Saturday, January 09, 2010

It's Cool to be Medieval

At least according to critic Philip Hensher, writing in a British newspaper, who says that medieval is the new black:

It’s never easy to account for fashion, but perhaps some real factors have contributed to the reading matter of 2010. This last year has seen a world-wide fear of a destructive plague, in the shape of swine flu. The court of our leader has grown increasingly suspicious, withdrawn and riddled with the sort of plots usually termed Byzantine. The coffers are empty, and an expensive foreign war against parts of the Muslim world has to be paid for somehow. It all sounds a little bit medieval, and that is what we’ve been reading about.

Other disasters have been weighing heavily on our minds, and refer back directly to the Middle Ages. In the climate change debate, both sceptics and proponents have spent a lot of time debating the significance for our own times of two parts of the period. The first is what has been termed the Medieval Warm Period, from between 800 to 1300, the second the Little Ice Age that followed it. Those in the Christopher Booker and George Monbiot camp, one which blames humans for climate change, have spent a lot of heated discussion dwelling on these facts, and the debate has found its way into creative works in surprising ways. We think about future catastrophe as a consequence of our past sins in very medieval ways.

There is more, largely about novels.

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Anonymous Rombald said...

Has anyone else noticed the odd relationship between neopagans and the Middle Ages?

I mean; from a neopagan view, the Middle Ages must be the worst era in history, surely? However, whenever you go to a neopagan moot, the women are dressed up like something out of about 1350, not like Romans, or 6th-century Saxons, or Vikings, or Romantics, or Kiplingesque Victorians, all of which were more pagan.

I suspect that a lot of neopaganism is linked to a longing for the folkloric and Gothic - Brueghel paintings, crumbling ruins, German fairy tales, that sort of thing.

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Chas S. Clifton said...

That "odd relationship" is of long standing. Consider the considerable overlap between the founders of U.S. West Coast Pagan groups in the mid-to-late 1960s with the early members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, founded in California about the same time.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Pax said...

On the other hand,

You also have a number of folks from the Goth and Steampunk subcultures involved in contemporary Paganism, and what I would half-jestingly call the Neo-Hippie folks are always hovering around... usually hanging out with the Hippie types. More and more I am becoming of the dress-in-something-clean-comfortable regular street clothes kind of guy.

I also think that a lot of the more Recon folks are of the mindset that the ancients didn't dress up in special costumes, they generally wore their finest regular clothes to festivals and for everyday & domestic worship wore whatever they were wearing.


7:45 PM  

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