From Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (2000) with little or no distortion:
• Kepler, the discoverer of the elliptical nature of planetary orbits, “was a practicing astrologist.” (p. 196)
He invented the elliptical writing used in modern horoscopes.
• Newton was “a dedicated alchemist.” (p. 196)
He sure struck gold when he combined figs with shortbread.
• Paracelsus was “hot with anger against authority.” (p. 197)
You should have seen his brother Full-On Celsus–as a little boy the Church confirmed him just so they could immediately excommunicate him, he was that bad.
• The Catholic Church defended Galileo as long as they could. It was the rest of the public that was against him. (p. 204)
• Pascal was too Catholic to be a mystic. (p. 215)
Jesus was too mystic to be a Catholic.
• Science is bourgeois. It’s just so new money. (pp. 206-207)
• The Middle Ages were jolly, not gloomy. Feudalism was a breeze. (p. 225-226)
• No one thought the world was going to end in A.D. 999. It’s a myth. (p. 227)
• Dante’s beloved Beatrice was nine years old. (p. 233)
Reading his poems is now like watching Woody Allen’s Manhattan.
• Romantic poetry and courtly love indirectly led to women’s rights. The Crusades helped too. (pp. 232-234)
My love is like an autonomous independent being
who dependeth not on my regard for her self-worth,
nor yet the approval of any man she may be seeing
to imbue her life with meaning, or give birth
• Medieval medicine makes a lot of sense. (p. 223)
• In the Middle Ages, bands of graduate and undergraduate students roamed the countryside practicing anarchy. The more sedentary just preyed upon the nearby townspeople. (p. 229)
• In the Middle Ages, there was no Middle Ages. (pp. 224-225)
If only that were also true for the Postmodern Era.
• In the 16th and 17th Centuries, Germany and Italy caused “harm” to other European powers “by their tempting weakness.” (p. 241)
Blaming victims again? (see May 24th post below)
• Dueling is an improvement over clan warfare, and absolute monarchs are better than dueling aristocrats (pp. 241-243)
Now here Barzun might be on to something.
Alan Brech 2012