Monday, July 18, 2011

They Were Serious About Titles

From Lee Durkee comes word that some people think this is John Dee's birthday and some other people don't. So happy approximate birthday, John Dee! You know, a few weeks ago I read about an "indie rocker" who has just written an opera about John Dee but I didn't tell you because the very idea of it depressed me for some reason. I'm a complicated man! To celebrate John Dee's birthday, I checked out a book from the library: a facsimile of the 1659 edition of A TRUE & FAITHFUL RELATION OF WHAT PASSED FOR MANY YEARS BETWEEN DR. JOHN DEE (A MATHEMATICIAN OF GREAT FAME IN Q. ELIZ. AND KING JAMES THEIR REIGNES) AND SOME SPIRITS: TENDING (HAD IT SUCCEEDED) TO A GENERAL ALTERATION OF MOST STATES AND KINGDOMES OF THE WORLD. HIS PRIVATE CONFERENCES WITH RODOLPHE EMPEROR OF GERMANY, STEPHEN K. OF POLAND, AND DIVERS OTHER PRINCES ABOUT IT. THE PARTICULARS OF HIS CAUSE, AS IT WAS AGITATED IN THE EMPERORS COURT; BY THE POPES INTERVENTION: HIS BANISHMENT, AND RESTORATION IN PART. AS ALSO THE LETTERS OF SUNDRY GREAT MEN AND PRINCES (SOME WHEREOF WERE PRESENT AT SOME OF THESE CONFERENCES AND APPARITIONS OF SPIRITS:) TO THE SAID DR. DEE. OUT OF THE ORIGINAL COPY, WRITTEN WITH DR. DEE'S OWN HAND: KEPT IN THE LIBRARY OF SIR THO. COTTON, KT. BARONET. WITH A PREFACE CONFIRMING THE REALITY (AS TO THE POINT OF SPIRITS) OF THIS RELATION: AND SHEWING THE SEVERAL GOOD USES THAT A SOBER CHRISTIAN MAY MAKE OF ALL. See, now, that's a title! I have already found out one thing. Remember that picture I showed you of "Dr. Dee" once? According to the caption in the 1659 edition, that was actually "EDW. KELLY Prophet or Seer to Dr. Dee." BUT! Don't forget, as I have mentioned here before, saucy Edward Kelly (or Kelley) often wore a cowl because (as the 1974 intro to this facsimile puts it) "he had been stood in the pillory and had his ears cut off for forgery." So you can understand my confusion! The intro goes on (and this I didn't know about Mr. Kelly), "He had also been in trouble with the authorities over digging up a corpse from a churchyard." Oh well! Everybody needs a hobby. Today there was a large flying ant in the house and a shiny black snake slithered from under the garbage can and into the kudzu as I was passing by, and I didn't think much of it, but now that I know it's John Dee's birthday it all makes sense.