knowledge. If you’re a moron and you become “more intelligent” you are not a moron anymore, but if you’re a consummate liar and you become more intelligent you don’t necessarily give up being a liar. Intelligence doesn’t provide an automatic change in personality for the better.

Different people have different intelligences. All the prisoners are becoming more intelligent; nevertheless, a Mordecai’s journal would be very different from Sacchetti’s, and Gerald Wagner’s too, and Barry Meade’s, and Skilliman’s... The story told by Sacchetti is his personal way of seeing things. “Increased intelligence” means, sometimes, increased complexity of vision, but not necessarily increased lucidity or increased problem-solving capabilities.

One of the tragic aspects of Sacchetti is precisely his pathetic blindness to an evident truth. This is one more example of The Intangibility of The Mind. The Mind wishes to be eternal. It knows that it’s tied to a disposable body, so it denies the body. I think that the moment of Sacchetti’s “execution”, the moment when he’s injected with Pallidine, is at the Springfield prison, when the doctor shows him the review of his book in a literary magazine:

“While I read the review the good doctor injected what seemed like several thousand cc’s of bilgy ook into my thigh; in my happiness I scarcely noticed. A review – I am real!” (CC, p. 15, May 16 entry).

This is a cruel example of the narcissism of The Mind and its indifference to the body.

(I am nort certain that the Pallidine innoculation would be made in Springfield; logic tells me that they would choose Sacchetti, bring him to Camp Archimedes and only then proceeding with the innoculation. I didn’t find an evidence of this, but maybe I didn’t search carefully enough. Anyway, the scene works metaphorically, if not literally).

Sacchetti is not a moron. He knows he has Pallidine. He just denies it, as so many intelligent people deny being seriously ill, till it’s too late to do something about it. After The Dream Scene, when Saint Thomas Aquinas bring him the terrible truth, he says:

“Haast, under pressure, confirms what it is no longer in any case possible to conceal, which had been kept from me this long only by my own desperate, deliberate blindness. Now that I do know it, now that I know I know it… (…) Everyone here had known but I, and I, though I would not listen to the whispers until they were a bellowing that filled the world, I had known too.” (CC, p. 107, June 22 entry).

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