Tag Archives: Thomas Browne

01. Orbis Tertius | 5. The horizon of our concerns | c. The spheres are in commotion v.

v. Francis Bacon (whose “Baconian method” was an influence on Thomas Browne’s own scientific endeavours) laid out a utopian vision for the New World in his New Atlantis (1627). The novel describes a society on a fictional island in the Pacific where there is freedom of religion and a citizenry displaying “generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit”. The novel is regarded by the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosæ Crucis as having inspired the setting sail of a colony of Rosicrucian mystics, led by German Pietist and end-timer Johannes Kelpius, for Pennsylvania in the late seventeenth century.

01. Orbis Tertius | 1. I hear a new world | d. Dog days are over i.

i. Orbiting a planet of his own imaginings in East Anglia, WGS recalls Browne’s observation that there is no antidote against the opium of time.

And since the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man is to tell him he is at the end of his nature, Browne scrutinizes that which escaped annihilation for any sign of the mysterious capacity for transmigration he has so often observed in caterpillars and moths.¹

¹ WG Sebald, The Rings of Saturn, 1995.

CIRCLE 2: When Jeremy and I first moved to London from California seven years ago, we were always broke and the city seemed to be to blame. We’re still always broke but we don’t begrudge the city’s thirst for our resources quite so much anymore. We’re thirsty a lot ourselves. Jeremy wrote a blog entry called dog days are over.


Back then the phrase was emblazoned on exterior of the Hayward Gallery, a sculpture by Ugo Rondinone. That’s what it looks like — a rainbow on concrete — and at around the same time Florence and the Machine had that song, so it sounds a bit like that. Florence Welch would apparently pass the Hayward daily, so there is a line of influence here. I’d like to imagine that in turn Rondinone was inspired by the opening line of The Rings of Saturn (“In August 1992, when the dog days were drawing to an end, I set off to walk the county of Suffolk, in the hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me whenever I have completed a long stint of work.”), but there’s nothing to indicate that was the case.

‘Dog days are over’ has stuck with me: ironic, optimistic, melancholic; a sweet, sad comfort.