Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Occultist John Dee inspires oddball opera collaboration

Sixteenth-century alchemist and occultist John Dee—often referred to as the "conjurer to Queen Elizabeth"—will soon at some point be immortalized in an opera, to be cowritten by the duo behind the cartoon rock band Gorillaz—Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett—and Watchmen author and magician, anarchist, and bearded wonder, Alan Moore. We say "at some point" because, as The A.V. Club reports, the project is in the very early stages of development. Here's a snippet from their latest report:
Albarn confirms that the story will concern the life of famed alchemist John Dee, the 16th-century thinker who blurred the line between science and mysticism with his equal devotion to mathematics and stuff like trying to talk to angels in their own language. But in addition to his dabbling in the occult, Dee was also a pioneer in navigation, a noted astronomer, served as a political advisor to Elizabeth I, and amassed the largest library in England—in short, he’s a real nerd’s nerd, right down to his fascination with the supernatural.
Obviously, a collaboration between Moore and Gorillaz based on the life of John "He Talks to Angels" Dee could turn out to be, as The A.V. Club puts it, "one of the most geek-tastic projects of all time."

Coincidentally, our book John Dee's Occultism: Magical Exaltation through Powerful Signs, by noted Dee scholar György E. Szonyi, is newly available in paperback. Renaissance Quarterly said of it:
“The scholar at whatever level interested in understanding the range and scope of occult philosophy in the early modern period, will find Szonyi’s one of the best first books to read.”
In short, it's a perfect companion for those looking to bone up on John Dee and occultism in order to fully appreciate what will surely be an eccentric opera on one of the towering figures of Renaissance mysticism.