Landscape organizes everything within sight.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Apropos of Denis de Rougemont

For anyone that missed it, de Rougemont's theory that courtly love heretically wed Eastern mannerism to religious fervor serves as the origin of all claims that "romantic love was invented to manipulate and confuse x" where x = women, poets, rock stars, or high school students, depending on one's point of view. de Rougemont has been excellently addressed in Marius Brill's Making Love, wherein a female reader of pulp romance withdraws Rougemont's text by mistake, as told by the text itself, which book falls in love with the poor woman.

Peter Viereck wrote a poem, “Lyric,” that goes something like this: “I would be her most familiar stranger / I would not have disheveling words endanger / a strand of light too hovering to beckon.”

Narrator slows down at the woman’s driveway, glancing without turning, continues on, repeats daily. Love with fear and trembling, without torture and illusion, privacy intact.

A question: but can we do without Eros entirely? What would it mean to return Eros to the bounds of mannerism, to the coyness of politeness, extracting attraction from the fury of unbridled desire?

Vierick suggests at least that mannerist Eros could be a way of knowing the world, tricking Agape into accepting the bounds of knowing, the problem of understanding strangers, the openness left as something for time to unfold.

Dear Mr. de Rougemont: I’m not sure that Agape is enough by itself.

Doesn’t the erotic drive push us towards the unknown, unsafe, and sometimes, the most divine?


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