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Eros and Magic in the Renaissance (Chicago Original Paperback) Paperback – November 15, 1987

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Product Details

  • Series: Chicago Original Paperback
  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226123162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226123165
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

About the Author

Ioan P. Couliano (1950-91) was a fellow of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (Wassenaar) and Professor in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago at the time of his death. His many books and articles include Experiences de l'extase, Gnosticismo, and Psychanodia.

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Customer Reviews

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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is unfortunate that Professor Culianu was so violently removed from the world of academia. We are fortunate however, that some few books he was responsible for remain.
Eros and Magic in the Renaissance is an outstanding book. The work is essentially about phantasms (not to be confused with "fantasy") and how, in the past, these phantasms were believed to operate within the soul. Of course, if one accepts for the sake of discussion that phantasms exist and operate within the soul, then discussion of the mechanics of phantasmic operation (e.g. the art of memory, erotic magic, manipulation of desire) naturally follow.
Culianu brilliantly reviews the history of thought regarding the movement of images within the soul and goes yet further to discuss the history of how men believed manipulation of individuals and "the masses" through this process might be effected. Naturally enough he touches on advertising, misinformation, spin and censorship. These very subjects got the conspiratorial Giordano Bruno (who occupies a significant position in the book) burned alive in 1600 by the Catholic Church (an organization understandably averse to anyone tinkering about in the very realm of imaginal manipulation they had such a stake in).
It seems that these issues are still very sensitive to a number of groups with a vested interest in imaginal manipulation. There were a number of people in Rumania after the coup who began to worry about Culianu (a Rumanian expatriate) and his penetrating understanding of the rigid "Police State" with its enforcement of laws and the more flexible "Magician State" with it's enforcement of *desires* (all discussed in this book).
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Christopher W. Chase on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This text has a twofold project. One, Couliano wishes to elucidate what he sees as the defining charachteristic of Renaissance Magic, that of "Eros," and also to account for the shift in thinking that reportedly heralded the "decline" of magic in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.
The "eros" of Renaissance magic started out with optical theory and other medical concerns with Aristotle (and perhaps Plato), who held that there was a substance called the "pneuma." In Aristotle's thinking, the pneuma was a substance that was located as a thin shield around the body. In Stoic medical theory, this became a substance commesurate with the "soul" or "spirit." This substance was a "prima materia," a fundamental substance that contained the physiological ability to transmit information to the senses, especially the ocular sense. The heart was the center for a generational organ that in turn centered the pneuma, This pneumatic organ was called in Greek --- the "hegimonikon." Forming images in the pneuma for sensory transmission was necessary before a person could percieve something or someone. Through the works of late antiquity, such as the Corpus Hermeticum and medieval physicians such as Albert the Great, the doctrine of the pneuma became common discourse and was incorporated into popular culture such as the courtly love tradition. Taken by the bishop Synesius's (d. ca. 415) synthesis of previous pneumatic doctrine and courtly love practices, Ficino develops a universal doctrine of the relation of man to the universe through Eros mediated by the Universal and Particular pneuma.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
Great book. Some people think he was murdered for spilling the beans. He was fondly called the 'professor' by the librarians at the Vatican Library to give you an idea of his grasp of the subject matter...This book traces modern mass hypnosis (media) back to its roots and the 'bonding' of the masses elucidated by Bruno among others in the Renaissance. One of the unstated themes of the book is that modern man is really in worse shape than his Medieval ancestors who could see 'magic' for what it was. Today, the same magical bonds, manipulation and delivery system are disguised in psychology, pharmamcology, religion, medicine, scientific world-views and its state-sponsored perfection is masked behind static stage sets named things like public policy, public relations, communications studies, think tanks...they sell their 'bonds' with catch phrases like 'personal freedom', 'liberation', 'progress', 'free-markets'... Couliano had a personal history that allowed him to witness two different types of state sorcery : communist Romania and later the west and the United States. The book delivers a subtle warning to the West that they may be leaving the 'magical' manipulation the Western States have practiced since the Renaissance and moving toward a new form of state savagery perfected by the communist regimes in the 20th century...a situation made possible by man's inability to see the magic or having been completely put to sleep by it...a dangerous vulnerability and trust in the 'experts'-cum-magicians. The mass consciousness is becoming unconscious, swaying with every trend and nod and wink from the puppet masters...This book is heavy duty if you read between the lines...i think the powers-that-be feared his next one...God Bless His Soul. Pax Vobiscum.
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