On Derivative Ingenuity

Or, The First Post.
Now, puns are Serious: they are a weighty matter, and a lofty one. The Obrienatrix was not so named in haste. Although a pleasant glass of wine might have been involved in the process. In vino veritas.

For the full version of what follows, see my doctoral dissertation, Trobar Cor(s): Erotics and Poetics in Flamenca, chapter 3: “The Tenso de Flamenca: alternative trobar”, section 3.1: “Flamenca comes to life and becomes a trobairitz.” Currently being revised (or rather, taken apart and rewritten) for publication, hence herewith not the whole piece but a coherent excerpt (picking up just after a bit connecting to the Roman de la Rose):

Such creation in one’s image, derivative creativity, is a metaphorical re-enactment of Genesis 2-3. The first words uttered are “let there be light” (1.3). The first words spoken to Adam – and thus the first that he hears – are the instruction not to eat from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” the first question ever to be asked is by the serpent; and this leads to knowledge or understanding. Adam names the beasts of the field and birds of the air, but does so in indirect speech, and we are not provided with a list. His first direct speech, and first naming-act, is in naming Eve. While Adam was the product of creation proprement dit, Eve is made out of Adam’s rib: the first act of artistry, derivative creativity, and ingenious engineering. Her name is appropriately derived from his – or at least, “Woman” in the King James and virago in the Vulgate, with respect to “Man” and viro.

The first words and their reception resemble the Occitan entendre: “hearing” that leads to “understanding.” In Flamenca, we also have an asking of questions in the middle section of the lovers’ exchanges in church, and an attempt to reach an understanding – especially the specific amorous sense of entendemen. In Flamenca as elsewhere in Occitan, enginnos and cognates denote a set of inter-related concepts of genesis, generation, genius, and engineering; and, later, ingenuity. There is also a sense of “imagination” through the verb engienar, and its sense of “to produce images,” related to Lat. imaginatio. It is a man-powered and derivative version of creativity, making something new out of something old – as creation proper is the sole realm of the divine. Thus, the relationship between masculine and feminine creativity may echo that between divine creation and human creativity.*

Flamenca’s echoing poetics parallels a lazy eroticism: passive, of minimal effort, in which both sides simply play it out just enough for the game to continue, in a necessary sequence of next steps weaving a flirtatious dance. While both Guillem and Flamenca partake of the above patterns in their va-et-vient, they employ slightly different methods and styles. Guillem makes statements of first-person existential state while Flamenca asks questions. But in addition she twists in as much new content as can safely be manoeuvred, produces leading questions, and goes beyond an echo of his statements. Flamenca tries to push the questioning form to its limit, through a derivative creativity of ingenuity.

  • [original f/n 7] Further argument could be made here on the creation of a feminine derivative space out of the masculine – linguistic, social, erotic and poetic. I am uncertain, however, how to approach this topic, so as to avoid the pifall of playing into gender stereotypes rather than playing with them.
    [Ed. That footnote is definitely going to Have Things Done To It. Not yet decided whether it’s a case for the finely-honed blade or the blunt instrument.]

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