Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The sorrowful Lamentation of a Penitent Sinner, c. 1664

Christmastime is coming! Jesus wants to remind you of something:

For the record, I think this image would make a pretty bitchin' album cover for like a cosmic heavy metal band. It's sort of trippy, especially with those flying angel heads. And the whole showing off the stigmata sort of makes Jesus look like he's "Raising the Roof!" It's the hippest Jesus ever! Although this might top my Jesus-meets-dated-dancemove-reference. LOL Christ!!!

Merry Christmas everybody!


It's been a long semester of studying the Renaissance, and LOL Manuscripts has made a name for itself as mildly humorous amongst a small and specialized audience. But as it is the season of Baby Jesus' birthday, there are parents to visit that still have dial up internet. That said, LOL Manuscripts will go into hibernation for the next few weeks of winter, much like the mighty Grizzly Bear.

To satisfy all our desires for captioning, I will direct you to the weekly New Yorker Caption Contest! It's no 17th century woodcut, but it'll do. Below is last weeks contest's image. As a captioner of early modern works, I must admit I am stumped. I can't think of anything but jokes about King James or how evil the papacy is or abortions, which is pretty much my bread and butter for this site. Anyway, here's my attempt:

"Help, I'm trapped in a Piet Mondrian painting! Oh no! How on earth could a thing like this happen? I am frightened and confused!"

Doug pointed out that a pun on "Mondrian" or "De Stijl" is sort of impossible. Or is it? I was talking to Katie once about that Tracy Chevalier art history romance novel/film Girl with the Pearl Earring, which chronicles the sexy sexy history behind the famous Vermeer painting of the same name. She suggested that someone should write a novel on the erotic backstory behind Mondrian's work. I can imagine the enigmatic and tragic romance that inspired Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue.

Anyway, I'm going to try to win the New Yorker Caption Contest, and then I'll become famous for my captioning abilities and become a millionaire and heal the world with my jokes about preventable diseases and 17th century politics and the pope.

Marmaduke Explained is a pretty funny blog to, if you like Marmaduke cartoons explained to you. Have a nice break, everybody.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Method of Curing Wounds, 1617

Ambrose Pare was a famous surgeon in the 16th century. I don't know if he was any good, because it seems that his method of "curing wounds made by gun-shot...arrows and darts" is to stab the patient with even more arrows and darts and swords and knives. Then again, maybe shit like this just happened in the 17th century. There you are taking a leisurely nude stroll, and bam! You've been stabbed 20 times. I almost called this "Early Modern Acupuncture," but I sort of like the Public Service Announcement feel -- spreading the message of Tetanus vaccinations is important . I dream of it turning into an ad campaign; posters hanging in city buses, subway stations, and health department walls, next to less imperative messages about Hepatitis or HIV testing.

I had to get a Tetanus shot a few months ago, and it sort of hurt for a few days, but I imagine it didn't hurt as much as getting Lockjaw.

LOL Manuscripts cares about your health! Have YOU had your Tetanus shot this year? Don't wait--Vaccinate!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some passages of the life and death of the Right Honourable John Earl of Rochester, 1693

by Gilbert Burnet

John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester: Disturbing, Disgusting, or Awesome? I still can't decide.

My favoirte story about the Earl of Rochester is that he once claimed that he was drunk for five years straight. What a cad! Also, Johnny Depp played him in a movie, so you know he's important.

In addition to his bawdy and kinda gross verse, he often angered the King and was occasionally exiled from court. To make money, he once advertised himself as Dr. Alexander Bendo, a quack physician who had a great cure for "barrenness (proceeding from any accidental cause, as it often falls out, and no natural defect; for nature is easily assisted)... Cures of this kind I have done signal and many, for the which I doubt not but I have the good wishes and hearty prayers of many families, who had else pin'd out their days under the deplorable and reproachful misfortunes of barren wombs, leaving plentiful estates and possessions to be inherited by strangers." [source] I wonder how he cured so many infertile women? Wilmot died of complications from alcoholism and syphilis in his early thirties.

Let's do one more LOL Rochester:

(Maybe it should have read "Mah Syphilis: Let me show you it.")

Friday, December 7, 2007

The famous Ratketcher, with his trauels into France, and of his returne to London, 1616

This ballad (sung to the tune of "the Joviall Tinker"--man I love that song) is actually pretty funny at first. The ratketcher walks around carrying
"Full fourty fulsome Vermine" on a pole to advertise his trade, and sings "Rat tat tat." He also seems to be interested in various poisons from around the world, and is lauded for his work. It reminded me of the famous Victorian ratter Jack Black, until I got to this stanza:

"But on a time, a Damosell,
did him so farre intice,
That for her a Baite he layd straight,
would kill no Rats nor Mice...
And on the Baite she nibled,
so pleasing in her taste,
She lickt so long, that the Poyson strong,
did make her swell i'th waste."

That's right, he tries to poison a woman. Ha Ha Ha! Although the "poison" might be semen. Either way, it seems he has to leave town for some reason.

But you know, now that I look at the kitty, maybe it's supposed to be a terrier? And flowers, milk baths, and ringing bells were all real plague "remedies" throughout the 15th-18th centuries.

On the subject of ratcatching, I just saw maybe the most terribly depressing (read: wonderful in every way) movie called Ratcatcher. It's set in Glasgow, Scotland in the 1970s, during a garbagemen strike. Urban poverty? Check. Familial breakdown? Check. Childhood cut short due to tragedy? Double check. It was pretty much perfect in every way. Watch it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

John Seller's The History of England, 1696

Seller was one of the first great English mapmakers, and one of the first to publish and sell his maps. He's most famous for nautical charts and navigational aides. I think that this map, however, accurately captures a specific topography of 17th century England. And yes, that's the killer rabbit from "Monty Python's Holy Grail." Thanks, Doug.

I should point out that "murther" encompasses all forms, including stabbing, smothering, kissing a poisoned portrait of your husband, or having flaming gold thrown on you .