For as long as I can recall, I have had an overwhelming passion for Greek mythology and anything of the like. So, this week, I thought I'd share something which has become a true source of fascination for me, The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a rare mystical book conceived during the Renaissance era, whose author, to this day, remains a mystery.
The title can be simplified and broken down into Latin terms: Hypnos/Sleep, Eros/Love, and Mache/Strife; all of which alludes to the themes within the prose.
The book was first published in 1499 by Aldus Pius Manutius of the Aldine Press after having received the original work from Leonardo Crasso, a Venetian nobleman, who, acting as a third party, apparently commissioned the project in order to secure it's immortality in print. No mention has ever been made as to the illusive, authentic author, although various names have been in question... Brother Francesco Colonna, Lorenzo de Medici, and most recently Leon Battista Alberti.
The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is heavily steeped in a sumptuous complexity of mystical origin and the pervasive mystery surrounding the anonymous author further compounds the intrigue. Its prose is considered incredibly difficult to decipher in a concrete manner, largely due to the fact that the author created his own style of dialect, borrowing Latin, Italian, Greek, and Hebrew words and phrases, and subsequently, abruptly switching from one language to another. As well, various encryptions were distributed throughout, such as Egyptian, Chaldean, and Arabic hieroglyphs, and amidst these various texts and symbols are reportedly some of the most intricate wood carvings, alongside extravagant erotic illustrations. The vast scope of knowledge needed to create this exquisite novel is almost inconceivable, however, one must almost leap over the confines of intellect to a more empathic, spiritual level to fully grasp the extraordinary nuances, depth of feeling, and insights offered. The beauty of this masterpiece and literature in general, is that the reader, in effect, is able to create his/her own sub-story and interpretation within the authors stream of consciousness. Effectually, this allows us, for but a moment, to liberate our egos as we immerse ourselves in the lives of others, and as such, grow into deeper individuals and collective souls.
The mysterious visionary behind this magnum opus can be credited with possessing incredibly progressive ideas for his time, beliefs which still hold relevance and can empower us today; with candid thoughts and expressions on sexuality, gender equality, being true to one's heart, and the amalgamation of mysticism and imagination into one's own reality. In turn, many of our world's greatest minds have found inspiration from the ideas endowed within The Hypnerotomachia, creating their own legacy based upon and cultivated in imaginative thought; geniuses from Salvador Dali and his surrealist art, to Carl Jung and his prolific dream work, the list is expansive...
This story is about someone who not only dreams their reality, but makes their reality a dream. Truth and dreams are hardly synonymous in our society, and yet, I'd go so far as to say that without truth, our dreams remain impalpable desires as opposed to something we can make tangible, which we should always be cognizant of, and strive towards. I believe our wants, needs, and ideas originate from the mind/ego, a place easily manipulated and influenced, whereas what one dreams originates from the soul, therefore, we have an obligation to nurture them, because they speak from the unfiltered purity of our hearts.
I've always felt that through reclaiming our antiquities we can illuminate our futures, that the preservation of brave art works, prolific literary pieces, and sacred mystical texts are of great integral value in our quest to understanding who we are as people and our purpose here. Everything conceived in this world earns its rightful place, and we cannot learn to value one thing to the exclusion of another.
I'm just a girl, a dreamer you could say, and insight tells me that not everything in this life is meant to be understood, not everything is linear, and perhaps what's most important is that we delve beyond the circumference with no other expectation than wonder. Because our world is far too vast to be perceived as anything but a beautiful mystery waiting to be enjoyed, and in doing so, perhaps discovered...