The Eccentric Vico

Georgia O’Keeffe,
Red Hill and White Shell, 1938
Oil on canvas

I have been spending time with an old friend these past few days. Nevermind the fact that he’s a little eccentric, sometimes absolutely ridiculous, sometimes utterly incomprehensible. As Anthony Grafton writes in his Introduction to the Penguin edition of Giambattista Vico’s New Science, the man was articulate in his own field — rhetoric — but considered practically a madman when it came to his research into philology and history that culminated in the New Science: “Vico did not receive so much as a letter from Le Clerc or Newton, to whom he sent copies. The only reference to the book that appeared abroad was a deliberately inaccurate and malicious notice… which Vico tried to rebut… Other Neapolitan intellectuals, he decided, regarded him as a madman” (Anthony Grafton, “Introduction,” xv-xvi).

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The Apocalypse of Christus Victor

Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The Triumph of Death, 1562
Oil on panel

Early in C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew, we are confronted with the image of a dying world. Digory and Polly have landed, through the Wood between the Worlds, on Charn, a devastated, dry, cold, nasty place where the sun is red, large, and ineffective and where Jadis (the White Witch of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) has used “the deplorable word” to kill all the other living beings on the planet. Continue reading “The Apocalypse of Christus Victor”