Periodical — 4

Type “medieval marginalia” into your search engine of choice and you will quickly be confronted with a slew of naughty images straight out of the mouth of Chaucer’s Miller. Flatulence, flesh, feasting. An astounding lot of butt stuff. As well, of course, as some surprisingly complete renderings of knights battling snails, dragons, crowned cats, and religious imagery galore. Some of it even looks as if it was always intended to accompany the text.

The examples I find the most fascinating, though, are the ones that were done at the whim of a hand-cramped scribe literally burning the midnight oil. Maybe they were testing their pen; maybe they were bored. But when they let their minds wander, the imagery was wonderful.

It reminds me of a notebook that I found on a shelf in our home when I was six or seven. As I recall, the notebook was a wine-red, clothbound composition book my father had kept during prep-school. It was very lightly ruled and full of classroom notes, his name etched into the upper left corner of the inside cover. I discovered it while browsing his library one day and was immediately captivated. There was a particular image he’d drawn of a little man taking a running leap off a cliff and across the page that I can still see clearly in my mind, even after all these years.

Unlike any other book on the shelf — most of them very old — this small school diary bent time for me in a dizzying and personal way. My mind reeled at the thought of my own father as a boy, his younger hand having made the words and marks on the page. I knew that my father had once been young, but now I understood it. I felt it.

It may have been the first time I had connected the dots of time, history, and mortality.

How can you not think of the life behind these drawings in the margins? Of the hand connected to the person who was once young and felt their days were long?

Speaking of art, here are a few collages I made this year.

Last January, I set a goal of making at least 25 pieces of art that I’m proud of in 2023. It seemed a low bar — just a few per month! But alas, I don’t know if I will have achieved this come 2024.

I started off strong, but by mid year, my artmaking productivity plummeted. It’s been a very busy year, and every ounce of extra energy I had went to maintaining order. I’m hoping for a more artful next year.

Wolf Hall was magnificent — probably in my top-ten things seen on screen over the last decade. I’m 100% in on the sequel.

Yes, I am an Inter fanboi.

That special kind of anxiety when an unexpected crowd gathers in your Figma file. And the excruciating face-off when you follow them and then they_follow_you.

It’s like:

Written by Christopher Butler on November 22, 2023,   In Log

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Periodical – 3 Hello from a rainy and cold autumn morning in Durham. We are in the midst of the most magical time of the year. Our enormous old oak is covering

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