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In this paper I wish to open up a dialogue between the discourse of selfhood as it is mapped out by the Ancrene Wisse and

some theories of subjectivity drawn from three fields in Psychology: i) ii) iii) Continental post-structuralist psychoanalysis British Object Relations Cognitive neuroscience

The first of these, represented by the works of Lacan, Kristeva and Zizek, is well-established as a literary-theoretical discourse. The second, associated with Melanie Klein and D.W. Winnicott, is relatively underdetermined in terms of cultural application; while the third, Cognitive neuroscience, is itself an emergent and increasingly relevant discipline in the field of Psychology. All three, I think, have some important things to say about the way *we* might approach the formation and development, of soul and self, in the extraordinary group of writings nowadays known as the AB-group. In the two decades since Linda Georgiannas The Solitary Self , the Ancrene Wisse and ancillary texts in the Wooing Group and the Katherine Group have been the focus of much specialised attention for their bearing on notions of Selfhood. This tendency seems to have been borne on the back of a widespread movement throughout the humanities, toward reconciling the metaphysical discourse of the Soul, with the post-Hegelian and post-Freudian crises of subjectivity. One of the more interesting recent examples to have emerged from this trend is Christopher Cannons development, over the course of three essays, of a model of selfhood patterned by a structure of interiority that provides the form of the textual object as well as the determination of an ontological structuration1 for anchoritic enclosure in itself.

The theory of structuration, proposed by Anthony Giddens (1984) in The Constitution of Society (mentioned also in Central Problems of Social Theory, 1979), is an attempt to reconcile theoretical dichotomies of social systems such as agency/structure, subjective/objective, and micro/macro perspectives Social life is not the sum of all micro-level activity (e.g. dyads), but social activity cannot be completely explained from a macro perspective. The repetition of the acts of individual agents reproduce the structure. Social structures are neither inviolable nor permanent. Structuration theory aims to avoid extremes of structural or agent determinism. The balancing of agency and structure is referred to as the duality of structure: social structures make social action possible, and at the same time that social action creates those very structures.

With all this proliferation of material oriented toward the question of selfhood, its somewhat surprising to realise quite how little of it draws upon Psychological theory. Of all the theoretical discourses to have grown out of the twentieth century, it is psychoanalysis which is the most firmly rooted in questions of identity and subject-formation; particularly as they are channelled through discursive practice and semiotic process. What I would like to do today is to engage the primary text in discussion with some modes of thinking about psychology, by way of the key terms of the title of this paper.

The relationship between the two clauses, heorte as Subject, ..and.. the Object of desire, presupposes both binary opposition and its corollary: the intrinsically arborescent2 structure of intersubjective relationships. This opposition is deliberately antagonistic, and I hope in the course of this paper to be able to explore ways in which the desiring Subject itself becomes an object of desire, as well as how the heart, which is repeatedly adduced as an essential kernel of subjectivity, may fruitfully be construed as a special type of object, somehow extrinsic to and yet emerging from the signifying apparatuses of the reading Subject.

"Arborescent" -- having the characteristics of a tree; treelike.

Arborescent is a term used by the French thinkers Deleuze and Guattari to characterize thinking marked by insistence on totalizing principles, binarism and dualism. The terms, first used in A Thousand Plateaus (1980) where it was opposed to the rhizome, comes from the way genealogy trees are drawn: unidirectional progress, with no possible retroactivity and continuous binary cuts (thus enforcing a dualist metaphysical conception, criticized by Deleuze). Rhizomes, on the contrary, mark an horizontal and nonhierarchical conception, where anything may be linked to anything else, with no respect whatsoever for specific species: rhizomes are heterogeneous links between things that have nothing to do between themselves (for example, Deleuze and Guattari linked together desire and machines to create the - most surprising - concept of desiring machines). Horizontal gene transfer is also an example of rhizomes, opposed to the arborescent evolutionism theory. Deleuze also criticizes the Chomsky hierarchy of formal languages, which he considers a perfect example of arborescent dualistic theory.

heorte is one of the most significant and (notwithstanding pronouns and prepositions) also one of the most prolifically distributed words in Ancrene Wisse, occurring, with its cognates, over two-hundred times, working its way, on a medial average onto virtually every folio of the text, both recto and verso. As one of the qualia determining the selfdefinition of the Subject, the heart can in many ways be seen as the zero-point field: the fundamental criterion that cannot by definition be removed, if the being of the Subject is to continue, let alone flourish. As the Wisse author repeatedly insists, the heart is the vessel and the custodian of the souls life: e heorte, et sawle lif is inne. The discourse in which the heart betokens a central and synergistic organon is a tradition which stretches back into the writings of the early Church Fathers. In the Macarian Homilies its said that the heart...directs and governs the whole bodily organism; and when grace possesses the pasturages of the heart, it rules over all the members and the thoughts. For there in the heart, is the intellect (nous) and all the thoughts of the soul and its expectation; and in this way grace penetrates throughout all parts of the body.3 Augustine similarly privileges the heart as the focal point of the inner life; in the Confessions he writes that the heart is the indivisible, authentic centre of human life...the place of interiority and religious experience, which defines individuality.4 The tropes of essentiality and centrality focused on the image of the heart are thus hedged around the construction of identity and the formation of the Self. Moreover, in its multilateral co-ordination and redistribution of the whole range of the subjective experience of the higher functions, the holistic property of the heart, provides a finite expression of Gods infinite holistic potential. It is in the locus of the heart that we might look, for the microcosmic reflection of the imago Dei. In Ancrene Wisse, the author self-deprecatingly subordinates his text before the transformative potential with which it is encoded, characterising it as a handmaiden to the welfare of the heart: al nis bute as uften to serui e leafdi to riwlin e heorte. it is all only like a handmaiden to serve the lady in ruling the heart. This inscription of feudal obligation describes a readily apprehensible hierarchical structure in which the service and rule of the heart is governed by the loving administrations of the Lady [or anchoritic reading subject], herself
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Kallistos Ware, The Soul in Greek Christianity in From Soul to Self ed. Crabbe. Cited by Jager p.29.

supported by the hortatory encouragement of a sympathetic handmaiden [the Ancrene Riwle]. This representation of the reading Subject as an aristocratic Lady who governs the heart as a kind of feudal subject inscribes a differential predicated upon the mutual obligations of service and protection. If the heart subserves the contemplative trajectory of the anchoritic subject, it can only do so under her protective custodianship. Chris Cannon has written at length, of a siege mentality that structures not only the formal properties of the AB-texts, but also their martial language and imagery, finding that: for texts on devotional subjects they show a surprising awareness of the methods and tactics of...warfare [GoEL, 147] That the custody of the heart so frequently makes recourse to the language of violent opposition, reflects the split nature of the Subject, who in a process designated by Freud as Ich-Spaltung, perpetually oscillates between two states: of disavowal and acceptance. Lacan developed this theorem as the substrate condition of all subjectivity, arguing that entry into the symbolic at the infantile stage, brings about a permanent and irreducible division and alienation in the Subject. The conflict between the will-to-jouissance or enjoyment in fulfilling the libidinal drives and the normative Purity codified in Holy Writ is specifically stretched across the battleground of the heart in Ancrene Wisse. Thus in the second destinctiun, lechery, the stinking whore, fights with the lady of chastityGods wife. First she shoots the arrows of light eyes, that fly forth lightly like an arrow that is feathered, and stick in the heart... (and so it goes on) This audacious adaptation of the Romance trope, exemplifies the ravenous discursive co-optation running through the text. Julia Kristeva has written of the female principle as a force that is threatening for divine agency... [which is] rooted historically (in the history of religions) and subjectively (in the structuration of the subjects identity), in the cathexis of the maternal functionmother, women, reproduction and further, of how the biblical test5...performs the tremendous forcing that consists in subordinating maternal power (whether historical or phantasmatic, natural or reproductive) to symbolic order as pure logical order regulating social performance, as divine Law attended to in the Temple. To the extent that the Temple is the Law, one is biblically pure or impure only with respect to social order. It seems pertinent in light of this to bear in mind that the inward aspect and trajectory of the Wisse-authors persistent exhortation to cultivate a

Deuteronomy 18:20-22. beware false prophets; test of good prophets

loving sensibility, and so purify the heart [that luue e make schir heorte] stands in negative relation to the outward exemplarity of the life of enclosure as a social performance for the spiritual benefit of the local community. The paradoxes attending the enclosed life seem severally problematic to an analytic framework that takes the intersubjective situatedness of the Subject as an ontological base-condition. Yet the relationship of the reader to the text itself posits a version of intersubjectivity, and in a complex rather than dyadic form: so that the elaborately polyvocal texture of the exegesis, is at times almost cacophonous. Perhaps part of the genius of the way this text is designed is the sense it evokes of an ebullient, convivial and participatory discourse with the Prophets and the Fathersproviding a supportive intervention between the anchoress who must live as one dead unto the world, and the abject void of the infinite to which she must aspire. Nevertheless, in every case these voices shape a trajectory toward the dialogue with the One Father that is the texts ultimate objective. D.W. Winnicott once famously remarked that there is no such thing as an infant, what [he] meant, of course, [is] that whenever one finds an infant one finds maternal care, and without maternal care there would be no infant.6 It is tempting to paraphrase this along the lines that there is no such thing as a recluse, for wherever we find an anchorite, we find the Law of the Father, and without the Law of the Father, there would be no anchorite. The basic tenet of the Object Relations School might thus be seen as an abstraction of, or coincidence with Heideggers concept of Dasein or being-there:
Being in the world in the sense of dwelling means being in the presence of (bei) other beings, and thus also always being situated in a particular context; it means being an open site, not just or primarily for beings, but for beings in their presence and presencing.7

The curious paradox for the anchoress is that she becomes an absence in her very presence, an opaque, inscrutable object at the heart of society, present only before the presencing of God; while God reciprocates this undivided expression of love in the purity of heart with an omnipotent unfolding of unquestioning acceptance.

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Winnicott, The Maturational Processes..., (Hogarth, 1965), p.39n1. Will McNeill, A scarcely pondered word. The place of tragedy: Heidegger, Aristotle, Sophocles in Philosophy and Tragedy edited by Miguel de Bestegui and Simon Sparks, (London, 2000), p.170

In the seventh part, which is entirely about love, which makes the heart pure, the infinite reciprocal potential of Gods love exerts a paradigmatic transvaluation in the Subject: Jesus Christs love for his dear wifethat is, Holy Church, or the pure soulpasses and overcomes all the four greatest loves that are found on earth...these four being, Platonic love between friends, heterosexual love culminating in marriage, maternal love and love between body and soul. Divine Love makes [the anchoress] pure, peaceful and clean. Love has a power beyond all others, for all that she touches, she turns it all to her and makes it all her own. In these climactic sequences, it is clear that the oppositional structure of the title of this paper no longer obtains, for although the schir heorte of the anchoress may represent the kernel of her subjectivity it is also the object of desire, both human and divine. Eugene dAquili and Andrew Newberg astutely observe that heightened emotionality in a context of surrender increases the possibility of selftransformation, and suggest that the transformative potential of therapeutic psychoanalysis is governed by neurological processes similar to those activated during the experience of religious epiphany. Perhaps, then, psychoanalytic practice is not so much resistant to the claims of religious experience as complementary. If the Subject might disabuse itself of the snares and pitfalls of representation in the contingent and mutable sub-celestial world, it might begin to approach the Real without the profound sense of alienation that perpetually fringes the disavowal of the symbolic. I spoke earlier of the present absence of the anchoress, of the opaque lacuna circumscribing her societal embodiment in the anchorhold. I said that this object is found at the heart of the community and I think that Sarah Beckwith is probably right in stressing the somatic basis of the conceptual structures through which ecclesiastical power mediated and regulated itself in the middle ages in her book Christs Body. But theres more to it than this. I think that the anchorhold in particular projects (in the Lacanian sense of casting outside oneself, that which it is intolerable to contain) a traumatic dimension that adheres to the unknowable Real, consisting beyond the limit of language. The impenetrable edifice of the anchorhold, might be seen as the projection, of the unfathomable mystery of the heart: a collective manifestation of the objet petit a. Zizek describes this difficult Lacanian concept as the fantasmatic stuff of the I...that which confers on the split subject, on the fissure in the symbolic order, on the ontological void that

we call subject, the ontological consistency of a person, the semblance of a fullness of being.8 The cultivation of the pure heart was construed as a necessary precondition for the stripping away of representational attachments in the pursuit of pure contemplation. This was a daunting and terrifying vocation, whose rewards resisted discursive explanation:... The mystical frontier, ultimately, is beyond the potential of the signified. In perpetuating the notion of the heart as the kernel of subjectivity, writers in this tradition substituted an imaginary-symbolic object for the void in which the Real of selfhood consists. In this sense we should speak not of heorte as Subject but as le objet petit a: for it is precisely along this differential that the Subject in essence defines itself. The spiritual glamour of the anchorhold provided a correlative subrogation that in itself served as a salutary reminder of the ultimate unknowability of the divine mystery.

Tarrying with the Negative, p.48