Sunday, May 17, 2009

Angels And Demons

Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon to do the sequel to The Da Vinci Code,althouh it should be the opposite way around according to the books you dont need to read one to read the other.Ewan McGregor also stars in the film as Camerlengo Patrick McKeenna which in my taste seems like a good choice.Unlike some people who went to see the film,I acctually read the book the book itself and well is quite awfull and after the end I started to call it Horse Shit and Bull Shit,because A) the Illuminati dont do any shit like that,B) The Illuminati was founded around the 1700 and not in the 1600 (Please take note that all facts seem to be Inconclusive and most people belive that the Illuminati were founded in 1700),C)There is no path of Illumination,D)Dan Brown cannot write! and E)A horrid ending.

All these made me resent the book,but the idea was prety badass.An assassin going around killing bishops? Yea,that is badass,so that was one of the reasons I read it and I was very disapointed with the book.The Film however wasnt too bad,put it this way,they ditched some charecters and they changed the storyline a bit,but the funny thing is,by doing this they acctually made it better (*Gasp*).The Assassin was prety cool and there was much more deaths in the film than there was in the book the only down side is,this guy is killing Swiss guards these are the number one trained force in the world!And this guy is going around killing them as if he is hunting a paralyzed cat (Yea,I know random) so that was sort of the downside of that.Also they got rid of the pointless fight scenes of Robert Langdon and The Hassassin so that was an upside seriously they were really stupid,this Robert Langdon is such a badass Harvard proffessor that studys symbols,and he could take down anybody :O.Yea not really,in this movie he acctually acts like a proffesor.Ayelet Zurer who played Vittoria Vettra was quite awfull,through the whole film she was nearly as unnecesary as one of the as Ron Howards assistants,that right assistants of nothing just a assistant.She was more neccesary in the books and in the film it just seemed pretty stupid.
As for the ending it didnt suck they didnt tell Camerlengo that the dead Pope was his acctual father Uooopppssss :D,and that his mother was a nun :O and there was no long talk about how the Church is weak and that they need a new pope to lead them against science,such a riddiculous ending the book was but the film wasnt too bad im just saying if I was Langdon i defiently would ask for money instead of that piece if Gallilios book which im prety sure is published now.So overall the film wasnt too bad it had alot of ups and downs but overall the film was quite good its a good watch for commoners that just want to relax but since I know some bit about the Illuminati the film was ok,I just would have thought they could make the attackers satanists perios not some secret brootherhood.

Overall 2.2/5

Take this into account

BROTHERHOOD OF THE ILLUMINATI: MILTON, GALILEO, AND THE POETICS OF CONSPIRACY Michael Lieb o I IAngels and Demons, Dan Brown envisions a sinister world of intrigue and conspiracy, danger and duplicity.∞ At the center of this world is a clandestine movement called the Brotherhood of the Illuminati, putatively one of the most influential secret societies in history.≤ The protagonist of the narrative is an internationally recognized Harvard ‘‘symbologist,’’ Robert Langdon (who also appears in Brown’s later bestseller, The Da Vinci Code).≥ In the earlier novel, Langdon is enlisted by an organization known as CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) to investigate the assassination of one of its most prominent physicists, Leonardo Vetra, who has discovered the means of harnessing the power of antimatter. Responsible for the assassination, the Illuminati henchman makes off with the antimatter and its secrets. The dastardly goal of the Brotherhood is in effect to destroy the Catholic Church, along with its monuments, by placing a bomb (in the form of the antimatter) in a secret location in Vatican City. To save the Church as an institution, as well as to apprehend the assassin, Langdon seeks to discover where the antimatter has been buried. Racing against time, he and Leonardo Vetra’s daughter Vittoria undertake a frantic search for the explosive substance. The quest draws upon all of Langdon’s abilities as a symbologist. Securing the antimatter requires the consummate task of decoding enigmas, which in Brown’s novel assume the form of messages left by the Illuminati in its wake. To that end, Langdon and his companion gain entrance into a secret Vatican vault, where they discover long-sequestered, occult documents that will provide information on the Illuminati and its practices. Searching the secret archives, they come upon an obscure papyrus written by the great astronomer Galileo Galilei while under house arrest during the Inquisition. Titled Diagramma della Verità, this most arcane of papyri proves to be the solution to their quest.∂ To understand the lingua pura in which the papyrus is cast, however, © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Brotherhood of the Illuminati ΣΣ Langdon and his companion must first locate the ‘‘key’’ to its meanings. With this key, they can then gain insight into the hidden meanings of Galileo’s discourse. Within the margins of the long-sequestered text, they discover that key, which appears in the form of a quatrain remarkably inscribed not in Latin nor in Italian, but in English:
From Santi’s earthly tomb with demon’s hole, ’Cross Rome the mystic elements unfold. The path of light is laid, the sacred test, Let angels guide you on your lofty quest.

(222) Precisely what this quatrain means, what its various terms encode, is itself a mystery. What is ‘‘Santi’s earthly tomb’’ with its ‘‘demon’s hole’’? What are these so-called ‘‘mystic elements’’ or the ‘‘path of light’’? To what ‘‘sacred test’’ does the quatrain allude? And what are the circumstances by which an English quatrain replete with coded signifiers makes its appearance in a treatise by Galileo Galilei? The remainder of the novel represents an act of decoding the meanings implicit in this quatrain. For only by decoding the terms of the riddle will the symbologist and his companion be able to find the location of the antimatter hidden by the Illuminati in its devilish plot to destroy the Catholic Church and all that it represents.Σ What makes this bit of chicanery so interesting for our purposes is the ‘‘discovery’’ that the quatrain encoded in the margins of the Diagramma della Verità is by none other than John Milton, whose signature Langdon at once recognizes. Milton, it would seem, is at long last revealed as one fully schooled in the ‘‘Path of Illumination,’’ which has been traversed by every upstanding member of the Illuminati since the founding of the order. Clearly, ‘‘the influential English poet who wrote Paradise Lost,’’ Langdon observes, was himself a member of the Illuminati. ‘‘A contemporary of Galileo’s and a savant,’’ this poet proved true to his calling. His ‘‘alleged affiliation with Galileo’s Illuminati was one legend’’ that Langdon suspected was true. ‘‘Not only had Milton made a well-documented 1638 pilgrimage to Rome in order to ‘commune with enlightened men,’ but he had held meetings with Galileo during the scientist’s house arrest, meetings portrayed in many Renaissance paintings, including Annibale Gatti’s famous Galileo and Milton, which hung even now in the IMSS Museum in Florence’’ (219).Π I invoke Dan Brown’s novel not to endorse the notion that either Milton or Galileo is to be numbered among the so-called Brotherhood of the Illuminati. Nor do I wish to suggest the viability of a clandestine or conspiratorial relationship between poet and astronomer. Such is the stuff of fantasy. Nonetheless, I do invite us to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief in order to entertain (even if momentarily) the ‘‘wisdom’’ of Robert Langdon’s © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. ΣΠ michael lieb ‘‘discovery.’’ Acceding to the spirit, if not the fact, of that discovery will provide the means by which we may gain insight not only into how Milton works but also into how the concept of his relationships (conspiratorial or otherwise) is represented by the scholarly (and perhaps not so scholarly) community from one generation to the next. Specifically, I wish to explore the way in which the various accounts surrounding the relationship between Milton and Galileo assume a life of their own.π From the perspective of the ‘‘afterlife’’ represented by those accounts, I shall then address the kinds of interpretive issues that arise in an attempt to understand Milton’s incorporation of Galileo into the fabric of his great epic, Paradise Lost. Approaching Milton from this perspective should prove fruitful in coming to terms with the complex relationship between poet and astronomer in the fashioning of Milton’s epic.∫ At the same time, such an approach should sensitize us to the intimate connection between how we construe Milton and his world, on the one hand, and the nature of his poetic practices, on the other. What will emerge is a Milton whose works and sensibility become the focal point of speculation, of uncertainty, and of the creation of critical conundrums that at times appear to be as much the product of Milton’s readers as they are the construction of the author himself. These two modes of production (that of the reader and that of the author), I shall argue, complement each other, indeed, aid and abet each other. Both author and reader are complicit in the construction of Milton as the site of relationships that are themselves ‘‘conspiratorial,’’ not simply in the sense in which the term ‘‘conspiracy’’ is customarily understood—as that which implies sedition, secrecy, and crisis—but also in the sense in which the term was likewise used during Milton’s era—as that which implies the possibility of a productive union or even the idea of working in harmony.Ω Both senses are already present in the root conspirare, which denotes the act of ‘‘breathing together,’’ uniting in a common enterprise.∞≠ Although Milton was inclined to draw upon the darker, more threatening implications of the term throughout his works, the more positive implications appear to obtain as part of the interpretive dynamics through which his relationship with Galileo may be said to arise. What I call a poetics of conspiracy is present both in Milton’s own direct and oblique references to Galileo during the poet’s lifetime and in the fictions that represent a crucial dimension of the afterlife through which Milton’s relationship with the astronomer is construed. As a means of exploring that relationship, we return to our brilliant symbologist, Robert Langdon. In his response to the so-called meetings that Milton held with Galileo, our symbologist no doubt has in mind Milton’s claim in Areopagitica that during his trip to the Continent he ‘‘found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquisition, for thinking © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Brotherhood of the Illuminati Σπ in Astronomy otherwise then the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought’’ (YP 4:538). As is well known, that claim has fostered no end of scholarly debate. As early as S. B. Liljegren’s indictment of the claim (along with Milton in general), scholars have debated whether or not Milton actually had such an encounter with the great astronomer.∞∞ Those who have sought to call Milton’s veracity into question ask why this is the only reference to the visit that appears in his works, especially since he had the opportunity to allude to the encounter on other occasions. (One thinks, for example, of Defensio Secunda, in which he excludes any mention of Galileo in defense of his standing but does include a list of illustrious personages such as Hugo Grotius, Jacopo Gaddi, Carlo Gati, and others who welcomed him in his Continental sojourn [YP 4:614–19].)∞≤ More surprising still for these critics is that at the very point of describing the astronomer as ‘‘the famous Galileo grown old’’ and ‘‘a prisner to the Inquisition,’’ Milton says nothing about Galileo’s blindness, a condition that would most certainly have made an impression on the young visitor, even had he not had premonitions of what was to be his own blindness in the years ahead.∞≥ (Once again, one thinks of Defensio Secunda, this time in the context of Milton’s act of defending his own blindness by reciting a list of all those illustrious figures whose blindness was a sign not of their failings but rather of their ‘‘special status’’ as true servants of God [YP 4:584–87].) Although the list includes such notables as Tiresias, Phineas, Timoleus of Corinth, Appius Claudius, John Zizka, Jerome Zanchius, among others, no mention is made of Galileo Galilei, a remarkable omission, under the circumstances. Additional arguments have been advanced in the cause of those who seek to cast doubt on the veracity of Milton’s claim. In short, the issue of his visit with Galileo has been transformed into a veritable conundrum. The entry on Galileo in the Milton Encyclopedia by Frank B. Young effectively canonizes the issue: ‘‘It is generally assumed that Milton met Galileo during his Italian journey, 1638–39. There is, however, considerable mystery surrounding the visit. Indeed, it cannot be proved from external evidence that Milton actually met and talked with the old astronomer.’’∞∂ Accordingly, one must be careful not to take Milton at his word, even in a treatise such as Areopagitica, which professes so dramatically its belief that in the wars of truth, one must have faith that truth will triumph over falsehood ‘‘in a free and open encounter’’ (YP 4:151).∞Σ The discursive context through which Milton alludes to the visit with Galileo is revealing. Addressing the Lords and Commons throughout Areopagitica, Milton as orator argues on behalf of ‘‘the Liberty of Vnlicenc’d Printing’’ (as the full title of his treatise indicates) by distinguishing between the freedom that his own country enjoys as opposed to the tyranny (tantamount to the Inquisition) under which other countries labor. In the passage © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Σ∫ michael lieb under consideration, Milton draws upon his personal experience to support his position: ‘‘I could,’’ he avers, recount what I have seen and heard in other Countries, where this kind of Inquisition tyrannizes; when I have sat among their lerned men, for that honor I had, and bin counted to be born in such a place of Philosophic freedom, as they suppos’d England was, while themselvs did nothing but bemoan the servil condition into which learning amongst them was brought; that this was it which dampt the glory of Italian wits; that nothing had bin there writt’n now these many years but flattery and fustian. There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquisition, for thinking in Astronomy otherwise then the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought. (YP 2:537–38) From the perspective of one who portrays himself in his prose treatise as a figure doing battle against an oppressive institution, Milton recalls his visit with Galileo as a means of supporting his overall contention that by imposing their licensing orders, the Lords and Commons are unwittingly subjecting their own citizens to the travails that beset those seekers after truth subject to the tyrannical excesses of popery in other lands. Rhetorically, Milton portrays himself not simply as a visitor but as a confidant, that is, as one invited into the inner circles of those willing to disclose to this outsider their most secret of thoughts as he sits among them. For those who have taken this visitor into their confidence, the act of disclosing such sensitive matters is itself potentially perilous in the atmosphere fostered by the Inquisition. It is dangerous enough to bemoan (even in secret) one’s servile condition among one’s fellow citizens, but to do so in the presence of one who hails from a world that looks upon the beliefs represented by the Catholic Church as the seat of the Antichrist is another matter altogether. Nor does one have the impression that Milton was particularly circumspect among those who received him, and perhaps his determination to be outspoken on matters of religion while abroad might have justified his fears that plots had been laid against him as one who had ‘‘seen’’ and ‘‘heard’’ matters that were best left untold.∞Π How, then, is one to understand Milton’s claim to have visited Galileo? If the claim is misleading or indeed a falsehood, is there something at work in the discourse to promote our suspicions and to elicit our distrust? Must we indeed approach Milton’s discourse through what has been termed a ‘‘hermeneutics of suspicion’’?∞π If so, what are the repercussions of such a reading? Until the external evidence that Milton actually met and talked with the ‘‘old astronomer’’ is brought forward to clarify the matter, the mystery surrounding the visit will remain at the forefront.∞∫ However one responds to the discursive context through which Milton claims in Areopagitica to have visited Galileo, the response among those © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Brotherhood of the Illuminati ΣΩ inclined to take Milton at his word has been one of crafting accounts of various sorts in order to flesh out the details of the putative encounter. These accounts provide insight into the afterlife of the encounter that has entered into the imagination of the interpretive community.∞Ω Milton’s great nineteenth-century biographer, David Masson, represents a case in point. In Masson’s account of the visit, Milton is conceived as one who, ‘‘in the company of Malatesti, or Gaddi, or Buommatei, or some one else of the Florentine group,’’ is determined to undertake ‘‘a sojourn to Galileo’s delightful villa at Arcetri, just beyond the walls of Florence.’’ There, Milton is formally introduced to the blind sage, who greets the poet cordially ‘‘according to his wont in such cases.’’ This formality is followed by ‘‘a stroll perhaps, under the guidance of one of the disciples in attendance, to the adjacent observatory, a conversation afterwards with the assembled little party over some of the fine wines produced in welcome, and all the while, surely, a reverent attention by the visitor to the features and the mien of Italy’s most famous son, who could judge reciprocally of him only through courteous old mind and ear, unable to return his visual glance.’’ From this narrative, Masson proceeds to view the relationship between the poet and the astronomer as one in which Milton, even at this juncture in his early years, gains a sense of what will befall him in later life. ‘‘Already in Milton’s writing,’’ Masson observes, ‘‘there may have been observed a certain fascination of the fancy, as if by unconscious presentiment on the subject of blindness. How in men like Homer and Tiresias a higher and more prophetic vision had come when terrestrial vision was denied, and the eyes had to roll in a less bounded world within, was an idea . . . vivid with Milton from the first, and cherished imaginatively by verbal repetition.’’ In Galileo, ‘‘frail and old,’’ Milton had ‘‘seen one of those blind illustrious of whom he had so often dreamt, and of whom he was to be himself another. The sight was one which he could never forget’’ (1:788). Masson’s observation is of interest not only because of its acuity in suggesting that the visit was somehow prophetic of what would befall Milton in later life but also because of its failure to take into account the significance of the lack of any reference to Galileo’s blindness in the passage from Areopagitica. If the sight of the astronomer in his blindness was one Milton could never forget, it is, ironically, one he never acknowledged in the first place. Had Milton in fact visited Galileo, he may well have experienced the ‘‘unconscious presentiment’’ of his own future blindness, but if he did experience this presentiment, he never took the occasion to register it in any form in his allusion to the visit.≤≠ Once again, this is not to say that Milton did not undertake the visit and, if he had, that Galileo’s blindness had no effect on him. Rather, I am simply suggesting that Milton’s silence on the subject of Galileo’s blindness is remarkable, considering the poet’s habits of mind both © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Π≠ michael lieb before and after his own blindness, habits that prompted him to associate himself throughout his career (early and late) with ‘‘blind’’ visionaries such as Homer and Tiresias.≤∞ What is one to make of Milton’s silence on an issue that would loom so large in his life and writings? It is impossible to say. What is not impossible to say is that, if Milton failed to acknowledge Galileo’s blindness in his own authentic writings, there were others more than willing to have him acknowledge it in his apocryphal writings. Not long before the publication of Masson’s biography, there appeared an allegedly ‘‘new discovery’’ in the form of a series of letters between Milton and Galileo, among other contemporaries, including Louis XIV, and Molière. Although the letters are considered to be outright forgeries, they are nonetheless what J. Milton French calls an ‘‘interesting fiction.’’≤≤ As such, they augment and complement the ‘‘interesting fiction’’ that Masson devises in his own account of the visit. In the process, they provide a voice for the silence through which the ‘‘presentiment’’ of Milton’s own future blindness emerges. Thus, in one of the letters addressed to the king (putatively to Louis XIV), dated August 23, 1642, Milton recounts his visit with Galileo in a manner that brings to bear the whole issue of blindness. The letter begins by acknowledging the king’s desire to have Milton describe his trip to Italy and in particular to recount his visit with the ‘‘very illustrious Galileo.’’≤≥ Traveling to Florence and from there to Arcetri, Milton found Galileo ‘‘at home busy at work on a telescope’’ that the astronomer informed Milton he wished to perfect in order to study Saturn and its satellites. Milton then dined with Galileo, who insisted that Milton return to see him often during the time he remained in Florence. Galileo even kept Milton several days at Arcetri, during which the astronomer acquainted Milton with his ‘‘precious writings.’’ In short, Milton becomes one of Galileo’s trusted friends, indeed, one of Galileo’s intimates. Relating other remarkable experiences he enjoyed after he departed from Florence, Milton recounts his final visits with Galileo on the eve of his return to England. These visits become the occasion by which Milton is made aware of the problems with Galileo’s eyesight. The astronomer, it appears, is not totally blind, but his eyesight is definitely failing. ‘‘The too great intensity with which he [Galileo] had studied the stars . . . had so tired his eyesight that he had to give up this study.’’ His eyes were so weak ‘‘that he could no longer see the sky.’’ When Milton visited him, Galileo was ‘‘busy putting his papers in order’’ because ‘‘he foresaw that after his death, if these papers remained in the hands of his enemies, they would run the risk of being destroyed.’’ So ‘‘he took steps to prevent that catastrophe.’’ While Milton was with Galileo, he shared with Milton ‘‘an infinity of notes which he had extracted from a manuscript . . . on the paradoxes of mechanics, a manuscript located in the Vatican’’ (LR 2:74– © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Brotherhood of the Illuminati Π∞ 77). Should we, like Robert Langdon, perform a search of the secret archives of the Vatican, we would no doubt find that this manuscript discloses to us the encoded quatrain through which we might discover the location of the antimatter. The point is that the accounts that emerge as a result of Milton’s claim in Areopagitica tend to align Milton as a young man and Galileo as an old man in the pursuit of some secret knowledge, some ‘‘truths’’ that had to be kept from the prying eyes of the inquisitorial ‘‘enemies,’’ who would have surely sought the undoing of both visitor and host had their relationship come to light. If fictive, such accounts become the means through which the terrible presentiment of blindness, struggle, and adversity is embodied in the alignment between poet and astronomer. Likewise implicit in this alignment is the emphasis upon codes or coded discourse. A sense of this dimension is present in the Imaginary Conversations (1824–29) of Walter Savage Landor (1755–1864), a poet of considerable import, as well as of immense learning.≤∂ Projecting himself and his outlook into circumstances of his own devising, he provided occasions through which prominent men of letters and statesmen might have their say. In the process, he opened a space through which his own dramatic sensibility found apt expression. Ranging over the centuries, the figures who populate this theatrical space include such notables as Hume, Rousseau, Scaliger, Montaigne, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Chaucer, Newton, and even Landor himself. In keeping with this enterprise, Landor fashioned a drama that involves Galileo, Milton, and a Dominican guard whose duty is to watch over Galileo after the sentence of the Inquisition had been handed down. The drama opens with the young Milton approaching the Dominican guard and demanding to gain an audience with the great astronomer: Milton. Friend! let me pass. Dominican. Whither? To whom? Milton. Into the prison; to Galileo Galilei. (384) To this, the Dominican guard protests that, where Galileo is being held, there are no prisons, only confinements of sorts for those guilty of ‘‘heretical pravity’’ and ‘‘other less atrocious crimes.’’ Not to be taken in by such rhetoric, Milton stands his ground and demands (on divine authority) that the gates that confine the great astronomer be opened at once. Responding to the demand, the Dominican guard can only admire the young man who confronts him. To himself the guard exclaims: ‘‘What sweetness! what authority! what a form! what an attitude! what a voice!’’ after which he acknowledges that his ‘‘sight staggers; the walls shake; he must be—do angels ever come hither?’’ (384). Aside from other possible parallels, one thinks of Comus’s response to the Lady in Milton’s masque: ‘‘She fables not, I feel that I do fear / © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Π≤ michael lieb Her words set off by som superior power’’ (A Mask, 800–801). It is with this ‘‘superior power’’ that Milton enters Galileo’s confines. Upon seeing the famous astronomer, Milton immediately becomes aware of Galileo’s blindness. The astronomer, sensing that his visitor is a person of utmost rectitude, invites Milton to ‘‘speak freely.’’ Despite the sense of openness that distinguishes their conversation, they make a point to occlude what they say in coded language in order not to be understood by the Dominican guard. To that end, they converse in Latin (translated here for the comprehension of the reader of the text), and, as an additional precautionary measure, they couple the Latin with coded discourse. Galileo begins: ‘‘We live among priests and princes and empoisoners. Your dog, by his growling, seems to be taking up the quarrel against them.’’ From this point forward, most of the conversation appears to be about animals. So, Milton responds, ‘‘We think and feel alike in many things. I have observed that the horses and dogs of every country bear a resemblance in character to the men. We English have a wonderful variety of both creatures.’’ In keeping with this coded language, Galileo exclaims, ‘‘Do let us get among the dogs’’ (385–88). Combined with the Latin, the coded discourse about horses and dogs suggests that what emerges is a conspiratorial, or, at least, secret relationship between the prisoner and his guest, one sensitive to the ravages of the Inquisition, whose tortures Milton discovers in the very ‘‘scars and lacerations’’ that Galileo has sustained upon his body (389)—a Landorian touch to be sure, but one that intensifies the conspiratorial dimensions of the encounter still further. This rather bracing conversation provides additional insight into the dark world of fantasy and intrigue that arose in response to Milton’s claim in Areopagitica to have ‘‘visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquisition.’’ It suggests the extent to which that claim engendered an afterlife of its own, one centered not only in the biographical accounts but also in the pseudepigraphal renderings that assume the form of testimony and dialogic interchange. That afterlife is discernible not only in the nineteenth century but in the twentieth century as well. Artists and poets alike appropriated Milton’s alleged encounter with Galileo into their works. A case in point is Alfred Noyes (1880–1958), the well-known British poet, novelist, scholar. A convert to Catholicism, Noyes was afflicted with partial blindness in his later years. As an author, he was known not only for his lyric poetry but also for his efforts at producing epic poetry as well. What resulted from these efforts was his ambitious blank verse trilogy celebrating the discoveries of science. Titled The Torch Bearers, this trilogy was published in three volumes: Watchers of the Sky (1922), The Book of Earth (1925), and The Last Voyage (1930). For our purposes, the first poem Watchers of the Sky is of immediate impor- © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Brotherhood of the Illuminati Π≥ tance.≤Σ As Noyes comments in his prefatory note to the poem, this work ‘‘began to take definite shape during what was to [him] an unforgettable experience—the night [he] was privileged to spend on a summit of the Sierra Madre Mountains, when the first trial was made of the new 100-inch telescope’’ (vi). The reference is to the solar observatory located at Mount Wilson, California, a fitting place for Noyes to celebrate the wedding of science and poetry. So Noyes observes in his prefatory note that ‘‘poetry has its own precision of expression and, in modern times, it has been seeking more and more for truth,’’ one in which the activities of the poet and the scientist represent a mutual endeavor (ix). This belief in the ‘‘progress’’ of science and poetry underlies the outlook not only of Watchers of the Sky but also of the trilogy as a whole. Beginning with a prologue that recounts Noyes’s experience at the observatory, the epic devotes its attention to those ‘‘watchers’’ (among them, Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo, and Sir Isaac Newton) who transformed astronomy into a science that changed the prevailing views of the universe. The prologue engages in its unabashed celebration of the ‘‘advances’’ of science (and, in particular, the science of astronomy) ever ‘‘Since Galileo, famous, blind, and old, / Talked with [Milton], in that prison, of the sky’’ (2–3). Noyes shares his experience of ascending the mountain to the observatory: ‘‘Over us, like some great cathedral dome, / The observatory loomed against the sky’’ (7). What Noyes portrays is tantamount to a religious experience, a conversion of sorts, as the prologue culminates in a kind of prayer that calls upon his ‘‘celestial guide’’ to bear him aloft into ‘‘the great new age’’ and ‘‘the great new realm,’’ prepared for those capable of understanding the relationship between poetry and science (19). Within this context Noyes delineates his version of Milton’s encounter with Galileo (167–83). Assuming the form of letters among Galileo’s family, friends, and associates, this section is distinguished by a poignancy, an immediacy, and an intimacy that arise from first-person discourse. In the section as a whole, we first come to know Galileo through those whose accounts attest to their understanding of the man and his work. Having been presented in the exchange of letters with the perspectives of such figures as Galileo’s daughter Celeste, Christoph Scheiner, Benedetto Castelli, and even Galileo himself (lamenting his blindness, his imprisonment, and, most of all, the loss of Celeste, who has since died), we move to the final epistle in this section. It is that of Vincenzo Viviani (1622–1703), who, during the blind astronomer’s final years in Arcetri, became Galileo’s student, secretary, and assistant.≤Π Writing to a friend in England, Viviani discloses the nature of his association with the great man: © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Π∂ michael lieb I was his last disciple, as you say I went to him, at seventeen years of age, And offered him my hands and eyes to use. From this vantage point, Viviani, grown old, looks back over his years with Galileo and recalls the momentous occasion (‘‘that day of days’’), When, quietly as a messenger from heaven, Moving unseen, through his own purer realm, Among the shadows of our mortal world, A young man, with a strange light on his face Knocked at the door of Galileo’s house. His name was Milton. (168) Through the agency of Viviani, Noyes fully idealizes the encounter, which he conceives as a divine visitation of sorts by a ‘‘starry messenger’’ in the form of John Milton. This event represents a turning point in the lives of both poet and astronomer. Destiny is at work in all of this, a divinity that shapes the ends of this ‘‘monumental’’ drama. Thus, led ‘‘by the hand of God’’ through Italy to Galileo’s prison door, Milton is ‘‘the one living soul on earth with power / To read the starry soul of this blind man.’’ Noyes depicts Milton as looking on Galileo, touching his hand, and, as if in anticipation of his own future blindness, foreseeing that the lines from Samson Agonistes—‘‘O, dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, / Irrecoverably dark’’ (80–81)—best describe the situation here: ‘‘In after days,’’ Milton composed his drama, ‘‘but it pulsed within him then.’’ In accord with this idealized portrayal, Galileo rises to his feet, and turning toward Milton, ‘‘those unseeing eyes / That had searched heaven and seen so many worlds,’’ welcomes the young visitor with the declaration: ‘‘You have found me.’’ It is all so rehearsed, so overdetermined, and so histrionic. Reflecting upon this visit, Viviani confirms how much it meant to his master, how, even in ‘‘those last sad months’’ of Galileo’s life, the great astronomer would attest to the sense of peace the encounter brought to him and to the sense of satisfaction that he would experience in knowing that ‘‘In other lands, the truth he had proclaimed / Was gathering power.’’ After an apologetic interlude defending the Catholic Church, Noyes has Viviani conclude his letter with a paean to his master, to the poet who visited his master, and to the future of astronomy itself (181–83). The foregoing accounts are interesting in the extent to which they intercede in the ‘‘silences’’ of Milton’s reference to Galileo in Areopagitica and, in place of those silences, forge narratives of their own devising. Particularly engaging in this respect is the uncompromising insistence upon the crucial issue of blindness, which Milton never mentions but which plays so heavily © 2008 University of Pittsburgh Press. 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I did not write this


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