Thursday, October 17, 2013

Psalm 50:11


I've written here before about Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, that enigmatic triptych that has baffled viewers and scholars alike. Certainly, I don't pretend to know what it's all about. But that's what makes it so much fun; we can all read into it what we like.

Here's a game. Find the figure in the painting that is you. We are all there somewhere. That is the secret of the painting. Its inclusiveness. The way it plumbs our psyches, teases out our souls. Bosch anticipated Freud by four centuries.

Most of us will find ourselves in the ambiguous middle panel, not the prelapsarian Eden at left, or the inferno of the damned at right. The fact that our crowded civilization works as well as it does suggests that natural selection has chastened our passions with poetry, our lusts with lyricism.

OK, I'll go first. That's me in the bubble flower. Making my move on a doubtful female companion. "Hold on, buster. Not so fast." "Oh come on, come on, just a little kiss."

But who's that in the basement of my floral love nest, looking out of the porthole? That must be me too, I suppose, doing my best to keep the rats out.