This is what looked like Ponyo:
Spencer’s right. Something about the literally visceral aspect of anything spilling from a slit in some dead thing’s belly — even if it’s whole, apparently undigested fish instead of entrails — coupled with the general cartoonishness and fantastic elements, like the strange airborne creatures and the bipedal fishman, add up to Miyazaki-esque. It’s totally a Ponyo.
This strange little scene ultimately led to another work by P.B. the E.: an oil-on-oak panel painting known variously as Netherlandish Proverbs, The Topsy Turvy World and The Blue Cloak. The work should be familiar to anyone who even remotely follows indie music, as a section of it served as the album art to the Fleet Foxes’ debut studio album.
This is what the painting looks like:
More than just a busy, well-populated Where’s Waldo? predecessor, Netherlandish Proverbs literalizes a whole host of old-timey sayings from viking country. (Really, it is more of a forerunner to that digital collage that literalized band names and challenged us all to see how many we can find.) Wikipedia lists all the proverbs and even offers a detail of the portion of the painting that refers to whichever proverb. And it’s in these bits of iterated and reiterated wisdom that I found most amusing along this Wikipedia garden path. The proverbs don’t make any less sense than the ones I grew up with — “To each his own, said the farmer’s wife upon kissing the cow” — but they make me laugh nonetheless by virtue of how inscrutable they are.
The top twelve:
- “The sow pulls the bung,” meaning “Negligence will be rewarded with disaster.”
- “To bell the cat,” meaning “to be indiscreet about plans that should be secret.”
- “To marry under the broomstick,” meaning “to live together without marrying.”
- “To have the roof tiled with tarts,” meaning “to be very wealthy.”
- “The herring hangs by its own gills,” meaning “You must accept responsibility for your own actions.”
- “The die is cast,” meaning, of course, “The decision is made” — apparently indicating that this one proverb either made the jump into English or that it’s common enough to exist in multiple languages.
- “To find the dog in the pot,” meaning “to arrive too late to prevent trouble.”
- “To shit on the world,” meaning “to despise everything.”
- “They both shit through the same hole,” meaning “They are in agreement.”
- “To shave the fool without lather,” meaning “to trick somebody.”
- “To be as patient as a lamb,” meaning “to be very patient” — for no apparent reason, I might add, as I’ve spent considerable time around lambs and know that there’s very little about them that would suggest they have more patients than any other dumb, four-legged animal.
- And “to be a pillar-biter,” which, despite what it sounds like, means “to be a religious hypocrite.”