Elseness: Being The Accidental Death of A Hoodie
A seriously wet morning in a boring lecture, I sat staring out the window and thought about an off topic subject I was busily engaged in. I was eating the library studying medical history and the four temperaments in particular and drifted far away from the drone of the lecturers voice.
At lectures end I left the building into a particularly stormy afternoon of wind and rain. thick heavy and vertical. Its one of the low points of living in a city designed by engineers with an eye on health and the four temperaments in mind. Rather than having rain falling from the sky the rain is caught by the wind and just hits full in the body and face, the streets were designed to act as giant wind tunnels in an effort to dissipate the foul vapors that were thought to cause most endemic infections of which the city had many.
Anyway after getting about a hundred yards along the road I was soaked to the skin, I stopped beneath a concrete walk way, cursing my luck and wanting to get home. A guy passed by on the other side of the road, wrapped in a bubble coat and a hat and scarf.
I thought to myself I wish I had a hat, I am going to end up getting flue.
In the next moment that thought rather stunned me. Where had it come from? How on earth did I hold the notion that some unidentified quality of a hat is going to protect me from viral infection? A moment of panic.
Then the memory. My great aunt, who seemed to be very very big, standing with clear pride watching a small child making his way to one of his first days of school. “Put that hood up or you’re catch pleurisy………That boy.” But a whole legion of my great aunts obsession with the health giving properties of hats and hoods came tumbling out, to crash, burn and die on a cold and wet afternoon, shivering outside a concrete multi storey car-park.
Beliefs are not simply irrational things and the death of such things is not simple the death of an idea. They are what connects us to the people we love, in a world that has little time for such things.
Empiricism, has a bitter aftertaste, it is cold hard and brutal, destructive, impersonal and bites hard. In the moment it seems to take a piece of the soul and leave it awkwardly and embarrassingly, dying on the floor.
It is an emotional undertaking.
The Ape of Man
Going to start to examine potential reasons that made the ape, a despicable vile and wretched monstrosity to the 17th century mind and why it had to either abduct or capture human’s and imitate or was indeed a filthy hybrid human/ animal.
The boundaries between human and animal have been constantly drawn and moved rather fluidly across time, the only consistent feature is that the line is always made. These distinctions are increasingly brought into question at this time and it is in the late 17th century that the relationship between ape and man really reaches the high point of its inflection with the notion that the orangutang is potentially fully human.
Its not the most pleasing of stories.
“why should we shew so much violence in these things whereof we can shew no certain evidence?
Sir George Mackenzie, Religio Stoici, 1663
Of Such Creatures As This
A very old school Scottish, conservative, neo stoic, neo latin rhetorical question from the school of skeptical sarcasm.
Deaf Man hearing music from conduction through his teeth
Frontispeice, Philocophus or the Dumbe Mans Academie wherein is taught a new and admired art instructing them who are borne Deafe and Dumbe to heare the sound of words with theire eie and thence learne to speake with theire Tongue: illustrated with engraved plates shewing the different portions of the hands.
John Bulwer, wiki
Some 17th century talking points, were signs and gestures universal, was the language of gesture bestowed on man by god?
The Intoxicated Flower
I sent this e-mail to a correspondent who researches an old motif in folklore, the intoxicating flower. He was kind enough to send me a research paper, after reading it I remembered I had heard it before.
I have heard this one before, source is unusual. A friend who developed schizophrenia. He turned up late one night at out house in a rather nasty paranoid state.First observation and first thing he said was ‘Did you know the Old England is really a giant South American hamster wheel (Old England was a popular pub where he had obviously been that evening not sure where the hamster reference came from)Next statement was. ‘There is a man in the north pole who chases penguins with a big stick’ (film on television that afternoon about a polar observer of penguins)His final statement ‘ I picked a flower on the way here and it tried to suffocate me’He was in a highly distressed state as became somewhat clear at this point.
Lovely man, personality came though even when he was at his worst with illness, we found him one afternoon sellotaping pictures of kittens to our skirting-boards when we had a mouse infestation. He thought it may deter them.He was an artist, which was not unrelated to his somewhat eccentric solution to deterring mice .
“These species are conveyed to the brain by the Optick Nerve, and are laid up in the Magazine of Memory; otherways we should not remember the Object any longer than it is in our presence; and remembering of these objects is nothing else but the Fancie’s revieuing, or more properly the Soul of Man by the fancy revieuing of those intentional Species formerly received from the Visible Object unto the Organ of the Eye, and recondited into the seat of memory.”
James Fraser, “A Brief Discourse Concerning Second Sight”
I had to order a copy of David C. Lindberg’s edition of John Peckham’s Perspectiva Communis, the science of optics from the states as my research library has no copy. So some boggle eyed medieval and early modern, posts when it arrives on eyeballs, medieval optics, the republic of letters, second sight and the devil and James Fraser, whenever it turns up.
James Fraser was a Scottish minister writing in the late 17th century but his discourse is much influenced by his own reading of the subject at Glasgow university, which seems based on Renaissance reading of Peckham’s theory.
Peckham, was a 13th century Franciscan friar, who along with Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon revive the study of optics in England.