April 4th, 2007
Three more illustrations from Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi … Historia (see previous entry), these describing “man’s sciences as they relate to self-knowledge” (p88).
Man “is shown reaching from the Divine triangle down to the Ape, which represents his own efforts to imitate God’s work. His achievements towards self-understanding and self-discovery are prophecy, geomancy, the art of memory, the interpretation of natal horoscopes, physiognomy, palmistry, and the ‘science of pyramids’. The latter is Fludd’s own invention” (p89): these triangles are the microcosmic analog to the macrocosmic, which show “the interpenetration of material and spiritual qualities in the form of dark and light pyramids” (p43), the fundamental cosmic duality (again, see previous entry).
“The memory can be enormously enhanced by transmuting concepts into visual and spatial images: herein lies the secret of the Ars Memorativa of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance… Here the three ventricles are shown… but the things to be memorized are brought from the obscurity of the back of the head and exposed to the eye of imagination. The images are the Tower of Babel, Tobias and the Angel, an obelisk, a storm at sea and the Last Judgement” (p89).
“The gift of prophecy can come directly from God, or else indirectly, through the ministration of demons… Just as the Sun shines perpetually on all men, so God incessantly offers his pearls of wisdom, and those who receive them become prophets. But the evil demons can also give knowledge, inasmuch as they had it before their fall” (p90).