In Praise Of Humiliation


Wayne Koestenbaum singles out Oscar Wilde as the ultimate example of embarrassment gone right:

In 1895, having been exposed and convicted as a homosexual, Wilde, in handcuffs and prison garb, was paraded in front of a jeering crowd at a London train station. In time he came to view the experience as "an inevitable part of the evolution of my life and character."

In a posthumously published letter from prison, he wrote: "So perhaps whatever beauty of life still remains to me is contained in some moment of surrender, abasement, and humiliation." Wilde speaks to an old and lovely and maybe even true idea: Suffering is reversible; humiliation is redemptive. Koestenbaum puts it like this: "Humiliation is a kiln through which the human soul passes, and where it receives burnishing, glazing, and consolidating. Humiliation cooks the spirit to a fine finish."

Oscar Wilde was such a natural Christian.