Spring 2009

If the Renaissance is famous for discovering unknown continents and ancient texts, the body too was a new territory of conquest. How did literature respond to the rise of an anatomical gaze in the arts and in medicine, and how did it stage the aesthetic, religious, philosophical and moral issues related to such a promotion, or deconstruction, of the body? Does literature aim at representing the body, or does it use it instead as a ubiquitous signifier for intellectual, emotional and political ideas?
The locus of desire, pleasure and disease, the body also functions as a reminder of human mortality and is caught in the web of gender issues.
The class will use a new website designed specifically for the course, with a collective blog, private e-diary, an archive of 16th century images and texts, and a creative interface where students have the option to publish online essays or multimedia projects.
Texts from prose fiction (Rabelais), poetry (Scève, Ronsard, Labé, D’Aubigné), essays (Montaigne) and emblem literature. Extra documents include music scores, tapestries, paintings, blazons, and anatomical plates from medical books.

Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585)

Portrait de RonsardPortrait de Ronsard (Les Amours, 1552)

 

Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) was born at the Château de la Poissonniere, in the province of Vendomois, to a noble family. Educated at the Collège de Navarre in Paris from age nine, Ronsard spent three years in England attached to the king’s service as a page following the marriage of Madeleine de France to James V of Scotland. When he returned to France in 1540, he joined the service of the Duke of Orléans, then became a secretary to Lazare de Baïf, the father of his future fellow-poet in the Pléiade, Antoine de Baïf. His apparently promising diplomatic career was cut short by a sudden and incurable deafness. Ronsard devoted himself to study at the Collège de Coqueret, where the principal, Jean Dorat, taught Greek and Latin and introduced Ronsard to a high vision of literature and humanism. Dorat’s pupil Antoine de Baïf accompanied Ronsard, and was soon followed by Belleau and Joachim du Bellay, who was to produce in 1549 the Défense et illustration de la langue française, widely considered the founding gesture of the Pléiade movement.
Ronsard’s first major literary work came with the publication of the Quatre premiers livres des Odes in 1550, where he attempted to revive ancient lyric poetry in the form of Pindaric and Horatian odes. This somewhat bombastic gesture drew sharp criticism and the mockery of court poet Saint-Gelais. The ensuing polemics opposed a young generation of ambitious poets led by Du Bellay and Ronsard who aspired to imitate and rival with classical and Italian poetry, and the admirers of Marot, Saint-Gelais and a more traditional canon of French poetry. Ronsard’s next literary achievement, the Amours (1552), brought him this time fame and popular success: he reconciled soon after with Saint-Gelais and became the leading court poet. Though undoubtedly marked by Petrarchan influences, this love sonnet sequence dedicated to Cassandre displays Ronsard’s unique talent and hedonist inspiration. The rhetorical and imagistic patterns inherited from the Italian poet (the emotional landscape of piercing arrows, filters and poisons) are detached in the Amours from their context of mystical adoration, and instead imbued with a vivid sensuality that significantly alters their reading. The frequent references to metamorphosis in the Amours speak to the quality of the poet’s own desires: he portrays himself transformed as a bouquet in the hand of the beloved, the water in her bath, the rain of gold upon her breast, a flea kising her skin, granting him a taste of the voluptuousness is unfulfilled desires aspire to.
Enjoying an immediate and overwhelming popularity, Ronsard went on to publish his Hymnes, dedicated to Marguerite de Valois, in 1555, the Continuation des Amours and Nouvelle Continuation des Amours dedicated this time to Marie in 1555-1556. He collected his Oeuvres as early as 1560, and was to polish and rearrange them continuously until his death.
Extraordinarily well-known and respected during his lifetime, he was honored with gifts from Queen Elizabeth, and consulted by Tasso on the Gerusalemme. His work was not universally admired, however; during his lifetime he faced opposition by both the followers of Marot, who found his outspoken contempt of merely vernacular and medieval forms and his insistence that French poets “follow the ancients” an insult to the earlier poets, and the Huguenot faction antagonized by his strong connections to the royal family and the catholic party.

© Emily Dalton and Cécile Alduy.

 

Selective Bibliography:

Works by Ronsard:

“Hymne de la France” (1549)
“Ode a la Paix” (1549)
Les quatre premiers Livres des Odes de Pierre de Ronsard, Vandomois (1550)
Les Amours de Pierre de Ronsard, Vandomoys [Amours de Cassandre] (1552)
Hymnes (1555)
Continuation des Amours [Amours de Marie] (1555) ; Nouvelle Continuation des Amours (1556)
Elégies, mascarades et bergeries (1565)
Les Œuvres de P. de Ronsard gentilhomme Vandomois (1560; 1578, 1589…)
Quatre premiers livres de la Franciade (1572)
Sonnets pour Hélène (1578)
RONSARD, Pierre de, Œuvres complètes, édition critique par P. Laumonier, réed. par I. Silver et R. Lebègue, Paris, Hachette, S.T.F.M., 1914-1975, 20 tomes.
Critical Works:
CAVE, Terence, The Cornucopian Text. Problems of Writing in the French Renaissance, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1985.
DASSONVILLE, Michel, Ronsard. Étude historique et littéraire, Genève, Droz, 1968-1990, 5 vol.
KRITZMAN, Lawrence D., The Rhetoric of Sexuality and the Literature of the French Renaissance, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991.
MÉNAGER, Daniel, Ronsard: le roi, le poète et les hommes, Genève, Droz,1979.
PY, Albert, Imitation et Renaissance dans la poésie de Ronsard, Genève, Droz, 1984.
RIGOLOT, François, Poésie et Renaissance, Paris, Seuil, “Point Essai”, 2003.
Ronsard en son IVe centenaire. actes du colloque international Pierre de Ronsard (Paris-Tours, septembre 1985), éd. Y. Bellenger, J. Céard, D. Ménager et M. Simonin, Genève, Droz, 1988-1989.
Ronsard in Cambridge, proceedings of the Cambridge Ronsard Colloquium, 10-12 April 1985, éd. par Philip Ford et Gillian Jondorf avec une introduction de Dorothy Gabe Coleman, Cambridge, Cambridge French Colloquia, 1986
ROUGET, François, Pierre de Ronsard, Roma, Memini, Bibliothèque des Écrivains français, 2006.
STURM-Maddox, Sara, Ronsard, Petrarch, and the “Amours”, Gainesville, University Press of Florida, 1999.

Online resources:
Encyclopedia Britanica (1919)

Students' Highlights:

"Ronsard conceived of the poet as a recipient of the divine inspiration of the Muses without which no amount of study could fashion a poet out of an ordinary mortal. For Ronsard, this inspiration was accompanied by a moral obligation to hold one’s poetic gifts as sacred and to channel them toward appropriately worthy matters. His lofty vision of the poetic mission stood in contrast to the conception of the poetic creation as craft or as a mere branch of rhetoric, that had prevailed in France in the years prior to the Pléiade. Like many of his fellow sixteenth century poets, Ronsard saw his art as mimetic: he believed his task was to imitate nature, to articulate the truths of particular objects, and to place these truths in relation to larger universal truths. Indeed, in his preface to the 1550 Odes he announces: “I am of the opinion that no Poetry should be held praiseworthy or finished unless it represents nature, which was esteemed beautiful by the ancients only because it was inconstant and variable in its perfections.” It is in part his determination to portray Nature’s varies abundance that underlies the dazzling variety of style and form that marks his literary production." (Emily Dalton)

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Baise m'encore ...

E-diary

I'll start with the reflections on this whole process:

Kathryn’s diary post about her brother reminded me of an entry of my own from earlier this quarter, which I am now steeled to post. This is why I chose that particular entry.  It otherwise probably would have been a little difficult for me to publish.  I guess it's not the most embarrassing of my entries to make public, but it still makes me feel very vulnerable on several levels.  I was definitely very emotionally vulnerable when I was writing, not to mention physically vulnerable thanks to the very obvious side effects of tears. When I do cry I tend to try to hide it. So this is somewhat of a personal test for me, this publishing business. Actually, the act of writing the entry right after the fact helped me a lot because it forced me to think about what was physically going on at the time rather than the emotional causes of this, well, of this inconvenience, as I thought of it. 

 

I realize I didn’t feel the need to edit the form or the content in the process of making this public. I never have any literary expectations when I’m writing solely for myself (although I noticed that I did have an imaginary audience in my head from time to time – how would this read if it were to somehow become public? - but I don't think this ever really altered how or what I was writing), but I found that with this specific medium, I still didn’t feel the need to alter or smooth over my own stylistic idiosyncrasies.  I think this is because I know what I wrote is purely ME and that, in my mind, is the point of these e-diaries, so I realized that I am all right with the fact that this is not a perfect, polished bit of writing. It was the raw writing that was produced from this intense moment, and I saw no need to alter it. In fact, I felt has though I would have been adulterating what I had originally written - and therefore alduterating the moment itself - if I were to have made significant changes purely to make this "ok" for public consumption.

However, so far the idea of just how public this is has not quite struck me yet. Perhaps it will hit me soon and then I will have some regrets about the lack of revision. Who knows. 

 

And now the entry itself:

 

4/3/09

I never cry.

Except for today.  Today I cried—really, truly cried.  Many many hot, upset tears that I’m going to have to attempt to hide now from, oh, everyone.

These tears were so sudden, so unexpected.  Caught off guard by my own physical reaction to emotion I thought I had pushed away. Dealt with.

I know Sam said he wasn’t actually going to join the marines. But apparently I don’t believe him deep down, and these tears are the proof.  I think he knows me too well, knows how upset I am about the whole thing, and saying he won’t do it is just appeasement. He’s keeping secrets. Or maybe I’m too suspicious and untrusting of his motives.

It’s amazing to me how one song—music, so intangible, so NON-physical—can cause such a ridiculously, catastrophically physical event.  One second I’m enjoying an entirely unrelated song, the next second iTunes shuffle wreaks havoc on my emotions (and my face) for the rest of the day.  It took about 30 seconds before there was this literal welling up inside of me, a shuddering, watery welling up that somehow managed to overflow out of my eyes despite all my efforts to the contrary.  And then it just wouldn’t stop.  The one song brings back too many memories from when we were kids and he was just my little, baby brother that fit under my chin, but not only that memory it’s also recent memories, like how he's the one that can tuck me under HIS chin now that he’s all grown up and too old for his own good, and how there's me wishing so much that I could just give him one big hug that would keep him from going anywhere and never returning, anywhere that he could die or be killed (mentally OR physically), anywhere that would crush his spirit (and that never comes back, ever, that huge smile of his would be changed for all time; would it ever come back? Would his eyes even look the same? I imagine a soulless zombie shell of my brother) – and I’ve got a flood down my face and in my thoughts. Funny how those two are so intrinsically connected.

So now I’ve got the blotchy red cheeks, the bloodshot eyes, the mucous-y nose that needs to be blown—badly—and a voice that still sounds like I’m crying, and now I have to go reemerge into campus and be a functioning human again. Hello world, it’s been a great Friday. Can you tell? Cheers.

E-Diary to the World

May 20, 2009

 

I read Montaigne about four years ago, and it was reallyinteresting to pick him back up again and read. My own attitude toward him andhis project has changed some—I’m a bit less smitten and thoroughly enchanted byhis soft and learned, though clever and sometimes mischievous writing, and alittle more aware of the skepticism, suspicion, and satire at work.  I was such a Montaigne convert myfreshman year of college that on my “To-Do” list, I wrote at the top a quotefrom his “Essays”:  “It is a smallsoul, buried beneath the weight of affairs, that does not know how to get cleanaway from them, that cannot put them aside and pick them up again” so I wouldsee it every day.  I know it byheart.  Maybe that’s because I’vewritten it at the top of my “To-Do” list ever since having read Montaigne thoseyears ago. It’s at the top of mine right/write now.  When I first read him, I thought it was just great that hecould talk about his insecurities, about his trouble in the bedroom, his superstition,his power of the imagination, his remarkably balanced view of “Cannibals” and“barbarity,” about contemporary friends and Cicero and Lucretius as though theywere all living in Toulouse and could come knocking on his study door.  I really admired that he could talkabout farts in such a playful, yet learned way.  He was a real force in my life—he definitely influenced howI view myself and my relation to how I talk about body and soul.  My sister used to joke that I say suchtrite/mischievous/bawdy things in such a matter-of-fact, weighted tone, andthat’s what made my deadpan so funny—for instance, when I was explaining thenitty-gritty details of a crude joke, I phrased it in such an even-toned,proper, and balanced way (partially intentionally, partially due to some kindof value of modesty of articulation?) that if people had walked by andoverheard a part of it, they would be dumbfounded at the dissimilarity betweenthe subject matter and the pretty package it was delivered in.  That’s why I loved Montaigne. That’swhy I love Rabelais.  So properlyimproper, so matter-of-fact, so un-artificial.  That’s why I love the Renaissance, too; a seemingly more straightforwardattitude toward life and people and the body and other things that seems to getcovered up and obscured during later eras, like the Victorian age.  But re-reading Montaigne made merealize how, in a sense, it is artifice. What I took as straightforward modesty at the beginning of “To theReader” veers into what I now call a “modesty topos,” his declaration that itwas meant for his relatives to remember him when he dies rings false, as it waspublished in 5 separate editions that very year that he penned those words(1580), he comes down a little hard, I think, on women, or, at least, he’s notvery interested in them (either in his writing or in his personal life), and isdefinitely less than my perfect model of enlightened man who can talk about theCannibals as less barbaric than Europeans, but can also vilify “ those counterfeitEgyptian women,” the gypsies, who have moved into France.  I guess what I am describing is a bitof a loss of an ideal.  I suppose Ishouldn’t have put Montaigne up on so much of a pedestal—I get the sense thathe would have been rather uncomfortable with that.  But still, he as a writer and as a mind/human being has hadsuch a profound influence on my life and how I view my relationship to theworld that I cannot help but feel something has been lost, if only theenchantment.  Maybe I was so ripeto receive Montaigne as a freshman in college because he seemed so unafraid totalk about such personal things as insecurities—of which I had a bunch goinginto college—or his kidney stones and his body and all sorts of other medicalmaladies (of which, I, too, had a share). And I loved how he could treat seriously unserious subject matter; as ifthe assumption of the writing stance is itself a posture from which one cantreat any matter with equal weight. Does my slightly more critical view of Montaigne indicate that I’ve lessdesire to see others talk about their insecurities or personal bodilyfunctions, because I, too, have lost some of those insecurities? In that case,I should have re-read Montaigne at the very beginning of my graduate career;then I might have received him as I did four years ago.  But maybe not.  Maybe I’m looking back at Montaignethrough the eyes of the first year I was at Columbia, where I just devouredwhat I read without thinking very critically about it.  (That became a problem when I startedreading bits of philosophy, from Plato to Aristotle to Marx to Hegel toNietzche—I was a Platonist, an Aristotelian, a Marxist, a Hegelian, and mostaffectedly, a “follower” of Nietzche in turn (changing with every week’sreading), with no stable philosophy of my own to keep me grounded)).  Thank goodness I’ve become morecritical in that sense.  I’veshifted my focus from the outward only (where I’d take nearly everything I’dread at face value) to a combination of inward and outward, where I recognizemyself as a subject in itself, the “only” subject that one can claim (even ifmomentary) authority on, as Montaigne would say.   Hmmm.  Iguess I still owe Montaigne quite a bit.

 

 

Reflection:

When it came down to publishing an entry from my journal, Ifelt very odd about publishing an early one—so awkward, so modest (or maybeeven prudish), so uncomfortable looking to myself for subject matter and notanywhere else—that I decided to publish my most recent.  As my entries progressed, I grew lessself-conscious writing about my body, and incorporated more outside materialand allusions each week until I started writing a bit more like Montaigne does,where the intellectual and visceral exist side by side, and not in conflictwith one another.  By the end,today’s, the body is present, but only in a diaphanous sort of way—it is theunderlying basis and reason for the writing, and in a literal way, it makes theprocess of writing possible, but it begins to take a sort of second seat to theway I (as a person, a mind, a soul) relate to my body, and what that has to sayabout me (as a person, mind, and soul). Another thing I noticed about my decision to publish this one—today’s—isthat I felt that this was the highest moment of my journal, the most self-reflexive,and the one I learned the most about myself from.  Surely the awkwardness and uncomfortableness present in theearly posts I did not want to see the light of publication, but there is also asense that dwelling on those earlier bodily entries in all their awkwardnessmade it possible to ascend Plato’s ladder from one body to many bodies to theBeautiful, the soul, in this entry (not that I’ve gotten there!). It’s onlyfitting that for a class on the Renaissance Body that I should inhabit, if onlyfor a time, in the space of my e-diary, the space of the Neo-Platonic orNeo-Classical.  And though my diaryentries seem to have little trajectories built into them (usually moving from aplace of darkness to some sort of “enlightenment” or at least a deceptivefeeling of “enlightenment”), this entry I’ve chosen seems to be the least selfcontained (as it could only have been possible after having written all theothers).  Paradoxically, however,it is also one of the most self-contained--a microcosm of my entries as awhole:  I was at first disappointedin re-reading Montaigne, and then a bit re-enchanted by noticing how much he’sshaped my relation to body and soul and how much he continues to shape mymental-physical and meta-physical life in terms of critically assessing myinward microcosm and outward worldly macrocosm in which I find myself.

E-diary

I am not sure if this is where things are supposed to be posted, but here goes.

 

Two entries.  I choose these entries because in them I am the least vulnerable.  I am basically hidden.  I am more scared to publish other entries.

 

04.15.09

four plus one is five.  four plus five is nine (all one has to do is multiply by the unit, no change accorded).  Interesting in Newton’s mechanics, bodies, at least up to the end of Book I, section 7, are treated as points.  This was Archimedes’ doing: we can reduce a body down to a point in order to perform calculations on it.  This point is the center of gravity.  It’s the way forces work in the world, they only mind centers.  Where is my center of gravity?  Does the center of gravity change when one’s body position changes?  It must not; no matter how contorted legs and arms are, the center of gravity should remain constant, correct?  I think of a cat falling, vertical descent – the cat will always manage to flip itself around, right-side up.  Doesn’t matter how you drop it.  That’s center of gravity stuff.  So if I am lying on a bed in a pretzel shape, or better, suspended in a hammock, and I fall off, I will fall in the same way as if I were standing erect at the top of the hammock.  But the forces – let’s just call them the force of gravity at this point – still must be different distributed while I am indeed upright (vs. pretzel shaped).  So the experiment of measuring this will the uniformity of falling bodies does not hold (at any rate path independence holds for falling bodies so the direction of descent of each part of the body would not matter anyway).  Ok, well that’s an interesting point (directionality falls out in the second derivative); an interesting point that does show that there is indeed no difference if one is upright or pretzel-shaped.  A pretzel-shaped, waify Japanese female contortionist and a rigid, stocky, German male Nazi are pulled at with the exact same acceleration. There is your Hobbesian equality (Hobbes as synecdoche for any and all theories of liberalism, of course).

I have a white MacBook laptop.  That is, had.  The keys of my white MacBook laptop are charcoal colored, some more than others.  This color embarrasses me.  Once, I had to show a student of mine something on my computer and I did not want her to have to touch the grimy keys.  But my own grime does not bother me.  Other people’s grime does greatly (airplanes, dirty houses, like Pamela’s where there was rust on the spoon I used to eat my cereal with almond milk because she is a vegan and always has odd food products in her house, and I felt like the rust was coming off on my tongue with each bite, what else?  Pedro and David’s tub; Jeremy Green’s bathrooms in all his apartments).  My father’s getting mad about the fingerprints I leave on his mac laptop (a different kind than mine) drives me insane.  He is so particular, always thinks so much about every little manifestation or change in his own body.  That bugs me because I feel like my house breeds neurotics.  At any rate, my own keyboard is really vile.  Here are the keys that are the darkest of all (I wonder how that happened…if it is the keys, the frequency with which I hit them, the particular angle at which they lie, such that they are more susceptible to collecting my finger grime – one might deduce, as I look at the dirt distribution, that my pinkies are my dirtiest fingers  - are pinkies good ink collectors? off books and newspapers – who am I kidding? I have not touched a newspaper since I’ve been at Stanford, ok, perhaps a couple – but not like the New York Times that I used to receive daily at Chicago.  I’d take it into the Bartlett dining hall with me and read it over lunch, avoiding the house table (I was in Woodward House, in what seemed like a chipper dorm in the middle of campus).  But I never wanted to be with house people.  Forced social relations in arbitrary communal living spaces have always struck me as bizarre.  But yes, the dirtiest keys are: (tab) (1) (;) (=) (6) (Q).  The cleanest keys are: (space) (fn) (shift) ((left hand side)) (f) (apple) ((left hand side)).  Now c’mon: I use space all the time!  So it is not a question of frequency.  In fact, perhaps it is precisely the touching of the keys that cleans off the dirt, which makes it so that the dirtiest keys are those that I least use – hence the dust has time to build up on them and settle in.  Well, that makes perfect sense!  I use my pinkies least when I type.  They often remain inactive (I do not have perfect typing form.  I remember typing as many words per minute in second or third grade, and then playing where in the world is Carmen Sandiago).  But then again, I don’t use control much….and it is rather clean.  The theories are being falsified at every turn.

 

04.28.09

Bodies beaten.  My brother was mugged and beaten, perhaps yesterday.  I don’t even know when because he has not called to tell me and my Mother did not mention it on the phone when she told me this morning.  Writing this right now, I think, this would be a potential entry to publish because it is not so personal.  It’s easier to expose events that happened to another than contemplations and observations about oneself.  This ability to expose others is cowardice.  I cannot give a description of what my brother’s body looked like, not having been present.  I have imagined it today.  I think what first comes into my mind is a memory of a time he was scarred or cut or chaffed.  Always images that involve friction.  Then comes the sterile white sheets of the hospital.  They cloak, envelope him like a cocoon (is the hospital cold?).  Then comes a sensation of the impact of the blow.  I don’t even know if he was punched or kicked or what.  I have absolutely no idea. I was given a hint of information and my imagination does the rest.  What about the smell?  Blood’s taste normally takes over the olfactory.  Perhaps the smell of concrete when he hit the ground.  The smell of beer or marajuna.  The smell of the dirt from the criminal’s fingernails mixing with the blood.  The smell of piss, probably, out of fear.  Were there tears?  Did tears grace his face?  I have cried today, probably sparking attention as I left the library.  It drives home again a sense of futility (never noticed the affinity with utility) in most academic questions.  I am enamored with form but can it really be worth inquiry, when things in real life hurt, immediately? Real life – a coy distinction.  The readings are just as real and I hate how pop cultural judgments still hold vestiges of the Platonic.  As I wrote to Suzanne and Pedro, my own tears, my own red eyes and stained cheeks, arose from my feeling that life has been unjust to him.  The only way I can bear to interpret what happened is to think that he is being prepared to do something great.  He has taken blows his whole life.  In the eyes of our stupid, inane contemporary society, he is a failure; in the eyes of the divine, his soul far surpasses any of my secular accomplishments. He cares; he intuits shifts in other’s sensibility in a heartbeat and he knows how to ease their pain in laughter or tenderness, depending on the situation and the character of the person at hand; he often fears he will always fail.  One time last year he called me late at night, awake in anxiety.  He never calls me.  I loved him very much that day.  He snores, I think because he smokes too much pot and has messed up his pulmonary system.  Many other people snore but the pace of his breathing is that of a smoker.  He liked oysters from the age of two.  He liked sweatbreads from the age of four.  He can drive a golf ball further than anyone I know.  He likes the microbreweries in Burlington, Vermont, where he lives.  His clothes smell like a boy.  His car smells like that terrible air freshener he puts on the passenger-side vent.  I hate that smell.  It mixes with the cigarettes and pot and is vile.  He has the same red spotted skin that I have and he has shoulders that are awkwardly large for his body.  He has been overweight since adolescence, not obese but still overweight.  He has some gray hairs already and a prominent forehead.  People think he is handsome.  I think he is handsome.  He looks more like my mother than my father.  He thinks and acts more like her, with their untamable energy; but he inherits his situational serenity from my father.  I sense that he may love me more than anyone else in the world, even my mother.  He hates my sometimes didactic attitude towards him.  One time, he would not speak with me for three months, intending to teach me a lesson through his silence.  I was in Germany at the time, and when I returned stateside to visit schools, I saw him and he gave me a lecture and forgave me.  His mentality is like that of a mobster.  He will be 22 years old on July 18, sharing a birthday with Nelson Mandela and an anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

I hope that there will be no scars left on my brother’s body from this incident.  I do not want to ever see traces.  There are scars enough on his body and his soul from other accidents he’s had. 

 

 

 

The center of the cosmos, the gods, Scève vs. Ronsard, torturing the artist.

1. Talking about Les Amours de 1552-1553, the introduction mentions that "the woman becomes the center of the cosmos". I instinctively felt that this was not so: that Ronsard's desire for the ideal woman is at the center and not the woman herself. Any thoughts?

 

2. Who are the gods at play in Ronsard's poetry, and do they vary? For example, does Cupid seem different from poem to poem? And furthermore, do you think that Ronsard considers himself to be a deity?

 

3. A technical question: do any of you feel like you could easily distinguish between Scève's poetry and Ronsard's? What differences in style, composition and subject matter have you noticed?

 

4. Ronsard emphasizes his defeats so often that you wonder if he ever succeeds at anything with his women. Would the success of wooing them no longer be romantic, that is to say, if the desire ran its course? Did you feel like he ever "got" anything concrete from the women in question, or was it all fantasy? Is the real purpose of desire to torture the artist so that he can create moving art???

Pourquoi une morale du corps?

"Pourquoi le comportement sexuel, pourquoi les activités et les plaisirs qui en relèvent, font-ils l'objet d'une préoccupation morale?"

Foucault, Histoire de la sexualité, t.II, l'Usage des plaisirs, PAris, Gallimard, 1984, p.17.

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