Rare Book Assignment

The book I have chosen is the Natural Magick by John Baptist della Porta. It was published in 1658 and the etcher of the book is Richard Gaywood. According to the British Museum website Gaywood was “the most prolific etcher of his day.”[1] The book is a collection of many different recipes that are organized into nineteen different catalogues. The recipes are, in my understanding, annotations of ways to comprehend the characteristics of nature’s creation as well as to reveal hidden qualities of materials. In the preface, Porta acclaimed that he aimed towards “labored earnestly to disclose the secrets of Nature.” As he elaborated more in the first chapter “Of the Causes of Wonderful Things ” the word ‘Magick’, some call it ‘Natural Science’ and some call it “the practical part of ‘Natural Philosophy’”, has much to do with the order and phenomenon of Nature. As Porta said “I think that Magick is nothing else but the survey of the whole course of Nature.”[2]

I am really attracted to the idea of his recipes collection functions as a ‘tool’ for scholars to understand the mysteries or the ‘invisibles’ in materials. Process such as distillation is a way of separating seemingly homogenized elements. Essential oil extraction can be a good example—when the oil is in the plant or fruit, one cannot observe the oil in its conventional form. The process of distillation separates the oil from the plant, therefore unveils the invisible characteristic of that plant or fruit. The chapter on the optics also functions similarly but on the understanding and exposing the characteristics of light that cannot be observed by human’s bare eyes. Lenses that distort the images or create rainbows also demonstrate the composition of light and how it travels and bends. My project, inspired by this idea, is to write a recipe on “to make salt from sweat that collected while blowing glass for three hours.” It is a recording of a process that reveals the ‘invisible’ salt in bodily fluid. It is also derived from personal experiences of desire and attempt to measure the amount of heat and labor that had been given into the process of glass blowing. As executing this project, I am very captivated by the relationship between us and the environment we are in as well as the gestures that we come up with in order to understand the environment that surrounds us. This is the idea I derived from studying this specific book briefly and falls into my inquiry on human-environment relationship and dynamics.

 

[1] “Richard Gaywood (Biographical Details).” British Museum. Accessed September 13, 2018. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=123944.

[2] Porta, Giambattista della, Godfrey Taylor, Godfrey Taylor, Henry Alden Sherwin, G. H Browne, and G. H Browne. Natural Magick. London,: printed for Thomas Young, and Samuel Speed; and are to be sold at the three pigeons, and at the angel in St. Paul’s Church-yard., 1658.Bibliography

 

Bibliography

“Richard Gaywood (Biographical Details).” British Museum. Accessed September 13, 2018. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx?bioId=123944.

Porta, Giambattista della, Godfrey Taylor, Godfrey Taylor, Henry Alden Sherwin, G. H Browne, and G. H Browne. Natural Magick. London,: printed for Thomas Young, and Samuel Speed; and are to be sold at the three pigeons, and at the angel in St. Paul’s Church-yard., 1658.

 

To make salt from sweat collected from three hours of blowing glass

Find or become a glass blower. During the middle of the day, work on intensely made objects in the hotshop until you start dripping sweat. As sweat drops run down your face, pause your work and collect the sweat in a glass vessel; preferably clear. Continuously doing it until finished with work. Leave the vessel of sweat expose to the air so water escape; collect the residue.

 

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