Much of our semester has been conducted around the very illusive word ‘embodiment,’ whether in context with N.Katherine Hayles and her temporal debate on when does a person become machine or vice versa? or in relation to the spirit’s manifestation within the body as something entirely alien and foreign to earthly bound rules, there has always been argument to spare concerning this term. Exactly when I thought harmony was lost to the perfection of technology and the preservation of a species, I was rewarded with a return to the earth in the most dismal of methods. Finally enlightened, this week’s readings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kemp guided my critical eye to focus on a different phrase, entombment.Julian of Norwich has enlightened my mind into a world of monastic mysticism and a call to return to the primordial in a way I have not yet encountered in my studies. The brief, incandescent fear held towards the existence of God is shattered through the experiences and memories of an anchorist sheltered from the communal and societal traditions of human life. What concerns most people at one time or another is the presence of God, whether He is found in earthly vision, cerebral cognition or as a manifestation of guidance, His ‘His-ness’ cannot be found on a earthly level. This divine omniscient perspective, one held firmly in Roman Classical Literature, is unveiled in light of Julian’s devotional prayer and divine intervention as someone or some”thing” containing otherness (one in which I believe holds great cosmic truth).
However, this otherness could not have been defined or so accurately understood without first having some understanding of a self. Julian of Norwich is seemingly in knowing council of philosophical concepts of self and self-hood. Through the filter of the text we see that Julian is observing herself within her social and physical (albeit material) world, written consciousness or rhetoric facilitates the relationship between inherent self and her self in experience of supernatural vision. To maintain one’s identity one must have knowing and reflection with a other. Typically, in post modern philosophy the relationship of self and other is independent of constrains built by object and subject and in knowing the other already is, the balance is maintained. But, during the time period, such ontologically radical beliefs were not yet manifested and relationship with other, meant other-person or other-self.
Julian posits such a revolutionary idea in her attempts to come into knowing God, that through entombment not only can sublimity be reached but so too can the true, pure essence of the self be revealed in the dichotomy of gender. In her visionary state, Julian comes into contact with Jesus not as a presence, but as a self as whole and as suffered as her own self. She comes to know Him in such an intimate way, the kind of intimacy one would only have with oneself, and in this embodiment she is transformed from an ill and dying woman, into one carrying eminent joy and unearthly compassion. Not only is her true nature as a woman found in herself, it is also found in the essence and beauty of God. Through such archaic methods of recluse and entombment, Julian has found a space on Earth inhabited simultaneously by the spiritual and natural realm in a moment so profound the language used becomes artificial and incomplete because the true power of eternal life is unmeasurable. Julian would argue, so too is the power of God.