ii. For brief moments flying butterflies were reflected; they seemed to fly through a sky of gravel. Shadows cast by the mirrors contrasted with those seconds of colour. A scale in terms of “time” rather than “space” took place, the mirror itself is not subject to duration, because it is an ongoing abstraction that is always available and timeless. The reflections, on the other hand, are fleeting instances that evade measure. Space is the remains, or corpse, of time, it has dimensions. “Objects” are “sham space,” the excrement of thought and language. Once you start seeing objects in a positive or negative way you are on the road to derangement. Objects are phantoms of the mind, as false as angels.¹
John Dee would likely disagree with Smithson on the falsity of angels. In Derek Jarman’s Jubilee,² Dee — with the aid of Ariel and a mirror that repeatedly throws the sun into the camera lens (see also The Angelic Conversation) — succeeds in transporting his virgin queen four centuries into the future. Are mirror-travel and time-travel one and the same?
¹ Robert Smithson, Incidents of mirror-travel in the Yucatan, 1969.
² Jarman being formerly of this parish, more-or-less.
ii. TDQ and Samuel Taylor Coleridge — united in Browneian devotion and an appetite for opium, friends for as long as they could endure the reflection of a dark future — as if looking into Dee’s obsidian mirror, each saw in the other.
i. Thomas De Quincey, influenced in his writings by Browne, was in turn an influence on JLB. In his research into the literature of a mysterious kingdom known as Uqbar, JLB finds reference to a book by German theologian Johannes Valentius Andreae who claimed to be the author of the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, one of the founding texts of Rosicrucianism.¹ It was a name he recognised from volume XIII of TDQ’s Collected Writings.
¹The book was influenced by the writings of the Elizabethan magus John Dee. Indeed, Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica — a symbol representing his belief in the unity of the cosmos — is included in the design of the invitation to the titular wedding. In his second theorem on the symbol, Dee observes that “neither the circle without the line, nor the line without the point, can be artificially produced.”
CIRCLE 2: One thing leads to another. How ought we to measure the value of research — in fathoms? How then to respond when it seemingly skims the surface: racing eagerly through the maze, searching wildly for clues. I know relatively little of these Thomases. I have not read the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. But should the drive to survey and map these rhizomatic trails be curbed for fear of appearing the dilatant? I believe not: firstly, it is not the purpose of this piece to prescribe knowledge, it is not my intention to assume a position behind the lectern; and secondly, I am interested in a sort of inherent truthfulness in the making of the work that comes from the opening up of note-taking — the unending list of curios, eccentricities and lines of enquiry of the enthusiast laid bare. It is not to forsake rigour, or to dismiss the narrow and deep focus, but rather to consider the myriad alternate cartographies that might emerge through eager, playful and unrestricted investigation.