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Sheela na gig

by Frank Schnittger Mon Apr 22nd, 2019 at 05:04:22 PM EST

The inclusion of often sexually explicit iconography in the architecture of ancient churches, cathedrals, castles and public buildings has often struck me as odd, given the predominance of the puritan paradigm in so much of religion today. The grotesques, chimeras and gargoyles of Notre Dame are variously supposed to have been intended to ward off evil spirits, with gargoyles also fulfilling the practical function of redirecting rainwater away from the stone masonry to reduce the erosion of the mortar from the walls.

However the Sheela na gigs, found over much of Europe, but most frequently in Ireland, were often sexually explicit mostly female figures whose purpose is the subject of some dispute. Various hypotheses have been put forward ranging from that they represent the survival of a pre-Christian pagan goddess, a fertility figure, a warning against lust, or a more general protection against evil.

More recently some feminists have re-interpreted the imagery of Sheela Na Gigs as portraying a more positive, empowering view of female sexuality and adopted it as a symbol of Irish feminism. However it is open to question whether this has more to do with present day cultural and political concerns rather than what they were meant to portray in their own time and culture.

Perhaps there is no unifying theory of what they were meant to represent in a lot of different and often localised historical contexts. Perhaps some artists and stone masons were just having a little fun right under the noses of their clerical and civic overlords: An imaginative rebellion against the stultifying orthodoxy of authoritarian religion. Perhaps they were intended to allow us to project our own fantasies onto them so that they can mean different things to different people at different times.

Your fantasies are welcome...

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name "Sheela na Gig" is derived from the Irish, Síle na gcíoch, meaning "Julia of the breasts". For a map showing the distribution of Sheela na Gigs in Ireland, see here. [Select Sheela na Gigs from the archaeology section].

Very similar figurines can also be found elsewhere in the UK and Europe. The style of gargoyles, by way of contrast, can often be very different. More of a male figure?

A 12th-century sheela na gig on the church at Kilpeck, Herefordshire, England
Dragon-headed gargoyle of the Tallinn Town Hall, Estonia

I could ever offer Frank. Although the Sheela A Gig is from a very different age and source than the gargoyles.

The Dark Ages - superstition, hags, witches, wolves, the black death, sickness, ancient rituals, Christian churches, local culture incorporated to ease transition to religion of a deity, mono theocracy ...

The Sheela Na Gig Project
Researching Sheela Na Gig Sculptures in the UK

It appears a thing that has found a base in Ireland. Puritism is something Victorian that has conquered the New World. A single word comes to my mind: hypocrisy.

A lot is being written about populism in politics ... a new rising star in The Netherlands: Thierry Baudet. A group of followers has a knack with the Renaissance ... a link that is way above my pay grade. ;)

In recent days ther seems to be a sudden coverage of the Italian Renaissance and the Medici family. A coincidence?

Second man's criticism of Thierry Baudet indicates dissatisfaction with party direction | NRC |

The Renaissance Institute is the recently established "Think Tank" of Forum for Democracy. Under this name, FvD not only wants to organize summer and winter schools, conferences and lectures, but also subsidize young researchers, documentary makers and journalists. Fascists try - as the history books say - "to achieve their goal through indoctrination through the press, radio, film, education and youth organization; intimidation and terror; secret police; concentration camps; fighters and partisan case law. Given the ideas of FvD, it is justified to look at their Renaissance Institute through this lens.

Is Dutch Bad Boy Thierry Baudet the New Face of the European Alt-Right? | The Nation |

Italian Renaissance in the Greatest Artists ...

The Renaissance Nude

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Mon Apr 22nd, 2019 at 09:00:10 PM EST
I'm not quite sure how you manage the leap from Sheela na gigs to Dutch populist politics (via the Renaissance) but then I did say all fantasies are welcome!

In Ireland the debate around Sheela na gigs is perhaps to illustrate that the Catholic orthodoxy of the past is perhaps not quite as monochrome as it is sometimes painted by the fundamentalists.

Sometimes, somehow, some feminine imagery managed to weave its way into the structure of Church (and other) architecture, and not in the approved Virgin Mary saintly suffering pose.

Whether one attributes this to pre-Christian or Celtic influences, or to more (then) contemporary rogue heterodox influences, or even to officially condoned or at least tolerated bawdiness at the time is open to conjecture and further research, but it is difficult to envisage such motifs being incorporated into modern church designs.

Not only did the more recent and austere protestant and dissenter traditions not tolerate much in the way of graven images in church architecture, but the heavily romanised Catholic tradition seems to have become more and more focused on stereotypical crucifixes of a tortured Christ and virginal Madonnas and child.

Sexy it isn't, unless you are into BDSM.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 12:21:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oddly enough, the pertinent question in historiography and other objects subject to analytical exposition is, how to integrate, grossly classified, the known and unknown. That end appears from the beginning of human industry.

The person(s) who compiled the  Sheela na gig collection that Oui links to are struggling with two unknown sets of knowledge--early modern, ecumenical christian dogma and pre-historic ethnography on the island living.

By pre-historic I mean only not written, not documented, narrative about the political economy of the tribūs, its various aspects including but not limited to sexual mores of the OPPRESSED and the OPPRESSORS! (Historical illiteracy, or oral tradition, at the further reaches of Greco-Roman, East-West imperial administration is a well-heeled joke: "There has even been a book written on the subject called "The Vilein's Bible" which documents how church sculpture was used to provide moral lessons to a largely illiterate population of poorly educated people.") That's a thought derived from the "authoritarian" vein of "victimology" present in contemporary studies of sociology.

Then there's another way to read the icons, that refers to syncreticism which has been a particularly fruitful analytical model in studies of comparative religion, of which iconography. Ironically, missionary role in 500 years slave trade of American (not US) natives and Africans provide ample evidence of "tolerance" and "intolerance" in conversion outcomes. That evidence is documentary, oral, and iconographic.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 12:30:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahh Frank ... I linked the wrong webpage! :)

Should have been this link - Theories.

What is a Sheela Na Gig?

A Sheela Na Gig is a carving of a woman with exposed and/or exaggerated genitalia, usually found on religious buildings.  Bearing this in mind, before we go onto to discuss the characteristics of a Sheela Na Gig, I will ask you a question. Which of the above is a Sheela Na Gig? If you think the last image is a sheela then top marks and go to the top of the class. However the truth of the matter is that at one time or another all of the above figures have been called Sheela Na Gigs. The first figure at Llanbadarn Fawr in Mid Wales is broken at the waist and lacks the exposed genitalia which would fit the definition. It is however referred to as a sheela in the church guide. A couple touring Ireland asked to see the Sheela Na Gigs housed in the Irish National Museum in Dublin. They had been touring the country looking at the figures however they were shocked to the core when they saw the figures in the basement. What they had actually been looking at on their travels were heads similar to the second figure from Kilpeck. The third figure is the male figure at Painswick. This and another figure from Margam have been referred to as Sheela Na Gigs even by people in academia. The truth of the matter is that male figures have no generic name like the female figures. Other examples of non sheela figures being called sheelas include hands in lap figures and monstrous exhibitionists. Ultimately though a Sheela Na Gig is a female exhibitionist figure although the name seems to be increasingly used for any sexual or anomalous figure on a church.

Sheela Na Gigs Myths

Centaurs, lions and cats heads are also fairly common motifs on Romanesque churches but no one suggests that they are connected. It would be safer to say that sheelas are the counterpart of the phallic males figures found in the same context. There is a theory that some of the missing corbels at Kilpeck, which were destroyed during the Victorian period, held phallic figures. Studland in Dorset holds both a damaged megaphallic male and a megavulvic female and St John in Devizes has a corbel which consists of a sheela na gig along side a masturbating male figure.  In addition to this many of the green men we see in churches today come from a much later period than the Romanesque.

Corbels at Colsterworth

Some phallic corbels were disfigured or destroyed during the Victorian Period.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 08:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's curious that so many of these supposedly sexualised images lack breasts. There are wholly modern remakes which don't, but if you look at the originals the carvers almost always forgot to include them, for some reason.

This makes the accepted explanation unlikely IMO. Compare e.g. with the Venus of Willendorf and any number of prehistoric and modern statues.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 08:55:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name "Sheela na Gig" is derived from the Irish, Síle na gcíoch, meaning "Julia of the breasts". I haven't done a count or a survey of all the extant figurines and their attributes...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 09:08:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good point. Also note dislocated hands and pairs of arms. Water | spout | pain | miracle double entendres [Jokes: 1655]. Ima go with symbolic parturition. The message is consistent with dogmatic exhortations and um universal um vestigial neolithic um mystification of birth.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Apr 24th, 2019 at 05:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oikophobia in a political context refers to political ideologies that are said to repudiate one's own culture and laud others.
"left wing indoctrination": Mystery solved! "The Left" and what The Left, ahem, has "been doing while capital restructures the world". Many more jokes regarding the HAND of GOTT and opposable thumbs waiting in the ... wings.

< wipes tears >

re: image repertoire (FREUD), iconography, odalisque, ethnography, orientalism (SAID), periodicity in European art history, historical materialism (DALE MARTIN)

I spy the wee dark figure scouring the background of this neoclassical tableau, titled here "The Rennaissance Nude": Reminds me of the avatar I toted for 5 of 7 years in the wilderness with the California Cohort of Petty Landlords. Still have it. As it happens, I awoke very early one morning to read Bloomberg online and found a photo editor's error. This was an out-take from the roll of shots taken for Lloyd Blankfein's portrait. The berry brown arm of the stylist brushing the top of his pate with with cosmetic facial powder, the sort used to absorb the "sheen" of perspiration, thrust into the frame. How the cohort complained (although the website default avatar which I replaced was in fact a circumspect headshot of The Lloyd)!

So. While I understand a temptation to gloss artifacts of European history with Victorian customs and puritanical controls, I see that readings of them is not so much hypocritical as in fact an affirmative defense of the domination of world views and purpose of "art work" in that enterprise, creation.

Homo faber sez: What the right hand giveth, the left taketh away. < wipes tears >

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 11:19:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Speaking of jokes (parnomasia), I've learned a lot about um the introgression of language arts from reading Bernal's adventures in historical linguistics and Arendt's life of the mind, combined.

In case anyone is wondering how a gargoyle becomes separated from its source of water, literally.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 01:11:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Renaissance Factor | DW documentary |

Beginning at the end of the 14th Century, the Renaissance created a new type of man, triggering economic, scientific, technical, religious, social and cultural developments that are unique in history.

Fourth Crusade - Sack of Constantnople in 1204

With the fall of the city, many of its religious icons, relics, and artworks were spirited away and the Byzantine Empire was divided up between Venice and its allies. The empire would rise again from the ashes but never again could Constantinople claim to be the greatest, richest, and most artistically vibrant city in the world.

The Transfer of Culture and Knowledge

The Italian trade routes that covered the Mediterranean and beyond were also major conduits of culture and knowledge. The recovery of lost Greek texts, which had been preserved by Arab scholars, following the Crusader conquest of the Byzantine heartlands revitalized medieval philosophy in the Renaissance of the 12th century. Additionally, Byzantine scholars migrated to Italy during and following the Ottoman conquest of the Byzantines between the 12th and 15th centuries, and were important in sparking the new linguistic studies of the Renaissance, in newly created academies in Florence and Venice. Humanist scholars searched monastic libraries for ancient manuscripts and recovered Tacitus and other Latin authors. The rediscovery of Vitruvius meant that the architectural principles of Antiquity could be observed once more, and Renaissance artists were encouraged, in the atmosphere of humanist optimism, to excel the achievements of the Ancients, like Apelles, of whom they read.

Renaissance of the Militant Democracy?

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Apr 24th, 2019 at 06:43:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How did the Bubonic Plague make the Italian Renaissance possible?

The Black Death (1347-1350) was a pandemic that devastated the populations of Europe and Asia. The plague was an unprecedented human tragedy in Italy. It not only shook Italian society but transformed it. The Black Death marked an end of an era in Italy, its impact was profound, and it resulted in wide-ranging social, economic, cultural and religious changes. These changes, directly and indirectly, led to the emergence of the Renaissance, one of the greatest epochs for art, architecture, and literature in human history.

The Impact of the Plague of Italy

To Black Death spread to Italy from modern-day Russia. Genoese merchants spread the plague while fleeing a Mongol attack on their trading post in Crimea. The plague was carried and spread by the fleas that lived on the Black Rat and brought to Italy on the Genoese ships. The population of Italy was ill prepared for the spread of the disease. There had been a series of famine and food shortages in the region, and the population was weak and vulnerable to disease, and furthermore, the population did not have any natural resistance to the disease. Italy was the most urbanized society in Europe, Milan, Rome, Florence, and other Italian centers among the largest on the continent.

Social Mobility

The plague disrupted society to an unprecedented state. It overturned the existing social structure. Previous, to the outbreak of the plague, Italy was a rigid and stratified society. The Black Death changed everything. Increasingly, because of the demographic disaster caused by the plague were able to take advantage of the opportunities caused by the high death rate. In the period after the Black Death, an unprecedented amount of social mobility took place. Laborers became merchants and merchants become members of the nobility. No longer was a person's destiny to be fixed by their birth.


However, as social mobility became more widespread because of the Black Death, many people, came to believe that a person's merits or abilities were what mattered and not one's birth. This led to a growing individualism in Italian society. This, in turn, encouraged people to strive and to develop their talents and achieve excellence or virtue. The belief in the individual was central to the Renaissance and it inspired many of the greatest artists, architects, sculptures and writers, the world have ever seen to create peerless works.

Michelangelo's sculpture of David in Florence

Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch - The Garden of Earthly Delights

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Wed Apr 24th, 2019 at 07:08:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even derision in party politics on breastfeeding? WTF

A matter of beauty and a personal choice ... we're NOT Trump's America for God's sake.

The 'breast is best' lobby has left women feeling judged and unworthy | the Guardian - Opinion |

8 celebrities who will not be shamed for breastfeeding in public | ELLE |

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 09:01:42 AM EST
Still, it was unfortunate that the point had to be made by dividing women - in this case, into mothers, who were using their breasts properly, and non-mothers, who weren't.

And what about dividing people into men and women? Terribly divisive. I feel terribly judged and unworthy because I'm unable to breastfeed, even in private.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 11:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you tried starvation?

No, seriously:

Breast development occurs commonly, and spontaneous lactation occasionally, in men under conditions of starvation. Thousands of cases were recorded among prisoners of war released from concentration camps after World War II; one observer noted 500 cases among survivors of one Japanese POW camp alone. The most likely explanation is that starvation inhibits not only the glands that produce hormones, but also the liver, which destroys those hormones. The glands recover much faster than the liver when normal nutrition is resumed, so hormone levels soar unchecked.

Father's Milk - From goats to people, males can be mammary mammals, too. Jared Diamond, but this is biology, which is his actual area of expertise.

by fjallstrom on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 11:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diamond originally specialized in salt absorption in the gall bladder.

And it shows in his "inter-disciplinary" compendia of world history.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 12:48:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, contrary to Peterson Illiteracy, the premise of both Freud's and Jung's theories of abnormal behavior and normal human psychology, respectively, is bi-sexuality.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 12:34:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it is so much party politics, as politics in general.

The all breast-milk for at least six months recommendation I think was a reaction to the reports of formula being marketed in primarily Africa, leading to infant deaths (mostly through bad water). WHO started promoting the recommendation through the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative in 1992.

As with lots of opinions about children, the recommendation was taken to the extremes by some (or many) in health care and in parental support organisations and formulated as the One Right Way To Do It. In Sweden at least, I think a backlash has been growing for some time now, with more mothers demanding to know their options rather then having a set recommendation.

by fjallstrom on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 11:26:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least in Finland breastfeeding for 6 months was pushed everywhere as early as 1920.

Image from Protecting Children of Finland publication from 1920, written by a young doctor Arvo Ylppö. He had studied in Germany, where newborn mortality was a very hot topic with new research institutes founded just before WWI.

I believe they lowered infant mortality rates from 20-25% to 5-6% mainly by promoting breastfeeding in less than a decade. Schools, hospitals, newspapers, magazines and radio were all used as channels.

by pelgus on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 12:39:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheela na gig is interesting. I've heard about it from friends who has visited Ireland, but I don't think I've seen pictures of it before. Not discreet, is it?

We don't have that up here, leading me to lean towards the Celtic hypothesis. Christianity was good at repurposing local religious traditions. Like eggs and bunnies for Easter.

Among the oldest Scandinavian churches, you can find imagery that goes back to Viking traditions and religion.

Here is a Borgunds stavkyrka, notice the mix of crosses and dragons:

Most runestones are also from the Christian era, but are often misinterpreted as being pre-Christian because of the use of runes and imagery leading the thoughts to  the pre-Christian era.

Here is Jesus:

by fjallstrom on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 11:47:05 AM EST

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 12:35:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Wiki some Sheela na Gigs have been found in Norway...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 02:31:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And Hebrides and Orkney.  Much to and fro'ing twixt Ireland and Norway from 790 to 1050 CE.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 04:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Much toing by Vikings, and fro'ing with booty, women, and other chattels...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 04:43:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And salted fish and brides and envoys and cloth and metals and metal work and soapstone cookware and cows and sheep and hogs and exotica from far flung lands and walrus hide rope and gyrfalcons and polar bears and town founding ....

The Era of Norse Expansion was much more trading than raiding.    

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Apr 24th, 2019 at 12:08:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Apr 23rd, 2019 at 03:04:40 PM EST
Island nations are weird. Their customs, gender relations can be plausibly related to testing or acknowledging ecological limitations. There is less to discover or peacock for males.
by das monde on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 06:11:57 AM EST
I thought Sheela na gigs were weird, but your linked story on the Yap economy is weirder. However I doubt your  population control thesis holds water. The population of Ireland wasn't particularly high during the period in question, and Ireland was never as isolated from the rest of Europe as Yap islanders were. There is also no evidence that Sheelas had any particular monetary, scarcity or status value.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 11:29:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Population frontiers are relative to economic, technological conditions. For example, Japan's population stabilized at about 25 million for most of the Edo era, apparently reflecting the feudal edge there. The population rose to some 100 million more under the fabulous industrialization and technological advance - but evidently no further. Ireland could have seen similarly sluggish periods.

The female discipline towards male resourcefulness could be peculiarly sensitive, anticipative to tougher times and population density. Sheelas could then reflect male desperation and/or female frustration in this dynamics ;-]

by das monde on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 07:46:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentally, since the last time I mentioned the Edo period, my associate has provided me the opportunity to survey some Japaneses art history and "visual analysis".

Edo refers to a particular imperial dynasty. I learned, the Edo period was not exactly a feudal society. Rather, the Edo period is distinguished by the "restoration" of an imperial regime--somewhat misaligned to eurocentric precepts-- identified with rapid growth in international industry and trade after an incumbent period of regional famine and adverse economic policy. Kamakura and Nanbokuchō period aesthetic ("Esoteric Buddhism") preceded Edo. Western museums and private collections possess hardly any samples or opinion of early modern iconography, because, well, c. 1700.

The application of "isolationism", or autochthonous ignorance, is a recurring imposition on world epistemology by european explorer-philosophers.

Kano, Muromachi, Meijii, Taisho, Taso, Showa (1926-1989) periods in art history, for example, succeeded the Edo. Each of these "schools," rather than dynasties, are distinguished by style, subject, composition, and trade development of art production, removed from conventional imperial patronage. The showa is quite interesting in tension between fascist convention and expressionist impulse arising in commercial as well as collectivist exhibitions.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat May 4th, 2019 at 10:02:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something basic is off with your post-Orientalist knowledge. The imperial rule was still side-lined in the Ero era (also known as the Tokugawa period). The actual rulers were the Tokugawa shogunate. Restoration of the imperial rule (and industrialization) happened with Meiji.
by das monde on Sun May 5th, 2019 at 06:18:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps. I intended the list of eras in Japanese art history (in no particular order) to illustrate that the evolution of media do not necessarily coincide with political thresholds. The chronology from the Met is a conventional timeline ("frame") for orientalist analysis of subject matter significance. No "post-" about it; and these "periods" are not well-defined or represented by the inventory of the institution.

Duly noted in the link above "since the last time I mentioned". Attitudes about the named period ("era") have um evolved as data about related events accrues to common knowledge. What that article acknowledges is "multi-cultural" lineage of regional kingdoms--a supposition considered novel, ironically. Given this context art historian's record is not especially interested in authenticating transfers of power between specific elites, but its effects. "Artists" are not elites.

Subject matter periodicity (ordered range of dates relating material) applied retrospectively by historians does not necessarily coincide, you noticed, with their professional interests in presenting unified historicism. This is a eurocentric project; the conventional approach has been to ascribe king's or ruler's names sequentially to "date" material --construct chronology-- for which no documentary evidence is otherwise available ("argument from silence"). Foreign language and social fluency poses barriers to acquisition and scope of information translated from such archival bases. How does the reader interpret haiku selection for and representation with iconography on a screen? Eurocentric historians can and do retreat to analogy in western intellectual history.

Disjunctive analyses of cultural "movements", or artifactual industry, and historicism is particularly pronounced in art history epistemology where analysts have ventured beyond bounded rationality of the western canon. So, for example, the showa period which is "dated" herein, exemplifies another remarkable visual dialog among artists, documenting the further collapse of imperial societies in east Asia.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 5th, 2019 at 03:53:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An academic study ... who would've known? An image or symbol which can be found in Iran and Ecuador. In Ireland part of a ritual outside of the Catholic Church to seek fertility and in the 20th century to empower women in opposition to church teachings of Marianism, virtue and subordination to man. Quite interesting, a long read ...

The Sheela-na-gig: An Inspirational Figure of Contemporary Irish Art
Thesis by Sonya Ines Ocampo-Gooding


Sculptures of nude feminine figures with displayed genitalia have a long history. Art historian Douglas Fraser explores the complex theme of the "heraldic woman" motif, which is a displayed female figure exposing her genitalia and symmetrically flanked by contrasting figures. The heraldic woman motif has appeared in places such as Luristan (Iran), New Zealand and Ecuador. Fraser describes the connection between the heraldic woman motif, through its use in the Italian Romanesque capitals of churches (which reflected the themes of Ancient Near Eastern models) and the grotesque, exposed Sheela-na-gig images on English and Irish Norman churches. Fraser concludes that the displayed female image is not only "unusually compelling", with the power to attract good or repulse evil, but public self-exposure is also an act of "enormous consequence" reserved for extreme moments of our life experience, such as birth and death. Sheelas in Ireland may well have served different purposes at different times, and the location of a Sheela is crucial to its understanding. The thesis will focus onthe Sheela-na-gig's of two particular churches, Killinaboy and Ballyvourney, and examine them in the context of other Sheelas in Ireland.


Eamonn Kelly, Keeper of Antiquities atthe National Museum of Ireland, considers the development of the Sheelas in Ireland as part of a larger decorative scheme fromthe continent, whereby the Sheelas evolved from part of a collective grouping to single figures in isolation following the Norman invasion of 1169. I will also consider theories of what inspired the creation of the Sheelas, including both Christian and pre-Christian sources. Kelly has proposed that the Sheela's origins in the Romanesque style of architecture are tied to the age of Christian pilgrimage to the important shrines of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and Rome during the second half of the eleventh century to the end of the thirteenth century. The pilgrims sought to be spiritually whole and free from worldly sins such as lust, which had been portrayed as a naked woman surrounded by serpents eating her breasts and genitalia. [Yoni]  

Further reading ...

The Role of Shamanism in Mesoamerican Art
Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh
The Divine Hag of the Christian Celts - Paperback Illustrated

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 05:30:07 PM EST
You have a worryingly wide range of intellectual interests and expertise, Oui! I will read it at my leisure...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 05:46:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To understand myself I need to understand my fellow man ... I fail to understand a woman Frank ... a costly shortcoming. :) haha

In truth, it's always a challenge by certain topics. In this case it's a bit of history and how civilization evolves. No expertise, just a failure having studied the sciences and doing fundamental research. Once challenged, I like to dig a bit deeper to gain an understanding. Church teachings through the ages combined with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Great revolutions. Today's politics of the rightwing movement, economics, ecology and military footing instead of a search for peace keeps me on my toes. Philosophy and theology are no areas of expertise, but I do like to analyse, combine and understand contemporary civilization ... however limited states are in observing the humanities and international treaties.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 06:13:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 06:46:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For what it's worth, in Finland not that long time ago people believed that the source of the strongest magic was indeed a married woman's vagina.

Less than hundred years ago cattle was let to the spring pasture under an exposed vagina for protection from beasts, and fishnets were alike given good (yours) or bad (neighbors) luck by the same -- much easier to do before underwear became popular!.

From this point of view, these Sheela ne gig's are meant to bring good luck, especially if you pass under them.

Don't know how to mend that with any misogynist theology, though, but the sheela's are there, regardless.

by pelgus on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 07:01:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigmund Freud would have had a field day.
by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 08:17:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Misogynist theology" is but one narrative among many --one of the more peculiar-- about the agon of human self-consciousness, a condition of estrangement represented by diverse figures in cosmogony through millennia. One might be blind to that. Contemporary polemics against "misogynist theology" is, I think, very much an expression of modernity, rather than deconstruction by professional "feminists" of some totalizing template of male domination which they seek to master. That is merely to form primitive figures of good and evil from systematic degeneration of human relations to one another in so-called developed nations.

Were "mending" perception of compassion and dignity to emerge from mutual objectification which a vocal few are accustomed to policing at their leisure, it would indeed come from milieux of authority which the sexes have actually negotiated elsewhere.

One of the more amusing misstatements of primordial "misogyny" corrected in translation of Hebrew by David Rosenberg is in Harold Bloom, The Book of J, the story of a "courtly" feminine commentator.

11 Now the man knew Hava, his wife, in the flesh; she conceived Cain: "I have created a man as Yahweh has," she said when he was born.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Apr 26th, 2019 at 07:28:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here comes Ron Jacabs out of his Summer of '68 hidey-hole, bearing a book review. Jenny Brown, Birth Strike [sic]: The Hidden Fight over Women's Work [read: labor]
Making (and Raising) Babies in the USA
In other words, capitalism makes certain that there are always enough unemployed workers to ensure that wages do not cut into the surplus value of labor that the capitalist class counts on for its profits.
she makes quite clear how having children is a political act with consequences. So, then, is refusing to have them.
This "strike" is not organized.

infanticide and fertility statistics
"evidence-based": live births, infanticide, infant mortality (27); child mortality (3); infant survival (41); child abuse and neglect (14); child care, allomothers, and cooperative breeding (108); and "Economists urged to use fertility to predict recessions"
surplus labor
never gets old
public property
readings in pro-life/pro-choice antagonism across "republics"

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri May 3rd, 2019 at 02:53:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But this piece isn't about me...

The author mentions some artist friends of mine - Pauline Cummins and Louise Walsh, some of whose work was inspired by Sheelas. I have been trying to persuade the former to write a more informed piece on Sheelas - so far to no avail.  Even my amateur piece hasn't provoked her to set me straight! She probably hasn't even bothered to read these comments...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Apr 25th, 2019 at 11:09:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barbara Smuts, "The Evolutionary Origins of Patriarchy," Human Nature. Vol. 6, No. 1.
"As Hrdy (1981) pointed out, it is not always in a female's reproductive interests to ally with other females against males. Often, females do better by competing with other females and/or allying with males. Among humans, such female strategies can reinforce patriarchy."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri May 3rd, 2019 at 03:01:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Girls, Boys, and High Achievers
We find that greater exposure to "high-achieving" boys, as proxied by their parents' education, decreases the likelihood that girls go on to complete a bachelor's degree, substituting the latter with junior college degrees. It also affects negatively their math and science grades and, in the long term, decreases labor force participation and increases fertility. We explore possible mechanisms and find that greater exposure leads to lower self-confidence and aspirations and to more risky behavior (including having a child before age 18). The girls most strongly affected are those in the bottom half of the ability distribution (as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test), those with at least one college-educated parent, and those attending a school in the upper half of the socioeconomic distribution. The effects are quantitatively important: an increase of one standard deviation in the percent of "high-achieving" boys decreases the probability of obtaining a bachelor's degree from 2.2-4.5 percentage points, depending on the group. Greater exposure to "high-achieving" girls, on the other hand, increases bachelor's degree attainment for girls in the lower half of the ability distribution, those without a college-educated parent, and those attending a school in the upper half of the socio-economic distribution. The effect of "high-achievers" on male outcomes is markedly different: boys are unaffected by "high-achievers" of either gender.
Try Toxic Masculinity™
by das monde on Sat May 4th, 2019 at 08:06:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I to understand, Toxic MasculinityTM and document facsimile are "picture" cues for administering the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test to eurotrib readers of any sex and habitual society?

IF so, the panel diagnostic for IQ calculation appears incomplete, ergo invalid.
IF not, the significance of this demonstration of normative "socio-economic" educational attainment [read: capital] is as obscure as the "proxies" selected in your reference.

Since I've no intention to pay for the complete research paper, I will limit appraisal of the abstract to my own comments about competition between and among sexes herein. To wit: human reproductive biology and success derive implicitly and explicitly from resource [read: *capital] security. The more resources one has, the earlier and more frequently one procreates.

That said, I invite readers to apply basic research assumptions to the Case of Mariam O: comments?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat May 4th, 2019 at 08:49:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I must be missing something, but I cannot link your IQ points or Mariam O to the inquiry of this thread.

The coupling between human reproduction and resourcefulness is relevant, particularly sex differences there.

P.S. The research paper is downloadable to my cellphone without any paywall. What did you try?

by das monde on Sun May 5th, 2019 at 07:01:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The girls most strongly affected are those in the bottom half of the ability distribution (as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test), those with at least one college-educated parent, and those attending a school in the upper half of the socioeconomic distribution.
linked to wikipedia entry in the response above.

"Girls, Boys, and High Achievers" is linked to NBER.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

"Case of Miriam O." would be a remarkable demographic subject of basic research in "fertility" (epidemiology, medicine, gynocology, "socio-economics"), theoretical assumptions (evolutionary biology, "misogynist theology", systems and epistemology, limiting principles of), and iconography, supra ... were um normative conditions of inquiry as accessible as those of sheela na gig monuments to interlocutors. Comments?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun May 5th, 2019 at 02:17:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there much scientific to say about one outlier? I suspect a sociobiological trap, with or without science.

P.S. Smuggling works? x y

by das monde on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 09:36:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What are reasons for different results regarding association between status and reproduction in modern humans obtained by social scientists? ... If personal income [!] is used as a status indicator [sic] then the association [sic] between status and reproductive output [sic] is clearly positive for men and null or negative for women. The picture is less clear, however, if education* is used as an indicator. Here, the association ranges from slightly positive to null or even negative for men. In modern [!] women ...
*"educational attainment", ie. years of school enrollment per person, is a demographic trait captured for statistical descriptions of functioning political economy by population; an intangible good frequently compared to avg expense, or capital investment, in public education per capita attributable to real property in aggregate, capital accumulation. NB. personal income is not heritable and is not normally defined as an economic resource or store of value, ergo is neither a reliable symbol of "status" nor criterion for longitudinal study of selection and outcome, regardless of individual sex (or gender) assignment. Firstly, "modern" human reproductive strategy is a group enterprise.

Several ill-defined assumptions appearing in that excerpt were discussed or elaborated on in this sub-thread "Recession alert by fertility", coincidentally started 26 Feb 2018.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 02:59:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently, education and feminism are not assets in reproductive matters. Not everything is known from academic methods or high moral ground.

"Inheritable" achievements do lift the social status - with opposite reproduction correlations for graced men and overpoweringly cool women. Is that new in nature? Well, Youtube.

(Yes, the Oxford handbook is online since March 2018.)

by das monde on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 10:02:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Inheritable or not heritable", I mean.
by das monde on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 10:13:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can agree with the first statement.

I do not agree with the second. This term "social status" is an ill-advised euphemism for any sort of intangible trait(s) of human behavior whose value(s) is indeterminate, not persistent, not heritable.

Considering the source though, "social status" might allude to peerage, which is purportedly an inheritable trait as is caste, race, tribe, nationality: Such title signifies what beside the research preference, prejudice, or methodological bias?

Such titles might denote strict, hierarchical assignment of a membership in a group by a group. Title is not an intrinsic value. It signifies a political function. Title traits vary considerably across groups and are mutable. The strictest limitation on entitlement is group enforcement. Offend the group, lose, the trait. Leave the group, lose the trait. No progeny (UK-Eng. "issue"), lose the trait.

"Social status" might as easily allude to celebrity or notoriety or reputation or any function ("role") in an enterprise or "social capital" or class or conspicuous display of "status symbols", adornment of the body with objects --bought, found, manufactured, borrowed-- that connote beauty, for example.

Standardized attributes and measurement of beauty: How's that coming along for Oxbridge docents?

Unspecified "social status" conveys little to no systematic value to factor analysis of reproductive selection and outcomes.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 02:11:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I myself lack feeling for status games, but I have to reckon that it is going on amidst smiles, handshakes and looks. Not necessarily for one-upmanship feelings or keeping relative scores, but for all sorts of practical, socializing, amusement anticipations. Confucians say, there is leading and following in any interaction. They ought to be more right than earnestly progressive denials of status significance. So be it: title status is often only mechanically acknowledged, and attention centers are fleeting. But those social animals who know what they are doing have it mostly very well, while educated analysts may have no idea what they are missing.
by das monde on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 03:07:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

"Feminism" is not a status object or a "social status" in itself. Nor is it a heritable human trait. In general, one might construe "feminism" to mean a doctrine or ideology or schema which one adopts in order to evaluate the significance of any "gendered" or sex characteristic in a society. Feminism is a form of acquired knowledge, or experience. To borrow a phrase: Attachment to feminism "ranges from slightly positive to null or even negative" results.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 02:41:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Feminism is knowledge, thus power. With power comes status.

Feminism may care too little about its perceived status. But it does aspire to dictate ethics, social rules, thinking. It shames and promotes. Not clumsily?

by das monde on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 03:17:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Feminism" is not an anthropomorphic subject. Abstraction of intellect does not do anything --neither care nor dictate, shame or promote. "Feminism" is the predicate subject wanting a verb.

Knowledge of what?

Like "the more you know, the better you feel" or "the truth will set you free", "knowledge is power" is a bromide employed by someone to foreclose further examination of a subject, purportedly stored energy in the matter named "memory," until perhaps manifest, or represented, by action of some living creature. Expression is not certain.

ATinNM once posted a pithy rubric for ways of knowing. I'd rather not paraphrase but encourage you to consider unstated assumptions that you might encounter about experience, relation to, limitation of, and communicating knowledge: saber, conocer, o aprender is translated to know.

With power comes status? This supposition is incomplete. Although often repeated with analogy to thermodynamic law, the relation or correspondence of knowledge to status is incongruent. Status itself is demonstrably indeterminate as I stated. How has knowledge of sheela na gig altered your "social status" among your peers? Dialog from top to bottom of this thread indicate:

There's always been a relationship between power and knowledge. In the eighteenth century a very a particular relationship developed between power and knowledge. And it developed under the conditions of colonialism, where an entire intellectual apparatus was created for representing "the other". An entire intellectual apparatus and academic disciplines, organizations, entire societies were complicit in this enterprise.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon May 6th, 2019 at 08:25:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Feminism acts as an institution, taking a lead of people and other institutions. Paraphrasing Romney: institutions are anthropomorphic, my friend.

The intellectual/academic apparatus for feminism is vastly larger than what colonialism enjoyed. The whole highly educated class is stuck-up with absorbed experiences (and evaded non-experiences). They tell what is a foreclosed debate.

So feminism wants power without status? That's a Bolshevik way. They got soon visceral leadership anyway.

My prediction: feminism will not be competitive with patriarchy's suave ways. It will not be trusted with powerful responsibility.

by das monde on Tue May 7th, 2019 at 09:05:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1."Feminism acts as an institution ..." The ideology of feminism, developed by people indoctrinated in western philosophy (academic institutions), is a part of the apparatus of hegemony status quo, e.g. (post-"colonial") Anglo-disease[d], corporatist, fascist, "white supremacy" (post-racial, *of color), "women and minorities" political propaganda, "women in leadership" corporate executive rank pay-scale. The internal consistency of this episteme is negligable, its conclusory statements implausible. Retrieve comments.*
2."The intellectual/academic apparatus for feminism ..." See #1. Ignore counter-cultural and -class antagonism inside and outside the boundaries of western institutional "representative democracy". So-called public discourse on violence is limited by mass media circulating client constituencies to personal injury, false dichotomies (eg. "Vagina Day", "Slut Walk", "intersectionality" and presumptive prosecutorial strategems, "femicide" dispensations, "commercial sex act" crimes).
3."So feminism wants power without status?..." Indeed, a significant faction of "feminist" within the boundaries of western institutional hegemony does not seek such "equilibrium" adjustment in capitalist doctrine and praxis --socially acceptable violence. Arguably, "fifth wave" propaganda postulates a sex-less and race-less body politic free of capital restraint --"status free" society--demonstrated by those advocates' integration with leadership status quo.
4."My prediction: feminism will not be competitive ..." Indeed, the function of this ideological "apparatus" is replication, reproduction, of status quo by merger and acquisition (M&A) of "competitive" political groups (peerage, caste, race, tribe, nationality). Induced with so-called incentive locked-up in family property rights --generational transfers of wealth(credit)-- to accept individual reward from the wealthiest in defense of authorities status quo. To put it petty: I don't see any "feminists" dumping surnames, "patronyms" when they marry [!], do you? I don't see no "X"; I see hyphenation.
So the argument that is going to be developed, and we're going to revisit this argument later on, the argument that is going to be developed in the early nineteenth century is the following: That essentially we develop an evaluative scale where we place one civilization relation to another, and we judge them. So for example one of the ways in which you evaluate civilizations or nation-states today rather is you say ... and that's what the UNDP report does.  What is the percentage of literacy in a country? What is the number of doctors per hundred thousand people? What is the number of hospital beds per hundred thousand people? What percentage of the population has access to drinking water, potable drinking water? et cetera , et cetera. One of the largest indices of this kind is what are the rights available to women? In the nineteenth century in early British India this is going to become a critical argument because, and this is the philosophical, ideological component of that argument, you judge a civilization and judge how advanced it is according to how it treats its women. So this is one reason, for example, if you look at state department reports on Afghanistan the argument will always be furnished that one of the principle reasons why we as [ersatz Anglo-]Americans had to move to Afghanistan is that we have to liberate their women. And remember what's happening: you're liberating brown women from brown men, and you need white men to do that. I want you to remember that. You're liberating brown women from the clutches of brown men, and the way to do that is to bring white men into the picture. This is exactly what's happening in Afghanistan today in many ways mirrors the kind of arguments that you're going to find in early nineteenth century India.
* The evidence of "complicity" is all around us. A lot of my comments at eurotrib and other platforms since '07 have captured incidents memorialized by publishers, on- and off-line, because I have been a participant in and critic of US-"feminist" enterprises since the early 1980s. That is a long bibliography. I did not wake up yesterday morning and will not be intimidated by bullshit "inclusion" modeling and manqué "rights" for genitalia. The language of psychopathy and those people who communicate it are the enemies of political evolution.

Do your homework.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue May 7th, 2019 at 05:08:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, I shut up
by das monde on Wed May 8th, 2019 at 07:04:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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