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Thinking Allegory Otherwise$
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Brenda Machosky

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804763806

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804763806.001.0001

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The Mask of Copernicus and the Mark of the Compass

The Mask of Copernicus and the Mark of the Compass

Bruno, Galileo, and the Ontology of the Page

(p.60) Three The Mask of Copernicus and the Mark of the Compass
Thinking Allegory Otherwise

Daniel Selcer

Stanford University Press

Focusing on Galileo's Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (1632) and Giordano Bruno's La Cena de le Cenari (1584), this chapter explores the role of performative allegory in the written text and assesses the impact of allegory within philosophical discourse on what it calls the baroque ontology of the page. It shows that the drawing (or misdrawing) of Nicolaus Copernicus's cosmological diagram in De revolutionibus (1543) within the dialogues of Galileo's and Bruno's texts is itself a staging that takes place on the surfaces of the pages themselves, “a materialization of natural contemplation.” It also argues that Galileo's text advocates a “script” of “naturalized allegory” in which the book of the universe is written, while Bruno considers philosophical contemplation to be the only means to control the extreme tendencies of allegorical language. In the allegorical nature of nature, readers are required to read allegorically. Both Bruno and Galileo view the philosophical-scientific text as a performance of allegory requiring the participation of the authors, the characters, and the readers.

Keywords:   allegory, Galileo, Giordano Bruno, La Cena de le Cenari, ontology, Nicolaus Copernicus, cosmological diagram, De revolutionibus, nature, natural contemplation

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