|Astronomers atop Mt Athos, BL24189, f. 15|
|Mercury et al. BNMS143, f. 26v|
Goodness knows the planets themselves were moralized. Here, with the author wishing them good luck, Mercury sets out with Juno, Minerva and Venus to help the Lover negotiate an inter-planetary chess game, through which he will learn much about the human condition. The planets were given names and adventures and motives, all within an allegorical framework now seen as (wow, almost literally) window-dressing to the physics and astronomy through which we experience planets today. But what if these planets really did have a morality? Never mind what if we saw them that way. What if there was a character to Jupiter that wasn't just gasses and mass? What if Venus really is the only planet that resonates with the feminine? Oh wait, it would mean that nature has morality, too, and Darwin took care of that (thank goodness). As ever, there's no nostalgia in these wonderings, more of a curiosity about how these medieval frameworks still shimmer beneath our own every once in a while (and why they do).
|Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1917|
Because it was so easy to get the kids to come to Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's performance at DePauw of Gustav Holst's The Planets, premiered in (hello!) 1918. "Mars" had both girls clutching my arm, and "Neptune" left the entire 1400-seat hall suspended in his mystic web - followed up during the applause by Oliver literally gasping for air at how awesome that had been. A father of a dearest friend of ours who came with us intimated that had the pieces not been named after planets, the orchestral suite by itself would never have become famous. Quite perhaps so. But therein lies the power of our imaginings of the persona, and necessarily then morality, of the planets.