12 October 2009

Eco's Specula


What the Specula was like, no one had ever seen: the first brother left only a booklet of sketches and notes, which for that matter had now disappeared. And, on the other hand, Caspar complained, that the same opuscule "was brevissimamente scripto, con nullo schemate visualiter patefacto, nulle tabule nec rotule, und nulla specialis instructione."

On the basis of that meager information Father Caspar [based on Athanasius Kircher], in the course of the long voyage on the Daphne, setting the ship's carpenters to work, had redesigned or else misconstructed the various elements of the technasma, mounting them then on the Island and measuring, in situ, its countless virtues -- and the Specula must truly have been an Ars Magna in flesh and blood, or, rather, in wood, iron, canvas, and other substances, a kind of Megahorologium, an Animated Book capable of revealing all the mysteries of the Universe.

//Umberto Eco, The Island of the Day Before (306-7)

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