----------------------------THE HEADERS--------------------------- Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 09:21:14 -0700 (MST) From: "STEPHEN DAVIES, MT. ROYAL COLLEGE"
Subject: Manitoba flooding = loss of novels  Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 12:52:21 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ Subject: Reeve's Three Alchemists  Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 13:55:34 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ Subject: Correction and query  Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 14:04:53 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ Subject: Gypsy lore query  Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 13:24:37 -0500 From: ayc(at)ux1.cso.uiuc.edu (athan chilton) Subject: Re: Gypsy lore query   Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 15:26:55 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ Subject: Re: Gypsy lore query    Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 14:47:53 -0600 (CST) From: Chris Carlisle Subject: Re: Gypsy lore query     Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 16:20:16 -0400 From: Seth Foster Subject: Re: Manitoba flooding = loss of novels   Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 19:51:01 -0400 (EDT) From: Debah(at)aol.com Subject: Re: Reeve's modern alchemy   -----------------------------THE POSTS----------------------------- Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 09:21:14 -0700 (MST) From: "STEPHEN DAVIES, MT. ROYAL COLLEGE" Subject: Manitoba flooding = loss of novels  A reporter was interviewed on the radio about his experiences covering the Manitoba flooding (the Red River become the Red Sea), and he related a story about an unnamed novelist he had spoken with. The novelist was scooping up his loose manuscripts and tossing them into his van because he had four hours to evacuate his home. Altho the flooding is causing widespread tragedy, none worse than loss of life, I thought you might be interested in hearing what the novelist was having to sacrifice. He took the reporter upstairs and showed him North America's largest private collection of turn of the century first edition novels: 1300 titles. That was his claim anyway. I can only hope these links with the past will escape serious damage. I was reading Mario R.'s concern on Victorian-L that original materials from the Victorian era are disappearing (disintegrating?) all the time. This may be a textbook example of that. Stephen D SDavies(at)mtroyal.ab.ca
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 12:52:21 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ
Subject: Reeve's Three Alchemists  Reeve mentions three alchemists in "The Invisible Ray": Paracelsus, Simon Forman, and Jerome Cardan. At least two of these men do indeed resemble Dr. Prescott in that they mixed elements of occultism with the practice of medicine. (It is interesting that the triumvirate of scientists that Reeve presents were physicists, chemists, i.e., practioners of the "hard sciences," whereas medicine is a far more inexact science; indeed, it can be more art than science.) Reeve's alchemists were not, however, without real scientific accomplishment, which makes me think that perhaps, in the character of Prescott, Reeve was not engaged in a little scientific speculation of his own, safely disguised in fictional form. (Alas, I was only a poor English major in college and my ability to distinguish possibilities from falsehoods in science is hazy at best.) In any case, the material below, taken from various websites, gives some information on Reeve's collection of alchemists, all of whom seemed to have lived in the 16th century. There is a great deal of material available on Paracelsus, so I will content myself with only two brief references to him. From the A&E Biography site: >>Paracelsus originally Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493--1541) Alchemist and physician, born in Einsiedeln, Switzerland. He travelled widely in Europe and the Middle East, learning about alchemy, and acquiring great fame as a medical practitioner (1526). He became town physician and lecturer at Basel (1527), but his controversial views caused his exile in 1538. He travelled through Europe until settling at Salzburg in 1541. He established the use of chemistry in medicine, gave the most up-to-date description of syphilis, and was the first to argue that small doses of what makes people ill can also cure them.<< To this rather innocent-looking bio can be added the following from the website A Who's Who of Witches: 1100-1800 >>Traveled throughout Europe, practicing medicine, occultism, alchemy, prognostications. Wrote on sylphs, salamanders, nymphs: incorporating mystic elements into Germanic folk legends. Noted for his magic speculum used in divination, for making which he offered detailed instructions. << About Simon Forman, I could only come up with the following from the same website (i.e., A Who's Who of Witches: 1100-1800) >>Dr. Forman Seventeenth century astrologer and magician. Practiced image magic at court of King James VI of Scotland. << The most fascinating of the three, to me at least, was Jerome Cardan. Cardan was a man of real achievement in the sciences but found himself constantly embroiled in trouble because of his occult interests. Here is a much more complete bio. Than offered for Paracelsus and Simon Forman: >>Girolamo Cardano Born: 24 Sept 1501 in Pavia, Duchy of Milan (now Italy) Died: 21 Sept 1576 in (now Italy) Cardan is famed for his work Ars Magna which was the first Latin treatise devoted solely to algebra. Girolamo Cardano's name was Cardan in Latin and in English he is sometimes known as Jerome Cardan. Cardan studied at Pavia and Padua receiving a doctorate in medicine in 1525. He was professor of mathematics at Milan, Pavia and Bologna leaving each after some scandal. Cardan lectured and wrote on mathematics, medicine, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, and physics. In fact his fame as a doctor was such that the Archbishop of St Andrews, on suffering as he thought from consumption, sent for Cardan. Cardan is reported to have visited Scotland to treat the Archbishop who was not suffering from consumption and made a complete recovery. Cardan is famed for his work Ars Magna which was the first Latin treatise devoted solely to algebra and is one of the important steps in the rapid development in mathematics which began around this time (and still continues today). Ars Magna made known the solution of the cubic by radicals and the solution of the quartic by radicals. These were proved by Tartaglia and Ferrari respectively. Ferrari was in fact a pupil of Cardan's. In Ars Magna appears the first computation with complex numbers although Cardan did not properly understand it. Cardan's Liber de ludo aleae in 1563 was the first study of the theory of probability. De vita propria liber in 1575 is Cardan's autobiography. It is one of the first modern psychological autobiographies. Cardan was eventually forbidden to lecture or publish books. In 1570 he was imprisioned on a charge of having cast the horoscope of Christ. In 1571 Pope Pius V granted him an annuity for life and he settled in Rome and became astrologer to the papal court. Cardan is reported to have correctly predicted the exact date of his own death. He achieved this by committing suicide. << (Note: another source reports that it was not Pius V who sponsored Cardan but Gregory XIII. "Pius would have nothing to do with him since he had just been found guilty by the Inquisition.") To give you an idea of some of Cardan's speculative writings, I offer the following quotation from Cyrano de Bergerac's _A Voyage to the Moon_. In it, Cardan appears to have been involved in what Ufologists call "a close encounter of the third kind": >>Being come home, I went up into my Closet, where I found a Book upon the Table, which I had not put there. It was a piece of Cardanus, and though I had no design to read in it, yet I fell at first sight, as by force, exactly upon a Passage of that Philosopher, where he tells us, That Studying one evening by Candle-light, he perceived Two Tall old Men enter through the door that was shut, who after many questions that he put to them, made him answer, That they were Inhabitants of the Moon, and thereupon immediately disappeared.<< The book in question is entitled _De Subtilitate Rerum_, which was at the top of the European best-seller list in 1550 and considered one of Cardan's best. (The determination of Cardan's best work depends on the particular discipline of the person doing the judging.) Cardan is sometimes called the Italian Paracelsus. He was involved in nearly every branch of knowledge available to a sixteenth-century scholar, including alchemy and necromancy. At one site he was also referred to as a "physiomancer," a word whose meaning I can't guess, only that it must be a form of divination. Quite a collection of individuals Reeve plucked out to include in his story. Bob Champ rchamp(at)europa.umuc.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 13:55:34 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ
Subject: Correction and query  In my post on the Three Alchemists, I said that it seemed to me that Reeve was *not* engaging in scientific speculation. That "not" is a mistake and should be omitted. Could anyone tell me what image magic is? Magic with mirrors, perhaps? Or is this magic that involves making images of someone, as in voodoo? Bob Champ rchamp(at)europa.umuc.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 14:04:53 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ
Subject: Gypsy lore query  I know that, on the decease of a gypsy, everything he/she owned is burned in a ritual ceremony. But what of the gypsy him or herself? I can't imagine that gypsies would have been buried in most cemeteries--so was cremation a gypsy response? Or would cremation, if done, be a holdover from the gypsy days in India where cremation is a common practice? Bob Champ rchamp(at)europa.umuc.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 13:24:37 -0500 From: ayc(at)ux1.cso.uiuc.edu (athan chilton) Subject: Re: Gypsy lore query   Bob, in Jan Yoors' book, a gypsy who dies is buried--in a local graveyard--with much hysterical behavior, esp. by the women. Then everybody goes back to camp, where those nearest to the deceased will fast for a day or longer, stay up all night singing and lamenting, and drinking in order to purge themselves of grief. The book notes that the gaje were startled at the violence of the Rom's behavior... I have not heard of cremation among them, but do not know what current practices may be among so-called 'settled' Rom. Athan ayc(at)ux1.cso.uiuc.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 15:26:55 -0500 (EST) From: Robert Champ
Subject: Re: Gypsy lore query    Athan's comment about Gypsy reactions to funerals is given further substance by the description in one of my books of a gypsy funeral procession: "Among Hungarian gypsies a funeral procession is on occasion a musical performance, consisting of the processional mourners who follow the coffin while playing the violin, clarinet, flute, cello." This does not indicate cremation, though the hysterical women and all the musical instruments going at the same time must have created a wonderful cacophony. Yet, unless there were public cemeteries in many places on the circuits of the various Gypsy bands, I can't think what was done with dead bodies. I don't believe the Rom would have been given permission to bury their dead in most Christian cemeteries, which were the only cemeteries in some places. Perhaps the selection of the circuits was, in some degree, decided by such considerations. As the Gypsies would say, Athan, _nais tuki_ ("thanks" in Romany). Bob Champ rchamp(at)europa.umuc.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 14:47:53 -0600 (CST) From: Chris Carlisle
Subject: Re: Gypsy lore query     >Yet, unless there were public cemeteries in many places on the circuits of >the various Gypsy bands, I can't think what was done with dead bodies. >I don't believe the Rom would have been given permission to bury their >dead in most Christian cemeteries, which were the only cemeteries in >some places. Wait a minute, Bob--the "official" religion of most Rom is the religion of the country in which they spend most of their time. They do indeed continue to follow their ancient purity rules and rituals, but they are sometimes nominally and often sincerely Christians, Muslims, and followers of other faiths. Consider the heavy Rom presence at Ste. Anne Beaupre and other Catholic shrines during festivals, for instance. So I don't think that, in spite of their "irreligous" reputation, they would be denied burial in all Christian cemeteries. AND, you must remember, there are many municipal cemeteries in Europe, to which access is not controlled by the local clergy. Kiwi Carlisle carlisle(at)wuchem.wustl.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 16:20:16 -0400 From: Seth Foster
Subject: Re: Manitoba flooding = loss of novels   STEPHEN DAVIES, MT. ROYAL COLLEGE wrote: > damage. I was reading Mario R.'s concern on Victorian-L that > original materials from the Victorian era are disappearing > (disintegrating?) all the time. This may be a textbook > example of that. > > Stephen D > SDavies(at)mtroyal.ab.ca Disintegrating due to acidity or just plain being kept in an attic where the mice and the silverfish get at them, being tossed out as too old to be interesting, whatever. What I was especially talking about on victorian-l, though, was that a lot of material is simply unavailable. Some of it is out of print. Other things were never published in the first place -- diaries, letters, and the like. Some of *these* things are being tossed out, too, by people who simply do not realize the value of the glimpses into history they provide. Others are being stored, sometimes even under excellent conditions, but because they are unique they are limited to the library or collection that stores them -- and they are also rendered inaccessible simply because researchers don't know the things are there. Mario Rups markin(at)patriot.net
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 19:51:01 -0400 (EDT) From: Debah(at)aol.com Subject: Re: Reeve's modern alchemy   I enjoyed this story and it's antiquated science very much. Perhaps like S.T. said we are removed enough from the period that it's not bad science anymore but something more on the level of the original alchemists. Although I picked up immediately on the clue of the blue eyes and wondered where they got this dark eyed daughter (like we didn't know anyway that SOMETHING WAS WRONG, this was just the final proof). I really couldn't pick that many holes in the theory of Prescott's new force. However, what put me off his theories wasn't the idea of the lifeforce or its capability of changing copper to gold (staying within element groups) but the addition of the occult aspect of telepathy. The minute that was added into it just became too much. All I could think was "Prescott, you're cramming too much in to make this scientific." Crossing over into the occult seriously devalued his scientific credibility. But in the times it was written this certainly wouldn't have been seen as the same kind of obstacle when we think of Mesmerism, seances and other ways to reach beyond. But after reading this I'm afraid I actually missed what kind of ray this was that could create temporary blindness (for however long) and the skin rashes. Radioactive? Xray? For some reason at the end I was looking to find the clues to a real kind of invisible ray. Was it Xray and I somehow misread? What was surprising was bringing back the old man to life w/o permanent oxygen deprivation to his brain. More than 7 minutes? Or was he only "mostly dead". I was glad he was brought back because it would be so unfair, at least he had a chance to truly make amends with his real daughter. But wouldn't he have had serious brain damage? Okay, I'm asking too much of the science again. It doesn't matter. I enjoyed the story regardless and am more than willing to suspend some belief for the required effect of the period. Interesting. Deborah Deborah McMillion debah(at)aol.com http://www.primenet.com/~bucanek/ End of Gaslight digest.