This is profoundly beautiful!
And these lines: “…turn left and the world is different….
The light, the quicksilver, the jester…
a delightful bit of fluff that paradoxically opens the universe to infinity in its smallness…”
It is a revelation captured in poetry, which in reflection feels more akin to holy fool than fluff.
I have truly enjoyed reading all the myth blasts on the JCF site written by the excellent alumni of mythologists, scholars/professors.
Now, There is something about your essay Leigh, which reminds me so much of the heart of Joseph Campbell’s writings and presentations. It’s that energy, which first called, inspired and informed me in the world of myth years ago. You have really captured the heart of what I remember about Joe Campbell!
I love the idea of “mutual compassion recognition instead of dominance.”
To me it seems a very innate thing.
(Coming from the heart…)
Interesting that Lady Cunnaware
alliteratively reminds one of “kenning”(knowing) and aware. Her laughter is profound as well as delighted and delightful.
And you mention “play and healing,” which also conjures a deeper aspect to laughter feeling good (laughter and well being.)
And Oh the paradoxes! When Parzival fails his journey the first time around, it seems to me, he has tried extra hard to learn all of the knightly ropes. And his earnest desire to keep with the code is blinding and deafening him to the deeper code within his own nature.
(yes maybe there are the ego issues of keeping up appearances as well—-“knights don’t ask questions”
But it’s almost as though Parzival comes to the place where after you learn the ropes…then the next step is to learn to let go? What one thought they knew they did not know…Except the honor and compassion is already inside of Parzival. And he refused the Call until the 2nd time around, when the land is healed. Yet Parzival had to step away from the Code of his Knightly order for a moment in order to be able to hear the deeper call that led to the healing of the land..something which as you suggest is already foretold in Cunneware’s laugh.
And the paradox is the expectation of the knightly code being the Center of every story. Not that chivalry isn’t a nice poetic contemplation at its best. But as evidenced by the violent and heavy handed (and even abusive behavior) in the court, exactly what kind of code is now being celebrated? And that is a very good reason to look beyond appearances and look through…as your essay and comments suggest. And all three characters Cunneware, Antanor and Parzival are seeing through. Even if Parzival is still learning.
Is the most paradoxical part of Parzival’s journey, the part where he has to put the code aside in order for the land to heal? In order to feel the prompt of compassion from his inner nature (and the universe?) That could seem counterintuitive at first. Except the true honor and code of a real knight is inside of Parzival. It does not come from the social order of the court.
Otherwise everything becomes “portentous and heavy…and weighed down…until one “loses the point,” as you say. And…
The point is not the constructs of civilization’s expectations and failings, but instead, an unfailing commitment to doing what is most right, most compassionate.
The quote you provide from Campbell clarifies this as well:
In Romance of the Grail, Campbell writes, “In Parzival, you are to follow your own nature, your own inspiration; following someone else will lead you only to ruin. That is the sense of Parzival’s journey…”
When Parzival adheres to his mind and others expectations…
the wasteland remains. When he peacefully rebels with his heart…the land is healed.
And all this from the awkward but earnest young man who came to court.
How wonderful and strange!
It is no wonder Lady Cunneware laughed in delight!