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Christian Rosencreütz and the squid - the period of cosmography
Christian Rosencreütz and the squid

John Crowley promises to prove, with his upcoming new version, that «The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreütz» is an immediate precursor to, if not one of the earliest, science fiction novels. I leave it to him to present his case, and a very good case it is going to be. But I, prompted by his latest post (that is concerned with this squid), couldn’t keep myself from posting this little piece of collateral evidence:

The whole of the Rosicrucian movement can be read as meta-science-fictional wishful thinking, a manifestation of the learned man’s desire to use the advancement and application of natural philosophical (i.e. scientific) learning as an instrument for the reformation of the world; a sort of secularized millenarianism. We know that the suchs of Newton, Descartes, and Leibniz were familiar with the Rosicrucian writings; and, if we dare to call them the geeks of their time, then we must assume that the adventures of Christian Rosencreütz were to them what the adventures of Dr. Who and Captain Kirk are to the geeks of our time. Therefore, Rosicrucianism has got to be science fiction.

It’s too bad for the Rosicrucians, standing at the brink of the Thirty Years War, that the kind of science that would put all things right hadn’t been invented yet. But wouldn’t they wonder to learn, that four hundred years later, it still hasn’t?

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crowleycrow From: crowleycrow Date: May 19th, 2011 10:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Very much appreciated, and I am in agreement -- the philosophical or religious magic of Bruno, Dee etc. had really nothing to do with science, but what the period described as "natural magic," and included not only alchemy etc. but things like Leonardo's flying machines and "Greek fire" -- i.e. surprising technologies -- that's a mixed case. Though the idea of it solving the world's problems without the added force of spiritual energies would have seemed unconvincing, surely.
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