Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chance or the Dance? Excerpts from Ch. 7 (Sex) Part 3

"The view that is being put in this book, however, is that the rush into the fenced-off place is a desecration and not an emancipation. It proceeds upon the assumption first that the idea of the private, the set apart, is a legitimate one, and that on the one hand it is not only worthwhile but necessary that some things be set apart, and that on the other, there are some things whose very nature demands such a setting apart. Second it would suspect that the human imagination has not been mistaken in handling the sexual phenomenon as one of the things to be set apart in the exclusive place.

It would suspect this because it would see the body as the image of the person, and the person as a thing vast and mysterious and not to be raided. ...The human imagination has set the sexual rite into this veiled sanctum. It does not occur in the marketplace, or at the table, or in the drawing room. Not even the parody of it (whoredome) occurs there. One goes behind closed doors. But the closed wooden doors are themselves only the sign of the closed doors behind which the human imagination keeps the phenomenon. They are not the closed doors of embarrassment, or of shame, althogh some eras have acted as though they were. Rather, they are like the veil into the holy place: up to here you may all come, but I must go alone beyond here, in unto this personhood whose being is to be opened under this particular modality to me alone. (And of course the physical actualitites of the rite so exactly correspond to this awarenes of entry into the secret place byond the veil that they hardly need pointing out.)"

"...those who honor the shrine begin to participate in an exchange and a communion whose nature eludes those who traffic in holy things. ... But... those who honor the shrine move, by their very attendance on the rubric, toward some great and unimagined Unveiling when the ecstatic secret is opeoned to those who have learned that no churl will see the Holy Thing; to those who have learned that it is not by pushing into a thousand shrines that one becomes able to pass through that final Veil, but rather by brave and single attendance on the one shrine committed to one; who know that an unveiling is a real unveilling only to the extent that what is veiled is set apart from the other things around, and that one's appreciation of the reward is in some ratio to what one has experienced of patience in waiting for it; and to those who have recevied the ecstatic communion entrusted to them as an image of some final Communion when the knowledge of all beings will be ecstatic; who, by their participation in the rite (or by their wait for it--those who for one reason or another are denied the foretaste here) have apprehended the knowledge of other beings as a high and holy thing, not to be flung open at random."


Brian Killian said...

I like how he speaks about this using liturgical metaphors of rite and rubric.

Augustine argued that sex takes place behind closed doors because of the shame and sinfulness that now attends this activity. And there is some truth to this, in so far as we wish to hide what is shameful, and our desire is rarely 100% pure.

However, the truth is more to be found in it's sacredness. In some Eastern liturgies, the Eucharist, which corresponds to that consummation in the bedroom, is actually celebrated behind a veil.

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

Interesting that I had the vision recently of a friend dancing her way through gauzy veils to reach Him.