Thursday, January 31, 2019

"The Round Table of King Arthur" by Onorio Ruotolo

“By what men think, we create the world around us, daily new.” 
― Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon

I found this in a copy of The Story of the World Literature by John Macy that was given to me by a friend just because of the stunning woodcut illustrations by Onorio Ruotolo. This particular print includes the note "From a Miniature of the Sixth Century". This caught my attention because lately I've been thinking about this game of whisper down the lane that we play as humans, copying and passing cultural artifacts down through the generations, all the while their meaning evolving to suit each time in which it is encountered. Some find something universal in this practice that ties all of humanity together like a neat bow on a wrapped gift. But to me that seems an illusion. We grasp on to what has come before because it is readily available and familiar, but what has come before is not of now, and what is copied will never be the same as the original.

It is interesting that in this particular print, the patterns on the floor, wall, and repetitions in the architectural structure are more clearly defined than the facial features of the individuals, the patterns on their clothing, or the food they eat. Some things change more quickly than others, and generations of humanity pass along at a swift pace.

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