by Daniel Kolos
A comment on our Psycho-sexual history
A poem inspired by the first three chapters of Ioan Culianu, "Eros and Magic in the Renaissance":
Ficinus and I watch through the eyes of Woman.
"She wishes for a very uncourtly love," he whispers,
and, as we vicariously look, he continues,
"But she will see herself become a Platonic subject
as her beautiful image enters her Lover.
She will not remain in his eyes, but reach his brain
and, if she, as Woman, is blessed by the hidden gods,
an ideal of her will reach the heart of the courtly Lover."
Ficinus and I look at each other for a moment
across almost six hundred years of thought,
and I offer my opinion: "In the Rinascita,
the Woman would take her bard to bed
to keep those long Winter nights bearable
and in the Spring, after each story, each love song,
she would reward him by bowing in the other direction."
Ficinus and I laugh together, but he raises an index finger:
"Not so in the Rinascimento, after three or four
centuries of thought, our culture fought for and won
a major breakthrough in closing our instincts."
"How so?" I ask, "Did women no longer fall in love?"
"Oh, they fell, they fell, but the moment fallen,
they became Diana, the huntress, the virgin Goddess."
Ficinus and I each took a deep breath, but only he spoke:
"As Diana, the Loved one received a feed-back
that was neither a kiss, nor passionate hands, nor a rod!
Instead, her image as a Platonic subject in her Lover's heart
was transported back into her brain. Not only did her Lover
put her, as the Loved one, on a pedestal, but she herself sat on it."
"She became an object in a misconstrued subject," I said.
Ficinus and I nodded and he continued, "You see,
for a woman to sit on a pedestal instead of a rod,
she has to become more complex than a Nature Goddess.
She becomes a chart of the planets, a physical Cosmos."
"But Cosmo, her Lover, would surely stop her," I objected.
"Not so," Ficinus answered, "the moment he saw
his own reflection within her, the Lover saw himself."
Ficinus and I sit thoughtfully in the library window.
"In your world, my friend," he says to me, "the Lover and the Beloved
become Significands, one and the same, and as soon as the Lover
recognizes himself in the Beloved, he falls in love with himself.
You call this Narcissism, and it leads to death, 'mors osculi'.
The soul unites so strongly with an image that it leaves the body.
This 'physical extinction' combines with an 'intellectual ecstasy.'
The Lover, in his Platonic Subjectivity, no longer needs the Woman."
Ficinus and I stand up and we hug one another in parting.
I said, "And here I thought that Rinascimento improved our world."
But Ficinus shook his head and answered:
"This hug brings us so much closer than most lovers ever get."
"I find it sad," I said, "that the age of re-birth brought death,
so that even Shakespeare had to fight to reverse that meaning
by using the ecstasy of death as the cause of birth. Farewell."
First read at an Art Bar feature following a performance with Penn Kemp at the Victory Cafe, Toronto, on Wed., Oct. 10, 2001
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