[ by Charles Cameron — just alerting you to the sequel ]
Since my life these days is largely spent in bed or in my wheelchair, and since I don’t have access to my books,I’ve been working on a slew of book reviews. This is just to forewarn you that Margaret Atwood has a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale coming out very soon:
It’s gruesome-beautiful, which is why I’ve placed it second — but it’s vidual immediacy speaks viscerally to us, once we know the material on which the imaged was placed..
The ouroboros is not so strong in this case, since the flayed skin on wh9ich the representation is made is of vellum, ie the skin of a lamb or young anim=mal, flayed (removed from the animal’s flesh) after the death of the animal — while the depiction of St Bartholomew shows him being flahed in flie.
The image in question is part of a quadripartite miniature, which I’ll display here by posting two images from the Morgan collection immediately above one another — in its proper context, it seems less gruesome, perhaps?
I’m not saying, mark you, that human fklesh isn’t on occasion used in the binding of books. Wikipedia has an entry under the title Anthropodermic bibliopegy, which if you untangle it from the Greek means “binding with human skin” — and offers for our view and judgment the following example from the Welcome collection of medical rarities:
That’s S. Pinaeus, De integritatis et corruptionis virginum. And while we’re on the subject of virgines (girls), there’s also this label:
This book has been bound with the skin of a woman”
— which is found in another book, this one in the Smithsonian collection.
Dell Technologies, not having much historical insight into either magic or advertising, pits magic against tech and suggests that tech wins, hands down..
I take that as a personal affront..
The late, esteemed scholar Ioan Couliano, in contrast to Dell, shows in his great book Eros and Magic in the Renaissance that magic, as practiced in the Renaissance, is precisely what advertising is up to today..
Renaissance magic, according to Couliano, was a scientifically plausible attempt to manipulate individuals and groups based on a knowledge of motivations, particularly erotic motivations. Its key principle was that everyone (and in a sense everything) could be influenced by appeal to sexual desire. In addition, the magician relied on a profound knowledge of the art of memory to manipulate the imaginations of his subjects. In these respects, Couliano suggests, magic is the precursor of the modern psychological and sociological sciences, and the magician is the distant ancestor of the psychoanalyst and the advertising and publicity agent.
That’s from the cover of Couliano‘s book, and the remainder of this post will track eros from simple erotic desire — mostly from the male perspective? — to the mystical ascent in response to the divine beloved..
Desire, the universal lure:
The lure of the erotic will peel your money from your wallet in various skillful ways:
What is love? Love is advertising. Love — didn’t the Beatles mention this? — is all you need.
What is love? It is nod-nod, wink-wink..
You wanna go more overt still?
For that (beer) you’d best be in Rio..
And then there’s the broader sense of desire:
Wanting it all:
But that’s just the desire for food — easily satisfied, even here in these United States..
But wanting the world, in the cultural appropriation sense? That’s a more subtle desire, and Las Vegas aims to satisfy it by bringing analogs of Venice, the Pyramids, whatever, to a single easily accessible location:
All of these inevitably fall short of what interests me: the desire to be acquainted with the ludus globi or game of the world, which Couliano describes:
The ludus globi is the supreme mystical game, the game the Titans made Dionysus play in order to seize him and put him to death. From the ashes of the Titans struck down by the lightning of Zeus, arose mankind, a race guilty without having sinned because of the deicide of its ancestors. But, since the Titans had incorporated part of the god, men also inherited a spark from the murdered child, the divine child whose game is the metaphor of the ages: ?Aion is a child who plays checkers: the sovereignty of a child!
and the desire for the mystical ascent, not infrequently expressed in erotic terms:
In Mecca in 1201, he composes a Diwan dedicated to Nezam (Harmony), daughter of an Imam nobleman of Persian origin, Zahir ibn Rostam. Entitled The Interpreter of Burning Desires, the
Diwan’s prologue contains these intimate confessions:
Now this sheik had a daughter, a slender and willowy adolescent who attracted the attention of anyone who saw her, whose presence alone was the embellishment of public meetings and struck with amazement all who looked upon her. Her name was Nezam (Harmonia) and her surname ?Eye of the Sun and of Beauty” [?ayn al?Shams wa’Z-Baha? .[Scholarly and pious, with experience of the spiritual and mystical life, she personified the venerable antiquity of the Holy Land and the innocent youth of the prophet’s great city. The magic of her glance, the grace of her conversation, was so enchanting that if she happened to be prolix her speech was filled with references; if concise, a marvel of eloquence; holding forth on a subject, clear and lucid. . . . Were it not for petty minds eager for scandal and inclined to slander, I would here comment on the beauty that God lavished on her body as well as on her soul, which was a garden of generosity. .. .
Plato in The Symposium:
Love is simply the name for the desire and pursuit of the whole.
[ by Charles Cameron — or the curious relevance of the tanakh or old testament today ]
I’m half-serious, and that’s an approximation, but not an understatement:
Samson , upper panel above, was a rough-hewn fellow — my own name, Charles Cameron, means Rough-fellow Broken-nose, so I’m not putting him down — who slew a lion and returned later to take honey from the bees that had gathered in the carcass. He was hirsute to say the least, but the lovely Delilah got a fellow to snip his locks and his masculine rough-hewn ferocity fell away.. warrior no more.
Same thing, approximately, with Andrew Johnson, lower panel, a dreaded — in both senses — high school wrestler from New Jersey. I don’t think the image in the lower panel is entirely fair to the young woman doing the snipping, because she probably wasn’t the one giving the order — but then Delilah in the upper panel gave the order, but wasn’t the one with the razor — he would come later once Samson has fallen further for her charms and wiles. Which were considerable.
That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
Belay that! For Trump “the mob at the gates” might equally, scarily, be that “caravan” in Mexico, making its way up to a confrontation with US troops at the border, and no doubt paid for their troubles by George Soros —
Take your camera. Go into the middle. You’ll find MS-13. You’ll find Middle Easterners..
Hold it: that’s a powerful image.
But Joy Reid saw the mob differently:
The mob are WOMEN.
Democrats, the caravan, women — take the mob at the gates as you will, there’s a considerable force, on the outside, massing and pressing to come in. And poetry has something to say about that (recurrent) situation. In the words of CP Cavafy‘s celebrated poem, Waiting for the Barbarians:
What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?
Because the barbarians are coming today.
What’s the point of senators making laws now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.