To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
ALEXANDER DICKSON OF ERROL,
ON THE SHADOW OF REASONING AND JUDGEMENT, OR ABOUT THE PERSONFICATION OF MEMORY’S VIRTUE
ALEXANDER DICKSON OF ERROL’S PREFACE TO THE RIGHT ILLUSTRIOUS LORD ROBERT DUDLEY, EARL OF LEICESTER &c.
O, most illustrious Earl, is it not in your interest, or rather that of the public, that you have a look at my Shadow? “You’re mocking me,” you say, “or you’re mad: it appears that you gain the one appearance if you offer me your trifles, the other if you don’t.” I make no distinction. Indeed: when it comes to judging and valuing this case, I should make no decision beyond thinking that, if I should talk it up or talk it down, I should fall under the suspicion of vanity or folly. For if someone should praise his own stuff so as to appear more elegant, or on the other hand if he should deprecate it so as to seem more modest, in both cases he gives the impression of having a swollen head. The former is the tactic of a straightforward and candid man, the latter of a esurient and almost sinister one. Now this meditation, of whatever quality it might be, if it considers your very serious responsibilities, it should be hesitant, and if it comes a-knocking at your door, be very careful lest it strikes you as having had overmuch to drink. But if its manners and it nature are taken into consideration, what, I ask, should examine it other than that common father of all learning, philosophical meditation? If this thing, which rests under the shadow of your name, seems tolerable to you, I shall congratulate you and greatly exert myself that, perhaps, someday you might obtain a richer proof of my not ungrateful memory. Farewell. January 1.
ALEXANDER DICKSON SALUTES THE READER
HAT should I imagine to exist in a shadow of light,” you say, ”since the one consists as a kind of periphery of the other?” Yes, but let us think there are two things in nature, memory in its ideal form and reason’s access to memory, to this we may attention. For all men admit without demur that memory has a singular virtue. My inquiry is into the other. For it can be asked whether reason has any power here and, if so, how we first discover this. In this context, those who will be harsher may look to themselves, I am not concerned. Those who are not, or who are willing to admit what they know and what they do not, will perhaps adjudge that I should delve into this. And, just as I wish to seem to do well by these gentleman, so I care nothing about the characters of the other kind. Thus, just as men of that sort, who are empty-headed but by no means malicious, presume that it is easily possible to estimate my character on the basis of their own, and prefer to acquire goodness of memory from a physician, demand to know who is my authority, argue that there is nothing to this art, or at least that it has hard and laborious, and consider me a vain and perhaps mean-spirited men. They are free to say all those things. For I am not in the habit of being disturbed by the pecking beaks of little birds. And, forgetting about those wretches, I have those more fastidious friends who “reject something before they have had the chance to learn of it,” and encounter another kind of people, who complain that my writing is very obscure. If they are indeed friends, if they will deduce the reason from the attendant circumstances; if they are unfriendly in assaulting me, let them harken to the poet’s words, “Olus, what is it to you what one or the other does with his own hide?” This is my hide, this is my loss, it’s nothing to Olus. Finally (if I know my Zoilus), those too will arise to whom my freedom of judgment in attacking Socrates and revealing his deceit will seem excessively insolent. So be it. What then, as long as they acknowledge the poverty of their own judgment? And they should acknowledge it, unless they would prefer me to turn my attention to themselves. But, dear reader, it makes no small difference “whether Davus does the talking or his master, whether the mature old man speaks, or the ardent youngster.” For if anything is difficult, this is because personalities are being represented, in which you must take care that your speeches suit the natures of your individual speakers, and it is to be feared lest such critics are over-anxious about your coherence while the character goes neglected. In this context, although it is sometimes necessary to be failing in one of these two respects, it certainly seems better to incline towards preserving the appropriateness of the personality you have introduced. So, if you think I have been negligent here, I am determined to appeal to the circumstances of character-portrayal and its demands, and also to your good will. Farewell.
JOHN ADAMS OF LINCOLN GREETS THE READER
T is a commonplace in many discourses, candid reader, that the sale of honest, sound merchandise requires no help from a lying huckster, just as a good wine requires does not need to be served in an ivy-wreathed bowl to entice you. In the same way, after making various attempts, at length, thanks to the diligent and painstaking care of my friend Dickson, his notion of memory’s virtue has emerged, and appears to require no commendation from me, nor any tawdry advertisement. For its subject is rare, fair, and useful. These things are all beyond debate. Likewise its form is virile, finished, and quite philosophical. Here every syllable has its weight and importance. What do you lack? He displays a solid body, not a fictitious, sketchy outline. At a time when the goodness of memory, which once had been set forth in writing, had become defunct but then had started to rouse itself in our times, but in such a way that it was very greatly tainted by mad barbarism, behold, Dickson was found, who, as if he were the discoverer of some new land, marking it out with his cultivation and planting, by his lengthy discourse, innovation, and repetitions, restored it to the nature and meaning of its erstwhile vigor. He restored it, and, to the great advantage of mankind, published it. But that accursed monstrosity of our age, I mean the madness of envy, is so widespread that you can find nothing in the world, either rare in its inventiveness nor polished in its art, which is not attacked by some petulant tongue, gnawed upon, and lacerated. But our author is so far removed from being disturbed by such pinpricks, that he is even wont to pity their leaden swordpoint. But you, friend reader, should embrace this Shadow, pleasant and worthwhile for yourself, with open arms, as they say, and show it your favor. Farewell.
ALEXANDER DICKSON OF ERROL’S DIALOGUE ON THE SHADOW OF REASON
THAMUS, MERCURIUS, THEUATATES
HOSE things are true enough, Mercury. Nothing is similar in all respects to something that it is not its equal, that is one and single. That has a single idea, a single, unique mark, which is incorporeal, and produces the entire idea of the universe, of time and generation in physical bodies. And can the vessel of anything which we grasp only with our minds be comprehended by our imagination? Rather, this belongs to that class of things which pertain to creation, and is perhaps generation itself, so that we cannot even endure the rays of such a great light. Therefore the squalor of ignorance covers the earth, which bleats under the burden of matter. This is absolute malice. This, turning fire’s pyramid into the shape of a cube, does not allow us to attain to the upper spheres. But it doesn’t stop here. Oh, how ridiculous! A single generation, a single time, and universe, and eternity — how many do they contend this unity to be? But they should see if they wouldn’t prefer to puke.
MERC. But they have their hands plunged into the water. For this garment they wear, when will they want to break free of it, or even be able to do that?
THAM. What garment?
MERC. Didn’t you tell me this? For which one of us does not have the look of the tomb?
THAM. You are speaking of the web of ignorance, and of the tainted thief caught up within its darkness. But that’s enough. Since we are at leisure and have the time for a stroll, while we are engaged in the remainder of this conversation, would you like us to go on to the jaws of Hell and its realm? For your task of describing shadows perhaps requires this, unless you have some other preference.
MERC. But the parliament is already sitting and calls me away. For, in case you are unaware, a vote is going to be taken about wild beasts of some uncertain kind, and perhaps my vote alone is lacking for deciding this matter.
THAM. What’s this about wild beasts? Aren’t they wholly extinct on earth, together with their bodies?
MERC. Men certainly think so, and Hell alone receives wild beasts.
THAM. But we see men going there every day. We don’t see wild beasts.
MERC. You are ignorant, oh Thamus, you are ignorant. These are wild beasts, pretending to have human form.
THAM. You’re telling me something incredible, but Mercury must be believed, although this can be applied to men’s bestial ways. Continue.
2. MERC. This earth is a place of evil, and men’s nature is falsified by hypocrisy, for the mind is the true shape of the man. And when it takes on material form (and it takes this on by means of the mind, with the assistance of the spirit), it resides in the shadow of the light and on the periphery, and is inclined towards the light and those things which fall within the purview of the intellect, and which genuinely exist. This is not permitted by the senses, but, safe from the vengeance of matter, it attempts to rise to that which truly exists, as if from some day as dark as night. But those who have allowed their souls to be bound by their bodies and have abandoned them, these are savage wild beasts, who perhaps have to take care less they undergo some metamorphosis.
THAM. I think I understand. But what do you mean by the vengeances of matter? Pray be more explicit.
MERC. Man is twelve, demoted from ten. But you are delaying me in my haste by your close questioning.
THAM. But — He’s gone. And who’s this. Surely it’s Theutates. I recognize his measuring-rod, his numbers, his counting-stones and pebbles, and also his letters of the alphabet. It’s wholly him, my guess was right. Oh Theutates, do you go down to Hell as a god?
THEUT. Would that Theutates were a god, oh Thamus. Your Egyptians have no doubt that he is. But I am his shade.
THAM. But meanwhile what about Aeacus? You deceived him in your resemblance, didn’t you?
THAM. I quite agree, and you are that god in truth.
THEUT. You’re making fun of me, good sir? If you were near Naucratis, you’d cease your absurd doubt about my divinity.
THAM. Assuredly, and even now I’m ceasing my absurd doubt. But you’re wrong. Your not a man but rather a beast, as I’ve just been hearing Mercury tell us.
THEUT. You’re slandering me, oh Thamus. Do the use of letters and my mathematical discoveries strike you as evidence of bestiality?
THAM. Let Mercury worry about the mathematics, perhaps there’s something to them. But you’re contributing nothing with those letters.
THEUT. But, oh Thamus, these letters make your Egyptians wiser in their learning and give them readier memories. This nostrum for memory and learning is my invention.
3. THAM. Love has blinded your heart. You are claiming they do the opposite of what they can. For, when the practise of memory has become neglected, they provide students’ minds with the material of forgetfulness. For they rely on the external formulae of writing, and cease to cherish and seek out things from inside themselves by recollection. Hence you have invented a nostrum for forgetfulness, not memory. And there is a second trouble, and not a small one, in another part of your claim. For you did not offer my Egyptians true wisdom, but only opinion and its appearance. For when men learn much without a teacher, they will give the appearance of knowing much, whereas the general run of them are ignorant, and in human intercourse and society such men are burdensome and importunate, because, thanks to the favor you have conferred on them, they are imbued with the appearance of being wise, but not with true wisdom. I recall I gave you the same answer once upon a time in that city of my earlier home, which they commonly call Egyptian Thebes, when you made the very same claims, as you rightly indicated by being smitten with shame. But this was during a time when men scientifically wrote in their own minds. What resides there can exact revenge for injuries suffered, and knows what should be said and what should remain unsaid in the present of each company of men. But your offspring, being base and lifeless since they have been injuriously reared by unlearned men, always require their father’s help. They can neither take revenge for harm inflicted, nor help themselves. And you have falsely claimed to have a nostrum for memory, since, devising the contrary, you have disinherited all your posterity from their patrimony of this most praiseworthy study. Why dodge me, my man? Does this strike you as the radiance and good effect of a god, or rather the mark of a savage wild beast, as I said at the beginning?
ALEXANDER DICKSON OF ERROL’S DIALOGUE ON THE SHADOW OF REASON
UT I’ll put these things to the test. Oh Thamus, I have heard from my elders, and they knew it for a fact, that in the vicinity of Egypt’s Naucratis lived one of the old gods named Theutates, to whom was sacred that bird they call the ibis, and that you had much conversation about certain of his inventions, taking both sides of the debate. But when the discussion turned to letters, you proved that there was no reason why men who rely on writing should study memory any the less.
THAM. Why ask these things?
SOC. For the same reason that you haven’t written anything.
THAM. Maybe so. And who are you?
SOC. I am that Socrates whom Apollo adjudged to be the wisest of men.
THAM. Then you are that sophist without whom mankind could have done better. You will claim that the oracle was not wrong. But he described you as being such as your fellow-citizens afterwards adjudged you. “But Apollo approved of me.” You are saying nothing, I’ll look into that later. But, “What things you taught to the uninstructed! Alas, your madness, and the madness of the city that reared you, a corrupter of young men.”
SOC. But these words are Aristophanes, and in this passage his accuracy is suspect for good reasons.
THAM. So let’s not trust him, I’ll deal with you myself. So, oh Socrates, is it not true that on this earth an impostor is sometimes taken for a truthful man, and a truthful man for an impostor?
SOC. If you’re unaware, it’s my job to ask the questions. I have always claimed this role as if it were mine by right. But since I fear the Trojans, and particularly this Polydamas of a Diogenes, lest I seem to be dodging you, I shall nevertheless give my answer. You’re right.
THAM. So is there not one doctor who turns slight maladies into great diseases yet can boast of his public approval, while there’s another one to who has scarcely any patients who will entrust themselves to him?
SOC. That too.
THAM. And in these cases and others as well, are there not people who achieve something by a false show of virtue, and are indebted to their lying?
2. THAM. An is not true, as the poet says, “Who likes spurious honor and is terrified by lying slander except for a beggarly liar?” And, as another said, “The brave and the man and the coward are accorded the same honor.” And are not mistakes even made in the courtroom, although nothing should be as incorruptible as a sentence handed down?
SOC. Of course, for the Athenians sentenced me to death, though I was innocent.
THAM. As not that good man thought to be a villainous rascal, so that he is troubled, condemned, hissed at, and goes needy? On the other hand, is that bad man not praised, cultivated, and are not all honors and offices perhaps conferred on him?
THAM. And does he not win the people’s acclamation and approval, although he is ignorant of all things?
SOC. I agree, even though I know whom this is aimed at.
THAM. Good. And these things are pernicious to mankind, are they not?
SOC. They are.
THAM. What’s their origin?
SOC. Perhaps misrepresentation.
THAM. So misrepresentation is most pernicious, so that this earth is called the home of vanity?
SOC. It is most pernicious.
THAM. But you, oh son of Sophroniscus, are the father of misrepresentation and a charlatan yourself.
SOC. Why say that?
THAM. What? If you have tested every coin individually, have you not not tested them taken as a whole? So, if you regret having made any concession, do you want me to go through this calculus all over?
3. SOC. I see you think you've caught me, and that I'm compelled to admit what I'd rather not. Oh no. But why this string of questions?
THAM. What was your dissembling?
SOC. I don't admit to any.
THAM. So tell me, were you wise or not?
SOC. And if I wasn't?
THAM. Then why were you praised by Apollo? Why did you dispute with wise men? Why did you mock them all? They disputed, you contradicted them. They made affirmations, you offered denials. Hence that observation, "I'll barrage him with novel words and ideas,” and you didn't stop there. As I hear it, you often toyed with Nestor and Palamedes.
SOC. If I say I was wise?
THAM. Then why did you remove every criterion of truth? Why were you always boasting that you knew nothing. Thus you could have claimed that all children are wise.
SOC. I was nevertheless pronounced the most wise.
THAM. That was an untruth, we have what we want. But I’m wrong. You were the most depraved, and in disputation you were sly and malicious.
SOC. I was human, I could have been mistaken.
THAM. No, it was more than that: you were in the habit of deceiving. Don’t conceal it. Here you will find no way to hide your misrepresentation, not even Apollo will dissimulate this. And he is the best interpreter of his own oracle: it is agreed that you were marked by no learning, no arts. And if you deny this, tell me the number of our affections? Tell me how to square the circle and double the cube. Describe if you can, the motions of the celestial bodies, the orbits of heaven. Tell me anything else, and what you think about God. Who created the universe? Is God known or unknown? Does He exist in the Father, in the mind, in love? What is God's essence? His efficacies? His rays? What signs of His existence does he give us? And what shadows?
SOC. If you could be a god, as you would like!
4. THAM. You’re killing me, Socrates. But let’s go further. Tell me, if you can, about eternity, about the cosmos, about time, about generation, and what is the soul of the world’s soul. What is the origin of things? How do they continue to exist. How is the cosmos constructed? What is it is form? Its organization? Its motion? Life? Death? Is there resurrection? Tell me what better hope have good men, when their power is such as it is and they have an imperfect essence? And what are those imperfections? Many? Mixed? Individual? What are the organs of the soul? What? Can you tell me the lineaments of the moon? Why does it sometimes have growing horns, sometimes blunter and sometimes sharper? Tell me too about the sea: if it is blue itself, why does its water look purple when you disturb it? But now you’re holding your tongue, proving your lack of knowledge, attesting to your ignorance. Hence, good friend, you should acknowledge that “you recognized no other gods but Chaos, us Clouds and the Tongue, these three alone.” Hence that friend of yours Plato, whom I could barely tolerate even as a child, was otherwise very devoted to you, but when he indulged in a discourse about the natural world he did not introduce you, as he nearly always did elsewhere, but rather Timaeus of Locrus.
SOC. I lacked the power to mount up to heaven. Besides, I always scorned such things as vanities. I took philosophy, devoted to such things and in this very way aspiring to mount up to heaven, recalled it, and placed it in our households and cities.
THAM. Oh the unbelievable folly, the ignorance of those things which belong to God! So what do you have to do with God? So you could have no apprehension of those things which are fair and good, being a worthless worshipper of the physical body. For a soul having no idea of the things which truly exist is blind, and gets caught up in the passions of the body.
5. SOC. Not so. Rather, you should understand that morals were advanced and established by me, although I had contempt for those higher things. Rather, I earnestly exercised myself concerning the form of governing the republic and the right conduct of an individual life.
THAM. I appreciate that. Hence your fine, handsome legislation about holding wives and children in common, about communal ownership of land and property, and about women and allowing them to fight in war. Oh, writing! Oh, arts! Oh, morality! What dizziness drove you to preach those things so unwisely?
SOC. But why were those things disgraceful, particularly when they were so praiseworthy and glorious? To your way of thinking, will not friendship between all of mankind be admirable? Surely the evils which now beset the management of our commonwealth appear to arise from the fact that everything is not held in common. I speak of judgments based on false witness, on the flattery of the wealth, and also about controversies and lawsuits over the good faith of contracts.
THAM. But, oh Socrates, none of those things result from the lack of common ownership, but rather from Man’s wickedness. What about the fact that we see those who hold goods in common squabbling more than we those who own private property? The starting-point of your fraud was that, in all ways, and looking it from every angle, you thought it expedient for there to be one household and one state. But that is not so. Indeed, if this goes farther there will be no state. And in the meantime what do your workmen get from your Guardians? What rewards are reaped by those who serve as magistrates? What hope do they have? What emolument? It may also seem silly if we make a comparison with brute beasts, for women to follow the same pursuits and perform the same duties as men. What do the beasts know of this?
SOC. I went on say that magistrates and governors of my republic ought to differ from those subject to their rule in the same way we see warp to be made out of one kind of wool and weft from another.
6. THAM. For my part, I pity you. Does this not contradict that unity and communism you propose? So tell me, if you can, out of all those sophisms of yours if you have is a single thing to extricate yourself. But let these things pass. To move on, you seemed to be philosophizing divinely when you taught that reason should rule in men and that desire and anger ought to be mastered. But wrongly so. It is not reason which calls us to our duty by its command, or deters us from deceit by its veto. No, quite to the contrary, it is reason, not anger, which deceives and is deceived, and, unless intelligence is added and mankind is dipped into the cup of regeneration, it is in vain that they rely on your praise of reason. Although there will be some of your followers who cannot be washed clean of that pretense. And to these I would offer the recommendation that they ought to keep control, not only of their desire and anger, but also of their reason, and submit exclusively to the rule of the intellect. And, to bring the discussion back to yourself, such would be the material out of which the Socratic republic would be manufactured.
SOC. And yet, as everybody knows, my life was upright.
THAM. You’re wrong. For you led an idler’s life, and did not have the time for studies or for acquiring any art, nor yet for military service. Nor did you teach your sons. And how many philosophers have not been touched by your malice? Whom did it spare? Let that pass. You could not stand popular men or unprincipled sophists. Let that pass too (even if it were better for them to be branded by the censor rather than by a man who was a sophist himself). But what frenzy drove you against Anaxagoras?
SOC. Wasn’t my self-control praiseworthy?
THAM. You’re dodging my question. But I didn’t expect you to bring up the subject of your temperance?
SOC. I preferred a slender diet to an immoderate one.
7. THAM. No, you didn’t. You attended every symposium, to give an impression of wisdom. At this point I omit those suspicions about your interference with little boys, particularly Alcibiades. You know the rest, hence that speech, “But you, young man, just consider a little what this temperance means and the delights of which it deprives you-young fellows, women, play, dainty dishes, wine, boisterous laughter. And what is life worth without these?” Indeed, it is said that you thought disgraceful for young men to lack their lovers.
SOC. But these are Aristophanes’ words, as I’ve said, and surely I was blameless.
THAM. But those things were not free of blame.
SOC. But if they were?
THAM. Then they were not free of suspicion.
SOC. But if they were?
THAM. At least they would set a bad example.
SOC. But Xanthippe goes to show my patience.
THAM. I am not fond of excessively patient men.
SOC. But I used to walk about barefoot.
THAM. A vain show of your folly.
SOC. But I was sober, and often used to stand motionless all day long.
THAM. Why this ostentation? If a man can’t move about, he’s in a bad way. If he doesn’t want to, he’ll immediately be viewed as a fool. No, it would have been praiseworthy to refrain from that sort of vanity. What next?
SOC. But a little while ago you portrayed me as furtive and astute. What could be less compatible with that nature than disdain men’s good will or think that wealth is worthless?
THAM. Nothing at all. But you are accomplishing nothing, and nothing contrary to my view can be said about Socrates.
8. SOC. But you should acknowledge my constancy. For how many chains were there with which I resolutely maintained I was bound when I was unjustly condemned? How many?
THAM. But, my good sir, you used to hope for your release and freedom. That was why you elected to wear a dauntless expression, as if you had no fear of death. But when you saw that no hope was left, you wailed for yourself and your sons like a baby. And when it was time to depart, you pretended a certain confidence, as if about to suffer that willingly which everybody has to suffer, willy-nilly.
SOC. And yet I drank the poison, as you can see from my legs, still swollen.
THAM. In truth that was soft cowardice. How better the man of whom it was said “I don’t want a man who readily swaps his life for bloodshed. Give me a man who can be earn praise without dying.” So you torment yourself in vain. You can’t produce anything which counts against these criticisms.
SOC. But the integrity of my disciples, the reputation of my name will protect me against the damages of evil-minded men.
THAM. I acknowledge Aristippus, a dissolute drunkard, and Plato, that flatterer of Dionysius, who is worse than the former to the degree that he was regarded as holier. Or haven’t you heard how he provoked Dion to murder his kinsman Dionysius? If he was your enemy, Plato, why consort with him? Why take his money? If he was your friend, why plot against him? And what am I to say about Xenophon, that weakling, scarce a man?
SOC. At least acknowledge Antisthenes.
9. THAM. Surely. For he was a lover of woman, he toadied to no tyrants, he placed no value on money and wealth, and (which makes him most welcome to you) he alone incited the Athenians who were responsible for your death. He likewise taught continence to Crates, tolerance to Zeno, and tranquility to Diogenes. But, my good sir, it is known that he was learned before becoming your disciple, and he was not wont to consort with you, for you lived in Athens, and he in the Piraeus.
SOC. How you’ve thrashed me today, oh Thamus! But how did you learn all this, when you died centuries before me?
THAM. If I’m making this up, if I’m lying, I would like to be refuted. But if those things are true, why should you be troubled about this? Or how how could you observe what you have done? But I shan’t conceal this. So acknowledge Antisthenes, acknowledge Crates and Diogenes, although, them to the side, it is common to hear something concerning you , what you have said or done to the harm of mankind.
SOC. But let others slander me. But Thamus ought to be friendlier and more fair, and I should perhaps earn your gratitude by that fixed policy of mine.
THAM. What was that, oh Socrates?
SOC. Influenced by your authority, during my lifetime I wrote nothing.
THAM. That’s a calumny against me, for I didn’t denounce writing absolutely, but only the substitution of writing for memory. One man commits his ideas to writing. That’s something. Another does not do that, but relies on his efforts at memorization. That’s something greater. But there is no way in which I approved of a person who does nether the one nor the other. But I in any event I do not think it is the part of a philosopher to employ authority and witnesses who can be false and fictitious, either by a defect of the truth or out of malice. One ought to be inspired and motivated to act by arguments and reasons, not by occurrences, particularly those which are not reliable. “Thamus believed.” What of that? “He demonstrated by reasoning.” That’s something different. But what am I doing, deriving the dignity of dialectic from Socrates, as if he were a philosopher?
10. SOC. How difficult you’re being, Thamus! But now you must tell me in turn, whether a man can search for peace during wartime, and not disdain its arts?
THAM. Of course.
SOC. And, if we hold in out minds pernicious forms of managing a republic, should we not also hold those which are beneficial?
SOC. And is it not the duty of the same man who detects and abolishes bad laws also to enact good and wholesome ones?
SOC. Then doesn’t the same man who has pointed out the shadow of death appear capable of showing that a shadow also resides within the light and lead us to it?
THAM. It would appear so.
SOC. So is it not the task of the same Thamus who understood the cause of forgetfulness also to show the sovereign remedy for memory? When I tried to deal with you about this thing at the very beginning, I was obstructed by your discussion of my philosophical approach and my life. Come then, since you know that I must pass on in compliance with the decree of the Assembly, “You should keep your great spirit pent up in your heart. For friendship is better,” and, if you please, with me as your audience, help me remember that precise memory invented by Theutates.
THAM. Me tell this to a man who is a worthless Greek? I’ll see about that! But let it pass. “Friendship is better.” But how did you get the idea, how, pray, did it occur to you that this is a matter that can be discussed?If there is no evaluative power, if there is nothing to pass judgment, then it follows that nothing can be known, nothing can be perceived. What remains is rash opinion-making. “It is an accursed disease, and vision lies.” And if opinion and perception are removed, all that remains is the making of assertions. But you are blushing. Was this your view? Are these your wares? They come from your workshop, do they not? What now? Do you adhere to your view?
11. SOC. And if I do?
THAM. Nothing can be said about the subject.
SOC. But if I don’t?
THAM. A wise man should not change his mind. What? Isn’t this your view too?
SOC. You should at least respect the fact that we are mortals.
THAM. But it is a mistake to be swayed and take pity. No perturbation befalls a wise man. What is that sense of shame? This too was yours, as I see. But let it be as you desire, and I shall do what I have never been wont to do in my life and dispute about matters which are contained within learning and reason, and on this earth I shall revive the memory of memory, practised, as you say, for all these centuries, with you for my audience, if such is your wish. But in the meantime “your crops are still in the grass.” You will understand nothing of what is going to be said than you reconcile yourself with Anaxagoras, who has also passed over, as I understand. So hear it thus.
CHAPTER I. FORGETFULNESS AND MEMORY
ORGETFULNESS is a vice of a weak, disorderly mind, the first product of that material cause, dissolving and weakening our principal mental powers. From which it is evident that it does not befall us by divine dispensation or because of our nature — I do not know about our fortune — but rather that it is located in us, something contracted of our own volition. So now it is held in scorn by somebody who sees it for what it is. Hence the saying, “Men habitually forget or fail to recognize somebody who can’t do them a favor.” As a result of it, no progress follows from drawing distinctions, no shadow, no subject, no order, no animation. Now inspection of the thing that confronts you rejects the efficacy of cogitation. Now, too, not to speak of the essence of time and memory’s efficacies, we are plunged into ignorance (the worst of all ills), so that this seems to be a form of unjust servitude. On the other hand, memory is a power, an action, a shadow, a beating of the mind’s wings, serving the body and acting as an instrument for the senses. Its prime virtue lies in providing a shadow of the good, and its second is that it foreshadows judgment — hence the title of my discourse — so you may understand what you have learned, things which you might not comprehend by cogitation alone.
CHAPTER II. ON THE CAUSES OF MEMORY
Hence your ability, and hence you have something you can put into action. So you must learn of the power in memory’s causes, and learn of its action. I shall speak of the latter elsewhere, in its proper place. As for the former, although, if you trace it far enough, everything proceeds from God and the One, for now let it be said that it exists in a threefold variety. For at this point we must consider the office of Mother Nature. Now we feel the rays and efficacies of the beings of heaven, now the counsels of reason and learning come to our aid. For memory is natural, innate in our minds thanks to the efficacy of this virtue, and it is created together with cogitation. When men consulted it before that invention of Theutes, they indeed gave it expression, and had no need of writing and the letters of the alphabet. But afterwards, when the arts of that teacher had taken hold, so that they preferred to follow him rather than nature and turned to him for memory’s protection, its decline ensued, and human industry began to fail nature. Hence came about impiety towards our mother, and a specious complaint about the weakness of our innate ability. This power was next to its predecessors, but did not enjoy an equal communion with them, since men turned to it with slackness, not having minds equal to the task. From which the third appears to have followed, I mean the power of learning and reasoning, which evokes and strengthens our natural ability, which would otherwise remain hidden, for these too are called forth from Nature’s womb. Therefore, thanks to her help, understanding shines forth by means of learning and wisdom. When one thinks about this partnership, nature seems in one way to be the student, in another way the teacher. After the invention of that ancient fellow had remained hidden for many years, it is thought to have first come to light in your Greece. Indeed, that man of Chios is believed to have first invented and brought it forth. But this is wrong, as you yourselves have seen, since you have adjudged that it is to be traced to Egypt and my age of the world. But, even setting the Egyptian aside, that Greek achieved nothing. For if you consult the annals of the Celts and read the history books, you will discover that it was thriving long before in the school of the Druids. So much for that Greekling and his Spartans. But others, I suppose in order to seem more witty, and to make this art seem to be nothing, have laughingly persuaded themselves that they would would prefer to forget than to remember. They are saying something about Man, I don’t deny it, and perhaps this opinion is suitable for a wretched, afflicted person. But surely this is a business re which there is nothing we can ask what is best, not whether this man or that should prefer to remember or to forget. So these were the causes of memory, this was its origin, this is how it has been propagated.
CHAPTER III. OF THE SUBJECT OF MEMORY
Is he not impudent, who seeks for the goodness and importance of this shadow within God’s circle and within the light itself, which surpasses human understanding? If memory has its causes, it if it is conjoined with time, with increase, with generation and with frailty, if it is useful in itself and in other things as well, let this be so. So does that intelligence which exists in the wandering and the fixed stars have memory? Or is the common virtue of the mind considered as being the same as that which belongs to Jove? Or, since those things which are done in mid-heaven have no need of understanding on the part of heaven’s orbs, for this reason have they no need for the helping support of recollection? Perhaps they do, but in another way, I mean by means of virtue alone, which they have received from their creating Father. Nor are they ever deprived of the sight of the lower world, whereas our rational memory presents us with things that are absent. And if someone goes on to ask whether the minds of the stars and celestial spheres realize they have circled the earth during the previous day, month, or year, understand it thus. Nothing constant and free of change admits any decay. In a day, a month, and a year, certain extremities and vestiges of change are perceived. Therefore nothing in something which is constant can have a yesterday. Rather, the human mind is the father of the day, the month, and the year. And, just as a man on a journey leaves his footprints on various parts of the earth, so the movement of the orbs is distinguished by every one of us in our minds, whereas in the heavenly sphere day is all the same, there being no alternation of night. Thus those minds of the stars and the spheres of which you speak have perception, but not in time, and I have already said that memory is conjoined with time. But you persist and say that the minds of the spheres look down upon men, and from this it perhaps follows that they remember us, so that memory thrives in them. But what manner of thing is this? “They look down, therefore they will have a share of memory.” No, quite to the contrary, we do not recollect the things which we see, but rather we perceive them absolutely. From this it is clear that, when they are compared with ourselves, what you are saying can by no means apply. If their is any contention with the light itself, it will be of the same kind, for the reasons which I have already specified. From which things, this too can be understood at the same time that the individual minds of all men, when they have ascended to that place to which they are akin, have no functions of reasoning memory, nor any ability for that thing, unless, perchance, “great Achilles will be sent to Troy once more.” So let reasoning memory exist in others. Thus, when we posit this function as being conjoined with the body, and existing in time, then, certainly, it remains to be concluded that the powers of this virtue exist only in living beings, or rather in those living beings which have a perception of time. And if time is number, and only Man is created by nature so as to make numerical calculations, why waste any more of my time with brute beasts?
CHAPTER IV. ON THE ART
So let the art of memory, the art of the mind, be such a power, but subordinate to none of the rest. For if its home is on the periphery, then in what way can it provide repose and action in the center? But if it is at the center, by what means can it permeate to the circumference? But this is perhaps too generalized an issue, and will be treated in greater detail by me elsewhere. Now, good sir, let Anaxagoras consider providence, now let him make the same judgment of you (and you should remember this, I’ll make you remember). For, since there are three things in nature, foresight, insight, and hindsight, who is there who, if you remove one or both of the first two, would dare claim he has hindsight of that which does not exist, and what is therefore out of its due order? So if you imagine that your acumen of discovery and wisdom in judgment is being displayed and deployed here, you are most certainly mistaken. I am not minded to discuss the providence of nature and reason, but only its shadow in hindsight, and this is a shadow which can by no means be perceived save when the body that casts it is properly positioned. Nor would I have it be thought this is said without good reason: there is a certain kind of men who, if they heard of the condition of our art, would say, “don’t you strike yourself as immediately visualizing that which you hear, and therefore also what you read and hear from others, and thus as having them at your fingertips in your memory?” But those gentlemen ought to have foresight and insight concerning these very things.
CHAPTER. V. ON THE PARTS OF THE ART
As a result of these considerations, if you will, this art may be termed hindsight. It has two parts, foresight and judgment. For the man who neither plants a vine nor cultivates one after it has been planted gets no olives, no figs, no apples. In the same way, unless you first make provision for the necessary things, and then tend them once you have done so, you will hope in vain for olives and waste your effort. So, once that which is to be remembered has been posited, we must first, as it were, make our encampment and hold our levy. Then, after our army has been drawn up in its array and our soldiers have been exhorted and fired with the desire to do battle, what else does a man need? “This is what it is to have a memory?” you ask. “Has not foresight, and perhaps judgment as well, already been subsumed under ‘wisdom of judgment?’ So what are you adding?” But you are flitting along the surface: they are not both the same. For foresight and the discovery of things have been relegated to reason’s island, and foresight, in its advances and retreats, could also be banished to its city, leaving us with our shadows. This is likewise true of judgment, in the same way. Therefore the former kind of foresight is a part in our machinery, for it exists in subjects and shadows. For, since forgetfulness and memory are extremes, the former responding to darkness and, as it were, to death, and the latter proportionately equivalent to light, assuredly there is no progression from darkness to light save by intermediate shadows, since this is what nature permits, and it is reasonable to conclude the same in the present context. Thus everything transferred from forgetfulness to memory needs to be borne through interposed shadows, serving, as it were, as heralds, which temper the appearances of things and present them to the mind. Shadows are therefore necessary. You must also realize that there are subjects as well, from which these shadows are produced. So first I must speak about the subject’s nature and essence, and then about its selection and the rule which governs it, and lastly I must speak about shadows in the same way.
CHAPTER. VI. ON SUBJECTS
And so the subject is a holder and container of shadows. Hence you cannot repeat from memory things you have heard, but only things you have visualized. So we are not dealing with the extremities of the thing thus mentioned, not with its very matter, nor with a thing created by nature and pertaining thereto, or with something manufactured by art and related to art, but rather with the one thing and the other as expressed by the conformation of shadows which strive to set forth its outline, as if by signs and symbols.
CHAPTER. VII. ON THE ABSOLUTE SUBJECT
But there is one kind of subject which is absolute and primary, and another which is helping, as a kind of collaborator. The former is always the same as the result of nature or Man’s handiwork, but the latter very often rests content if it can be visualized to good effect. But since the former is a universal (such as the depths of the earth, and this continent or that one, the state, and economic measure and its parts) and unrelated to the following three kinds, in the present context these are deemed to be absolute subjects and have no need of the other kinds, which perhaps have no role to play.
CHAPTER VIII. ON THE HELPING SUBJECT
The helping subject is that which is conjoined with the absolute, self-contained one, superadded for its multiplication and in order to achieve a firm perception of shadows. And, whereas the other is fixed and immobile, this one, since it supplies the wherewithal to animate shadows, is moved in accordance with their requirements, since it is supplied to serve their needs and purposes. Think a sword hanging on a wall. Now let this man, while he puts down the seditious, be threatening with his sword. Now, when Alledius provokes and arms slaves to attack the state, let him wield a sword. Now let Nature draw a sword in defense of her own law. Not let rebels suffer punishment by the sword. And now let a sword stand as a symbol for Astraea. In this context, all these personifications can use the service of a sword. Likewise, if ever a shadow has come to be trusted but does not immediately occur to the man who hunts for it, its location, as it were, is pointed out by its contingent effects.
CHAPTER IX. IN ANTICIPATION
But there will perhaps arise in certain certain subjects helping something in its material, in which, after the material of animation, it offers and supplies nothing further, but also appears to have a mathematical implication. I disagree. I shall explain why elsewhere, and am now content to have issued this caution, that they strike us as mathematical, not because they are separate from material substance, but because, in addition to their appointed service of association, they designate a number and an order and, if they fail to designate these, they therefore appear to have been applied without point. It is up to you to decide whether this ought to be added to the definition I have given.
CHAPTER X. ON THE CHOICE OF SUBJECT
Thus the nature and essence of the subject. It follows that we must consider their choice and rule of use. In the first place, let them be taken from that kind of thing which fall within the scope of our senses. I mean, whether the shadow is an inherent one or one borrowed from outside, in either case let them admit a perceptible form, even if in the meantime they are not immune from being instrumental and requiring the making of distinctions. For otherwise you apply them in vain, for you cannot supply them with shape or place. Then let them be made conformable to the power of distinction-making in their aspect. For just as a shadow is neither light nor darkness, so this subject’s home is not in these nor in that. So let these shadows be neither too bright, so that they dazzle the eyes with their splendor, nor excessively dark. Furthermore, since there are containers for shadows, let these be provided and defined so as to be of a moderate, limited size. If something prevents this, let them be modified in accordance with nature’s prescription. For, if they are over-large, then they scarcely receive a shadow, but if they are over-small, they may appear repulsive. Furthermore, let them be separated by moderate, parallel intervals, and, for this to go well, you must apply the machinery of your cogitation. Let the middle areas be kept free and clear. Then you must remove any show of insolent similarity in the containers’ form and shape, and imitate nature’s wisdom in their variety. Let these be set forth in due order (if any such exists), and take care not to arrange them otherwise. with each one set in any old place. Let them all be occupied by shadows, and let all absolute ones be marked by their associated helpers, acting, as it were, as their custodians. These must be supervised, so that credit will be placed in their truthfulness, and, once understanding has dawned, let them be reduced in size. Let them not go astray and invade neighboring containers, but rather, so to speak, be separated into their individual tribes. And let the governors and princes of these tribes be taken from images of the phases of the moon. Let them exercise a continual decimvirate. Furnish them with golden chains to bind them in their individual stations. Be vigilant that all of them remain and are able to stay where they wish. Diligently and carefully decide which each one requires as the reward for its labor.
CHAPTER XI. ON SHADOWS
Let your subjects be measured and described thus, and now, employing a similar logic, let us pass on to shadows. A shadow is a fictitious appearance of a thing credited to its subject, adopted to procure a firm perception of that subject. It is an appearance, since we do not seek a shadow which produces in the First Mind (for that is light, and is always the same), nor in the heaven in its eternal fires, or in the heaven’s revolution’ and again, not because we seek it in the subject itself or in that which it produces, or in the event itself, nor again because it is moved from the orbit of this virtue, but because it is an instrument for sensation and is polished with the file of thought. The thing itself, I mean we believe in the subject thanks to our trust in this shadow. And, just as understanding proceeds from this prior belief (as I have once heard Mercury expounding), and prudence regarding nature and reason from its antecedent position, so comprehension follows from the virtue of shadows, and there ensues a firm, detailed retention of the matter at hand. Now some might think these things desperately arduous, or perhaps a vain and laborious concern. The former should recognize that human memory is a weak talent, and the latter that it is a perverse one, and realize that that which you cannot grasp when it is fully explicated must be remembered in an encapsulated form.
CHAPTER XII. ON SIMPLE SHADOWS
Some shadows are simple, and others modified. The simple ones are of those subjects which fall within the purview of the senses, the modified of things which are conceptual. The latter are created and received from the making of distinctions, whereas the former arise and are manufactured from perception itself. Therefore our present business is with those which, at least to some moderate degree, fall within our senses: as is the subject, so is its shadow. Hence a man represents Man, Alledius represents Alledius, and a beast designates beasts. All things which can by their own nature thus be visualized are presented to our cogitation by shadows which belong to this category. I say “by their own nature” because those shadows perceived by the ears and by the imagination, even if they are not visible and present themselves to our understanding per se, are classified as being capable of visualization, whereas ones incapable of visualization and by their nature inaccessible to our judgment are classified as modified shadows. Conformation marks shadows in such a way that it handles those which require cogitation to be comprehended as if you could understand them by looking at them. But mark you, there are perhaps certain sensible forms which refuse to play the part of simple subjects. Or perhaps there are not.
CHAPTER XIII. ON MODIFIED SHADOWS
And so, if something does not have its own proper shadow, necessity compels you to take what you lack from somewhere else. Therefore when simple shadows do not present themselves, you should consider it well done if fictitious shadows which work by way of imitation or something of that kind are applied. This is that conformation, this is that modification of the shadow, not introduced for the sake of pleasure and delight (as is the case in figures of speech), but is done under the compulsion of necessity, regarding abstractions and things associated with them, so that they might make a reader impression on the mind’s eye. For what else remains, when you are obliged by necessity?
CHAPTER XIIII. ON THE DIVISION OF MODIFICATIONS
Furthermore, there is one kind of modification in mathematics, and another in other things. Let those be called absolute which imply no differentiation regarding number. Whether these are simple or conjoined does not concern me, as long as throughout this entire discussion you bear in mind that we are dealing with abstract things inaccessible to the judgment of the senses. For the representation of those things which fall within the purview of the senses is simple, and, just as we see shadows derived from their external appearances, thus modified shadows perhaps ought to be derived from their internal contents. And certainly, if we were to have true shapes of things, everything ought to be done in conformity with these. Now, since these are not available to you, you must seek them from their actions, subjects, and the rest of that family of considerations, as if you were seeking for a remedy and a protection.
CHAPTER XV. ON ABSOLUTE MODIFICATIONS
And this inflection or modification of absolute things can be called a trope, not because it involves any verbal alteration or transfer, such as rhetorical splendor reaches for (like your philosophy), but because it, so to speak, introduces changes into things, since it makes us believe that something which shuns the instruments of our senses functions like something else which does fall within that perceptible category. But we do not adopt them to that they will be palmed off as those feeble things which are subject to the vicissitudes of such things (as was your sole assumption in palming off those unchanged and modified shadows as the proper ones), but as aids in dealing with these hidden subjects in the workings of our cogitation, and you can say that they are adopted instead of those things which cannot otherwise be grasped. For the same reason, the necessity of this compels me to ignore what you have to say about employing a sense of propriety in choosing a metaphor. And so now, the creator undergoes the vicissitudes of his creation, the child imitates its father. Hence Theutates can stand for mathematics and the letters of the alphabet, Vulcan for pyromancy, Nereus for hydromancy, Apollo for rising and setting, in the way that Chrion is said to represent surgery, Minerva war and its excursions, Prometheus foresight, and Epimetheus repentance. And you should not be troubled that not even these visualizations admit of any judgment. For whether they are corporeal or incorporeal, and whether they cohere or not, we must maintain our respect for those embodiments which the ancients attributed to them. Hence tools, workmen, and levers will stand for work and construction. Hence, too, sayings, writings, and achievements in general are remembered in terms of their authors. But what should I say about their subject-matter? Perhaps, in this business with which we are dealing, the purpose of the work is too familiar to require mention.
2. “But form is being ignored.” Yes, and you see why. Now the efficient cause is deduced from its operations. Who designed the universe? Who ordained the movements of the heavenly bodies? Who created and maintains all things? Who made our eyes spherical? Who put holes in our noses? Who stretched out our muscles and affixed them with ligatures? Who fitted our ribs together? Who made our hearts pyramidical in shape? What kind of mother? What father, if not our invisible God.? You see how He, being infinite and incomprehensible, is made manifest in His works. There are countless examples of this kind by which you can handily deduce from traces and signs, as it were, God Himself, eternity, the universe, time, generation, the so-called gods of the pagans, and everything else that has created anything. But, above and beyond this use of primary effects, in all the conformation of all shadows, if you understand them, you may recognize the function performed by their activities. An association of men, few in number but more than one, who are endowed with virtue creates aristocracy; if they are not endowed with virtue, you have an oligarchy. Thus the combination of the people to achieve a common advantage is a polity, whereas if this is done for the sake of thumbing their noses at patricians, this will signify a democracy (at least as you Greeks draw the distinction). Thus virtues, diseases, strength, wealth, comeliness, and their opposites are expressed by their subjects. Thus the properties and accidental features of everything out of which nature is composed are composed by those things, and serve, as it were, as their advertisements. Now the subject’s notification depends on adjunct and accidental things. Thus the springtime is denoted by the swallow, by the sowing of beans, and other suchlike things. Thus the toga is used to represent peace, and arms and missiles stand for war. In this context, note this as well, that common accidental features of this subject or that one can be applied as you choose, so you may appreciate that what has already been said about the doings of subjects applies to these as well.
3. Then too, illumination is created by contrariety. Here this applies especially to things which disagree only their logic: from a medal you can track down the idea of victory, from a robber that of parricide. Then too, if perhaps you wish to pass over these, by the same logic we can see one symbol appointed for multiple things: for example, heirs make you think of testators; an injured man reminds you of the person who did the damage; a husband makes you think of a wife; a son-in law of a father-in-law; a lender of a borrower. Here, if you recall Pericles, you may remember Anaxagoras; an adulterer makes you think of Hippolytus. A slave perhaps reminds you of a freedman, something hot of something cold, a spendthrift of a miser, a prudent man of a fool, and one who enjoys prosperity reminds you of the victim of a tragedy, a blind man of a sighted one, and a sober man of a drunkard, when either the efficacy of the joke or the nature of the occasion provides a subject. Now here are some examples of those things that are perceived by a comparison, there is an infinity of such: wind can be represented by Ibycus, Mercury by Aesculapius, something of moderate size by something larger, or vice versa. For who does not perceive the working of proportion?
4. Assuredly there is nothing in nature there is nothing that cannot at some point be illustrated. So Vergil wrote, “His face and shoulders are godlike.” Hence somebody’s mistress will represent Venus. Thus a very deeply-rooted tree, which cannot be brought down, will stand for virtue. Thus that ship,
E’en now, a helpless wrack,
You drift, despoil’d of oars;
The Afric gale has dealt your mast a wound;
Your sailyards groan, nor can your keel sustain,
will convey to the mind the ill-affected, suffering commonwealth. Thus storms and gales will designate dangers and calamities. Thus if one says “Let tawny gold be formed in fire,” this will stand for the idea that good faith is often to be discerned in a time of misfortune. And indeed the allegories of mythology are so numerous that by relying on them alone you can pretty much express all the ideas you want. Now, concerning things of differing quality, Neoptolemus will conjure up Achilles, and Socrates will do the same for Anaxagoras, so we are indebted to yourself for an example that we use in the future. Finally, so that I might cite an example of the opportunities of such distribution, see how wedding-flutes can stand for marriage, a single squadron for cavalry, and how a building, walls and ramparts, and the parts of those things can be understood to represent a household or a city. Thus your Mercuries, Aesculapiuses, Prometheuses, and Chirons can stand for wise men, your citizens of Calatina for fashionable townsmen (even the poor ones), and, generally speaking, individual examples are used to represent their general classes. But these are things which maybe ought to have been discussed in connection with the modifications of abstract things. Now my subject warns me that I must pass on to those conformations I have called mathematical.
CHAPTER XVI. ON NUMERICAL MODIFICATIONS
Since mathematical things are abstract and lack any material substance, they cannot cast simple shadows, nor can they be modified by the logic suggested above, for example if we are asked to recite some numbers, of which not even a hint can be given in words. So I must try to address this too: I trust that a clever intervention will come to the rescue of this lack. And, inasmuch as we are dealing with numbers, let there first each of the signs of the Zodiac, in their proper order, be divided into tenths, and then let numbers be assigned to each of these tenths, each sign having been duly divided. There will therefore be one hundred and twenty If these seem dissatisfactory, do the same for the wandering stars and the image of the moon’s dragon, and let these be two hundred, the usefulness of which for maintaining a firm memory of Books, chapters, and things of that sort ought to strike you as incredible. But it is objected to me (even by men who are hardly ill-disposed), “What kind of perception is this? You want us to take the signs of Zodiac, and divide each in turn into ten parts. But who will find ten parts and differentiations in Cancer and some of the rest?” as if I wanted a crab to represent Cancer and fish to stand for Pisces. That is simple-minded. Who is there who would venture to call himself an astrologer on the basis of what I am saying about manufacturing shadows of those signs? So let the shadows of these things not be conformed to that which those folks suspect, but to the signs’ proper images. For here, lest this comparison perchance trouble them, I do not just want the images of the individual signs to be employed, but rather the signs of them all in their variety. You are all aware of them and how many images they have, and likewise of the wandering stars and the moon’s dragon. So let this be the way in which such things are assigned shadows.
CHAPTER XVII. ON THE INFLEXION OF WORDS
Therefore, as often as we wish to remember a thing itself, if we diligently employ a representation of forms and shadows, we can easily retrieve what we want from our memories. The inflexion of words remains to be discussed, in which context, even if “the speaker who has chosen a theme suited to his powers will never be at a loss for felicitous language or lucid arrangement,” and “words will not fail when the matter is well considered,” nevertheless attention must be paid to this part too, even if this seems to be a question of opinion more than science. It is therefore reasonable that this be understood first, that many things of the kind which fall within the purview of the senses, as well as those which do not, are both of a kind that words of necessity derive from them. So what is said about these things must also be regarded as being said about those words. Now, where there exists a useless reference to things, we must have resort to the functions of all verbal proportion, particularly that of association and origin. And it seems necessary to bring into play the power of this general inflection. First of all, therefore, let their be a presence of thirty prepared letters of the alphabet in each individual, and let these exist both for proper effects and adjunct ones. With these things prepared in advance, and prepared in such a way that Alledius may assign so many letters of such a kind and also their effects to these letters, and other individuals may do the same, why do you doubt that any number of combinations can be made out of these letters and their permutations? And what reason should there be for employing just four or five letters for permutation? Whether they come at the end of the series or fall in the middle, they are to be selected with a clever variety of execution. And again, for the letters themselves and for certain physical objects established separately, for all all of these, by the accession of five associated spirants, and with their associated effects and adjuncts devised to be represented by liquids and finals, what do we have here if not permutations, and what more, pray, could anybody want? A person may arrange these men, these physical objects, these effects, and also these adjuncts, so as to serve his own purpose.
CHAPTER. XVIII. ON THE RULE OF SHADOWS
This is, as it were, the way in which shadows are stitched together. Let us come to their rule and associated subjects. For, since from each thing manifold shadows can be produced, in accordance with the brightness of one’s intelligence, a choice must be made, just as with visible bodies, and the opportunity must be evaluated. Therefore all simple shadows, all unchanged once, must first of all gain the approval of the eyes. If the subject permits, they should retain the dimension of their appearance; if not, they must be modified by associated considerations. And let them be bright and clear-cut, and to accomplish this, let them be novel things, or even silly ones. Therefore the should have some outstanding appearance of beauty or unsightliness, so as to make an impression on one’s cogitation. Let the subjects to which they are attached be represented perfectly and accurately. They ought not to be vague. They should always deal with something in their subjects, or with something which affects and acts upon their subjects. Then, if understanding increases, let them be dismissed, or, if understanding so requires, let them return. Furthermore, let them be dissimilar in their form and variety. For if sensation perceives similar forms by means of its instruments, or if it creates them is such, they are hindered in performing their task of visualization. So enough has been said about employing prudent foresight.
CHAPTER XIX. ON JUDGMENT
Assume it to be true, that you have exercised foresight regarding your subjects, your shadows, and everything else. What next? It remains for me to speak of judgment in the same way. But it does not seem possible to discuss this in one way, for judgment is variously spoken of as an investigation of coherence, or as a yardstick and ideal pattern for life, or again as a measurement of truthfulness: the first discusses it in terms of what it judges, the second of why it judges, and the third considers it in terms of the standard according to which it forms judgments. Hence all the division of your philosophical schools. Some say that this exists, and that the truth is capable of discovery, such as Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Dionysiodorus, and many others. Other maintain that nothing can be known or perceived (this is the source of your base dissimulation), while yet others are doubtful, such as Heracliitus, Xenophanes, Homer, Pyrrho, and Democritus. Hence that statement, “Who knows whether living is death, or death is what we call life?” But let us pass over that which judges, and the standard according to which judgment is made, and consider the remaining question of how it judges. Some locate judgment in the senses, so that it is “the measure of all things,” while others attribute it only to reason, which gave rise to that line, “Opinion is accursed, and vision lies,” and likewise to “You ought to know all things, both which you can readily believe at the best of truth, and also the opinions of mortals to which attaches no true reliability”, and likewise “It was not the god who compels you to travel this doubtful road, and form judgments according to thoughtless site or echoing hearing, but you may come to an accurate conclusion by means of reason.” There are yet others who have accepted the instrumentality of both sensation and reason. But in the present context I subordinate it to the virtue and function of cogitation: by the machinery of these thing it comes about that whatever is perceived when it impinges on the instruments of the senses, or has been manufactured by the operation of the senses, is by their legitimate incitement insinuated into our memory. For the brain has its own sphere and its particular orbits of the senses, vision, cogitation, and memory. And this is at the center, while around the circumference exist the organs of sensation. So nothing can arrive at the center without passing through the interposed orbits. Thus no complication of our sensation and memory immediately occurs when the organs of sensation are impinged upon. From this the virtue and contribution of judgment which we have been seeking can be seen.
CHAPTER XX. ON THE METHOD
There is an evaluative function within the method: visualization supplies the method thanks to animation, and cogitation produces the animation. Thus, when the organs of senses are impinged upon, sensation itself is impinged upon by subjects and their shadows. And what is visualization? Certainly it is wholly preoccupied with judging what is set before it. Since I have posited that we place subjects, as it were, in containers and receptacles, and that there is a certain logic to their organization, this will be shown first regarding subjects. So, concerning subjects, if a certain general idea can be established, which can quickly be distributed into common parts, these parts can be subdivided into parts that are less common, and those into particular ones, and these in turn into thirds. And though this may perhaps appear contrary to the nature of place-memory, what is there about it which can hinder the work of placement? So trust me, you can commend to your attention the idea of the idea, the common image of that which which is held in common, the particular images of particular things, and the thirds of thirds. Moreover, you can rig your sails so as to create new thirds and even tenths, if required, manufactured as a help for your purposes and to serve the advantage of your “golden chain.” And there is nothing more pregnant than this thing in my entire discourse. Now it remains to discuss the wisdom of cogitation in animation.
CHAPTER XXI. ON THE ANIMATION OR IMPULSE OF COGITATION
But perhaps I am mistaken, and you have no further need to consider cogitation. For he who grasps the method, perhaps, can do as much as he wants, whereas he who fails to grasp it achieves nothing more than vexing himself to no good purpose. But this would be wrong. For, just as in everything else, organization has the greatest power in the matter we are considering. This power belongs to our art, and yet I would vigorously deny that it is all-powerful, as can be gathered from my metaphor of orbits. Now for animation. First of all, let it not sleep in your shadows. Then, when it has been made more vigorous, let its abundance provide clear-cut impressions. These ought not to be taken from nature, nor ill-advisedly, but rather they should be prescribed by the reasoning will. Hence there is produced a double transformation: of yourself in regard to the thing itself, and in the thing in regard to itself. This is what it means to animate, this is what cogitation accomplishes. Thus the informed cogitation, providing the matter and the occasion, grasps the forms and logic of the shadows, since it has a natural propensity for understanding. And, although all wisdom is admirable, this is especially true of that which makes inanimate things appear to be living and breathing.
CHAPTER XXII. CONCLUSION
Now, oh son of Sophroniscus, you have my considered opinion concerning memory. The rest depends on attention, thought, and effort. This is how nothing will escape you, and everything contained in a thing will occur and present itself to you. So it is to this that you must spend particular attention. This must always be applied, there is nothing it will not achieve. But you, while you are on earth, must remember to make satisfaction to Anaxagoras, whom you could not stand. Although this entire passing of yours strikes me as suspicious, and may have some hidden meaning.