Ted Hand is public school teacher and independent scholar of Renaissance Magic. In this episode, he discusses the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and Atalanta Fugiens as influential Renaissance texts and the culture of images. Ted discusses in particular the concept of using these image-heavy texts as vehicles for esoteric or mystical play. He discusses in particular the Atalanta Fugiens as a multimedia text and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili as almost an architectural handbook.
This conversation ends up being a deep exploration of the historical culture of the imagination. We discuss alchemy, the Rosicrucians, early Freemasonry, Robert Fludd, Giulio Camillo, image magic, forbidden knowledge, the Art of Memory, and building a relationship with meaningful texts.
One key bit in this episode is Ted’s explanation of why well-known Renaissance man and architect Leon Battisti Aberti was considered as a potential author of the Hypnerotomachia before scholars seemed to settle on Francisco Colonna.
Along the way, Ted and I discuss different definitions and approaches to meditation in the history of Western esotericism, and we talk about the role of imagination and visions in meditative practice. This in particular might be one of the greatest lesson
This episode is the second in a series on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and serves to help introduce the audience to the thinking, culture, and scholarship around this remarkable book and its lasting effect on our culture. Check below for show notes and for Ted’s recommended reading list.
- Bilak, Donna. “Playful Humanism in Atalanta fugiens (1618)”. 2017. https://italianacademy.columbia.edu/paper/playful-humanism-atalanta-fugiens-1618
- Cruz, Esteban Alejandro. Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: Re-Discovering Antiquity Through The Dreams Of Poliphilus. 2006.
- Griggs, Tamara. “Promoting the past: The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili as antiquarian enterprise”. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/griggs/files/wordimage.pdf
- Russell, James, Charles. ‘Many Other Things Worthy of Knowledge and Memory’: The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and its Annotators, 1499-1700. (2014). etheses.dur.ac.uk/10757/
- Rogers, Dionysius. A Renaissance Seduction of Memory: Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia as Counter-Edification.
- Tufte, Edward. Beautiful Evidence.
- Warner, Marina. Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self.
- https://en.chessbase.com/post/francesco-colonna-first-human-chess-reference (same website has the acrostic)
- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315117781_A_Dreamt_Feast_Culinary_Marvels_in_the_Hypnerotomachia_Poliphili (banquet in chapter nine, late medieval and early renaissance feasting practices)
- Hasler, Johann F.W. “Performative and Multimedia Aspects of Late-Renaissance Meditative Alchemy: The Case of Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (1617)”, (Revista de Estudios Sociales. April, 2011). https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=3439874
- Szonyi, György E. “Architectural Symbolism and Fantasy Landscapes in Alchemical and Occult Discourse: Revelatory Images”, in Emblems & Alchemy, Alison Adams, and Stanton J. Linden, (eds.), (Glasgow Emblem Studies, 1998).
- Bolzoni, Lina. “The Memory Theatre of Giulio Camillo: Alchemy, Rhetoric, and Deification in the Renaissance”, in Lux in Tenebris: The Visual and the Symbolic in Western Esotericism, (Brill, Aries Book Series, Volume: 23, 2018).