A book by Thomas Carlyle
featuring the fictional professor Teufelsdröckh
, a name which literally means "God-Begotten Devil
's Dung." The premise is that Teufelsdröckh
died leaving many bags of manuscript
divided into several sections, each with a title. An editor then comes along and refines Teufelsdröckh
's masterpiece, publishing it as Sartor Resartus
which means "The Tailor
Re-Tailored." In reality, it's an incredible autobiography on Thomas Carlyle
spiritual development. We only read the sections The Everlasting No
, Centre of Indifference
, The Everlasting Yea
, and Natural Supernaturalism
for AP English
. Here's the essay:
“Happiness” vs. “Blessedness”
The beliefs Thomas Carlyle outlines in his Sartor Resartus are built upon the inevitable confrontation between Man’s physical mandate to “Eat thou and be filled” and Man’s spiritual mandate to “Work thou in Welldoing.” From the beginning of time, Man’s need of bodily fulfillment has severed him from the “purposes of the Creator.” God’s Will was that Eve not eat the fruit; Eve’s bodily will – symbolized by the serpent – was that she “Eat...and be filled.” – it was this conflict of wills that begat Original Sin. In order to eliminate Original Sin Man must overcome his need to “Eat...and be filled” and, instead, search out the Will of God; Man must seek “blessedness”, not “happiness”. This need to “Eat...and be filled” flows from Man’s ego, his self-importance, the realization that he as a “self”, a distinct individual, exists. Only when Man completely annihilates the self, realizes that he is but one cell in the “Infinite I AM”, will he finally triumph over Original Sin and reunite with the Will of God.
Original Sin stems from Man’s perceived purpose of bodily fulfillment in conflict with Man’s true, God-given purpose of “Welldoing”. “Through every nerve” our bodies proclaim “the clay-given mandate, Eat thou and be filled”. Our bodies tell us to live life constantly striving for physical things, for food, for success, because, after all, a “Guy’s Gotta Eat.” Such a philosophy would, indeed, be perfectly fine in a world devoid of God; but such is not the world of Carlyle. The presence of a God active in the world implies a Divine Will, which Carlyle interprets as “Work thou in Welldoing”. However, as Carlyle notes “Soul is not synonymous with Stomach.” The Stomach may hunger for food while the Soul (God’s Will) yearns to fast; likewise, “Eat thou and be filled” tells you to kill the helpless to save money on taxes, while “Work thou in Welldoing” tells you to give all you can to clothe and feed them. It is this conflict of Stomach and Soul, Clay and God, that first begat Original Sin. Eve’s stomach told her to partake of the fruit, her Soul forbid it. When Eve chose to follow her Stomach – her bodily ‘need’ – she expressed a will separate from God’s, a will not concerned with “Welldoing”, but with Self-doing. It is due to this “clay-given mandate” that we are separated from God, only by overcoming it can we reunite with His Will.
Man’s ‘need’ of bodily fulfillment comes from his ego, his perception of himself as a “self”, an individual with a will distinct from that of God. Man asks himself why he has been “fretting and fuming”, “lamenting and self-tormenting” and the inevitable answer is “thou art not Happy.” Man is unhappy “Because the Thou...is not sufficiently honoured, nourished, soft-bedded, and lovingly cared.” But why should Man be Happy in the first place? “What Act of Legislature was there that thou shouldst be Happy?” What made the thou more important than the whole? The problem is that Man typically perceives himself as a distinct individual with an “indefeasible right” to at least an “average terrestrial lot.” Whenever Man receives an “overplus” beyond his lot, he is happy; whenever he receives a “deficit” below it, he is unhappy. Man perceives himself as an all-important individual with a need to personally be happy. However, the world of Carlyle is not built upon the importance of the self, but on the importance of the Whole. Only by eliminating this belief in the ‘needs’ of the self can Man overcome his need for “Happiness” and begin to strive for “Blessedness.”
By annihilating Man’s self-importance he can overcome his bodily ‘needs’ and realize that his true purpose is to serve the Will of God. What is a Saint? A Saint is a person who has such complete and utter Faith in God that they are able to work miracles. He is so in tune with the Will of God that he is able to act as its agent. A Saint in action is the perfect Man. Of course, no Saint has led a completely perfect life; however, for those few moments when he overcomes all personal needs and puts all his trust in the perfection of the Will of God, he is perfect; he has overcome Original Sin to reunite his will with the true, perfect Will of God. The Saint annihilates the belief in the ‘needs’ of the self, his own personal needs, and instead utterly serves the needs, the Will, of God; he fulfills the axiom “Love not Pleasure; love God.” It is towards this perfect Sainthood that Man must strive, for it is “The Everlasting Yea, wherein all contradiction is solved: wherein whoso walks and works, it is well with Him.” If Man is to attain Sainthood, if he is to realize “Blessedness”, he must annihilate the self, overcome his “Love of Happiness”, and instead surrender his life to the Will of God.
Carlyle writes “The Temple” of Christianity “now lies in ruins, overgrown with jungle, the habitation of doleful creatures”, yet he also writes that “in a low crypt, arched out of falling fragments, thou findest the Altar still there, and its sacred Lamp perennially burning.” For Carlyle, the veneer of the Church had worn thin, yet the metal beneath was still pure. In Sartor Resartus, Carlyle takes this metal and reforms it into a shape more suitable to his soul. He writes that “The authentic Church-Catechism of our present century has not yet fallen into my hands”; Sartor Resartus is this Catechism. Carlyle simply reforms the beliefs of Christianity into a “Dialect” for this century; Carlyle’s beliefs represent a new reformation in Christian thought. We are, just as before, to “Love God with all our Heart, Soul and Mind”, we are still not to be “of the World, but of God”; the only thing that has changed is the phrasing. Where Voltaire failed because he had only “a torch for burning”, Carlyle succeeds because he takes up his “hammer for building.”
Don't copy this, don't use my ideas as your own, that's Academic Collusion, and it sucks.