Monday, August 05, 2013

Documentaries for Breakfast

A 13th Century map of England from
Ian Mortimer's book, "The Time
Traveler's Guide to Medieval England."
There are no dragons or troglodytes here.
They're on another map.
What's really happening is not so much laying fallow as collecting material or storing up images and sensations. Documentaries about ancient Africa, Alexandria, and eastern religions (particularly Yoga, Hinduism, and Buddhism) are what interest me. And a book: "The Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century" by Ian Mortimer.

This interest emerged years ago when I read most of the books in the Sister Fidelma series; as accurate a depiction of the Celtic world as Perry Ellis (aka Peter Tremayne) can make. He's a serious scholar and authority on the period of the Celts. I still think of how his heroine traveled and lived in those fictions. Because, although the stories are fiction, the way she and her contemporaries lived is based on as much fact as can be garnered from history.

So, I can't say it's all about history because I'm not obsessed with dates and politics. I'm obsessed with how people lived and what they thought and believed. And how those thoughts and beliefs evolved.

One of the most telling chapters of "The Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England" is the one on Health and Hygiene. Medical practices were an amalgamation of astrology, superstition, and badly transmitted ancient knowledge. There's a lot of blood letting. A fun segment of a Saturday Night Live episode (Season 3, Episode 18 - April 22, 1978) shows what a pastiche of concoctions such treatments were. Steve Martin, as doctor, suggests treatments which patients are lucky to survive. Ian Mortimer presents the same case in his book; that you are healthier without a doctor in the middle ages.

A time of collection is a known part of the creative process as explained by Julia Cameron in her book "The Artist's Way." Although I had lived through this phase previously, I hadn't isolated it as part of a process before doing the 12 week self-directed workshop using her book. If I had, momentarily, acknowledged my laying fallow it was with a lot of guilt about "doing nothing." Which might be why I'm doing so much knitting and crocheting. Keeping my hands busy and feeling productive while letting my mind wander. Collecting.
My collecting process is more like stocking
an antique/junk shop than filing things
away neatly.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails