Title Background

Lolling and the Suspension of Salvation in <i>Piers Plowman</i>

Lolling and the Suspension of Salvation in Piers Plowman

This essay considers the temporality of salvation in PPl through the mechanics of lolling and hanging – modes of temporal and somatic suspension that disrupt the teleological operations of redemption. Bringing Elizabeth Freeman’s discussion of chrononormative time – the temporal arrangements that have dominion over life – into the soteriology of PPl, this article sees the temporal maneuver of lolling as a confrontation to a salvific system built on waiting. It is the asynchrony of waiting that produces precariousness and this temporal pause shows its effects on the body. Those who depend on – literally hang and loll on – Christ’s return must wait in expectation of his coming, but have no promise, only hope, of a salvific future. This essay suggests that the temporal schematics of lolling and hanging reveal the inequities of salvific politics and expose the precariousness of temporally-bound subjects that institutional powers benefit from. As a temporal marker, lolling can stand for a variety of suspended actions: an imitation of Christ’s suffering on the cross, an idle worker, a hanged felon, or a retroactive redemption, to name a few. The poem identifies the suspended pause of lolling as both necessary for and an obstruction to Christ’s return. In this way, lolling makes manifest the asynchronicity that a quest for Truth requires because not all who loll and hang can access salvation. PPl takes seriously the precariousness of lolling subjects and questions how those who are suspended in time can dowel and secure a spot in a salvific future. (MG)