Friday, December 27, 2013

Printing Presses and Susceptible Hearts

“Through printing, tender boys and gentle girls, chaste without foul stain, take in whatever mars purity of mind or body; they encourage wantonness, and swallow up the huge gain from it. …

Writing indeed, which brings in gold for us, should be respected and held to be nobler than all goods, unless she has suffered degradation in the brothel of the printing presses. She is a maiden with a pen, a harlot in print. Should you not call her a harlot who makes us excessively amorous? Governed only by avaricious gain, will not that most base woman deserve the name of prostitute, who saps the strength of the young boy by fostering wantonness? This is what the printing presses do: they corrupts susceptible hearts.”

Filippo de Strata, Polemic Against Printing, trans. Shelagh Grier and intro. By Martin Lowry. As quoted here in “ Books Have Their Own Destiny: Essays in Honor of Robert V. Schnucker” edited by Robin Bruce Barnes, Robert Kolb, Paula Presley, Robert V. Schnucker

I suspect this guy’s ok with the spoken and the written word but has a some kind of problem with the printed word. Which is wack – words being words and all. But that’s not what I’m blogging about, which – blogging – would make this guy’s eyes melt. At least this is an ad-free blog so there’s no possibility for avaricious gain for Weeping Sore – at least in writing this blog. Once I’m discovered by a big publishing house thought, all bets are off.

Filippo here seems to think that if a woman is “governed only by avaricious gain” that will foster wantonness. Imagine, if you will, what it would do to any man. Now, while fostering wantonness has long been on my bucket list, I never thought I could get that far down into the bottom of the bucket by merely writing. And don't get me started about "swallowing up the huge gain" from wantonness.

But who wouldn’t be tempted to be wanton, am I right? “Fostering” has this genteel taint of patronizing primitive forms of life - like the little ladies - but in, like, you know, a good way. And it’s a slippery slope from literary wantonness to criminal behavior, like, say pulling off a gentleman’s hat. One man’s wantonness is another man’s assault and battery:

WANTONNESS, crim. law. A licentious act by one man towards the person of another without regard to his rights; as, for example, if a man should attempt to pull off another's hat against his will in order to expose him to ridicule, the offence would be an assault, and if he touched him it would amount to a battery. (q. v.) - A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the UnitedStates. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
Whether wantonness saps the strength of tender boys is a point I do not care to dispute. But Fillipo says its effect on woman is worse. What’s worse? It makes them whores, what else? Not to put too fine a point on it, but Filippo is a dick. Filippo has whores on his brain if he thinks women who write are  “suffering in the brothel” of the printing press; while it's nobel and brings in gold for guys who write. 

I have to admit though he's inspired me. I'm thinking about adding "Maiden with a Pen; Harlot in Ink" to my calling cards. From there it's a mere leap from a roof with an umbrella to pulling off men's hats.

It all comes down to corrupting susceptible hearts. It’s like the sign on the church across the street where Patti lives: "Become the person you would want others to be". At first glance that might sound like sound advice. Upon reflection, it would be the perfect mission statement for a wanton suicide bomber.

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