The Shakespeare who spun The Tempest must have known John Dee; and perhaps through Philip Sidney he met Giordano Bruno in the year when he was writing the Cena di Ceneri—the Ash Wednesday supper in the French Ambassador’s house in the Strand. Prospero’s character and predicament certainly reflect these figures, each of whom in his own way fell victim to reaction. John Dee, with the greatest library in England, skrying for the angels Madimi and Uriel (so nearly Ariel)—all of which is recorded in the Angelic Conversations—ended up, in his old age, penniless in Manchester. Bruno was burnt for heresy.
Ten years of reading in these forgotten writers, together with a study of Jung and his disciples proved vital in my approach to both Jubileeand The Tempest. As for the black magic which David Bowie thought I dabbled in like Kenneth Anger, I’ve never been interested in it. I find Crowley’s work dull and rather tedious. Alchemy, the approach of Marcel Duchamp, interests me much more.
Derek Jarman, Dancing Ledge (1991
Prospero (Heathcote Williams) and Miranda (Toyah Willcox), The Tempest (1979).
Giordano Bruno; 1548 – February 17, 1600) (Latin: Iordanus Brunus Nolanus), Filippo Bruno, Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, astrologer and astronomer. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model: while supporting its heliocentrism, he also correctly proposed that the Sun was just another starmoving in space, and claimed as well that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings. The Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy, and he was burned at the stake. After his death he gained considerable fame, particularly among 19th- and early 20th-century commentators who, focusing on his astronomical beliefs, regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas.
Some assessments suggest that Bruno’s ideas about the universe played a smaller role in his trial than his pantheist beliefs, which differed from the interpretations and scope of God held by the Catholic Church. In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles. The historianFrances Yates argues that Bruno was deeply influenced by Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism. Other studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.