Ioan Couliano
Eros and Magic in the Renaissance
A review of Chapter 3 by Dr. William Theaux

Theaux <wtheaux@c...
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Sent: Monday, August 20, 2001 4:18 PM
Subject: [akhnaton] E&M chap.3

Once he has described the step that Ficinus and the opening of the Renaissance (by 1450-1500AD) made, Couliano describes the situation, at the end of this Renaissance (by 1600AD).

As he explained, this Renaissance in 1450 (Rinascimento) crystallized an earlier pre-renaissance (Rinascita) that had started with the millennium, some 1100AD, with Cathars and/or Courtly Love. The Rinascita had promoted the idea that the woman/beauty image enters through the eyes in order to reach brain and even heart of the lover. Contemporarily this seems to be illustrated likewise with the Optical Model; we must see if it stands further comparison.

After the Rinascita, with the Rinascimento the Loved shows a certain 'reciprocity' that allows a sort of feed-back - hence it is a Subject (instead of an 'image') from the Lover place that is transported 'back' into the woman. So the lover lives in the loved (as if he is dead for himself) - and this can be still compared with the Optical Model and its very same 'circulation.'

Meanwhile, the Rinascimento also integrates Ficinus' description of the initial 'Woman,' Diane, as a complex of 'objects,' and perhaps even objects and 'names.' Inasmuch the lover abandon 'himself' as an animal, and further as a corpse, this is relative with a similar sacrifice of the loved, who accepts and responds to this love in becoming object 'herself'. With Ficinus, in place of the Goddess Nature, the picture is the Woman in the form of a chart of planets, a physical Cosmos of 'significand' organizations.

Suffices to say that this Lover/Loved, and/or Human/Cosmos relationship is described according to laws of cybernetics, which were called in the Renaissance times 'pneumatic.' So we understand why Couliano ends up this description with Pascal and Heidegger, as he could mention Sartre and his emphasis on the 'other,' the social alter-ego, as the resulting and remaining need of the whole operation (where the 'absolute,' Other has turned into the anatomy of a plural other). But from Ficinus to Sartre, and even Pascal, there is yet a gap that deserves more observation, which reveals a sidetrack beside the philosophical jump. On this sidetrack we shall find Psychoanalysis with more effective politics and industrial production of Cybernetics.

This is the issue of Chap.3, which reveals fascinating ambiguities in Couliano's thinking, before he reaches Chap.4 where, beyond Eros, he will describe the fundamental essence of Magic as mass-psychology manipulation.  In this post I shall comment this Chap.3 and how Couliano describes the hinge that opens the door to the Modern Times.

If a hinge is made of two parts - one of them including an axis for the other - we can read these two part in Chapter 3: the axis which is attached to Ficinus is represented by his disciple Pic, while the other part is Bruno.  Besides, the chapter can be qualified according to 'scarcity' and 'ambiguity.'

The scarcity applies to Pic. For Couliano hardly finds a reason why Pic differed from and was opposed to his master Ficinus. Certainly, the reputation is that Pic diverged from his mentor. But Couliano only finds similarities in fact, between the disciple and the master. This is why, through this scarcity, the only specificity Couliano finds in Pic makes a special sense.

Couliano finds a specific emphasis in Pic's doctrine in regard with the ultimate extent of the original Courtly Love (Rinascita), when it concludes in death in, by and from love. This is called 'mors osculi.' Pic inserts this extreme goal in the world and theory of Ficinus. (I translate:) "..the soul unite so strongly with things that, leaving the body, it totally abandons it." This 'physical extinction' combines with an 'intellectual extase,' which is experienced within THEWoman, Nature, Cosmos (since the lover's subjectivity has been moved there).

What does this mean if we applies the thesis I suggest? Not only this is describing the Nature as it is currently embedding the Artificial Intelligence; and moreover, if 'soul' means DNA, here we have Pic describing the current Genetic engineering development: "the DNA will so strongly unite with things, that it will subsists outside, while the body is dead.. of love for Nature."

As I have noticed, and I am used to, very few are those who admit my observations; except for rare individuals in this list, while a general 'no! no!' echoes the soul-DNA suggestion, I'll just need mentioning how Couliano concludes his book. For I just read 'by accident' the last paragraph of Eros & Magic, and I really didn't expect that the author who was shot in the toilets of the University, would indicate, to conclude the course from Eros to Magic, the genetic new mutations that science and alchemy are leading to.

For some times I have left the University, and its toilets, yet I too believe that genetic engineering of images is what the industry is accomplishing under the guidance of eternal Alchemy - so I presume as well, that it is what Alchemists were speaking about.  But in regards of the University, Daniel comforts me in my side-tracking.  Even himself is ready to support the scholars who worship Disney world - the beautiful image..

"That's how the world is" declares the transcendental inert, untouched, passive observer. Couliano bent his head too, admitting the bullet for a fact. But in fact too, he meant that Alchemy was terminated. Even if sometimes Couliano expresses the 'eternal' quality of Alchemy - this is where his 'ambiguity' stands. As Acteon dog Amarnian scholars who barks and bite at the 'presence of Atenism,' Couliano saw it a definitely lost period in past time with his repudiation and rejection of Bruno as a 'modern spirit.'

This the second part of the hinge that he associates with Pic in Chap.3.  Couliano's Bruno means the dead and terminated part. It is also where he shows his remarkable ambiguities.

First, Couliano does not like Bruno and he is ready to make fun of him. Shakespeare could do that, but this is not the behaviour of an Historian.

Second, while Couliano affirms that it is impossible for us to understand Bruno - and he bases on this that Bruno was not a man of the future - he endeavours long and large explanation of what Bruno meant. He even titles one of his sub-chapter: "the core of Bruno's doctrine;" this is a good score for something which is declared forever out of reach!

Even more remarkable, once he declares that Bruno is "the less human person" of the Fantasm Age (denying humanity seems to be allowed to racists, inquisitors, and judges but, once again, not to Historians), he continues with Lacan's Purloined Letter - using it more like a torch, as it burns it, rather than a truly enlightening tool.

In one single critical paragraph, Couliano puts fire to Lacan's Purloined Letter, and once it is reduced into ashes it declares that "there is no purloined letter: signs in history are not sexual symbols!"

Well, well.. Couliano seems far from identifying History with Hystery. I don't mean entering the details and meanders of a critic of Couliano's critic. Just enough I want to say in mentioning what is the topic of Couliano's ambiguity. For when he reduces Bruno to 'the less human person,' he attempts to murder him twice in declaring that even a letter does not exist.

Yet this is the very point where Bruno achieved his existence: in culminating in an identification with 'the letter!'

Here is how I root this assertion:

I am supporting a theory that describes how DNA is drawn away from the body, and attached to external things (re:Pic above). Meanwhile all my activity underlines how important it is, along with this 'mors osculi,' to preserve the memory of the Significand - that is 'the Letter' while dissociated from the code, as its is processed in the Art-of-Memory operation, i.e. Soul-Analysis, aka Psychoanalysis. Egyptians too where already aware with the meaning of preserving the name along with the body/mummy.

There is something remarkable in Couliano: working as an Historian, he concurrently denies the permanent, indestructibility, of the letter. So he rejects Bruno in the past. Noticeably this abolishment of 'presence of the past' (which is called in the Freudian allegory, the murder-of-the-father) is mixed with the same debate we have indicated in an earlier post, about THE Woman. In the present case, E&M Chap.3, it is wether to know if Bruno was seeing Elisabeth Ist, Queen of England, as a woman or as Diane, THE Woman.

We are indeed at the heart of the crucial debate that extends today over the contemporary struggle to know if History can make sense from the Amarnian DNA - or give sense to propaganda images (and forget the letter!  These stupid tourists do not event know how to read beyond commercial labelling and advertisement).  But Disney's alchemists, Mickey mouses, call for a rat when turning the letter into litter - a word that Lacan noticed.

When Couliano makes his big question in his Chap.3 as to know if Elisabeth was a sex symbol (Freud's libido) or the Jungian archetype of Nature (pan-libido) while hystericaly declaring "History is no sex," he puts the Acteon Letter on the Chimney. That was Bruno's model; Acteon means that who sees Diane has to be killed by her dogs. But as the Minister of the Purloined Letter who blows smoke rings, Couliano continues and declares;  "See how Bruno failed! for he was killed!" and he blows another ring around the letter: Couliano mentions that some have thought that Bruno has accomplished his magical process (through his Socratic, or Christic sacrifice) but he denies it immediatly, pretending that the 'representation' of Diane, Circee (a 'statue' says Couliano, meaning Diane) could not have been the Catholic Chruch.

But in wagging the dog in claiming Bruno could not be killed for Circee, that cannot be the Catholic Chruch, he distracts from reading Bruno the letter: killed for the love of Diane, the Catholic Chruch, by Inquisitor dogs.

So now what is Circee for the reader (the tourist) in front of Bruno burning his last words saying: "I saw Diane"? Circee is the 'witch' and terrifying aspect of Diane. It is the aspect of Nature when Eros is not fully respected, or at least my personnal suggestion that, in overlooking the meaning of Acteon in Bruno's sacrifice, what is called sometimes 'reincarnation' applies in the legacy of the magician. One should think of the result of Bruno's vision of the perfect figure of the Church in
Nature - inasmuch his sacrifice is seen as a failure, Nazism as Circee and his furious litter should appear in Eros & Magic next Chapter.


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