The Art Of Memory

The Art Of Memory Cover

Book: The Art Of Memory by Frances Yates

The late Frances Yates was an honorary Fellow of the Warburg Institute at the University of London. She was awarded an O.B.E. in 1972. Her book THE ART OF MEMORY is an astonishing account of the use of imagery during the European Renaissance and, in particular, the importance of ordered memory in the Hermetic Arts. Ms. Yates focuses on the work of Giordano Bruno, the enigmatic and remarkable genius who profoundly influenced the occult teachings of the period. The book sheds light on Dante's Divine Comedy, the form of Shakespearean theatre and the history of ancient architecture. Students of Alchemy will be interested in the extraordinary use of imagery and active imagination which is portrayed in a most unusual and exciting manner. Giordano Bruno and others used the system as a means of achieving "illumination", or a dialogue with God, for MEMORY was seen as a power of the soul. Bruno believed that by constructing an ordered and linked series of images in the mind, the psyche could commune with the Divine. The images were odd to say the least. Myths, magical and astrological themes predominated in the system. This re-arrangement of the psyche thus brought one closer to the nature of the All. Bruno's connections with Shakespeare raise some fascinating hypotheses about the underlying nature and meaning of this famous author's work. The description of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, with its mandala-like symbolism, will surprise many readers. The design and arrangement of the building (conceive it as a "theatre of the world or macrocosm") accords with Hermetic, Magical and Zodiacal principles. The roof of the theatre had, for example, the signs of the zodiac painted on it. The placement of actors and the location of action scenes may have been influenced by this layout thus adding a new dimension to the meanings and morality expressed in the plays. Frances Yates also traces the development of this memory system from Egypt, through Greece, Italy and Germany to Britain. The people, the church, alchemy and local culture all combined to influence the progress of the system and, it can be argued, the system influenced those in return. The book contains some fine illustrations and diagrams of mnemonic devices of the period. This is a scholarly work and is highly recommended.

Buy Frances Yates's book: The Art Of Memory

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