The presence of Father Christmas [in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe] bothered many of Lewis’s friends, including J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien, whose Middle-earth was free of the legends and religions of our world, objected to Narnia’s hodgepodge of motifs: the fauns and dryads lifted from classic mythology, the Germanic dwarfs and contemporary schoolboy slang lumped in with the obvious Christian symbolism.
But Lewis embraced the Middle Ages’ indiscriminate mixing of stories and motifs from seemingly incompatible sources. The medievals, he once wrote, enthusiastically adopted a habit from late antiquity of “gathering together and harmonizing views of very different origin: building a syncretistic model not only out of Platonic, Aristotelian and Stoical, but out of pagan and Christian elements.” . . .
The unifying principle of Narnia, unlike the vast complex of invented history behind Middle-earth, isn’t an illusion of authenticity or purity. Rather, what binds all the elements of Lewis’s fantasy together is something more like love. Narnia consists of every story, legend, myth or image — pagan or Christian — that moved the author over the course of his life.
JU: Now there are certainly many people who will feel that these methods they get paid to practice are proprietary knowledge they wouldn’t want to reveal. My argument is that in a lot of cases, by demonstrating expertise you’ll attract more work than you lose, and that it’ll often be more interesting and rewarding work. What’s your experience?
JL: Both of those ideas do play strongly in the building trades. It’s a real tradition to keep secrets. Going back hundreds and hundreds of years, with the guild systems, there were ways to control the sharing of that kind of knowledge. And it’s still the case. Not every plasterer who can do those decorative Ionic capitals wants everybody to know exactly how they do it. But they do want everybody to know that it can be done.
You’re right, this is how artisans can do good marketing — by letting people know what is involved, by showing some of these methods, and they don’t have to give up all their secrets in order to do that. But you can help people to understand that it’s not just a machine spitting out product, it’s people making stuff with their minds and their hands and their hearts.
Agriculturalists have long distrusted miners, millers, and other proponents of manufacturing; in a land where once nine of every ten people worked in agriculture, it is not surprising that much of our national heritage subtly emphasizes the good life of husbandry and the beauty and rightness of space shaped for farming. Equally significant in American culture is the tension between common and professional builders; while well-read men who understood the new theories of geography, mercantile capitalism, representative government, and innovative design sometimes directed colonization, people much less literate and far more traditional actually shaped the land. Very few cartographers and surveyors and spatial theorists migrated to the New World; men like William Penn were as rare as his finely drawn plan for Philadelphia, and even he did not stay to watch his plan take form.
In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Jewish feminists claimed that the mikveh and other laws dealing with niddah, or menstruation, deemed women’s natural cycles unclean. (Under rabbinical law, married couples are forbidden to have sexual relations during the woman’s menstrual period and for seven days after menstruation has ceased. Some couples even sleep in separate beds during that time.) Objecting to what they saw as the patriarchal concept of ‘family purity,’ many feminists rejected the mikveh and the rituals that surround it. Mikveh continued, of course, but mostly among Conservative and Orthodox Jews.
‘Early feminists were very negative about the mikveh, seeing it as a denigration of women, a focus on ‘cleanliness’ and ‘impurity’ that seemed to be a way of keeping women from tainting men,’ says Shuly Rubin Schwartz, assistant professor of American Jewish history at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. ‘Now women are saying, ‘Wait a minute. This is a tradition that was an important part of Judaism for our foremothers. Let’s look at the deeper meaning.’’
Kate Benson in the Sydney Morning Herald:
When Mehdi Jaffari was told his left carotid artery was so severely blocked he faced the risk of an imminent stroke, he turned the clock back to medieval times.
The 52-year-old counsellor, from Chatswood, bought more than 35 leeches from a Victorian farmer and applied them to his body daily. Within five days, a CT angiogram showed the artery had cleared, stunning staff at Royal North Shore Hospital and his family.
Leech therapy, first documented in Greece more than 4000 years ago, is not new in Sydney. More than 50 Richardsonianus australis leeches are kept in a tank at Liverpool Hospital for use on patients who have had skin grafts or severed digits because their saliva contains hirudin, a chemical that acts as a powerful anticoagulant and vasodilator.
More here. [Thanks to Susan Anthony.]