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Mediamatic Magazine Vol. 8#1: Josophia Grieve 1994   English  Nederlands

Welcome to Memorymoo

connect giordano 30bruno30

* Connected *

'''Hermetic Library.

Pristine white and lacquered off-white interior.
Uniquely comprehensive collection of renaissance texts
and related scholarly works including all of Giordano
Bruno's original work in Latin or vernacular `Italian',
and various translations into Italian, English, French,
German, Cornelius Agrippa's De Occulta philosophia,
Frances Yates' The Art of Memory, a richly illustrated
Horapollo, the Hypnerotomachia or Dream of Poliphilus.
On the wall a series of ink-coloured alchemical
and astrological images.

Erudite scholar is here. Doctor librarian is here.

You see a networked PC catalogue, a vase of fragrant
white roses and a glass case enclosing a very old book.

First connection: character #4711 in need of a description.

@describe me as `nomadic philosopher and artist.

Born Naples, Italy 1548. Burned alive as an impenitent heretic,
Campo dei Fiori, Rome, February 17, 1600,
because I 'refused to recant anything (I) had written or said'.

Published 30 texts from 1581 to 1593.

Reborn as simulacrum, December 11.1993,
MemoryMOO, the Internet.''''

Giordano Bruno has been called a memory magus, a mystical hermeticist, an
ambitious encyclopaedist, a multimedia visionary. But he is more than the sum
total of all the references he has generated. Time-insensitive, his work is
both precisely located at the height of the 16th century renaissance in Europe and apparently contemporary.

An important postmodern semiotic treatise, Bruno's last published text, ''De
imaginum, signorum et idearum compostione (On The Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas) Frankfort, 1591, could have been edited with Umberto Eco's Segno in 1973. The Dedicatory Epistle exclaims that the book's main theme is the composition of images, signs and ideas for the purpose of mastering universal intention, arrangement and memory and explains, for
our intellect can not see itself and all things in themselves except in an
outward appearance, likeness, image, shape or sign. Further, we do not
understand by any simpleness, condition and unity, but by composition,
combination, plurality of terms, by means of discourse and reflection.''

For present purposes, Bruno's body of work is a prophetic legacy of
hermetically encoded keys for the development of a universal memory system,
concepts that have begun to be manifested in the Internet. The
development of cybernetics in the last 50 years has provided the enabling
technologies for the omniscient, panflourescent and navigable storage system
that Bruno imagined four hundred years ago. By following Bruno's intricately
detailed instructions a renaissance `user' graced with the requisite
self-discipline, could store all knowledge in (the European perception of) the
world in their mind.

''I have assembled three books. The first contains those generalities which
are concerned with various sorts of signifying. In the same fashion Book One
explains the various conditions by which subjects are prepared and disposed of,
and images imprinted and depicted. Next we show how to construct the different
genera's atria and fields then we present them fully constructed. In them
finally are all that can be said, known, imagined; here are all arts,
languages, works and signs

(On the Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas,'' translated by Charles
Doria and Dick Higgins,Willis, Locker & Owens, 1991, p5.)

On one level, this work is a formula for the construction and compilation of a
mental encyclopaedia, but on another level, it is a hermetic and mystical
process, a gnosis designed to function through reflection and simulation,
through the aggressive use of images, ideas and signs. It is the human
image-making power; the imagination, or creative faculty of the mind at work.
Working from the precept that any form of creativity must begin with structure
and discipline, Bruno provides a guide to form and content in his memory
treatises. Like the system of animated mandalas in Tibetan tantrism, the
underlying foundation of his system is mathematical while the art itself uses
colours, images, signs, sounds and animation.

@recycle #4711 as multimedia memory magus

In On The Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas Bruno writes: For true philosophy, music or poetry is also painting and true painting is also music and philosophy, and true poetry or music is a kind of divine wisdom and painting and Elsewhere I have discussed how any painter is naturally an establisher of infinite images who, by means of this image forming power constructs from sights and sounds by combining in a multiplicity of ways.

r*ead The Art of Memory

Frances Yates described Bruno as not only a magician of the arcane arts of memory but as a religious reformer with a wide and visionary agenda in 1966. Yates brought him to life after the caricature of his figure in the centuries following his death. Bruno's memory efforts are not isolated phenomena. They belong into a definite tradition, the Renaissance occult tradition... the exercises in Hermetic mnemonics have become the spiritual exercises of a religion... The religion of Love and Magic is based on the Power of the Imagination, and on an Art of Imagery through which the Magus attempts to grasp, and to hold within, the universe in all its ever changing forms, through images passing the one into the other in intricate associative orders, reflecting the ever changing movements of the heavens, charged with emotional affects, unifying, forever attempting to unify, to reflect the great monas of the world in its image, the mind of (humankind).

@go renaissance Europe

According to the Erudite Scholar, Bruno was a man of his times: an adept of the hermetic arts and sciences, cabala, magic, astrology, obsessed with the task of syncretism, influenced enough by the contemporary appropriation of Greek form and content to exploit Mnemosyne's art for his own ambitious purposes. Already the re/discovery, translation and adaption of 'Greek' texts had begun to revolutionise contemporary philosophy, art, science, politics and religion. A sublimely mythologized time and place, Greece was a golden age of divine beauty and wisdom.

@go Greece circa 500 BCE

The deified inventors, the orators, had serious storage problems. For purely practical reasons - state of the art technology - they were restricted to the size of their own mind. Fortuitously, the memory muse, Mnemosyne would advise her devotees to use an elaborate visual memorization technique: the architectural system of memory palaces or theatres. A user would imagine themselves walking through large palaces, theatres or other buildings that they knew or created with their imagination. Ideas and knowledge, the content of theories and speeches were stored in particular rooms and objects within the structure.

From the order of Athens to an amorphous global network of networks, daisychains, backbones, switching banks, stacks of Hayes modems in cupboards, sysops and boards, demons and wizzes, matrixed together haphazardly in the late 20th century: cybernetic storage is seen to be located in the collective mind of (connected) humanity.

A search for metaphors of order and navigation - gopher, veronica, WWW and mosaic - and finally bored with noughts & crosses or snakes & ladders, human ludens went out to play dungeons & dragons on the Internet and came up with a functional replica of the Greek system: the MOO.

@examine MOO

A MOO or 'MUD, Object-Oriented' is a sophisticated type of MUD (multi-user dungeon or dimension). With an object-oriented programming language incorporated into the environment, a MOO is intelligent and extensible. Set up as a basic structure - usually modelled on an existing building like the Media Lab at MIT, MOOs are developed and extended by MOO participants using an object oriented programming language which feels simple because it is used in the context of play. Help is available from the system but mostly it is given by friendly, more experienced, inhabitants.

'''help dig

Showing help on `@dig':

Syntax: @dig "new-room-name"

@dig exit-spec to "new-room-name"

@dig exit-spec to old-room-object-number

This is the basic building tool.
The first form of the command creates a new room
with the given name.
The new room is not connected to anywhere else;
it is floating in limbo.
The @dig command tells you its object number, though,
so you can use the @move command to get there easily.'''

Or follow Bruno's 'Rules for Objects' and 'Rules for Places' in De Umbris Idearum (Shadows of Ideas), Paris 1582 or his later instructions for the construction of atriums and chambers, fields, objects, images and movement:

'''Book One, Part Two, Chapter Eleven

Conspicuous images in the center of the minor chambers:

II. in the atrium or chamber of Blasphemy
(facing the atrium of pleasure) in the center,
a priest in red vestments sprinkling an altar
with a victim's blood.

V. in the atrium of Fame (or Glory),
a matron carrying water in her right hand,
a mirror in her left.'''

Pagan, poetic, violent and memorable these are sigils or exemplar of Bruno's published work, all of which was used as primary evidence at his trial. His main crime was that he spoke out vehemently in favour of the imagination, suggesting not only that it was possible to think differently from the Church but that other realities - places, images, vitality - could be experienced vibrantly in a realm which could never be controlled - the human mind. And he used the new medium - printing - to communicate these `dangerous' ideas and instructions to a much wider audience than would have previously been possible. By the late 16th century, the legislating authority in Italy - the Church - had already reacted to the latest communications revolution with ineluctable and severe laws against heretics. Giordano Bruno was burned alive at the stake.

'''home

Hermetic Library.

Pristine white and lacquered off-white interior.
Uniquely comprehensive collection of renaissance texts
and related scholarly works including all of Giordano
Bruno's original work in Latin or vernacular `Italian',
and various translations into Italian, English, French,
German, Cornelius Agrippa's De Occulta philosophia,
Frances Yates' The Art of Memory.

On the wall a series of ink-coloured alchemical
and astrological images.
Erudite scholar is here. Doctor librarian is here.

Giordano says ''Look at the analogies.
Consider the similarities.''

You see a networked PC catalogue,
a vase of fragrant white roses and a glass case
enclosing a powerbook connected to a telephone jack.'''

Acknowledgements:

Biblioteca Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam, Frances Yates, Charles Doria and Dick Higgins,

Sean@MediaMOO and the numerous MOO inhabitants who have answered my 'how to' questions.

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