Monday, January 11, 2010

Journals and Scholarly Organizations

European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism
Association for the Study of Esotericism
Societas Magica
Aries Journal - Western Esotericism
Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft Journal

Two Livejournal Communities I've been running for years

These online communities, which turn out to be mostly me dumping links, began as courses I designed and taught as a student-teacher to grad students at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley from 2004-2005. If you have the patience to go through back posts you will find years of interesting links and quotes/excerpts, as well as a few of my efforts at study questions, pop quizzes, etc. Even maybe a few discussions! Anybody who reads this who also does Livejournal is welcome to join either group. Drop me a line if you have any questions.

Update on my Master's Thesis

I will be finishing the writing by February for a defense in March. I have posted a ton of my notes and quotes, including a hundred pages or so of material that got cut from last year's attempt at finishing. Long story about why I didn't finish, but the good news is that I've had another year to catch up on all the latest research on Pico and reconsider my project from the ground up. What started as my ASE conference paper on "Pseudo-Dionysius and the Christian Cabala" has become a heavy metaphysical study on Pico's angelology and the global influence of Dionysius in Pico's angelological texts. My narrow focus is now on the originality of Pico's "Angelic Mind" as a development of the Christian Neoplatonic tradition. I have largely abandoned my project of interpreting Pico's views on magic in terms of neoplatonic theurgy. Theurgy now plays a limited role as an example of the kind of neoplatonic theme that gets the Dionysian treatment. Theurgy is still important for the interpretation of Pico, especially considering the explosion of Dionysius+Theurgy studies recently, but I don't think we should call Pico a theurgist. I'll defer to the wisdom of Brian Copenhaver and Michael Allen and describe what Pico is doing as a mystical theology along Dionysian lines, and side with scholarship that downplays the magical element in Pico's thought. I think that Frances Yates mischaracterized Pico as exalting magic to the theological/metaphysical level and tapping supercelestial powers. Also what's not going into my paper is a ton of work I've done on the influence of Pseudo-Dionysius on later Christian Cabalists Reuchlin, Agrippa, and John Dee, as well as figures I know less about like Lazarelli and LeFevre. I've already got several ideas for future Pico papers in the works, on his initiation and transmission of Christian Cabala, on his Theology of Numbers, and on his views on Kabbalist Magic (following the excellent studies of Moshe Idel). This week I'm trying to finish the literature review section of my introductory chapter but I've been spending a lot of time fooling around with all the material that will be going into the chapters. My structural plan is to do mostly Pico quotes referencing Dionysius as a figure and the specific neoplatonic themes associated with his Dionysian angelology. Throughout the paper I will refer to scholarship on Dionysius and neoplatonism that ought to be considered in order to better understand the influence of Dionysius. Each chapter deals with one of the three key texts of Pico's angelology: the Oration, Heptaplus, and On Being and Unity. In the first two chapters I will deal with the neoplatonic metaphysics behind Pico's Angelology, which is rooted in Dionysius but looks for confirmation to the late neoplatonists, chiefly Iamblichus, Proclus, and Syrianus. In the third chapter I will look more deeply into the Thomistic background to Pico's metaphysical treatise, summarizing recent scholarship on the influence of Dionysius on Aquinas in order to better understand the influence of Aquinas' Dionysius on Pico. I will conclude by arguing that like Aquinas Pico's originality can best be understood in terms of the profound influence of Dionysius, who is arguably more important than even Plato or Aristotle as a source both metaphysical and theological.

Ten Books/Articles on Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science by Hilary Gatti
Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language by Arielle Saiber
Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah: Prophets, Magicians, and Rabbis by Karen Silvia de Leon-Jones
Giordano Bruno, his life and thought: With annotated translation of his work ; On the infinite universe and worlds by Dorothea Waley Singer
Giordano Bruno and the Logic of Coincidence: Unity and Multiplicity in the Philosophical Thought of Giordano Bruno (Renaissance and Baroque Studies and Texts) by Antonio Calcagno
The Concept of Contraction in Giordano Bruno's Philosophy by Leo Catana
"Simulacra et Signacula: Memory, Magic and Metaphysics in Brunian Mnemonics" (Stephen Clucas) in Gatti (ed.) Giordano Bruno
Giordano Bruno: Neoplatonism and the Wheel of Memory in the De Umbris Idearum
by Alessandro G. Farinella; Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 55, 2002

Hermes to his son Thoth: being Joyce's use of Giordano Bruno in Finnegans wake by Frances Motz Boldereff
The alchemy of extremes: the laboratory of the Eroici furori of Giordano Bruno‎
Eugenio Canone, Ingrid Drake Rowland - Philosophy - 2007

Articles on Pico della Mirandola --Available Online!

Four excellent articles on Pico's Oration, Magic+Kabbalah by Brian Copenhaver
many more articles on Renaissance Magic by Copenhaver (some deal more with Pico, the above are the four most Pico-focused articles he has up there)

Negative view of Pico in Neoplatonism article from another Online Philosophy Encyclopedia
The Morality of Rhetoric in Pico's Oration -- a Master's thesis on Pico!
Wouter Hanegraaf "Sympathy or the Devil" (a few paragraphs on Pico from a master theorist of Western Esotericism)
link to a Google Books preview of Anthony Grafton "Commerce with the Classics" Pico section
Google Books preview of Species Intelligibilis by Leen Spruit which contains analysis of Pico's interpretation of Aristotle's De Anima--his views on soul, philosophy of mind, de anima, etc.
Theosophical article on Pico
Moshe Idel article on Alemanno, an important Jewish source for Pico
Study Questions on Heptaplus
Short article on Heptaplus
Walter Pater (Renaissance studies heavy) on Pico

My "Ten Best Links" on Pico della Mirandola

Among these links you'll find translations of Pico's major texts and a great deal of information about secondary sources, including the full text of a couple encyclopedia articles.

On Being and Unity
Oration translation by multiple scholars with lots of notes
Copenhaver translations of Oration and 900 Conclusions (see also the excellent papers he posted on Pico and Renaissance magic)
Copenhaver's Philosophy Encyclopedia article on Pico
Introduction to Pico della Mirandola: New Essays
Kabbalah and Christian Cabala bibliographical surveys
Pico and Biblical Hermeneutics by Crofton Black
Heptaplus in a Google Books Preview
bonus link: ("this one goes to Eleven")
Pico's Commento aka A Platonick Discourse on Love