The Healing Arts: Le mal de tête, La Colique, Le Cure.

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Le mal de tete. Charles Ramelet / Honore Daumier, Lithograph coloured. Subject: Headache, Depiction of Pain.

Le mal de tete. Charles Ramelet / Honore Daumier, Lithograph coloured. Subject: Headache, Depiction of Pain.

La Colique. Charles Ramelet / Honore Daumier, Lithograph coloured. Subject: Cholic, Depiction of Pain.

La Colique. Charles Ramelet / Honore Daumier, Lithograph coloured. Subject: Cholic, Depiction of Pain.

Le Cure. Oui, mes freres... Charles Ramelet / Honore Daumier, Lithograph coloured. Subject: Alcohol, Sleep.

Le Cure. Oui, mes freres… Charles Ramelet / Honore Daumier, Lithograph coloured. Subject: Alcohol, Sleep.

Word Wednesday.

Anodyne

¹Adjective.

1: serving to alleviate pain.

2: not likely to offend or arouse tensions: innocuous.

[Origin: Latin anodynos, from Greek anōdynos, from a- + odynē pain.]

(1543)

²Noun

1: something that soothes, calms, or comforts.

2: a drug that allays pain.

(1550)

“Well,” I said, “look at this way. Some collectors are only interested in things that are like new, factory fresh, mint in the box. If something looks like it’s had a life before they got their hands on it, it loses its value. But then, other people believe that an object’s worth more if it’s been used for whatever it was designed for, so a stamp should have been stuck to an envelope and posted to somewhere a long way away, and a comic book is meant to be read and enjoyed, not sealed in a protective case and never opened, and an old racing car should be scuffed and grimy and—” with no particular emphasis “—scarred. And it’s the same with people. How much time do you think you’d want to spend with Barbie and Ken? Anodyne, by definition, is not entertaining.” – Normal, Graeme Cameron.

Book Note: This was one of the weirdest books I’ve read, a slice of life story, with the main character being a serial killer. You never know his name, and he’s never described. The book is filled with black humour, but the casual cruelty of the character is never disguised in any way. This is also a story of how everything starts to go wrong in his life, in a very big way. The book is written in such a way that the main character is often amusing, and finds himself in a situation you can sympathise with, which makes the reading a bit uncomfortable. Altogether, it’s an engaging and entertaining read. There are a number of different cops involved in the story too, and the second book is just fresh out, centering on Detective Sergeant Ali Green, who was very present in Normal. That one is called Dead Girls. I haven’t finished it yet, but there’s considerably more tension in the second book.

The Healing Arts: Humbugging and Hocus Pocus.

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Humbugging. Or Raising The Devil. Thomas Rowlandson, Aquatint coloured, 1800. Subject: Wizards, Confidence Trickster, Pickpocket.

Humbugging. Or Raising The Devil. Thomas Rowlandson, Aquatint coloured, 1800. Subject: Wizards, Confidence Trickster, Pickpocket.

Hocus Pocus Or Searching For The Philosopher's Stone. Thomas Rowlandson, Aquatint coloured, 1800. Subject: Count Alexander Cagliostro (Giuseppe Balsamo), Alchemy, Sex.

Hocus Pocus Or Searching For The Philosopher’s Stone. Thomas Rowlandson, Aquatint coloured, 1800. Subject: Count Alessandro Cagliostro (Giuseppe Balsamo), Alchemy, Sex.

James Gillray did a scathing piece on Cagliostro, click for full size:

Medieval Sex Tips.

A brand new translation of Symphorien Champier’s The Ship of Virtuous Ladies is now available, and it sounds most intriguing. I’ll be ordering.

First published in 1503 in Lyons, Symphorien Champier’s The Ship of Virtuous Ladies helped launch the French Renaissance version of the querelle des femmes, the debate over the nature and status of women. The three books included in this edition include arguments for gender equality, and a catalogue of virtuous women modeled on Boccaccio’s Famous Women and Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend. Titled “The Book of True Love,” book 4 is especially important in gender history, importing and transforming the male-centered Neoplatonic philosophy of Marsilio Ficino for pro-woman ends.

Medievalists has a look at some sex tips from the volumes.

1. The Right Age

Following Plato, Champier declares that the perfect age for women to marry is 16-20, and for men, 30-35. Any younger, and you might marry a girl who will be sick forever – “So instead of being served by them, [you] must serve them”, Champier warns. The only exception is if the young woman is tall. If she is short, you should definitely wait until she’s 21. And if both man and woman are over twenty-one, you’re in the clear: “the children will be attractive and have good temperaments, with well-proportioned members and will have good minds.” Be sure to wait, if at all possible, because if you have children earlier, “they will be imperfect and short.”

2. The Right Time

People should not have sex at just any old time of the year, Champier says. If you want to conceive, make sure you have sex in the spring, because it’s “warm and moist”, which is the best kind of humour. “Next after spring,” if you can’t manage it then, “winter is the season most conducive to conception, while summer is bad and autumn is the worst of all.” As for time of day, it can’t be right after eating. As we’ve always been told about swimming right after a meal, the consequences would be dire:

If a man, when he is full and has eaten, enters the world of the carnal, he weakens his body and his nerves and causes pain for himself in his legs and knees. He also causes obstructions all throughout his body and causes thick humors in his body; and if he does this regularly, his body parts retain too much water, he has great difficulty breathing, and his limbs start to shake.

If you thought it was safe to have sex before eating, think again:

If he acts carnally when he is hungry or thirsty or when he has an empty body or when his body has been bled … he damages his body and dries it out, and its natural heat dissipates, negatively affecting his sight, and sometimes he becomes paralyzed.

(Same goes for if you’re just been bled, bathed, worked, fasted, or been sad.)  You’ve been warned. Best to play it safe and just have sex first thing in the morning, “after a [good] night’s sleep.”

You can read the rest of the tips at Medievalists.net.

Colours In Old Norse.

Colours in Old Norse. This was very interesting, thanks to Ice Swimmer for this, which came up in the discussion of Lurid, and it’s origin Luridus, meaning pale yellow.  I’m familiar with the association between gold and red, that seems to have been a means of classification in many different cultures. As for blue being used to describe black people, that’s not unique to Old Norse either. I remember reading this post about the awful mistakes people make when trying to translate English into Gaelic. They have a similar use of colour classification having to do with hair, and…

The funny thing here is, the Irish word gorm actually does mean “blue” in most contexts. […] People of African descent, or with similarly dark skin, are described as “blue” in Irish (most likely because dubh (“black”) and dorcha (“dark”) have negative connotations in the language and donn (“brown”) would be understood to refer to hair color).