Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Master of Ceremonies, Hasta Los Huesos and Vado Mori - "My name then is ded."

These two films and short exchange of words sum up the figures carved into the weathered face of the world by wandering astral bodies. Totems and artifact unwinding in the Waste Land like a dream of perpetual motion manifested in a broken music box. Beethoven Piano Sonata 14. The ferocity of the moon. A theme played forever becomes the sustained scream of a dying God in the end. 

Master of Ceremonies. Death the Entertainer, Vaudevillian, Juggler, Guitar Player, Comedian, Pedant and Tinker. The flesh burns, the skeleton tried to run away, the angel emerges like a moth flying over water. 

Hasta Los Huesos. A diorama of Jose Guadalupe Posada. William Blake's Sick Rose and Invisible Worm. The man slides out of the womb and lusts to return to it with every woman, his bone hungry for the hole, finding no sanctuary until he slides into the tomb, the last bone hole. 

Vado Mori. I go to die. Text and Image. Death levels all. Hamlet Act 4, Scene 3:

Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that's the end. 
Alas, alas! 
A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and cat of the fish that hath fed of that worm. 
What dost you mean by this? 
Nothing but to show you how a king may go aprogress through the guts of a beggar.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (fragment) also by Chris Sullivan

"Although the relationship among the three manuscripts of the Desert of Religion cannot be traced precisely, the question is made all the more intriguing by their common witness to several other text-and-image combinations. Two other imagetexts travel with the Desert of Religion in all three extant copies, linking the manuscripts still more closely together. All three include an illustrated English version of what are known as Vado Mori verses, extant also often in Latin. Although these verses are commonly found in several languages, illustrations accompany them in no other manuscript apart from these three. 
The text is spoken by a king, a bishop, and a knight, as they relate their individual encounters with Death: 
I wende to dede knight stithe in stoure:
thurghe fyght in felde I wane the flour.
Na fightes me taght the dede to quell.
I weend to dede soth I ghow tell. 
I weende to dede a kynge iwisse.
What helpis honor or werldis blysse?
Dede is to mane the kynde wai:
I wende to be clade in clay. 
I wende to dede clerk ful of skill,
that couth wt worde men more and dill.
Sone has me made the dede ane ende
beese ware wt me to dede I wende.
The point of these verses—that Death levels all traces of worldy station—is made implicitly by the human speakers, but in the Stowe version, the figure of Death himself speaks further lines that make the point explicit: 
Be ghe wele now warr wt me:
My name then is ded.
May ther none fro me fle
That any lyfe gun led.
Kynge Kaser then no knyght,
Ne clerke that can on boke rede,
Beest ne foghel ne other wyght,
Bot I sal make tham dedde. 
The Stowe manuscript, then, offers a more fully elaborated variant of the Vado Mori texts and images than Additional and Cotton, but the substance of all three versions is recognizably the same. They offer a double memento mori that capitalizes on the rememorative function of visual art so commonly cited by medieval theorists of the image."

1 comment:

Shannon Laws said...

Thank you for the postcards Laughing Bone. Your work is thought out, deep, and full of substance.
Thank you for sharing with us.