User:Jahsonic/AHE/France/Rabelais and the lower body
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "The arse seems to be condemned to live in the dark. Among the different parts of our body, it leads the life of a tramp. It truly is the idiot of the family. Yet it would be a miracle if this black sheep of the body did not have a ready opinion of the events taking place in higher regions, just like those who have been rejected by society often express the most sober views of it." --Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason.
Although Gargantua and Pantagruel, that masterpiece of the French physician and writer Rabelais, is rather emetic than erotic, more scatological than sensual, it cannot be omitted from any history of eroticism. The adjective that best fits Rabelais's subverted eroticism, which I will call 'anti-eroticism', is spirited: in his work humor and the erotic go hand in hand. Rabelais uses the human body, especially its lower half, to offer a satirical look at society. As a physician, this physicality comes naturally to him, as humorist he makes good use of it.
The phrase most often associated with Rabelais, is: Fay ce que vouldras. Do what you want. And so he does. He dedicates one of his books to all sufferers of syphilis. In one of his stories he offers to rebuild the city walls of Paris by with female bodies - these are cheaper than stones. He digresses on bowel movements and how best to wipe your ass, talks about snot and other bodily fluids. But he makes art from what in the hands of lesser gods would be mere dirty stories. His nimbleness never ceases to surprise, even when he enters the foulest shed. The imagination with which he forges his plot elements is as astounding as it is refreshing. Thus Pantagruel, Gargantua's son, is born from the ear of his mother and while we read this, we experience it as natural and delicious.
The first part of the cycle of novels Gargantua and Pantagruel is published under the pseudonym Magister Alcofribas Nasier, an anagram of the name of the writer. The Parisian university of Sorbonne abhors the book and places it on its list of banned books, one of the first of its kind. But because the French king is entertained with it, Rabelais publishes the later parts under his own name. Rabelais's urge to experiment is best illustrated by two blasons on the male testicles: blason and counterblason of the bollocks. The blason and the counterblason are a form of medieval lyricism. In the Renaissance the blason praises the beauty of the female body or parts thereof against, the counterblason does the opposite by taunting them. Rabelais stretches the genre to the limits of its permitted uses and employs no less than 275 adjectives - often self-invented words - to the praise of the bollocks and 440 adjectives to scoff them.
The reader of the original French version will need some time to figure out that the 'c.' in the original French version is an abbreviation for couillon (idiot, jerk, dickhead) or couille (bollocks, testicle).
The French original of the blazon reads:
Couillon moignon c. de renom. c. paté. c. naté c. plombé c. laicté. c. feutré c. calfaté. c. madré c. relevé. c. de stuc. c. de crotesque. c. Arabesque. c. asseré. c. troussé à la levresque. c. antiquaire. Etc…
A similar series in English yields:
Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C. Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C. Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C. Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C. Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C. Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C. Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
The French original of the counterblason goes:
Couillon flatry c. moisy, c. rouy. c. chaumeny. c. poitry d'eaue froyde. c. pendillant. c. transy. c. appellant. c. avallé. c. guavasche. c. fené. c. esgrené. c. esrené. c. incongru.
A similar series in English yields:
Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C. Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C. Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C. Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C. Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C. Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C. Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C. Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C. Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C. Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C. Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C. Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C. Soaked C. water C. Loose C. --Thomas Urquhart and Peter Le Motteux