David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

24 April 2011

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Today is Easter Sunday. A time when ritual eggs are exchanged.

It's obvious the egg would be widely regarded as a symbol for birth, rebirth, renewal, reincarnation or resurrection.

Below, for instance, is a protester's egg from the streets of Syria six weeks ago.

"A Yemeni anti-government protester holds an egg painted with the colours of his national flag and bearing the Arabic writing 'Leave Ali' during a rally demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule outside Sanaa University on March 16, 2011."

Mostly, egg symbolism is obvious; however, a couple of egg scenarios, at hand here, have us speggulating.

The first of these is a 1904 German postcard, Fröhliche Ostern! (Happy Easter!) A portrait of an elf has just been painted on a large egg. Three elves now regard it; one appears to be crying. The egg is set among rocks on the ground. Is this a funery egg, marking the grave of the one depicted? If so, why an egg? Is it to symbolise a new life beyond this grave?

From that to thoughts of other funery portraits. Especially the Fayum mummy portraits: ancient Egyptian-Roman-Coptic portrait boards placed over or wound into the wrappings of mummies.

Our favorite death egg art is Lucio Fontana's series Concetto spaziale: La fine di Dio (Spatial Concept: The End of God). Here's a golden one, from 1963.

The second of today's two egg art portrait puzzlers is this :

A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

someone looks at something ...