Art Isn't the Only Thing that Transcends Time
(Excerpt from Boccaccio's book: Decameron written about 1353 as cited in The Creators, A History of Heros of the Imagination)
One of the most popular stories on the day devoted to people attaining their desires was how the innocent maiden Alibech was taught by the monk Rustico to put the Devil back into Hell. To prepare her for the lesson, he stripped himself naked and instructed her to do the same, when she asked:
"Rustico, what is that thing I see sticking out in front of you and which I do not have?"
"Oh, my child, replied Rstico, " that is the Devil, about which I told you. Now you can see him for yourself. He is inflicting such pain in me that I can hardly bear it."
"Praise be to God!" said the girl. "I am better off than you are, for I do not have such a Devil."
"That is very true," Rustico replied, "but you do have something else which I do not have, and you have it in place of this."
"Oh?" answered Alibech. "What is it?"
"You have a Hell," said Rustico, "and I firmly believe that God has sent you here for the salvation of my soul. Since this Devil gives me such pain, you could be the one to take pitty on me by allowing me to put him back into Hell. You would be giving me great comfort, and you will render a great service to God by making Him happy, which is what you say was your purpose in coming here."
"Oh, father," replied the girl in good faith, "since I have a Hell, let us do as you wish and as soon as possible."
"May God bless you, my child," Rustico said. "let us go then and put it back, so that he will at last leave me in peace."
And after saying this, he led the girl over to one of the beds and showed her what position to take in order to incarcerate that cursed Devil. The young girl, who had never before put a single Devil into Hell, felt a slight pain the first time, and because of this she said to Rustico:
"This Devil must certainly be and evil thing and truly God's enemy, father, for he not only hurts others, but he even hurts Hell when put back into it."
"My child," Rustico said, "it will not always be like that." And to prove that it would not be, they put him back in Hell seven times before getting out of bed; in fact, after the seventh time the Devil found it impossible to rear his arrogant head, and he was content to be at peace for a while.
(Translated by Mark Musa and Peter Bondanella)
I came across this in the book that I was reading and thought it was humorous. Not only because of the way the author tells the story, but also because it was written in the 1300's, a time when sex is seemingly forbiddon, and people are pious members of the ruling Catholic Church, women supposidly ditter behind fans and men make sweeping gestures of courtship.
Art, literature and music seem to be things we often think of as transcending time. That which the artist has created in the 1500's is a timeless classic, just as alive today as it was when he created his beloved work.
However, it seems interesting that if we go through the annals of time we find that sex is also something that is "timeless" in it's own right. Selling sex is the oldest profession in the world, and we find several bawdy tales in various literary works like the one above. Men and women married to secure alliances, and their "love" was saught outside of the marriage. In the 1700's it was not uncommon to hear of high classed nobility holding orgies in secret parks and what have you. Painters paint it, singers sing it, writers write it, and people have forever done it.
It seems interesting, and put in a different light sex seems to be not only something turned into an art form, religious experience, love or a tool, but also something with emmense power. We trace our linages through who had sex with who and when, we are here purely because people "did it", and yet we seem to think it's a horrible carnal function that we should abhor.
Don't get me wrong, there are wrong ways to "do it" such as rape, and various things of that nature. I think we all know that, but in another sense sex isn't necessarally that "bad" thing that we tend to think of it as. It can be something beautiful, a work of art, something that transcends time, as it very well has. It is told in the art of every newborn child, animal, plant, etc. It's told in literature, music and paintings.
The story, told almost silently is put into verse time and time again, and a lot of the time it's results are beautiful works of art in themselves, the story of couplings told in the children who resemble their parents, and the children's children and so on.
Stories, wrapping their timeless verses around us constantly, beauty in every face and form, silent stories of the unmentionable everywhere.
Food for Thought:
"It takes two to speak the truth--One to speak, the other to listen" Henry David Thoreau (1849)
Prayer: How to do nothing and feel like your doing something.