It is well known that the 12th Century abbess, theologian, poet, mystic, and musician, Hildegard von Bingen, composed her famous morality musical revue, Ordo Virtutum, known in English as The Virtue Play, based on music she heard in one of the many trances during which her divine visions were revealed.
It is also known that Saint Hildegard, beatified in 2012 by recently-retired Pope Benedict, kept a fifty-five-pound (25 kg) dry-cured Westphalian ham in her sleeping chamber in the abbey at Disibodenberg and then at Rupertsberg under a blanket of coarsely-woven wool.
It should be no trouble, then, to place the two facts, the seeing of visions and the companioning with the ham, one fact next to the other, tie them together with additional facts from little-known sources, bind them with the duct tape of bold supposition, and discern for yourself the SuperTruth® that Hildegard’s inspiration for the Ordo Virtutum emerged from no other source than out of her beloved ham in signals from the ultra-high-wattage broadcasting antennae of Jesus in His faraway fortress of solitude, Heaven.
As a child, Little Hildegard first started having visions, hearing voices, feeling feelings, and smelling smells when she was around five years old. This was in about the year 1103. At that time she was known to be fond of carrying with her everywhere she went a cowhide pouch containing a severed, desiccated rabbit’s foot. As she grew older and entered the monastery as an oblate and assistant to Sister Jutta, she could often be found in the chapel communing with a braided cross woven of strips of venison jerky. Later some cured, dried beef, called “speck,” in a hunk about the size of a full-grown squirrel, occupied her teenage years in the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg. By the time she became prioress and moved her nuns to St. Rupertsberg, she had already taken up residence with the enormous meat product.
Sister Jutta, when Hildegard visited her on her deathbed, expressed her disapproval of the relationship. In Hidelgard’s own records of her visions, the Scivias, the Liber vitae meritorum, and the De operatione Dei, she never mentions her communications with the ham, which might seem odd given the big deal we’re making of it here. We can most logically attribute the omission to Jutta’s disapprobation and Hildegard’s wounded feelings. Whatever clairvoyant and prophetic sensory extravaganzas the ham revealed to her, the ecstasy – as with all experiences worthy of being so called – in addition to being ecstatic, weighed upon her with the heavy burden of shame.
Still, as has been the way with many nuns, Hildegard persisted in her queer habit. Every night she slept with the cumbersome recumbent joint of preserved pork by her side. Hildegard would cohabit with the ham, lying beside the dry-cured meat much as a Scottish herdsman might embrace the sheep he’s wooing in his Highland bower, caressing its cold-cut contours, petting its firm pellicle, whispering into the grain of its muscle, sensible to its every sinew, alert to the vibrations of its bone.
The two, the nun and her ham, would at times meet on an unearthly plane, in each other’s dream, and dream together as one. Nun and ham. Ham and nun. One divine being. Being divine one. Where we divine one we divine all.
On a particularly cold Rhineland autumn night, according to a cousin of a friend of a friend’s cousin who’d heard it from another friend, Hildegard experienced a rush of sensation in which the entirety of the Ordo Virtutum washed over her, in full, including plainchant music, lyrics, book, lighting effects, cast, costumes, choreography, and even the program design. “Eureka!” she exclaimed on coming down from her trip, but in Latin instead of Greek.
Well, of course we know in retrospect that the production was a smash hit, running for five hundred consecutive years on the Saxon circuit. Years later, George S. Kaufman famously said: “Satire is what closes on Saturday, but mystery morality musicals are forever matinéed, and that von Bingen’s is beaut!” He also said, “That’s no Teutonic turkey!” But by then no one had been listening to him for at least half an hour.
The flesh of animals –the monkey’s paw – and even humans – witness the Viking or the New Guinean devour the heart or drink the blood of a conquered foe to absorb his bravery, or the Aguaruna who parlays with his shrunken head – once-living portions of flesh have long been esteemed for their ability to conduct consciousness and power across the boundary between life and death. Hildegard von Bingen’s ham radio connection to Heaven is far from the only example of cold cuts, salumi, and deli meats intermediating between our world and the world beyond.
Nostradamus was known to consult a pistachio mortadella.
Gershom Sholem, no stranger himself to the deli counter, describes Rabbi Isaac Luria’s longtime mystical bond with a teawurst.
It’s documented quite well that many spiritualists fell under the spell of Blavatsky’s bologna.
Rasputin fraternized with a pair of kabanosi. Carlos Castaneda kept company with chorizo. William Blake had a weakness for weisswurst.
In Crackow, Aleister Crowley claimed kinship with the cosmic kielbasa of Khartoum.
Rumi made love to a plate of Moroccan merguez.
Rumanian chronicler of shamanic visions, Ioan Culianu, composed his most famous treatise on the gnostic knackwursts.
And of course, who can forget Sri Kriyananda Goswami and his shamanic salami?
The SuperTrue® record is plain: since the distant past, myriad seers have sought second-sight in sausage links to the spirit realm.
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!
I have been incubating nothing. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Incidentally, sitting on eggs to keep them warm is called “brooding.” In the 16th C, in Nürnberg, there was a cobbler, choir singer, and habitual writer of plays, songs, and poems, named Hans Sachs, who among his other works wrote a short comic Fastnachtsspiel, a play for Shrovetide, or Carnival, called Das Kälberbrüten. At University of Michigan, Professor Martin Walsh, now Lecturer Emeritus, introduced it to me in translation as “Brooding Calves.” It begins with a peasant sitting on a large wheel of cheese, out of which he believes cattle will hatch.
That’s exactly what goes through my head when people ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?” They emerge spontaneously, like calves out of cheese.
When chickens brood, they don’t crush their eggs, because their butts are feathered and fluffy, their bones light and porous, and the albumen and yolk inside the shells pushes back against the pressure of the chicken’s weight.
Now, I possess about as peach-like a butt as a middle-aged white man can boast, but it is by no means fluffy. And a hollow egg has nothing inside it to support the shell by pushing against my weight. So brooding nothing is not an easy thing for someone with my gender and age handicaps.
But do I get special consideration? Nope.
You know who gets special consideration for brooding their ideas? The Conservative Political Action Committee. They had this great idea to partner with Viktor Orbán, autocratic leader of Hungary, and apparently a conservative movement hero. They held their recent convention of global whining and xenophobic tantrums in Hungary. And fascist strongman Orbán, the conservative hero, delivered the keynote speech.
Ring any bells? Any Jews, gay people, communists, Catholics, Poles, or Roma have surviving memories of Hungary? My neighbor when I was growing up had a tattoo on her arm from a Hungarian concentration camp.
Now, CPAC, the international fundraising and organizing wing of the GOP, had this great idea to announce how fascist they are in Budapest. CPAC's organizers picked anti-democratic, autocratically-led Hungary because they consider it "one of the bastions of the conservative resistance to the ultraprogressive 'woke' revolution," according to CPAC's website.
This represents the most obvious symptom of the internationalization of the fascist movement Steve Bannon first spearheaded spreading the ideology all over Europe.
How did the organizers of CPAC brood these spectacular ideas? Their tushies are even more bony than mine. Did they have to hire chickens to sit on their viper eggs? Did they perhaps even hire vipers?
No, they get special consideration, because legally psychotic talking head Rick Santorum belongs to their organization. Santorum is the also the term for a warm slurry of poo, jizz, and lube that oozes out of tushies after anal copulation. And Rick Santorum has the evangelical ability to transform into that substance. It’s similar to how Styrofoam wafers and wine turn into the body and blood of Jesus. Rick Santorum becomes that substance, manifest in the world, and butters those conservative viper eggs in his warmth, thereby brooding them while Bannon and the rest of the international Nazis go about the business of schmoozing each other up. In the end it’s a whole lot of buttering, but with divisions of labor, as is appropriate to any capitalist fanaticism.
Do I get such special consideration? Do I get such special rights? No. Because I don’t qualify for the mentally handicapped fascist discount at Chick-fil-A, the same card that gets you into all the zany events at CPAC, Hungary.
Now, I know identity politics has its problems, mainly when it distracts from and derails discussions of class interests, but I’m pretty sure that going all international-Nazi-conference-in- fascist-Hungary about it is an overreaction. I’m pretty sure going all Seb Gorka about pronouns is overkill.
You know who else gets special treatment when brooding their ideas? Netflix comedians. Trans people aren’t new. Trans people have been around even since before Eddie Murphy was caught giving a ride to Samoan trans performer and sex worker Shalimar Seiuli back in 97. Other trans sex workers Murphy loved to pay for sex were given about fifteen thousand a pop to keep their stories on the DL.
But now that there are all-gender toilets in some woke places, and trans people’s self-definitions are beginning to be respected, Dave Chapelle, and now copycat trans-disparager and prestige TV factory Ricky Gervais, have used Netflix as a bully pulpit to bully the trans community with their brilliant definitions of gender. Heedless of Eddie Murphy’s preference for ladies with male genitalia, Gervais urges women to lose theirs. Did he clear this demand with Eddie Murphy, who is an elder statesman of the comedy and sex renters communities? Or did both Gervais and Chapelle decide to be on team Hitler independently?
We may never know how these Netflix elitists got on the same page about being okay with bigotry. But we do know they get special privileges when brooding their poisonous snake eggs. They get special saunas that help raise their core temperatures so that all they have to do is stand next to their eggs to incubate them. They are technologically-enhanced incubators. Like Tucker Carlson’s irradiated balls are meant to be. Gervais and Chapelle are basically Tucker Carlson’s ideal testicles.
I, on the other hand, being an impoverished, mouthy leftwing writer, have to make my own hot air, standing in an uncomfortable CIA stress position, radiating as much infrared energy as I can from my hovering buttocks, incubating my empty eggs by pure gumption.
But, let me assure you, when my nothing hatches, it will outshine any and all the basilisk, chimerical somethings the more privileged brooders in our hierarchy could ever come up with. Originality. It just takes time, my friends.