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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1977

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It seems to me that in the history of astrology–or at least for what seems to be most of it, at least through the late antiquarian publishing aspect of it–that comets and meteors were basically not utilized. Perhaps it was because in that world these entites didn't really effect anything–perhaps they were simply mysterious, spurious, and incongruent, and not a subject for installation in the astrological night sky. Comets (from the Greek, kometes, "long-haired") and meteors (Greek again, from meteoran, a "thing in the air") and bolides (exploding meteors, from the Greek bolis, or "missile"), holosiderites, siderolites, aerolites uranolites, and so on, have a long and complex story in the history of astronomy, at least in some ways; perhaps the most influential thinker on comets held thinking at bay and did so for two milennia: Aristotle's Meteorology made the case that comets were not a planet or associated with planets or even necessarily part of the heavens–rather they were a phenomena of the atmosphere. So perhaps their use as astronomical/astrological objects was limited by their very Aristotlean obviousness of being near-Earth objects.

The Comet of 1066 (later named Halleys' Comet), as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry (completed in the 1080's)

Comets bayeux

The fear aspect of comets–the Comet of 1528–was depicted in Ambrose Pares Livres de Chirurgie (1597), and shows what part of the concern was (the coming demise of nations, the death of rules) with the appearance of decapitated heads and a large sword and raining daggers:

Comet pare

Comets 1560
[Nicolas Le Rouge, Le Grand Kalendrier et Compost des Bergieres, published in 1496 in Troyes.

The night sky is a mnemonic device, a place to store memory and a holder of the alphabet of myths and beliefs of all, a culture written large across the sky. Meteors and comets were not predictable, and could add nothing insofar as a consistent bit of storytelling was concerned, though they certainly created their own stories in each observed appearance; they could also add punctuation and exclamation to whatever constellation they appeared in. For example if one appeared in a juncture with Jupiter, a major event for royalty would possibly be foretold. But as a permanent element to the visualization of the night sky, they had little power even though they seemed to be displays of fantastic energy and power in themselves.

Comets 3562
[For some reason the celestial court, divided by sunlight and flanked by two other sources of light, have ofund it expedient to issue comets from the mouths of Heaven Canon. I'm not sure what's going on in the forground with the fellow working his spade next to the triangular blankness. the man to his right seems to have been overtaken in fear (as have the group of people visible to the left over the shoveler's shoulder).]

Comets 4563

[Halley's comet appears again on the title page of this work by the Hungarian George Henischius, a professor of rhetoric, mathematics and medicine at Augsberg.]

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1881 [Part of the series on The History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things.]

The history of hoaxes is a long one–especially the history of the intentional host. There have been creations like the farcical report on the Nacirem Tribe of North America (in 1956, by H. Miner, who simply spelled "America" backwards and loaded his tribe up with all sorts of geegaws), the Piltdown Man, the chess-playing "The Turk" automaton (by Wolfgang v. Kempelen in 1770), the fabulous Moon Hoax of 1836, the Cardiff Giant, Piltdown Man, and so on. Some were done for fun and amusement (like the Moon Hoax), some were perpetuated to prove a point (like Alan Sokol's quantum gravity nonsense paper published as a rub against Jacques-Derridon't and triblings), and some were scientifically vicious (like Piltdown). There are others that are larger than themselves, started perhaps as a hoax but then turned mysitcally into a belief system like, say Scientology (though its possible to make a case for this with most any other such thought-organization system). Some of course weren't intended to be hoaxes when they began but remain intact even after their great shortcomings and displayed ill-logic have survived in the face of scientific refutation and common sense–like astrology.

Then there are complications, like Constantine Samuel Rafinesque (1783-1840) and the Lenape Indian creation myth.

It is uncertain whether this autodidact genius intended to fabricate his description of the creation myth, or whether he pieced bits and pieces together in a busy schedule that semed as though they were correct, or whether he was just getting stuff wrong. It seems that, at the least, the drawings he conveyed as part of the story were all entirely his, and they may or may not have been derived from something that was ancient and real-enough. In any event, all of what Rafinesque wrote was his fiction that may have been pulled together from other pieces of mythology (or not) rather than a scientific treatise.

It is interesting to think of perpetuating a hoax whose result is a fabrication of an entire people's belief system–basically constructing a religion from the ground-up.

Mark Hofmann, a convicted multiple cold-blooded killer psychopath serving a life sentence in Utah for bombing people to bits while trying to camouflage his deteriorating forgery empire, very nearly went the last mile to write the missing section of the Book of Mormon. His great specialty was Mormon history, and he had been successful for several years in convincing the leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints that his forged documents were the real thing, many of which put the church in an unpleasant light, and so he managed to create a ready market for his uncomfortable creations. In the meantime for the documents that did surface in public he actually managed to change the debate in the church community about its basis in belief–which is an extraordinary and foul commission.

It is not possible to say what was in Rafinesque's head when he committed his own story of creation to paper.

I'm including it below as an interesting story, because, well, it reads well.

The Walam Olum (or "Red Score", also spelled Walum Olum, Wallum Olam, and several other ways.) of the Lenape.

("This Creation and Deluge story of the Lenape or Delaware Indians is taken from Dr. Daniel G. Brinton's The Lenape and Their Legends (The Library of Aboriginal American Literature, Vol. V, 1885). Since "walam" means "painted," particularly "painted red," and "olum" signifies the scores or marks or notches or figures used on tally-sticks or record-boards, the sense of Walam Olum is variously rendered by "Red Score" (Dr. Brinton's choice), "Painted-engraved Tradition" (the translation left by Constantine Rafinesque, original copyist of these Algonkin pictographs), or "Painted Bark-Record." The pictographs or glyphs or signs were "notches" designed to keep the long chant in memory."

The very beautiful translation is Dr. Brinton's"–quote and text from the Sacred Texts of the World site, here.)

1. At first, in that place, at all times, above the earth,

2. On the earth, [was] an extended fog, and there the great Manito was.

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1836

'There is seldom in shadow a mystery less hidden"–Ombra Nichts Schatten, The Non-Mystery of the Shadow, London, 1842

Shadows have long played havoc in the imagination, for good and for evil, for elucidation and of mystery–they have hidden nothing and everything, and displayed as little as possible and as much as can be imagined. A simple shadow in a hole had proved the circumference of the Earth twenty centuries ago, and before that the Earth's shadow on the face of the Moon showed us to be a sphere; the shadow allowed us to measure the heights of mountains on the Moon before we could do so (accurately) on Earth; we measure shadows in X-rays, and follow the trails of subatomic particles, and on and on. Shadows are particularly interesting in story telling, whether they be suggested aurally or in text, or of course in illustration:

Chalres H. Bennet, Shadow and Substance, London 1860.

A superior example of shadow-art is seen in Indonesian shadow puppet theatre, "Wayang Kulit", where the shadows of Javanese-Indonesian characters are projected onto a cloth screen by a strong light from behind.

Audiences were bathed in direct and brilliant light while being swamped in shadow in the early 19th century as part of an early form of non-cinema cinema, as we see here in the frontispiece from Robertson’s Mémoires récréatifs, which depicts a phantasmagoria of lantern projections:

And more forthright illusions as seen in this engraving showing the spectre “Dr. Pepper’s Ghost,” from Theodor Eckardt, Die Physik in Bildern Eßlingen, 1881:

The shadow may have been invented in cinema by the German Expressionists, with Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's Nosferatu (1919) as a shining example:

And of course the shadow is used with great effect in the very black-and-white and no-gray-tones Film Noir world, particularly in the hands of a master like Mr. Welles in films like The Third Man:

And in Fritz Lang's diabolically-bad M, earlier, in 1931 (featuring an impossible shadow in the movie still below):

Thank heaven for little girls... or would that be hell?

Shadow has been used to given questionable dimensionality in addition to giving perspective to dimensions that we are familiar with:

And the artificial shadow made for the geographical clock dial to tell the story of passing time:

And also for shadow puzzle toys:

And on and on, deep into the night…

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1776 [Part of the Series on Blank, Empty and Missing Things.]

000-ebay--Nov 4--gulliver996 Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726, amended 1735), or Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships, is a great work that spills over into many different categories, being a forerunner to the modern novel, a sort-of children’s book that was for adults, as prototype of science fiction story, and of course a brilliant satire. The satiric nature of the book is pervasive and extremely visible, but yet the whole thing works splendidly, exposing and investigating the nature of corruption (of mind/soul), perception, value, the naming of things, the nature of judgment, and, of course, the soul of political intrigue.

Everyone remembers the voyage of Gulliver to Lilliput, but there were other voyages as well, the book including: "A Voyage to Lilliput (May 4, 1699 — April 13, 1702)"; "A Voyage to Brobdingnag (June 20, 1702 — June 3, 1706)"; "A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib, Luggnagg and Japan (August 5, 1706 — April 16, 1710)" and "A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms (September 7, 1710 – December 5, 1715)". But what I’d like to concentrate on here is the emptiness of the space around the empty non-existent (sorry) islands of Lilliput and Blefusco, which I think fits as a subcategory in this blog’s continuing series of posts on empty and blank spaces. The islands are well away from just about everything, being unfindable only if you’re a youngish sea captain blown off course, far to the south of remote and removed Sumatra.

File:Athanasius Kircher's Atlantis.gif

[Map of Atlantis, from Athanaseus Kircher's Mundus Subterraneus, 1669, with north situated at the bottom of the map, as indicated by the arrow. It is doubtful that anyone believed Atlantis could have been the size of half of the Atlantic Ocean, as we see above; but if we look at teh relation in size of Spain to Atlantis the possibility for that size grows brighter.]

Even maps of Atlantis seem to make that place less removed than Lilliput, and there's more detail to the interior of that island than Swift's almost-entirely blank pair. But Lilliput, as an imaginary place, looks particularly blank in a sea of blank, punctuated by two lonely little boats. There's just an awful lot of blank, white space in this map…

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1773 [Part of the History of the Future series.]

Sometimes as the saying goes a bad answer isn't right; and sometimes it isn't right so much that it isn't even wrong. Here we have a collection of not-even-wrongs, tidily collected in one pamphlet. It is a booklet of "predictions" that are so deeply off the mark that I suspect the author would not even be able to make post facto predictions.

0 blog jan 16 future388Had author R.J. Rasmussen ( The Amazing Future, 1938) real powers of diving the future he should've been able to see that choosing to be so dreadfully wrong about the events of 1939 was a truly bad thing to do–of course, if there was some sort of unknown and spectacular power in his brain to see what was coming, the least he could've been was right. But he wasn't, and he wasn't right very widely, and very widely not right almost all of the time. To give the devil his due, Rasmussen did get some broad images correct–like in 1939 a world leader will get sick and die. (Actually, the world leaders dying in 1939 weren't current leaders, but that is a particular that escapes detail when thinking about stuff that will come to pass.) And then there's the bold "a high ranking officer in the U.S. army will pass away". But those broad brushes are about as close as it gets to "prediction". He was right that there would be a year 1939.

The rest is "anti-prediction": "I want to advise all pilots and their aides in the United States…to use utmost good judgment in flying your planes". And "again I say that no war will be declared on or with Germany", cancer will be cured on or before August 26, 1939, and there will be an increase in textile production in the U.S. The Japanese war against China "will be over by August 21, 1941", though the cost will be monumental to the Japanese, somehow; Germany "will continue to forge ahead" (?), the map of Africa "will be completely and totally changed" by 1942, and "during this period there will be increased interest shown in higher lines of thought". And so on, on and on–by the hundreds.

Finally, among everything else that the author didn't see was the following: "the persecution of the Jewish people in Germany will gradually grow less and less that they have ever know in the past thirty years, and before the year 1939 has passed it will have practically ceased in Germany". I must say that of all the minor pamphlets like this that I have seen Mr. Rasmussen made the most detailed and incorrect predictions of anyone that I have ever seen–the only further step backward he might've been able to make was to have written this book in 1941 and gotten all of the history wrong.

JF Ptak Science Books Post 281 (from 2009) Extended [Part of the History of Nothing series.]

Propaganda Red Cross383War propaganda is distributed across all levels of society during a time of conflict. I've made a number of posts concerning Nazi and Japanese propaganda but no so much on the Allies' side. These pamphlets come from a small stash of mine relating to Red Cross activities and prisoners of war (POWs), and they fall chiefly I think in The History of Nothing series, mainly because of the chances that all of these packages wouldn't stop and be used by German troops rather than going all the way through to POWs. The expectations of the Home Front concerning the disposition of their loved ones as prisoners of the Nazis were clearly illusory, what with steamed and pressed trousers and clean sharp shirts.

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1731

I came upon this pamphlet out in the warehouse, and I was reminded again of the greatness and courage of some of the anti-NSDAP/Hitler artists in Germany in the early period of Nazism, 1933-1936. There were many who were overtly anti-Nazi–like George Grosz and John Heartfield–in the political messages that were their artwork; then there were those (like Felixmueller, Wollein, Otto Dix, Max Pechstein) who became enemies of the Nazi state because they chose to depcit the horrors of war or poverty or other social ills

Degenerate art257["Brains Behind Barbed Wire", with a woodcut by Frans Masereel.]

John Heartfield, Blood and Iron, 1934

And then, as the Nazis consolidated power they erected an enormous edifice of propaganda and thought control, codified in law and absorbed into societal practice, where artists and writers and their artwork and books and ideas were banned, being "deliberate sabotage of national defense". The books were burned, the art removed or sold or destroyed or hidden, the writers and artists threatened with extinction as well: deported, thrown away, controlled, imprisoned, sent to concentration camps, murdered.

Photomontage by John Heartfield, 1932

[ War and Corpses, by John Hearfield, 1932.]

One way of another, they were mostly gotten rid of–the paintings and other works of those who were abroad or dead or otherwise not-reachable; and the art as well as the artists who were still in Germany, and whose presence could be controlled.

Klinger258["Max Klinger", Volk in Ketten. Deutschalnds Weg ins Chaos, 1934]

Some of the artists who were not able to escape, or who were Jewish and who did no tget sent to concentration camps, were murdered via the infamous Aktion 4 or T4 program–the mass murder of the physically disabled, the sick, the weak, the "moral degenerate", and those too incapacitated to take care of themselves. The name comes from the address of the organization responsible for it, at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin–the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil- und Anstaltspflege, [or Charitable Foundation for Curative and Institutional Care] which was run from (at least ) 1939 to 1945 under the direction of Recihsleiter Philipp Bouhler (who unfortunately escaped life by suicide after being captured by the Americans in May 1945).

[From Wiki: "This poster (from around 1938) reads: "60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from a hereditary defect costs the People's community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money too. Read '[A] New People', the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP."]

To make things easier on the German mind, the NSDAP selected artists and entire art movements that were to be banned as "degenerate", and displayed them in an infamous 1937 show called Entartete Kunst ("Degenerate Art").

The people who committed their beliefs about the great Evil Thing that was National Socialism, those who committed their thoughts in art or literature, and did so in the 1933-1937 period, were brave people. Hitler and Goebbels and the rest of the Nazi machine deeply appreciated the influence of visual images, being great practioners in the idea themselves, only though with vastly different content.

The great social commentator/satirist/cartoonist for Harper's Weekly magazine, Thomas Nast, also knew the great influence of the single visual image, and magisterially used his insight and art to great effect in helping to effect social change. One of the evils he brought down–Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall–said that he didn't fear anything that was written about him in the newspaper because his constituency "couldn't read". But what he didn't get, and what he never did understand, that the thing that brought him down were cartoons, and those were the things that people didn't need to be able to read words in because they could already "read" the images. And it got him in the end.

The manufacturers of the NSDAP recognized this factor and saw how much it could play against them, and so sought to remove "it". They went after the art, the artists, and the ideas, and came away from it all with safe and sanitized and partially meaningless culture.

The artists condemned in the 1937 Degenerate Art exhibition necessarily reads like a who's-who of modern and 20th century art: the show included Ernst Barlach, Willi Baumeister, Max Beckmann, Max Ernst, Wassily Kandinsky, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein, Paul Klee, Ernst Krircherm Lyonel Feiniger, Oskar Schlemmer, Franz Marc, El Lissitzky, Oscar Kokoschka, George Grosz, Marc Chagall, and Kurt Schwittersto name a few. (A full list can be seen below.) Entire artistic movements were also to be eliminated in order to save the morality and conscience of the German people, including Bauhaus, Surrealism, Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism and Dada. Basically, it was almost all of modern art.

[Hitler visiting the Degenerate Art Show, 1937.)

A fuller list of those exhibited at the 1937 Degenerate Art show.

These artist were abandoned/exiled/killed in favor of a more morally-robust and Aryan flavor, a genetic correctness, like the work here by Ernst Liebermann, moribund in its deadly color, greasy, tumescent hyper-non-sexuality:

By the Water - Oil painting by Nazi artist, Ernst Liebermann

which is picture postcard bad, like Franklin Mint artists gone to Nazism and shining/lustrous nudes.

The "degenerate" label didn't last very long in Germany, at least not in years–measured in lives, however, it is a completely different story.

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1664

(Part of a series of on the History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things and the History of Nothing .)


I have a notion that when we enter the infinite library of Jorge Borges that what we find somewhere in there, in the middle (where every place is the middle) we find that the books being read are just like the volumes from this illustration. It may only make sense that in a place where everything that could be written had been written, and that in the place where there was a finite amount of the infinite and vice versa, that the whole mechanism would go spinning fractally out of control once the Primum Mobile got the chance to introduce the notion of the Blank Book. Reproducing nothing infinitely may be a lot more cumbersome than reproducing everything than can be written. At least the written aspect has some sense of order to its infinity, and that–like when approaching the speed of light–that when you get near "the end" that everything gets a little, well, funny. When confronted with infinitely reproducible nothingness, there's nothing that quite reproduces to the end of pi like the blank book. It's nothing all the way down. And all the way up, too, for that matter.

[Image source: Statuta ordinis cartussiensis a domno Guigone priore cartusie edita, printed in Basel by J. Amerbach, 1510. Illustrated with woodcuts by Urs Graf. This is a beautiful and important work, a great effort by an early and important press, and this image happens to show study timne in a Monastic setting. Their books of course weren't blank.]

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1644 [Part of the Series on the History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things.]

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank"
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best-
A perfect and absolute blank!"–
Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark.

[This post fits perfectly in our History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things. Ditto for the series on The History of Lines--making this a great confluence for a History of Blank and Missing Lines (in the History of Nothing series).]

For all of the brilliance of all of the cartographers and map makers who have drawn a line in the sand or strung a strand of quipi or drawn a celestial rendering on a cave wall or imagined the Americas in 1504 or ventured out and away from the Medieval T-maps or drew maps of other worlds or fashioned spiraling maps of Hell, I think the maps I most like are maps of imagined places. Of course I enjoy the extremely rigorous and steadfast maps (like those of the German Stieler Company of Gotha who for a hundred years routinely drew the most detailed maps in a particular scale than any other mapmakers in creation—you know, the big maps of the U.S. that would locate minute places like Truman Capote’s “out there” town of Holcomb, Kansas) and of course maps of the solar system and galaxy and universe (as knowledge expanded and collapsed and expanded again). And of course there are the representational maps showing the comparative heights

Mountain of mountains and lengths of rivers, or the grouping of all the world’s lakes, or the divorce rate map of the United States at Centennial, or the heights at which different sorts of trees are found, or geological speculations on the thrust of the Appalachian chain, or the wanderings of the course of the Mississippi River (below), and other hosts of things.

As much as detail is attractive to me—complex, staggering information correctly displayed—there is also the opposite: the quick, thoughtful, spare map. The Tabula Peutingeriana is sort of like that—this is a 17th century reproduction of an ancient Roman map that was, basically, a road map of the world (or the Roman World) that was linear and included all manner of detail of the roads themselves, with little else. It is a spectacular thing—one version I had once was 14 inches high and 16 feet long, just a skinny map of how to get around in the world from 2000 years ago. There was of course nothing “quick” about how the map was made, coming at the expense of countless hours of careful observation, keen observation, and lots of general human tragedy.


Folrani's world map of (ca.) 1575 (which appeared in Antoine Lafrery’s (1512–1577) Geografia tavole moderne di geographia) is a glorious thing and a fantastic accomplishment for its time (and also being the first map to use the name "Canada"). It has a sumptuous artistry to it in addition to inclduing (and excluding) certain of the newly known discoveries. In this version of the map he chose to not use the newly-incorporated Straits of Ainan

In another edition of the m-which appeared a few years later–North America is still attached to Asia, but now there is added another bit, a gigantic land mass to the south, Terra Incognita. This was basically put together by some sightings in the southern seas that located different land masses, and Forlani took it upon himself to connect all of those pieces of information and draw them into one continuous land mass, greatly expanding his own version of Antarctica from a few years earlier. It is a wonderful example of leaving something(big) out and making something else (even bigger) up.$(KGrHqEOKpwE1q0Fg0g7BNgTn,V))g~~_35.JPG

But the map that I think I love the most illustrates Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony in Eight Fits, and occurs in the Bellman’s tale, starting the second fit. It begins:

The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies-
Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one look in his face!

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when the found it to be
A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply,
"They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we've got our brave Captain to thank"
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best-
A perfect and absolute blank!"


Sometimes there is nothing so fine as something that beautifully illustrates the nothing that isn’t there, and this lovely map, unencumbered of all of the elements and details that define the mapness of something, perfectly explains the origin of its need.

For a lovely work on the complexities and simplicities and just sheer beauty of what things like maps are check out former Ashevillean Peter Turchi's Maps of the Imagination, the Writer as Cartographer.

JF Ptak Science Books Post 1624 (Part of the series on the History of Blank, Empty and Missing Things.)

Koberger bw884

Perhaps "everything" wasn't missing, but almost everything was. Certainly the ancients and even the more-moderns, even the scientists of the 16th and into the 17th centuries (until von Guericke in 1672), could not abide the idea of the existence of nothing. The vacuum, a space in which there was nothing at all, was seen to be an anathema to the creations of the great creator, that the vacuum was antithetical to what was understood to be the nature of nature. (I wrote a post here earlier on when nothing was almost something.)

But what we see here, above, is the third day of creation as presented in one of the most significant books printed in the 15th century, and it is somewhat problematic, because it depicts almost-northing. That, or almost-everything.

The book was written in Latin by Hartmann Schedel (1444-1514, with the German translation by Georg Alt) , with the illustrations under the control of Michael Wohlgemut (1434-1519) and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (c. 1450-1494), .and was published in Nuremberg in 1493 by Anton Koberger as Liber Chronicarum–known best to English-pseaking readers as the Nuremberg Chronicles (and to Germans as Die Schedelsche Weltchronik). It is perhaps one of the greatest illustrated works in the first half-century of movable type printing, using more than 1800 woodcuts to tell the story of the world–according to the Bible, mostly. (The book deals with the history of world in its seven ages–the first five of which deal with cumuulative history to the birth of Jesus Christ, while the sixth ages handles the history from Christ to the present day, and teh seventh carries along the future history of the world to the Last Judgment. Not much then is devoted to the 1500 years preceding the publication of Koberger's book. The author, Schedel, was a very religious man, and considered the work of teh Bible to come from the hand of god and therefore was infallible; on the other hand (so to speak), everything written outside of the Bible was that of humans, and so fallible, and therefore open to interpretation.)

Here is a colored version of the third day in the creation cycle mythology, which opens itself to much more visual congruence. ("On the third day God gathered together unto one place the waters under the firmament; and the dry land appeared. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas; and God saw that it was good, and said, Let the earth bring forth the green grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit trees yielding fruit after their kind.[Genesis 1:9-13.]")

Koberger color

Koberger color b

And the uncolored version, third day:

Koberger bw det

This sort of "nothingness" is not unique, as we can see in this example from the Mantegna Tarocchi, showing the creator as Primum Mobile, the First Mover, holding what may well be our universe in its hands (and standing on another sphere of nothing, god knows what that might be): I'm missing the larger picture, and that the circles/spheres are the things created, and that they are contained in the square surrounding them; and that the boundaries marked by the circular lines are not necessarily empty, and that it is the suggested of the circles that is the stuff created, placeholders, contained within the square of the creator's domain. Or maybe not. Perhaps the circles are signifiers for the elements–earth at the center, surrounded by water/air/fire. Perhaps the woodcut was just waiting for some color.


The English translation of the Nuremberg chronicle used here is from Beloit College (here) which also has a very lovely scholarly treatment of their copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle (here).

Here's the rest of the cycle, in color:

" For he spoke and they were made: He commanded and they were created" (Psalm 33). , so says the legend (IPSE DIXIT ET FACTA SUNT; IPSE MANDAVIT ET CREATA SUNT Psalm 32) which floats above god enthroned–but it is difficult to see the progress in the un-colored version of day three.

The first day:

Korberger 1st day real

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