By Irish Cicero
My friend -- The Classical Liberal -- was gracious enough to extend an invitation to yours truly to lodge a post in this fine establishment. Since I'm here, let me tell you a little about myself and what we're doing at Washington Rebel, and why CL and I see eye to eye on most things.
I am a true Pacific Northwest boy. One of my mother's grandfathers was a newspaper publisher who was active in Oregon and Washington politics during his adult years. Both sets of her grandparents were living here before Washington became a state in 1889. They were Welsh and Scots people, with a fair swath of Irish in them. They were industrious, proud, conservative, and solid. They viewed life as an opportunity to build one's character, not as an excuse to whine. They were Republican, as they favored Lincoln's view of the Union over that of the South and were willing to die for the same. There was a peculiar haughtiness to them: grounded as farmers, stand-offish in matters of discretion. From them I inherited a love of religion, and literature, and good manners, though my manners aren't always so great! And I have no formal religion. There was a depth to them that can best be described as reverent, and romantic, simultaneously. Poets, in other words. Proud, Celtic Poets who carried a frontier rifle and had a library full of books at home. Americans, you'd call them.
Of all the things I am most proud of -- and had the most cause for shame -- it was their view of what love between the sexes meant. In these days of aggressive feminism, and effeminate men, we can hardly comprehend how they looked at those things, four generations ago. We assume they were ignorant, sexist, and probably sexless. I maintain just the opposite. I say the Celtic kernel in America produced a very high regard for women that you won't see in lots of other European countries. We Americans are not "Englishmen with poetry and literature squeezed out of them." The boys who marched into battle during the Civil War were well versed in the Bible and Emerson, and that's not just a legend. Before radio, and television, and work commutes and Ho' Rap, people actually read. Reading was the icing on the cake of a strange rite called "conversation."
One of the things that irritates me about Dan Brown's success with his books on the Grail is that he misses the point -- and in our readerless age, others miss the point -- that an entire genre of literature and psychology grew up out of the emergence -- the irruption -- of the Holy Grail into the European imagination in the early 13th Century. 250 years before the printing press, all of Europe was ablaze with stories about Great Britain's King Arthur, and Merlin the Magician, and Gawain and
Guinevere and all the other tragic, stupid, loving, noble, magical figures of the "Arthurian Round." What had been a Celtic tale about a magic cup, or dish, even a shield, became a symbol around which an entire psychology was built. The emergence of the Grail legend is truly mysterious. And truly magical. The story spread like wildfire before there were books and pamphlets and newspapers, such as fueled the Reformation and the American Revolution. No one can explain how, or why. It was a psychic emergence, literally.
Enter one of the greatest women who ever lived: Eleanor of Aquitaine, the female personality who transformed the face of Love. Believe it or not, Romantic love is almost entirely a Christian invention. The intoxication of love has been well known forever. Such love was mostly lust, i.e., seeing another human being about the same as one would see a toilet. Marriage and "love" were usually considered two different enterprises altogether, and with good reason. The emergence of an ennobling inspiration called Romantic Love is bound up with Christian theology, i.e., the animal part of man cannot know Grace unless and until he opens himself to higher forces -- higher intelligence. What makes the human brain emerge from the mud of Pigdom and Dogdom are the same creative forces that raised Jesus from a grave. Men repent and become new beings because of Love. Men remain wretched until they are transformed. This is the nut of Christianity, though many have literalized the method. The Grail legend tossed out literal rigidity and replaced it with romance. In the process, two very critical conditions were imposed:
1) Chastity (not celibacy) was a condition to courtship. He or she willing to throw love away wasn't worthy of Love. Love was seen as a living being, sometimes -- but not always -- equated with historical Jesus. Just as in the Kabbalah Wisdom and Understanding and Justice are living aspects of a living God (and, therefore, the non-literal equivalent of the Cult of Jahveh), so is Love an actual being, or energy (our pre-scientific ancestors would not have understood what you and I call "energy"). In Von Eschenback's Parzival we find frequent reference to "Love's countenance" and lips or hands or eyes being touched or beautified by Love. The greatest boon of all was Love, and Love had to be won. People humping like pigs in the mud were excluded from the enterprise. Their minds and hearts were like stone -- lifeless, not capable of nobility. Another way of saying it is like this: How is lover number 19 really more special than number 17? And when number 25 comes along, how is he (or she) more special? Answer: they never were special. They were shells spent in the scatter gun of greed. In such matters, rape is not far behind. This was an essential insight of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the noble souls of history. The real cause of abuse of women is . . . promiscuity, not the other way around. Or, let us say, promiscuity is bound up in the abuse of women, by necessity: where there is more greed than love, soon greed will turn violent, or oppressive. How could it be otherwise? Indeed, the natural state of us testosterone creatures is hardly admirable. We are the stunted creatures in this cycle. Until we are raised from lust, we are very capable of murder, plain and simple. Therefore chastity on the part of both men and women is an invitation to love Love. It shows you are ready to be changed.
If you disagree, please let me know. I'm willing to argue it with you.
2) Men must cherish, honor, love and protect not just women, but the Feminine. Indeed, women must also protect the Feminine! The Feminine is bigger than your mother or your wife. The Feminine is the Receptive. And, speaking of Jewish mysticism, the meaning of the word Kabbalah is, essentially, The Bride. The Bride is the receptive. Think of that poem of Von Schiller.
Schiller was making the point that one cannot take the Feminine. She must give herself to you. If you have taken it, you have sinned. And you will pay for that sin. I believe we do. I believe we're paying for it now. The more casual we are about sex, the worse our lives become. I'll return to that in a minute.
Eschenback describes this very elaborate ritual involving the Grail that is presided over by "pure" women, i.e., women undefiled by lust. Now, obviously, there is no human undefiled by lust. Lust is the goad that ultimately teaches us to choose differently. It is a lash that exposes our follies. What Eschenback is demonstrating is the pure operation of the Receptive through open channels, i.e., people who have rendered themselves worthy of that service. They are not egoists. They are not sluts. They are not Democrats or Republicans. They are priestesses to the Feminine. The scene described by Eschenback can only be described as holy. Lustful, greedy eyes could never see this ritual performed.
What we have here is a most profound realization: when the Feminine is exploited for animal greed, she retreats to the high ground and withholds her blessings from us. She does not cast her pearls before swine. To know Her you must earn Her. To earn Her means you are willing to change your character into strength, honor, and chastity. Not popular words in these days, but they'll return full force. Here's why:
What Williams and C.S. Lewis understood about history is that honoring the Feminine is a cyclical process. It is not, as the feminists aver, a reversion to tribal life. There are plenty of indigenous tribes who view women as slaves. It is not, as feminists aver, a matter of doing your own thing sexually. Actually, a woman who does her own thing sexually is at much at war with the Feminine as any self-respecting Patriarch. The way it really works is like this: when individuals understand that they are supercharged, transformed, by the complementary force, so to speak, they will choose that path. If a man wishes to know Love, he must honor and serve the Feminine. And . . . .
If a woman wishes to know love, she must actually serve the masculine. How does she do this? She must know what masculinity is, for one thing, and she must insist on its demonstration from her would be lover. She must say, 'I wish to share Love with you. If you prove yourself worthy, I will honor that with you.' This is not patriarchal control or sentimental mush. It is a courageous, life-tranforming undertaking. It's a pain in the ass. And . . .
It requires education.
When my mother's grandparents were helping establish the State of Washington, their expectancy was that the human being was polished by literature, and by work, and by character transformation. They did not assume they were right about everything and go about telling others how wonderful they were. What an odd thing that would have seemed in a living room in 1910! Only drunks and outlaws talked the way people commonly do now. This loud, in your face Dr. Philism was, of course, the stuff Mark Twain would have slaughtered ruthlessly. But I'm not talking about Dr. Phil. I'm saying that, if you were my great-grandmother or great-grandfather, you would have been raised to read, for one thing. You would have been schooled in conversation. You would have known the Grail through its principle methods of transmission, the Arthurian stories. And you would have dreamed about the day when you met your one and true Love.
And you would have paid any price, in terms of self-sacrifice, to earn that moment.
Is that a bad thing?
At Washington Rebel, we maintain Love needs us now. Needs you. Love is looking for Knights and Ladies.
Which side will you be on?