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Baroque Monads and Allegorical Immanence: A Reassessment of Richard Crashaw’s Imagery

  • Paul Cefalu
Chapter
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Abstract

Richard Crashaw’s poetry, often described as Baroque in nature, provides the most comprehensive illustration of the ways in which a jouissance of the body, or the feminine non-all without exception, operates through or within the fundamental jouissance of the drives, or masculine logic of exception. In Crashaw’s work, the feminine non-all does not, however, make itself felt where we would expect it, namely in the poetry that recounts the lives and tribulations of female mystics and heretics like Saint Teresa and Mary Magdalene. On the contrary, these poems operate firmly within the masculine realm of exception. It is in Crashaw’s Christology, in his unrelenting concern to represent Christ’s material body, that one detects something approaching the non-all without exception. In order to make such an argument, I will be claiming further that one needs to read Crashaw’s theology as fundamentally immanentist rather than transcendent in nature, an orientation that itself is motivated by Crashaw’s embrace of some fundamental Baroque tenets.

Keywords

Partial Object Mystical Experience Eternal Life Negative Theology Bizarre Imagery 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    On Lacan’s interpretation of Sartre’s account of the “look,” see Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis (New York: W. W. Norton, 1981), 84–85. On the relationship between the look and gaze, see also Kaja Silverman, The Threshold of the Visible World (New York: Routledge, 1996), passim ch. 5.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See Mladen Dolar, “At First Sight,” in Gaze and Voice as Love Objects, eds. Renata Salecl and Slavoj Ž ižek (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 139.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    All cites from Crashaw’s poetry are taken from Richard Crashaw, The Verse in English of Richard Crashaw (New York: Grove Press, 1949). Line numbers will be cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Richard Gibbons, The Practical Methode of Meditation (London, 1614). Cited in Louis L. Martz, The Poetry of Meditation: A Study in English Religious Literature of the Seventeenth Century (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965), 27.Google Scholar
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    Roland Barthes, Sade, Fourier, Loyola, trans. Richard Miller (New York: Hill and Wang, 1976), 69.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Ibid., 165.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Marc F. Bertonasco, Crashaw and the Baroque (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1971), 89.Google Scholar
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  9. 12.
  10. 13.
    Heinrich Wolfflin, Renaissance and Baroque, trans. Kathrin Simon (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1966), 33.Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Ibid., 62.Google Scholar
  12. 15.
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    Jacques Lacan, On Feminine Sexuality and the Limits of Love and Knowledge, Book XX, Encore, 1972–1973, trans. Bruce Fink (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998), 76.Google Scholar
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  15. 18.
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  20. 23.
    Cited in Anthony Saville, Leibniz and the Monadology (London: Routledge Press, 2000), 235.Google Scholar
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    Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, trans. Tom Conley (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 35.Google Scholar
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  23. 26.
    Ibid., 52.Google Scholar
  24. 27.
    Ibid., 53.Google Scholar
  25. 28.
  26. 29.
    Against the conventional understanding of Deleuzian metaphysics, Alain Badiou has recently argued that Deleuze’s philosophy does ultimately rest on a Platonizing notion of the univocity of being. See Alain Badiou, Deleuze: The Clamor of Being, trans. Louise Burchill (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  27. 30.
    Ibid., 125.Google Scholar
  28. 31.
    Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborne (London: New Left Books, 1977), 166.Google Scholar
  29. 32.
    Ibid., 175.Google Scholar
  30. 33.
    Cited in Susan A. Handelman, Fragments of Redemption: Jewish Thought and Literary Theory in Benjamin, Scholem, and Levinas (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), 131.Google Scholar
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    Jacques Lacan, On Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the ecole Freudienne, eds. Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose, trans. Jacqueline Rose (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982), 113.Google Scholar
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    Graham Hammill, “Steps to the Temple,” in South Atlantic Quarterly 88:4 (1989): 947. For an alternative Lacanian interpretation of Cra-shaw’s epigrams, see Gary Kuchar, Divine Subjection: The Rhetoric of Sacramental Devotion in Early Modern England (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2005), 114–18.Google Scholar
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    Slavoz Zižek, The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Women and Causality (London: Verso, 1994), 104.Google Scholar

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© Paul Cefalu 2007

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  • Paul Cefalu

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