Else Of Somewhere

They were come too late in the year to come for any amusement or variety which Lyme, as a public place, might offer; the rooms were shut up, the lodgers almost all gone, scarcely any family but of the residents left—and, as there is nothing to admire in the buildings themselves, the remarkable situation of the town, the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the walk to the Cobb, skirting around the pleasant little bay, which in the season is animated with bathing machines and company, the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what the stranger’s eye will seek, and a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.


Jane Austin, Persuasion

D. Aschkenes, In the Minds Eye: Associationisim and Style in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel


When in doubt take a break, in this case a brief excursion into associationisim and state dependent cognition.



A Book Before Bedtime

I read Andrea’s Carlino’s Paper Bodies, over the course of a day in full. Then some chapters in detail over the next few days. Last night, I thought I would start a re-read in full and read the first chapters over an hour before bed.

I skipped the introduction and headed straight for the first chapter.

The production and proliferation of anatomical fugitive sheets went along with the rebirth of anatomy in the Renaissance- the period of radical renewal of the late-fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries during which modern astronomy arose as a refounded science after centuries of slavish adherence to ancient authorities like Aristotle and Galen.

I could read no further and gave up. This line was the killer.

“after centuries of slavish adherence to ancient authorities like Aristotle and Galen.”

I don’t recognize this as a historical statement, I can recognize it as a contemporary literary form that is commonly deployed in the history of science. A storytelling aspect.

What has altered here is the relationship we have with history. Medieval philosophy did not see the same opposition to the past, they saw instead a connection to it.

Aristotle can be cited as an authority, the thought that follows can be entirely original and to modern eyes bear little relationship with Aristotle.

I greatly enjoyed reading the book, the parts that I presume are deployed to engage a modern audience make me recoil from the text and disengage from the ideas.

Perhaps at times it is useful to reflect on language from a medieval perspective.

 For, they would argue, we can only confront ideas through the language in which they are expressed.

I have a co-authored paper in print at the moment that will appear in an academic journal that deals with the relationship between magic and science. I did not contribute a huge amount the the article.

I had thought of writing a  a fuller account for publication, but it is dependent in part of being aware of what a contemporary audience expects of such writing.

I have a serious difficulty here, I don’t understand the audience.



Andrea Carlino, Paper Bodies, A Catalogue of Anatomical Fugitive Sheets 1538-1687

Literary Forms of Medieval Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Note (Things To Do)

Gift of The Flames

I need to precisely date the introduction of an idea and see if it develops in the same contextual time frame as the texts.

The wild man acts in the moment, holds things in memory (without recollection).

Later variants of the medieval text appear at least initially to allow for such an inflection.

Difficult here is the words can remain the same but the inflection can alter, its not contained or constrained; what is found on the page can be unsaid, un- thought and found in the moment.

I may simple be shaping the text in this way as I am reading medieval philosophy alongside it.

Accidents happen, and the story allows for such things to unfold.

Its a very old story, it has to let an idea live in the moment. To survive it has to let go.


Gift of the flames a term from pottery, the unpredictability of the manufacturing process and of creativity.


It Was No More Than To Sleep

They were, however, also intended, indeed required, by the printer to circulate beyond their designated audience: Latin editions, ostensible prepared for doctors and medical students, could be acquired by less educated readers such as barbers and laypeople in general. One common textual strategy was to link moral and religious themes to the anatomical discourse-self knowledge, the transience of human life, the glorification of God through the contemplation of the hidden wonders of the human body- that allowed for a manifold and cultural varied use of the anatomical data presented within the printed object. It seems to me, therefore, that in a sense the fugitive sheets support the thesis, expressed nowadays in debates about popular culture and the history of printing, that the relationship between cultural forms and specific social groups was reciprocal and not one-way.

This aspect surprised me, I had no idea before reading the images were so popular. My first thought was good I can steal some of the language here. My own is very different its not drawn from reading or understanding a thesis or academic debate.

I introduced the thought in a somewhat more basic form ‘my original “stupid idea” about the wild man was that he looked like many things.’

Experience dictates its not simply a stupid idea but a fearful one. An emotion easily grasped when you stand in front of an audience.

The idea that inflection will allow one thing to become many, seems at the start to be an article of bad faith that is entirely unreasonable.

The desire to run away, vomit, void you’re guts becomes overwhelming. Its seems difficult to stand, see or think, the only thought what am I doing here, I can’t do this.

‘This is a very stupid idea.’

You have to remember to take a breath. All emotion becomes dismissed and you enter the zone.

To observe and experience here is not a mater of debate or thesis. Debate and  uncertainty in this space is entirely unreasonable and highly emotional. A product of stress, that is deeply felt.

The answer is simple to breath, to experience. Not the time for debate, its the moment to act.

Its not something you have to spend time thinking about. Success and sanity depend on the forgetting of it.


A. Carlino, Paper Bodies: A Catalogue of Anatomical Fugitive Sheets 1538-1687


Who steps into the opened grave?

Loosing sight of the anatomical images and thinking about the start of the wild mans journey, which results from a vision experienced on a battlefield which provokes an uncontrollable emotional response.

Relationship between popularity and the openness of images, texts, words and sound to individual emotional experience.

Being in, being a part of rather than separated from. You can find in wild things the idea that culture is distinct from nature, human from animal. For the story to survive here it has to say one thing and do something else entirely.

It has to hold the moment and make no difference.

Note (Spring)




Una hirunda Ver non Facit

One swallow does not make a spring

Aristotle’s Eithica Nicomachea is the starting point or  certainly reinforces the idea of the swallow appearing in this way in European culture.

“One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time does not make a person entirely happy.”

The swallow, in later medieval art a symbol of resurrection. During the winter it was thought to hibernate in mud to be re-born in the spring.

These are ideas that are open to observation and the senses, they can be seen, heard and experienced.

This is an aspect of folklore: that objects have a physical presence allows myth a legendary or historical form (the object existed but is now lost).

With nature the proof becomes cyclical and plain to see. It is to be experienced, it is living thing.

The images are unrelentingly medical in tone, the scripts are written in Latin, a language not accessible to everyone.

The inclusion of these motifs opens the text to a wider audience. The audience shapes what is to be found in the images, what is drawn from its experience and understanding of life.

It is to be seen, to be heard and to be felt.



Aestas (Summer)


In the top right hand corner the flap for the moon has been destroyed at some point in the past.  Two words written on the paste board backing of the prints, ‘money and ‘Elianor.’

The handwriting appears to be in an English style of the  seventeenth century. The patterning suggests a quill was used as the writing implement.

This is the evidence of British association with the prints.

Note (Alchemy)



The designer has been acquainted with alchemical  sources and emblems. These were widely known in medical circles. To mention but one clear alchemical characteristic: in the four engravings we see vessels of different shapes………

In HYEMS the male holds a vessel in his raised hand, while the female holds a turned- down vessel and steps into the opened grave, which in alchemical imagery represents the vessel as well. In these vessels the alchemical transmutation is taking place, which is cyclical, similar to all the processes of nature and which aims at the integration of opposites………. The hermitic-alchemical concept of the strong connection between macrocosmos and microcosmos, the emphasis on the vessel in numerous forms and symbols, the emphasis on the the principle of duality, expressed in the male-female figures as reality and metaphor, the symbol of the circular process, are surprisingly recognizable in these four medical season-engravings…………

……….. The many references to hermetic medicine and the dominating idea of Macrocosmos/ Microcosmos symbolism lead to the conclusion that the design was meant for a person of high birth, as was fashionable in Europe during the sixteenth- and seventeenth century.

Unsolved however, remain the questions: who was this person? And especially: who made the engravings? Who steps into the opened grave? (1)


H.F.J. Horstmanshoff, The Mysteries of the Four Seasons. The Hippocratic tradition in the 17th century


(1) The images are anonymous, location of production is also unknown, thought to be Dutch German or British, but an exact geographical origin for the prints and cultural location is entirely uncertain.

Dating is also not without an interesting issue i.e. not a match between the historical evidence and the physical evidence (analysis of the prints and the manufacture).  History suggests a 17th century date, physical evidence suggests an early 18th century one.

The four prints are the only copies that survive, the time discrepancy here suggests the work was potentially very popular. Print quality suggests the copper plates used in the printing processes were very worn by the time these prints were manufactured.

History starts with speculation and the conclusion givenn by H.F.J Horstmanschoff is the start of an historical investigation rather than it’s end.