Glassie_Jacket_photo_August_1_1-330I hate to say this, but I think of you as a younger man.

I normally admire your forthright nature. At any rate, I’m aware of certain changes.


It’s not that you’re not appealing. You’re still the most interesting person in the entire universe as far as I’m concerned. I mean, I’m obsessed with you.

Look, I know exactly how you feel. I can’t get you out of my mind. And yet, you do seem different somehow.

manAccording to the memoir of Athanasius Kircher, even the circumstances of his birth were auspicious. And in a sense they were, if you choose, as he did, to leave out the witch hunt.

Kircher’s mother was “the daughter of an upright citizen,” his father a learned man with “expertise in expounding complicated matters.” They lived in a hilltop town called Geisa, part of the old principality of Fulda, in a valley of the gentle and green Rhön Mountains. (Fulda was also the name of the small city at the center of the principality; the trip there from Geisa took about three hours on foot.) For a long time before Kircher was born in 1602, his parents were caught up in the conflict that had disrupted northern Europe since 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Catholics and the new Lutherans felt the special kind of hatred for each other that comes from a split within the same religion, as did the Catholics and the Calvinists, the followers of John Calvin.