Most would agree that a particular type of emotional healing comes in the confession, that is, the telling of one’s story. Not just any story about how our trip to Europe went or how long we were in labor with our first child, but in telling things we would rather not. Sometimes the telling of those things is so frightful that we become paralyzed and cannot. Confessions of this ilk are in almost every case tied to two things as was demonstrated in Hamlet: sex and murder.
The part of the human psyche that represses confessions about the scandalous is demonstrated in the story of King David and his goings on with Bathsheba. So repressed was his transgressions that he didn’t recognize himself in the narrative of Nathan. God in his mercy relieved David’s id in forcing the confession, and still… a life was lost. Without the confession, would there have been more?
E. Michael Jones points out in Monsters from the Id, The Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film, the potency of the unconfessed. Originating in the Enlightenment Utopia of the French Revolution, the monster Frankenstein emerges to take revenge on those that will not confess the truth. “As the Age of Reason gave way to the Terror, not only in Paris but in Mary Shelley’s own life, the first monster of the modern imagination was born.” Both Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft would live the horror in their personal lives and witness it on the streets of Paris. The English had only begun on the trajectory of sex and horror, while the French trajectory was at the end as Burrell notes, “women were brutally violated before being torn to pieces by those tigers; intestines cut out and worn as turbans; bleeding human flesh devoured.”
Jones spends a great deal of time outlining the influential writing of the Marquis de Sade that unleashed the suffering while at the same time prophetically agreeing with St. James in his epistle regarding the end of lust outside of boundaries. Though the Enlightenment promised that “releasing sexual passion from the confines of the moral order can be managed and its bad effects rendered harmless by legislation or technology…” it was not to be, as “sex emancipated from the moral order ends in murder and death.”
The role confession plays is either to ameliorate, as is the case of David, or to warn like a prophet crying in the cultural marketplace of literature and art as Camus states, “a guilty conscience needs to confess.
A work of art is a confession.” The first case is voluntary, but the second is a function of the human id. Jones explains, “sexual liberation is so frightening, I cannot talk about it, those like Mary Shelley seem to tell us. But then they turn around and say the opposite: It is so frightening, I cannot not talk about it. The monster speaks the unspeakable for me.”