Rambuss 1998

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Rambuss, Richard. Closet Devotions. Durham: Duke UP, 1998.

devotion as a form of desire, devotional literature "as a literature of heightened affect" -- "interested in the manner by which religious (and other ecstatic) texts represent and stimulate affec, particularly in its most amplified registers" (1)

"Following Bataille's ecstatic tehorems on the complementarity of the sacred and illicit, my interests abide more with excess, transgression, and the heterodoxies of gender and eroticism that can be embraced inhabited through the mechanisms of devotion." (5)

Christ's Ganymede

"Donne's writing, like so muuch 17th-century devotional expression, espouses a devotion that is cathected onto the corporeal: a spirituality that, paraadoxically, keeps returning us to the physical body and its operations, even -- or all the more so -- in any pietistic endeavor to discipline or rein them in." (16)

"Achieving their effects whithc a rhetoric of the extreme and often deliberately courting the perverse, Donne, Herbert, Crashaw, and their fellows have accrued from their own time down into ours more charges of excess, indecorousness, and queerness than one finds imputed to any other early modern literary practice." (17-8) -- see e.g. Samuel Johnson on metaphysical

"like pornography, metaphysical poetry is great in its excesses." (19)

Christ's body is "sited at the breach between sacrosanct cultural boundaries. Christ's body, in other words, is one that by its very nature keeps exceeding, keeps transgressing the bounds of the licit, doing so in ways that touch upon the profane, the defiled -- even, I am going to suggest, the sodomitical in its diffuse early modern shape as the cultural category of ultimate stimatization." (19)

Lipsius, De Cruce

Crashaw; "among tose instruments that can penetrate and enter Christ's body is the poet's own tool, the pen" (27); "'Sancta Maria Dolorum' unfolds as a triangulated scene of mystic writing/wooing/wounding" (27)

Crashaw dwelling on closet, secret spaces, Christ as a series of open valves and mouths

"In thus envisioning Christ in his Passion as a highly fertile somatic field, one generative of numberless kissing mouths and tearful eyes, of countless orifices and dilated valves, of a literally promisuous, hypersemantic mix of bodily fluids, Crashaw aligns religious devotion and its affects with the body and its most visceral operations. Indeed, to reinvoke an association I posited earlier, it could be said that Crashaw probes the openings in Christ's body, as well as their ecstatic flow and eruption of secretions, with an explicitness, a studied fascination, that evokes no discourse so much as contemporary pornography's fetishistic explorations of the erotic body and its paroxysms. Like porn's specatcularized will-to-knowledge of the body -- its orifices and valves -- Crashaw's verse is devotionally interested in the form of Jesus in extremis, as an iconic male body rendered visible and open to desire. The fluid permeabilities of Christ's body, localized around the wound, the opening in the body -- the site upon which so many of Crashaw's lyrics dote -- thus provide the means for identification with him, for ecstatically 'mixing wounds,' for making the Passion commutable from the son of Man to man." (34)

wants to "insist that we avoid peremptorily re-encoding every representation of the penetrable male body as feminized because penetrated" (38)

"Accounts that fashion a paradoxically 'female' or a 'bixesed' Jesus often do so at the cost of too quickly effacing the primary maleness of his body and its operations, as well as, perhaps more important, the possibilities a male Christ affords for a homoeroticized devotional expression." (38)

"gender ecstasy" in St. Theresa poems (42)

Traherne, "Love" -- wanting to be Christ's Ganymede (54)

wants to "contest an unwarranted imposition on devotional expression of a flattening, overly normalizing metaphorics of unvariegated heterosexuality" (57)

Devotion and Desire

Quarles envisioning opened Bible as the uncovered boy of a new bride -- "mediated allegorical remove" -- beloved "is neither the soul nor God, but the Bible, which functions here as an explicitly feminized go-between, a female-gndered corpus across which the love betwen a male Christian and his male God can be routed." (78)

"The term devotion, as we know, can signify either erotic attachment or religious worship and oftentimes, we have further seen, both at once. Hence, rather than seek to disentangle such affiliations of pleasure, devotion, and eroticism, we might therefore look, following Donne, to bring these overlapping networks of desire into an expression rapprochement. Through an osmosis of eroticism fueling religious affect and religiosity heightening erotic desire, devotion to Christ becomes sexualized, becomes (to recall Bourdieu's formulation) a state of the body and its passions, no less than it is an exertion of the soul." -- figure of divine love and anima as paired cupids in Amoris divni emblemata (1615)

The Prayer Closet

"Closet devotion ... is the technology by which the soul becomes a subject." (109)

Herbert: Strier reads him as replacing ornate outer Solomon's temple with inner one; Rambuss argues "Herbert's 'Sion' has less to do with the succession of one kind of temple by another -- an innter temple for an outer one -- than with a wholesale replacement of monumental architecture by inner habitations that are restructured on a more intimate scale altogether." (111)

"Wettenhall envisions the prayer closet as a locus of a great deal of textual activity, ranging from biblical study and rote scriptural memorization, to the recitation of prayers out of prayer books like his own, tot he maintenance of a spiritual diary" (123)