Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Freelance intellectual - or a load of Bosch

As soon as I decided to drop out of school - skip doing A-Levels and university, etc - I knew I had committed myself to an alternative path.

I have never regretted it.  Not having to write a thesis or a paper, or sweat over an MA, and all that.

Of course, if I could have been paid to potter about the libraries of the world, that would have been ideal, but the strings attached seemed too much for me.

So although people associate me with performing, clowning, juggling, circus, etc - I have to admit I did all that because (a) it kept me fit and outgoing, to counterbalance all the reading at a desk (b) to earn money in as short a time as possible, leaving loads of free time to read and research.

And I just follow my nose to what interests me.  I can dedicate time as I choose. I once spent about three years studying astrology, not just the popular stuff but quite esoteric interpretations, and also computer programs related to it, etc (they were pretty primitive in the 1980s).

I love serendipity and cross-referencing, and the internet has increased the possibilities enormously.

So recently I:
  • Planned to set up a blog about scams, cons, hoaxes, forgeries, tricksters, etc, and decided to us one of my favourite Bosch images, of the street magician, complete with pickpocket working the crowd.
  • I spotted one odd face in the crowd, who seems almost like just a head...and it reminded me of something
  • Digging back in my mind, I uncovered the memory of a book about Bosch's Millennium (often called The Garden of Earthly Delights), and this particular author, analysing the picture, highlighted the face in the bottom right corner of the centrepiece, which he suggested was the Grand Master of a heretical sect called The Adamites, who did not believe in Original Sin (amongst other things), a group he thought Bosch belonged to.  I thought these faces uncannily similar.  Other researchers have suggested that the image below is a self-portrait of Bosch as a younger man.
  • Believe what you like, but I may pursue some of this. Just for the hell (or heaven) of it.
  • I have also been reading Joseph Campbell's book about James Joyce - "Mythic Worlds, Modern Words" in which he relates Joyce's major works to Dante's Divine Comedy.
  • I have never read the Commedia, and it looks like a lot of poetry to get through, so have started with a comic book version, just to get the shape of it all.
  • Which brings me back to Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, etc, as perceived by 13th and 15th Century artists.  Just an average day in a random researcher's life. It's hard to know where I might end up.
  • She lit a burner on the stove
    And offered me a pipe
    “I thought you’d never say hello,” she said
    “You look like the silent type”
    Then she opened up a book of poems
    And handed it to me
    Written by an Italian poet
    From the thirteenth century
    And every one of them words rang true
    And glowed like burnin’ coal
    Pourin’ off of every page
    Like it was written in my soul from me to you
    Tangled up in blue

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