A Western Lover's Discourse -or- Delusion and Dream of Love

The first image in the theatre above is Bronzino's "Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time".

Pedestrian Fragments -or- The Historical Drama of the Dream of Love

Rolland Barthes "A Lover's Discourse: Fragments", lays bare the Western philosophical construction of the discourse and "delirium" of love and lovers. Barthes discusses the French A-Z dramatic subject and object of amorous discourse and the "mise en scene" of love. Some of these dramatic mise en scene fragments of a lover's discourse, include gossip, letters, jealousy, the three simple words "I-love-you", magic, crying, the obscene and remembrance. Many of the topics of Barthes discursive fragments find expression in dream interpretations posted at the International Institute for Dream Research website. 

In terms of dreams and dreaming, Barthes lover's discourse turns to Freud's psychoanalytic literary criticism of Jensen's "Gradiva". Using Freud's "Delusion and Dream in Jensen's Gradiva" we can enter from the psychoanalytic perspective, the mythical image and historical literary representation of women. For Barthes; "The hero of 'Gradiva' is an excessive lover: he hallucinates what others merely evoke." 

The literary hero of "Gradiva" is Norbert Hanold, a young archeologist who has difficulty separating his idealized and obsessive erotic fantasies from reality. In a dream, he is transported back to ancient Roman times where he sees Gradiva come to life, walking on stepping stones during the destruction of Pompeii. Back in reality, Norbert decides to visit the unearthed lost Roman city. In Pompeii he meets his childhood playmate Zoe Bertgang who reminds him of his dream of Gradiva, or is it that Gradiva sub-consciously reminded him of Zoe? 

From a Jungian "synchronicity" perspective the two star crossed lover's pedestrian paths meet in Pompeii, which in itself is not a coincidence. When Pompeii was excavated, it provided a human archeological snapshot of seeing the pedestrian past of the everyday ways of life of men and women in the Roman Empire. In "The House of the Tragic Poet", the "Lupanar" and in many other places of the city excavators found erotic art

An argument could be made, that the Western feminine archetype and dream of Gradiva can be traced back to the real historical person of Helen of Troy. In Pompeii, in the "house of the tragic poet", art work of ancient Greek mythology are found on many of the walls. From a literary and artistic perspective, we can archeologically trace the historical delirium of the dream of love in the West directly to the ancient Greek myth of Helen. Helen's face we are told launched a 1000 ships, leading to war and the destruction of Troy. Bettany Hughes "Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore" tells her readers that despite her beauty, Helen is "far more than just a pretty face." Hughes tells us, that she uses "familiar literary sources" and "archeology" to "piecing together Helen's life-story". Hughes believes that Homer; "promoted Helen as a captivating and troubling icon." 

Much like the poetic iconic image of Gradiva suggests, Hughes says that she attempts to "follow in her (Helen's) footsteps". Reversing the historical pedestrian path of Hanold's obsessive dream, allows us to trace the feminine iconic footsteps of Helen from ancient Greece to the archetypal mould of dreams of modern women. At the conclusion of this historical psychological trace, we still find the schizotypal image of the "Holy Prostitute". Said differently, from a philosophical perspective, the Western history of the delirium of the dreams of love, erotic and sexuality of men and women, we actually find that apparently little has changed since the days of Pompeii, Rome and Troy.



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