Paul Klee: Le Feu le Soir (1929)
Down below, Wayne wrote:
Havr you heard of the fungus theory?
This is an open-ended question which has a couple of mutually exclusive entailments. In the first place, Wayne seems to wonder if I know the history of the Salem Witch Trials. In the second, he seems to be asking a philosophical question about lessened responsibility in people who are intoxicated. I think that both of these are excellent, interesting questions, so I’ll try to answer the first one today, and the second one tomorrow.
When I pretend to be a historian (occasionally at work I have to do this) I generally work with 19th Century American history. I am peripherally familiar with earlier stuff, and I’m always interested in learning new things. Unfortunately, this is such a loaded issue that it is difficult to get a fair reading of it.
Feminist hack Kristin J Sollee has authored a poor excuse for a book, entitled Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive. This is an example of the “serious historical literature” surrounding the subject. Some of it is freely available on Google Books, and while I can heartily recommend it as an example of incredibly poor scholarship, its real value is its inadvertent comedy.
The so-called expert who wrote this title? That’s the headcase, on the right. You just can’t make this shit up. This is what I mean by attempting a fair reading of the history behind the witchcraft phenomenon. On the other side you have superstitious religious people, who like to scare each other with spook stories, so it’s difficult to get any sort of level historical interpretation of the goings on in that era.
Fortunately, the original transcripts are all online. As I was reading through them, last week, I marveled as to how wimminz never really change. An overwhelming trend in witchcraft accusations were wimminz who made false criminal complaints against other people, offering up self-inflicted damage as evidence. We all know that never happens, right?
I went back over to virginia dot edu, this morning, and picked a random court transcript in the sidebar. I ended up with the trial of the witch, Sarah Bibber. I think this is representative of the other huge trend in witchcraft accusations.
In the Bibber case, Joseph Fowler testified that:
Goodman Bibber & his wife, Lived at my house, and I did observe and take notice, that Goodwife Bibber was a woman, who was very idle in her calling
Skank-ho princess wanted to sit around home all day, and be waited upon, while her husband busted ass. This never happens among wimminz today, does it?
And very much given to tatling & tale Bareing makeing mischeif amongst her neighbo’rs,
Bitch was a troublemaker, who spread unfalsifiable rumors, given to causing a series of dramatic spectacles, when she should have been tending the kids. Yeah, that never happens today, either.
& very much given to speak bad words
Skank-ho had a foul mouth. Very unusual among modern wimminz.
and would call her husband bad names & was a woman of a very turbulent unruly spirit
Bitch abused her husband. Quelle surprise.
Sarah Bibber was convicted and publicly humiliated for her shit behavior. It doesn’t give details, but I imagine she was chained up in the town square for a couple of days, to be pelted with rotten eggs and old fruit.
She doesn’t appear to have been charged again, which suggests that her punishment was both just and sufficient. Today, of course, we just take all these outward manifestations of witchcraft as second-nature, and let wimminz get away with this crap, and much worse.