Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Notes for a Prolegomena to a History of Kites

It is still a mystery why the European kite-flying tradition remained so backward. Awkward unaerodynamic kites, tethered with an impractical array of strings, remained in use well into the 16th century.
Hatchjaw attributed the proliferation of strings to an abiding European cultural preference for micro-management, arising in turn from a deep-running uncertainty about the ability of the natural world to function by itself without constant supervision. To complete the contrast, he argued that Chinese kite-fliers could perfect their maneuverable one- and two-string kites so much earlier because the Taoist tradition within their culture encouraged a more relaxed managerial style.

Characteristically, De Selby's contribution to the debate was less than pellucid. He seems to have viewed kite-flying as a way of re-enacting the experience of birth, with the kite-string taking the place of the umbilical cord. His complaints about "crowded venues" and "complicated plots" appear cryptic, and are best understood if we accept Bassett's suggestion that the savant had confused the kite-flying art with a performance of the marionette theatre he had attended in Brussels.

17 comments:

Another Kiwi said...

Questions: Why is the angel thingo firing laser rays at the monk in the traditional hands and feet way but also two through the ribs. This is termination with prejudice, I think.

The two rib shots are coming from the angel beings' armpit, was this usual?

Observation: I hope that the other bloke, who has gone to sleep on his lunch box, gets into trouble. or maybe he is being paid, to see nothing.
The kite flying ruse does not fool me, Sir.

merc said...

Superb.

fessom, tell us.

Substance McGravitas said...

"crowded venues" and "complicated plots"

Note that the Europeans were ahead of the rest of the world in airspace regulation. Kite-flying could only take place on the estates of the rare landowners who had figured out ways to expedite the letters of permission and flightpath planning.

Jennifer said...

I think this is really one of those perceptual illusions... do you see kite fliers or do you see Mother Nature's effeminate hand bursting forth from the earth and giving us the finger??

mikey said...

I call shenanigans.

I'm pretty sure "Prolegomena" is not a word. Well, maybe in esperanto, but not english.

I mean, hell, I'm as pro lego as most men are (see what I did there?), especially 'cause I never had any when I was little (did they have legos when I was little?), but that doesn't mean you can just go all willy nilly and shit, and in the title besides!

Smut Clyde said...

I'm pretty sure "Prolegomena" is not a word.
It is now.

Note that if the flying crucifix is large and some distance away (as you'd think from the way it's facing us), then the kite string running up to its feet from the operator's left foot is all wrong. It would have to go behind the operator's body rather than in front. So in fact the kite must be small, and in the foreground, and only a metre or two up. This is a case where the operator has not gone through all the paperwork with the Imperial Court, so he's flying under the "Lower than the nearest treetop" exemption.
This is also why the guy on the left is so unimpressed that he's feigning sleep. "We could be at the pub by now, you know."

merc said...

Awe.

heemowe, giggling lawnmower man.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

kite-flying?

looks more to me like they are setting snares for angels.

Barbecue later in teh day.

Smut Clyde said...

Dibs on the wishbone!!

Jennifer said...

Barbecue later in teh day.

I bet that's where the infamous potato salad got its start. They're gathering eggs from the winged creature for the special mayonnaise.

Smut Clyde said...

they are setting snares for angels.

Turns out, by the way, that you can make a cat's cradle but you can't make the cat sleep in it, and if you persist in trying, there will be blood.

Smut Clyde said...

eggs from the winged creature for the special mayonnaise.

If it's a male, I'll pass on the potato salad, thanks.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The woodcut represents the martyrdom of St Dagobert of Jutland, patron of strafing victims.

Smut Clyde said...

Here's your Angel's Egg for Breakfast.

Another Kiwi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Another Kiwi said...

So you're going to have Angels at my Table? No fuckin way, one wing sweep will knock over the Marmalade and then it's all ruined

mikey said...

Once again, this is why we can't have nice things...