Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD “The Village” Part 2 of 3 & (19) ARTSY Garden of Earthly Delights

JEAN SHEPHERD “The Village” Part 2 of 3 & (19) ARTSY Garden of Earthly Delights


Greenwich Village is not so much a geographical thing–although it is located geographically. If you were to look at a map you’d have to say it’s in the southern half of Manhattan. And there’s always arguments as to where the Village begins and where it lets off. I would say roughly the Village starts at 14th Street.  Greenwichvillage_map

[Shepherd discusses the boundaries and comments that it varies depending on one’s interpretation. Despite variations in different maps, I’d just shift the whole gray area of this map about 2 or 3 blocks to the east. He comments that people who visit New York City mostly go to Manhattan’s Mid-town–the Times Square area, and that the Village is just one of many of the city’s neighborhoods.]

Greenwich Village is really just a state of mind. The Village probably has more mis-information and glop and romanticism attached to it by outside people, than any other section of any city in the United States. I doubt very much whether there is any other city in the country about which more literature has been written than New York City.

[Shepherd also comments that New York and other “world cities” do not have very much relationship with the rest of the countries they’re in.]

I’ve been connected with the Village, both as a resident, and as a writer, for a long time. 

End of Part 2 of 3



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The New York Times of Feb 17, 2016 announced in an article that there is an upcoming Hieronymus Bosch retrospective in the Netherlands. I’d love to see it. He’s a weird artist and one of my favorites.

By far, his best-known work is “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a triptych that has hung for centuries in Madrid’s Prado Museum, where I’ve seen it on several trips to Spain.

If you go, don’t ask where their great collection of Hieronymus Bosch paintings is. You may get the same blank stare I got the first time I asked. Eventually I found out that they know the artist as “El Bosco,” and anyway, they’d rather you looked in on their major collections of great Spanish painters: El Greco, Goya, and Velasquez. (They have “El Bosco” paintings, because one of the Spanish kings had a passion for collecting them–they eventually became part of the state’s patrimony.)

hook and eye latch

Persist—ask for El Bosco–and you’ll be directed to an upper floor way down the far end of the museum. I‘ve probably seen ”The Garden of Delights” better—more completely—than the vast majority of viewers. That’s because I’m aware that the narrow side panels close, and to achieve this, I wait until the large room is empty of all but the guard. I approach him with some Spanish cash casually held in one hand and ask if I can see the painting closed. He undoes the hook and eye latch on the lower back of each side panel, and slowly swings them closed.

ARTSY garden closed_

There, in its un-glory, all in grays, is the painted Earth—seemingly before life appeared in all its color, sex, and grotesqueries. This is how Bosch worshipers and tourists first should see this masterpiece (which, when closed, is about seven foot high by six foot wide. Stare at this earth for a while, until your eyes are conditioned to its dull grays. Then ask the guard to open the panels, upon which (after handing over the generous tip), be overwhelmed by the color and the subject matter of the Garden of Eden (left, with God, Adam, and Eve); the main panel with its earthly, sinful delights; then the damnations of Hell in darkness and fire (Wow! far right panel).


I had an idea years back. I encountered for sale a large book that contained good color details of the entire work. Wouldn’t it be great (if I had space enough and time) to past up the entire thing and frame it and hang it at home? As the reproductions were on both sides of the pages, I had to buy three copies—one to keep, and two to use both sides of those copies and apply to flat panels and then frame the resultant twelve-foot-high by eight-foot high–what shall we say—social gathering? I bought the books. But it never happened. I still have one copy. I have other books about Bosch and his wacky world.

I understand that the detailed goings-on in this painting are folk sayings illustrated. Back then they had quite an imagination! I have a book by Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death. An article by Thomas B. Morgan in Esquire, comments about it:

According to Brown, the usual interpretation of the painting is not necessarily accurate. Hieronymous Bosch, after all, was a member of a heretical sect known as the Adamites, who practiced “coitus reservatus,” intercourse without orgasm, that is to say, pure forepleasure.” The Adamites’ goal was to recapture in this life the innocent eroticism of Adam before the Fall—the fall into, among other things, the tyranny of a sexuality focused on the genitals. If The Garden of Delights is, then, a portrayal of the Adamite vision, the Inferno scene may have been Bosch’s view of life in the here and now rather than in Hell. And the center section may not be a representation of the kind of sensuality that leads to Hell, but a purposeful portrait of the hope of the Adamites—and of Norman O. Brown.
Garden detail

              Adamite’s Ideal Garden?_right_panel_-_Detail_Inside_the_Tree_Man

   Adamite’s Here and Now?

Gee, I dunno.

If the wrong people had found out about that idea,

Bosch coulda got into a pile o’ poop.




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