Monday, 27 August 2012

Mindless Self Indulgence: Pie, Hats, and Larceny

Lent: that time of year when some people decide to give up something they enjoy, like sweets, or drinking, or clown porn.  But then, there are always those who don’t bother to check their revelry for the period, engaging in wild drunken chocolate orgies right in the city center, and a clash of cultures ensues.  Thus, we have this 16th century painting by Pieter Bruegel, “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent.”

Technically, this is a representation of a traditional event where avatars of Carnival and Lent would battle, with elements of the pious or wild and wacky elements of human nature going on in the background.  It is also chock full of allegory.  But thinking about allegory requires work and research, so we’ll just look at it all literally, shall we?

First off, there is the figure of Carnival: a fat dude wearing a pie on his head riding bareback on a wine barrel, pushed by two guys wearing clown hats.  The fat guy brandishes a spit with a pig’s head on it.  Looks like he’s ready to bring it.  And in Lent’s corner…

A woman (?) with a bucket on her head being pulled on a cart by an elderly monk and nun, distributing pretzels.  Her weapon of choice is a paddle with two fish on it.  I think Carnival has a distinct advantage with the pointy stick.  Also I am not sure what that guy in the upper right corner is doing.  Three of his limbs appear to be amputated.  Did he just flop himself into the middle of the square?  Why is he using a stump to reach for alms instead of, say, the one hand he still has?  Is he in the middle of inventing breakdancing?

Moving on, the Carnival gang continues to rock the amazing hats, with this group featuring a bard with an upside-down pot on his head, a man wearing an inverted nose, and another guy who seems to have strapped waffles to his temples.  

Waffles seem to be the ultimate in non-Lenten indulgence, on par with a slab of steak or a kinky cosplay lapdance.  Wikipedia confirms that this Carnival follower is “a female figure who is carrying on her head a table with bread and waffles on it.”  

Mmmm, drizzle that maple syrup all over, baby.  Other signs of intemperance include…

OH GOD!  THEY ARE SINGING RING AROUND THE ROSY!!  Children, avert your eyes from this lechery!!

Meanwhile, a fairly patriotic imp-demon leads this hunchback and his wife to the pub.

Even the town’s amputees have ganged up.  One of them seems to be wearing a lampshade and a pimp-cape.  Also, the guy on the ground that still has all his limbs looks like he’s trying to hold down a couple of turtles from making a break for the village well and freedom.

So what about at the church?  Wholesome activities must abound to counteract this blatant carnality!

…And chair theft.  Apparently chair theft is the proper way to celebrate Lent.


  1. Chair theft is the proper way to celebrate a lot of things! Birthdays, Christmas, End Of Financial Year.

    1. Very true! For that latter one sometimes it even extends to "everything that's not bolted down" theft.

  2. Right beside the chair theft, there's a woman washing a window. Really? Lady, look SLIGHTLY to your right, there's a chair theft in progress. No? If you look a little to the left, you can see the kids playing ring around the rosy. STILL no?! Look up, woman! Someone's totally about to vault over you and commit suicide. What the hell! TURN AROUND! There's a whole goddamn Ingmar Bergman film playing out in the streets of your town behind you! Seriously!

    Someone needed to hurry up and invent Windex. That woman missed out on some crazy shit.

    1. I know, right? I spent some time pondering the suicide case up there, but I'm not convinced the fall would kill him. I think maybe that building is where the drunken orgy is going on and he's just a bit tipsy and getting some air. Also that might explain the window washing woman's focus on the window...