Myth,  Religion

The Revival of Thomas Browne

From the New York Times:

He was the kind of Christian thinker, after all, who could wonder whether Lazarus would have a legal right to reclaim his possessions from his heirs after he re-emerged from the grave. He could write with great verve about why most cultures buried their dead lying down, but some had the bodies standing erect; about the macabre practice of inhaling a dying person’s last breath; and about the even more disturbing one of drinking a loved one’s ashes (a custom revived and adapted by Keith Richards, who claimed to have snorted some of his father’s remains.)

As an amateur scientist and product of the early Enlightenment, Browne kept a menagerie of exotic animals in his home, and he traced the ubiquity of the geometric pattern known as the quincunx through plants, insects and crystals. But his research might be described more accurately as nature poetry than as science, and his greatest delight seemed to be in things that defied categorization — or, as Borges once wrote, referring to the distant past, “things that can enrich ignorance.”

Most unusual for a Christian who believed in resurrection, Browne seemed to suggest that individuality itself was a slippery concept, sounding like a meta-fictionist centuries before postmodernism.

Which all in all sounds amazing.

He is writing at the tail-end of the Rosicrucian enlightenment, and a lot of his method seems decidedly scientific in comparison to some of his contemporaries who were influenced by the movement.

On Amazon.

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