Write Your Own Epitaph
Faust Part Two Continued
Making Castalia Real
On the mountaintop, while in quiet contemplation, a vision of
Gretchen appeared to Faust in the clouds, and in that instant love’s
meaning became whole for him. Love was born from the earth, but
earth-embodied activity was never enough. Survival demanded more.
Survival demanded purposeful activity, death-transcending activity. A
product of inspiration and aspiration, purposeful activity always
“passed the torch.” Earth-embodied love, a self-indulgent love, would
not survive. Love had to be animated by a higher purpose, a purpose
that would insure its survival. “The deed is all; the glory nothing”
became Faust’s motto. Striving produced errs. Striving for the
impossible, produced many errs, but, when one strove for an impossible
love, redemption was never far behind.
Faust set himself a new goal—to teach the meaning of whole love—a
lesson that had to be learned from the inside out. Faust did not cower
under this challenge. He began by creating the necessary conditions to
inspire love’s meaning. With Mephistopheles’ help, he became the ruler
of a small country. His plan was to get people to build dykes and
reclaim land from the sea. The dykes would not only provide peace and
prosperity for his people, but also teach the people a life-sustaining
work ethic. But, before the dykes, before work ethic, before the
prosperity, a “can do attitude,” had to be instilled in the people, an
attitude that would, eventually, turn into a higher morality.
This higher morality, liberty, and prosperity were all dependent upon
dyke maintenance and construction. The work ethic that held the
country and the communities together became the universality shared
morality of the entire country. The need for vigilance and
responsibility got passed on from parent to child. The seed of
purposeful action, first sowed by Faust, would bear fruit the likes of
which had not been seen before, or, so Faust hoped. Faust success was
real, and so was his happiness.
Thus it came to pass that a free people, in a free land, prospered,
and Faust’s dream became reality. At one point, Faust (almost) could
be heard muttering to the moment, “You are so fare as to last an
eternity,”—and thus he would have forfeited his soul to the devil.
However, at that very moment he remembered some unfinished business
that needed immediate attention, so he sent Mephistopheles to take
care of it. The devil was sent into the country to persuade the old
couple, Baucus and Philamen, to give up their land. Because they lived
within the sound of the church bell, the church had a legal claim to
their property. In order for Faust’s dream to be fully realized, he
needed to relocate the old couple. But, when they balked at this
relocation plan, they were murdered along with their wayfarer friend.
Faust, once again, shared in the responsibility for the deaths of
An old and guilt-weary Faust became totally free of Mephistopheles
when he confronted Care and denied magic. The whole of Faust Part Two
depicted the progress of Faust as he became more reserved and
confident while Mephistopheles became more excitable and foolish.
Faust, when he denied magic, went blind and lost his strength, but he
was not distressed. He knew, finally, that some things were worth
pursuing, and he discovered that those things worth pursuing were not
to be pursued without scruples. As the eternal night closed in around
him, he experienced a kind of enlightenment. (At least that’s the way
I saw it.) With his last breath, he was filled with the meaning of
love and was made whole by it.
Faust leaves us with the “epitaph of the deed.” Humanity needs
improving. Once efforts in that direction get going there is no
stopping it, even in death. Faust grew from a child into a whole man,
from microcosm to macrocosm. He offers hope to humanity. He also
cautions: we have much to do without spending all our time on the
ideals of religiosity. Let salvation take care of itself. Creation
moves forward. Always look to love’s meaning for the answers. Faust
calls us to do more.