August 9th, 2007

Madonna del "Magnificat" (detail)

The Sword and the Leper, the Neighbouring Chieftain: Marianne Dashwood, Sensitive

Today is a better day than yesterday. In the afternoon I got to finish the project I was working on (although I forgot to write a preface, but well, I almost finished it), so I have the feeling I did accomplish something. That makes me feel relaxed.

I am still doing the spread about The Sword and the Leper, a story about St. Brigid. I pull cards for each character in the story. The cards show how I act all the different attitudes of the characters. Yesterday I pulled the card that was an image of the neighbouring chieftain in me. This chieftain does not want to buy Brigid as a slave, because she is “too honest” for him. That was after Brigid had told him frankly that she wanted to sell all his wealth and that of her father to the brothers and sisters of Christ, because it really belonged to them.

The card that I had pulled for the attitude of the chieftain in me, but I did not interpret, was Four of Quills (Four of Swords) from the Tarot of Jane Austen. Pictured is Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Marianne is ill because she had not taken good care of herself. She did not change wet clothes after a walk in the pouring rain. The reason that she did not do this is was because she was heartbroken. 


The neighbouring chieftain in the story does not want to buy Brigid because she is too “honest”. What does this mean? It means that he meets in Brigid the poor people, the people he does not want to meet, because they are disgusting and cost him money. They make him uneasy, because he knows he has to give his money to them. He knows he is responsible for them. Therefore Brigid is “too honest”; she sees it sharply, just as it is.

When I look at the card that I have pulled, the card that represents the attitude of the neighbouring chieftain in me, then the same thing happens to me. Seeing Marianne I meet my guilt, my never ending responsibility to ease suffering. The great French and Jewish philosopher Levinas has written extensively about this. For years I have not thought of him, but just now I did. Interesting is that there is a cross behind her, a reminder of suffering.

For me it is a mental thing. chelsearoadremarked that in the end the “crushing reality of the mundane world and its influence (…) ultimately devastates Marianne.” I can get very uncomfortable when people are dramatically fearful and lose bottom, facing harsh realities in life. Marianne is like that. It feels if I get into contact with their raw nerves. But although I feel uncomfortable I cannot detach myself from them. It feels if I have do something for them, I have this responsibility. Just as the neighbouring chieftain, I would like to say: “I do not want to buy you, go back to your fathers. You are too honest for me.”

But, in a way I am myself Marianne Dashwood in that bed. “Perhaps your health issues come, in part, from your sensitivity to this world, chelsearoad commented, because I pulled the sensitive Marianne Dashwood. Indeed I did not feel well pulling the card and resonated with her while looking at her. I would never have dared to combine my health problems with the card (and with the attitude of the chieftain in me), but yes, I think it is the never ending responsibility that I feel  -the responsibililty that makes me so unconfortable, because I cannot detach-that makes my muscles tense.