What Does Giordano Bruno Have to Do With Papa’s Italy?

For those of you just joining us, you either found your way here via serendipity, or through the website http://www.papasitaly.com. Either way, it was meant to be.

The first November post will give you a bit of background as to why we are here, so it will be helpful to take a look at that first – but the instant gratification version is that we are exploring infinity and the synchronicity, signs and symbols of the book “How Do We Love?”. If you are not familiar with the book yet, you can go to http://www.papasitaly.com to learn more about the true, epic adventures of Neil Oliviero, aka, “Papa,” and me, his granddaughter Danielle – as we “time travel” together between Italy, the Bronx, New York, and Modern Day Florida.

As we mentioned in the last post, every week we will walk through one of the symbols (what we call hidden “eggs”) in the book and explore what it meant to the story. As we do, you will soon begin to see that not only are the eggs worth cracking open, but they begin to mix and meld in their own mystical way – a way that can lead you, like Alice, down a wondrous rabbit hole of synchronicity, possibilities and learning if you allow it! Anything you see typed in CAPS will be discussed in a future blog. And every once in a while we will throw in a handy, dandy diagram to show you that everything, from the Hebraic alphabet to infinity, really is all related.

This first entry will start with Signore Giordano Bruno – Italian astrologer, philosopher and Vatican heretic. Everything else leads from him, friend.

In the chapter “Free and In Rome,” we meet Signore Giordano Bruno in the famous Roman piazza, Campo de’ Fiori:

“…most of its occupants are blissfully unaware that the festive piazza filled with soft lights and music and abuzz with shiny, happy people used to be a place of public punishment. They don’t know that the eerie statue of the mysterious man under whom they cavort is an effigy to the philosopher Giordano Bruno. His written works were placed in the “Index of Forbidden Books” in the sixteenth century, and it was in that exact spot that he was burned alive by the Catholic church, as were many other “heretics” of that time. Signore Bruno’s statue is positioned purposely so that he faces the Vatican—this once “dangerous” threat to society, memorialized as a martyr of freedom of speech.

That excerpt is, of course, a woefully inadequate and incomplete description of Giordano Bruno. To fully understand his accomplishments, his works, his life, his sacrifices, you would need to live and learn through several lifetimes, one of which should probably be his. As the vast majority of us have no desire to endure that which he did, we’ll have to be satisfied with just a glimpse into his world—a glimpse that will also serve our purpose of better understanding what he has to do with “Papa’s Italy.”

There are three main links between Giordano Bruno and the book:

1)   INFINITY. Giordano Bruno, who lived from 1548 to February 16, 1600, took on many roles during his abbreviated lifetime—philosopher, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, writer, teacher.* But his mention in the book How Do We Love? is there not only because of his statue in the Campo de’ Fiori in Rome (where I consumed massive amount of fried squash flowers and wine), it is also a nod to Signore Bruno’s belief in INFINITY – which, as you know, is a key element in the story of How Do We Love?.

Giordano Bruno believed that the universe was infinite and included an infinite number of other planets (many of which he thought held other life forms.) At the time this was in direct contradiction to the beliefs of the Catholic church, however Bruno expounded upon these ideas anyway, both verbally and in writing in such tracts as “De l’Infinito Universo et Mondi” (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds.) Because of his beliefs, Bruno garnered a great deal of attention, both negative (before his death), and positive (primarily posthumously.) So there you go! Giordano Bruno and a hidden wink at infinity! But wait…as it is with infinity, there’s always room for one more!

2)   HERMETICISM. I included Signore Bruno for his philosophy on infinity, but also for the powerful role which the Hermetic Mystery School** tradition had on his beliefs. HERMETECISM is an ancient doctrine of spiritual and religious beliefs invented by a pagan prophet named Hermes Trismegistus. The doctrine revolves around three elements: ALCHEMY, ASTROLOGY and Theurgy. Alchemy and Astrology are two other elements I reference in How Do We Love? and will definitely be a dot to which we repeatedly connect in future blogs!

3)   AS ABOVE SO BELOW. As you now know, Signore Bruno subscribed to Hermeticism. The overarching maxim of Hermetecism is the phrase, “As above so below.”

In the Epilogue of How Do We Love?, in the chapter “The Sun Shone and I Saw All of Venice,” I included the following line and nod to Signore Bruno, Hermetics, Alchemy and Infinity: As was the galaxy above so was the mirror of the tiny lights below.”

You will see the phrase “AS ABOVE, SO BELOW” come up again in future blogs here, and, if you have not noticed it before, you will probably begin to see it come up in your own life is well. Synchronicity is funny like that, isn’t it?

Speaking of synchronicity, those were the three main links between Signore Bruno and the book- but as with all the best egg hunts, once you find a few, then the real fun begins! Here is a “Plummet Down the Rabbit Hole” that all started with Giordano Bruno:

∞Research on Giordano Bruno led me to read about the author James Joyce, whose book Finnegan’s Wake was supposedly based on the beliefs and teachings of Giordano Bruno.

∞Further, I learned that the composition of Finnegan’s Wake begins with a sentence fragment and ends with the beginning of that fragment, which makes the story one continuous INFINITE loop…

Finnegan’s Wake research led me to an interview with author Tom Robbins, one of my favorite authors of all time, in which Robbins divulges that he keeps a copy of Finnegan’s Wake by his bed and reads a line every night. There are several winks to Tom Robbins in How Do We Love?. Including this line from the chapter titled, “Raising Baby Ducks” :

“I parked the car and, luggage in tow, glad and dizzy, we floated through the stone tunnel …’”

The phrase  “Glad and Dizzy” is in reference to one of Tom Robbins’s own tributes in his book, Wild Ducks Flying Backwards and also in his childrens book, B is for Beer. There is also a reference to “Wild Ducks” in the Gratitude section of the book How Do We Love?

∞In researching more about Finnegan’s Wake (be sure to check out its namesake Irish drinking song…) I also learned that Joyce’s style of writing in Finnegan was influenced by “Jabberwocky”, the poem written by author Lewis Carroll who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

∞Coincidentally Papa used to recite Jabberwocky all the time to show me: 1) how he could still remember it from 5th  grade; 2) his phenomenal Irish brogue that he unleashed for its delivery; and 3) how learning the complicated accent for the poem was the catalyst for his ability to speak with Irish, Scottish, British and Australian accents effectively.

∞Finally, I started this whole blog fandango (blogdango?) with a reference to Alice in Wonderland and the rabbit hole, having no idea that she was going to appear here at the end with Senor Carroll!

Ok, friends, that’s it for this month. Thanks so much for taking the time to play! Be sure to check out http://www.papasitaly.com for new events and information as well as information on where to buy the book “How Do We Love?” Please stop back in next month for the hunt for more golden eggs. And in the meantime, open your eyes wide, slow down your stride just a bit, and pay attention to the signs, symbols and synchronicities in your life. Who knows where they might take you?  Ci vediamo la prossima mese! See you next month!

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

~Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872