I loved the phrase “nakedly competitive spiritual life” – I felt that it exemplified Margery well.  As the author mentions, yes, competition is not one that is recognized as a saintly aspect of religious life, this is still something that keep Margery going. The author calls it part of her identity.   After defining envy, and competitiveness with regards to Kempe’s book, the narrator then points out how early in the book Margery was envious of her neighbors.  I do see envy in Margery, and even competition, but I would like to go a bit further and say that Margery had envy of Jesus himself. The author says envy is “ that of negotiating relative status as well as the expression of a desire to be the object of a particular kind of emotion.” I agreed with the way that the author stated HOW Margery seemed to navigate through her life: “Margery constantly negotiates her likeness with others — neighbors and saints — and her ultimate difference”

Over the Top

The Book of Margery Kempe an autobiography of spiritual nature, and not what we would expect in an autobiography as there seem to be two main characters – her and god. It begins with her life before she ‘knew” god. her emotions seem to be very sad. the words that she uses make me think of her as coming down on herself about her life, not simply reflecting upon it – “lost her reason” “great bodily sickness” misdeeds” “great bodily penance” “tears of contrition”

Kempe found “solace” in the suffering she experienced because of her love for God. She found it pleasing to god to write down her experiences, which is how we get this text.

It is supposed to read as a story, but, as we have discussed in class and as others have mentioned so far on this blog, it is supposed to be a bit off the wall. I agree that Kempe is a bit off the wall in the way she devotes her life to god – it is as if she is taking others down with her. She tries to get her husband to become celibate, for one.

This is supposed to be a very emotional piece, and I see that. I do agree that Kempe herself is quite emotional about the entire ordeal of her life. I find evidence for it in the fact that she desired so to become a nun that she tried to be a celibate wife. This is an emotionally charged choice. Additionally, she is full of emotion when she, many times in the book, weeps for god or laments for him (641). She is over the top.

Multiple ways of looking at emotion

The author brings up Rosenwein and again talks about how there are two different (at least two) camps of thought regarding emotion. this author describes them as polar opposites in the beginning of his essay. What is weird is that he gives any attention to the idea of the tribes with their primitive nature of deciding if someone was fearful simply by using a ritual. Is my thoughts on this primitive myself and perhaps I can’t widen my horizen to accept this? Or maybe I am not reading the article correctly, but to even entertain this concept is strange. It is clear that emotions are universal, to me, and not governed by any outside force of nature like karma or chi or atua. .


I’d like to take a quick look at the Enlightenment’s view on things: “nature as the body and nature as the environment”.  If we can look to emotions as certainties of the human body or human nature, then we can, as the author says, read nature as absolute certainty. What does that say to the author’s earlier tryst with the amygdala? I am not sure. I do know that this author things that you can take the piece by piece evolution of emotion and look at it, like he does with the amygdala.


The author notes that in a hundred year span there have been 92 different definitions for emotion. I think that this speaks to the way that the author said he wanted to look at the evolution of emotion piece by piece. But are we supposed to cut out the pieces like the tribe mentioned earlier in his work that deemed emotions as ruled by outside forces? I did see the author’s connection with emotions and outside forces when he reminded the reader of the ways that we, as a group of people writing or talking about our feelings, will use such phrases that reference “something external” such as “overcome with rage”.

I guess I struggled to see all of the various definitions of emotion and was most struck by the author’s ability to relate something as concrete and valid as the amygdala with the Maoi tribe’s concepts of emotions being governed by an outside force.


When reading this article, my mind first went to the concept of the emotions of the elite during medieval era.  The beginning of this article focused on the feelings of the common folk and even mentioned that the elite must be dismissed and their emotions dismissed in order to gather data for what they call “genuine emotionology”.  I find this dismissal ridiculous and feel that the emotions of the elite are highly pertinent to the overall temperature of emotions at that time.  No one is without emotion.

Further,  I found it interesting that Elias was quotes as saying that while people in this era were found to have less restraint he also spoke of differentiating the so called super ego of this culture from another – something that I do not thing can be done.

There were both secular and religious lyrics in the set of lyrics we were to read for today. I have a religious background, so the religious ones were easy for me to decipher – I felt that I could anticipate what the author might say next. It seems that religious meditation has not changed too much over the ages.

I particularly enjoyed the repetition and oddness of Maiden in the mor lay. It was a short, secular lyric that made me feel like I was singing a song. Maybe this is the feeling that was intended? I see a difference in the feeling between the secular and the religious lyrics. Religious lyrics also tell a story, but nothing new to the medieval crowd. Telling a familiar tale and bringing about the feeling of sadness or reverence seems to be the point of the religious lyrics.

Marie de France’s Yonec is a tale that feels like many tales  Hinting at Rapunzel, familiar chivalry tales, and Oedipus, The tale is heavy on the imaginary and religious.  I think that this gives it a feeling of tradition with imagery and imagination as well.  It does not feel like a love story, nor a tragedy. It is simply creepy.

As I was reading this story I was also watching American Horror Story.  I could not help but see the similarities in some of the peripheral aspects to the story such as the obsessions by the lord, the spits intended to kill the knight, the extreme and intricate instructions on how to avoid or keep fate in your favor.  I read of how the maiden falls and follows the knight down to a place where he spins a yarn about swords and rings, I tend to see the strangeness that reminds me of the show I am watching.  Instead of a straightforward tale, Marie de France spins a web of interesting bits and pieces of a story of simple love.  I think that this means that the medieval feelings may have been ones that wanted to be satisfied with various reasons for things.  I also think that there were many imaginative elements to each part of the story and these moments were creative, gory, unexpected, typical, and all made up this one story.