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Re: [pepysdiary] Catching Some Z’s in Days of Yore -- C17th. Sleep

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  • Terry Foreman
    Michael, That s a great story and apropos. Thanks for the link to it. Terry Foreman
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 28, 2009
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      Michael,

      That's a great story and apropos. Thanks for the link to it.

      Terry Foreman

      At 11:49 AM 3/28/2009 +0000, you wrote:
      >NY Times Exhibition Review | Folger Shakespeare Library
      >Catching Some Z's in Days of Yore
      >By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
      >
      >WASHINGTON — In one of the displays at the Folger Shakespeare Library a
      >17th-century manuscript interrupts its historical chronicle of
      >bloodthirsty battles, hewn carcasses and sundered heads with a recipe for
      >"a dormant drink": a knockout potion. Perhaps the tale's morbidity had
      >been affecting the anonymous author, or maybe this potion, guaranteed to
      >instill sleep for "2-daies," just came to his mind as a perfect weapon
      >against future enemies: you just slip 'em a Mickey.
      >
      >But when this document is seen as part of the entrancing exhibition "To
      >Sleep, Perchance to Dream," the recipe takes on broader resonance. It
      >requires unusual ingredients like "ecittel" and "yppop," and even more
      >exotically, "Ecim-rod doolb" and "Niarb of Senarc." The show's curators —
      >Carole Levin, a professor of history at the University of Nebraska,
      >Lincoln, and Garrett Sullivan, a professor of English at Pennsylvania
      >State University — easily dispose of part of the mystery: these words are
      >written backward.
      >
      >Thus lettuce is being called for and, not surprisingly, poppies. Glass
      >vials adjacent to the manuscript contain some ingredients, including,
      >creepily, the dormouse blood specified, while omitting, thankfully, the
      >brains of cranes.
      >
      >The simple code might have been used more to create an aura of esoteric
      >revelation than for any real secrecy, but the recipe reflects a way of
      >thinking evident in many of the 17th-century volumes on display here.
      >Sleep should not be thought of casually: it is mysterious, powerful,
      >central, inextricably linked to the world.
      >
      >Throughout the exhibition there are recipes and counsel: how to sleep (not
      >on the "backe" for it "hurteth the braine and memorie"), when to sleep
      >("sleeping at noone is very dangerous"), how to ensure sleep ("take a
      >little Camphire, and mingle it with some womans milke"), how to make beds
      >(feathers "hath a near affinity with the Nature of Bugs") and how to
      >control dreams (rub your temples with lapwing's blood).
      >
      >If you read the open pages here, it's enough to give you insomnia. There
      >is so much more to worry about than we moderns acknowledge, not just the
      >incubuses and succubi who might bring on nightmares. Even the graciously
      >helpful prescriptions can be a bit chilling. One, derived from a 1615
      >manual, "The Secrets of Alexis," provides a method "to see wild beasts in
      >a dreame":
      >
      >"Take the heart of an Ape, and lay it under your head when you go to bed,
      >so that it touch your head, and you shalle see marvelous things."
      >
      >Thank you, I want to respond, but I'll just read for a while.
      >
      >That, though, may have been the lure that Richard Braithwaite
      >self-mockingly invoked by calling his 1640 book on display here "a
      >boulster lecture." It was something to be read with the head on the
      >pillow, where its moralizing solemnity could be listened to the way the
      >husband in the book's main illustration listens to his wife.
      >
      >"This wife a wondrous racket meanes to keepe," Braithwaite writes, as she
      >hectors her spouse in bed. "While th' Husband seemes to sleepe but does
      >not sleepe."
      >
      >"But she might full as well her Lecture smother," Braithwaite points out,
      >"For ent'ring one Eare, it goes out at t'other."
      >
      >Such dissemblance, at any rate, is not a temptation at this exhibition.
      >There is something quite powerful here. Seventeenth-century explanations
      >of sleep and dreams may now seem thoroughly fanciful, since they see the
      >body's health as the result of interacting "humors," like melancholy and
      >phlegm. But a relentless logic is at work.
      >
      >On which side, for example, should a person sleep? In the handsomely
      >designed companion sourcebook for the show, William Vaughan is cited (in
      >1612) explaining that after eating meat, a person should sleep on his
      >right side until the food "be descended from the mouth of the stomack
      >(which is on the left side)," and that then the left side is preferable
      >"that the meate may be more easily sodden and digested in a more hot and
      >fleshly place."
      >
      >The point is that nothing is inconsequential or irrelevant. Sleep isn't an
      >escape from the world but an extension of it (which is why it would have
      >been helpful to have some more exploration of the sleepwear and
      >"bedchamber" objects shown here).
      >
      >As for the potions and concoctions, none are randomly composed. They
      >attain their supposed power because their ingredients are thought to
      >resemble in appearance, nature or quality the function they were to
      >influence. Lettuce (ecittel), we learn, might help bring on sleep because,
      >like sleep, it is considered both cool and moist.
      >
      >In the frontispiece to Thomas Walkington's "Optick Glass of Humors"
      >(perhaps 1631), a chart even shows how the body's humors are connected to
      >cosmological conditions. Choler, we are told, is associated with a time of
      >life (youth), a season (summer), an element (fire) and a heavenly body
      >(Mars). Too much choler, which is marked by heat, is "antithetical to
      >sleep," which is why cool, phlegmatic persons sleep more than choleric ones.
      >
      >We might come to a similar conclusion about these contrasting
      >temperaments, but we would miss the metaphysical implications that also
      >help explain why the bedside Bible and bedtime prayer became associated
      >with sleep rituals. Sleep was not morally inconsequential: night terrors
      >and "Mares" (as they were called) had solemn and unsettling implications.
      >
      >So dream interpretation was not a frivolous exercise. The ancestors of
      >today's popular-psychology dream dictionaries are on display, including a
      >contemporary variation: a touch-screen computer program called "The Dream
      >Machine." Choose among 12 themes like Food, Nature, Animals and Money, and
      >you are led through a directory of 17th-century dream interpretations.
      >
      >Do you dream that you have kissed a dead person? A 1669 source tells us
      >that this "signifies long life" — at least for you. Unfortunately, the
      >playful program is only sleepily responsive.
      >
      >Over all, the exhibition is compelling. Politics, too, is implicated. The
      >era's battles between Royalists and Parliamentarians, or between
      >Protestants and Roman Catholics, were often treated in books as taking the
      >form of dreams, which could leave some issues of allegiance helpfully
      >ambiguous.
      >
      >You can also see here the latent sources of modernity. When a preacher,
      >Richard Haydock, became celebrated for being able to deliver brilliant
      >sermons while asleep, it took the rational skepticism of King James I (the
      >same James who commissioned the stunning Bible translation that bears his
      >name) to unmask him as a fraud in 1605.
      >
      >And in a 1634 publication, putting aside metaphysics for hints of
      >psychology, Owen Felltham argued that "Dreames are notable meanes of
      >discovering our owne inclinations." The wise man, he wrote, "learnes to
      >know himselfe as well by the nights blacke mantle, as the searching beames
      >of day. In sleepe, wee have the naked and naturall thoughts of our soules."
      >
      >The only frustration is that the one figure of this era who could have
      >fully connected the night's black mantle and the searching beams of day,
      >the mysticism of potions and the rationalism of psychology, who could both
      >fear the dreams that may come in the sleep of death yet welcome the way
      >sleep knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, who well knew what dreams are
      >made on and how our little life is rounded with a sleep — that figure
      >appears here only incidentally, though he has given both the library and
      >the exhibition their names.
      >
      >"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" is on view through May 30 at the Folger
      >Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street SE, Washington; (202)
      >544-4600; folger.edu.
      >http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/arts/design/28libr.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all
      >
      >
      >
      >------------------------------------
      >
      >Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
    • Susan Thomas
      Thanks from me too, Michael! Reminds us what a very different world view from us Sam held. A.S.
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 28, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        Thanks from me too, Michael! Reminds us what a very different world view
        from us Sam held.

        A.S.


        Terry Foreman wrote:
        >
        > Michael,
        >
        > That's a great story and apropos. Thanks for the link to it.
        >
        > Terry Foreman
        >
        > At 11:49 AM 3/28/2009 +0000, you wrote:
        > >NY Times Exhibition Review | Folger Shakespeare Library
        > >Catching Some Z's in Days of Yore
        > >By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN
        > >
        > >WASHINGTON — In one of the displays at the Folger Shakespeare Library a
        > >17th-century manuscript interrupts its historical chronicle of
        > >bloodthirsty battles, hewn carcasses and sundered heads with a recipe
        > for
        > >"a dormant drink": a knockout potion. Perhaps the tale's morbidity had
        > >been affecting the anonymous author, or maybe this potion, guaranteed to
        > >instill sleep for "2-daies," just came to his mind as a perfect weapon
        > >against future enemies: you just slip 'em a Mickey.
        > >
        > >But when this document is seen as part of the entrancing exhibition "To
        > >Sleep, Perchance to Dream," the recipe takes on broader resonance. It
        > >requires unusual ingredients like "ecittel" and "yppop," and even more
        > >exotically, "Ecim-rod doolb" and "Niarb of Senarc." The show's
        > curators —
        > >Carole Levin, a professor of history at the University of Nebraska,
        > >Lincoln, and Garrett Sullivan, a professor of English at Pennsylvania
        > >State University — easily dispose of part of the mystery: these words
        > are
        > >written backward.
        > >
        > >Thus lettuce is being called for and, not surprisingly, poppies. Glass
        > >vials adjacent to the manuscript contain some ingredients, including,
        > >creepily, the dormouse blood specified, while omitting, thankfully, the
        > >brains of cranes.
        > >
        > >The simple code might have been used more to create an aura of esoteric
        > >revelation than for any real secrecy, but the recipe reflects a way of
        > >thinking evident in many of the 17th-century volumes on display here.
        > >Sleep should not be thought of casually: it is mysterious, powerful,
        > >central, inextricably linked to the world.
        > >
        > >Throughout the exhibition there are recipes and counsel: how to sleep
        > (not
        > >on the "backe" for it "hurteth the braine and memorie"), when to sleep
        > >("sleeping at noone is very dangerous"), how to ensure sleep ("take a
        > >little Camphire, and mingle it with some womans milke"), how to make
        > beds
        > >(feathers "hath a near affinity with the Nature of Bugs") and how to
        > >control dreams (rub your temples with lapwing's blood).
        > >
        > >If you read the open pages here, it's enough to give you insomnia. There
        > >is so much more to worry about than we moderns acknowledge, not just the
        > >incubuses and succubi who might bring on nightmares. Even the graciously
        > >helpful prescriptions can be a bit chilling. One, derived from a 1615
        > >manual, "The Secrets of Alexis," provides a method "to see wild
        > beasts in
        > >a dreame":
        > >
        > >"Take the heart of an Ape, and lay it under your head when you go to
        > bed,
        > >so that it touch your head, and you shalle see marvelous things."
        > >
        > >Thank you, I want to respond, but I'll just read for a while.
        > >
        > >That, though, may have been the lure that Richard Braithwaite
        > >self-mockingly invoked by calling his 1640 book on display here "a
        > >boulster lecture." It was something to be read with the head on the
        > >pillow, where its moralizing solemnity could be listened to the way the
        > >husband in the book's main illustration listens to his wife.
        > >
        > >"This wife a wondrous racket meanes to keepe," Braithwaite writes, as
        > she
        > >hectors her spouse in bed. "While th' Husband seemes to sleepe but does
        > >not sleepe."
        > >
        > >"But she might full as well her Lecture smother," Braithwaite points
        > out,
        > >"For ent'ring one Eare, it goes out at t'other."
        > >
        > >Such dissemblance, at any rate, is not a temptation at this exhibition.
        > >There is something quite powerful here. Seventeenth-century explanations
        > >of sleep and dreams may now seem thoroughly fanciful, since they see the
        > >body's health as the result of interacting "humors," like melancholy and
        > >phlegm. But a relentless logic is at work.
        > >
        > >On which side, for example, should a person sleep? In the handsomely
        > >designed companion sourcebook for the show, William Vaughan is cited (in
        > >1612) explaining that after eating meat, a person should sleep on his
        > >right side until the food "be descended from the mouth of the stomack
        > >(which is on the left side)," and that then the left side is preferable
        > >"that the meate may be more easily sodden and digested in a more hot and
        > >fleshly place."
        > >
        > >The point is that nothing is inconsequential or irrelevant. Sleep
        > isn't an
        > >escape from the world but an extension of it (which is why it would have
        > >been helpful to have some more exploration of the sleepwear and
        > >"bedchamber" objects shown here).
        > >
        > >As for the potions and concoctions, none are randomly composed. They
        > >attain their supposed power because their ingredients are thought to
        > >resemble in appearance, nature or quality the function they were to
        > >influence. Lettuce (ecittel), we learn, might help bring on sleep
        > because,
        > >like sleep, it is considered both cool and moist.
        > >
        > >In the frontispiece to Thomas Walkington's "Optick Glass of Humors"
        > >(perhaps 1631), a chart even shows how the body's humors are
        > connected to
        > >cosmological conditions. Choler, we are told, is associated with a
        > time of
        > >life (youth), a season (summer), an element (fire) and a heavenly body
        > >(Mars). Too much choler, which is marked by heat, is "antithetical to
        > >sleep," which is why cool, phlegmatic persons sleep more than
        > choleric ones.
        > >
        > >We might come to a similar conclusion about these contrasting
        > >temperaments, but we would miss the metaphysical implications that also
        > >help explain why the bedside Bible and bedtime prayer became associated
        > >with sleep rituals. Sleep was not morally inconsequential: night terrors
        > >and "Mares" (as they were called) had solemn and unsettling implications.
        > >
        > >So dream interpretation was not a frivolous exercise. The ancestors of
        > >today's popular-psychology dream dictionaries are on display,
        > including a
        > >contemporary variation: a touch-screen computer program called "The
        > Dream
        > >Machine." Choose among 12 themes like Food, Nature, Animals and
        > Money, and
        > >you are led through a directory of 17th-century dream interpretations.
        > >
        > >Do you dream that you have kissed a dead person? A 1669 source tells us
        > >that this "signifies long life" — at least for you. Unfortunately, the
        > >playful program is only sleepily responsive.
        > >
        > >Over all, the exhibition is compelling. Politics, too, is implicated.
        > The
        > >era's battles between Royalists and Parliamentarians, or between
        > >Protestants and Roman Catholics, were often treated in books as
        > taking the
        > >form of dreams, which could leave some issues of allegiance helpfully
        > >ambiguous.
        > >
        > >You can also see here the latent sources of modernity. When a preacher,
        > >Richard Haydock, became celebrated for being able to deliver brilliant
        > >sermons while asleep, it took the rational skepticism of King James I
        > (the
        > >same James who commissioned the stunning Bible translation that bears
        > his
        > >name) to unmask him as a fraud in 1605.
        > >
        > >And in a 1634 publication, putting aside metaphysics for hints of
        > >psychology, Owen Felltham argued that "Dreames are notable meanes of
        > >discovering our owne inclinations." The wise man, he wrote, "learnes to
        > >know himselfe as well by the nights blacke mantle, as the searching
        > beames
        > >of day. In sleepe, wee have the naked and naturall thoughts of our
        > soules."
        > >
        > >The only frustration is that the one figure of this era who could have
        > >fully connected the night's black mantle and the searching beams of day,
        > >the mysticism of potions and the rationalism of psychology, who could
        > both
        > >fear the dreams that may come in the sleep of death yet welcome the way
        > >sleep knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, who well knew what dreams
        > are
        > >made on and how our little life is rounded with a sleep — that figure
        > >appears here only incidentally, though he has given both the library and
        > >the exhibition their names.
        > >
        > >"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream" is on view through May 30 at the Folger
        > >Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street SE, Washington; (202)
        > >544-4600; folger.edu.
        > >http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/arts/design/28libr.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all
        > <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/arts/design/28libr.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all>
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >------------------------------------
        > >
        > >Yahoo! Groups Links
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        >
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