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I ran across a deep cut in the Doors catalog, The Ship of Fools (a live version of which is linked above), and was intrigued. I remembered the novel by Katherine Anne Porter (and the movie that followed) and did a little background legwork. The original source appears to be a 15th century allegory that became something of a cultural touchstone at the time.
Pictured above is the Hieronymus Bosch depiction of the allegory, also titled Ship of Fools. As with all things Bosch, even when depicting a relatively tame scene, there is always something curious to contemplate in his work. Another 15th century rendering may be seen in the University of Houston's online digital library.
Of course, this allegory has legs, persisting all these centuries later, in the Porter novel and in songs by such diverse performers as the Doors, the Dead, Robert Plant, World Party, and John Cale, among quite a few others.
As to what the allegory was all about, Wikipedia has a nice little summary of what it is all about:
The allegory depicts a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction.
Imagine my surprise then, and delight, to find a Christian humor site that takes its title from this insightful observation of the human condition: Ship of Fools. It may not be The Onion but, hell, this crew is laughing while they row, and at themselves, yet. There is an article on Holy Host dispensers, which have a kind of Steely Dan (not the band) quality about them, an hysterical 'caption this photo contest' depicting a particularly, um, earnest looking Tennessee Ernie Ford and a rather nifty exposé of a pseudo-evangelist.
I have to say that the decidedly secular Issa's Sunday Service gives a thumbs up to this Christian humor site for, well, having a lark now and again. After all, it's a bit of a relief from the run-of-the-mill these days.
Since Tennessee Ernie Ford was known for other things than gospel recordings - such as shilling for Ford Motor Company, as well as a number of country and pop hits - rather than leaving you laughing at him, I thought it might be best to give the devil his due and present what he was best known for:
Photo from "Ship of Fools" caption contest (titled holy quiff)
short summer night--
foolish flowers, clever flowers
translated by David G. Lanoue
Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.
Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 171 songs