Three more illustrations from Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi … Historia (see previous entry), these describing “man’s sciences as they relate to self-knowledge” (p88).

The Microcosmic Arts

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 art of memory

“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

“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).

4 Responses to “The Microcosmic Arts According to Fludd”

  1. Mirco Says:

    Greg-

    indeed the Yeats page contained one of Fludd’s double pyramids: a topic for further investigations.

    As witnessed by one of your pictures above, Dr. Fludd was one of the last experts of a now forlorn art:

    The Art of Memory

    I believe (though I am not sure), that he got it via Friar Giordano Bruno, a true Master of the art.There is an excellent book by Madame Frances Yates on the Art of Memory, which I highly recommend. I do not know where to find memotechnic drawings & emblems, but you may be able to get them somewhere: look for Memory Palaces.

    Best

    Mirco

    PS Time to rediscover this noble art. Aside being immensely useful on a practical level, it is also a sort of internal workout for the mind.

  2. Mirco Says:

    Oops: it is Mnemotechnics, not memotechnics.

    Anyway, the wiki has something here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_of_loci

  3. Greg Pass Says:

    Mirco—

    Have you read John Crowley’s Aegypt fiction (the last of the quartet comes out next month)? Bruno is a central character. (The book also involves modern esoterica in Appalachia—another topic I know piques your curiosity.)

  4. Mirco Says:

    No, I have not. Thanks for the tip.
    Bruno + Esoteric Appallachia sounds REALLY appealing:
    gotta check it out.

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