I'm not sure if Brakhage actually read a lot of the "philosophers of light,"
but I can tell you from going through a lot of his correspondence in the
Brakhage Archive in Boulder that he discusses what he's reading quite often,
and I can't recall him mentioning in the correspondence that he has read them.
In a letter from 1972 (sorry I don't have more information handy right now), he
mentions the following books from his personal library as the most important to
his artistic practice:
Ezra Pound-Guide to Kulchur, ABC of Reading, Spirit of Romance
Charles Olson-The Human Universe, Call Me Ishmael, The Mayan Letters
Gertrude Stein-Lectures in America, Geographical History of America
William Carlos Williams-In the American Grain, "Spring and All"
DH Lawrence-Studies in Classic American Literature
Louis Zukofsky-Bottom on Shakespeare
Donald Sutherland-On Romance
Hugh Kenner-The Pound Era
These are the books he mentions most frequently. Again, this is dated 1972,
which is around the time he makes THE PROCESS and THE RIDDLE OF LUMEN and
shortly before TEXT OF LIGHT, so it's possible he picked them up later. But
there's not a lot of mention of reading them specifically.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
From: Richard Ashrowan <rich...@ashrowan.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 6:36 PM
Subject: [Frameworks] Stan Brakhage and the 'philosophers of light'?
Does anyone know whether Stan Brakhage actually read or owned copies of written
works by Robert Grosseteste, Johannes Scotus Eriugena, Duns Scotus or Francis
Bacon? He refers to them, some of them often, but as far as I can tell most of
the references he makes to them have been traced back to Ezra Pound's Cantos,
wherein they are quoted (and sometimes misattributed) heavily. It would seem
probable that most of Brakhage's knowledge of these philosophers was in fact
indirect through the lens of Pound, though I wouldn't want to assume that if
anyone has any evidence to the contrary.
I wonder if anyone knows if Brakhage had any of these medieval works, or other
non-Pound references to them, in his library? Availability of these works in
source translation in the 1970s would most certainly have been far more
difficult than today, though it certainly remains problematic. I assume
Brakhage did not read Latin? I know Frampton did - translating his own passages
of Grosseteste's De Luce, a hint I assume he might have ultimately got from
Brakhage, though he also read Pound.
There are also many other light philosophers in this domain which I do not
believe Brakhage ever mentions anywhere - Al-Hazen, Al-Kindi, St Augustine, St
Basil, Roger Bacon, John Dee, Robert Fludd, Giambattista Della Porta, and
latterly of course, Newton.
Any thoughts on this most welcome.
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