The Ambivalent Alchemist’s Guide to History: Or, Why Gabriel Plattes Matters

"But if you look at the history, modern chemistry only starts coming in to replace alchemy around the same time capitalism really gets going. Strange, eh? What do you make of that?" Webb nodded agreeably. "Maybe capitalism decided it didn't need the old magic anymore." An emphasis whose contempt was not meant to escape Merle's … Continue reading The Ambivalent Alchemist’s Guide to History: Or, Why Gabriel Plattes Matters

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Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 2)

[Earlier episode: Part 1] The Old Testament was familiar with the likes of George Pine: long-lived, polygamous survivors of disaster who founded new societies in bounteous and conveniently depopulated landscapes. In the Isle of Pines, for his part, Neville described a second Eden, “always clothed in green, and full of pleasant fruits, and variety of … Continue reading Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 2)

Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 1)

Henry Neville (1620-94) was a republican political thinker in an era of civil war, regicide, constitutional experimentation, and resurgent monarchy; he translated Machiavelli’s works and traced republicanism’s heritage back to Moses. He is now better known, however, for a short work of faintly pornographic utopian fiction, The Isle of Pines. Couched as a Dutch sea-captain’s … Continue reading Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 1)