Sampling Kircher

“Plato said, ‘Nothing is more divine than to know everything,’ sagely and elegantly, for just as Knowledge illuminates the mind, refines the intellect and pursues universal truths, so out of the love of beautiful things it quickly conceives and then gives birth to a daughter, Wisdom, the explorer of the loftiest matters, who, passing far beyond the limits of human joy, joins her own to the Angelic Choruses, and borne before the Ultimate Throne of Divinity, makes them consorts and possessors of Divine Nature.”1

historia evstachio-mariana


historia evstachio-mariana a


arithmologia


ars magna sciendi e


ars magna sciendi a


ars magna sciendi c


ars magna sciendi


latium a


latium b

latium c


latium


obeliscus pamphilius


obeliscvs pamphilius a


obeliscvs pamphilius b


obeliscvs pamphilius c


obeliscvs pamphilius d


obeliscvs pamphilius e


obeliscvs pamphilius f


physiologia


sphinx mystagoga a


sphinx mystagoga


Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel in Lower Saxony have lately been uploading a number of works by the 17th century Jesuit polymath, Athanasius Kircher. To the best of my knowledge these books are making their first appearance on the web as photographed page images, as opposed to microfilm scans or other less optimal formats such as djvu files.

So I thought it was worthwhile assembling a selection of images from across these lesser known works which in all probability haven’t been circulated widely before, although some of them may have appeared in modified forms in one or more of Kircher’s more famous books. It’s an eclectic bunch and more visual evidence of the breadth of Kircher’s interests. The whirlwind of erudition and wayward knowledge published the majority of his tomes with the Amsterdam printer, Johannes Jansson van Waesberghe (Janssonius), just by the by.

Mouseover the above images (a couple of which were background cleaned extensively) to see which book they come from.

The source book titles:
  • ‘Historia Evstachio-Mariana : Qua admiranda D. Eustachij, sociorumque vita ex varijs Authoribus Collecta..’, 1665. Link.
  • ‘Arithmologia sive De abditis numerorum mysterijs’, 1665. Link.
  • ‘Ars Magna Sciendi’, 1669. Link.
  • ‘Latium. Id Est, Nova & Parallela Latii tum Veteris tum Novi Descriptio’, 1671. Link.
  • ‘Obeliscus Pamphilius : hoc est, Interpretatio noua & Hucusque Intentata Obelisci Hieroglyphici’, 1650. Link.
  • ‘Physiologia Kircheriana Experimentalis’, 1680. Link.
  • ‘Sphinx Mystagoga : sive Diatribe hieroglyphica, qua Mumiae, ex Memphiticis Pyramidum Adytis Erutae..’, 1676. Link.
Previously related:

1She-Philosopher quoting Athanasius Kircher from ‘Ars Magna Sciendi’.
Sampling Kircher

As if this were news....

What Kind of Reader Are You? Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm You’re probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people’s grammatical mistakes make you insane.Dedicated Reader
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Scarily enough, I would have been even more of a bookworm if audiobooks were included.  I am currently listening to The Dream of Reason: A History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance on my ipod….how much geekier can you get.

As if this were news….

Baron de Charlus, out of control

M. de Charlus, in five similes:

He was as boring as a scholar who can see nothing beyond his own subject, irritating as an insider who prides himself on the secrets he knows and cannot wait to give away, disagreeable as those who, in the matter of their own faults, let themselves go without realizing what offence they are giving, obsessive as a maniac and fatally rash as one who knows himself guilty.

Marcel Proust, The Prisoner, translated by Carol Clark (London: Penguin, 2003), 281-82

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Baron de Charlus, out of control

Arabic Machine Manuscript

anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de i


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de 1


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de 2


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de 3


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de 4


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de a


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de b


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de c


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de g


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de m


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de n


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de o


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de p


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de s


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de t


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de u


anonym., ms. or. fol. 3306 arabisches manuscript libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de

I love these old mystery schematics where the idiosyncratic drawing style and lack of a readily identifiable energy input system often leave me fairly puzzled as to the true context or viability of the machines. I’m not necessarily sure that a knowledge of Arabic would enlighten us to any great extent.

Although there are a few astrological images, this anonymous manuscript is almost totally devoted to fluid dynamics and mechanics. I can’t find any background to the work and suppose it was produced somewhere between the 16th to 19th centuries.

  • All the images here are cropped details from the source pages at Max Planck Digital Library where the ~300 page manuscript is listed simply as ‘Anonym., Ms. or. fol. 3306 ,o. J.’ (‘or.’ being Oriental)
  • The above images (fairly large in size) have also been uploaded to Wikimedia.
  • I presume this manuscript copies from earlier scholars, most notably Al-Jazari.

Arabic Machine Manuscript

News from 1984



The New Light of Myanmar is a government-owned newspaper, published by the Ministry of Information in the country formerly known as Burma. Yes, the above page is dated September 28, 2007. But at the Ministry of Information in “the peaceful and stable country,” it’s 1984.

I’ll let the text speak for itself. One note though: if you click for the larger version, be sure to read the last paragraph, concerning Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai, shot and killed at point-blank range. Note the passive voice: he was killed. But by whom?

The New Light of Myanamar (.pdfs for download)
The New Light of Myanmar (Wikipedia)
Video shows Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai “being shot deliberately” (Times Online) (Graphic content)
“Politics and the English Language” (George Orwell’s essay)
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News from 1984