26. Four representatives of crisis

1. Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627 – 1678)


A representative life of the Leviathan-period was reflected in the Dutch painter Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627 – 1678). He published a book with the title ‘Inleyding tot de hooge schoole der schilderkonst: Anders de Zichtbaere Wereldt’ (Introduction to the high school of painting: otherwise the visible world)(Rotterdam, 1678). His life was a tribute to visibility, an effort to leave a trace in history and show others how to reach that goal. His international career, described by Celeste BRUSATI (1992/1995) and ROSCAM ABBING (1993), aimed at just that one desire: to remain visible.

Van Hoogstraten took lessons with Rembrandt (1606 – 1669) and moved in 1652 to Rome. The next year found him in Regensburg (painting the ‘Vision of St. Benedictus‘) and working in Vienna. In 1656 he is back in his birthplace Dordrecht in Holland. Between May 1662 and the end of 1667 he lived with his wife Sara Balen in Londen and had meetings with the newly established Royal Society. He returned in January 1668 to The Hague, and settled five years later definitively in Dordrecht.

Van Hoogstratens ‘Zichtbaere Wereldt’ (Visible World) is structured as a compilation with the concept of universality (‘algemeenheyt‘) as a guiding principle. The art of painting was seen as the best medium to preserve the visible world and catch reality for eternity. According to his early biographer Arnold Houbraken, there must also have been a manuscript with the title ‘Onzigtbare wereld‘ (Invisible World), but this work was never printed and got lost. It would have been interesting to know how Hoogstraten’s invisible other-world was structured and which imaginary figures were parts of it. Houbraken also mentioned a remarkable aspect of his way of teaching: van Hoogstraten explained – by  a light-play (fig. 171) – the rules of light and darkness and perspective.


Fig. 171 – The Dutch painter and writer on art Samuel van Hoogstraten explained the perspective and the influence of light with this shadow dance. The illustration was from his book, dedicated to the ‘Zichtbaere Werelt‘ (Visible World). From:  Samuel  van Hoogstraten’s ‘Inleyding tot de Hooge  Schoole  der Schilderkonst: Anders de Zichtbaere Werelt’, Rotterdam, 1678.  In: BRUSATI  (1992).

In the seventh chapter of the ‘Zichtbaere Wereldt’ – divided in nine books or ‘leerwinkels‘ (doctrinal shops), who were associated with the nine muses – the female elegist Melpomene descended from a hall of Apollo, ablaze with light, to the dark forge of Vulcanus. In her hand she holds a burning glass, with a concentrated ray of light on a globe, which carried Fortuna.

The symbolism and allegorical themes of Samuel van Hoogstraten were an echo of Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Melencholia I’, engraved some hundred and sixty earlier. The difference was the emphasis on light and dark, which became an overpowering aspect in the seventeenth century. The frontispiece of Chrispijn van de Passe’s book ’t Light der teken en schilder konst’ (Amsterdam, 1643), showed Minerva with a torch. The book was a further example of the metaphorical function of light in the art of painting (DE JONGH, 1995).

The search for visibility and measurability found an euphoric release in the early scientific societies, who mushroomed through Europe (GRAU, 1988). The ‘Academie des Sciences’ in Paris and the Royal Academy in London were founded at about the same time (1660) and aimed at a cooperative study of nature. Collecting artefacts and curiosities from nature was a widespread activity. It exhibited a love and dedication to nature and materialism, with a distinct humanistic undertone.

BERGVELT et al. (1993) surveyed the encyclopaedic collections, which were developed all over Europe in the spirit of the Renaissance and the Italian ‘studiolo‘ (LIEBENWEIN, 1977). The Dukes of  Modena and Ferdinando Gonzaga, the sixth Duke of Mantua provided examples of the royal collector’s mania. The latter transferred  part of his Palazzo Ducale into a gallery, divided in four rooms to show the relation with the elements. The chambers and cabinets were stacked with all sorts of curiosities: the horn of a unicorn, the embalmed head of a man on a tray, a snake with seven heads, a foetus with four eyes and two mouth and the mummified body of Rinaldo Bonacolsi, ‘il Passerino‘, sitting on a sea cow, with a wound in his side, showing the intestines.

The private collections in the museum of Ferrante Imperato (Naples), Ferdinando Cospi (Bologna) and Lodovico Moscardo (Verona) were of a more modest scale, but they also exhibited the Baroque tendency to extravagance and exuberance (fig. 172).


Fig. 172 – This view of the museum of Marquis Fernando Cospi at Bologna (‘Museo Cospiano’) was given on an etching by Giuseppe Mitelli (before 1677). It is an example of a personal tribute to visibility, with particular attention to the extremes of rarity, grotesque, and eccentricity. Curiosity was the leading psychological spirit rather than a scientific interest. In particular artefacts in which nature and art coincided were sought after. In: BERGVELT et al. (1993).

The general trend of ‘collecting for rareness-sake’ reached a point of saturation at the end of the eighteenth century. Specialization became the name of the game. Antonio Vallisneri, professor at the university of Padua, was one of the first who opened a museum for natural history, which aimed at scientific research rather than being a collection of curiosities. The French political philosopher Montesquieu (1689 – 1755) mentioned the loss of grandeur of the ‘Galleria delle cose naturali’  of Ferdinando Gonzaga when he visited the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua in 1729

The Leviathan-year (1650) marked the crucial point of a crisis lasting for the greater part of the seventeenth century in Europe. This century had the worst record for epidemic disease since the fourteenth century, but it also was a time of crisis in commerce and social revolt (HOBSBAWM, 1965).

The cry for identity and the endurance of a historical presence is often associated with violence and war. The Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648) raged in Germany. The Dutch had their freedom fight against the Spaniards in an Eighty Years War (1568 – 1648), followed by the first war against the English in 1652. The Puritan revolution in England culminated between 1648 and 1653 when Cromwell won the battle of Worcester in 1651. In France was a series of revolts known as the Frondes. Spain (Catalonia), Portugal and Italy (Naples) had their revolts in 1647.

However, the hardships and fighting were not the main reason for the crisis – and could in certain cases, like in the Low Countries, even produce a ‘Golden Age‘ – but the pursuit of mental radicalism was its deep-laying source. An early warning, in the late sixteenth century that the attention for identity could lead to a dramatic fall from heaven, was neglected. Hendrick Goltzius produced, in 1588, a series of four etchings, based on paintings of Cornelisz van Haarlem, with ‘the fall’ as a motif (fig. 173). The disastrous journeys of Icarus and Phaeton and the disintegration of their quadrigas depicted the defeat of tetradic thinking in the face of absolutist dualism. And Ixion’s eternal course on the wheel was the punishment for cyclic thinking.


Fig. 173 – The four falling figures of Tantalus, Icarus, Phaeton and Ixion. Engravings by Hendrick Goltzius after paintings by Cornelis Cornelisz. of Haarlem, 1588. In: BERGVELT (1993) and FUCHS (1982).

A flash of ‘gnostic’ insight went through Europe in the middle of the seventeenth century after the fruits of the Renaissance were consummated. Now we have seen the light! Now there is purity! A sudden awareness of old and new knowledge, of the power of insight, initiated by a bold self-confidence took hold of the intelligentsia in greater parts of Europe. There was an urgent need to change the world, to spread the message of insight, before it was too late.

The dualistic mood was reflected in the designation of historical periods. The denomination of the ‘Middle Ages’ was more general introduced in the middle of the seventeenth century in the spirit of opposites, as a period between the present (now) and the (classical) past. Although there are indications of an earlier use by linguists of the fifteenth century, who spoke of ‘latinitas medii aevi’ (the Latin of the middle period; monks-Latin as opposite to the Latin of Cicero), it became only a common name from the Leviathan-year onwards. Cellarius (1634 – 1707) had the Middle Ages started with Constantine the Great (272 – 337). The word ‘Middle Ages’ was first used – according to SPENGLER (1927) – in 1667 by ‘professor Horn in Leiden’.

It is remarkable – but in the spirit of the time understandable – that the linear time-experience was opposed to a cyclical time. ‘It was at this time’ said TREVOR-ROPER (1965), ‘that cyclical theories of history became fashionable and the decline and fall of nations was predicted, not only from Scripture and the stars, but also from the passage of time and the organic processes of decay’. The material microcosmos broke into ever-smaller pieces, with no way out.

It could hardly be a coincidence that the Scottish mathematician John Napier of Merchistoun (1550 – 1617) invented and published (in 1614) logarithms in a book entitled ‘Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio’  (Description of the Wonderful Rule of Logarithms). It seemed like an effort to control and catch the last fugitives of the abstract, although in actual fact he was chasing a quick method to calculate the Biblical ‘Number of the Beast’ (666).

Cyclical time finds its roots, not surprisingly, in the heartland of oppositional thinking, Persia and more specific in the spiritual world of Zoroastrian Mazdaism. Here the fourfold confession of faith (in the old religion) was, according to ZAEHNER (1956/1975; 1961/1975):

 I confess myself a worshipper of Mazda, a Zoroastrian, a renouncer of the Daevas (bad), and an upholder of the Ahuras (good).

The Mazdean cosmogony distinguished two aspects of time: a time without shore, without origin, eternal time and a limited time or ‘the time of long domination’ (BRANDON, 1965; CORBIN, 1983). The cyclical time of Mazdaism was punctuated by three great acts, resulting in a four-division (of twelve millennia), making up the ‘Great Year‘:

  Act                                                           Time                                                                       Years


                1. The time before the primordial creation                                                     0 –  3000

Act 1   :              The primordial creation (Bundahishn)  in celestial state (menok)

                2. The time towards the earthly state (gelik)                                           3000 –  6000

 Act 2 :               The catastrophe

                3. The time of the mixture (gumecishn)  (incl. the present)                 6000 –  9000

  Act 3:                The final separation (vicarishn)

               4. The time towards the transfiguration of the world (frashokart)     9000 – 12000

The cyclical aspect of time and its philosophical implications were later – in the tenth and eleventh century – highlighted in the Ismaili cosmology by scholars like Abu Hatim Razi and Mohammed ibn Zakariya Razi (Rhazes). There might have been, according to CORBIN (1983, p. 151), a contact between the Gnostics of the West – in particular the Cathars – and the Ismailis, but no traces remain.

Unfortunately, the ‘Ismailis’ were, since the Crusades, associated with the (Syrian) ‘Assassins‘ and the popular negative meaning of the word took hold in the fourteenth century. The four-fold and/or cyclic element in the Ismaili gnosis, which could have been profitable for the development of European thinking, was completely obscured by the emphasis on the violent aspects of dualism. It was only in the seventeenth century, when the European scholars found themselves in a dualistic environment that the Gnostic cultural heritage gained new appeal: the Leviathan or the Beast was the symbol of a search for limitation in the multitude.

Two representatives of the seventeenth century deserve further attention, because they reflect the time and spirit of the ‘Leviathan Year’ in a special way. Their lives centered in the intellectual heart of Europe: the Moravian theologue Jan Komensky (Comenius) (1592 – 1670) and the Bohemian professor of mathematics in Jena, Erhart Weigel (1625 – 1699). Both men were teachers in ‘optima forma‘, bringing a message with the same self-confidence as Hobbes did in his ‘Leviathan‘ and with the same fervor as Samuel Hartlib (c. 1600 – 1662), who was appointed in 1649 as an ‘agent for the advancement of universal learning and the public good‘ (see also: ALTHAUS, 1883).

The ‘Leviathan Year’ generation had seen the light, and the world should see it too. ‘There was born on my hands a tractate with the title ‘Via Lucis’ (The Way of Light)’, proclaimed Comenius in his ‘Opera Didactica Omnia’ (Amsterdam, 1657), ‘that is, a reasonable disquisition in what manner the intellectual light of souls, Wisdom, may now at last, at the approaching eventide of the world, be happily diffused through all minds and peoples.’

In that same year (1657) the ‘Lux in Tenebris’ (Ligth in Darkness) – an extensive Latin translation of millenarian prophecies of Christopher Kotter, Nicholas Drabik and Christina Poniatova – was published by Comenius. He stated in the preface of the book, in the ‘Historia revelationem’, that he showed the illustrated manuscript to Frederick, when the Elector Palatine was in The Hague in 1626 (YATES, 1972; p. 200). The coming apoca-lyptic events and the return of the light were the central themes.

A lion with four heads was given as an illustration in the manuscript  of the ‘Lux in Tenebris ‘(fig. 174). The symbolism was echoed in an alchemical brochure at the end of the eighteenth century, called ‘Die Lebensgeschichte des Löwen R R R R’ (The life-history of the Lion R R R R). The (Green) Lion stood at the beginning of the Great Work. The addition of the letters ‘R R R R’ pointed to the four processes, which were involved in the search for the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ and the ‘Elixir of Life’: separation (separatio), purification (purefactio), unification (conjunctio) and multiplication (multiplicatio).


Fig. 174 – The lion with four heads, a reference to the four-parted character of the ‘Great Work’, started by the Green Lion. From Comenius’ ‘Lux e Tenebris‘, 1665. In: KELLER (1912).

The serious character of this matter was demonstrated by Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727), who spend a lot of time and effort in the search for the Green Lion (DOBBS, 1975). He was the last of the four great men – Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton – who carried the torch of modern scientific thinking and ignited its triumphal success.

Four Lions were also depicted in a print of Frederick and Elizabeth as King and Queen of Bohemia, issued in Prague at the time of their coronation in 1619 (fig. 175). The lions represented the alliances on which the new king and queen of Bohemia could count: ‘The lion was Frederick’s own heraldic animal, and the lion on the left is the lion of the Palatinate, holding an electoral crown. Then comes the double-tailed lion of Bohemia, the British lion with his sword, and the lion of the Netherlands’ (YATES, 1972/1975).


Fig. 175 – Frederick and Elizabeth as King and Queen of Bohemia, with Four Lions, symbols of their alliances. National Portrait Gallery, London. In: YATES (1972/1975).

A symbolic connection of this image existed with the Bible book of Daniel. Daniel was cast into the den of lions by king Darius and survived. Earlier he explained Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the four monarchies, and told about the burning of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Nebuchadnezzar saw a miracle when the three bounded man were thrown into the fire: ‘Lo, I see four men lose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’

Daniel had other dreams and visions too (Ch. 7): the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came from the sea, diverse from another (a lion, a bear, a leopard (with four wings and four heads) and a beast with iron teeth and ten horns).

Andreae drew upon this quadruple imagery in ‘The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz’ (Strassburg, 1616): On the Fourth Day, when Rosenkreutz went into the garden, he saw that the Lion had a tablet besides him with the inscription ‘Hermes Princeps’. The theatrical performance of that day ended with ‘the four beasts of Daniel’.

The short, but intensive glow of mystical thinking at the beginning of the seventeenth century marked a momentous period in European history. It was a movement of (political) hope to reach higher values, but it failed in many ways. In hindsight, it can be suggested that the efforts to establish a world of higher division thinking came about two hundred years too early.


2. Johan Amos Comenius (1592 – 1670)


Jan Komensky was born on March 28, 1592 in Nivnice, Moravia. He was educated at the protestant universities of Herborn (1611) and Heidelberg (1613). In Herborn, he received his first Millenarian ideas from his teachers Johannes Piscator (1546 – 1625) and  Johann Alsted (1588 – 1638). Here he chose his middle-name Amos, as a tribute to the prophet in the Bible, who brought a grim message of destruction and evil: ‘Thy wife shall be a harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land’ (Amos: 7 – 17). Apparently, the young Komensky had some affinity with these words. Alsted influenced him with his ideas about the great harmony of the world.

Comenius became a teacher and administrator after his return from Heidelberg in 1614 and finally a pastor and spiritual leader of the Bohemian Brethren (of the Unity). He started with the writing of encyclopedic works, seeking the ordering of all available knowledge. ‘Comenius aimed to raise the intellectual, moral, and religious level of mankind’ (MANUEL & MANUEL, 1979).

Comenius’ life changed dramatically after the ‘Battle of the White Mountain’ on the 8th of November in 1620, when the Catholic League defeated the Protestant Bohemian forces. This event was the end of the reign of Frederick, the Elector Palatine, but also a defeat for liberal thoughts. Comenius had to leave Fulnek and became a fugitive. The city was burned, including the greater part of the library of Comenius. His wife and two sons died, and he fell in a depression at the end of the year 1623 and early 1624.

Comenius wrote three ‘consolationes‘ between 1623 and 1625 to remedy his illness and being his own therapist. The dialogues were written in the spirit of oppositional thinking: ‘Sorrow on Sorrow – Consolation after Consolation’, ‘The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart’ (fig. 176) and the ‘Centrum Securitatis’ (Centrepoint of the Security of Life). These titles (and contents) carry a sense of dual thinking, like sorrow and consolation, war and peace, and chaos and order.


Fig. 176 – Comenius’ publication ‘The Labyrinth of the World’ (Ch. 1 – 36) and the ‘Paradise of the Heart’ (Ch. 37 – 54) was conceived in 1623 and first printed in Czech in 1631. Comenius’ proposed city had a ‘Gate of Entering and a Gate of Separation’. The circular city was divided in six main streets, which represented the six classes of the world. A Common Square was situated in the middle. Comenius’ city was the complete opposite of Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ (1516) written some hundred years earlier. Thomas More showed the ideal future place, while Comenius’ vision was a place of despair: everything was wrong, all sciences were futile and knowledge was useless. Only belief in God could lead humanity to salvation. In: DIETERICH (1991/1992).

The ‘Centrum Securitatis’ (1625) was influenced by Neoplatonism, cabbala and the Christian mysticism of Jakob Böhme (1575 – 1624) (DIETERICH, 1991/2005). The theoretical-philosophical work had a two-fold conclusion: ‘Every creature has two centrepoints: first a general one, that is God, the Creator and Guardian of all things; and second, his own, which is his character and nature, given to him by God.’ Comenius’ aim was to build a complete system of knowledge – called ‘Pansophia’ – where religion and science could join and end their conflict. These ideas originated from Ramon Lull, who tried to do the same in the thirteenth century in the conflict between the Christian faith and the infidel Muslims and Jews.

Finally, in a truly dualistic appraisal of Comenius’ heritage, the man-and-wife team Frank and Fritzie MANUEL (1979, p. 320) gave the following description: ‘In modern times his writings have often been separated into two parts, the theosophical sections cast aside as aberrations of the age, the secular plans preserved as the works of a universalist reformer, a believer in the right of every man and woman to self-actualisation, a saviour of little children who in schools that followed his method were liberated from the stupefying blows of brutal masters’.


3. Erhard Weigel (1625 – 1699)


Another typical representative of the spirit of the ‘Leviathan Year’ and its associated psychological crisis is Erhard Weigel (1625 – 1699). He is mentioned by GLASER (1971) in his book ‘History of Binary and other nondecimal Numeration‘ as the author of the ‘Tetractyn‘, published by Johann Meyer in Jena (1672). The search to find this publication has been not successful, until now. Weigel might be called a ‘Hauptfigur der deutschen frühaufklärung‘ (WINTER, 1971), but this does not mean that his work is easily accessible. Weigel spent most of his life as a professor of mathematics in Jena.

The ‘Speculum Uranicum Aquilae Romanae Sacrum’ (1661) is one of Weigel’s major scientific books, which gave a description of the ‘mirror of heaven’, including all the ‘ordentlich/auch die ungewöhnlichen Erscheinungen des Himmels‘ (normal/also the unusual appearances in the sky). The theme of visibility is at the centre of the work: the ‘mirror’ gives an element of (two-fold) reflection and the eagle (aquilae), with his sharp eyes, stands for the power of visibility.

The eagle symbolizes the Leviathan Year, the apex of visible visibility. LAVIN (1985) wrote on this topic an illuminating article, with ‘Bernini’s cosmic eagle’ as his subject. Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680) was a contemporary with Weigel, and reached his fame in many sculptural compositions, including the canopy and the cathedra of the Saint Peter and the Fountain of the Four Rivers.

This fountain was built (in 1651) on the Piazza Navona in Rome. Simon SCHAMA (1995, p. 299) remarked on this monument: ‘No other artist of the Baroque approached Bernini’s intensely Catholic yearning for unity. Just as he was forever inventing new ways in which the unification of matter and spirit, body and soul, could be visualized and physically experienced, so he orchestrated his many skills in a unified performance; the nearest the Baroque came to a sacred Gesamtkunstwerk.’

Bernini designed, in that same period, a frontispiece  to a treatise on optics – the ‘Optica Philosophia’ – by Nicolo Zucchi, published at Lyons in 1652 – 1656 (fig. 177). The book was brought out five years before Weigels’ ‘Speculum’, but was written in the same Leviathan-spirit, with the phenomenon of ‘visibility’ as a central theme. The presentation of ‘an elaborate hieroglyphical-allegorical-symbolical conglomeration of motifs’ on the frontispiece of a scientific work was a new concept. Heaven, pouring out its light, on a dark, global earth has the appearance of objective reality, but also brings home the picture of a world of opposites. Central is an eagle, heading for the earth and looking back to the sun, indicating the pivotal role between these two celestial spheres.


Fig. 177 – Bernini’s Cosmic Eagle. The symbolism of the eagle facing the sun (light) and flying towards the earth was a tribute to Visibility (Prudence) and Power. The motto ‘Utroque Potens’ (powerful in both), was a reference to the patronage of the Catholic House of Hapsburg, but emphasized – in a more general way – the two-fold character of communication. The cosmic eagle was the highlight of the Leviathan Year, a celebration of visibility and opposites. Frontispiece of N. Zucchi – Optica Philosophia (2 Vols. Lyons, 1652 – 1656). Engraving by F. Poilly. In: LAVIN  (1985).

The eagle was the emblematic bird of the House of Hapsburg, the leading political power in Central Europe at the time (mid-seventeenth century). The bicephalic, imperial eagle stood for Power and Prudence. The binary motto ‘UTROQUE POTENS’ (powerful in both) on the frontispiece of Zucchi’s book was a reference to the spiritual and terrestrial achievements (of the Hapsburg patronage), but is also a reminder of dualism and the joining together of the visible and invisible elements of a communication.

Weigel’s most important book was the ‘Philosophia mathematica (theologia naturalis solida)’, published at the end of his life by Matthew Birckner in Jena in 1693. The ‘Gesammelte päedagogische Schriften’, a facsimile-edition by SCHUELING (1970), marked a step in the right direction for a greater access to Weigel’s work. The German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646 – 1716), had been, during half a year in 1663, the pupil of Weigel (MOLL, 1978).

Weigel held, besides his ordinary teachings, an ‘Astrognostisch-heraldisches Collegium‘ in the open air for a wider public. He tried to join classical and modern thought, in a spirit of ‘synkretismus‘ and point the way to a ‘Via Nova‘. His newly formed ‘Societas Pythagorea‘ aimed at a revival of Pythagorean thoughts. The musical intervals, as a ‘natural’ division, which can be measured on a string, had strong affinities with the ‘tetractys‘ as the leading division principle: 4 : 3 (the fourth), 3 : 2 (the fifth) and 2 : 1 (the octave). Weigel proposed a counting-system on base four, with inventive German names for the various figures, such as:

 ————————–              E R F F           –    10

—————————             Z W E R F F   –    20

—————————             D R E F F       –    30

—————————             S E C H T       –   100

—————————            S C H O C K    –  1000

It is difficult to evaluate Weigel’s position in the history of division thinking in the seventeenth century. The relation of the ‘Pythagorean’ heritage with dualistic thinking is interesting and seems to warrant further investigation. Weigel could be a key-figure in this research, because in the end it will be the mathematicians, who shape the cognitive reality and throw light on the true character of philosophy.

This statement can be demonstrated in the history of thought around the Leviathan Year (1650). Bishop Juan Caramuel Y Lobkowitz (1606 – 1682) published in his book ‘Mathesis biceps’ (1670), a treatise on the binary system  (together with the 3-, 10-, 12- and 60-based systems). However, it was Leibniz, who got the credit as the discoverer of the base-two system with his publication in the ‘Explication’ of 1703, half a century after the Leviathan Year. This mathematical system was the crown of oppositional thinking: to bring the world back to itself and its opposite. Again some two-and-a-half centuries later this very binary system became the fundamental organization for the brains of the computer…

The present communication culture is based on computers, which are programmed in a binary way. An electric current with a positive and a negative charge generates their basic operations. Therefore, all information to be processed has to be coded in opposites. This stipulation implies that all messages which cannot be translated into a binary language – like the material of the first (intuition), second (ideas) and fourth (feelings) quadrant of the quadralectic way of thinking – are unsuitable for computer processing. We have to keep this in mind before we join the electronic highway.

Weigel did not have these problems. The fragments of his visibility suggest that he saw the binary movement of his time in the right perspective. That is: as part of a wider division thinking, even if he was not able to reach higher than its numerological approach.


4. Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672)


The typecasting of the Leviathan Year (1650) would not be complete without drawing attention to an American contribution by Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672). This ‘Gentlewoman in New-England’ wrote her ‘Quaternion‘ between 1630 and 1642: four poems, each composed of four parts and dealing with ‘The Four Elements’ (Fire, Earth, Water, Air), ‘Of The Four Humours’ (Choler, Blood, Melancholy, Phlegm), ‘Of the Four Ages’ (Childhood, Youth, Middle Age, Old Age) ‘The Four Seasons’ (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) and ‘The Four Monarchies’ (Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, Roman).

————————-  ‘Of all your qualities I do partake,

————————– And what you single are, the whole I make.

————————– Your hot, moist, cold, dry natures are but four,

————————– I moderately am all, what need I more’

This little monument of puritan devotion to the tetradic cause was a curious hallmark in a time of rampant dualism in Europe. The first edition of 1650 was probable printed without her knowledge, because her brother-in-law John Woodbridge carried the manuscript from America to London and had it published by Stephen Bowtell as ‘The Tenth Muse Lately sprung up in America’. The title page of her American edition, printed by John Foster in Boston in 1678, is given in fig. 178.


Fig. 178 – The title page of Anne Bradstreet’s poems from 1678, with a tribute to quadruple themes. Anne Bradstreet left England to build a new future in America and was able to develop – more or less on her own – a microcosmos of the tetradic world. She continued a tradition, which had its roots in the classical world (like the ‘Georgics’ of Virgil and the Ovidian tradition), but also has been traced by TUVE (1933/1974) in the Carolingian ‘conflictus‘ poems of Alcuin and Sedulius Scottus, the (pseudo-Aristotelian) ‘Secreta Secretorum‘ and Goliardic songs like the ‘Carmina Burana‘. They are all devoted to (four) seasons and their cyclic appearance. Anne Bradstreet took the tetradic imagery and developed it into a single poetic body. In: HENSLEY  (1967).

The four-parted theme was inspired by a (lost) poem of her father Thomas Dudley, titled ‘On the Four Parts of the World’ (HENSLEY, 1967), but the content was heavily drawn from ‘The History of the World‘ of Sir Walter Raleigh, printed for Walter Burre in London in 1614 (COWELL & STANFORD, 1983) (see fig. 74).

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