September 7, 2017

At the Rabelais Café...



... have a taste of conversation.

The engraving is from the 1870s, by Gustave Doré, illustrating "Gargantua and Pantagruel" — written in the mid-1500s by Rabelais, who is under discussion in this earlier post today. That picture is used — in a recent issue of The Paris Review — to introduce an essay by Robert D. Zaretsky, who "argues that we’ve lost sight of the grotesque—and of the immense floodgates of laughter that it alone can open":
Laughter that upends hierarchies and undoes centuries of moral self-seriousness, leaving no one unscathed as it washes over the masses. Looking at Rabelais... Zaretsky wonders how we lost our way—and why we can no longer mock ourselves along with those in power: “Grotesqueness was not an insult, but instead an insight into the human condition. More than half a millennium later, in a world dominated by indignation and outrage, and largely abandoned by laughter, a dose of the grotesque might help to better digest events, if only by having a good—and right kind of—laugh... For medieval man, laughter was the great leveler. Preceding Martin Luther’s priesthood of all believers was Rabelais’s priesthood of all belly-laughers. Inclusive and communal, laughter left no one untouched; no less universal than faith, it was a bit more subversive...”
So sit down and, with a dose of the grotesque, digest the events of our self-serious time.

47 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Like someone else in the earlier thread, all I can think of is

He left River City the Library Building

But he left all the books to


HER!

Chaucer.....Rabelais....Balllllllzac.


Ear worm, go away!

Etienne said...

If you put Mrs. Clinton's face on that, it could easily depict the state of the Democratic party.

Sebastian said...

"why we can no longer mock ourselves along with those in power" Who dat we? We conservatives can still mock ourselves. We conservatives still mock those in power, right or left.

But after 1789, the left could not mock: left was good, and the left in power was good, and power was to be used for more power, no mocking allowed. Nor can the non-left be allowed to mock the left: humor is an offensive maneuver in the culture war, hate speech by other means. When the will to power is all, laughing is dangerous, except when used for the correct left purpose. The demise of mocking attests to the left's gains.

Meade said...

Old miser Madison. - Miser Madison?

Miser- - Madison.

Madison Picnic Park? Madison Gymnasium? Madison Hospital? That miser Madison?

Exactly! Who did he think he was, anyway?

I should say!

sparrow said...

"If you put Mrs. Clinton's face on that, it could easily depict the state of the Democratic party."

Now that would be grotesque

exiledonmainstreet said...

That picture is used — in a recent issue of The Paris Review — to introduce an essay by Robert D. Zaretsky, who "argues that we’ve lost sight of the grotesque—and of the immense floodgates of laughter that it alone can open"

That is why Jenner and Dunham and the white guy who pretends to be black and writes about race for the NY Daily News are taken seriously. At any other time, they would have been laughed off the face of the earth.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Gargantua & Pantagruel chapter 22

Now you must note that the next day was the great festival of Corpus Christi, called the Sacre, wherein all women put on their best apparel, and on that day the said lady was clothed in a rich gown of crimson satin, under which she wore a very costly white velvet petticoat.

The day of the eve, called the vigil, Panurge searched so long of one side and another that he found a hot or salt bitch, which, when he had tied her with his girdle, he led to his chamber and fed her very well all that day and night. In the morning thereafter he killed her, and took that part of her which the Greek geomancers know, and cut it into several small pieces as small as he could. Then, carrying it away as close as might be, he went to the place where the lady was to come along to follow the procession, as the custom is upon the said holy day; and when she came in Panurge sprinkled some holy water on her, saluting her very courteously. Then, a little while after she had said her petty devotions, he sat down close by her upon the same bench, and gave her this roundelay in writing, in manner as followeth.

A Roundelay.

For this one time, that I to you my love
Discovered, you did too cruel prove,
To send me packing, hopeless, and so soon,
Who never any wrong to you had done,
In any kind of action, word, or thought:
So that, if my suit liked you not, you ought
T’ have spoke more civilly, and to this sense,
My friend, be pleased to depart from hence,
For this one time.
What hurt do I, to wish you to remark,
With favour and compassion, how a spark
Of your great beauty hath inflamed my heart
With deep affection, and that, for my part,
I only ask that you with me would dance
The brangle gay in feats of dalliance,
For this one time?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

And, as she was opening this paper to see what it was, Panurge very promptly and lightly scattered the drug that he had upon her in divers places, but especially in the plaits of her sleeves and of her gown. Then said he unto her, Madam, the poor lovers are not always at ease. As for me, I hope that those heavy nights, those pains and troubles, which I suffer for love of you, shall be a deduction to me of so much pain in purgatory; yet, at the least, pray to God to give me patience in my misery. Panurge had no sooner spoke this but all the dogs that were in the church came running to this lady with the smell of the drugs that he had strewed upon her, both small and great, big and little, all came, laying out their member, smelling to her, and pissing everywhere upon her — it was the greatest villainy in the world. Panurge made the fashion of driving them away; then took his leave of her and withdrew himself into some chapel or oratory of the said church to see the sport; for these villainous dogs did compiss all her habiliments, and left none of her attire unbesprinkled with their staling; insomuch that a tall greyhound pissed upon her head, others in her sleeves, others on her crupper-piece, and the little ones pissed upon her pataines; so that all the women that were round about her had much ado to save her. Whereat Panurge very heartily laughing, he said to one of the lords of the city, I believe that same lady is hot, or else that some greyhound hath covered her lately. And when he saw that all the dogs were flocking about her, yarring at the retardment of their access to her, and every way keeping such a coil with her as they are wont to do about a proud or salt bitch, he forthwith departed from thence, and went to call Pantagruel, not forgetting in his way alongst the streets through which he went, where he found any dogs to give them a bang with his foot, saying, Will you not go with your fellows to the wedding? Away, hence, avant, avant, with a devil avant! And being come home, he said to Pantagruel, Master, I pray you come and see all the dogs of the country, how they are assembled about a lady, the fairest in the city, and would duffle and line her. Whereunto Pantagruel willingly condescended, and saw the mystery, which he found very pretty and strange. But the best was at the procession, in which were seen above six hundred thousand and fourteen dogs about her, which did very much trouble and molest her, and whithersoever she passed, those dogs that came afresh, tracing her footsteps, followed her at the heels, and pissed in the way where her gown had touched. All the world stood gazing at this spectacle, considering the countenance of those dogs, who, leaping up, got about her neck and spoiled all her gorgeous accoutrements, for the which she could find no remedy but to retire unto her house, which was a palace. Thither she went, and the dogs after her; she ran to hide herself, but the chambermaids could not abstain from laughing. When she was entered into the house and had shut the door upon herself, all the dogs came running of half a league round, and did so well bepiss the gate of her house that there they made a stream with their urine wherein a duck might have very well swimmed, and it is the same current that now runs at St. Victor, in which Gobelin dyeth scarlet, for the specifical virtue of these piss-dogs, as our master Doribus did heretofore preach publicly. So may God help you, a mill would have ground corn with it. Yet not so much as those of Basacle at Toulouse.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Sorry for the block of text--it's easier to read @the link.
Still, read it! Laslo himself would have a harder time coming up with something more "grotesque" than that--a vivid description of a huge pack of dogs pissing all over a fancy lady dressed in her finest.
Literature, folks.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Anyway let's not be coy about why the grotesque has been lost sight of. We can't share a laugh at the idea of a great big fat person because that'd be fat shaming.
We have to all pretend that a man having himself surgically altered to appear like a woman is not just ok or normal but in fact beautiful--is "stunning and brave." See? Only those fellas at South Park can get away with pointing out how nuts that is, and even they just barely!
When the arbiters of culture--Leftist PC-enforcers all--insist that the abnormal is normal then what should be extreme or grotesque must also be treated as normal. It's not just bad manners to notice odd things, then, it's downright ugly and hateful to do so!

Non of us want to be ugly, I'm sure. Not that there's anything wrong with physically ugliness, of course! Wouldn't want to be looks-ist.

William Chadwick said...

I live in the South, so I'm never NOT conscious of the grotesque.

J. Farmer said...

@HoodlumDoodlum:

Anyway let's not be coy about why the grotesque has been lost sight of..."

I basically agree. When I first read the quote, "argues that we’ve lost sight of the grotesque—and of the immense floodgates of laughter that it alone can open," my first thought was that it would never be permitted in a society that has promoted radical individualism to the top of the moral hierarchy. In a society where to use an even relatively benign word like "abnormal" is likely to invite heaps of abuse and all kinds of assaults on one's character. Never mind old terms like "freaks," "weirdos," or "oddballs." How would modern society react to Browning's 1932 Freaks or P.T. Barnum's traveling freak shows? The closest we have in today's society are reality shows about dwarfs and the morbidly obese. But these are played for more for pathos than laughter.

buwaya said...

Trump is the people's Rabelaisian joke on the high and good.
They aren't taking it well.

n.n said...

Liberal excess personified.

Angel-Dyne said...

More than half a millennium later, in a world dominated by indignation and outrage, and largely abandoned by laughter...

I followed the link the Mr. Zaretsky's article. Lol. It was exactly what I expected: a po-faced author who invokes Rabelais while remaining oblivious to what the raucous peasants have been noticing for years - that we have long since descended into Clown World.

But to Zaretsky, it's Clown World that is wholesome and normal. It's (yes, you saw this coming) Trump and his supporters who are violent and grotesque, who have brought about some lurid permanent state of carnival - carnival, which is supposed to be a temporary world-turned-upside-down, after which the proper order is restored. The proper order being, of course, the author's own pieties and the sham verities of late modernity. Nobody ever got a belly laugh out of its grotesqueries, did they? "Laughter left no one untouched", he writes of medieval humor, sure that he and his kind are untouched as targets of anybody's humor, sure that, because he and his stick-up-the-butt partisan ilk are consumed by "indignation and outrage", everyone else has forgotten how to laugh.

Ah, no we haven't, oh pompous emissary of the Clown King.

exiledonmainstreet said...

HoodlumDoodlum,that passage alone would trigger thousands of today's undergrads and cause them to run for safe spaces and coloring books, because sexist, oppressive, rape culture, male privilege, etc. etc.

But it's just another work by a Dead White Male that has been relegated to the trash heap on most college campuses, so no worries.

Does Zaretsky actually assign "Gargantua & Pantagruel" in his classes? If he tries, I doubt the inevitable complaints and outrage will come from YAF members.

Night Owl said...

We take ourselves seriously but we're not serious people-- (maybe when we normalize the grotesque it makes us silly?) We obsess over symbols -- like words and statues-- and ignore deeds; like why are so many white people addicted to opioids; why are young black men murdering each other; why are central Americans sending their kids off to die in the desert on their way to the US, and why do we encourage this? It's much easier for silly people to get hysterical over symbols than tackle serious issues.

But some people never lost their sense of humor, and we think that Trump is indeed the perfect man to represent our time.

Static Ping said...

Where can I get a set of human-sized silverware?

Feste said...

Whatever Shakespeare meant by “What You Will,” or Rabelais by “Do What Thou Wilt,” they agreed that nature outside us, and some sort of nature inside us, impose at least randomized limits upon our enslavements of each other.

Feste said...

So we experience and we create randomized natural and political limits, whether in misunderstood war game metrics claimed to motivate bystanderism, or in the new Harvard siloization of information into discrete rocks as data chunks about slavery that benefitted Harvard, new rocks to motivate bystanderism or agitation. The new Harvard rock motivated me to return to an impossible local question - whether the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire that destroyed the practice of slavery by the siloized shanghai-boardinghouses on the Barbary Coast - whether the earthquake and fire did more or less to end San Francisco’s shanghai-slavery than did 50 years (more or less) of failed legislative history against shanghai-slavery - legislation that started before the earthquake and fire, and a legislative history that culminated in The Seamen's Act of 1915? Pace Irma.

brylun said...

6,000 same-day registration New Hampshire voters: the overwhelming majority of them can no longer be found in New Hampshire. Hillary (D) won NH by 2,700 votes and Hassan (D) won the Senate seat by 1017 votes. 70% of the same-day registrants used out-of-state photo ID.

What is up with this?

D said...

"In a world dominated by indignation and outrage, and largely abandoned by laughter, a dose of the grotesque might help."

I cant be the first to think:
"Little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously"
....
"He's sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I'm in the hall"
.....

Self serious times. Who be the self righteous braggerts of 2017, producing the gall in those on the outside, who see all the useless talk talk talk in the halls of power, the academic towers, and media circles?

Matthew Sablan said...

If true about NH, that's a game changer.

William said...

When I eat at the BBQ place, I always order seconds. I guess you could say I have Rabelaisian appetites. But I don't order fries or beans. I have moderately Rabelaisian appetites.

mockturtle said...

When I eat at the BBQ place, I always order seconds. I guess you could say I have Rabelaisian appetites. But I don't order fries or beans. I have moderately Rabelaisian appetites.

Mustard figures bigly in Rabelaisian tales, IIRC.

traditionalguy said...

This afternoon the traffic in Atlanta became wild with a flood of Florida and coastal Georgia refugees who drive around like they are lost. Travel times are doubled. It's like the Olympics crowds were supposed to be in 96. The City is overflowing. And that is just from the east coast crowd , but the west coast/Tampa folks are headed up I-75 next.

What a wild week.

mockturtle said...

If true about NH, that's a game changer.

Sure is! Wonder how many other 'same day voter registrations' figured heavily in Democratic victories.

tim in vermont said...

Al Franken won by a hair, same day registration. Ted Stevens indicted just before election day, prosecutors eventually reprimanded for misconduct, Stevens cleared, Senate seat lost. That's three seat gained by fraud.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

https://twitter.com/JordanUhl/status/905845105709469697


Carry on.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

https://twitter.com/annalecta/status/859410257172463618



Y'all are funny!

Scott said...

Speaking of grotesque:

Cops Who Tasered Handcuffed Teen on His Testicles Until He Died – On Video – Can’t Be Charged

exiledonmainstreet said...

Scott, that's horrible.

I found the comments on the case even more grotesque: either, "cops are all scum" or "cops can do no wrong, it's the kid's fault for taking LSD." Good God, why can't people judge these cases individually, without forcing them into some political template? Many cops are fine public servants; some are bullies and sadists. (The worst bully from my grade school became a cop; I certainly hope he matured because if not I can certainly imagine him abusing his power.) Some charges of police brutality are bogus, some are legit - and this one certainly sounds legit. People on the Left are too quick to assume police brutality and to attribute brutality to all police; people on the Right are too quick to assume the cops are always blameless.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

BTW, unlike the folks bankrolling the Rs, some loaded folks don't need to hoard everything they built (or built w/ assist, according to our usurper POTUS).

Some normal folks get it too, in their own small-scale ways:

https://twitter.com/RyanAFournier/status/905959831957372928


Good People

mockturtle said...

Exiled at 9:23: X2

Fernandinande said...

exiledonmainstreet said...
I found the comments on the case even more grotesque: either, "cops are all scum" or "cops can do no wrong, it's the kid's fault for taking LSD."


You must be reading different comments; "sorted by best" of 158 comments only two mention LSD and almost all the other comments - although not reading each one - treat the cops as individuals or that group of five individuals:

Charge them with murder, no statute of limitations there.
^ I'm with him. ^

the entire group of them are equal in the blame so charge them all.

I advocate that if the "Justice" System fails them they administer their own justice. I know if these bastards harmed my child, I'd find them and end them.

When you let cops get a way with beating and killing people of color, they think it ok to hurt and kill any body.

There is no statute of limitations on the fraud committed by keeping the evidence secret.

The statute of limitations for a homicide is less than 5 yrs?
This was a murder.

no there were other circumstances involved police new that thats why those corrupt bastards held on to the evidence bet they had there own lawyers look at the footage

The statute of limitations needs to be changed so that "public officials" cannot just hide evidence long enough to get off the hook.


...etc...

Ignorance is Bliss said...

brylun said...

6,000 same-day registration New Hampshire voters: the overwhelming majority of them can no longer be found in New Hampshire. Hillary (D) won NH by 2,700 votes and Hassan (D) won the Senate seat by 1017 votes. 70% of the same-day registrants used out-of-state photo ID.

Anyone have a link to the original source on this? PJ Media links to the Public Interest Legal Foundation, but not to a specific article/report on the topic. The only thing I found on the PILF site regarding this story was a link back to the PJ Media story.

Rabel said...

Link to New Hampshire voter fraud source.

The line about "can no longer be found in New Hampshire" is BS.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Fernandinande, the comments you posted were reasonable. I saw a lot of unreasonable ones there as well, and those are the ones that jumped out at me, perhaps because I'm cranky and have had a rough day.

brylun said...

Law prof Glenn Reynolds is part of PJ Media. If they are publishing BS then that's not good. No wonder mainstream folks won't cite PJ Media. Nice work Rabel! If I were Glenn Reynolds I'd be pissed. If I were Althouse I would be worried...

tim in vermont said...

The line about "can no longer be found in New Hampshire" is BS.

I suggest you read the bottom two paragraphs of page two before you dismiss it. Maybe you can explain why it is "BS."

tim in vermont said...

usurper POTUS)

Yes, it was treason to defeat Hillary. The electoral college is unconstitutional, I told you guys that this would be their next take.

tim in vermont said...

On Nov. 8, 2016, 6,540 voters used an out-of-state driver’s license as identification to vote but as of Aug. 30, 2017, only 1,014 of those individuals – 15.5 percent – had been issued a New Hampshire driver’s license, according to the data. Of the remaining 5,526 individuals, only 3.3 percent – about 213 people – had a registered motor vehicle.

It would be a huge statistical anomaly if only 3% of the population who same-day registered wth an out of state drivers license had any further official ties to the state. It stinks to high heaven.

tim in vermont said...

America was already great for rich people like Peanut Butters.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Rabel-

Thanks for the link. It looks like it is legal for someone to live and vote in NH without being required to replace an out-of-state driver's license or car registration with a New Hampshire one. ( As long as they don't also vote in another state. ) This is probably common with college students going to school in NH who were from out-of-state.

I don't know it that explains the data, and I don't like that we can't verify this, but it is certainly not proof that all, or even many, of these are cases of voter fraud.

tim in vermont said...

It's the same day stuff that gives me agita, and the fact that you can't verify it.

Rabel said...

"I suggest you read the bottom two paragraphs of page two before you dismiss it. Maybe you can explain why it is "BS.""

I did and I don't see anything which validates the numbers in the quoted statement, it's overreach. I don't doubt that there were many illegal voters in New Hampshire and that same-day registration facilitated their illegality but the statement I criticized is simply not true and such a deviation from reality weakens the argument against same-day registration without valid ID.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"Yes, it was treason to defeat Hillary"

I was referring to the Kenyan who said that folks didn't build what they did build.