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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.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
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.
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.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
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.
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“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.”