Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Reading up on the history of massage for a quiz: the usual mindless bashing of the Middle Ages and glorification of the Renaissance. The Middle Ages has no massage texts, we're told darkly, and massage was considered a satanic art (what??!! evidence, please?), whereas in the Renaissance all of a sudden people discovered that they had bodies and wanted them to be healthy. (Apparently in the Middle Ages no one knew they had a body, and everyone wanted to be sick.) My book insists on this wonderful putative resurgence of interest in massage, despite the fact that they can't find a single text dealing with massage from the Renaissance, any more than they can from the Middle Ages. Christ on a crutch. And of course, no recognition at all that the only reason we have all those classical texts that were "rediscovered" by the Renaissance is that for centuries medieval monks laboriously and conscientiously copied and recopied them. I wouldn't dispute that by and large the Middle Ages were hard times, but to my mind they at least had their priorities straight -- if you don't have resources to support much, then at the least you should try to make contemplative life possible. Which they did, better than we do, for all our bloody wealth and science.

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