Saturday 28 January 2012
A young monk, with little exposure to the company of women, finds himself aroused and seduced by a peasant girl:
"What did I feel? What did I see? I remember only that the emotions of the first moment were bereft of any expression, because my tongue and my mind had not been instructed in how to name sensations of that sort. Until I recalled other inner words, heard in another time and in other places, spoken certainly for other ends, but which seemed wondrously in keeping with my joy in that moment, as if they had been born consubstantially to express it. Words pressed into the caverns of my memory rose to the (dumb) surface of my lips, and I forget that they had served in Scripture or in the pages of the saints to express quite different, more radiant realities. But was there truly a difference between the delights of which the saints had spoken and those that my agitated spirit was feeling at that moment?" [Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose]
Unacquainted with the vocabulary of love, this young man caught in the moment of passion finds himself helplessly uttering words from the scripture.
We may also imagine its converse, a more familiar example: devoid of a proper vocabulary, a mystic caught in divine ecstasy finds himself helplessly uttering words of passion, love and desire.