Of Folly and Uncertainty

Being In This Place

Return to fruit in a moment, I’ve been using it as a form of displacement, lurching into a subject with complete uncertainty, so best to chew through it under the surface and let things find themselves.

Rather simple observation, but I was unsure if it was just a product of my own imagination or was shared by a medieval scribe.

Issue that relates to time.

British wildman is a prophet, his future is fixed, his past is also fixed and his lamenting over the catastrophic moral choices he has made are responsible for his present melancholic form, his humor has altered both his mind and physical state.

Thinking about this perception of past and present seemed to present to me a difficulty, its ever present, static, no room for movement or alteration of either past or future, no freedom of movement, no opportunity for freedom of movement or individual choice.

The only movement available to the wildman is in his present chaotic state, the individual choices he has made in reaching this rather distinctive path, all relate to morality. Only decision making processes that allows for any form of individuality in this framework.

I now have to check and work out to what degree I am looking at a creation of my own imagination or a framework for the conception of an individual during the medieval renaissance.

I am hoping it will not give me a better grasp of the philosophy of the period but a better understanding of its sense of place, time and history.

An unknown scribe took this figure and placed him retrospectively on what is the first recorded event in British history that is historical rather than legendary. The point was retrospectively selected as the horizon of British history in the early medieval period then later the wildman’s tale was attached.

The placement seem to have the potential for being a somewhat mindful act. It does seem to convey a particular sense of time and the manner in which it forms the mind within it.

This simple retrospective placement of an object, will I hope give me a much better understanding of the way in which medieval historians developed a sense of time.

May also help me to understand the somewhat discordant inflection of Lord Monboddo and his sense of time and its decay. He seems to have had a somewhat medieval sense of time, he placed a man like ape rather than a wildman at ,the start of his conjectural history of mind.

But one of his concerns was that his sense of time was being lost in the modern world and that the enlightenment was losing the sense of its own past and Renaissance roots. His sense of the past extends deeper than the Renaissance, he appears to have a curiously medieval inflection to his thought.

Monboddo writing at the high point of the Scottish enlightenment certainly seems to be of the mind that the modern world is losing its sense of time and a sense of is history.

Creating my own sense of uncertainty at the moment, two very different periods of history that for a moment are fitting too neatly together.

Where the Wild Things Are

I’ve been chasing wild things for years. Very basic checklist you can use to aid identification on first encounter to determine if you are in the presence of a wild man, women or child.

Hairy or feathered appearance or it can be covered in moss or vegetation.

Incredible swiftness or strength.

Distinctive scream or cry.

Its location is always outside on the margins, outside of human settlement. In Europe its most commonly found in wooded areas, but on rare occasions it may live in the sea and the oldest European sources, sometimes emphasis a bird like appearance and characteristics which hint at associations with the sky.

Hints at an old and basic division of organic life, as belonging to one of three locations, air, land or sea, and for tales of wonder to hint at a marvelous regularity and correspondence between the living things of these realms.

Defining features can alter, trying to identify this creature in contemporary oral tales can sometimes prove particularly vexing. You may get a description that hits all of the correct themes you would expect to find in a local environment. In Scotland for example you have a long development of the tale in monastic institutions from the 6th century, that display a preference for dealing with wild men and women as named and isolated individuals cast out of society for a moral transgression, who then take to the woods and alter in physical appearance.

You can find exactly the same theme in the non-elite, oral record of peasant culture, with one distinct difference, they don’t engage in the same descriptive level of detail and offer no physical description, aside from the incredible swiftness and strength of the marginalized creature, this description is also rather commonly given to a range of supernatural features.

The focus of this form of narrative is on action rather than descriptive detail so looking at wider features and similarities of the narrative becomes more important.

Classification depends on a range of factors, key just seems to be basic groundwork,slog and gaining experience, getting to know what particular local waterholes you’re pray has a better chance of showing up at and using a range of features to aid identification that adapt to the local conditions you find yourself in.

Success of this narrative depends on its ability to become many things, it can be used to help a small child on a faraway island deal with the reward or sting of a loss or win in a wrestling game, or an ancient dry and dusty sage contemplating the relationship between man and fish.

It is what you make if it, the core features that give it a solid and relevant form will depend on who you are and where you come from.


Love In A Cold Climate

Wondering what effect the highly charged nature of British identity politics will have on my reading. Notice a difference already, clearly looking at texts in a differing way, noting potential relationships which had no relevance before.

With the tale of erotic fruit I should just be noting the descriptive shift regarding feathers and moving on, its a story on the margins of my interest, offers potential comparative insight, but never given it that much thought.

Yesterday I noted that the English translator (an early modern example of the previous text will feature in the next post) may be using non-literal methods to capture the sense of the text for an English audience. The suggestion that having sexual relationship with fruit is social permissible or a fitting image for an English speaking gentlemen to engage in the imaginative roll play of pastoral identity making, does not at first glance seem the most promising subject. But its through shifting the images of the texts to something recognizable and identifiable that the translator manages to capture elements of the original text.

I must confess to engaging in speculation I am running with the notion that pastoral sex with vegetation may in fact not have been a social approved activity  in either the east or west. While evocations of Gardens play a part in the identity politics of Northern Europe, sex with fruit as far as I am aware plays no role in in contemporary evocations of the exceptional nature of English identity.

What may be social accepted here is that its admissible in certain social circumstances to use the subject as a means for wonder and fantasy.  As long as the language is codified in a culturally prescribed way it has some degree of cultural acceptability.

The Consumption of Form (Chick Chick (王蓉 – 小雞小雞) MV )

Wāq-Wāq Island

On the Wāq-Wāq Island, which is an island bordering on Sofalah, one of the Islands of the Zanj, there is a tree bearing fruits that look like women suspended by their hair as if by green cords. They have breasts, female sexual organs, and curvaceous bodies, and they scream ‘wāq wāq’. When one of them is cut off the tree, it falls down dead and does not talk any more. Their insides and outsides, their faces and their limbs, are entirely made of something resembling the down of a feather.  When a person advances further into the island, he finds a tree with more attractive fruits with plumper posteriors, bosoms, genitalia, and faces, which scream louder than the ones described above. If this fruit is cut off, it survives for a day or part of a day before it stops talking and screaming. The person who cuts down this second type of fruit may sometimes have sexual intercourse with it and derive pleasure from it.”


Kitāb Gharāʾib al-funūn wa-mulaḥ al-ʿuyūn (The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes)


What caught my attention here was the description of these female inhabitants Zanj as having a feathered appearance and piercing scream, two descriptive features associated with wild women a feathered, bird like appearance is also an early descriptive feature of the wild-man both will become hairy in later sources.

Look next at a later early modern description of the text, here the feathered appearance is omitted and the description of hair seems to supports the later texts emphasis that they are ‘exactly formed like other women’.