No Comment, Quotation — September 27, 2008, 7:25 am

Bruno on Cultivating the Heaven Within

michelangelo-daniel

Disponiamoci, dico, prima nel cielo che intellettualmente
è dentro di noi, e poi in questo sensibile che corporalmente
si presenta a gli occhi. Togliemo via dal cielo de l’animo
nostro l’Orsa della difformità, la Saetta de la detrazione,
l’Equicolo de la leggerezza, il Cane de la murmurazione,
la Canicola de l’adulazione. Bandiscasi da noi l’Ercole
de la violenza, la Lira de la congiurazione. . .
Se cossí, o dei, purgaremo la nostra abitazione, se cossí
renderemo novo il nostro cielo, nove saranno le costellazioni ed influssi, nove l’impressioni, nove fortune; perché
da questo mondo superiore pende il tutto, e contrarii
effetti sono dependenti da cause contrarie. O felici, o veramente fortunati noi, se farremo buona colonia del nostro
animo e pensiero! A chi de voi non piace il presente stato,
piaccia il presente conseglio. Se vogliamo mutar stato,
cangiamo costumi. Se vogliamo che quello sia buono e
megliore, questi non sieno simili o peggiori. Purghiamo
l’interiore affetto, atteso che da l’informazione di questo
mondo interno non sarà difficile di far progresso alla riformazione di questo sensibile ed esterno.

Let us restore to order the heaven that lies within us intellectually, and then that visible heaven that presents itself bodily to your eyes. Let us distance from the heaven of our mind the bear of roughness, the arrow of envy, the foal of levity, the dog of evil calumny, the bitch of flattery; let us banish the Hercules of violence, the lyre of complacency… When we have in this way made for ourselves a new home and restored our heaven, then, too, shall reign new constellations, new influences and powers and new destinies. All depends upon this higher world, and out of its contradictory causes flow necessarily contradictory effects. Oh we happy ones, we truly blissful ones, know that our happiness depends upon the proper cultivation of our minds and thoughts. If we wish to improve our condition, we must change our customs; if we want the former to become good and better, the latter must not be allowed to worsen. If we purify the drive within us, then it will not be hard to pass from this transformation in the inner world to the reformation of the sensible and external world.

Giordano Bruno, La spaccio della bestia trionfante (1584) in Le opere italiane (P. de Lagarde ed. 1888), p. 412 (S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2015

Weed Whackers

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tremendous Machine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Goose in a Dress

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Genealogy of Orals

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Romancing Kano·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:

The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.

leadership
service
integrity
creativity

Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

Article
The Prisoner of Sex·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Gangs of Karachi·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
Photograph © Asim Rafiqui/NOOR Images
Article
Weed Whackers·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
Article
The Neoliberal Arts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.”
Artwork by Julie Cockburn

Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.

A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today