Monday, May 7, 2007

The Celestial Bridegroom

I was raised in a religious family and the iconography, the ritual, the warm embrace of Christianity are all felt strongly in me, but at a young age I was seduced by art, literature, even by seduction itself; in my dreams, the symbols of one and the other, its shadow, were mixed and confused, synthesizing a new self, more base, less seraphic, a fallen angel who shall never enter into paradise but, like Moses, will die while gazing upon the promised land, the celestial city, a place of joy where honey flows like water. The ecstasy of religion has been replaced by other ecstasies, those of the flesh, and those of the intellect, poor substitutes to be sure but, haven fallen so far and for so long, I have little else. The operas come from this place, mixing these worlds, the sounds formed by the slowly fading echoes of true religion, the cries of fleshly delight, the resonating in the hollowness of my soul.

I look now for salvation in many places. Rimbaud's life teaches me (O Lord, O Celestial Bridegroom, do not turn thy face from the confession of the most pitiful of thy handmaidens. I am lost. I'm drunk. I'm impure. What a life! ) and I find some comfort in Robert Glück's Margery Kempe, a beautiful juxtaposition of sexual obsession and religious obsession, where he and the earliest English autobiographer both seek sainthood through a union both sacred and profane, imagining their coupling with their own Celestial Bridegrooms and, finally, from my own work, the section of that title, der Himmlische Bräutigam, so wonderfully evoked by Josef Oberauer, wearing a pink thong and platform shoes, lifting him just that much more towards heaven.

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