Simona-Grazia Dima










The inspiring past 




The British writer Morelle Smith (poet, prose writer and essayist), succeeds, in her latest novel, Time Loop (O buclă a timpului), Playback Arts Limited, Da Cutts, Sandwick, Shetland, 2010, in creating an alert plot, by which the mysterious issue of the Catharic heresy is brought about in the most natural manner, and philosophy, love, poetry, astrology or mysticism, interwoven with dreaming and sparkling conversations become credible narrative components. The protagonists of the story are Helga and Tom, with destinies placed in nowadays Scotland, surrounded by other characters (Adrian, Helga’s husband, or Stan, Tom’s friend), artists or intellectuals.


They all have a tumultuous inner life, which they discover it is deeply rooted in 13th century’s Southern France. Far from going down the risky slope of themes such as reincarnation, the novel suggests the vital need to live out inner intuitions, in order to achieve true freedom of spirit.


The ideal way « chosen » by the characters (or, better said, consubstantial with them) is love. The traumas lived in the present by the protagonists, caused by a tragic past, are cleared in the present by reviving love from where Sebastien Serallier and Cabousta Detalille’s lives have been cut off after their burning at the stake, along with the extermination of the Catharic movement by Simon de Montfort’s French troupes. Cabousta is the daughter of the Cathars called parfaits (that is leading members, mentors of the community, equal to priests but without being focused on ritual but on having access to advanced states of consciousness, superior to those lived by the simple croyants), executed at thirteen years old. Sebastien, her fiancé, is also the son of an important Catharic family. Without their knowing, Cabousta is loved by a Catholic nobleman posing as a protector of the Cathars but in fact a spy of the Cathars and eventually their exterminator. All the movements of the two young lovers are known, as she finds out while being confined in a dungeon where she receives the persuasive visits of the aspirant, Guillaume de Sefère, who eventually proposes to her (in an attempt viewed by him as an effort to save a “sinful” soul from perdition).


Catholicism, embodied by Inquisition at that time, was completely alien to Catharic mentality for which the former meant only aggression, corruption and desire to possess and manipulate the soul. The Cathars would not accept priests as mediators between believers and God, thinking that everyone was entitled to have contact with the divinity by an intense spiritual practice. Their ideational independence doubled also by the free status of the Languedoc land, created the secular and religious establishment at that time, so that Pope Innocent III and the King of France, Philippe August allied. A crusade was initiated against them, led by Simon de Montfort, until the Cathars were exterminated – extermination completed in 1244 with the end of the siege of Montségur Castle. The kingdom got into France’s possession.


Today, the lack of spirituality span in religious ideas causes the former absconded Guillaume de Sefère to be reduced to the simple image of a psychologist-inquisitor, possessed by a religious and affective fixation which is less virulent than in old times: he is Adrian, Helga’s husband and saviour while she was hospitalized in a psychiatric clinic, metamorphosed into an anonymous IT specialist (there’s a fine nuance of postmodern humour in this metamorphosis of the character). The protection and feelings offered to Helga hide a great deal of possessiveness, as well as blame. His feelings are, in another plan, the same with those of the old inquisitor, by the fact that he despoils the object of his affection of any intimacy: it is the perspective of an experienced predator. Both he and Tom, unexpectedly met by Helga at Rennes-le-Château, are obsessed with the so-called treasure of the Cathars, which is said to have included the Holy Graal, and they frequently travel in search of it, undertaking minute research. But Uranian Tom, animated by the flaming, instable energy of the Libra sign, is also a good musician lacking inspiration, wandering through the world in search of some invigoration. On top of Montségur Mountain, near Cathars’ impressive castle, their last defence line in way of the French troupes, Adrian threatens Tom with an incredible toughness, and afterwards at Edinburgh, he strikes him in open street. Initially, the motivation seems to be exploratory competition but then it becomes clear it is all about a hidden jealousy, Adrian considering Tom guilty of his break-up with Helga. The latter deserted him, shocked by the disturbing truths revealed by the depths of his mind.


Love – a superior existence which does not know separation or interruption, an expression of conquering totality (but only spiritually), continues naturally and even Adrian understands it, wholly emptied of purpose after loosing Helga, the true Graal chalice, by her subtle and precious spirit. The Cathars left, therefore, an infallible inheritance: not a set of ideas, beliefs and rituals but a superior way of living and valorise existence. Just as the author says, each one of us has a Montségur Mountain to climb, towards an enchanted castle, which will give us happiness.


The Scottish writer Morelle Smith has created a novel rich in meaning, captivating and at the same time modern, which encompasses information of the most various range, melting them in a spiritual perception of the quotidian.







Translated from the Romanian of Simona-Grazia Dima by Adriana-Ioana Nacu Minculescu

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