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Life Undercover #71
by Thanos K & Asa B
2008-10-11 10:59:47
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Emanuel Paparella2008-10-11 13:27:05
--That's too bad.
--As Umberto Eco puts it; truth is a shy maiden and is leary to be seen completely naked...
--That may be, but in Botticelli's Birth of Venus I see no fig leaf to attract the prurient interest of those who are "sexually liberated".
--Ah, that's another story for another time! But let's get back to the task at hand, without fig leaves.

Sand2008-10-11 13:35:45
Interesting fetish. I have never before heard of figs as a sexual stimulant. Bananas, perhaps and even a doughnut for the desperate, but figs or fig leaves? Hmmm...

AP2008-10-11 16:53:35
Mr. P, in Botticelli's Venus everything attracts the interest of the viewer, I don't think a fig leave is needed there, it is actually dispensed (there are plenty of other leaves and flowers in the painting, if you notice right) and I have my serious doubts about how much attention it would attract.
Also, someone obsessed with sex more easily subscribes to dozens of internet porn sites than goes and checks Botticelli's paintings.
So it is Savonarola's bonfires that you have been meaning the whole time, not Nazi ones? Botticelli's masterpieces didn't escape to the first. I think your leaves are a fata morgana.

Sand, I guess you never ate sweet summer afternoon figs sitting on an old stone wall under a fig tree on top of orange cliffs while facing the blue ocean waves. Fig trees used to be much more common than they are today in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

ap2008-10-11 16:57:11
"I don't think a fig leaf is needed there"

ap2008-10-11 16:58:13
And now excuse me, I'm gonna have a fig leave... :D

ap2008-10-11 17:00:05
Any of you gentlemen cares for some?

Sand2008-10-11 17:02:21
True. I never have eaten figs in that manner, but I sincerely doubt they would precipitate sexual excitement - at least in me.

ap2008-10-11 17:17:33
Sand, classically those were symbols of male sexuality, so you'll have to ask either women (and they would not all agree about that, for sure) or who invented such story... humm, I wonder who was it :)

Sand2008-10-11 17:26:31
This business brings two incidents to mind. One is an old New Yorker cartoon showing two old maids rocking contentedly in their living room smiling smugly with the walls covered in a wallpaper pattern of fig leaves.
The second is an actual incident in New York history when a society of blue noses covered up naked classical male statues throughout the city in their crotches with artificial fig leaves. Go figure.

ap2008-10-11 17:30:12
It's either Masaccio's fault (because of the Expulsion from Eden) or the fault of the credibility given to the Genesis. It can be blind morality's fault too, as the leaves were there to cover the nudes because of shame and social virtue.

The truth is that they are a temptation (the greeks know that we have constellations because of fig temptations), just like good apples. So I don't care a fig.

ap2008-10-11 17:48:23
Just enjoy the taste, they have incredible amounts of antioxidants and minerals, as well as fibers. Generally, they're good for the heart too :)

One particular characteristic of fig leaves that may explain the choice is that they are sticky and get glued/stucked to your clothes and skin, so they would not fall as easily. I remember endless afternoons playing with those and climbing fig trees when I was a child.

Sand2008-10-11 18:56:43
Anyway, I'm grateful they didn't choose poison ivy which would be more in keeping with Christian attitudes towards sex.

ap2008-10-11 19:26:01
Yes, that one would provoke a rather unpleasant rash :) And they wouldn't be able to do weird associations of the shape of the fruit with other "sinful" desires.

Food again, Mr. P., and the poetics of the fig, which is pretty rich, actually. ahah

ap2008-10-11 19:40:51
Mr. P., I wonder why you put "sexually liberated" between quotation marks?

Sand, how about if there were girls in bikini passing by the fig tree and the stone wall you were sitting on, on top of orange cliffs, facing the blue ocean waves? And if the temperature was +30 and the cicadas were singing together with the sea, making nature even more present? If you say no, then it's just your problem :P

ap2008-10-11 19:51:51
Also, for the fig-uncult intellects, figs exude some kind of white sap that looks like milk when you catch them or open the fruits. This helps to explain the distortion by perverted minds.

Sand2008-10-11 19:52:30
Screw the figs! It's the girls that are the stimulus.

ap2008-10-11 20:04:48
ahahah that's right

But then, some south-american natives used to associate feminine genitals to the face of the forest jaguar (and they used to kill some jaguars as a fertility ritual because of that), so go figure.

ap2008-10-11 20:09:34
This is the interpretation of that myth by a painter:


Sand2008-10-11 20:10:20
I wonder how many jaguars were approached by the superstitious idiots for a blow job. The jaguars must be waiting in the woods salivating for the natives.

ap2008-10-11 20:13:12
What if the girls were passing by in bikini and you had just received a phone call saying your best friend died, instead of eating figs? Don't forget you're on top of the cliffs, and the sea is watching the whole scene.

Sand2008-10-11 20:13:23
No wonder the painted Jaguar looks so happy.

Sand2008-10-11 20:15:03
Why would he die instead of eating figs? Did he hate figs that much?

Sand2008-10-11 20:17:01
And I know Mr. P. has crazy ideas but he never mentioned a sentient sea!

ap2008-10-11 20:20:53
They didn't approach them for a blow job, but to kill them (certain tribes believed the spotted jaguar to be a type of feminine-spirit-goddess), so that the hunted animals could give them luck with the real women.
It's funny because in their language they call "painted jaguar" to the spotted jaguar, and the painter called the painting "painted jaguar".

ap2008-10-11 20:24:45
He died from a congestion because of eating too many figs.

The sea is sentient like hell! ahahah

ap2008-10-11 20:30:42
You talk about the world holding iron in its tight fist and wearing a veil of seas, so who are you to say the sea/hell doesn't watch? :)

ap2008-10-11 20:36:54
You have "no decency nor moral", Sand. Buahhhh

Sand2008-10-11 20:39:37
She sings high Cs by the silly sentient sea, so high that the sentient sea ceases to see.

Sand2008-10-11 20:42:33
Are you suggesting that congestion is the same as undigestion?

ap2008-10-11 20:43:41
Ups, no, this reminds me of another thing which has nothing to do with figs.

In my native language, a "female fig" is a talisman/amulet, while the expression "call it a fig" means something is very good or extremely pleasurable. We also have an expression which means, literally, "motherfucker of a female fig", but this is obviously not a compliment, it might just mean the motherfucker was lucky or charming or so.

ap2008-10-11 20:45:08
One can die from both, Sand.

ap2008-10-11 20:53:55
Who sings?

Sand2008-10-11 20:54:13
Since so many kind decent husbands with kids are motherfuckers, I wonder why it's such an epithet. Of course, there was Oedipus...

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-11 20:55:58
--First tell me the other story.
-In Italian the tree is always masculine and the fruit is feminine; e.g. il pero (the tree), la pera (the fruit) except for fico where the fruit remains masculine: il fico.
-- Why not call the fruit a fica?
--Because that is slang for female genitals.
--Is that why Botticelli's Venus has no fig leaf?
--Not exactly.
--Go figure!

Sand2008-10-11 21:02:32
And that's why male homosexuals are known as fruits!(By their fruits you shall know them. To "know" in the Biblical sense.)
All sorts of perversion encouragement!

Sand2008-10-11 21:07:21
Anyway, with all that hair held in place who knows whether there is a fig leaf there or not?

ap2008-10-11 21:12:55
Botticelli's Venus has no fig leaf because de'Medici didn't demand for one (as was usual with sponsors in old times), and because Medici and Botticello loved the same woman. Did Savonarola wear a leaf?

We have fig in the masculine and feminine, and it is more commonly associated with male genitals than feminine ones, except for the talisman (it's not sure still which gender gives luck). We're perverted minds. Go figure.

ap2008-10-11 21:17:12
"Medici and Botticelli"

ap2008-10-11 21:28:40
Mr. P, your dislike for homosexuals and drags is much in tune with your (and many priests) fondness for figs and their leaves.

ap2008-10-11 21:35:32
Not the feminine ones, though.

ap2008-10-11 21:45:37
In spanish and portuguese the tree is many times feminine as well as the fruit (there are some exceptions like the oak trees or cork trees which are masculine, though their fruits and the cork are feminine, but peach trees or madroños are masculine and so are their fruits). That simple doesn't prove anything! The fig tree is feminine but the fruit is masculine or feminine, just like the pear tree (feminine), which can have feminine or masculine fruits. Pineaples or mangos are masculine and their trees are feminine. So what?

ap2008-10-11 21:50:04
"pineapples". And there are many more examples, like cherries (the trees are feminine though the fruits can be feminine or masculine, and it's not because any of them means "genital").

ap2008-10-11 21:52:57
AND "being a peach" or "being a female peach" can mean either good or bad things for both of the genders. Things are not linear like that. And who cares but Mr. P.?

ap2008-10-11 21:56:22
Calling a fruit masculine or feminine has less to do with genitals and much more to do with the need to distinguish varieties in old times.

ap2008-10-11 21:59:41
But, of course, Mr. P., your despise of experience to benefit not grounded theory makes you neglect that.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-12 01:01:21
--Tell me more about Sandro Botticelli’s birth of Venus
--Well it is a metaphor for the birth of Beauty and perhaps the re-birth of it in the early Renaissance.
--How so?
--The Italian Renaissance is a synthesis of Greco-Roman Civilization and Christianity via Plato’s philosophy studied and expanded by Marsilio Ficino at the Court of Lorenzo de Medici.
--Intriguing and I thought that the Renaissance was a modern invention out right.
--Not exactly. In his commentary on Plato’s Symposium, Ficino notes the twofold nature of Venus, part divine, part earthly. The divine Venus is Mind and Intelligence and loves spiritual beauty. The other Venus is procreative energy, fueled by the impulse to transform spiritual beauty into physical beauty.
--Now I understand why the face of Botticelli’s Venus looks like that of a Raphael Madonna. But what exactly does Ficino say?
--This is what he wrote: “On both sides therefore, there is a love; there is a desire to contemplate beauty, here a desire to propagate it. Each love is virtuous and praiseworthy, for each follows a divine image…”
--Interesting! Who said that one could not speak of love theoretically under the sheet!
--Oh well, we could have both: the theory and the practice. But remember that practice without theory is blind…

ap2008-10-12 02:41:44
Mr. P., namely on this subject, the theory of Art Historians would have been very useful to you (as it is to me). The theory according to which Botticelli's Venus is nothing more nothing less than an allusion to Simonetta, loved by both de'Medici and Botticelli, a dear lady of those times who lived in a town known tradicionally as having been the birthplace of Venus. He also got inpiration in some antique statues of de'Medici private collection and an ancient painting by Apelles, of which he read the detailed description.
You can see in the shell all the metaphors you want, or then you can just see a shell with a peral inside, whatever. But Simonetta was there. With no fig leaves.

ap2008-10-12 02:48:13
Simonetta's town by the sea.

There are many Raphael Madonnas and no, she doesn't look like them, first of all her neck is obviously different.

ap2008-10-12 02:51:35
"with a pearl"
and now the question is: a pearl boy or a pearl girl, right? because it isn't obvious at all.

ap2008-10-12 02:54:59
And it's a fundamental question!

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-12 10:27:38
--Tell me more about Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Who was his inspiration?
--Certainly not Raphael who came after him, but most likely Leon Battista Alberti who writes about his fascination with an ancient Venus statue discovered under the Brunellischi Villa.
--How is this seen in the painting?
--To Alberti, motion symbolizes energy. Many aspects of Botticelli’s Venus are in motion: the leaves of the orange trees in the background, ringlets of hair being blown about by the Zephyrs, roses sprinkled throughout the atmosphere, the waves tossing gently, and the cloaks and drapery of the figures blown and lifted by the breeze.
--What about the resemblance to a Madonna?
--That can be seen even better in Botticelli’s Primavera, but also to a certain extent in the Birth of Venus. Both Primavera and Venus appear in a demure appearance with an angelic smile which was typical of the madonnas painted in the high middle ages.
--Now I am beginning to see the synthesis of greco-roman and christianity that was the Renaissance.
--Indeed, without a proper analysis of Botticelli, one will not understant what made the Renaissance tick.

ap2008-10-13 03:05:26
Goodness gracious. Where did you read that? The classical quote is missing.

ap2008-10-13 03:18:10
I guess that's why the painting was first titled "Anadyomene", just like the painting of Apelles?
This work marks a difference and is very pagan, Mr. P., and you may like it or not!

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 05:23:35
--Where did you read that?
--There are innumerable sources where I have read that. One that jumps to mind is Kenneth Clark, the eminent art historian and critic. Take a look at his episode 4 of the acclaimed series Civilization titled "Man--the Measure of all Things."

ap2008-10-13 10:57:42
Now I'm satisfied. Your source was missing!

ap2008-10-13 11:01:17
Mr. P., The Birth of Venus is only called The Birth of Venus since the 19th century, before that it was "Anadyomene".

ap2008-10-13 11:15:25
It's the style of representation that differs completely (the origins of mannerism!), and it was heavily influenced by Apelles painting and a greek Aphrodite statue.
If you want to call Christianity to this subject once again, it's your problem - but I think that the Christians of those times didn't like the painting much (!!), they actually burned many paintings of Botticelli using bonfires, nor did they like the fact that Simonetta was a lover of de'Medici and a passion of Botticelli (at the same time!).

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 12:07:52
Quite intriguing how the whole theme of Ficino Neoplatonism is conveniently sidestepped in this view to make Botticelli a neo-pagan of sort. In the first place B. painted a plethora of religious subjects: at least three Madonnas: the Madonna of the Magnificat, of the Pomegranate and the Coronation, and Madonna and Child; also Saint Sebastian, Saint Augustine. In the Vatican he executed The Youth of Moses The Punishment of the Sons of Corah and the temptation of Christ. Moreover, what Ficino’s Neoplatonism was all about was the attempted reconciliation of classical and Christian views. It greatly influenced Botticelli and in fact the whole Renaissance era. It is this neoplatonic theme that is the key to both Primavera and the Birth of Venus. Sidestepping Neoplatonism to make Boticelli and the Renaissance a mere slavish imitation of Antiquity is to understand precious little of the spirit of the Renaissance. It was not a slavish imitation but more of a synthesis, imperfect but still a synthesis, of antiquity and Christianity. That synthesis is shown in all its glory in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Even a materialist and an atheist will acknowledge that much if he/she puts away the ax to grind against the Catholic Church and looks objectively and not selectively at all the historical facts.

ap2008-10-13 13:03:32
Mr. P., first of all painting religious themes doesn't turn anyone into a religious person - the church was rich, the church was the main client in old times and the church only ordered religious themes (it had a narrow taste, uh?). The fact that a painter would paint religious themes only proves that he needed to eat.

ap2008-10-13 13:06:29
But who ordered the Venus-Simonetta? Ah, de'Medici!

ap2008-10-13 13:10:15
And I thought that he had taken inspiration from the descriptions of old greek masterpieces by Lucian of Samosata.

ap2008-10-13 13:21:31
The one looking selectively to historical facts here: you.
Are you going to tell me next that Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli and several dozens of others were all good christians and went to church everyday (not to paint though) just because they painted madonnas or saints?! Don't try to appropriate things, specially when the church itself burned so many "pagan" paintings.

ap2008-10-13 13:32:04
Look, I've been painting a byzantine madonna last week and no church ordered it to me. Does that make me a Christian? I don't think so.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 14:37:57
You are still side-stepping Marsilio Ficino. Do you know who he was? He certainly was more important than Simonetta and the gossip at Lorenzo's court, and certainly more influential on the whole Renaissance era. As I have repeatedly suggested: we need to put away our biases and aces to grind in order to be a bit more aerenic about the assessment of a pivotal era of Western Civilization.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 14:41:11
To turn your argument around: just because Botticelli and Michelangelo painted naked women (Michelangelo did it right under the Pope's nose in the Vatican) does not mean that they were pagans and atheists; far from it, and to insist on making them such is to distort history.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 16:33:38
P.S.S. To follow-up on the previous comment, assuming that, as an educated person, you, Ms. ap, know how important is Marsilio Ficino to perceive anything about Italian Humanism and the Renaissance, have you ever wondered where did Ficino find the ancient manuscripts of antiquity? Surely you know that he found them in monasteries where they had been preserved and protected bu the Church, yes, horror of horror, from the rage of barbarians who would have used them for their toilet or perhaps to get warm in the winter by burning them. One such is St. Mark in Florence. So to accuse the Church of obscurantism and of initiating the Dark Ages, so called (which at best encompass the 6th and 7th century A.C.) is misguided at best and in fact more grievous in my opinion, than what the barbarians of old perpetrated; they destroyed what was material; the neo-barbarians of today are barbarians of the intellect; they destroy what is intellectual and spiritual, then they set up materialistic ideologies which assume all the worst characteristics of the religious dogma they inveigh against, which they then enforce with much intolerance and brutality and distortion of history and even science (think of Stalin and Mao) making the religious war, as bad as those were, a pick nick by comparison. Those are harsh statements, I know, but they are supported by plenty of historical evidence. The gulags are the direct result of an experiment unique to the 20th century: the atheistic materialistic State. They are still around in the so called People’s Republic of China if you care to investigate. Alas, what can now be expected, and I predict it and I am willing to wager on it, is a turning of the table and a projection; assorted logical positivists and materialists and extreme rationalists are very good at that sort of thing. We have seen in the pages of this very magazine.

Sand2008-10-13 16:51:30
Although there were doubtless Christian contributions to the rebirth of reason and scientific experiment after the Middle Ages it is a gross error to neglect the immense contribution of Islamic scholars and scientists as presented at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_in_the_Middle_Ages#Islamic_interactions

ap2008-10-13 17:12:00
"just because Botticelli and Michelangelo painted naked women (Michelangelo did it right under the Pope's nose in the Vatican) does not mean that they were pagans and atheists"
No one is saying that, I'm just saying leave their art alone and in peace and appreciate it for what it is, instead of doing the Catholic Propaganda, for as many saints as they can have painted. The Pope didn't care because he may have appreciated naked men more. So what? That doesn't make the Birth of Venus Catholic and it was actually a surprise and a miracle that it survived to the bonfires.

Atheism is not the cause of the End of the World, Mr. P. It's just an option. And most western states/democracies are laic.

ap2008-10-13 17:24:29
Ficino, besides a good translator, was a theologian who tried to conciliate Plato's thoughts with christianity. Is he your hero, Mr. P.? There's no precise record of all of his contemporaries agreeing with him. And the fact that he was a friend of de'Medicis says only that the de'Medicis were eclectic.

ap2008-10-13 17:26:25
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll have to go to the hospital cause I'm not feeling too well.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 18:07:48

Had you bothered to read the above article of mine where Avicenna is praized with an unbiased attitude and no ideological glasses, you would not have jumped on your horse rattling sabers and proffered that proposterous statement on Islamic culture thus making a fool of yourself, Mr. S. Moreover, there is the enormous contribution to Western Civilization of Jewish culture and religion which was given some credit with Philo of Alexandria.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 18:13:11
Indeed, but laic, or secular, as we say here, does not mean anti-religious except for those who would like to eliminate the voice of religion from the public square which is a midguided notion of what secular state means. I am talking about the atheistic state of Stalin and Mao, which may not have been the end of the world but manage to exterminate more people than even a monster like Hitler could manage. As I said, those we wear ideological lenses are more blind than they surmise.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 18:26:33
Perhaps this excerpt may persuade you Ms.ap that Simonetta and her excapades with Lorenzo de Medici is not at a par with Ficino in understanding Italian Humanism:

This biography forms the introduction to The Letters of Marsilio Ficino, Volume 1, © 1975 Fellowship of the School of Economic Science, London.

MARSILIO FICINO (1433-99), the Florentine, was a man who wrought a deep and lasting change in European society. From him and his Academy the Renaissance drew its most potent intellectual and spiritual inspiration. To Ficino the writings of Plato and his followers contained the key to the most important knowledge for Man: knowledge of himself, that is, knowledge of the divine and immortal principle within him.(1) Not only does this knowledge appear from his letters to have been actual experience for Ficino, but he possessed the magic to make faith in this principle a living ideal for his age. 1: Plato, Timaeus, 41. Phaedrus, 245c-246a. Letters 110, 111.
He was apparently one of the least active of men. it is probable that in his sixty-six years he never set foot outside the territory of Florence and the record of his life is little more than the chronicle of his books. And yet, associated with his Academy and under his immediate influence was the most conspicuously brilliant group of men ever to have assembled in modern Europe. These were the men who embodied the Renaissance -Lorenzo de' Medici, Alberti, Poliziano, Landino, Pico della Mirandola. Directly inspired by Ficino were the great Renaissance artists, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Dürer, and many others. Professor Kristeller has said that the whole intellectual life of Florence in his time was under his influence.(2) 2: P. O. Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance, ch. 3.

Sand2008-10-13 18:28:22
Quite an amusing statement from one with the thickest ideological lenses I have ever encountered. Read the material I suggested and confirm that a tremendous amount of material from Ancient Greece and Rome was carried into present cognition by both Christian and Islamic scholars and that much penetrating understanding was originated in Islam and incorporated into the rebirth of scientific inquiry to modern times. Your indignation that this was indicated demonstrates a very peculiar historical prejudice typical of your generally narrow views.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 20:28:29
As predicted, the table has been promptly been turned around. No surprises there! The modern barbarian of the intellect is indeed a master at that kind of projection and deviousness ushering in vituperations and argumenti ad hominem which wish to pass for reasoning. Indeed, the barbarian is already inside the citadel of reason in the Trojan horse called "the ultimate enlightenment" which still needs to enlighten itself. Things will have to get worse before they get any better.

Sand2008-10-13 20:42:06
Not an answer. Merely boiler plate bullshit in the usual whiney tone.

Emanuel Paparella2008-10-13 21:08:02
As if one needed a confirmation of what was just pointed out! It appears that the visiting voices are leary to let go of their grip. Indeed, as Socrates aptly put it: villany which is faster than death will be leary to let you go once it has you in its grip. Some ignorance is invincible because it is tied to hubris and self-deception. Good luck with the visiting voices...You may have your precious last word on a poitless diatribe...if the voices allow it, that is.

Sand2008-10-14 04:43:33
Since you have relapsed into your standard disgusting mode of dispensing slime I will wait until you have some significant point worth commenting on.

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