Confronting what inhibits woman from becoming divine must be on the minds of at least one billion women today as the birth is celebrated of one incarnate process when a Jewish girl defying norm, law and tradition, became divine by realising herself as flesh and spirit. Little is known of Mary biographically other than the fact that she birthed her son in parthenogenesis. That she acceded to divinity through the primacy of the maternal body entered by Spirit.
In the most anti-Christian progression of events since Jesus’ birth, women still exist at society's peripheries. Luce Irigaray, the brilliant French philosopher in her essay Divine Women enlightens our understanding of Mary by interpreting the Trinity: “God is in three persons, three manifestations, and the one part of the manifestation comes about on the occasion of the marriage of the Spirit and the woman”. The feminine is necessarily present inside the Trinity as it is from this consummation of Woman and the Spirit that the incarnation is made possible, the divine logos is made flesh. The result of the copulation is still gendered male but, sadly for all lords a-leaping today, super-eager to affirm their victory in the choice of the Heir’s sex, Jesus has no patriarchal inclinations whatsoever. The man Jesus cared nothing for the procedural legalities and the particularities of his paternity. He declares that, as far as the daddy question is concerned, he comes from God. He seeks no surname, no entitlement, no property. He incorporates more female than male characteristics: sweet saviour, sacrificial victim, carer of the sick and the disadvantaged. He devotes himself to proto-activism, mixing with lepers, consumptives, subversive types and anti-authoritarians. The one tragic figure reclining her head against the cross in the scene of the Crucifixion is Mary, the devoted mother, the divine spirit materialised, in whose body he received ensoulment.
Mary unites carnality and divinity. She disrupts the omnipotence of the Logos by constituting female subjectivity through word and flesh and by forcing the abstract quality of the divine to mix with matter. Mary defines Transcendence for us, gives us licence to operate female specificity and conscious articulation of our body.
Today’s article in The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/24/story-virgin-birth-..., authored by a Dr Giles Fraser, is quite brilliant. If it had come from a woman it would have incurred all the usual diagnoses of delusional ultra-feminism and the rest when in fact I am only a relatively timid girl devoted to writing a woman’s life. And I love Mary. She is the proof that God is a woman’s soul and matter; that before Man, before his laws there was Genesis. And Christmas lunch is not cooked in palaces and the pernicious houses of Authority but with Exiles, the lost, the strangers and the rootless. And that’s fine. As it happens, Jesus and his mum would have heavily disapproved of David Cameron and most of his friends.
At a time when endless souls are lost in the Mediterranean, at a time when rescue operations such as the Mare Nostrum are replaced by Triton and all the tragic consequences of that decision, at a time when over a million people have reached Europe through irregular means, nearly 70 years after Auschwitz, the figure of the Exile is back to haunt us again; on a biblical scale. The Exile, the a-temporal, the homeless and the undesirable are hardly Cameronite ideals but David Cameron has obviously judged this to be a fruitful occasion for him to flaunt his attachment to Christian beliefs.
We all know that theology and metaphysics are not Dave’s forte but he needs to know the basics: Jesus was not a privileged dogmatic man who dined with billionaire newspaper editors and fraternised with whomsoever would further his cause. Jesus was actually a foreigner, an Exile, born to an unmarried mother, uneducated, officially unemployed, a peripatetic, errant consciousness without property, without any desire to own a woman or the issues of her womb, without the urge to transmit his patrilineal succession in goods and chattels; a man who loved to fraternise with lepers, the deformed and the destitute. In fact, Jesus was the kind of guy whose asylum application Teresa May would have most certainly declined. And that says a lot for Dave’s Christianity.
I would like to end this note by affirming that today is Christmas. It is the celebration of a birth. An entirely womanly affair. The fruit of Mary’s womb, whether son or daughter, is here to remind us that Divinity, precisely because it is based in corporeal specificity, proves woman’s irreducibility to categories and classifications. It is woman’s realisation of her infinitude. And that’s not a bad thing.
Happy Christmas to all.
(c) Effie Samara 2015
This blog post was originally published at Red Women's Theatre http://www.redwomenstheatreawards.com/#!blog/gumso