Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

How romantic love was born

Posted on September 25, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – August 19, 2018 – 12:00am

I read a book many years ago by one of my favorite authors Ken Wilber. It was called A Brief History of Everything. It was a fascinating read. It was as much about history and also the evolution of consciousness and spirit that guided and brought mankind to the stages of evolution in thinking and values.

I wish to dwell on a particular time in history which Ken Wilber likes to point out as that moment when romantic love was born. It was around the 12th century in Europe, particularly in France where it started. This was the age of the Troubadours.

The troubadours were poets and artists and knights and they made a big deal about how loving a woman was an ideal to be sought and pursued. It had two elements that they adhered to. The first was the complete and total ‘‘adoration of women.’’ The second was ‘‘the enablement of man through love.’’ It was certainly not about carnal desires. Carnality made men no higher nor different than animals which are unable to overcome their baser instincts. It was about something much more noble. It was about the elevation of women, and how loving them could also elevate man himself. To quote Guillen Montanhagol, a troubadour then from Toulouse, “Truly, lovers must serve with love all their hearts, for love is not a sin but a virtue which makes the wicked good and the good better, and puts a man in the way of doing good every day: and out of love comes charity, for whoever truly gives his mind to love cannot thereafter do evil.”

It is noteworthy to mention that prior to all this, the main ideal that was pursued was complete loyalty and devotion to the king and the Lord. One might say this was the path to glory.

The socio-political power structure then consisted of the royal families and the Church. The feudal system was all about the royals owning and ruling over vast tracks of land and the peasants serving them. The Church was also part and parcel of the power structure. Mainly, it gave God’s imprimatur to kings and queens to rule over their subjects.

At a time when lands had to be populated, and laborers and armies were greatly needed, it was the friars task to broker unions through marriage. Marriages were mainly utilitarian unions. Royals needed vassals for farming. The priests’ role was to find men and women to match and pair as couples, marry them off so they can bear children with the aim of providing subjects to serve the king. A great majority of marriages were arranged by the church.

Even among the royalty, the church brokered the unions by marriage of kings and queens, princes and princesses to consolidate their power and build empires. Obviously, the priests were very powerful in the community.

This is not to say that love did not exist prior to the time of the Troubadours. It did but it was not a top of mind consideration nor a necessity for marriage.

You can imagine how the troubadours with their glorification and pursuit of romantic love would become a major challenge to the powers that were at that time. It was a new idea that not only introduced a more refined relationship between men and women but also changed the rules between subjects and rulers. For one, it diluted loyalty to the king and the Church. The element of choice about whom to love subverted the existing order. In fact, many troubadours were arrested and killed. One might say, they were martyrs who died for the ‘‘glory of love.’’

I find this particular time in the history of man quite exciting. Clearly, it was a step up the evolutionary consciousness that led to the development of greater freedom and the recognition of free will, to say the least.

Some people say that we live in a post-romantic modern world now. The world of the troubadours is over. Chivalry is dead. Perhaps they are right, but not completely. Valency, a troubadour himself described a true lover in those times as a “woman’s lover, her vassal (an agent of her will who serves her like the vassals who served their king), her protector and champion (of her physical well-being and reputation), and her poet.” The last one probably meant that he wrote poems and sang songs of lofty love to honor her.

A lot of modern men still like to do the whole romantic schtick like giving gifts, chocolates and flowers, and writing love letters and singing songs. The major difference between the troubadours of old and the modern lovers is the casual and not-so-strict adherence to the ideal of pure unadulterated love and the element of secrecy which was valued at that time.

Some historians say the the troubadours gave birth to romantic love which by definition and practice was both sensual and spiritual. Of course, the sensual part of it then was not anything like what we mean ‘‘sensual’’ to be today. A romantic glance, a perfumed handkerchief given to a man, a poem sent to a loved one may have been the typical exchanges. Everything was more refined and proceeded in orderly, defined albeit restrained stages, from the act of falling in love to consummation.

Love has gone through a lot of changes through the ages. It certainly has been evolving since time began.

But romantic love, the act of falling in love and placing a loved one in some sort of pedestal lingers on. One cynical way to look at all this is to judge this as an act by someone unworthy trying to find self-worth in another.

I look at it differently. I see it as the power of love that humbles one person to surrender and devote all his attention, powers and capabilities to his adored one.

We can learn from past history. Perhaps it would make our ladies happier if we men would behave like the troubadours once in awhile.


Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/08/19/1843751/how-romantic-love-was-born#TCR4MqQrEQV2kcC0.99

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