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The iconic, prodigiously-talented illustrator, old lefty and great inventive soul Rockwell Kent designed and drew this cover for Isobel Walker Soule's The Vigilantes Hide Behind the Flag, a slim but powerful little pamphlet published by the National Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners in 1937. Ms. Soule was a very present social worker and protagonist for the rights of workers–she and Kent would have shared this great passion–and published this work dealing with armed strike breakers (the "vigilantes") as small targets and Fascists and the like as the larger–those, as well as the groups established by "the economic royalists (who) have given marching orders to their hordes and hope to trap the middle class into the vigilante net they've spread".

{Soule could really spike a paragraph: here's an example of her addressing former Ashevillean William Dudley Pelley, founder of the lost-soul hate group the Silver Shirts:

"…He was a YMCA representative with the AEF to Siberia in 1917. Returning to America he wrote for pulp magazines. he became a spiritualist. He had an inspiration and wrote a story in which he claimed to have died,and spent seven minutes in eternity. On the basis of his fan mail he founded a magazine in North Carolina with his clair-audient voices from the ether as assistant editors. Out of the magazine he founded the Silver Shirts".)

Soule fills up a stubby thirty pages like few others, addressing the very-present issues of thug-backed union-busting and the powerful growth of fascists at home and abroad.


JF Ptak Science Books Post 1964

The "encyclopedia" is not just an encyclopedia, but The Encyclopedia, the great and costly work of Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717-1783). It was published as Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (English: "Encyclopaedia or a Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Crafts") between 1751 and 1772, and was mudded in controversy for just about the entire time. Diderot was a great product of the Enlightenment, and managed to write on matters that could offend politicians and theologians to such a point hat the publication and even the writing of the work was suspended from time to time, and the author/editor saw a need to flee the country for a time. It was seen as a seditious book, and Diderot paid the price for it–it was however, a successful enterprise, and a crowning achievement in the gathering of good information of the 18th century, and is today–in its 28 volumes, 71,818 articles and 3,129 illustrations–an indispensable resource to the times.

Diderot frontispiece detail 1

The image above is a detail from the frontispiece to the work. It was designed by C.N. Cochin fils (1764) and engraved by B.L. Prevost 1772). The full very highly flavored Baroque image is here:

Diderot frontispiece[The image is very deeply clickable]

In the end and in the beginning, the Encyclopedie was dedicated to Truth. And in the gauzy, veiled, billowing cloud architectural ionic temple of truth we find the subject Truth herself, front-and-center, surrounded by her admirers offering their trade and belief, while some–reason and Philosophy attempt to hold back her veils. She towers high above all, and there may be an order to the aspiring logics and arts as they are placed further down the pyramid of truth, though I'm not sure about that. On the bottom level, for example, we find Music, Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, areas which may be perceived as good foundations for everything else. High above that though we can see Theology (catching the best light in the image and holding an open Bible), and then Memory, Ancient and Modern History (already recording the events as they unfold in front of her, with "ancient" holding a Sphinx). In the middle of the group seems to be the best of them: the sciences, including Geometry, Astronomy and Physics, which are just above Optics (holding, Botany, Agriculture and Chemistry.

It isn't nearly the same, but the composition of the image and the organization of the encyclopedia (which is more-or-less divided into threads of associated articles rather than the standard encyclopedic work) have some vague similarities…

For all of their troubles, Diderot looks like a complacent sort in his portraits; d'Alembert (a polymath and prodigiously gifted mathematician) is usually seen with a very sweet smile. Interesting.

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1930

In the 16th and 17th centuries it was not terribly uncommon to decorate a title page of a scientific/philosophical work with the portraits of standard-bearers and significant people in the field. This is particularly true in the Baroque era, when so much more of the title page seems to be decorated. I should have kept closer memory of examples of these works, but for right now two will suffice–they are rather good. The first is the work of Pergaeus Apllonius (ca. 260-200 bce) in the Opera, per doctissimum philosopphm Iohannem Memum, printed in Venice in 1537, which contains the first appearance in print of Apollonius' Conics.

Ortraits scientisits apollonius882Around the title of the book we find the half-length portraits of Pliny, Cicero, Quintiliius, Plutarch, Lucan, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Plato, Aristides, Euripedes, Aristophanes, Pindar, Theocritus, Vergil, Horace, Livy, Sallustius/Sallust and Apollonius–a big cast with differing shadows.

A great example of a title page dedicated to astronomers is that for Jan Luyts' (1655-1721, an instructor in maths and physics at Utrecht), text Astronomica Institutio, in qua Doctrina Sphaericaa atque Theorica… printed in Utrecht in 1692. It features a "action shot" of five major figures in astronomy: (from left to right) Galileo (who is rarely seen actually holding a telescope and here is brandishing one like a club, holding the instrument very weirdly), a ham-handed Hevelius looking slyly over Galileo's shoulder (though it sort of looks like Kepler in a way, I'm pretty sure that Galileo is Galileo), with Brahe, Copernicus and Ptolemy each holding elegant demonstration devices for their own particular model of the solar system. I'm not sure who the central figure is–perhaps just a generic philosophe.

Ortraits scientisits luyts887

Here's the frontispiece to Galileo's which features Copernicus at right and the seated figure as Aristotle, which bears some fleeting resemblance to the figure above.

Galileo two world systems[Image source University of Sydney]

In this 1641 edition there are some slight alterations:

[Image source and full text here.]

Galileo's Dialogo (1632) was the open invitation to trouble that Galileo no doubt expected and then famously received, the work being a defense of the Copernican system which at the time of regressive church wisdom posed a direct threat to Catholic belief systems. In the frontis to this work we again see some old friends, finding Aristotle, Copernicus and Ptolemy beautifully (and with realistic old-man slumpiness) portrayed by Stefan della Bella.

Galileo dialogo SYdney
(The full title of the Dialogo: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems ( Dialogo
sopra i due massimi sistemi del
), in which the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems are described and
compared. Galileo almost worked within the Vatican’s matrix necessitating a balanced
presentation between the different systems, and evidently did so enough for the book to become a best seller, but
its ride on the list of the Vatican’s
banned (“Prohibited”) books lasted until 1835.

Details of the portraits in "continued reading" section below.

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

The initial reaction to this fantastic set of book cover designs by Aleksandr Rodochenko (found at the FlyerGoodness blog, here) was for inclusion in this blog's History of Lines series, given their high dependence on stark geometry and all. All of the designs are by Aleksander Rodchenko and are from the 1930's and 1940's.

Rodchenko (1891-1956) was among the pioneers of modern art, filled up enough with it that by 1921 he and a group of other Soviet Artists gathered for a show called 5×5=25, which effectively was an anti-art show, declaring in its works the end or death or withering of art. Rodchenko presented monochrome works1 deciding to abandon painting.

[Source: FlyerGoodness, here--many more on that site.]

He did not abandon other forms of art, however. (He was also a little late on the anti-art business, as the other Dead End Kid M. Duchamp came to it in 1914, and then famously producing his L.H.O.O.Q. in 1919 as well as his series of Readymades to make his point razor sharp. Duchamp was done with art and stayed done, making his anti-art into an expression, and then lived his life accordingly, filling it with not-art and chess.)

Rodchenko continued in art though in other venues, working in sculpture and design in the 1920's-1940's,and returning to abstract expressionism in the 1940's.

In the middle he was very prolific. Some of his popular work in book design included the following terrific examples:


"September-October: With Alexandra Exter, Lyubov Popova, Stepanova, and Aleksandr Vesnin, presents work in 5×5=25,
a two-part exhibition held at the Club of the All-Russian Union of
Poets (Klub vserossiskogo soiuza poetov). Each artist shows five works
in each part. The first part opens in September and features works
especially produced for the occasion; Rodchenko exhibits Line (Liniia,1920), Grid (Kletka, 1921), and the three monochrome paintings Pure Red Color (Chistyi krasnyi tsvet), Pure Yellow Color (Chistyi zheltyi tsvet), and Pure Blue Color
(Chistyi sinii tsvet, all 1921), which are often referred to as a
triptych…" from the Museum of Modern Art website presenting their 1998 Rodchenko Retrospective; this section being a useful chronology of Rodchenko's career.

More images following:

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Title pages burning metal774

The Probierbuchlein ( Probir Buechlin/auff Goldt/SIlber/Alle ertz und Metall. Mit vil kostbarlichen Alechimeijischen Kunsten…) printed in Augsberg by Christian Egenolph in the autumn of 1530, was the first German book to deal with the significance of alchemy and metallurgy. I think it usual to think of the work of Georgius Agricola (1495-1555) and his justifiably famous De Re Metallica, but the anonymous (?) Pribierbuchlein predates the work by at least 36 years. There's not much else of a comparison between the two works save for the earliness of the Probierbuchlein, as it was 48 folio leaves and somewhat restricted–but first is first, and it may have made the way easier for Agricola, whose own efforts paved the way for the systematic study of the Earth Agricola made fundamental contributions to mining geology and metallurgy, mineralogy, structural geology, and paleontology, and outlined them all beautifully in a book that was ten times the length of the Probierbuchlein, and also fabulously and sumptuously (and usefully) illustrated.

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1879 (Following an earlier post on the appearance of the first (?) suicide on a title page, here.)

Edical bed747

No doubt there are many examples of finding people in bed on title pages of books printed in the high Renaissance and Baroque–I found two pretty quickly. Of course it would make sense to look at medical titles, as in the case of many examples where the borderland images of decorated title pages surrounding the text describing the book were often filled with allegrocial tales, which means that at some point in the allegroy involving medicine that sooner or later someone is going to wind up in bed, overseen by their physician.

This is definitely the case with the following image (found at the National Library of Medicine, here):

The book is by Maritn Pansa (b. 1580), and the title to the Appendix consilii antipodagrici specialis darinnen X consilia specialissima (printed in 1615) shows lives that were led basically in pursuit of pleasures and vice and crime that would eventually lead to the big bad straight bed at the end of their perceived crooked road. The title page tells of lives lived in pursuit of hunting, and wine, and women and song, as well as the abuse of children–creature comforts and vices which would eventually lead the practionner to a sick-bed for their pursuit of foul ends. The baseline here is a warning for those living a High Life in perhaps-exalted states would more than likely pay for their lifestyles with sickness in the end.

Another good example is fond in Galen's Tertia Classis uarias morborum differnetias, obseruationes, tempora, successius, causasqe & signficatio nes amplectitur…, which was published in Venice in 1541 with a beautfiul woodcut title page illustrated by a follower of Titian. First and foremost, the capstone of the border images shows a sick patient being attended by doctors of classical greatness including Galen himself (at the extreme right of the first image, above).

Edical bed746

Galen (Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus (AD 129– c. 200)), was an ancient too, and taking this little trip through time he must've seen some surprising things, not the least of which would have included this bed. It should be noted that until the publication of the revolutionary work of Vesalius, Galen was the largely-unimpeachable source of medical knowledge for some 1300 years.

And of course there is another sort of bed in the Vesalius book's ( De humani corporis fabrica libri septum…) title page, though this is the most uncomfortable of all:

Medical--vesalius title page

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1877

Books suicide on a title page_edited-1For a number of years following the invention of the movable type press, title pages were very simple affairs, generally starting with a simple statement of the title (the incipit) and then right off to the beginning of the book, right there on the same page, with the information about who printed the book where and when saved for the final page of text, the colophon. Ornamentation came a little slowly (or perhaps slowly), with the first recognizable-to -modern-eyes title page appearing in the Calendarium of Regiomonatnus, printed in woodcut and metal-type in Venice in 1476, with the date unusually displayed in Arabic numerals. The issue of more appealing display in book presentation–the approachable title page, illustrations and covers–became a true issue after the printers in Augsburg in the 1470's revolutionized book production by introducing a more industrialized method of production.

The issue of illustration really didn't start to ramp up until after 1500 when the expensive and time-consuming standard of using woodblocks in the production of images was replaced by the copperplate engraving. And it was during this time, in the very early 16th century, that ornate and illustrated images began to appear on the title page itself.

One example of a curious approach to illustration belongs to Hans Holbein, who created a somewhat three-dimensional ornamental and cascading title page that also happened to contain an image of Cleopatra in a suicide-by-snake. The snake may have been an Egyptian asp, and perhaps not, if she committed suicide by this manner at all. Cleopatra finally was led to this end on 30 August 30 BCE after a long string of affairs and consorts with Rome and its Emperors, failing finally after the death of Marc Antony and the rejection by OCtavian (who later would become Augustus, perhaps the greatest of Roman Emperors). In any event, we see Cleopatra here committing the deed, with what may be some of Antony's Alexandria-based fleet in the background.

The design was copied many times, and used for a number of different title pages–the first time being in a work by Erasmus in 1523, and in the example below, later, in 1526. Offhand it is difficult for me to say if there are earlier suicides on thte title pages of books, but this would certainly be among the earliest, if not the earliest yet.

(Also appearing on either side of the columns in the middle of the page is Dionysius of Syracuse, an autocrat of the highest order, here shown plucking bits of treasure from the statues of gods. There were two rules named Dionysius, father and son, I and II; the elder may have been killed by the younger via physician-assisted poisoning; the younger (of Damocles and the sword fame among other things usually not so pretty) was equally tyrannical and also came to a bad end.)

Books suicide on a title page

JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 976

(On seeing the morning’s rising sun): “Looks like light to
me.” SpongeBob SquarePants

“All the fifty years of conscious brooding have brought me
no closer to answer the question, 'What are light quanta?' Of course today
every rascal thinks he knows the answer, but he is deluding himself.” A. Einstein

“Are not gross bodies and light convertible into one
another, and may not bodies receive much of their activity from the particles
of light which enter into their composition?” I. Newton, Opticks,
1704, Query 30.

Mar 12 #51

Depicting the capacity of sight and nature of light has been
both an easy and a knotty problem in the history of science. Over the
successive theories on the basis of light the artistic presentation of the
phenomenon has been generalized (generally) in a very simple way: by straight lines. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that,
the lines are just parenthetic place-holders suggesting direction, not actual
descriptors of what light “looks” like.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of images printed 1550-1850 to call upon to make this point, and I've selected but a few. The first belongs to Jesuit astronomer Christoph Scheiner and which appeared in his Oculusm hoc est: fundamentum opticum...,printed in Innsbruck in 1619. His work is an out-and-out landmark in the history of optics, physiological optics and ophthahlmometry, and provided a springboard for two generations following him, not the least of whom was Rene Descartes. The illustration above is the book's frontispiece, and features four camera obscuras demonstrating four principles of the eye, the middle ground of which is a beam of light

Rene Descartes depicted the interpretation (in his Principles of Philosophy of 1644) of light and its physiological reaction in the brain as follows:


the lines of sight depicting binocular vision, observed (and compressed) by the eye's "particles" and processed by the pineal gland which in turn manipulate the "fluids" in the control of nerves and muscles.

Another example of even greater fame than the iconic image by Descartes is that of the diagram showing the connection between color and its reflective index by Isaac Newton, appearing in his Opticae of 1706.

Mar 12 newton

Another fine example comes from Zacharias Traber's (1611-1679) beautifully illustrated classic of optics (and physiological optics) , Nervus Opticus sive Tractatus Theoricus..., published in Vienna in 1690. Traber is a great collector and synthesizer of the work done during and before his time, using the work of Descartes, Kepler, Schott, Kircher, Scheiner and Aguilon (for example), and then further implementing their ideas especially in the areas of color theory and light refraction. The image certainly reflects Jesuit Traber's religious training, depicting the holy source of light (originating with the almighty force) which directs it to the sun; the light then is left to the inquisitive and playful hands of cherubs who reflect and magnify it, as well as use it to start a fire (from the condensing lens) and observe it through a telescope. The main cherub empties a sack containing a number of different optical tools, no doubt for the playful brethern beneath.

Mar 12 trauber

And then of course there is the great, unstoppable, polymathic and sometimes incorrect Jesuit Athanasius Kircher. This image appears in his masterwork Ars Magna lucis et umbrae, printed in Amsterdam in 1671, which deals with light and shadow, optical illusions, color, refraction, projection and distortion, sundials, mirrors, as well as astronomical subjects. Most of these subjects are clearly seen in the engraved frontispiece to the work (below), the source of all of the "rays" of light coming from the godhead, relayed through a telescope, reflected from a mirror, and gathered in a camera obscura.

Mar 12 kirch

Other interesting images from the Kircher include this spotlight.

Mar 12 krirch detail long

Mar 12 krirch black detail

JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 946

Diggers, Manifestarians, Puritans, Muggletonians, Shakers, Quakers, Levellers, Seekers…terrific names all for religious or religioesque movements, most now
gone, though it seems that of the most-gone the Ranters are probably the
most-goned gone–which must’ve been a function of their unstated aims of not
having a particular course of action. As
an anti-movement their movement was tautologically doomed, as they flourished
for only a decade or so, sandwiched into the very full mid-17th

{The image above is an illustration from the book, Hell Broke Loose.. . below. It also is a pretty tame version of other images that show more nudity/drinking/sexual activities.]

were an English Free Spirited heretical group of wide interpretation of social
and moral value. Their questioning of the potency of the man’s fall doctrine
steamed together with a quasi-semi-millenialism evidently led to an
alehouse-based loosening of socially governed restraints. According to the many People magazine-like pamphlets and soft
porn reporting, their activities made for sugary eating by the bawdy-eyed ha’penny
people buying gossip in cheaply printed formats. Free of Sin and Law, the Ranter celebrations
were soaked in alcohol and nudity, which are ripe pluckings for any non-serious journalist, then or now.

Judging from the list of publications (listed below in the "Continued Reading" section) there must've been a very immediate lusty interest in the Ranters' lustily interesting ways. I've written this post for the simple interest in one particular, extraordinary title: [with apologies for the underlining, but I cannot convince the Typepad gods to remove it.]

Hell broke loose: or, the notorious design of the wicked Ranters, discovered on Sunday last at Black-Fryers Being a true relation of the strange proceedings of Mr. Vaughan, and his wicked proselytes; and their entring of Black-Fryers church in sermon time, like so many spirits from hell, with four damnable papers in the hands, containing such horrible, audacious, and abominable songs, the like not to be parallel'd in former ages. With the manner how this onsolent Ranter traced the streets from Black-Fryers to Saint Paul's Church-yard, in his Holland shirt, without doublet or breeches, a treble cap, like the Pope's miter, with silk fring, and white shooes, and stockings. With their damnable plots, and conspiracies against the ministers of the gospel: their examination before the right honourable the Lord Mayor of London; the sad and woful speeched, made by the ringleader of the Ranters, concerning the city magistrates, and golden chains: and the committing of them to Bridewell till the next sessions. 1650

See? That's just fabulous, and represents a Title Page Extravaganza that seems to be a 17th century feature–including as much as humanly possible on a title-page. As does this book, with all manner of detail in the title, not the least of which is the description of a man running around with no pants but with a Pope's mitre and white shoes and socks.

The 17th century "Hell Broke Loose" extended-title (but non-Ranter) category has a number of other entries in it, too, for published books, including the following lovilies:

Hell broke-loose; upon Doctor
S–ch–ve–l's sermons
or, Don Quevedo's vision, of an infernal cabal of Whiggish papists and
popish Whigs in Utopia; upon a mock-tryal of the doctor. Translated from the
original; by Jack the Spaniard.

Hell broke loose, or, An answer to the late bloody
and rebellious declaration of the phanatiques, entituled A door of hope,
wherein their horrible conspiracy against our gracious soveraign, and the
city of London, in their late rebellion is discovered : together with a brief
view of our lives, manners and malice of those desperate and unparallel'd
. 1661

Hell broke loose : or an history of the Quakers both old and
new. Setting forth many of their opinions and practices, published to antidote
Christians against formality in religion and apostasie

Some of the other big-title Ranter titles from this time include the following:

The Ranters creed being a true copie of the examinations of a blasphemous
sort of people, commonly called ranters, whose names are herein particularised,
together with the name of their pretended God almighty, and their false prophet
: taken before Thomas Hubbert Esquire … with a declaration of their fantastic
gestures and deportments as they were coming before him, and in his presence :
and now committed to the New Prison at Clarkenwell.

The great mistery of the great whore unfolded, and antichrists kingdom
revealed unto destruction in answer to many false doctrines and principles
which Babylons merchants have traded with, being held forth by the professed
ministers, and teachers, and professors in England, Ireland, and Scotland,
taken under their owne hands, and from their owne mouths, sent forth by them
from time to time, against the despised people of the Lord called Quakers, who
are of the seed of that woman, who hath been long fled into wildernes … in
this answer to the multitude of doctrines held forth by the many false sects,
which have lost the key of knowledge, and been on foot since the apostles
dayes, called Anabaptists, Independents, Presbyters, Ranters, and many others,
who out of their own mouths have manifested themselves not to be of a true
descent from the true Christian Churches : but it's discovered that they have
been all made drunk with the wine of fornication received from the whore which
hath sitten upon the beast, after whom the world hath wondred /


The Ranters reasons resolved to nothing. Or, the fustification instead of
the justification of
the Mad Crew Being, a serious answer returned to one who in his letter desired
an unlawfull and wicked book to be sent unto him, call'd the Justification of
the Mad Crew. Instead of vvhich, the author of this letter sent him the Act of
Parliament made against the Ranters; and did also both justifie their way, and
ingratefully asperse some, who in Christian love would have reduced them to the
life and truth of Christianity. Wherein the people called by themselves god and
by some others, the Gods of Godmanchester, may, as in a glasse, behold, that
they are a deluded and defiled people, if not incarnate Devils.


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JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 825 Blog Bookstore

This image from
Michael Lesy’s wonderful Real Life, Louisville in the Twenties–a collection
of interesting and naïve found photographs—has taken a life of its own. It is probably a photo of a hosiery
department (?) for a large clothing store taken during the great halcyon days
of advanced hosiery as this is a very serious collection and display with what
looks like waaay too many clerks to service god knows how many clients all
buying hosiery at the same time. Hosiery
or not, whatever skinny thing it was in those flat boxes looks as though whatever variety or size was needed
by whatever verity or sized customer could be accessed in a minute or less,
sending the customer on their way so that the next one buying unit could be
serviced and dispensed, and so on into the night.

++ blog nov 7 hosiery

But I prefer to
think of the stuff in the boxes as letters, or words, or just plain old
data: sat for instance instead of this
place being a clothing store it was a department store for writing, and this
was the Poetry Section, selling words by the order, one word at a time. Or perhaps the boxes held images. Or entire ideas—just not entire, finished

And why
wouldn’t data and ideas have been stored and sold like this rather than hosiery
or handkerchiefs?

++ blog Nov 6 Anonymous

This got me thinking a little about the
storage and dispensing of information in antiquarian times, about how some of
the writers of great and high-erudite works were actually able to accomplish
their efforts. Deep into the early and future-vision-primitive history of
online digital exploration, it is difficult to imagine producing works of
sustained viability using combinations of only (private) libraries, memory palaces1, correspondence and notes. Today the internet accounts for less than 1%
of the time of advanced scholarship in all of
human history, but it has probably accounted for significant
contributions to half of all the academic stuff that has ever been written–and
we’re all probably terribly spoiled by the instant access to info in our
datacentric existence.

My own digital addiction in mind, I marvel at
the accomplishments of people like Vincent Placcius (1642-1699), a vastly
learned guy who sorted out 2,777 anonymous publications in 1500 pa
ges, somehow,
three hundred years ago. He wrote a
monumental bibliographical work

( Theatrum Anonymorum et Pseudonynorum2) with superb references, and did so with what
we would today deem relatively nothing. Placcius
did have some sort chest-like devices with rods and pins and god knows what
that functioned in a way I don’t understand as a note-keeping/comparing
device. I’ve included images of the
device (below) in the hope that someone out there might recognize and explain
it. In any event, this superb piece of
scholarship—the first of its kind—had to have taken a lifetime of reading and understanding
and investigation to reveal. The
frontispiece to the book shows the author in
a library unmasking two anonymous authors, the masks of other conquests
linked above him on a chord.

++ blog nov 7 cometarium ++ blog Nov 6 Placcius chest

Another example in the how-did-they-do-it
category is Stanislaus Lubienitzky’s (1623-1675) Theatrum Cometicum…(1667), a powerhouse of data on all things
cometary. Lubienitzky recorded all
manners of observations and reports of all comets ever recorded in extant
chronicle or published work. Ever. It is
a vast and learned work of incredible determination.


1. See Frances
Yates for the great standard on memory devices,
Art of Memory
(1966). And as
long as we’re at it, her Giordano Bruno and the
Hermetic Tradition
(1964) and The Rosicrucian Enlightenment
(1971) are also terrific works on a very high order.

2. Theatrum Anonymorum et Pseudonynorum2, Ex Symbolis & Collatione
Virorum Per Europam Doctissimorum Ad Celeberrrimorum, Post Syntagma Dudum
Editum, Summa Beati Auctoris Cura Reclusum…