Monday, March 31, 2003

Hey Iris, what's up with the time zone thing? I know I didn't post that last message before 10 AM.

I'm thinking about that poem again. (See below.) I like the feathered Heloise image. She might almost be an Icarus figure, having flown too high and fallen. Heloise of Chartres is certainly a saint of our order. She fell in love with Peter Abelard, the most brilliant man of the twelfth century. They had passionate and enthusiastic sex and he wrote her love songs that all Paris sung in the streets. She said, in a letter to him, "God is my witness that if Augustus, Emperor of the whole world, thought fit to honour me with marriage and conferred all the earth on me to possess for ever, it would be dearer and more honourable to me to be called not his Empress but your whore." At some point the lovers got married and Heloise had a son, Astrolabe... and then Heloise's furious uncle had Abelard castrated. The two retreated to separate abbeys. Heloise's letters, besides being written in scintillating Latin, are some of the most personal and intimate writings to emerge from the Middle Ages. She uses every rhetorical trick at her disposal to try to get Abelard to write to her. She complains that she doesn't have a true vocation to the abbey of which she is abbess (the Paraclete, founded by Abelard) and that she misses sex. She enters deep philosophical debates about the role of women. Definitely an Interfaith Nunnery foremother...

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