Sunday, December 26, 2010

Talking Heads

I'd seen this story last week and a few days ago, 'Sis sent me a heads-up (har!) on it too, so I thought, make a post... I can't find the exact story any longer, but here is a link to a story from Reuters of the same date (although shorter).

Embalmed head of France's King Henri IV found
Fri, Dec 17 12:30 PM EST
By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters) - A team of scientists say they have positively identified an embalmed head, presumed lost in the chaos of the French Revolution, as that of King Henri IV of France who was assassinated in 1610.

The head was apparently lost after revolutionaries desecrated the graves of French kings in the royal basilica of Saint-Denis near Paris in 1793.

Few remains of those bodies have ever been found and positively identified since.  But a team of experts using advanced scientific techniques say they have conclusively identified the head, passed down over the centuries by private collectors, as that of the monarch.

The multi-disciplinary team, led by forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier, announced the discovery in the British Medical Journal.  Charlier said features consistent with those of the king's face were found including "a dark mushroom-like lesion" near the right nostril, a healed facial stab wound and a pierced right earlobe.

The king is known to have sported an earring, along with others from the Valois court.  Head hairs and remnants of a mustache and beard, colored red and white, on the mummified head fit with the known characteristics of the king's hair at the time of his death. Many features matched those in portraits of the king, the team said.

Charlier said three "cutting wounds" were also visible, corresponding to the separation of the head from the body by a revolutionary in 1793.  Radiocarbon dating also gave a date of between 1450 and 1650, "nicely bracketing the year of his death," the report said.

In addition, a digital facial reconstruction of the skull was fully consistent with all known representations of the king and the plaster mold of his face made just after his death.

Henri IV was one of the most popular French kings, known as "the good King Henry" and as "the green gallant," because of his attractiveness to women.  In 1598, nine years after ascending the throne, he enacted the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed religious liberties to Protestants and brought to a close over 30 years of fighting between French Protestants and Catholics.  He was assassinated in Paris at the age of 57 by Catholic fanatic Francois Ravaillac.

Jacques Perot, director of the Societe Henri IV in France, said the head will be buried next year in the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

"It will be a beautiful ceremony," he told Reuters. [Yeah, I'll bet.]

(Additional reporting by Maria-Victoria Buffery)
(Editing by Steve Addison)

Okay, so to the talking heads thing.  You cannot imagine my shock many years ago when I first became acquainted with the concept that ancient (and not so ancient) cultures actually revered the skulls of dead people and kept them in their houses and/or places of worship, sometimes to "consult" as an oracle.  For whatever reason, belief was predominant that the skulls could be consulted and actually provided answers - some were reputed to speak, so I am given to believe.  Hmmm....  Alas, poor Yorrick, indeed!

Of course, we have currently "alive" talking heads -- at least, I presume they are alive, but you know - they may be zombies. I actually call them dildo-heads, because they are just hired pricks when it comes down to it - oops - no one under 17 years of age should read that comment. They are the "pundits" and "politicians" who appear without fail every Sunday on round after round of "informational" shows on network television, such as "Meet the Press."  I watched such shows for many years and finally gave them up when I connected my migraine headaches and "stomach" problems to said shows. When I stopped watching the shows, the medical problems disappeared. 

What I find absolutely intriguing is the possibility that the embalmed head of King Henri may have been kept all the years since his tomb was first desecrated as an "oracular" head.  Why the hell else would anyone in this so-called "Age of Enlightenment" keep such a thing - like, totally yechy!!!  Might the head of King Henri IV have been passed down from generation to generation, and then from collector to collector, out of some never-articulated and shudderingly half-suppressed belief in the supernatural oracular power of his mummified head?  Did the late actor Vicent Price, later-day King of Cheap Horror Motion Pictures, ever play King Henri IV of France?  Methinks they bear a resemblance to each other...

President Gerald Ford.
After having fallen on his head
one too many times, he began
to exhibit supernatural powers and
in time, became an original
American Talking Head.
 Sooooo, who was the first talking head in history?  No, not Chet Huntley/David Brinley, who for many years as a young child I thought were one-and-the-same person...  It may have been a Celtic god that we now know by the name of Bran, as in Bran Flakes.  Yeah, the dude was a "corn god," which is simply a generic term for a god of vegetation, generally the kind of vegetation that humans eat, like wheat, corn, rice, and other grains lesser and greater...  He was also a "Brain" - ahem - probably the brain was eaten upon Bran's death in a ritual in which the consumers hoped that the consumee would convey to them some worthwhile essence of wisdom, or something, other than nausea or spongiform encephalopathy.  In any event, Bran's skull was reputedly preserved for millennia after he died, perhaps forced to commit honorable suicide after his ratings dropped.  It was this brainless skull that was a higly-regarded Oracle.  I suspect that the actual practice dates back several thousand years before the Celts worked their way to "Brandom" after they settled in the British Isles.  A version of the Talking Head is yet alive today in the British Prime Minister's office - yes - author J.K. Rowling "outed" the practice in her popular series Harry Potter and... . It is said that there is a portrait of some ancient worthy-or-other with a pipeline to the wizards at Hogwart's School of Wizardry.  Yes, of course the Prime Minister's Office and all British Officialdom other than the Queen herself have denied - hmmm, what if it's not a joke...

And I don't want you to get sidetracked, but lecturer Mary Beard, who is always fascinating, wrote what I thought was a wonderfully cheeky review of Jerry Toner's POPULAR CULTURE IN ANCIENT ROME .  People who poo-pooh the reading of book reviews miss tons of valuable information.  For instance, it was through reading this review that I learned of the Oracles of Astrampsychus. Not a talking head, but a sort of "talking" book, like an adolescent's version of the I Ching.  Hey - I'm not laughing.  I still read my "fortune" everyday in the newspaper, as do millions of other people all around the world.  If they didn't, such "fortunes" would not exist...

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