Choirs of Angels: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300-1500 by Barbara Drake Boehm

By Barbara Drake Boehm

This pleasant booklet describes and illustrates the Metropolitan Museum’s choice of approximately forty illuminations from Italian choral manuscripts. Representing the paintings of Gothic and Renaissance masters either celebrated and nameless, those worthy work in miniature---with their compelling narrative, incredible colour, and shining gold---bear witness to remarkable aesthetic accomplishment. The choir books they remove darkness from are a wealthy resource of knowledge in regards to the improvement of chant, whose unforeseen transcendent tonalities have abiding charm this day. additionally they function fundamental resources for the research of the lives of spiritual groups and of the philosophy and religion that infused medieval Europe, supplying a glimpse of Italy on the sunrise of the Renaissance.

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The person feels neither sated nor hungry, he is neither hot nor cold; the body is satisfied and the spirit likewise. Energy ebbs and flows majestically, and no desire troubles this harmony. This is the result of a wellaccomplished union. 1 cm 54 55 women will achieve full pleasure and men will always remain healthy,’ answered Sunu. All of these manuals advocate making love as often as possible and even at an advanced age, ‘Whatever his age, man would not be happy living without a woman. If he is without a woman, his concentration suffers because of it.

It is more to do with an identification with cosmic forces than with the forces of life. The ‘theory of juices’ holds that sperm passes through the spinal column directly to Mural displayed in sections 38 39 the brain. During the 17th and 18th century, European medicine laboured under the same misapprehension. How painful it must have been to be a young boy masturbating and believing that doing so would lead to a degeneration of the spinal chord and a drying-out of the brain! Mural displayed in sections 40 41 Whilst ejaculation provides a mere instant of pleasure which is very swiftly lost and finishes in the relaxation of the entire body, a buzzing in the ears, tiredness of the eyes, and a dry throat, coitus reservatus or coitus interruptus provokes a growth in vitality and an improvement in all the senses.

Taoist manuals advocate the technique of holding back from ejaculation, a truly prodigious invention which allows the man to satisfy the woman. Mural displayed in sections 34 35 By doing this, a subtle alchemy is achieved: the man receives Yin from the woman, who obtains from him the pure essence of Yang. For this reason, coitus reservatus is considered in Taoism and Tantrism to be the most subtle form of sexual union, because it allows the crossing of the divide between masculine Mural displayed in sections 36 37 and feminine energy.

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