Thursday, August 10
The Sober Sophomore and I once heard the noted scholar Dr. Ingrid Rowland (who is herself rather Kircherian herself in her fascinatingly eclectic and free-ranging approach to scholarship, and, to quote Steve Martin, "might do anything at any moment") describe this engraving at a lecture on Fr. Kircher's role in the iconographic program of Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers. The old fellow was an inveterate prankster, fond of practical jokes with his speaking tubes and Rube Goldberg contraptions, and used to fly a dragon-shaped kite over the Roman College inscribed FUGITE DIVINA IRA, or, FLEE THE WRATH OF GOD, in order to spook the Dominicans down the street at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Mostly, people tended to ignore anything weird going on over at the Roman College--sort of like UFO-cum-weird experimental aircraft sightings at Area 51 or the like today.