Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lessons learned, pre-modern mysticism edition

Having moved from Bodin to "Hugh of St. Victor" (a real person, but one I know so little about that he merits quotes), I must admit that that numerology is real, at least like the existence of Hugh of St. Victor is real, in the Lockean sense of "real" - existent in the world, an activity engaged in by serious people and evidently intended to convey some meaning, whether sincere or ironic, I do not know. And I do not know because I always thought that the existence of the thing itself was a big joke, rather than that perhaps the joke was contained in the expression of the thing. So now I admit that I should have been less hasty in my dismissal of this possibility earlier, so that I could avoid such things as spending a not insubstantial portion of my evening verifying patterns in the multiples of the number four, because it's either that or giving up on understanding any part of a text that consists in large part of discussions like this:
The first progression of the soul, therefore, is that by which from its simple essence, symbolized by the monad, it extends itself into a virtual threeness...Next, the soul, from its being virtually threefold steps down by a second progression to controlling the music of the human body, which music is constituted in the number "nine", since nine are the openings in the human body by which, according to natural adjustment, everything by which the body is nourished and kept in balance flows in or out.*
(And fyi, there are actually two numbers four - one of the soul and one of the body, distinguished by their respective names: "the four of the soul" and "the four of the body.")

* I counted this too, and the conclusion seems open to dispute - does, for example, the nose count as one or two openings?

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