Saturday, June 06, 2009

Dark Night of the Soul


Saints are everywhere in France and Spain. They lurk by the roadside, have shrines in the most unlikely places - pre-industrial revolution celebs, I guess, providing the drama, violence and suffering we seem to need as a species. Amado makes links between Catholic saints and a more animistic spirit world. I've always been fascinated by this duality in St John of the Cross and this interest has come back to me again. But why, an unbeliever, can't I ignore him?
The writer of that familiiar phrase 'dark night of the soul' which has endured for centuries, a man who re-wrote psalm 137 By the Waters of Babylon, was born in June 1542 and with St Teresa of Avila, formed the barefoot Carmelites. John was 27 years younger than Teresa but only outlived her by nine years. Despite constant illness, she lived to 67 and died in one of her own convents in 1582. John died in 1591. Both are renowned for their mysticism.
I wonder if I was reminded of him by Kapoor? John of the Cross, in Dark Night of the Soul, suggests the soul must empty itself of self to be filled with God. It is reminiscent of Kapoor's interest in nothingness and maybe my recent immersion has revived the old fascination with this Spanish mystic who so angered the Inquisition.

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