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CORPUS CHRISTI

 

The image of Christ on the Cross is no mere spiritual symbol of the Christian Church. It is also a perfect symbol of the crucifixion of the human body by science - its transformation into a passive and lifeless object, a mere corpus or corpse. The body as corpus is the body viewed only as a soul-less and functioning biological machine - a source of labour to be exploited in the service of corporate military-political power elites comparable to those of ancient Rome. The Greek word for ‘body’ (SOMA) also originally meant nothing but a dead corpse - devoid of the life-breath named PSYCHE. The Greek word for ‘flesh’ (SARX) meant simply ‘skin’ – the apparent boundary of our bodies. Our biological skin itself is no containing boundary but a porous breathing membrane. In essence, ‘The Flesh’ is not skin but that membrane through which we breathe in and absorb our sensory awareness of the world around us, taking its ‘outer air’ or spiritual atmosphere (Greek PNEUMA) into our soul and like the artist, letting it in-spire us with the life-breath (PSYCHE) of felt meaning or sense. Jesus said "…the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you." Gospel of Thomas. It is through our spiritual body that we can feel the entire sensory world around us (the Kingdom outside) as the expression of an inner world of soul (the Kingdom inside). The only boundaries or horizon of this body are the boundaries and horizon of our own awareness. For awareness, like air and light, surrounds and illuminates every body around us. By extending the inner and outer horizons of awareness (NOUS) we can ensoul our awareness of the sensory world around us and say of everything within it what Jesus said of the bread and wine: "This [too] is my body". Placing the corpus of Christ in a larger natural landscape was Friedrich’s way of reminding us that the body is no mere material corpus but a spiritual body - a veritable cathedral of light set in its own sensory landscapes of the soul.

 

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