As dr. Bronowski is slowly discovering a trail leading him steadily into the realm of the ‘subtle arts’, the plot is definitely thickening. Although chemistry did not belong to the 7 Artes Liberales, as they were more poised toward logic, mathematics, grammar, and law, the medieval fascination with the transformation of matter itself, especially where Aristotelic, and Neoplatonic traditions collided, has lead to quite a bit of interesting experimentation on the side, and also to some essential categorization, taken up by the likes of Dimitry Mendelejev, Marie Curie, Otto Hahn, and Oppenheimer, without whom, after all, we wouldn’t have such charming tools as the H-bomb. But, where does this leave us? And what is the connection with the predicted End of the World? Darn…, I love a good story! If I have a spare moment,I will try to scan and clean up the next page.
The image on the page is interesting. The letter ‘d’ is somehow formed as the result of some kind of chemical reaction, or synthesis. Bronowski links the image with Hermes Trismegistos, and, thus with the hermetic arts. Whether that is a logical inference, I don’t know. The identification of the letter itself as ‘Fraktur’, which is a distinctive german script, is, I think, premature. It could easily be a mid XVth century French letter. It also is much closer to a general littera textualis than to the more flamboyant hybrida, which developed in the chanceries of the Dukes of Burgundy. All in all, difficult to say without access to the original. We now must see everything through Bronowski’s eyes. I’m seriously considering to start a hunt for the original.