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Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Gallery: Lucretia

by Picasso

Lucretia, like Judith, was among the women most frequently portrayed during the Renaissance. According to the legend, the matron had been raped by the last of the seven kings of the most ancient Rome, Tarquin; the event led to revolts and the birth of the Roman Republic (that would last up to the era of Julius Caesar). It also led the Lucretia's suicide out of shame. Giambattista Marino dedicates to her a set of poems, with a progression from a very traditional praise to a complete subversion of tradition, as in the text below. Actually, already Saint Augustine had demythologized Lucretia's supposed chastity on the same psychological, even Freudian basis as Marino does here, as well as in his long poem Adone. At the same time, an attitude of male chauvinism cannot be denied.

Wrongly, woman, did the old time
give you the title of chaste:
Even if you stabbed that breast
that dirtily underwent obscene love,
you had not avoided, though,
enjoying its illegitimate delight.
If you meant to be praised, you had
to kill yourself before, not afterward.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Gallery: Judith

Armida, by Nivalis70

The Biblical heroine Judith was among the most successful subject matters in Renaissance art. For a set of reasons. For a starter, she was a sexy woman and a warrior, like in the poems of chivalry (Brandiamante, Bradamante, Marfisa, Clorinda, Armida, etc.). She was also a symbol of the liberation of the Holy Land from powerful "foreign invaders," who were the Assyrians in the Bible, and the Muslims in the Renaissance. Here G. B. Marino, against the sacred text but in line with his own Weltanschauung, seems to imply that Judith had actually sex with Holophernes before killing him. Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, the irreverent Roman poet of the 19th century, would uphold the same thesis.

"I clasp, of him who tried to clasp me,
the cut-off skull by its sordid hair.     see Perseus
Full of wine, of sleep, and lust,
in his last sigh he spilled his soul,
washing with blood the obscene bed
that was stained with love ignoble.
I proved then able to free from double siege
my homeland, oppressed, and chastity."

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The discovery of nonexistent places

The book deals with all sorts of legendary places, especially islands, that appeared on official maps in some epochs, or even whole centuries. The chronological range covers the last two millenniums and a half, but many of those geographic phantoms obviously dated to the 15th-17th centuries. A lot of precious pictures of old maps are accompanied by a well documented, and Britishly humorous, text. Beside classics like Atlantis and Eldorado, many other lesser-known places are presented, whose bizarre story tells much about actual history.

Italian version: L'Atlante immaginario, Milan: Mondadori, 2018, pages 256, euros 28.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Gallery: the "bravo"

Italians are familiar with bravi, "bravos," thanks to Alessandro Manzoni's novel I Promessi Sposi, set in the Italy of the early 17th century, when most of its areas were ruled by the Spaniards. Nominally the bodyguards and private police of the Lords, the bravos were in fact 'authorized bandits.' Here they are described by G. B. Marino who, unlike the 19th century writer, could witness their presence in the flesh. Bravo meant "bold," not "good" as in current Italian.

"I butchered and dismembered — so bold was I —     see Dante, Inf. 6.18
cut veins, and flesh, and nerves, and bellies away,
until I was finally killed by the French disease.     syphilis
So who, between the two of us, the boldest?"     both cowards

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Gallery: The alchemist

by Magritte

In the late Renaissance, alchemy and astrology, after having been banned from official/Church culture, were more often made fun of than solemnly condemned. The concept in this poem is the same as in a 1558 print by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The fact that those two 'sciences' had been banned does not mean, of course, that they disappeared, not even from inside the Church. Very fond of alchemy was, for example, Grand Duke Francis I De' Medici (1541-1587); see his Studiolo, his "small study" in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

"I am that very alchemist, that rogue
poorly clad for believing to nonsense.     in the text, "naked"
Being unable to change fire into sun,     *
the sun I use as fire to warm myself."

* They believed that the transformation of metals (especially mercury into gold) was a long-time effect of the sun. Alchemy tried to accelerate the process.

Friday, November 2, 2018

For/against Luther and Paul

by ilTM + Selkis
(from The Pilgrim's Progress)

It has been stressed by scholars that the most important effect of Martin Luther's Reformation on Bible study has been the rediscovery of St. Paul, who in the Middle Ages had been reduced to a repertoire of quotations on scattered topics: Now he regained his status as a whole, and controversial, pattern of Christianity. A quick outlook on some authors of 16th century and later shows the complex dynamics of their choice for or against the Apostle. Noticeably, in Michelangelo's Last Judgment Paul is way less noticeable than St. John the Baptist and St. Peter -- in spite of the unconvincing hypotheses that portray Michelangelo as a half-Protestant. Much before Renan and Nietzsche, Giordano Bruno in Lo spaccio de la bestia trionfante identified Paul and his Lutheran followers with the "Beast" to be replaced with a neo-pagan doctrine. William Blake listed Paul among the "Churches," that is, the set of historical phases in the dogmatic 'hardening' of Christianity, along with Constantine, Charlemagne, and Luther himself.

Blake depended on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, whose position is even more interesting. In his 12-volume Arcana Coelestia, in fact, the Swedish thinker and seer often draws on the Apostle's Letters for both general ideas and specific quotations, sometimes literally. But, he never mentions Paul; in his opinion (as later in Blake's), only the four Gospels and the Book of Revelation make up the New Testament. In spite of this, Paul surely plays a major role in Swedenborg's theology, at very least because his Letters influenced Luther, who in his turn shaped the religious environment in Sweden. The father of Reformation, too, underwent a mixed fate in Swedenborg's works, insofar as he was fiercely attacked because of his doctrine of sola fide while at the same time, and paradoxically, his sola gratia remains at the core of Swedenborg's system.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Gallery: Marino's Portrait by Caravaggio

A little masterpiece on the Baroque love for paradoxes and splittings.

I saw, Michael, the noble canvas where,
accurately expressed by your hand,
I saw another me, or me indeed,
like a new Janus divided in two.
I, who 'cause of love live in another,     the woman (?) he loved
hope (through you) it may be allowed
me, unliving, to live in it once more;
and dead, to become immortal thereby.
I so admire that such novel marvels
you can shape, O Angel — or rather, God:
to animate shadows, to make me "us."
If my own style cannot praise you enough,
with two pens and two tongues we will
write and sing your merits — he, and me.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Gallery: On Caravaggio's Death

This praise of the power of Caravaggio's art is definitely appropriate. Just, Marino will tend to find the same features in basically all the painters he will be portraying in his "Gallery," even minor ones.

A cruel conspiracy was made,
Michael, against you by Death and Nature:
the latter fearing defeat
by your hand in every picture
that you did create, not paint,
the former burning with scorn
because with great advantage
as many people his scythe destroyed,
so many your brush made alive again.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Being a Protestant in Southern Italy

The often neglected existence of "heretics" in Southern Italy from the Middle Ages to the 17th century is now highlighted in this collection of essays on "Religious Nonconformism." Small communities of Waldensians, Cathars, or a mix of both, as well as Calvinists, or Waldensians officially joining the Reformation since 1532, lived in country villages in Southern Italy (the then Kingdom of Naples). Well integrated into the local economy by helping poor, underpopulated areas, they were left undisturbed by the Catholic majority, priests included. They might even have their own secret chapels. Until the Inquisition started to feel interested in them. . .

One of the essays, besides, retrieves a document discovery of the 1980s according to which the true reason of Galileo's condemnation in 1633 was not his heliocentric model but his atomism, that would have made the Eucharist impossible. Therefore, the cosmic issue would have been used as a 'shield' to save him from worse consequences. Debatable, but perfectly possible in the light of 17th century culture and methods.

The book, obviously in Italian, can be requested directly from the publisher here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The true life - and death - of a witch

In this 1986 book on "The Witch and the Captain," the writer and investigative reporter Leonardo Sciascia retraces some events of 1616-17 which had been briefly described in Alessandro Manzoni's classic novel I Promessi Sposi. It is about the true story of Caterina Medici, a domestic maid who worked for an important family in Milan, the Melzis. She was reported for having allegedly caused the landlord's illness through her magic powers, therefore subjected to questioning, tortured, and publicly, solemnly killed as a "warning." That she was a witch, it was believed by both the family, and the physicians (the famous Lodovico Settala included), and herself. Actually a story of poverty, marginalization, prostitution.

Sciascia examines the original documents with great care and intelligence, not without some bitter humour, and references to our contemporary society. Just, as a rigid follower of 18th century Enlightenment, he identifies magic exclusively with superstition and social neglect; not one word is said about magia naturalis being a key concept, in those very years, for breakthrough philosophers like Tommaso Campanella and Giordano Bruno. Quite remarkably, not even Manzoni -- in the early 19th century -- had mentioned them.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The word of a corsair

Off the coasts of Maracaibo, year 1696.
"Impossible!" the Black Corsair told the Flemish lady. "You have never been in Piedmont."

__Emilio Salgari, Il Corsaro Nero (1899).

Piedmont in NW Italy is meant, i.e. the then Duchy of Savoy. The sea anti-hero was the writer's alter ego. In his novels Salgari mostly sided with the natives, both in Malaysia (the Sandokan saga) and America, against the white colonizers. He would commit suicide, for the same reasons as Robert E. Howard, in 1911.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Gallery: Luigi Tansillo

Luigi Tansillo (1510-1568) was one of Giordano Bruno's favorite authors; he even plays a role as one of the protagonists in the dialogs in the Eroici furori. Tansillo's long poem Il vendemmiatore (The Grape Harvester) was on the Index of the Inquisition because of its "obscenity." To make amends, he wrote Le lagrime di San Pietro, "Saint Peter's Tears," namely after denying Jesus. That was a Baroque beloved subject, see e.g. El Greco's paintings.

"If Bacchus' merry songs were first
displayed by my Grape Harvester,
now, through me, a sad soul's tears
the Vicar of Christ unfolds in rime.     Saint Peter
. . .
Ungrateful to God, more than the old man crying,
I kept the hearts' keys while heaven's did he;
Christ, denied by him, was stabbed by me."

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Gallery: Torquato Tasso

Tasso after
the asylum years

G. B. Marino apparently bought the official version about Torquato Tasso having gone crazy (in the years 1579-86), though some details in the poem below seem to point to the actual reason, i.e. a 'Stalinist' form of political punishment decided by Duke Alfonso II D'Este. Be it as it may, Marino reworks the subject with his usual virtuosity and layers of meaning. Marino himself experienced the wrath of a political leader, Duke Carlo Emanuele I of Savoy, when he was unexpectedly jailed for more than a year in Turin without a clear explanation.

"Born by Sebeto, along the Po I planted     Sebéto River; then Ferrara
the first laurels of my evergreen crown.
Of Fortune and a Prince I experienced
(jailed) the wrath, (wandering) the maze.
. . .
A hard fate! To imitate with my song
Ariosto's genius, I wound up being
the imitator of Roland the Raving."     Orlando Furioso

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Gallery: Dante

Giambattista Marino spells the poet's second name "Aligieri," that allows him to make two puns, by echoing the Latin word aliger, i.e. "winged," and by building a phrase with ali. . . leggièr, "light(ly) on wings." The Baroque Era, see also Torquato Tasso, was probably the only epoch in which Dante was admired because of his Paradiso as much as because of the Inferno, or even more. At the same time, while nowadays in Italy Dante is often called il Sommo Poeta, "the Supreme Poet," in the early 17th century that title belonged to Marino himself. And, Marino agreed :-) So do I ;-)

"I covered three worlds, and lightly on wings
I did soar, in so far as I am the Aliger.
From the deep infernal shadows
I drew light eternal to my name,
borrowing song and style from immortal
heavenly spirits who circle the Lord.
Through darkness, then brightness,
Virgil led my mind; my heart, Beatrix."

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Off Topic: Pulcinella all'inferno

[Once in a while, the post is in Italian since it deals with an all-Italian topic.]

L'altro Inferno di Ulisse Loni, pubblicato nel 1995 e pescato fresco su una bancarella in piazza Dante a Napoli, riscrive da cima a fondo la prima cantica della Divina Commedia. Tutte in una volta, vengono compiute tre operazioni. 1. Una riscrittura in napoletano dei versi dell'Inferno dantesco. Traduzioni deliziose. Ad esempio 2,1-6: 'O juorno se ne jeva e 'o scuratorio / ritirà faceva ogni esser vivente / d'â fatica e, 'mmiez'a chisto murtorio, / io m'appriparavo, n'alleramente, / a chisto viaggio sì luongo e pietuso / ca ve cuntarrà 'a storia 'e tanta gente.

2. Modifiche del testo, a volte solo alcune parole, che però fanno completamente cambiare senso alla frase. Con risultanti brillanti, spiazzanti. Per esempio 7,1: Posa 'e patan, posa 'è patane 'e Peppe!

3. Intere sostituzioni di brani con episodi nuovi, aggiornati. Molti personaggi scompaiono, rimpiazzati da "equivalenti" della cronaca dell'epoca, sia i grandi eventi nazionali sia la vita quotidiana nei quartieri bassi di Napoli. Come nella migliore tradizione partenopea, quello che apparentemente poteva sembrare uno scherzo rivela invece uno scavo nelle dimensioni tragiche dell'esistenza, dal disagio al dramma sociale, in primis la camorra. Così, Caronte viene sostituito da Achille Lauro, Ciacco da Bettino Craxi, Farinata degli Uberti da Pulcinella, Taide da Marina Ripa di Meana, e Guido da Montefeltro diventa il manager di Maradona. Ci sono anche Pippo Baudo, Renato Zero, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Marcel Lefebvre, il killer Pietro Maso... Forse il capolavoro, mesto e amaro, è il dialogo del poeta con Alighiero Noschese, la cui anima si trova prigioniera dentro la pianta che fu di Pier della Vigna.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Gallery: Ovid

by Salvador Dali

Ovid was among the absolutely favorite poets of G. B. Marino, if not the top one in the list. The Baroque poet even worked on (or, promised he would work on) a monumental remake of the Metamorphoses, of which however not one line appeared. It is anyway likely that the stored materials were redirected to the long poem Adone. Not surprisingly, nearly all metamorphoses recounted by Marino had to do with love and/or sex, and often explicitly homosexual.

". . .
I had sung how more than one image
was seen changing into a different shape;
but did not sing how Nature sometimes
turns one man from Emperor to dragon.     Augustus
. . .
I burn. And the remedy, certain and strong,     Remedia amoris
that I gave those who burned hard with love,
for my betrayed and desperate loves
I now cannot find, none except death."

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Gallery: Lucretius

In this poem of uncertain dating -- the Galeria collects verse written during some twenty years -- quite remarkably, Marino somehow belittles Lucretius. But his De Rerum Natura will play a major role in Marino's long poem Adone. The penultimate line both echoes and reinterprets Dante, Inferno 10.100-104, from the canto of heretics, who were basically all Epicureans (Inferno 10.14-15) like Lucretius, in fact.

"The effects of Nature
and the sky's secrets I knew and sang,
so my obscure pen I made
immortal with the name's light.
But, as for future life,
incredulous philosopher, I denied.
All did I understand and spy on —
just, seeing from afar much better than close by,
I comprehended everything but myself."

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Heaven _can_ be more interesting than Hell

Why on earth should Hell be more interesting than Heaven? The St. Brizio Chapel [in Orvieto, Italy, with frescoes by Luca Signorelli], the Divine Comedy. . .  Devils seem to be more attractive than angels. Well, not always. Some authors succeeded in envisioning angels, saints, heavens, Virgin Maries and Christs innovative and intriguing -- more than their demons. Starting from Italian poetry of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, up to Anglo-Saxon science fiction.

During the lecture, references will be made to Ludovico Ariosto, Torquato Tasso, Giambattista Marino, John Milton. Then Emanuel Swedenborg and Philip K. Dick.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Swedenborg's Sistine Chapel

The editorial arrangement of Emanuel Swedenborg's monumental Arcana Coelestia (some 8,000 pages) in the beautiful, excellently translated edition of the Swedenborg Foundation in the USA causes the first volume to include his comments on the Biblical text from the seven days of creation to Noah's drunkenness. That's precisely the set of episodes painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!

And precisely like Michelangelo, Swedenborg makes us see those all-too-famous pages from a completely different viewpoint, partly drawing on tradition, but much more, giving rise to something new, unexpected, modern, and brilliant. For example, as early as the mid-18th century, he already states that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are pure fiction, and do not deal with a guy called Adam who ate an apple, or a flood that devastated the whole Earth. By another savory chance, Swedenborg's cultural revolution happens in England at the same time as Giambattista Vico's in Italy; and both, mutatis mutandis, envision the most ancient human generations as seers who spoke by symbols.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Gallery: Galileo Galilei

by Selkis

Giambattista Marino and Galileo Galilei were friends. As soon as the poet came back to Italy from France, in 1623, he was given an early copy of Il Saggiatore by the author himself.

Argus' fearless pilot dared already
break the sea with bold pine wood,     the ship's material
and satiated with gold his greed     like the Conquistadores
leading him to violate the waves.
The warrior from Liguria went beyond     Columbus (N.B. warrior)
the borders of Hercules the strong,
and by strange, secret ways did find
a new sky, new land, new empire.
But you, you greater than both,
spied on the remote, inaccessible
fields of the universe of stars;
and entering such recesses unknown,
in its deep bosom, could discover
new orbs, new lights, new motions. *

* Simply meaning new satellites, etc., or a different (heliocentric) pattern to cosmic motions?

Friday, September 28, 2018

That's where I saw it!

Above: my old parish church of Saint Peter, a former Benedictine abbey in my home town Savigliano, Italy. While the final look of the façade dates back to the 19th century, the doors belong to the Renaissance/Baroque epoch. But a more interesting thing is that the general structure clearly draws on Michelangelo's project for the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Florence, a façade that for many reasons was never executed (in the photo below, Michelangelo's 3D wood rendering).

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sistina "secrets"

The general structure of Picasso's Guernica and its main elements (the bull looking at us, the desperate horse, the fire/light, the victims on the ground, the geometries) seem to originate from Michelangelo's Sacrifice of Noah in the Sistine Chapel. Not necessarily did Picasso do it on purpose; it is well known that his memory registered everything like a camera when he admired somebody else's art, and as he used to say, "If it is worth stealing, I steal."

At the same time, there is a hidden -- albeit gigantic -- woman among the Ignudi on the Sistine Ceiling. Her breasts are small, as they often were in Renaissance art, so, in the picture above, her body has been partially 'rebuilt' with Eve's from the Original Sin, in order to make her womanliness clearer.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Gallery: Bernardino Telesio

by Selkis

Praising Bernardino Telesio was just a step before praising Tommaso Campanella -- and two steps before praising Giordano Bruno. Giambattista Marino, who had dedicated a quite trivial poem to Aristotle, now shows the other, more interesting side of Renaissance science and philosophy, as well as of his own personality.

Against the unconquered leader
of the Peripatetic standard
you dared arm your mind, you
honor and light of Cosenza's people.
And even though against his army
you didn't gain the victory palm,
be content with what you did:
For the true glory and victory
of sublime, honorable enterprises
lies in having attempted them.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Gallery: Heraclitus & Democritus

In the section "Philosophers" in his Galeria, Marino praises in a quite standard, un-original way Plato and Aristotle. Much more sincere is the poem on Heraclitus and Democritus. A quite long one; here are the first lines.

Raise your eyes to your eternal home,
bent-over souls, submerged in this abyss
called World, which is rather Hell.
Oh deadly blindness, twisted minds!
If you don't look at the sky light,
wrongly did the Sun open your eyes.
Ha, as a prisoner inside a net,
many deaths in one life uniting,
can ever-troubled Man find peace?
Wretched, he from the cradle
(shaken by the nurse's foot)
is shaken by Fortune too.
. . .

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Gallery: Actaeon

by Selkis

The myth of Actaeon proved unexpectedly successful during the post-classical, i.e. Christian era, too. He was reinterpreted as a symbol of Christ -- as all sorts of characters were, indeed, Hercules and Adonis included. Giordano Bruno worked out a very personal, fascinating philosophy about Actaeon's meaning in his book De gli eroici furori ("The Heroic Frenzies"). Here below is G. B. Marino's interpretation, who comments on a painting by Bartolomeo Schedoni (but Marino spelled his name Bartholomeo Schidoni). The dogs as a symbol of devouring sins will also appear in John Milton's Paradise Lost.

How many, oh how many Actaeons
more miserable than the one
expressed by your brush
can be discovered, Schidoni?
The hungry passions,
the biting instincts
of our human senses, what
else are they, than dogs
we ourselves feed, to
be then wounded by them?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The evolution toward evolutionism

But, I cannot see for sure if there is any sense whose functioning Nature has provided with more 'machines' and more wonderful tools than the mouth . . .  Not to speak of the brain, from which many nerves originate in order to move, and turn, and rotate the tongue nimbly in every direction . . .
It is a passage from Giambattista Marino's Dicerie sacre (1614), oration 2, part 2. Even if he himself mentions Galen (first/second century AD) as his source in the footnotes, as a matter of fact it was simply usual in the Renaissance that they resorted to ancient books to justify their own worldview. A Medieval scholar might read Galen too, but would not have drawn the same consequences. In the 16th and 17th centuries the concept of Nature -- i.e. Nature itself, in a way -- was starting to change, to the extent that the first signs of evolutionism appeared. Here Marino highlights the tongue's role because he is dealing with music, but other authors, such as Giordano Bruno and Tommaso Campanella, indicate the hand/intelligence combination as the reason of man's dominant position on Earth. Marino and many of his contemporaries were fascinated by the "intermediate" forms of life, e.g. those existing on the sea shores, as well as genetic malformations. The study of actual wildlife behavior started to replace the allegories of Medieval Bestiaries. Bruno's doctrines of metempsychosis and the cosmic cycles, albeit of Neoplatonic origin, already suggested a process of animal and environmental evolution.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Clash of Heretics: Marino replies to Bruno

There are passages in Giambattista Marino's works that, more or less clearly, react to Giordano Bruno's ideas. The philosopher was burned at the stake in Rome in the year 1600; the poet's texts date back to his stay in Turin, 1608-14. In 1623, Marino too would be condemned by the Inquisition, though in a much milder way than Bruno.

For a starter, in the Dicerie sacre ("Sacred Orations," more precisely in oration 1, part 1) Marino has God himself say, to glorify his begotten Word as superior to the whole creation, repudiating Genesis 1.31 by doing so: "In all other [pictures of Myself] I was not well pleased, since indeed my infinite power could have created infinite worlds . . ."  Could, and did not; but could, and possibly would like to. There emerges the Renaissance and Baroque approach versus the classical authors and the Middle Ages, when perfection meant delimitation.

Above in the same text, he had faced up to Pythagoras' doctrine of metempsychosis/reincarnation, that was one of the pillars of Bruno's worldview. Marino does not attack this doctrine as such, just suggests a more 'acceptable' way to refer to it: "I am not speaking of the external [metempsychosis], that, as is well known, is false, legendary, and impossible . . .  but of the inner one. That occurs each time our soul, overpowered by vices, loses the use of the intellect; and made a slave of irrational drives, in a sense, it de-humanizes itself, and takes on an animal quality according to its different evil inclinations . . ."  Marino meanwhile planned to write a remake of Ovid's Metamorphoses, of which many episodes have survived in his long poem Adone.

But, probably the most interesting reply to Bruno can be found in the 1,400-line long poem Il Ritratto, the "Portrait of Duke Charles Emmanuel [Carlo Emanuello] of Savoy." In the final section, it is prophesied that the Duke, after his hopefully late death, will not only go to heaven, but replace a constellation. This was precisely the literary frame of Bruno's Spaccio de la bestia trionfante. Marino sings: "Let then Hercules and Perseus give / their seats to your fine image. / And like a new Orion, new Cepheus, / a frightening star to your enemies, / laurel-worthier than his pupil [Achilles], / be welcomed by your Centaur in heaven!" (stanza 233). The Centaur, Chiron, is here identified with Sagittarius, the Duke's rising sign. Well, things worked the other way round in the Spaccio. Bruno in fact exalted Hercules and Perseus as permanent heroes while ridiculing Orion and Chiron as symbols of the decadence of religion. Just a chance?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Who painted the Holy Shroud? Jesus!

by Igor Mitoraj
You wanted to work, O Lord, in order not to remain idle — I dare say — even during that short time period [in the Sepulcher]. But what did you do, consistently with your Father's being at work [John 5.17]? God the Father portrays himself by begetting the Word; so did you, precisely alike, paint and leave your own portrait imprinted on this holy linen, with the only difference that the former image is all luminous and shining, while the latter is all gory and dark.

__G. B. Marino

from his Dicerie sacre, "Sacred Orations" published in Turin, Italy, in 1614; oration 1, part 1, end.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Dinner is served

Those — Yours Truly included  who regret that the Renaissance is over, can find reasons of comfort by admiring, in some world areas at least, the many remaining legacies that still exist. Not only, for example, 16th and 17th century works of art, and churches, and buildings. Much less so with some modern events that supposedly recreate Renaissance parades, pageants, games, etc. (they could do so, maybe, if they invested a hundred times as much money). The true bliss of the Renaissance lover consists in finding contemporary authors who still think and work as people did half a millennium ago.

And, one of the main examples was undoubtedly Salvador Dalí. His big-sized cooking book, manufactured in the early 1970s with the help of authoritative chefs, includes 136 original recipes; originally written in French, has recently been republished by Taschen in translation. It is a hymn to Who Cares about egalitarianism, envy, vegan crazes, and cholesterol. Is an unmethodical collection of Dali's paintings, both masterpieces and minor sketches, from the very early years to the present, while also showing gorgeous collages assembled for the occasion, all of this alternating with magnified details from Bosch's visions and quotes from Rabelais. Is a refined, delirious pâté of sacred imagery and profane drives, Renaissance splendor and Surrealist raspberries. The joy of life and the omen of death. Even joy while thinking of death. Because "the mandible is the best tool for philosophical knowledge we possess" (S. D.)