7 Ways in which Saruman is like John Dee

SarumanJohn Dee http://wp.me/p32Kr4-aF
The Vinciolo Journal turns 1 year old January 5th, two days after J.R.R. Tolkien’s Birthday, so in celebration of both events, I am making a series of Tolkien-related posts. This is the first of several … 7 ways Saruman resembles Queen Elizabeth’s court astrologer and geographer John Dee.

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In comparing these two figures (the visual similarities are themselves suggestive), I am in no way trying to slander John Dee or imply that he was a maniacal, power-crazed wizard. He was a humble, lonely man–as lonely as any man favoured of the Queen could possibly be, although his intellectual influence had enormous implications, not least with regard to the colonization of the New World. However, there are so many similarities between these two magicians that it cannot be easily ignored.

So, without further ado, here is my list:

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1. Physical resemblance to Christopher Lee

Not only is John Dee a magician, but he looks like a wizard himself–and Christophe Lee portrayed the wizard Saruman with exquisite tact in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The flat gaze and the white beard are the chief forms of resemblance between the actor and wizard. Although Dee’s hair is not as long Lee’s Saruman, his hair may still be white, provided he is not bald beneath the black bonnet he’s wearing in his portrait. Set Saruman in black robes and attach a starched ruff around his throat and, after a haircut, you basically have John Dee.

2. Crystal balls

Saruman has his palantír while John Dee has his shewstone. Both are crystal balls they use for magically surveying the land. Made by Fëanor, greatest of the Noldor and maker of the Silmarils, the palantír stones were mostly lost in Middle Earth, except for a few. The stone seen in the film is at Orthanc in Isengard, the same stone Saruman uses to communicate with Sauron and keep track of the progress of the Fellowship of the Ring.  There is another stone in that the steward of Gondor controls at Minas Tirith. As for the shewstone, or “seeing stone,” of John Dee, it is displayed currently at the British Museum. You can see it if you like. Rumour has it that it is a sacred Aztec polished obsidian stone taken from Mexico during the Spanish conquest.

John Dee's Shewstone at the British Museum

John Dee’s shewstone at the British Museum

palantir

Saruman and the Palantir of Orthanc

3. Spoke with ‘angels’

The warning Gandalf gave Saruman about the palantír, that “you never know who else might be watching,” is also applicable to Dee’s shewstone. Both crystal balls give you the power to speak with spirits–but also for the spirits to talk to you. Dee and Edward Kelley used the shewstone to communicate with angels, who gave Dee revelations from the world of the dead. Supposedly, the angelic language Dee developed called Enochian came as a result from such spiritual meetings.

In a similar way, Saruman uses his palantír to speak with a fallen ‘angel,’ Sauron. Indeed, The Silmarillion reveals that Sauron is a god-like or at least angelic being. He is one of the Maiar, the spirits who serve the Valar, though one who became corrupted by evil in his service to the Great Enemy Morgoth. When Saruman begins to peer into his palantír in search of knowledge, he discovers the Ring of Power, which he comes to desire for himself. However, he becomes twisted, desiring power above all else. In the end, he betrays the forces of the West and captures Gandalf in his tower, committing “the treason of Isengard.”

4. Consorted with a necromancer

This one was implied in #3. Edward Kelley was a necromancer who communed with angels and the dead. On the other hand, Saruman communicates with “the Necromancer,” which is a name given to the vague, evil presence that lurks in the shadows of Mirkwood in The Hobbit and later is revealed to be Sauron himself. Supposedly, Sauron was into demon summoning and raising the dead back to life at this time, instead of leading orcs to war against Gondor.

Sauron the Necromancer

Sauron the Necromancer

Kelley

Edward Kelley the Necromancer

5. Polymath Wizards

Saruman and John Dee were both wizards of great learning and were capable (or thought they were capable) of using magic. Furthermore, both wizards possessed plenty of non-magical knowledge. Dee was a mathematician, cartographer, and mechanic, once in his younger years designing a bird with artificial wings that could fly. Saruman was something of a chemist as well, designing the gunpowder which his uruk-hai use to demolish the walls of Helm’s Deep.

6. Spy Network

Astonishingly, both John Dee and Saruman had spy networks. Frodo and company must worry about spies from the White Wizard as much as they worry about Sauron’s own Black Riders. In addition to the ruffians Sauron employs to infiltrate and scourge the Shire in The Return of the King, he has a swarm of crows called Crebain, which he uses to spy on the Fellowship. John Dee’s spy network consisted of a network of foreign agents abroad, many probably on the lookout for Catholics plotting in France to return to England and kill the Queen. He may also have used spirits and the magic of his shewstone to spy on enemies abroad.

7. Similarity to John Faust

John Faust

At last, Saruman and John Dee are both so attracted by mysterious power that they make deals with the devil they later severely regret. They have what I call a Faust complex. Doctor John Faust was a historical scholar in Germany who is said to have made a deal with the devil, whom he summons at a crossroads at midnight in a necromantic ritual, in order to attain forbidden knowledge of magic. In the end, after squandering his time, Faust is dragged to hell by demons. His story has been adopted innumerable times: Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and Faust Parts I and II by Goethe being the two chief examples. The Godfather is another takeoff on this archetypical story: Michael Corleone makes a “deal with the devil” to enter the mob and then remains locked in, becoming supremely powerful at the price of his soul.

Saruman’s deal with Sauron is a similar complex. “There is only one Lord of the Rings,” warns Gandalf, “and he does not share power.” Saruman learns how to breed uruk-hai from Sauron and plans to ravage Middle-Earth for his new master, planning to find the One Ring for himself and become master of all. But in the end, his designs fall flat. When nature rebels and the Ents take over Isengard, a powerless Saruman is force to flee to the Shire, where he avenges himself by desolating the land. Finally (spoilers here), his longtime servant Gríma Wormtongue stabs him in the back, frustrated by his own master’s cruelty.

John Dee’s Faustian narrative is a little less extreme. Of course, his story is not fantasy, but historical. Nonetheless, Dee makes a deal with Edward Kelley to speak with angels and becomes mystified. Actually, scholars now believe Kelley created an elaborate hoax: Dee never spoke to angels directly, but through Kelley, who they supposedly possessed. Kelley may well have faked the whole thing, however. Upon his return to England, he became unable to acquire aristocratic patronage, probably because many could not see the value in his knowledge, or because they were frightened by his connections to the occult. When he died, it was of natural causes and in poverty. Real life often doesn’t follow the contours of archetypical plots. Nonetheless, Dee’s gradual isolation and loneliness as a result of his ties to the occult might have seemed damnation enough to him.

John Faustwoodcut.

Photo Credits

Faustus woodcut: http://en205uaakersfall2010.blogspot.ca/2010/09/marlowe-dr-faustus.html

John Faust: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Georg_Faust

Palantir: http://www.tin-god.com/newswatcher-team-america-world-assassins/palantir/

Dee: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dee

Shewstone: http://www.flickr.com/photos/james_hastings/4429958552/

Kelley:http://www.hauntedamericatours.com/museum/Necromancy.htm

Saruman: http://www.ilsolco.com/la-sindrome-di-saruman-e-pietrangelo-buttafuoco/

Sauron: http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Sauron

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8 comments on “7 Ways in which Saruman is like John Dee

  1. Max says:

    Hiya, Matthew! ;0)#)

    Interesting parallels you’ve presented, connecting the “Cunning man” of Middan-geard with the similarly ingenious “Istar” of the Elizabethan era; I’ve long reckoned, and now feel compelled to enthusiastically concur with you, that Tolkien doubtless ~ as you insightfully surmise ~ fashioned Saruman after Dee (albeit the whiteness of the fictive warlord-warlock’s garb belies the malevolence and wickedness which underlies it; whereas the black apparel apparently favoured by the good Doctor ~ if, that is, his Ashmolean likeness, as well as Aubrey’s “Brief Lives” corroborating description, is indicative of vestment habitual, pun intended! ~ seems somewhat ill-suited, of an unduly shadowy hue, to be in any way a true token of the cast of his heart? ~ despite whatever darkness the Welsh derivation of his surname might possibly imply or entail!): it does indeed seem highly probable, aye, that Dee’s polyhistoric prodigiousness ~ he was a giant among Renaissance giants, and contributed much to their collective knowledge (their “Orthanc enta geweorc”, as ’twere!) ~ indubitably informed Tolkien’s conception of Saruman, and thereby (y)our perception of the two Magi as effectively analogous.

    By the way, I’m British (live in southern England), and have recently watched, on TV, an enjoyable documentary-trilogy methinks might pique your interest… I don’t know if you, living in Canada, can readily access recently-aired British television programmes or not, but for what it’s worth, I’d definitely recommend you try the BBC’s online “iPlayer” catch-up TV service, and search for “A Very British Renaissance”, presented by Dr James Fox (to save you time, here’s the actual link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/b03yzflc) ~ the second episode, “The Elizabethan Code”, will prove of particular resonance, featuring as it does a fair deal of Dee! However, do bear in mind that you might only have six or so days remaining in which to view the series, so don’t delay your viewing pleasure!

    Another British TV documentary that should appeal to you ~ being once again about Dee ~ is Channel 4’s “Masters of Darkness: The Queen’s Magician” ~ this was televized over a decade ago, so isn’t really available via Channel 4’s “4OD” (4 On Demand) service, but can be found easily enough on YouTube: the link http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aghX8pK7oAs yields the full, 50-minute documentary.

    Anyway, I trust the Comment I’ve left will be a welcome one, and please feel free to email me if you fancy discussing Dee or anything Elizabethan or Esoteric (or anything else for that matter!) in future,
    Best Wishes & Warmest Regards,
    Max
    :o)

    • Hello Max,

      Thank you for the well-worded comment! Although the Internet seems to make it easier to watch recent British TV in Canada, the first link you sent me lead to a “Page not Found.” However, the second link you sent me led me to a video entitled “Masters of Darkness” which I shall surely watch soon when I have the chance.

      I found these parallels between John Dee and Saruman, yet I’m not sure how deeply Tolkien was in to the Renaissance, since he seems so much of a Middle Ages kind of guy. It would certainly be interesting to look at more of Tolkien’s Renaissance inspirations (maybe Spencer’s The Faerie Queene).

      What was the sinker for me is the similarity between the Palantir and the “show stone” or “shewstone” of Dee. Of course wizards from all over at least since Solomon have had crystal balls they gaze into. Nonetheless, it is an interesting parallel. I’ve more recently gotten into more Dee lore by reading John Crowley’s Aegypt trilogy, which has certain scenes in which Dee is a character. Pretty fascinating book, and you will likely see a review of it on this blog eventually.

      I’ll let you know if I notice any other parallels between Dee and Saruman. Until then, tell your friends about the blog!

      Matthew ;-)

    • I saw the “Masters of Darkness” video. I will recommend it to my followers on Twitter. It definitely backs up most of my research, but it’s nice to hear the story told once through as a narrative. Somehow, history told like a story always sticks to the mind better. Do you agree?

      • Max says:

        Greetings once again, Matthew!
        :o)

        Sorry to learn that your attempt to view certain (or quite possibly any?!) BBC programmes via the Corporation’s official iPlayer proved ~ through no deficiency of your own ~ a disappointingly futile affair; I can only conjecture that Copyright strictures prohibit online diffusion of certain BBC media from reaching certain overseas regions ~ though whether such barring applies for merely a finite period after initial broadcast, or instead persists indefinitely, must necessarily remain something of an enigma! (Me = England; You = Canada ~ and ne’er the BBC-televisual twain shall meet? :o. Or so one might pessimistically suppose…)

        That being said, a quick search on YouTube by yours truly has revealed ~ gratifyingly enough! ~ that the first two episodes (of three in toto; the third and final instalment will presumably follow?) of “A Very English Renaissance” have recently been posted by a YouTube member going by the moniker “DocumentaryHD”:

        “Episode 1: The Renaissance Arrives”:
        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OGqgswZ3FJk

        “Episode 2: The Elizabethan Code”:
        http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=py7tbDbJUdA

        By the way, the “m.” element of the above “m.youtube” Web addresses (in case you were wondering) owes to the fact that my means of accessing the Internet are rather limited at the moment: I’m surfing via what is, essentially, but a glorified mobile ‘phone (even though ostensibly a “Smartphone”, the technology’s nevertheless somewhat rudimentary, if you ask me; and, moreover, the touchscreen’s blummin’ TINY! ~ despite the Enormity of Capitalization of the word “tiny” just then!), and consequently find myself default-redirected to “mobile-friendly” sites… but if you (or any of your numerous Rettino-acolytes!) would prefer to visit the “Desktop” (i.e., geared-to-Desktop-PC, HD) variant of YouTube, all you (singular OR plural!) need do is copy-and-paste the address, then delete the “m.” prefix before actually Going to your destination (alternatively, you can simply select “Desktop” from YouTube’s own menu-settings); but other than that minor difference, the hyperlinks for the respective episodes are exactly the same.

        Regarding your comments concerning:

        (a) your uncertainty as to the depth of interest the Renaissance held for Tolkien, and whether Spenser’s “Faerie Queene” might’ve inspired him:
        ~~~~ Tolkien was certainly enamoured of at least one Renaissance literary work: namely, “Macbeth”: not only can Saruman be persuasively likened to the regicidal despot insofar as his nefarious intrigues serve to unhinge and effectively depose both Theoden and Denethor (the latter’s doomed Stewardship of Gondor equating ~ whilst it lasts ~ to near-monarchical, albeit ineffectual, Regency), whilst simultaneously almost vanquishing Aragorn, but also, the catalyst for his megalomaniacal desire for Power originates at least partially in Witchery: just as the Thane of Cawdor lets his overvaulting ambition predispose him to enchantment by the Weird Sisters, the triumvirate of Hecate-redolent, Moirai-like hags on the blasted heath, and the apparitions promising temporal glory they conjure in the flames and fume surrounding their cavern’s bubbling cauldron, so the tyranny-bent Saruman becomes utterly enthralled by mankind’s Bane, from Mordor, and the tempting phantasms He projects within the Orthanc-palantir.
        And not only that, but also this: Saruman is destined to rule Isengard only so long as the veritable Forest that is the Ents refrains from moving against him, and resists the impulse to ultimately thwart him (Treebeard, for all his rumbling discontent and grumbling disquiet about his Fangorn-home being shadow-troubled and so on by Saruman and his Orc-minions, takes a long, long, looong-long time ~ by man’s reckoning, leastwise! ~ to spur his fellow Ents into arguably belated action!): this factor finding its corollary in Macbeth enjoying the ill-gotten gains of treacherous skullduggery only so long as arboreal approach ~ and ensuing fortress-siege ~ looms not: the Witches’ third conjuration’s pronouncement, “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him” (IV.i.96-8), seems to virtually vouchsafe invincibility (I mean, whoever heard of a walking Wood?! Or of vegetation of sufficient volume that it may be accounted a veritable Wood somehow transplanting itself elsewhere, when reason dictates it must, surely, remain immovably tethered to the parent soil!) ~ ergo, the ominous advance of Malcolm’s army, makeshift-camouflaged with boughs removed from Birnam Wood, heading towards Dunsinane, cannot but portend the end of Macbeth (so much for the falsely-reassuring vision of his lineage branching away unto eternity; methinks Macbeth’s family tree shall shortly ~ like the aforementioned Wood ~ receive the most summary and brutal of rude axings!); you can almost imagine Tolkien imagining Macbeth-cum-Saruman imagining, as he witnesses, with a start, the start of Dunsinane-cum-Orthanc’s besiegement: “Is this a troop of Triffids” ~ or, rather, Ents (hehehe!) ~ “I see before me?!” (Incidentally, the march of the Ents and Huorns finds its ultimate origin and inspiration in the “Cad Goddeu” of the Book of Taliesen: wherein, for Gwydion, perhaps read and espy “Gandalf”!)
        Similarly (or should that be “Silmarillionally”? Lol), the arrogant defiance ~ hubristic in the extreme ~ Macbeth manifests as a result of such spectral sycophancy as the abovementioned, whereby he delusionally emboldens himself to keep Witch-spell entreaty, and “Laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” (IV.i.81-3), is evidently echoed in the scene in “The Lord of the Rings” where the Nazgul-chief, the Witch-king, gloatingly informs what he imagines is a male warrior ~ but unbeknownst to him is actually the female Rohirrim, Eowyn ~ that (alluding to Glorfindel’s prophecy) “No living man may hinder me” ~ only to receive his long-overdue, undead comeuppance courtesy of the steely resolve of WOMAN and HOBBIT (the latter, Merry Brandybuck, no less), neither of whom can be said to constitute a “man”! (Needless to say: compare with Macbeth losing his life in mortal combat ‘gainst th’ vengeful Thane of Fife: Macbeth sneers [V.viii.11-13], “Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests; / I bear a charmèd life, which must not yield / To one of woman born”; to which Macduff ripostes [V.viii.13-16]: “Despair thy charm, /And let the angel whom thou still hast served / Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripped”: id est, delivered via Caesarean section, and therefore not typically “of woman born” ~ and thereby eerily empowered to truncate Macbeth’s supposedly “charmed life” and, moreover, overthrow his viperous usurpation of the kingship, and ensuing horrendously evil reign: Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine Macduffus! It’s also worth mentioning that the historical Macduff, being ~ as everyone knows ~ both an hermaphrodite and of highly ~ or, rather, rather lowly! ~ diminutive stature, yet strangely sporting very large, hirsute feet, to boot, obviously encounters his/her convincing correspondence in the partnership of Merry/Eowyn… Erm, I think I might have just made this last bit up? Mwahahaha! ;0)#))
        ~~~~ As for Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene” being a possible influence on Tolkien? Hm, to be honest, I’m about as far from well-acquainted with this particular opus as it’s possible to get! ~ for, beyond a basic appreciation that Spenser’s intent was to exhaustively rhapsodize about the illustrious Gloriousness of “Gloriana” (Elizabeth, naturally), as well as extol various wonderful ‘n’ worthy Virtues (as personified by various wonderful ‘n’ worthy Knights), yet by the same token denigrate their lacklustre antitheses ~ and supposing Tolkien perused this specific work by Spenser (I say “supposing” because, like your good self, I’m equally unsure whether or not Spenser figures much as a definite influence on good ol’ J.R.R.!), such moralizing-didactic motives may very conceivably have similarly informed Tolkien’s epic of heroism (rather than “LotR” functioning “only” as a framework to exhibit Philological-antiquarian and Linguistic-poetic marvels; after all, at the very least, Tolkien’s Meisterwerk serves as a scaffold on which to hang Saruman and Wormtongue and suchlike dislikeable, slimy, supercilious, and downright malignant gobshites, and thereby registers as something of a cautionary tale ~ it is, in essence, Allegory? ~ which subtly encourages the readership to put into practice the Chivalric values vicariously experienced via the heroes’ deeds in the book, and to consider endeavouring, once the last page is turned, the epilogue concluded, and the covers shut, to hereafterward valiantly oppose the Evil ~ and myriad lesser evils ~ all too often encountered in the exterior, “real” world?) ~, I must confess that the only part of “Queenie” I’m even halfway-familiar with is a brief excerpt from Book II (if recollection serves correctly), transpiring within “the House of Temperance”, and apparently alluding to John Dee: going by memory alone here, Spenser describes ~ and considerably lauds ~ a seated dignitary, “a man of ripe and perfect age, / Who did on all Artes, all Science, all Philosophy, / Meditate all his life long, that through continuall usage / And practice, was grown right Wise, and wondrous Sage” (ah, “wondrous Sage”! ~ tho’ personally, I prefer Chives when it comes to herbs with me sausages!); there is, however, mention of “flies” and “beetle” shortly before this (in the stanza immediately preceding, IIRC) ~ “beetle” more in the sense of “beetle-browed”, maybe; but, either way, the hint of “flying beetle” in such close proximity to an allusion to Dee is, I’m sure you’ll agree, probably more than just coincidental…? (By the way, on an Esoteric note: Dee could arguably be reckoned the very quintessence, the palpable embodiment, of virtuous Temperance, not least because the symbology of the Temperance trump as depicted ~ “Dee-pictured” ~ in the most popular Tarot deck, the Rider Waite, seems intriguingly evocative of the polymath Doctor: an angel ~ possibly the Archangel Michael, since the sigil of the Sun surmounting the forehead points to this identification ~ situated with right foot, suggestive of the realm of Spirit, dipped into a pool of water; left foot, signifying the Physical, mundane sphere, resting on the rocky bank; and witness the angel’s serene task, dexterously, “alchemically” intermingling some watery liquids ~ mayhap the Aqua vitae, in the “Christian” or truly Spiritual sense, rather than that of merely mundane distillate; and perchance the Philosophers’ Quicksilver also? ~ betwixt two golden chalices: thereby suggesting that such admixture of opposites, such synthesis, equilibrium, and harmony, are all aims very much to be desired; and with the upward-pointing triangle emblazoned on the angel’s chest, just below the folds-in-drapery-/flame-like Tetragrammaton, indicating both the ascendant nature of elemental Fire, and, more pertinently, the capitalized form of the Greek letter Delta, whereby Dee notated himself ~ his own utterances throughout the “angelic conversations”, for example ~ in his diaries; and with the paired Irises perhaps implying a Rainbow-like bridge linking life and Afterlife, since Temperance, not unlike some messenger-psychopomp, seemingly mediates between Death and the Devil, mortality and the Otherworldly.)

        (b) Dr Dee’s “shewstone”:
        I remember John Dee once counselled me thusly: “Edward” he said (for I did not answer to the appellation “Max” back then, centuries ago, when progressed my Soul through its broadly Elizabethan incarnation; instead, my name was indeed Edward), “if ever thou be sorely vexed by any ‘shewstone’ ~ why, remove thy ‘shew’ from thy foot, thou idiot, and knock the offending stone from out its hiding-hole!” ;0)#)
        ~~~~ Joking aside, Dee possessed several shewstones, certain of them significantly different from the cliche of the “crystal ball” we might typically envisage being utilized by both archetypal seer and vulgar fortune-teller alike. That being said, Dee certainly made regular use of the quartz-crystal sphere now housed, aye, in the British Museum; mounted in a specially-fashioned gold armature (now lost) bearing a small cross at its zenith, this orb

        (I can see it now: late-afternoon sunlight, slanting through the Mortlake scrying-chamber’s west window, casting curving arcs, apparent parentheses, of glistering illumination upon the crystalline-cold convexity)

        would, during the course of protracted “actions” (i.e., seances), become transfigured into a veracious globus cruciger

        (from the rosy-quartz depths of which clairvoyantly-comprehended images ~ and clairaudiently-captured sounds and voices, besides ~ now accelerate alarmingly unto the rapt eye and attentive ear of myself, the unworthy intermediary betwixt celestial intelligences and mortal minds),

        this primary shewstone, formed very much the consecrate focus, the eldritch epicentre, of the angelic communiqués.
        Dee did, however, oftentimes employ another shewstone of decidedly different character, and nowadays to be found housed alongside the quartz sphere, in the very same British Museum display-cabinet: this alternative scrying instrument is a Mesoamerican artefact, a disc of highly-polished obsidian, sacred to the Aztecs’ primary deity, Tezcatlipoca ~ the meaning of  whose name, in the Nahuatl tongue of the Aztecs, might very well describe the Vulcanic curio itself: “Smoking mirror”, aptly enough! (I might, at some other, later juncture, impart some more information and insights pertaining to Tezcatlipoca inasmuch as he, in turn, pertains to matters “Enochian”… but probably best I leave this particular subject as it stands ~ or should that be “hops”? ~ for the meantime.)

        (c) John Crowley’s “Aegypt” sequence: I procured some very attractive paperback reprints of all four novels, as published within the last decade by the Overlook Press, via Amazon a few years ago ~ but unfortunately haven’t had much opportunity to investigate them properly since, since I’m midway through a protracted house-move (it’s taken a few years thus far; so my personal situation’s kinda complicated at the mo!), and unsurprisingly virtually the entirety of my library, belongings, and personal effects continue to moulder away in storage (hence my current reliance on a mobile ‘phone to facilitate basic Net-access).
        Anyhoo, what appealed to me about Crowley’s quartet was not only his reputation as an inventive and critically-acclaimed author, but also, moreover, the mystical aspects of the sequence, especially in relation to Dee; plus (though this is but a trifling detail!), the name of the books’ publisher, “Overlook”, obviously calls to mind the fictional hotel in “The Shining” ~ one of my favourite Stephen King novels (though “‘Salem’s Lot” is my absolute fave!).

        Lastly, in reply to your very latest Comment (of April 7, 2014, at 6:13 pm), wherein you posit that “Somehow, history told like a story always sticks to the mind better”, and enquire of me: “Do [I] agree?” ~ Yes, I do indeed believe that history conveyed in an engaging and accessible manner (this is especially the case with such well-researched and expertly-presented televisual fare as “Masters of Darkness: The Queen’s Magician”, aye!) cannot but impress itself more memorably and lastingly upon the learner’s or listener’s mind; after all, let us not forget that that which we now call “ancient myth” was, to the ancients, nothing less than (verily, I tell thee!) veracious History ~ nay, nigh Testimony: testifying to how their (and latterly our) world came to be the way it was (and is: continues to be); and also speculating how that world might end; but in their leisurely, pre-Clock-Time meanwhile, immortalizing and celebrating, through joyously irrepressible storytelling (folktales and folklore whispered around the nighttime campfire at first, but then gradually disseminated further afield, and more lastingly, via those markings-memes that would eventually develop into writing), the invariably creative-heroic (or, very occasionally, conversely, destructive-malign) deeds and exploits of their Godlike forefathers and ancestors: deeds and exploits which, if not exactly “witnessed” by later and later storytellers, nevertheless proved hugely memorable to an indeterminate, indefinable Someone way back when ~ and deeds and exploits which still continue to reverberate in mankind’s collective consciousness (and, of course, Collective Unconscious) to this very day: such the eternal Power and appeal of Myth and Legend!

        Anyway! Better get this potentially way-too-lengthy reply o’ mine done and dusted (but have no hesitation in letting me know if you feel this type of arguably excessive posting is OK with you; or, conversely, whether it might be unwelcome and unacceptable? ~ “The Vinciolo Journal” is, after all, YOUR blog, not mine!),
        Best Wishes with your studies and your creative endeavours,
        Warmest Regards,
        Max
        () :o)

      • Thanks once again for your long comments. It happens rarely enough that a blog this size receives any traffic, so whatever you can contribute to the blog is deeply appreciated.

        As a matter of fact, I couldn’t help but notice that you have written a comment that exceeds the normal length of a blog post. Are you willing to write a guest post?

        It would have to be on something related to historical fantasy, loosely defined. Anything about the fantasies we make about history, or the fantastic things that happen within history would do. If you use history and fantasy as your angle on the story, perhaps you could write something on the cultural exchange of the “smoking mirror” between the Aztecs, Spanish, and English as it pertains to Dee. Something in that vein, though it does not have to be historical analysis.

        If you have your own idea, you could pitch it to me. I’m open to a lot. Although I would not be able to provide payment, if you have a blog or website or even a Facebook page, I could tell my followers all about you. If you are interested, please send a short 50 word bio and a few sentences describing the post, along with your e-mail. If I think it’s good, then you can start writing it. As you can tell, some of my own posts go into the thousands of words, so I’m flexible with length as well. If the post is too long for one post, I can always split it up into two.

        It’s your choice if you want to do this, but I can’t ignore a fan with this kind of energy, and must make the offer! Let me know what you think.

        Thank you,

        Matthew :->

  2. Max says:

    Hello again, Matthew!

    Aw, don’t downplay your Journal unduly, not to mention undeservedly; it features infinitely superior writing, infinitely more articles of genuine interest, and is infinitely better presented than most other blogs out there (and boasts a fair few Followers, to boot!) ~ so, contrary to your far-too-modest understatement, certainly doesn’t strike ME as being anything like the ghost town you’d have us believe: Vincioloville visited by nowt but tumbleweed? Methinks NOT: surely thou jest! Gadzooks, mine codpiece shall verily combust with disbelieving incomprehension! (And suchlike exclamations of incredulity, etc. By the way, if you want to sample an example of a blog ~ or at least an individual entry in a blog ~ that really is the utter antithesis of your attainments and ethos, and probably IS a bit of an unvisited backwater, then give the following a go:
    http://1pumplane.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/the-eagle-and-child-oxford/ ~ I dunno, in some respects, what this particular “writer” had to impart made me cackle with laughter: I do rather enjoy an irreverent, “can’t be arsed: don’t give a f@€£!” attitude; but on the other hand, caused me no small amount of simultaneous cringing… see what you make of it, anyhoo!)

    As for the length of my previous comment ~ sorry for presenting such a Big One! (Ahem.) I must confess, I was in two minds about definitely posting it, ’cause it seemed to be taking a while (a coupla minutes) to upload, which should have told me something? ~ but then again, not only was it impossible for me to actually abort the operation once underway (no onscreen “Cancel” button to press), but also, my mobile ‘phone network was playing up at the time, so I wasn’t sure if the slowness was owing to the arguably excessive length of my post (ahem!), or instead arising from “connectivity issues”. Anyhoo, vaguely disconcerting: to see that my comments, and now your replies, upon this page are increasingly resembling a “Skeltonic”: an extremely narrow textual column, forsooth!

    In reply to your invitation for me to contribute further to “The Vinciolo Journal”: I guess I wouldn’t be averse to contributing a “guest post”, sure! ~ not for any payment, nor fandom, mind you; instead, simply for the enjoyment of conveying some modest insights, leavened now and then with humour ~ which combo, I feel, might, in turn, increase others’ respective insight and joie de vivre! I’ve been considering setting up a WordPress blog of my own towards just such an illuminating/spirit-bolstering end, actually (but at present, can’t claim to feature on any websites ~ apart, of course, from my postings here!), rather than possibly deleteriously affect the smooth flow and function of your Journal by posting a little TOO much; I’d probably be better posting just a quick, short comment, and inviting you (Followers included, naturally) to “See more at ‘Max’s Musings'” (or whatever I might christen my blog, once created), or summat like that?

    As for your suggestions regarding what form such submissions might take: I suppose I could try my hand at penning some “historical fiction”, aye ~ though whether I’d produce anything worth reading is debatable!

    One thing I have been working on (and let me tell yas, it takes blummin’ ages to type stuff on this mobile ‘phone of mine’s tiny touchscreen-keyboard!), and was considering appending to your article “Rawi Hage and What his Work Means to [You]” (I’m “holding fire” until you give me the OK!), is an exploration of how the dubious reputation afforded fantasy fiction (or “literary fantasy”; call it what you will) by the Literary establishment might be somehow “rehabilitated” or (damsel in distress that it is!) rescued… let me know if this analysis sounds sufficiently intriguing that you’d like me to submit it for your approval, and potential edification?

    I’ve only really got one ready-written “story” (more of a factual account of an experience of imprisonment, rather than being straightforward “fiction”), “Conscious Unconscious”, to hand for possible submission (most of my writing’s in storage, like most of my other belongings), neatly printed in my own fair hand on about eight single-sided sheets of A4 paper; I was thinking of maybe just taking some low-memory (no more than 50KB each), yet reasonably hi-res (certainly clearly legible), ‘phone-camera snapshots of these sheets, rather than have to type ‘em up, and submitting the story that way: in “scrollable” piccie-format! However, provided my suggestion’s agreeable to you, I’d obviously need YOUR email address in order to send you said snapshots. (Whilst we’re on the subject of email address: you hinted that you still required mine? ~ yet on both previous occasions when I’ve Posted, and now once more, accompanying this very Post you’re currently reading, I’ve always ensured I’ve included my full and correct email address ~ so if you’ve still not been apprised of it via your (private) WordPress account, then I’m not quite sure what the problem could be…) Anyway, for what it’s worth, one person who read the first quarter or so of “Conscious Unconscious” (it was as far as I’d got at the time!) opined that it reminded them of Edgar Allan Poe’s writing ~ so maybe it’s well worth a gander? ‘Sup to you.

    The 50-word “Bio” you requested: I’ll give this some thought over the course of the next day or two, and see just how flattering a self-portrait, in words, I can produce!

    Other ideas I’m contemplating for written pieces (these are “working titles” for stuff barely yet begun, by the way!) are: “Was Tolkien a Prophet?” and “John Dee’s Influence on the Collective Unconscious”!

    Other than the abovementioned works, my writing usually leans more towards poetry. Most of my poems I’ve managed to memorize, so even if I’ve not got the originals to hand, I can still (save the ability to add certain niceties of formatting, such as italicizing certain words for emphasis, etc., due to slight software deficiencies of my mobile ‘phone!) reproduce ‘em easily enough from memory: type ‘em out reasonably effortlessly. Some of my poems possess rather an “eldritch” quality and are written in an Elizabethan idiom, with the earliest of such witchy works manifesting ~ long before I consciously realized this! ~ a number of surprising connexions with Dr Dee; but for the meantime (to maybe “whet your appetite”?), here’s a little poem I wrote in French, dating from three or so years ago:

    Une Prophétie

    Samedi soir, le deux juillet,
    J’ai rêvé que j’étais in prison,
    Où l’homme avec Le Signe des Quatre
    Sur son front m’a déclaré :
    « Je vais mourir très bientôt :
    Les jours sont comptés comme les Étapes. »

    Farewell for now,
    Regards,
    Max
    :o)

    • Hello,

      I must have overlooked your e-mail address! I can see it now. I’d personally advise that you use my gmail account to send your article, if you can see it there too. Sure, I’ll include a message linking to your blog, once you have one, or to whatever other sight you have. On the other hand, if you were looking to write a blog post on how fantasy fiction might be rehabilitated, then there is no need to attach it as a comment–simply e-mail me a Word document of what you write and I’ll publish the text as its own guest post. Alternatively, you may write on Tolkien being a prophet or Dee’s relationship to the collective unconscious, whatever you wish.

      Were you going to send me your short story for me to read over, or for publication on my blog? I’m not entirely certain I’d be able to post pictures in the scrollable format you refer to, though it may be possible. I would gladly give you my feedback on it, however. I myself am working on a Edgar Allan Poe tribute short story called “Hoax.” You might want to look in to what market you really want to send your story into because, depending on the contract, you might not be able to sell it to a magazine that buys first online publication rights. It may or may not be a problem for you, but I would nevertheless consider my options if I were you. You wouldn’t want to close yourself off from having something published.

      Your bio can be longer than 50 words. It’s not like I have strict rules about things like this. But let’s say 200 is the maximum, all right? The idea is that I would introduce your blog post(s) with your bio.

      Thank you once again for showing interest in my blog. You have said some very kind things about it.

      Matthew

  3. […] enters the house of Doctor John Dee on an errand. (To read more on what I wrote on Dee, click here and […]

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