This One’s Just For Me (Mmm… Marginalia #64)

Sometimes I post images of general interest.  But today I’m posting one that’ll probably only appeal to me, and I like it because it’s an actual bona fide medieval visual pun that’s really only funny to people who care about ‘the rules‘ of how manuscript pages are supposed to be constructed.  Violin:*

See, as I’ve said before, on a proper gothic page, the really traditional artist will make sure that every element is connected to something else in order to combat the page’s gravity.  So the juggler is only kept from falling off the page by virtue of being  attached to the historiated initial by his juggler’s club.  This leaves two impossible (by the rules of the manuscript page) interpretations: 1) one of his clubs happens to have a giant O stuck on the end, in which case he’s getting ready to throw Jesus and the monk there for a loop or 2) he only appears to be attached to the O because his club is in front of it, which means by the rules of the page he should be falling into the lower margin any minute now.


But just so you don’t think I’m too selfish, here’s a bonus image of some chickens and they’re totally doing it:

Now everybody’s happy.

*Also, I don’t know how you people manage to read these things and send me little typo notices so quickly, but here I am five minutes after posting to let you know that “Violin” is not a cupertino for Voila, but rather my own passive aggressive (and, apparently, counterproductive) dig at the people who send me typo notices when I use the word voila without the fancy accent mark.

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  • GCU Prosthetic Conscience

    Silly me, I thought it was "violin" because the juggling clubs look like they have tuning pegs.

  • Derek

    I thought 'violin' for 'voila' was a clever reference to the Pearl Jam song, "Daughter," where the original liner notes maintain the audible ambiguity between 'violins' and 'violence' in the lyrics. Thus, it symbolized and foreshadowed the ambiguous duality of the juggler in your image.

    Um, and the Pearl Jam song is kind of medieval because they had daughters back then.

  • Got Medieval

    Yes, but I've always maintained that that Pearl Jam song is a reference to Earnest Hemingway's habit of referring to all the women in his life as "daughter". And Hemingway's hardly medieval.*

    *Unless you're H.R Stoneback (sorry about the paywall, non-academics). Thank goodness so few of us are H.R. Stoneback.

  • pathetic prophet

    Or is this juggler in a fit of anachronistic glee holding the world's first magnifying glass?

  • Sophie

    This may be the nerdiest thing I've ever written (no, probably not): is that Columbia MS X88.Ar512? It's Aristotle's logic… because if so I wrote a paper on it one semester and am kind of excited someone else is as entertained by the jugglers as I was.

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