Entrails of Thought

Keeping It Real

Strong desire not to read and return to a gut perspective on the subject.

I can think of a range of retrospective reasons for studying wild things. It fits perfectly with my own interests and allows me to examine a range of differing subjects. Blah Blah Blah.

The key motivation was far simpler, reading a short descriptive passage from an Early Irish text, here the wild- man, became real and emotionally understandable.

A gut response to a long dead text that brought it to life and into mind.

For my 21st century mind that reality is an internalized one, its a creature of mind, to a medieval reader these creatures were also physically real and existed in the wider world.

This similarity and diffrence I suspect is what to concentrate on for the moment.

The differing emotions and ideas that make living things.

Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Man becomes wild-man in early Britain after seeing a vision of God on the battlefield, or he becomes mad after slaughtering relatives in the heat of battle.

The story can shift from one context to another depending on the situation it finds itself in. The supernatural can sit comfortably with natural explanation and in another moment ask awkward questions about the position things find themselves in, i.e is the wild- man animal or human.

It’s incoherent and subject to change.

That observation seems to be causing me some difficulty as I read at the moment, as what I am reading, presents a very ordered perspective of this period.

Of A Futile Battle Fought Over A Larks Nest

A medieval response to this dilemma is that its the choices we make in navigating through a rigidly ordered and predictable sense of time that leads to individual difference.


Communication Across Vast Distances

Having a hard time reading some of the papers in Superstition and Magic in E. M. E. I noticed some death defying generalizations that were difficult to make sense of.

I get the impression its a very small pool of scholars responding to a limited and fixed range of texts. In this case an early medieval debate concerning the pagan past in a christian present, was discussed in a somewhat unfamiliar manner.

One thing I have learned is when this debate erupted in early medieval history some twenty years ago, both sides heavily over- inflected evidence, engaged in some protracted fire breathing, before arriving at a more balanced perspective and meeting in the middle to a degree.

I had to check the notes and it was a specific argument critical of Carlo Ginsberg, never sure why Carlo Ginsburg has warranted so much attention over the years, I happily avoid his work, but clearly early modern historians still feel the urge to vent, before engaging in a more general hack and slash through time.

Not read many secondary sources for the last ten years, preferred a lazy reading of primary material in the raw. Arguments have moved on, but clearly some battles that refuse to die.

Going through a brief period of culture shock, dealing with an institutional rhetorical style, which to my mind has a tendency to present individual research as something of a culture elephant that is attempting to sit on top of you.

The occupational hazard of monumental scholarship.

Easy to be critical of language when you are not subject to the same constraints and pressures that give it form and sustain it. Its also rather easy to mistake such critical thought for something else and switch off, as the effort to get past contemporary needs to control and shape subjects based on individual preference and a desire to see such preferences replicated, can be rather tiresome.

Things have to die and become something else as they move from one mind to the next, the situation things find themselves in alters.

This Weeks Reading

Perfect Bodies 

Superstition and Magic in Early Modern Europe A Reader, Helen Parish (eds.).

Looking at fruit this week and its movement from the middle ages to the early modern got me thinking of moths for some unknown reason, although a second glance at the subject, the related theme would appear to be superstition, a mis-observed error (in regard to fruit) and the removal of this decaying body of thought into the past (moth).

Strange Fruit A Rolling

Disenchantment: Second Sight of An Object

Given up any thought of presenting a coherent narrative. I have been able to identify features I need to get to grips with.

I need to understand the relationship between history and prophecy better. Going to do some loitering in the 12th century and spend some time with demons and try to get an understanding of why the wild man stops being  a wild- man and becomes a magician instead.

Seems to be the period when this cursed being develops the potential to become enchanted and love- sick. Hoping, vision may give me a wider theme to bind the topic in a more narrow focus and still branch out into a wider more fluid space. i.e. the aspect of love that seems to provide a linking thread is its relationship with sickness. Love in it’s guise as a sexual illness that is transmitted at a glance.

Perfect Bodies Matching Souls

The Wide Eyed Dreamer

Acherontia atropos (Death Head Moth)

The other evening while we were staying with the Rose family, a very fine specimen of a specially rare moth was captured by Baile Baillie, Nairn, and sent over to Robert for identification. It was the Death Head, Acherontia atropos, fabled to cast from its wings dust which produces blindness in those persons on whom it falls. After emerging from its chrysalis, probably in some neighbouring garden, the perfect insect had set out in the early twilight to enjoy life according to its natural instinct. Attracted no doubt in its flight by a powerful gas flare from an open window in Mr Bailie’s house, it succeeded in making its way inside, and flew about the apartment greatly to the discomfort of the astonished inmates. After considerable trouble a tumbler was ultimately placed over it, and thus the mysterious intruder was safely secured in good condition. Under the influence of a few drops of chloroform it gradually sank into a comatose state, and finally closed its compound eyes in the sleep that hears no reveille…… On the thorax there is a very conspicuous mark having the resemblance of a skull and the two collar bones which, combined with the feeble cry of the insect, caused it in bygone days to be looked upon as a mysterious visitant from spiritdom, and a sure ‘harbinger of death, disease and famine’ in the district where it chanced to be found.”


E. Thompson “A Salmon for the Schoolhouse”, Edinburgh, 1994, pp. 97

You say Tomato and I say Tomato (The Joy of Error)

New Boots and Panties

My first identifiable significant error, in my attempt to generalize from specific detail.

Notable example of the wild-man altering in form and becoming human. Unlike the female who is still comparable to her original state, the wild-man alters so much, comparison becomes somewhat pointless.

Story branches off in the 12th century. The tale will hold form in certain geographical locations in European literary culture. Related to the development of a sense of ethnic identity.

Maintaining a sense of difference also has a distinct political feature. Control of a highly popular form of political narrative, prophecy.

When I have recovered from my urge to generalize, set down a full textual history of the development of the narrative in Britain between the 6th and 12th centuries it will hopefully start to make some sense.

The Flower of Romance & The Toiler on The Sea

Odd18 Peter 2

Legendary Proof

Mythical sexual encounters often have an association with particular occupational groups, notably those with occupations that take them beyond the settled boundaries of human habitation.

The hunter, the herdsman, the washerwomen at the ford and the sailor, all share this feature. Form of proof that can allow myth to draw closer to legend and into life. It provides it with an outwardly solid form.

Such experiences are not every day, giving a legendary form to this free floating, migratory construction gives it a specific sense of place and time, one that will never be personally encountered but is perfectly understandable.