It takes a bit of time to get one’s head around the difference between cataphatic (positive) and apophatic language (negative), which lies at the heart of a great deal of medieval literature. As a general rule, apophatic language deals with the mysteries of life: where human existence comes from, what is the nature of evil, what is real, who God is, and what the afterlife consists of. Nothing in our direct human experience seems adequate to explain these things; all our use of language is derived from the mundane, the tangible, and the physical environment around us, and so human language needs to “elevate” to talk meaningfully about these “ontological” realities. Hence, apophatic language is often (a) negative (“God is not good, in the sense that our concept of goodness is inadequate to explain God”), or (b) mystical and (c) musical or artistic. Art and music transcend ordinary human language, and so the role of art and music in medieval literature is very prominent. Can you think of any examples? Share your ideas!