Friday, February 23, 2018

Turin-Paris: At a safety distance

Satan crosses Chaos (from G. Dore's illustrations
for Paradise Lost; turned upside down)

G. B. Marino's description of the origin of the universe, while drawing on Genesis, reworks the sober Biblical lines into a Baroque explosion of effects; a literary process that will reach its acme some decades later with John Milton's Paradise Lost. Less obviously than in Milton, but interestingly enough, the dividing line between "creation out of nothing" (Bible) and "out of a pre-existing chaos" (Greek philosophy) is not clear-cut here. "Heaven" also means the farthest limit of the visible universe. As for heaven being set "far" from Earth in order to prevent an armed attack, it is a joke, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, it mirrors the perception of society and history in 17th century Europe; and since the New World had often been depicted as Paradise, a reference to the doom of native American peoples is also implied. In fact, Columbus' discovery and its consequences are mentioned in #18. More indirectly, it can be read as a prophecy of science fiction. // The paragraph numbers have been added by our contemporary editors.

Dicerie sacre, III. Il cielo, from #12, and 16-17

[. . .] The first work then—to say the truth—that received a shape in the mess of that shapeless pile, in which the disorder of the abysses lay in disarray; the first offspring that was distinguished out of the mass of that rough embryo that enclosed the seeds of the elements in itself; the first body that came out of the dark womb of that unhappy inhabitant called Nothingness was surely heaven.

[. . .] And sure enough, if that delightful Paradise that is called "earthly," planted only for Man's amusement, was set so high that, as is believed, the overflow of the universal Flood could not sink it, why should not the place that is God's royal palace, home to the angels, and the location of true happiness, be uplifted to a region separated from all tumultuousness of earthly business? Not to speak of the fact that the homeland of the blessed could have hardly defended itself from the violence and boldness of men if it had exposed itself to their greedy rapacity, instead of retreating up to the top of the universe, without even letting their eyes peep into it. . .