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FWD: [UASR] Thinking With Demons

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  • Frits Westra
    Posted by : Terry W. ColvinWhile working my way through Stuart Clark s monumental *Thinking With Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 1999
      Posted by : "Terry W. Colvin" <fortean@...>

      While working my way through Stuart Clark's monumental
      *Thinking With Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe*
      (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), I came upon a remark by the Dominican
      Tommaso Campanella that anticipates by three and and a half centuries
      Arthur C. Clarke's famous Third Law.

      In 1604 Campanella wrote that "technology is always called magic until it
      is understood"--a statement comparable to Clarke's "Any sufficiently
      advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. "

      [Campanella cited by William Eamon, "Technology as Magic in the Late
      Middle Ages and the Renaissance," *Janus*, 70 (1983), 171-212:171. See
      *Thinking With Demons*, p. 263.]

      Clarke's aphorism is widely quoted on the Web, but I noticed that it
      appears in various forms on different websites:

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
      Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.
      Any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
      A sufficiently high level of technology is indistinguishable from magic.

      Those variants are from just the first few sites I checked. Who knows how
      many others there are?

      * * *

      The following excerpt from Stuart Clark's book describes a marvelous
      insignia promoted by Jean Boucher, a 17th-century archdeacon and canon of
      Tournai cathedral. No illustration accompanies the text, and I am unable
      to visualize the insignia from its description. Could it be the figure
      known as the triquetra?

      [In his *Couronne mystique*...(1624), Boucher proposes] the
      creation in Western Europe of a new military order based on a
      chivalric code of the purest Counter-Reformation zeal. The
      inspiration for this sacred militia (*milice sacre*) is to
      come from Catholic kings, princes, and knights everywhere, but
      especially from a holy alliance between Louis XIII and Philip
      IV of Spain. Its principal aim is to crush the Turks but it
      will also annihilate the Church's other enemies in a final and
      decisive moral *reconquista* directed against all forms of
      impiety. Like the crusaders of old it will bear an insignia of
      great symbolic potency, in this case the circular form produced
      by a single strand coiled in an uninterrupted triple helix.
      Boucher believed that this 'mystical crown' encapsulated in
      symbolism all the truths of the Catholic faith and of divine
      monarchy, the twin foundations of his grand design for Europe.
      He also claimed that its shape and construction transcended
      the laws of logic, natural philosophy, and mathematics and that
      this gave it miracle-working properties, besides proving its
      divine origin. Lastly, and (in the present context) of most
      signifiance, he claimed that it was emblematically contrary to
      the mark of the 'Beast' and that this made it uniquely
      appropriate as the device of those engaged in eschatological

      Clark, *Thinking With Demons*, p. 387.

      Brian Chapman

      Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean@... >
      Home Page: < http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shadowlands/8832 >
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