VIII 96 THE STERILE SYNAGOGUE
1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud
La synagogue sterile sans nul fruit
Sera receu entre les infideles
De Babylon la fille du porsuit
Misere & triste luy trenchera les aisles.
The sterile synagogue bringing forth no fruit
Will become a divider, like the entrance for the ‘vulgar profane’ at Babylon.
The young lady of the suitor is miserable and sad (as they become)
Consigned into wings.
A Parliament is a sterile system, a concept rather than a fecund ensemble:
We can say, “The girl and her ‘beau pursuivant’ who once were placed in hopeful opposition to each other have heavy hearts that cannot hope to meet together as one since the aisle of the redundant church has become their partisan divider,” meaning that the Mother of Parliaments cannot give birth to much except other parliaments. She is not as wildly fertile as the Court of a ruling Monarch.
The first parliament of commoners was convened inside a church. At first the opposite viewpoints (like male and female, yin and yang) were sat opposite or not as they felt best and if they longed to meet together they could do so. Gradually the system of left-wing and right-wing separation solidified, simply because the central aisle of the inherited layout had coincidentally created the possibilty of there being two separate wings arguing across a divide.
Nostredame here is looking forward and disliking what he sees. He calls all parliaments ‘sterile synagogues’, a synagogue being the Jewish place of fruitful and faithful conflict and its most desired conclusion, a union of hearts and minds. By contrast, this stoney political temple – though in theory no longer reserved for insiders like the rich courts of the old palaces and the monastery masters – is rather emphatically masculinated, clubbishly rulebound and territorialized. Moreover, the aisle has come to represent the compartmentalization of opposing forces that, from his point of view, could experience no happy outcomes if the party division is not freely breached.
Nostredame seems to have misunderstood – or seen straight through – the modern concept of parliamentary democracy as first developed in England at the City of Westminster,London, after his own monarchic century had concluded.
Nigel Raymond Offord © 2012