15 April 2010

hypomnemata, hypnerotomachia, handycrafts

As the final item in my socioeconomics crash course I began in October 2008 I read the Foucault Reader which was compiled by the anthropologist Paul Rabinow. His work is a little too far beyond anything I can use, but it's good for defining that boundary. I have read him before but Rabinow's editing gave a different impression. He comes across as having been a sad man. I always knew he was comical, but I never realized he may have been so partly because he was so profoundly sad. He used a word I had to look up, hypomnemata; and if you google on hypomnemata the top hits are Foucault stuff. In other words this may be more his imagination than any fact.

The hypomnema or hypomnemata are similar to diaries (or weblogs even) except they are not written one time and maybe never looked at again. They are to be reread and rewritten over and over for the writer's education and work and progress. I have been doing a bunch of this for years and it is only since November of 2008 that I have established a system that I am confident of using daily and feel that the pages will continue to contain useful information for five or more years. Every page is dated and numbered. I now have close to 1500 pages with the numbering scheme. Foucault claims this is a great idea and I don't know about that but so far I like it OK.

For fun I have been reading The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance by Joscelyn Godwin and it is a trip. He looks at the arts culture in late 15th and 16th century Italy with a view that the ultimate work is the novel and woodcuts Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which apparently we are not even certain who wrote it or made the woodcuts. Godwin has a lot of amusing speculative history which is similar in spirit to the way that Foucault did it. For example he has magic spell interpretations of the court ritual musical pieces such as Le Pellegrina, music for the wedding of Ferdinado de Medici and Christine de Lorraine, Florence, 1589. He has magic spell interpretations of the architecture of the Palace at Versailles. He reports that Louis XIV was an initiate of a Pythagorean secret society.

It does not take much imagination to concoct a magic spell interpretation for the Sacro Bosco in Barmozo. That place looks Satanic even on the wikipedia or google image search pages.

An interesting character is the Venetian artist Andrea Mantegna. Godwin surmises that it was a member of Mantegna's shop, but absolutely not the great man himself, who did the Hypnerotomachia woodcuts. He also has a chapter almost entirely dedicated to the Mantegna tarochi, and again, concludes those cards were painted by a member of Mantegna's shop but not by the great one himself.

For my handicraft project this week I constructed a meditation device out of a set of Mantegna tarochi images. It is on an 11" by 17" piece of printer paper. Ten points in the shape of the Holy Kabbalah Tree of Life. The ten points connected by eight lines of black graphics tape in the lightning flash configuration. The ten points covered by half-size Mantegna tarochi images of: Grammatica, Artixan, Polimnia, Forteza, Theologia, Philosofia, Fede, Mercurio, Musicha, and Saturno. I have used it a couple times and it works pretty swell!

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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.