This advert has been showing up on the head of the NYTimes online. Iguana’s don’t have shells! What that..?
I find it hard not to confuse this manuscript with the perhaps more famous, Très Riches Heures, which is known for its beautiful scenes illustrating the progression of the seasons on a medieval estate. This manuscript, also a prayer book, features illuminations of The Passion, St. Jerome, and St. Catherine, who refused to be broken, on the wheel or otherwise.
The manuscript has been disassembled for restoration, and before putting it back together, it is being exhibited as individual pages, so you can see both sides in upright glass holders – magnifying glasses are available! Soon, it will return to its bound state, and visitors will be able to view only two pages, chosen by the curator, at time.
Aside from the dazzling ornamentation of the pages, the pictures are alternately dramatic, poignant, and even humorous. Viewing them all is totally exhausting, and of course, they were not meant to be viewed this way at all. The books were meditative/prayer aids, intended to be read one page at a time, a few each day, year after year.
Among my favorite images, with links:
A lovely image showing a crescent moon, and an almost 3-D effect of some angels in reddish hues.
St. Jerome tempted by some dancing girls.
A fanatical Christian, accosted by a loose woman who fondles his thigh. Rather than be seduced, he bites off his tongue so that the pain will drive away temptation.
St. Jerome listening to a scholar discourse on the classics. Jerome was torn by his love of Greek and Latin literature and its conflicts with his Christian faith.
St. Jerome is tricked by his colleagues into wearing a woman’s dress. He is so absorbed in meditation, he puts it on without realizing that his fellow monks have switched his clothing.
There is also a current exhibit of a series of small statues in alabaster depicting a procession of mourners at the funerals of two Burgundian noblemen, the same ones who commissioned the books of hours, I believe. This figures are placed around the base of two elaborate raised platforms, inside a series of ornately carved gothic niches.
They are displayed in two parallel rows on a simple base in the Metropolitan while their home museum in France is restored. This means that they are visible completely in the round. They display a wide variety of costumes and physical manifestations of their grief, all with great realism. You can view each figure at this link. The figures have been digitally scanned in the round, so you can actually rotate each virtual figure in your web brower – fantastic!
After leaving the museum, I took a bus downtown to Penn Station, and stopped to look at the new pedestrian mall that has taken over Broadway around 34th street. Even on a cold night, it is wonderful. To stand in the middle of a street in Manhattan, with the view that affords, and not have to dodge traffic!
A view of a mysterious moon near the Deco spire of the Empire State Building from the Broadway mall.
Nowadays, we have our own form of illuminations, as followers of Walter Benjamin might say. A store window advertisement got a felicitous double effect from the reflection in the back of a chromium chair. And a snap of a hard working artist, creating the dazzling festivals of desire along the street scape.
T0urists doing what they do, recording their ephemeral presence in my phenomenal world.
The good old days of airbrushing history away – as Comrade Stalin always liked to say, “No man, no problem!”:
Not so easy anymore, as pointed out in this (unintentionally?) amusing story in the New York Times: Accenture, as if Tiger Woods Were Never There.
The Temptation of Doctor Antonio is the Fellini contribution to the four stories told in Boccaccio ’70, which was released in 1962. (Story goes, the producers joked it wouldn’t be allowed on-screen until 1970.) The good doctor is on a crusade against filth and smut in Roman social life but he meets his match when a gargantuan billboard showing Anita Ekberg reclining seductively on a couch is erected in a park directly opposite his window. It’s an advertisement for milk!
Slowly, the doctor’s sexual frustrations unravel him, and the billboard comes to life as a thirty-foot tall sex goddess who is a bit put out that he cannot just see things her way. In the image above, she has reappeared as a normal-sized (but not normally endowed) woman so she can have a little fun chasing Dr. A. about. Then she goes back to super, duper, jumbo size and begins to undress.
This story is so simple, the satire is so uncomplicated and familiar, but the treatment of it is hilarious, sexy, fresh, surprising, and all-out crazy! Another Fellini triumph.
Dr. Antonio confronts his nemesis, by day and during a “pagan” night ritual.
The goddess full-size, and looking very angry with the good doctor.
The doctor acts out his repressed childhood fantasy of pinching and fondling his aunt’s breasts, but with a giant-sized incarnation of the devil-woman.
Cultural “conservatives,” like William Bennett, that insufferable stuffed-shirt, hypocrite, like to huff and puff about the decay of values and the culpability of left-wing moral relativists. Over and over again, he and his ilk trip over or ignore the fact that the biggest fans of relativism are his allies, the monied corporate marketing interests that keep our consumer economy going…when it’s going, that is. Consider the latest advertising campaign from HSBC Bank, out in force today in the New York subways:
In each “Different Values” ad, created by JWT, New York and London, a single image repeats three times, with a different one-word interpretation imposed over each photo… As occurred with the HSBC’s “Your Point of View” campaign, some of the new ads have already begun to generate blogosphere buzz over some of the words and images used.
My favorite shows an image, repeated three times, of a hefty billfold, stuffed with money and credit cards, lying on the ground in a parking garage where, obviously, it has been lost by some poor soul. The words superimposed?
MISFORTUNE OBLIGATION TEMPTATION
Put that one in your Book of Virtues, Mr. Bennett! Are these all “values?” No, but that’s a minor point. Are we to assume that the quivering temptation of the unscrupulous person who will take the wallet without bothering to return it to the owner is a person with values that are equivalent to those of the person who feels obliged to try and return it to it’s rightful owner? Okay, kiddees, what lesson did you learn today?
The slogan that goes with all this is: “Different values make for a richer world.” I’ll say! Where would we be without cutthroat greed!
I have noticed ads for this risk management outfit on my daily commute, and I think they are a good example of what cranky cultural critics of a certain age refer to as middle-brow degradation of culture. The ads have simple black and white images with quotations that will seem familiar to readers with some education. The fun comes when you think about what some of them actually mean…
My favorite shows a close-up of a woman in an image similar to the one here, with the words, “To risk, perchance to dream…” Oh, wow, an allusion to Shakespeare, Hamlet no less! By associating part of the cultural canon with their pitch, they give it tone and credibility. This sort of thing is rampant in magazines and newspapers now, as copywriters struggle to make each headline a catchy allusion to some part of the great subconscious cultural reservoir. The Village Voice was a pioneer in this, I believe, and even the NY Times, particularly the Sunday Times, has adopted it.
Oh well, too bad that when the Melancholy Dane was saying these words, “To sleep, perchance to dream..,” he was weighing not the advantages and risks of an afternoon nap, but the relative merits of committing suicide as a solution to his problems.
Sometimes being picky is fun.