Listening to 13th century music today, so I started looking up Medieval art. It’s interesting how we construct our world retrospectively- we strip away the humanity and humour from that which is foreign to us, resulting in static, sterilized and essentialized versions of the other, whether it be historical, geographic, or cultural. Medieval Europe was full of life (yes, and death), but for us now that period usually only conjures up images of the bubonic plague, Crusades, troubadours, and perhaps Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which in many ways is actually well researched- Terry Jones, after all, is a Medieval nut). We mistakenly label the period the Dark Ages, not because it was devoid of knowledge, but because that knowledge isn’t one that we currently understand, contextualize and privilege. Looking back on the Medieval period through a myopic lens from this side of the Enlightenment, we call them ignorant because they didn’t privilege the Science, writing and technology in the way we do now. We dismiss their knowledge systems as superstition, magic and old wive’s tales (ah yes, misogyny too). Similarly we look down on other cultures because of oral histories which we assume must be flawed. Time and time again, we should have just frickin’ listened to them in the first place.
I’m finding a resurgence of acceptance in traditional knowledges and wisdom- a spiritual, human dimension that counteracts cold, unfeeling and often incomplete science (ie. how much do we actually know about nutrition?- fat was bad, now it’s good; eggs were bad now they’re good, carbs were good, now they’re bad). Hopefully in this Postmodern era we can find a balance between the known and the unknown, science and tradition. As my friend says: Embrasse le mystère.
Anyway, back to Medieval butt art- they had fun, they had wild imaginations and wicked senses of humour. Let’s celebrate that. HERE‘s more.
And lest we forget that other historic peoples of the world behave like 5 years olds, HERE are Edo period Japanese fart scrolls.