From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Athanasius Kircher: 'AK' of his day

(Public Domain)
These days people revere celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher.  In the 1600s tastes were a bit different (at least amongst the Jesuit set). Back then another "AK" was all in vogue.  That "AK" was Athanasius Kircher.

Referred to as "the last Renaissance man" by modern-day Jesuit Edward W. Schmidt, Kircher more than earned that title.  He is
considered by some to be the founder of Egyptology - and was also fascinated by Sinology (not sin, but China).  Wikipedia reports that he delved into fossils, microbes (he theorized that the plague was caused by an infectious germ), volcanoes, languages (he learned Hebrew from a rabbi and taught Syriac), philosophy, mathematics, physics,
antiquities, theology, music, and mechanical inventions (if you enjoy bellowing into megaphones, thank AK).

Kircher authored numerous books, utilizing a holistic approach within many of his works.  For example, he would begin writing about
magnetism, but would soon be expounding upon the attractive force of love.  His well-known opus Musurgia Universalis covers everything from the musical notation of bird songs (it takes a genius to figure out that the cuckoo's call is "a falling minor third") to the "Angelic choir of 36 voices" to the hammering blacksmiths of Pythagorean fame. 

When he wasn't writing masterpieces, Kircher was busily corresponding with more than 800 regular "pen pals" (some of whom bribed him with chocolate in order to remain on his contact list).


Copyright January 8, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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