Our own absurdities, not his.

From Cees Nooteboom’s A Dark Premonition: Journeys to Hieronymus Bosch

“…suddenly he is much closer to me, this most enigmatic of all painters, suddenly I see his hand, I see how he changed the position of a head with his nervous lines, how on the hill before divine Jerusalem he has moved a windmill somewhere else; I see him at work, which suddenly makes it seem as if he is standing beside us, as if we could ask the man who never said anything if it is true what the exegetes say, that in his work a key always means knowledge, and a mussel shell infidelity, that an egg is the most important symbol of the mysterious powers of alchemy, or that a rat always stands for sex or for lies against the church, of if he would agree with what Dirk Bax, a later compatriot from the twentieth century, claimed, that he was a “moralist who felt contempt for the lower classes, with no sympathy for the poor, and who employed his bitterest symbolism to mock beggars, pilgrims, prostitutes, gypsies, vagrants, minstrels, and actors” – but mainly I would like to know what he thought about what Fra de Siguenza wrote about him, who had to defend him posthumously against claims of heresy and said: “If there are absurd things to be seen here, then they are our own absurdities, not his.”

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