Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Giordano Bruno - Tapestry

In 1600 after seven (some say eight) years of trials, Giordano Bruno was convicted by the Roman Inquisition for heresy and burned at the stake. Bruno was a thinker who dabbled in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy and theology. Even if his ideas were not exactly fitting with the Roman Catholic Church's dogma, you wonder why the Inquisition went through the trouble of spending years of trials on an obscure thinker and having him publicly executed in the end.

We have met Bruno in podcast before. The Dutch OVT Podcast had an issue about him and just now CBC's Tapestry spent 50 minutes on him. Just as OVT, there was a lot of attention to begin with for Bruno's statue on the Piazza Di Fiore in Rome - the place of his execution. Bruno was eventually received as a martyr for free speech, free thought and even atheist celebrate this old Dominican. Somehow, ideas may indeed be really powerful, but if I have to guess what did him in, it was not that and maybe not even that he refused to recant. He denied the Inquisitors the right to judge him and that must have been just a little too much.

Tapestry's guest Ingrid Rowland then makes a very interesting remark: Maybe if Bruno had not been a Dominican priest, but rather ordained in the order of Jesus (The Jesuits). They might have been able to control him and protect him. By chance, an example of such a Jesuit jumped from another podcast I listened to: Entitled Opinions, which had Paula Findlen on the show to talk about Athanasius Kircher. Kircher lived half a century later, had ideas about just as wild and exotic as Bruno, but he was a Jesuit and, as it turns out, somehow enjoyed the protection of the order, also against the Vatican.

By the end of the Kircher show, Bruno comes up. Comparisons are made and Findlen even proposes in a very convinced way that Kircher must have read Bruno. You really must listen to these shows. As much as these men are megalomaniac thinkers and part or full heretics, which may seem sincere, but also has an element of unrewarding idiosyncrasy to it, they speak to the imagination and somehow continue to inspire.

(Photo by Joshua Corey; used with permission)

More Giordano Bruno:
Het zwijgen opgelegd - OVT.

More Tapestry:
Surviving in the Wilderness,
Survival of the Kindest,
Fear,
Karen Armstrong,
Terry Eagleton.

More Entitled Opinions:
Albert Camus,
Unabomber world views,
Byzantine Culture,
Jimi Hendrix,
Nietzsche.
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