* Note on the Troubadours and Mystical Eroticism
Since Valentine’s Day, in kicking off and presenting this series of radio programs (“Troubadours & The Beloved”), I’ve been at pains to introduce my subject matter in formal prefatory remarks that clarify (with caveats) what the listener can expect, as opposed to the common assumption of what a theme like this is going to cover; that it’s not your usual treatment of “romantic love” in pop-culture (although it doesn’t, by the same token, necessarily depreciate and ignore pop-culture per se, only its extremes in gross sentimentality—after all, the twelfth-century “troubadours” themselves were centered in the pop-culture of their time; the lowly domain of the “vernacular,” or “vulgar tongue” [“De vulgari eloquentia”] of “secular” music and not the “sacred” music of the high-Latin Church precincts, but rather the music of the profane courts and streets).
I don’t know if these preliminary notes have been successful; has been of any help in attracting an audience to my programs on amor here. (See: “A Valentine’s Day Program Note,” “Polemical Preface to Valentine’s Day Program,” “General Introduction to The Troubadours & The Beloved Musical Essay Series,” and “Polemical Background of Troubadours & Courtly Love Theories” linked on the “Troubadours & Courtly Love” page of my Tower of Song website.)
However, I thought I’d try one more time and zero in on the hermeneutical heart of my erotic narrative (that includes but transcends “sexuality”) of discourse by citing a passage from one of my favorite scholarly works on the heterodox tradition of what has come to be known and studied as “mystical eroticism” (or a “mystico-erotics” of mystics West and East), and, once more, has more than just one heuristic application—i.e., historical, psycho-social, epistemological, spiritual and political issues are addressed (e.g., the Christian dualism of spirit-matter, sacred-profane or heavenly-earthly love theologies/ontologies, the symbolic conception of an exclusive “male” God, and the social gender dominance inherent therein).
Thus, in approaching the entire scope of my discourse on the troubadours and their “religion of love,” this following quotation concerning the apotheosis of the tradition of (medieval Christian heterodox) “mysticism,” citing one exemplary “mystic,” should suffice to succinctly capture my intent in presenting these programs:
“. . . he attempts to advance and explicitly heterosexual Christian mysticism. This he accomplishes with a psychoanalytically informed understanding of ‘the spiritual power of matter’ and the body as essentially passionate, capable of transfiguration, and a generator of spirit that must be sublimated, mastered, and transformed rather than repressed and denied. God looks very different here as well, experience now not as the male bridegroom of the feminine soul [the normative relationship in Christian mysticism], but as the ‘hyper-centre’ that each lover knows in the other: a kind of mystical heterosexuality enacted within a bisexual Godhead. In working through (instead of escaping from) the evolutionary and essentially creative energies of human sexuality to the ‘hyper-centre’ of god, man and woman reenacts the supreme union [“sacred marriage,” “hieros gamos,” or “conjunctio oppositorum”] of the primordial/divine Androgyne.”