wayfaring: complicity with the wanderer

Is man a wayfarer? A wanderer between two worlds? His destiny that of an outsider, eve an outlaw to the laws of nature; man as  wayfarer, restless and unable to settle and establish roots . He reaches a fork in the road and, traveling  as a pilgrim from and to an eternal, he can choose to defy order as an alienated rebel, and “enlightened” outcast  or may appropriate the guise of a fool and be the victim of delusion and fantasy. A world gone wrong filled with a relentless overriding pessimism whose only escape is the pursuit of the meaningless. Even small amounts of optimism are overshadowed, surrounded and and at risk of mortal assault by powers and forces beyond the grip of control or even consciousness. The world of Hieronymous Bosch was a complex narrative in a northern renaissance visual language that is far from apparent to our era. Yet it continues to beg a post modern response…

Bosch. The Last Judgement. Left Outer wing. ---Gombrich:Together with this language of movement Bosch uses a language of physiognomics. The misshapen profiles of the enemies of Christ, which so tantalisingly remind us of Leonardo’s caricatures, bespeak their evil intention with unmistakable force. But this very skill in characterisation tends to make us forget that as far as facial expression is concerned, Bosch’s figures frequently wear impenetrable masks. Isolate the faces of his tortured victims or of his saints, of his (few) blessed in Paradise and of his sinners, and you will often find it hard to guess at the context.... That strange bystander watching the adoration of the Magi in the Prado Epiphany has been interpreted as the Antichrist by Mrs Brand Philip, and as a prefiguration of Christ by Professor de Tolnay . The so-called Prodigal Son in Rotterdam is equally a figure of evil for the former, and on the way to redemption for the latter. Read More:http://gombricharchive.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/showrev10.pdf

Gombrich: The anxieties depicted by Bosch are concerned with the eternal torment that awaits the sinner. Indulge yourself in eating, and your reward will not be an increase in cholesterol, but toads for breakfast in all eternity. Lose your temper and you will be chopped to bits by specialist devils for ever and ever and ever. For “beware, beware,” – as we read on Bosch’s Table Top in the Prado – “the Lord sees.” It is necessary to become aware of the gulf that separates us from Bosch’s intellectual universe, if we are not to misread the images in this book as surrealist fantasies. But though the general import of their message is clear enough, the details of Bosch’s pictorial language are still enigmatic. There is no better introduction to the problem with which his symbolism presents the modern historian than the beautiful page which Erwin Panofsky devoted to this question at the end of his book on Early Netherlandish Painting (1953). Having indicated briefly in what kind of popular and devotional literature he would look for the sources of Bosch’s imagery, he expresses the conviction “that the real secret of his magnificent nightmares and daydreams has still to be discovered.” Read More:http://gombricharchive.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/showrev10.pdfa

---The Wayfarer figure is also a figure within Christianity. The Peter the Peddler is known in American folk art from the work of Peter Ompir, Warner Wrede and later artists such as Mary Jane Todd and Jo Sonja. A kind of sympathetic version of the Yankee peddler. Image:http://www.gretchencagle.com/Books/MFAP6/MFAP6.html

… The second sitting for the last supper. why didn’t Christianity kill them all off and be done with this stiff-necked people! once and for all? The response, or a portion of the answer is that there are naysayers, elements in the Christian world who don’t necessarily deny they are a vagabond people, but they do have a role to play. Bosch’s wanders and wayfarers are a reminder of the promise of the second coming of Christ. Bosch’s figure, seen on the outside panel of several triptychs has been interpreted and identified at various times as a tramp, thief, prodigal son, drunk, and the Wandering Jew. No one has conjectured or surmised he may even be Christ himself perhaps undercover on a scouting mission before the grand entrance. With Bosch, the visual language is obscure and better to be prepared for the unexpected. All of the forementioned identities could conceivably be plausible, as he might also represent  “Everyman.” The figure assumes whatever is most relatable to the individual viewer as they identify with him in their own journey. The figure is always transitional physically and  in spirit. He is neither an example of good, nor evil, just like Bosch’s viewers for the most part. He is an in-between, a bubble of “now time” that breaks the linear dimension.

---These figures remind the viewer to be aware of the path he is on, as looks can be deceiving. Bosch’s use of the traveler motif allows the viewer to be fully aware of potential ascents and descents on life’s path. The wanderer’s path is definitely not an easy one. Signs of danger, both physical and spiritual, are present throughout both scenes. The dogs represent bodily harm. A passage from the Middle Dutch version of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis (c.1309-1324) discusses the dangers of dogs to a pilgrim. The passage states that a pilgrim must often take back roads and defend himself with a stick against hazardous dogs. The stick represents the faith required to defend oneself against threats like hellish dogs.---Read More:http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/ETD/image/etd3322.pdf image:http://ahoovati.multiply.com/journal/item/356

One of the most enduring interpretations is the wayfarer as wandering jew. As Martin Buber said, this figure is an icon in Christian legend but has no basis as a Jewish figure. Yet, in terms of popular culture it has a niche. The Christian heart, the promise of return and redemption embodied in the figure of the Eternal Jew, destined to wander the  world until Christ’s promise to him is redeemed. So, Bosch paints him with  sympathy since he is an incarnation of the promise of redemption, of salvation at the end of days. This fits into certain Evangelical and fundamentalist visions where  Jewry is a necessary actor, the canary in the coal mine in the face of the Apocalypse. Their final conversion in the last moment of history, the eleventh hour, the bottom of the ninth with two outs, was a condition  for the salvation of mankind, the second advent of the Lord and the dawn of a new day, of the Kingdom of Heaven. I don’t buy it, but it does have convenient traction for many and explains somewhat Jacob Rabkin’s theory of Israel. But what if Bosch was Jewish?

---Many scholars have noted that Bosch had an affinity for wanderers; the outer panels of the The Haywain triptych do indeed reveal a wandering pilgrim. Bosch also included this figure, often referred to as the “wayfarer” or “everyman,” in other works. The pilgrim’s presence on the outer panels is a preview of the more elaborated journeys on the inside of the triptych. Contemporaries would have understood pilgrimages, the Christian experience whereby an adherent would make an arduous journey through sometimes difficult conditions in order to witness a holy site or procure holy relics, as a fundamental aspect of spirituality, even if they did not have the ready opportunity to travel to the more prominent sites of Rome, Jerusalem, and Santiago de Compostela. For Bosch’s audience, pilgrimage was recognizable as an experiential expression of faith pursued by a substantial and visible portion of the general population.--- Read More:http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/ETD/image/etd3322.pdf image:http://www.artnet.com/artists/lotdetailpage.aspx?lot_id=B62F035A23A398F4

Certainly, legends of the Eternal Jew recite a seemingly endless number of variations on this tale, along with various “sightings” of the Wandering Jew. One of the best-known is the account of Paulus von Eitzen, bishop of Schleswig, who “saw” the figure praying in a Hamburg church in the winter of 1542. He is described as …a tall man, dressed in threadbare garments, with long hair, standing barefoot in the chancel; whenever the name of Jesus was pronounced he bowed his head, beat his breast and sighed profoundly. It was reported that he was a shoemaker. named Ahasuerus who had cursed Jesus on the way to the crucifixion. On further questioning he related the historical events that had This version contains several of the most common attributes of the Wandering Jew as the tale was elaborated over the centuries: the name Ahasuerus, the poverty-stricken appearance, the wild hair, and the occupation of a shoemaker.( Leider )

---Several scholars have found in the details of the landscapes of both the Haywain panels and The Wayfarer elements that are linked to the astrological symbolism of Saturn, the planetary body which presides over criminals, beggars, cripples and those afflicted with acedia, sometimes translated as sloth---Read More:http://www.jordanmaxwell.com/articles/religion/saturn-jews-2.pdf

The problem with Bosch is that multiple interpretations can be made of the figure of the Wanderer. And certainly it has been appropriated and semitized, villainized in anti-semitic caricatures, but whether this was Bosch’s intention is an educated guess based on symbolic association that does not necessar

have a Jewish or ethnic context. It can even be argued that Bosch was a precursor to Dali’s Paranoid Critical Method that simulated the paranoid state and fused spiritual, psychological and the physical. Although analysis like Michael Leider’s is logical and coherent, Bosch might have been reaching for something higher and less targeted.

Leider:  It seems hardly necessary to point out that anyone familiar with the overall silhouette of the Wandering Jew must be struck by the similarity between it and Bosch’s Wayfarer, striding along, driving a barking dog from his heels, his “long hair” coming through a rent in his hat, “in threadbare garments,” his shoemaker’s awl  attached to the hat in his extended hand. In the tree behind him an owl perches, symbolic of, among other things, blindness, in this case the blindness of Jewry to the true faith. Featured more prominently in the foreground than mere composition might account for is an animal casually taken to be a cow, but which is more probably an ox, the ox being, among other things, also a symbol of Jewry (stubbornness).

---Bosch’s contemporaries and viewers, therefore, understood that individuals were responsible for their own choices between good and evil. Consequently, a recognition and understanding of human failings was necessary to navigate the path of life. Bosch’s wayfarer embodies these concepts. The Pilgrimage of the Soul states that all humans are on their way to heavenly Jerusalem.--- Read More:http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/ETD/image/etd3322.pdf image:http://www.all-art.org/early_renaissance/bosch11.html

It would seem Bosch was working more on the theme of pilgimage:

…There is a story by Nachman of Bratzlav about this fellow who embarked on a long journey. after arriving at his destination, what he found there was what he had brought with him from home. there are similar stories in different traditions. this raises the interesting question as to the inherent purpose and value of a pilgrimage. and yet… we still seek out pilgrimages. we seek out pilgrimages because inner and outer are not two separate realities. if wherever we go, we only find our own selves, then existential loneliness can become unbearable. that is the reason we know, or we intuit, that we can go ‘out’ on a pilgrimage and find an “other”, not just our own selves. if we say ‘thou’ to it, then we stand a chance..( Martin Buber Dialogical Ecology )

---There is no doubt that the Haywain expresses a metaphorical and pessimistic view of life. The outer panel depicts a pilgrim, poor and world-weary, journeying through a world of crime and hardship. When the triptych is opened, the explanation is again relatively obvious. The subject is the Garden of Eden, beginning with the birth of Eve and ending with Adam and Eve being chased out by an angry, sword-bearing angel.--- Read More:http://wcoventry0.tripod.com/id17.htm

Philip Leider:Perhaps no single figure in all of Hieronymus Bosch’s work has elicited a more chaotic array of interpretations than the so-called Wayfarer (ca.1510) and the almost identical figure on the outer panels of the famous triptych, The Haywain, painted about ten years earlier.
The iconographical problems posed are the most basic. Who is he? What is he meant to represent? Is his position on the outside panels of the Haywain significant to the narrative of that work, and, if so, in what way? An explanation that seems to provide a more complete
answer than any so far advanced is that the figure is a representation of the Eternal (or Wandering) Jew. The legend of the Wandering Jew is quickly told. According to it, a certain Cartaphilus was present as Jesus passed, carrying his cross to Calvary: Cartaphilus passed by him, hit him and told him to go more quickly. Thereupon Jesus said to him, “I am going, and you shall wait until I return.” Cartaphilus became a
Christian, was baptised in the name of Jesus, and by returning to his then age of thirty every hundred years, kept living as a pious witness to the passion of Christ, hoping for his redemption at the end of the world. Read More:http://www.jordanmaxwell.com/articles/religion/saturn-jews-2.pdf



---With this in mind, it becomes clear to us why this weary traveller drags himself along with a shoe on one foot and a slipper on the other. In our picture, the right foot wears an excellent shoe, the left one an equally excellent slipper -- the quality of both again proves that he is no beggar. A shoe is worn outside the house, a slipper indoors. The shoe indicates the relationship to earthly life. One could regard this combination as indicating that this man is already moving in two worlds. The Dutch saying "To walk on one shoe and one slipper", today means that the individual has no money. This situation however can arise because the particular individual did not keep both feet on the ground in ordinary everyday life. Many a person has landed in a financial mess because he was unable to keep apart what belongs to God and what belongs to mammon or to match them correctly (Translator's note: Christ also drove the merchants from the Temple, Luke 19/45 and 46). The real matchmaker works in quite a different sphere.--- Read More:http://www.american-buddha.com/cult.hieronymusbosch.1.htm

Read More:http://www.sfu.ca/cmns/courses/marontate/2009/801/Readings/Reid_ClusterAnalysisIVisualCommunication.pdf

Leaving aside his conversion at the time of his life-altering experience, his very existence represents not denial but proof of the divinity of Jesus, and proof that the world depicted in The Haywain will not go on forever and ever and ever. No wonder, then, that Bosch could give him the
kindly, worldly-wise, almost sweet sadness with which he views the corrupt world through which he has wandered since the Crucifixion.
He is the only ray of hope in the painting. Read More:http://www.jordanmaxwell.com/articles/religion/saturn-jews-2.pdf

Jonathan Jones:The myth of paradise is, fundamentally, millenarian: it is concerned with the end of life as we know it. Paradise is a state we can imagine, but to inhabit it we must become other.

Since the Renaissance, the paradisiacal has been political. Thomas More’s Utopia translated the ancient tradition of paradise into the idea of secular, social perfection. Utopia was an inescapable element of European politics until nearly the end of the 20th century. The end of Soviet society destroyed the utopian imagination and robbed us of part of what it is to be modern: the ability to imagine a paradise not in the world to come but in this one. Ofili’s recent paintings argue, against the grain, for the revival of utopianism. But mostly, nowadays, it seems paradise is what makes people kill each other.

That’s why Bosch will obsess this millennium as he did the last. Bosch is our painter, our visionary, because he craves the ecstatic and the utopian, and paints, in the central panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights, a paradise on earth. His utopia is mad, lost, deprived of reason – a perfect world, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2003/aug/26/1

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