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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: March ::
Whipping a gig

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.094  Wednesday, 7 March 2012

 

[1] From:        Steve Urkowitz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         March 6, 2012 6:08:37 PM EST

     Subject:     gig 

 

[2] From:        Scot Zarela < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         March 7, 2012 2:53:43 PM EST

     Subject:     a gig; whipping a gig 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Steve Urkowitz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         March 6, 2012 6:08:37 PM EST

Subject:     gig

 

Whipping gigs—okay.  In Breughel’s “Children’s Games” (1560) you can see images of kids spinning tops—whirligigs—by cleverly lashing them with whips to keep them going round.  

 

Edward Snow has a delightful book, Inside Breughel: the Play of Images in Children’s Games. (1997).  His Figure 4 on page 7 shows five boys spinning tops, arranged on either side of a column.  The detail is analyzed further on 114-18.   . . .  the top spinners on the right are caught at the peak of their gestures by the instant of representation; but the hand of the boy on the left seems to pause of its own accord.  He appears to eye his top from a greater distance than the strictly pragmatic arm’s length that separates the boys on the right from theirs.  The net effect is a space of measured reflection in which the boy ‘administers’ the lashing of his top and at the same time stands back and observes the effect of his blows. We can read his attitude as either brutality or detached curiosity—indeed, it is the strange affectless combination of the two that makes the image so unsettling” (115).  Breughel lays out a proto-Angelo four decades prior to Shakespeare’s. 

 

Snow’s book is a real treasure, a dramatic reading of the ways that Breughel lays dynamic meanings into his picture.  After reading it, I’ve learned to look more closely at those packed images Breughel leads us into.

 

Ever,

Steve Urtopowitz

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Scot Zarela < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         March 7, 2012 2:53:43 PM EST

Subject:     a gig; whipping a gig

 

No obscurity, surely? I think Shakespeare would have called it an “equivocation” to follow up on “whipping hypocrisy” (to punish it) with “whipping a gig” (to make it go). Abigail Quart easily found the meaning of “gig” as a child’s toy, a spinning top. This is gig’s first meaning in the Oxford English Dictionary: “I. Something that spins. 1. A whipping-top. (Obs.)”

 

S.v. “whipping-top” the OED gives: “A toy of various shapes (cylindrical, obconic, etc.), but always of circular section, with a point on which it is made to spin, usually by the sudden pulling of a string wound round it; the common whip-[top] or whipping-top is kept spinning by lashing it with a whip.”

 

The cylindrical section and the point at one end, together make its resemblance to a [cuckold’s]-horn: so the comment that someone foolishly unconcerned about having such a horn might take it off and play with it as a toy.

 

Here’s a video of various tops in action, starting with a whipping-top:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ-VFMymEiE

 

 

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