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… a new chapter in The Second Sex, The Mystic… the last chapter?, i am thinking so… soon i can claim to be one of the few men who has read it cover to cover, and with close attention paid as my extensive quoting and comments on what i have read will attest to… the new chapter opens thus:

Love has been assigned to woman as her supreme vocation, and when she addresses it to a man, she is seeking God in him: if circumstances deny her human love, if she is disappointed or demanding, she will choose to worship the divinity in God himself.1

… this chapter is about the translation of woman’s love for man into devotion and love of man’s god(s)… it is a spiritual endeavor pursued because of the untenable position of woman loving man for many women…

… i am reading about the erotic nature of St. Teresa’s experience with god… from wikipedia i learn she was a noble woman who became a nun… her influence on the church was broad and in her day she was thought to be a restless wanderer, disobedient, and stubborn femina…, which is to say, a woman with her own mind…

… this passage quoting Saint Angela of Foligno about drinking the bathwater of a leper is beyond comprehension to me:

This concoction filled us with such sweetness that joy followed us and brought it home with us. Never had I drunk with such delight. A piece of scaly skin from one of the lepers’ wounds had stuck in my throat. Rather than spitting it out, I tried very had to swallow it and I succeeded. It seemed to me that I had just received communion. Never will I be able to express the delights that flooded over me.2

… drinking the bathwater of a leper?, come again?… about this de Beauvoir says:

The mystic will torture her flesh to have the right to claim it; reducing it to abjection, she exalts it as the instrument of her salvation. This accounts for the strange excesses of some women saints.3

… she now describes Marie Alacoque’s cleaning up of vomit with her tongue and taking a man’s diarrhea into her mouth… she is making the point that the devotion of woman knows no bounds in the torture of her flesh… woman, de Beauvoir tells us, pursues her devotions much more concretely than man… these are, of course, exceptional cases, but still…

… there is a lot to contemplate here…

  1. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 709). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 715). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  3. De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 714). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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