Monday, July 26, 2010

notes from my lunar insomnia: the Mighty Boosh moon

well, here we are again—the night of the full moon, the night of my discontent. As usual, I am up at an ungodly hour, musing about this and that, to the great

detriment of my students tomorrow morning, who will have to deal with a zombie TA… Ah well, I guess this kind of sleeplessness reminds me I am human, and a little bit nuts. Speaking of madness, I have found one of the best depictions of lunacy—and here, it is as literal as possible—on my new favorite show, “The Mighty Boosh” which is positively surreal, and beyond hilarious. IN each episode, the moon emerges in the sky, only to ramble meanderingly through a series of bizarre non-sequiturs—well, you have to see it to know what I mean, so luckily someone has posted a “Best of the Moon” montage on youtube.

There is a long tradition of depicting the man in the moon as a madman, and Noel Fielding’s (my GOD right now, but more on that below) latest interpretation is but the latest of these. Perhaps you may remember the classic Mother Goose nursery rhyme, in which:

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon - Mama Lisa's House of English Nursery Rhymes 2

the man in the moon is a helpless imbecile, an illegal immigrant in the foreign land of Britain, who is incapable of fending for

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon - Mama Lisa's House of English Nursery Rhymes, Comment Image

himself, or even eating hot foods correctly.  I remember feeling sorry for this out-of-place man in the moon when I was a little girl, especially since Crane’s illustration in the Mother Goose my mom read to me was so apt. This man in the moon just looks like a sorry, slow fool who has hurt himself quite badly.

And then, of course, there is the medieval man in the moon, who pops up from time to time in the poetic record, and who also seems to have a tendency toward madness, although his brand seems a bit more violent than more modern moons’.

The Man On The Moon

The man on the moon stands and strides;
On a forked stick he bears his burden;
It's a wonder he doesn't drop;
For fear he'll fall he shakes and swerves.
When the frost falls he freezes;
The terrible thorns tear him apart.
There's no man alive who knows when he rests,
Or--unless it's a hedge--what clothes he has.

Where do you think this man goes?
He sets one foot in front of the other;
He looks like he's sweating; I see him shake;
He's the slowest man ever born.
He slumps on his stick like a grey friar.
This bent bum is always worried.
It's many days ago since he was here.

That man up there was here
Before he made the moon his home.
Once on a Sunday he was fixing his fence,Medieval Moon God
Hoping thorns would stop the holes;
He makes bundles with his two-bited ax
So the cows wouldn't eat his corn.
He wasn't lucky in his work:
He cut those briars on a Sabbath
And was therefore sentenced by a harsh judge.

But, hey, come down, get that judge,
Lift your leg, step over the sty.
We'll have the judge over to my house
And settle him down with the finest,
Drink to him dearly with good booze,
And my wily wife'll sit by him.
When the man's drunk as a drowned mouse
We'll have him lighten your load.

But the Man on the Moon doesn't hear me yelling;
I think the low-life's deaf; the devil take him!
No matter how I holler, he won't hurry;
The meely-mouth doesn't have manners.
Hump on, Hubert, you hoarse magpie!
I've had it up to here!
I'm so mad my mouth's locked;
That lout won't come down till day dawns.

(translated by Brown. See original Middle English Here)

IN this case, it’s unclear who is crazier—the poet, or the lunar fool, and I love this about the poem, since I think it highlights the pathetic fallacy of almost all literature dealing with lunar madness. The man in the moon is a projecNoelFielding.jpg image by clairerhiannontion of our own cyclic insanity….

Back to the Boosh, I just have to say that I am absolutely in love with Noel Fielding, and I am not usually the kind of person who forms bizarre crushes on untouchable celebrities.  But there is just something about his kind of surreal humor that strikes a chord deep within me. I don’t know how else to say it.

What? Did I hear you ask what all this has to do with perfume? Nothing really, although I can tell you what I chose to wear as I muse about madness and moons this brilliant night. The fabulous, exotic Malak Jasmine, with its indolic, milky, overblown white folds of fleshy, waxy flower. Gorgeous, and kinda spooky. Or maybe that’s just me…

CREDITS: Images of the man in the moon found on

man on moon from


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