some hobo thoughts on "neo-medievalism" :


poetry + painting

natural vision

Nicolas of Cusa, or Nicolas Cusanus, the 15th-cent. philosopher/theologian, is a good psychopomp for neo-medievalism. A liminal figure : both medieval mystic and renaissance humanist, and not quite either. (See poem posted a couple days ago.)

The notion of God's incomprehensibility, un-representability, was curiously empowering, rather than limiting. Like a precursor of Vico, Cusanus imagined a "human universe" : all our conceptions & images of the divine are irrevocably, foolishly human. Thus his doctrine of "Learned Ignorance".

We cannot "represent" God, yet we are (through the Incarnation) God's representatives in human form. Thus God, for both Cusanus & St. Paul, is paradoxical : the "conjunction of opposites" (Paul's "cross").

In neo-medievalism, the confidence of (a somewhat absurd) faith resolves the dilemmas which dogged the poets of Neo-Classicism, Romanticism, Victorianism, Modernism, Postmodernism... how so? Because it's a faith like that of Cusanus : it sanctions, rather than denies, the human imagination.

The Romantic poets tended (on a sort of scale from middling to extreme) to exalt and triumph in the human Imagination and the human Self. The Victorians & the Moderns tended to hedge that triumph in - with irony, doubt, despair, scepticism, science, or dogmatic religion.

The Neo-medievals (I must find a better name for them : perhaps Groundhogs?) recognize that there is no dogmatic (or artistic, or philosophical) formula to resolve the dialectic between the human and the divine, between Self and Other. It is a paradox; a conjunction; a symbiosis; a ping-pong.

The self is always in dialogue : the "son" with the "father", the body with the soul. A Person is a relationship. Candlemas is Groundhog Day. More paradox!

(p.s. : I understand, & I truly sympathise, with those for whom this all seems like meaningless or worse-than-meaningless religious mumbo-jumbo mystification. But ever since my "Shakespeare thing", I have lived not only in a "human" universe, but a universe suffused with Personality.)

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