Strange Arts & Visual Delights
The Scene in an Alchemist’s Laboratory is from Wikimedia
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“Strange Arts and Visual Delights” is the loose translation of the title of an Arabic manuscript acquired by the Bodleian Library in 2002. It consists of maps and astronomical diagrams, “most … previously unparalleled” in any surviving material in any language. Even though the preferred title is now The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes, I will keep the title that so intrigued me when I first read it. (If you’re interested, read Jeremy Johns and Emilie Savage-Smith, “The Book of Curiosities: A Newly Discovered Series of Islamic Maps,” Imago Mundi 55 (2003): 7-24, accessible on JSTOR.)
In the Renaissance and Baroque eras, “Kunst- und Wunderkammer” were rooms for the display of “precious artworks (artificialia), rare natural objects (naturalia), scientific instruments (scientifica), objects from exotic lands (exotica), and natural marvels that sparked wonder (mirabilia)” (https://www.kunstkammer.com/index.php/en/kunst-and-Wunderkammer).
None of this is exactly germane to the purposes of this blog, except that I hope it will be various and curious, touching on any topics that interest me at a given moment, including poetry, regional and family history, politics, culture. I hope to be an observer of the passing (and many passed) scenes, good natured by preference but acidic when called for.
You may disagree with me, but friends are those we love and respect, not those we agree with.