Readings from Ashmole 61 [R Nov 6]

Today’s readings all offer the reader guidance on (among other things) how to interact with household objects. How would you describe the relationship among humans and nonhumans that these texts attempt to remedy? And how do they attempt to do so?

4 thoughts on “Readings from Ashmole 61 [R Nov 6]

  1. I felt like these texts encouraged a deeper attentiveness to objects, especially their cleanliness. They seem to be trying to remedy poor manners and poor hygiene. In “Dame Courtesy”, the author sums up her advice of dignified table manners and politeness by saying “In honesty and clenys lede thou thi lyffe.” (line 146), and in “Stans Puer” the author advises “Ete thou not mete with thi unwasche hondys,
    For dred of mych hurte that may com therbye,” seeming to have an understanding of the relationship between dirty hands and sickness. Though I think that it was always in an attempt to better humanity’s social or physical health, these texts definitely called for their readers to pay close attention to the things around them, to treat them with respect and dignity.

  2. These texts seem to try to systemize the relationship between humans and nonhumans with the intend to create, in many cases, a better, more efficient relationship between the two. In particular with the text “The Dietary” reminded me greatly of the section of Jane Bennett’s book on edible matter. The idea that certain foods and eating activities can have a direct impact on the human consumer is in the forefront of the text. It warns readres to “ete non raw mete…drynke holsom drynke, fede thee on lyght brede,” among other things (lines 1-3). The fear that certain foods will cause ill effects on the human consumer are the root of the need for such an instructional text on diet. There are a number of rules placed outlined in the text, such as “drynke not at morow befor thyn apetyte,” which suggest a subtle understanding of the means in which food matter can effect the body and under what circumstances (line 65). These texts are outlining the relationship and interactions between human and nonhuman actants, in many ways.

  3. In these texts I feel like there was a sense of mutual respect for human and nonhuman objects. The text emphasizes that it is the human objects conscious choice to interact with the nonhuman objects such as household objects and foods but also emphasizes the power that these interactions hold in everyday life and in the appearance of the human for other human objects. The text is attempting to remedy the misuse of nonhuman objects by human objects and calling for more importance to be placed on the interactions. This puts the two objects on the same plane.

  4. There seems to be a level of respect for the interactions between nonhuman and human objects. In “A Good Wife,” the good wife teaches how certain things should interact and work. Likewise, in “The Dietary,” there are warnings and instructions based around how interacts with the body (reminiscent of Bennet’s edible matter and perhaps Nietzsche’s idea of food as a source of identity). There’s a heavy importance on the interactive nature of objects, and the importance for human objects to carefully regard the influential nature, power and interactive properties of the non human objects around them. Too often objects are seen as tools or throw away things forgotten and their interactive properties undervalued. Through instruction, these texts attempt to remedy this.

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