visuo-semantics (also given as visuosemantics)
“The creation and addition of meaning through the semantic integration between text objects and the presentation of those text objects in visual relation, denoted both visuospatially and with relational symbols, with each other.”
Hello Shroudosphere (blogospheric annexe): I shall be advancing a simple thesis in today’s posting, simple yet profound in its consequences. It will take careful marshalling of the evidence, and since I’m no great fan of writing posh essays, I’ll do it in my preferred way, as a born “commentator” not blog poster, posting in small incremental additions. Do I hear you say “time-waster”? Well, I anticipate that quite reasonable charge to those who have arrived here early, maybe too early to find any real substance. So here’s a brief summary of what I intend to say. (ed. oh, and if you don’t care for the anti-authenticity message, the summary may be all you need to know, or are willing to stomach. Just remember please that we scientists (retired in my case) continue to pick up newspapers with headlines about “scientists” claiming that the TS may not be medieval after all, that it could (always could) have been the result of earthquakes, neutron bombardment, bla bla more sciency-looking bla bla. It was one such headline back in late 2011 (uv lasers, supernatural flash of light etc.) that made this blogger neglect and finally desert his pop topical science site to focus attention almost entirely on the circus known as Turin Shroud so-called science. This site btw is NOT an attack on religious belief or any particular doctrine. It’s a running critique of those who systematically employ pseudo-science to promote their agenda-driven fantasies, religious or otherwise. We rightly condemn quack medicine. Why not quack science as well? Anyway, here’s that summary:
(Let’s cut to the chase)
The simple addition of the French word “suaire” to a variant of the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge, cast from the recently-discovered Machy Mould, above which was an image that was UNMISTAKABLY that of Jesus, was a brilliant 14th century marketing ploy (Holy Relics-U-Like). It served as the visual cue, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, for most viewers to assume that the Lirey Shroud was, nay, simply had to be! the real McCoy, the genuine, no kidding you on, burial cloth of Jesus Christ!
But the term “suaire” originally referred to entirely different relics, each known as a ‘face -cloth’ or napkin in English, or ‘sudarium’ in Latin, such as the Sudarium of Oviedo, or the Veil of Veronica, which apart from being much smaller have facial imprints, allegedly of Jesus, that are bodily secretions, blood and sweat respectively, NOT the peculiar and altogether more enigmatic scorch-like images (frontal and dorsal) like those on the Shroud.
The simple addition of a face-cloth image of Christ was sufficient (and probably INTENDED) to make viewers assume that the double-image of the recumbent man on a Lirey badge, laid out on a herringbone weave, was that of the crucified Jesus and logically so must the Man on the Shroud too. But it almost certainly was not, being the image (most likely in my view) of a Knight Templar condemned to a painful and prolonged death by roasting over hot coals in the manner of the earlier martyr, St. Lawrence of Rome (died AD 258). Interestingly the latter is also represented naked or nearly so in the early art of Christendom, sometimes with hands preserving modesty, making an uncanny resemblance to the Shroud image. (How come I seem to be the first to have spotted that?)
Amazingly, the modern French still use suaire to mean either face cloth OR shroud, despite them having a separate word for shroud (linceul). I thank Alain Hourseau, French scholar and now owner of the Machy Mould, for pointing this out, and for inspiring this post.
That unhelpful ambiguity re “suaire” probably began with the Lirey badge, and is “explained” in dictionaries by saying that “suaire” for shroud is “Old French” or “literary”. Nope, there’s more to it than that. Let’s be candid. It was an ‘accidental’ corruption of correct French by those wishing to promote a (probably) Templar-era memento to holy relic status, a by-product if you like of misleading advertising. But one suspects that the cunning visuo-semantic ploy may not have been necessary anyway, given that the 2D scorched-on image of the dead Templar was probably derived by thermal imprinting off a bronze of the crucified Christ. That particular customised combination of pyrographic art/technology that we now call the TS may, for all we know, have been one of convenience initially. Some deft re-branding, human imagination, a degree of suggestibility, a willing suspension of disbelief etc etc over the centuries has now
landed us with bequeathed us the ‘unsolved mystery’ of the Shroud, one that continues to defy science (bla bla), to foster a never-ending stream of pseudo-science, and which (as a lexicological footnote) has left modern French with an altogether uncharacteristic and I have to say needless ambiguity in their otherwise splendidly precise and logical language.
I hope to find time to flesh out with more details later, and early birds may find graphics missing that are still to be added.
Time now to set out how the ideas expressed above developed.
(Incidentally, I was expressing these ideas as long ago as Feb 28 last year, but getting no attention. Who’d be a blogger?).
Sample cut-and-paste: “I’ve spent the last half hour looking closely at the mould for a Lirey badge – the one now (fortunately) in the possession of scholar Alain Hourseau. If I’m not mistaken there’s a strong clue as to how the non-Christ-like image of the Man on the Lirey badge was gradually melded with that of the Man on the Shroud to identify BOTH in the minds of pilgrims as that of the crucified Christ. How was that achieved? It was very very clever. It was done by adding a third image to the Lirey badge (Mark 2, Mark 3?) of a facecloth, but not the Oviedo-type one, with blood only, but a recognizable Christ-like face (not dissimilar to the Secondo Pia reversed image!!!!). This gets more interesting by the minute. “
Firstly, here’s Alain Hourseau being quoted by Mario Latendresse on his sindonology (Shroud Scope) site:
Now look at the wiki entry (French language) for the Shroud of Turin.
Note that the TS is always referred to as Le Suaire de Turin (yellow underlining), but whenever a reference is made simply to “shroud”, separate from “Turin” it becomes “(le) linceul” (yellow underlining). So why you may ask did the French, centuries ago, decide to call it, effectively, “the Face Cloth of Turin”, knowing (a) it wasn’t a face cloth but something covering the entire body and (b) there were other relics that were face cloths, and referred to as such, for example le Suaire d’Oviedo – or as well call it, the (Latin-derived) Sudarium of Oviedo? There’s even the biblical reference to there being a head cloth in the tomb, separate from the linen shroud. Why would anyone wish to blur the distinction between the two, and if so, with what motive? What say you, Jacques, Pierre, Marie, homme ou femme inconnu(e)?
To see how confusing things can get, look at the wiki (French language) entry on the Sudarium of Oviedo:
Note how we have references in the same passage to both Le suaire d’Oviedo AND le suaire de Turin (underlined in red).
So how do the famously logical and rational French defend this uncharacteristic lapse into ambiguity? I don’t know if L’Académie française has ever deliberated on this issue (strange if it had not, given its 24/7 lookout for linguistic sloppiness or contamination). But here’s what the Larousse dictionary has to say:
So, it’s as I said earlier. its original (“antiquity” ) meaning was as Alain Hourseau states, to mean a cloth that covers just the head, but through literary licence it can also be used interchangeably (and confusingly!) to mean a “linceul” i.e. a shroud that covers the entire body. So here we see semantic redundancy writ large.What the Larousse dictionary fails to point out, at least in this pocket internet edition is that it is shroudology (probably) rather than literature that has taken this liberty with language. But is/was it more than that? Was it a liberty not just with language, but crucially with meaning too, an assault on language, , a deliberate and self-serving attempt to blur the distinction between a small face cloth on the one hand and a large burial shroud? Was the French word “suaire” deliberately hijacked and given not just one meaning but two, in order to create a confusion in people’s minds between a cunningly added feature on a pilgrim’s badge that may well have represented a face cloth (e.g. the Veil of Veronica – allegedly depicting Christ with no alternative candidates) and the figure reposed on the Lirey Badge (and the Shroud) who might be that of Christ, but who there again might be someone completely different and/or simply presented to look like Christ (or maybe St.Lawrence?)
(Sorry, this is getting wordy and bit convoluted – I knew at the start that this posting would be a tricky one to write).
More to follow.
(Re topical science: if I still had an active sciencebuzz site, I’d be posting today on those so-called piezonuclear fission reactions that release neutrons, or so we are assured by the editors of that Italian journal Meccanica who have strayed into shroudology. I can’t speak for the nuclear fission aspects, but have long had an interest in the radiant energy that accompanies fracture of certain substances. Years ago (the mid 70s) there was an article by Daedalus (or Ariadne?) on the back page slot on the New Scientist, describing the Polo Mint effect (flashes of light when you snap them in the dark). I was able to tell him that I’d come across the phenomenon in the old-fashioned type of inorganic chemistry tome they don’t write any more. It’s called triboluminescence, and it’s a property of grinding sugar crystals and (interestingly) uranium salts. I had a very nice personal letter back. Since then, I’ve always said to myself that if I had my time over again, and had done a PhD in chemistry, rather than biochemistry, I would have snapped crystals under the surface of different liquids to see what new chemical reactions might be initiated. If there’s really nuclear fission from mechanical fracture and/or compression* alone (which I somehow doubt, feeling there has to be different mechanism at work) then the entire project could become quite interesting if the brief extended to nuclear chemistry as well).
*triboluminescence requires fracture, whereas the piezoelectric (and presumably piezonuclear) effect requires compression and its accompanying deformation only (apparently: I’m no expert).
Update: have just this minute spotted an article in the Washington Post on the earthquake/neutron fantasy-science. The title mirrors my long-expressed feelings about ‘pseudoscience’.
Will register, compose a comment, and insert it here later.
Back again: here’s the thread, thus far: