Pasternak on the Embodied Nature of the Soul

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“…Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike and rejoice in what brings you nothing but misfortune. Our nervous system isn’t just a fiction, it’s a part of our physical body, and our soul exists in space and is inside us, like the teeth in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity. I found it painful to listen to you Innokentii, when you told us how you were re-educated and became mature in jail. It was like listening to a horse describing how it broke itself in”
(Dr. Zhivago, 1958, italics added)

It’s that phrase “… our soul exists in space and is inside us, like the teeth in our mouth…” that gets me. It’s such a visceral and embodied grasp on the nature of soul. To me, as it was to Pasternak, ones soul isn’t something ephemeral or esoteric. It is the very stuff of our embodied, incarnate (of flesh) life.

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