|12th c. map of Jerusalem|
And of course he's right. I don't know how many years I've given that city thought, practically daily thought as my research has a taken a turn east - since graduate school started in 1991, for sure, but I know that Donna had taught me many things before then as well. And now, as it's reality looms large and possible, I find that I have many questions, that I know really very little really, but that I know of a great many people's desires and dreams for Jerusalem.
|Modena cathedral, 12th c. Guinevere archivolt|
There are big questions to be asked here: why want Jerusalem? why does it matter? why is the pull to the city so relentless? (don't forget, even Christopher Columbus wanted to use the riches of the New World to fund a crusade to win Jerusalem back). My questions of late have been specifically geared to Europe: what is this strange, brutal chapter in which Christians desired Jerusalem? A city far from European seats of power; a city at the heart of one of the strangest colonial empires, surely; a city that produced more art and literature pining for its possession than I'll ever know about. There are some answers, some lucid explanations, but I'll save those for a post written from the office where the books are. For now, I find myself much more interested in coming up with good questions than finding answers. Will I understand the desire for Jerusalem? Probably not (the secular enthusiast for the Enlightenment in me wishes to strip away every shred of mysticism anyway). Will I be moved by the markings that have been left by the always already fleeting possession of the city? Yes (the non-secular enthusiast in me (whatever she may be called) wants to understand the meaning of place, wants to somehow perceive and feel the layers of history).
|Matthew Paris - Road to Jerusalem, 13th c.|