Would you like to download pdfs of my interviews? (available in both English and Spanish) - Sign up to access interview pdf transcripts.
There is an article with a video clip of TVE (TeleVisionEspañola) on a tour of erotic romanesque by César del Valle, Aug. 3, 2015, here
Below, My Video Interview with César del Valle, May 2016 - with English transcript
There is much more than sex.
click on any question or statement to expand the answer / discussion.
César del Valle: It seems to me recurrent to think that it is one, say, linking to day to day life, to everyday life.
César del Valle: Yes, more than sin, or ... for me it is true that sex is part of society, it is part of the day to day, it is not something so ... it is extremely, as Jaime said, so highly private or so they are not scandalized so much so that what is done here, for me, is a reflection of everyday life, day to day.
There is much more than sex. It is that there are more than fifty erotic canecillos, it would be 25% but there are also other types of manifestations, other types of decorations, I insist musicians, it seems that characters carried by their vices, such as gluttony. For me it is a reflection of everyday life, of all that in principle I would say that dominated, that can be redeemed by entering the church door or doing a little of what the church tells you, what the priests say to you, a control mechanism. It is the daily life, it is the life that has arrived to us from the original sin, Adam and Eve, but let's say if you want to get to heaven, if you want to be liberated, you will have to enter here, you will have to do a little what I tell you , and in the end a little of the ideal that is given to transmit people of towns is a simple idea, the idea of good and evil. Be good, pay taxes, and with a little luck you will go to heaven. I believe that for me all this is a reflection of everyday life, but it is true that this theory also fails, because as we can see, erotic motifs also appear inside, such as at Villanueva de la Nía or Santillana del Mar.
But I think that all that has to be looked at almost case by case, because that will be there and that can justify it. But to speak here only of the erotic Romanesque is to leave out a lot of decoration that completes the building, which surrounds the building and that for me has a ... it has to be a joint explanation, it has to be an explanation that let's say is global. I do not understand the individualized erotic Romanesque without forming part of a whole that makes sense with these characters from the vats, or these bakers of harps, or the thorn pricked person or even the scenes linked more to the religion since they are already in a more important location than that of the door. Although at the door the canecillos we can see again the same theme, sins, sex in all its variants both with the animals, the characters masturbating, that is, the entire catalog of activities. I insist, for me it is linked more to daily life, more of the day to day so that maybe it has a certain connection with the sins and that from my point of view will be those people who have to be redeemed when entering the church and following the norms, and what they tell you from inside the building.
But that can be a general idea, I also insist ... we can not think about it without knowing what the context is and it is in the context that it is a monastery of some relevance, it is a monastery linked to the county family, the counts of Castile, it is a site with a lot of relevance, with a lot of importance. Therefore it is not a strange building, it is not a rural building, it is a building with some importance and therefore the person who designs it, who does so for the reasons of this church, I do not believe that it is simply a stone mason but here it has to be a decorative importance or an iconographic importance, an importance of a rather large definite plan that possibly is realized by a canon, by a religious official, whatever. I think it's a whole, you have to explain everything together. Now, if your interest is to look at them one by one and then, let’s see what program it could refer to. I insist it would also be interesting to see the problems that existed in that time period or the concerns that the church has at that time or the society, we can not understand this without understanding or without trying to put ourselves into that which surprised, that called attention to, that was ... it has a reflection of property, it is the culture of the buildings to convey messages. The idea that they could do it.
Well, let's say that there is obviously no certainty, there are many hypotheses but there are many problems that at that moment can be important and well, who knows, maybe is reflected in the decoration of the churches. This church more or less we know that it is constructed or we believe that it is built, it was raised in the first ... in the middle of the first half of the twelfth century, around the second, the third decade of the twelfth century. One of the great problems that is being debated in the church at that time is the problem of Nicolaism, the problem of Nicolaism is the problem that really both the clergy and even the priests had a more or less assumed custom that they have lovers, that they have children out of wedlock or even have wives. Let's say it's like ... was more or less assumed, that it was a big problem. Nicolas II, one of the popes, what he wants after a few attempts is to root out this problem and promulgate a decree that what he does is under communion, let us say, pains, to try to end this problem that the priests, or the clerics who have wives repudiate it, so that we say that they are chaste.
If this problem is above the table ... obviously it is impossible to associate what we see in the decoration of the churches, put the image of the cause ... but well let's say that here is an event that is without a doubt, there are about forty or fifty reasons linked with eroticism, shameless attitudes, acts of sex with a much higher number than any of the surrounding churches. Being a ... here it seems that it still happens more. Why is it impinged, why are we burdened so much with this idea, with these scenes ... because it is almost double or triple the impressions that we can see in other churches, because we do not know, it is impossible to know, it is complex. But let's say that it is not too much to look for, to see what the problems are in the church right now in case they can hypothetically give us a solution or give us a line of interpretation. And I insist, here we are not in a rural church, we are not in a church in a small town, we are in a monastery, so the fact that so many scenes related to eroticism but also other sins must be explained . An explanation that has to be more than in our mind, in the problems of that time or an explanation that ... for me would have been one of the reasons for Nicolaism. For example, there is no certainty, it is simply a hypothesis, but we go to reality, unverified and much less than one of the great problems of the clergy at this time is regulate having lovers and having children. That is ... perhaps as a valid hypothesis it may also be due to an attempt for the monks themselves to see these ... and that they can tolerate and at least can say that we will set an example and put it to give ... but well, let's say that one of the lines of work has to be to see what happens in society, in the villages, in the church and if from all this documentation and these problems one can or can not help to discern what the function is or what motivation causes it to put all these scenes together.