Wednesday, August 24, 2005

strange songs

They ask me 'Why are you in so much pain?

Why do you sing and wail? Why is your face so pale?'

I say, 'Don't tell me what I do is wrong.

Look at the moon of her face; you'll understand my song.'

#401: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: much

Excess - or too much - felt like today's theme for there has been some excess in my life lately. It leaves me feeling overwhelmed. In this verse, Rumi speaks of his own grief which is seen by others as excessive. In defense, he points to the face of a feminine lunar deity. The suggestion here is that it is fine for a man to cry, to express the emotions of grief. The weeping and wailing at funerals was often a job for the women but men have feelings too.

In contrast, it occurs to me that I've often taken a confrontational stand in life. I've often adopted what might be considered traditional masculine behaviour. I had an early love of mathematics, a highly abstract pursuit often contrasted with more earthy or human (that is, feminine) pursuits.

The feminine lunar deity stands not only for the feminine side of human experience and expression, she clearly stands for totality as well, as was considered two days ago at inner-outer. After writing that, I noticed something else about the "vierge ouvrante" statue: when closed, the figure of the Virgin is stiff and elongated, resembling a phallic shape. Thus can woman express the masculine through her whole being.

Men doing feminine things and women doing masculine things is so accepted today, at least in the more worldly sectors of the West, that it's easy to forget how unusual it would have been in Rumi's day. For those around him, he was clearly singing strange new songs.


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