Rummaging through the shelves may lead to interesting discoveries – ha, you once bought that, really ? I came about a volume in plain brown cloth, could not read the title embossed in gold on the spine – low contrast and dim light, I really should take care for a good bulb ! – and found BODINs (Ger., Eng.) (1529-1596) Dæmonomania in FISCHARTs (Ger., Eng.) (1545-1591) translation, Vom ausgelasnen wütigen Teufelsheer ; of course a reprint (Graz 1973), originally published Straßburg 1591. Superstition, witchcraft, the whole program, was all the rage in 1980s seminars. Wonder whether it is time for a new generation to “discover” the area.
BODIN was a very “modern” man in some respects. He wrote about money and economics, clearly understanding the results of the influx of gold & silver from Southern America ; he – as a protestant – always advocated tolerance between the confessions (remember that the “Bartholomäusnacht” (Ger., Eng.) of 1572 was a pogrom that left some thousand protestants dead in Paris and France) ; and – most important – he was a theorist of the state. His ideas were based on the rule of natural (thus : divine) law that stands over all other laws (id est those that origin from confessions or from other social groups), and hence a “state” is obligated to the law, only following this law gives its reign over individuals reason, justification and foundation : The state is bound by law. He was no advocate of the “absolute” state, but that is what later theorists made out of it and what finally came into existence, notably in France. Some writers go so far to call BODIN a “proto-enlightener” (Frühaufklärer).
And then he publishes a book that could easily be written by a narrow-minded Dominican inquisitor of the worst ilk. Some writers of the 19th and even 20th century wanted to understand this work as a kind of satire or persiflage, but it is not. Its bloody serious, BODIN is bloody serious about it. The whole text is an answer to the ideas of WIERUS (Ger., Eng.) (1515-1588) who came to the conclusion that those witches and magicians are ill, people suffering from a mental disability, and thus may not be condemned to death.
Leaving Mr. BODIN behind I came to think about it. Here we have a “proto-enlightener” of the late 16th century following the darkest superstitions. How did it go on ?
The 17th century saw a war of European dimension fought originally about confessions, superstitions wildly growing, stacks nicely burning, and the development of the modern state. The 18th is called the “age of enlightenment” and on the other side the golden age of alchemy and secret societies of any kind. The 19th sees progress in natural sciences and modernisation, inventions like electricity and photography – and what did they photograph, the modern occultists ? Spirits.
The 20th brought us wars of before unknown dimensions, and finally the engineer’s wet dream, atomic power – and Auschwitz, the culmination of irrationalism. At the beginning of the 21st century we have to watch barbarians beheading people who are unlucky enough not to be of the right faith. And the barbarians use of course most modern technology. As the SS did. Even black uniforms are en vogue again. Pereant !
There is no progress. No development to the “better”, only stupidity, shrewdness and greed. Always and everywhere.
The bottle of greed was found and smashed.