Fun Medieval Doodles
Here is a small selection of doodles I tweeted over the past year (@erik_kwakkel). Although they are usually not exactly eye-candy, they are easy to like. I think this is because they are often very funny, but also because the activity is such a familiar one. Almost without thinking we ourselves doodle on notepads, post-it notes or in the margin of the newspaper.
While our drawings are often the result of boredom, in the Middle Ages there was often a more pragmatic rationale behind their creation. In some cases they were a response to the text, such as the Adam and Eve doodle above. Moreover, many were the fruit of correcting the nib of the pen, like the little dog’s head. They are the medieval equivalent, as it were, of our scratching on a piece of paper to get the ink flowing.
In other cases still it remains a mystery what the doodling scribe was thinking. Why draw the skeleton that seems to hold a glass, for example? Is it a warning that our enjoying the delights of this planet will ultimately come to an end? A medieval campaign against riding your horse while under influence? Whatever the meaning of this poor guy with his drink may be, and in spite of the fact we are reminded of our own mortality, sketches like this do brighten the page - and my day.
"Worse than the sunflower," she had said. But the new dimension of truth had only recently Burst in on us. Now it was to be condemned. And in vagrant shadow her mothball truth is eaten. In cool, like-it-or-not shadow the humdrum is consumed. Tired housewives begat it some decades ago, A small piece of truth that is it was honey to the lips Was also millions of miles from filling the place reserved for it. You see how honey crumbles your universe Which seems like an institution – how many walls? Then everything, in her belief, was to be submerged And soon. There was no life you could live out to its end And no attitude which, in the end, would save you. The monkish and the frivolous alike were to be trapped in death's capacious claw But listen while I tell you about the wallpaper – There was a key to everything in that oak forest But a sad one. Ever since childhood there Has been this special meaning to everything. You smile at your friend's joke, but only later, through tears. For the shoe pinches, even though it fits perfectly. Apples were made to be gathered, also the whole host of the world’s ailments and troubles. There is no time like the present for giving in to this temptation. Once the harvest is in and the animals put away for the winter To stand at the uncomprehending window cultivating the desert With salt tears which will never do anyone any good. My dearest I am as a galleon on salt billows. Perfume my head with forgetting all around me. For some day these projects will return. The funereal voyage over ice-strewn seas is ended. You wake up forgetting. Already Daylight shakes you in the yard. The hands remain empty. They are constructing an osier basket Just now, and across the sunlight darkness is taking root anew In intense activity. You shall never have seen it just this way And that is to be your one reward.
Fine vapors escape from whatever is doing the living. The night is cold and delicate and full of angels Pounding down the living. The factories are all lit up, The chime goes unheard. We are together at last, though far apart.
Things I have learnt from being irritated by my tutoring student:
1. I am a hypocrite.
2. I will never be a teacher.
It is the first colour I have seen in months. Or so it seems. Scarlet. A little wild poppy, of a red so sudden it made my blood stop. I kept saying the word over and over to myself, scarlet, as if the word, like the colour, had escaped me till now, and just saying it would keep the little windblown flower in sight.
Poppy. The magic of saying the word made my skin prickle, the saying almost a greater miracle than the seeing. I was drunk with joy. I danced. I shouted. Imagine the astonishment of my friends at Rome to see our cynical metropolitan poet, who barely knows a flower or a tree, dancing about in broken sandals on the earth, which is baked hard and cracked in some places, and in others puddled with foul-smelling mud — to see him dancing and singing to himself in celebration of this bloom.
Poppy, scarlet poppy, flower of my far-off childhood and the cornfields round our farm at Sulmo, I have brought you into being again, I have raised you out of my earliest memories, out of my blood, to set you blowing in the wind. Scarlet. Magic word on the tongue to flash again on the eye. Scarlet. And with it all the other colours come flooding back, as magic syllables, and the earth explodes with them, they flash about me. I am making the spring. With yellow of the ox-eye daisy of our weedy olive groves, with blue of cornflower, orange of marigold, purple of foxglove, even the pinks and cyclamens of my mother’s garden that I have forgotten all these years. They come back… though there was, in fact, just a single poppy, a few blown petals of a tissue fineness and brightness, round the crown of seeds.
Where had it come from? I searched and searched but could find no other. The seeds must have blown in and taken root. But from where? From the sea — carried high up in a stream of luminous dust and let fall among us. Or in the entrails of some bird on its way north, and growing out of the bird’s casual droppings as it passed.
I sit on the ground and observe it. I love this poppy. I shall watch over it.
Suddenly my head is full of flowers of all kinds. They sprout out of the earth in deep fields and roll away in my skull. I have only to name the flowers, without even knowing what they look like, the colour, the shape, the number of petals, and they burst into bud, they click open, they spread their fragrance in my mind, opening out of the secret syllables as I place them like seeds upon my tongue and give them breath. I shall make whole gardens like this. I am Flora. I am Persephone. I have the trick of it now. All it needs is belief.
And this, as I might have guessed, is how it is done. We give the gods a name and they quicken in us, they rise in their glory and power and majesty out of minds, they move forth to act in the world beyond, changing us and it. So it is that the beings we are in the process of becoming will be drawn out of us. Beginning, as always, with what is simple.
Poppy, you have saved me, you have recovered the earth for me. I know how to work the spring.
1-3: 1Q84 Books 1, 2, 3. Haruki Murakami.
long. confusing. i need to talk more.
4. The Rose and the Ring: William Makepiece Thackeray.
5: Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett
6: Assassin’s Apprentice - Robin Hobb
7: Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb
8: Assassin’s Quest - Robin Hobb
deej would never lead me astray. the fool.
9. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
again. book club.
10. I Am The Messenger - Markus Zusak
11. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce
12. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom - Cory Doctorow
13. We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
so much hate.
14. Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett
15. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
16. Pyramids - Terry Pratchett
17. Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett
18. Howl’s Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones
19. Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi
20. Magicians of Caprona - Diana Wynne Jones.
21. Tale of Time City - Diana Wynne Jones.
you can tell when i’m not well, i go back to my childhood.
i cleaned my room but now it feels dirtier.
why does australia have to be too hot to have a conservatory?
Indiana Jones Mystery Package
We don’t really even know how to start this post. Yesterday we received a package addressed to “Henry Walton Jones, Jr.”. We sort-of shrugged it off and put it in our bin of mail for student workers to sort and deliver to the right faculty member— we get the wrong mail a lot.
Little did we know what we were looking at. When our student mail worker snapped out of his finals-tired haze and realized who Dr. Jones was, we were sort of in luck: this package wasn’t meant for a random professor in the Stat department. It is addressed to “Indiana” Jones.
What we know: The package contained an incredibly detailed replica of “University of Chicago Professor” Abner Ravenwood’s journal from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It looks only sort of like this one, but almost exactly like this one, so much so that we thought it might have been the one that was for sale on Ebay had we not seen some telling inconsistencies in cover color and “Ex Libris” page (and distinct lack of sword). The book itself is a bit dusty, and the cover is teal fabric with a red velvet spine, with weathered inserts and many postcards/pictures of Marion Ravenwood (and some cool old replica money) included. It’s clear that it is mostly, but not completely handmade, as although the included paper is weathered all of the “handwriting” and calligraphy lacks the telltale pressure marks of actual handwriting.
What we don’t know: Why this came to us. The package does not actually have real stamps on it— the outside of the package was crinkly and dirty as if it came through the mail, but the stamps themselves are pasted on and look like they have been photocopied. There is no US postage on the package, but we did receive it in a bin of mail, and it is addressed to the physical address of our building, Rosenwald Hall, which has a distinctly different address from any other buildings where it might be appropriate to send it (Haskell Hall or the Oriental Institute Museum). However, although now home to the Econ department and College Admissions, Rosenwald Hall used to be the home to our departments of geology and geography.
If you’re an applicant and sent this to us: Why? How? Did you make it? Why so awesome? If you’re a member of the University community and this belongs to you or you’ve gotten one like it before, PLEASE tell us how you acquired it, and whether or not yours came with a description— or if we’re making a big deal out of the fact that you accidentally slipped a gift for a friend in to the inter-university mail system. If you are an Indiana Jones enthusiast and have any idea who may have sent this to us or who made it, let us know that, too.
We know this sounds like a joke/hoax… it’s not (at least, from our end). Any hints, ideas, thoughts, or explanations are appreciated. We’ve been completely baffled as to why this was sent to us, in mostly a good way, but it’s clear this is a neat thing that either belongs somewhere else— or belongs in the halls of UChicago admissions history.
Internet: help us out. If you’re on Reddit (we’re not) or any other nerdly social media sites where we might get information about this, feel free to post far and wide and e-mail any answers, clues, ideas, thoughts, or musings to email@example.com (yes, we did set up an email account just to deal with this thing).
**Update: we have heard from Lucasfilm (nerd sidebar: OMG SO COOL) that this is not some type of viral marketing package for any upcoming Indiana Jones films or events. We have narrowed the likely maker down to the most-accurate Ebay match (seller “Ravenbar”) but have not been able to get in touch with the seller, nor do we have any sense of why this would have made its way to our office. More photos of the journal can be found in the Chicago Red Eye here. We will be placing this in the University of Chicago library’s Special Collections once our mystery has been solved, so to those who have asked if it is for sale, sadly, the answer is no. Thanks to all who have sent tips or ideas (and to all of the news organizations that found this cool enough to pick it up)— please keep the ideas coming!**