§ 49. Mistral was accused of separatism; it was not the regionalist snake that lurked beneath these flowers, but the apocalyptic dragon, the Albigensian Tarasque. But, like Alighieri, Mistral was playing a comedy. When he was asked where he had got the word ‘félibrige’, which he used to baptise the renaissance of Provençal poetry, he never wanted to say, even though he knew absolutely. With concealed ingenuity, he took refuge behind a joke and said that he had picked up the word for its picturesque quality from an old hymn sung by his mother – unknown in the region – which spoke of the ‘Seven Félibres of the Law’. He even recited a timely stanza for the occasion. It’s not hard to recognise in it the seven troubadours who promulgated the Laws of Love and who had no place in a Catholic hymn. § 50. And it would be on this vague, obscure word, without precise consistency, that the renewal of southern poetics would have been founded. Mistral and Mathieu, who had been indoctrinated by Roumanille and taught at Dupuy’s Provençal school, formed a small group who had studied good Greek and Latin literature, and they knew perfectly well the value of the words they used. Their classical knowledge combined with a hint of old Avignon illuminism explains everything, and we can be sure that they were right to define themselves as the Académie des Félibres. Mistra’s entire work, which could rightly be described as a great work of literature, shows that the author was an adept and held in his hand Arianne’s thread, nicknamed gnosis, and stella gnosia, the star, i.e. the veil, of knowledge – stella taken here as a form of stellare, “to enamel”, “to stain”, “to cover with a sheet”. In Latin, therefore, there is a play on words, similar in French, between the star and the cloth (étoile et toile in french). Mireille’s father was no stranger to gallant trybadic or troubadic juggling tricks, and was well aware that the gnostic is the one who possesses kunos-estis, ‘the accent of the dog’ – the language of dogs, of cynics, erotic and erratic, the literary Languedocien so prized by Rabelais – the bargain hunter, the licker, because the dog has sui generis habits that need no further explanation. It was the language of the Thease of Bacchus, husband of Ariadne, the god who carries the cup of inebriation. § 51. The cup therefore played an important ritual role in Félibrige. At every banquet for Saint-Estelle, Sanctus Stella, the secret star, Lucifera, the Queen of the Night, Maha Kali, the Great Black of the Indies, a mysterious cup, “from the Catalans”, was passed around, as at the agape of the Rosicrucians. And while it’s true that the Catalan poet Dom Balaguer offered the Félibres this symbolic vase, it’s equally true that this offering was nothing more than a juggling act to save face. And note that this cup, chiselled according to hermetic canons disguised under the […]
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