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.
Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean@...
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