Source: D.H. Lawrence, Mornings in Mexico (London: Martin Secker, 1927), pp. 98-100
Text: The audience in the theatre is a little democracy of the ideal consciousness. They all sit there, gods of the ideal mind, and survey with laughter or tears the realm of actuality.
Which is very soothing and satisfying so long as you believe that the ideal mind is the actual arbiter.
So long as you instinctively feel that there is some supreme, universal Ideal Consciousness swaying all destiny.
When you begin to have misgivings, you sit rather uneasily on your plush seat.
Nobody really believes that destiny is an accident. The very fact that day keeps on following night, and summer winter, establishes the belief in universal law, and from this to a belief in some great hidden mind in the universe is an inevitable step for us.
A few people, the so-called advanced, have grown uneasy in their bones about the Universal Mind. But the mass are absolutely convinced. And every member of the mass is absolutely convinced that he is part and parcel of this Universal Mind. Hence his joy at the theatre. His even greater joy at the cinematograph.
In the moving pictures he has detached himself even further from the solid stuff of earth. There, the people are truly shadows: the shadow-pictures are thinkings of his mind. They live in the rapid and kaleidoscopic realm of the abstract. And the individual watching the shadow-spectacle sits a very god, in an orgy of abstraction, actually dissolved into delighted, watchful spirit. And if his best girl sits beside him, she vibrates in the same ether, and triumphs in the same orgy of abstraction. No wonder this passion of dramatic abstraction becomes a lust.
That is our idea of entertainment.
Comments: The British novelist and short story writer David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930) makes numerous references to the cinema in his writings, usually from a hostile point of view but clearly based on knowledge of cinemagoing. The essays were written during his time in Mexico, but the picturegoing described in this essay – which goes on to analyse the Pueblo Indian concept of entertainment – seems to relate to moving pictures anywhere, not Mexico as such.
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