Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Flammarion Woodcut

Flammarion Woodcut

Check this out! Isn't it wonderful? Here is depicted an inquisitive young adult (must be a woman with a dress like that!) peeking through where the sky meets the heavens. Don't we all wonder what's out there beyond the beyond. It looks like a medieval woodcut but apparently comes from a nineteenth-century volume. The caption to this woodcut in Flammarion's book is translated: "A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he [or she] had found the point where the sky and the Earth touched...." See this Wikipedia article.

Here's another version of the woodcut, colorized by Roberta Weir.

My friend Sarah from London sent me this:

I like this quotation from Camille Flammarion:

What intelligent being, what being capable of responding emotionally to a beautiful sight, can look at the jagged, silvery lunar crescent trembling in the azure sky, even through the weakest of telescopes, and not be struck by it in an intensely pleasurable way, not feel cut off from everyday life here on earth and transported toward that first stop on the celestial journeys? What thoughtful soul could look at brilliant Jupiter with its four attendant satellites, or splendid Saturn encircled by its mysterious ring, or a double star glowing scarlet and sapphire in the infinity of night, and not be filled with a sense of wonder? Yes, indeed, if humankind - from humble farmers in the fields and toiling workers in the cities to teachers, people of independent means, those who have reached the pinnacle of fame or fortune, even the most frivolous of society women - if they knew what profound inner pleasure await those who gaze at the heavens, then France, nay, the whole of Europe, would be covered with telescopes instead of bayonets, thereby promoting universal happiness and peace."

- Camille Flammarion, French astronomer, 1880