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rosicrucianism, situationists

from Wikipedia’s entry on Rosicruianism:

The manifestos were and are not taken literally by many but rather regarded either as hoaxes or as allegorical statements. The manifestos directly state: “We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy, and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets”.

Some say the writers were moral and religious reformers and utilized the techniques of chemistry (alchemy) and the sciences generally as media through which to publicize their opinions and beliefs. The authors of the Rosicrucian works generally favoured the Reformation and distanced themselves from the Roman church and Islam. The symbol of Martin Luther is a cross inside an open rose.

The manifestos caused immense excitement throughout Europe: they declared the existence of a secret brotherhood of alchemists and sages who were preparing to transform the arts, sciences, religion, and political and intellectual landscape of Europe while wars of politics and religion ravaged the continent. The works were re-issued several times and followed by numerous pamphlets, favourable and otherwise. Between 1614 and 1620, about 400 manuscripts and books were published which discussed the Rosicrucian documents.

The peak of the so-called “Rosicrucianism furor” was reached when two mysterious posters appeared in the walls of Paris in 1622 within a few days of each other. The first one started with the saying “We, the Deputies of the Higher College of the Rose-Croix, do make our stay, visibly and invisibly, in this city (…)” and the second one ended with the words “The thoughts attached to the real desire of the seeker will lead us to him and him to us”.[5]

from Wikipedia’s entry on Rosicrucian Manifestos:

The Fama Fraternitatis and the Confessio Fraternitatis as they were known, caused an immense furore across Europe with their esoteric imagery and call for a universal spiritual and cultural reformation across the continent. To this day controversy continues whether they were a hoax, whether the Order of the Rose Cross really existed as described in the Manifestos, or whether the whole thing was a metaphor or ludibrium disguising a movement that really existed, but in a different form.

At one point, perhaps dismayed by how the Rosicrucian craze was getting out of hand, Andreae tried to bring the whole thing to a halt, writing of his shock at how ridiculous the whole thing had become and that the ‘game’ (suggesting he had never intended for the Manifestos to be taken so literally) was now ‘over’. Whether this indicates that the whole thing was a hoax or that Andreae was trying to protect something which had become public property in the wrong way is up for debate.

from Wikipedia’ entry on Fama Fraternitatis:

The Legend shows an agreement with six articles that they drew up Prior to their separation, bounding themselves one to another to keep:

1. That none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis.
2. None of the posterity should be constrained to wear one kind of habit, but to follow the custom of the country.
3. Every year, upon the day C., they would meet together at the house Santi Spiritus, or write the cause of their absence.
4. Every Brother should seek a worthy person to succeed him after his death.
5. The word CR should be their seal, mark, and character.
6. The Fraternity should remain secret one hundred years.

Rosicrucians clearly adopted through the Manifestos the Pythagorean tradition of envisioning objects and ideas in terms of their numeric aspects

from Wikipedia’s entry on ludibrium:

Ludibrium is a word derived from Latin ludus (plural ludi), meaning a plaything or a trivial game. In Latin ludibrium denotes an object of fun, and at the same time, of scorn and derision, and it also denotes a capricious game itself: e.g., ludibria ventis (Virgil), “the playthings of the winds”, ludibrium pelagis (Lucretius), “the plaything of the waves”; Ludibrio me adhuc habuisti (Plautus), “Until now you have been toying with me.”

The term “ludibrium” was used frequently by Johann Valentin Andreae (1587 – 1654) in phrases like “the ludibrium of the fictitious Rosicrucian Fraternity” when describing the Rosicrucian Order, most notably in his Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, published anonymously in 1616, of which Andreae subsequently claimed to be the author and which has been taken seriously, as virtually a third of the Rosicrucian Manifestos.[1] However, in his Peregrini in Patria errores (1618) Andreae compares the world to an amphitheatre where no one is seen in their true light. This conception of the Rosicrucian world as theater was popularized by the French Situationist Guy Debord in Society of the Spectacle (1967).

Paul Arnold translated Andreae’s usage as farce[2], but this conception has been contested by Frances Yates (Yate 1999), who suggests that Andreae’s use of the term implies more nearly some sort of “Divine Comedy”, a dramatic allegory played in the political domain during the tumult which preceded the Thirty Years’ War in Germany.

Similarly, the melancolic Jacques in As You Like It (1599-1600) asserts that “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

It has been suggested that Situationist International was a ludibrium devised by Asger Jorn. Like the Rosicrucians, the Situationist International was a very small group which nevertheless became notorious, even if only for a while. This conception can function as a technique whereby mental projections can be cast into the social imagination.

Robert Anton Wilson has suggested that the Priory of Sion is a modern ludibrium:

The Priory Of Sion fascinates me, because it has all the appearances of being a real conspiracy, and yet if you look at the elements another way, it looks like a very complicated practical joke by a bunch of intellectual French aristocrats. And half of the time I believe it really is a practical joke by a bunch of intellectual French aristocrats. And then part of the time I think it is a real conspiracy.[3]

from Stewart Home’s introduction to the Polish edition of The Assault on Culture:

From Ivan Chtcheglov’s 1953 essay “Formulary for a New Urbanism” with it’s references to Campanella (“there is no longer any Temple of the Sun”) through to Debord’s recent writing, the Situationist circle has been obsessed with the occult, mysticism and secret societies. The editors of the post-Situationist journal “Here and Now” hinted at this when they ran a parody of a Debord collage on the cover of their double issue 7/8 – prominently featured was a Rosicrucian bee-hive. Inside, there was a review of Debord’s book “Commentaire sur la Societe du Spectacle” which was illustrated by a portrait of Adam Weishaupt, the eighteenth century founder of the Illuminati. The “Here and Now” editorial board appear to be suggesting that the SI emerge from three different traditions: one artistic, one political and a third which is largely ignored – that of the occult and secret societies. Since most ‘secret’ knowledge is non-verbal rather than actually being ‘secret’, it’s appropriate that Mike Peters and his friends should allude to this largely unrecognised influence by the use of pictures.

At this point, it’s perhaps illuminating to turn to a 1978 interview with Ettore Sottsass Jr who was an integral part of the milieu that formed itself into the Situationist International: “I was always interested in ancient cultures, the Egyptian, the Sumerian, the Central American and Jewish cultures… cultures that have left traces in our memories, from magic to religion to fanaticism. Technologies of life which are not always rational, like those of the East, which progress by constant training of the body and mind”. Of course, Sottsass broke with Jorn and Debord’s circle just prior to the foundation of the SI and today this Italian is best known for the typewriters he designed while working at Olivetti and the furniture he’s produced with ‘Memphis’! However, his attitudes are typical of those who belonged to the SI, even after the movement split into rival ‘cultural’ and ‘political’ factions.

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