Orlando Gough has set to music (very beautifully) the words of Robert Fludd from 1617 – ‘et sic in infinitum’ In the book Fludd talks about how the universe came into being:
‘What was there before creation? Some first state of unformed matter, without dimension or quantity, neither small nor large, without properties or inclinations, neither moving nor still.’
And this is illustrated by an astonishing illustration which looks like something by an American abstract artist of the 1960s:
He then goes on about the Earth being at the centre of the universe (Copernicus has already come up with the heliocentric model, but Fludd doesn’t agree):
‘The earth is cold and dry; and as the darkest and heaviest element it sinks, as it were, to the centre of the universe. No wonder that the earth is such a vale of misery, since it is formed from the very dregs of creation. It contains the devil himself, enemy to God and man.’
The cliché is that people used to think of the Earth as the centre of the universe so that they themselves are at the centre, how reassuring; but he seems to be saying that the centre is basically a cesspit.
And he goes on into a refutation of Copernicus:
‘If the Earth were not the centre of the Universe, but a revolving body circling the Sun, as some ancient and modern philosophers maintain (notably Copernicus and William Gilbert), there would be no possibility of life on it: violent winds would sweep everything to the ground. Besides, it would be remarkable if the Earth alone were to move steadily on its axis, while all the other planets varied in latitude. Finally, as the Earth is the largest and densest of all bodies it stands to reason that it would be at the centre of the more rarified ones, and less apt to move than any of the others. The source of all power and movement is at the periphery of the universe, not in the centre – for…a wheel is more easily turned from its circumference than from its hub.’