By Scott Horton
September 27, 2008
[Originally published in Harper's]
Let us restore to order the heaven that lies within us intellectually, and then that visible heaven that presents itself bodily to your eyes. Let us distance from the heaven of our mind the bear of roughness, the arrow of envy, the foal of levity, the dog of evil calumny, the bitch of flattery; let us banish the Hercules of violence, the lyre of complacency… When we have in this way made for ourselves a new home and restored our heaven, then, too, shall reign new constellations, new influences and powers and new destinies. All depends upon this higher world, and out of its contradictory causes flow necessarily contradictory effects. Oh we happy ones, we truly blissful ones, know that our happiness depends upon the proper cultivation of our minds and thoughts. If we wish to improve our condition, we must change our customs; if we want the former to become good and better, the latter must not be allowed to worsen. If we purify the drive within us, then it will not be hard to pass from this transformation in the inner world to the reformation of the sensible and external world.
–Giordano Bruno, La spaccio della bestia trionfante (1584) in Le opere italiane (P. de Lagarde ed. 1888), p. 412 (S.H. transl.)