Professor Easterling from the English Department at Murray State University is our featured #RacerScholar this week. His paper, “‘Love will not be idle’: Penance, Fantasy, and Desire in Richard Rolle’s The Form of Living,” appears in July 2015 issue of Exemplaria.
Richard Rolle’s English letter The Form of Living examines self-injurious behavior by anchorites and other ascetics not by condemning it wholesale but by resisting its logic of renunciation. This logic sought to abolish interiority’s multiplicities and to render the subject more strictly unified and calculating, a subject stripped of otherwise inextricable ties to its “other” (both within and beyond the subject) for whom penance is performed. The Form argues that extreme ascesis did not necessarily entail a reduction of the self to an exterior presence and fullness, nor did it inevitably assimilate the ritually exteriorized subject to its social engagements and towards an abolishment of the inner life. Yet penitential practices often lead to an exploitation of the body in these terms and do so through a disavowal of fragility — a fragility that for Rolle was essential to and constitutive of the contemplative subject.
“Love will not be idle”: Penance, Fantasy, and Desire in Richard Rolle’s The Form of Living
By Joshua Easterling
Exemplaria, vol. 27 (3), pgs. 205-221