The Collection of Memorable Things



“Isidore of Seville inhabited a world of words, of capacious libraries and labyrinthine encyclopaedias. His most famous composition the Etymologies or Orgins- reflects this perfectly.. the Etymologies is itself a monument to human enquiry and to the vast scope of creation… In so doing, Isidore created a seminal and wide ranging survey of knowledege as it stood in the Latin west at the start of the seventh century AD………..


……… is the scriptorium, and the intimacy of the connected arts of reading, writing and reflection that lie at the emotional heart of Isidores work.”

Andy Merrills, On Words and Things, in J. Konig, G. Woolf (ed) Encyclopaedism From Antiquity to the Renaissance

Angry Hate Troll Is Angry

Paused in doing a background search on Ernst H. Kantoriwicz. Wondering why on my second search hit I come across a site with comments like this.

There’s nothing wrong with racial hatred. It builds resistance and energises our natural defensive impulses. We need more hatred not less if we are to combat the lower races and think of a future for whites.

Some explanation is required I think.

It would appear that German conservative academics fleeing nazi persecution are being deployed in contemporary alt right debates to suggest that American right-wing politics escapes the issues of the European far right which is in nature Fascist.

The claim as far as I can see seems to be that the far right in America avoids these issues and embodies distinct American values.

Claim for American exceptionalism based on the identification of a distinct historical intellectual tradition. It has a letter from the Doctor detailing it’s metal state in full,  giving it a clean bill of health.

That angry troll is getting angry is perhaps not surprising, it is after all the nature of angry troll to be angry.

But it does suggest the claim is working and the far right in America can present itself as an enemy and defense against the threat of the far right.

I wonder what a Doctor would make of that one?

This Weeks Reading

The King’s Two Bodies:
A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology
Ernst H. Kantorowicz


Philosophies of Time

“In 1957 Ernst Kantorowicz published a book that would be the guide for generations of scholars through the arcane mysteries of medieval political theology. In The King’s Two Bodies, Kantorowicz traces the historical problem posed by the “King’s two bodies”–the body politic and the body natural–back to the Middle Ages and demonstrates, by placing the concept in its proper setting of medieval thought and political theory, how the early-modern Western monarchies gradually began to develop a “political theology.”

The king’s natural body has physical attributes, suffers, and dies, naturally, as do all humans; but the king’s other body, the spiritual body, transcends the earthly and serves as a symbol of his office as majesty with the divine right to rule. The notion of the two bodies allowed for the continuity of monarchy even when the monarch died, as summed up in the formulation “The king is dead. Long live the king.”

Bringing together liturgical works, images, and polemical material, The King’s Two Bodies explores the long Christian past behind this “political theology.” It provides a subtle history of how commonwealths developed symbolic means for establishing their sovereignty and, with such means, began to establish early forms of the nation-state.

Kantorowicz fled Nazi Germany in 1938, after refusing to sign a Nazi loyalty oath, and settled in the United States. While teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, he once again refused to sign an oath of allegiance, this one designed to identify Communist Party sympathizers. He was dismissed as a result of the controversy and moved to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he remained for the rest of his life, and where he wrote The King’s Two Bodies.”


Princeton University Press