A VOYAGE TO THE WORLD OF CARTESIUS (AKA DESCARTES) (1690) – By Gabriel Daniel. This book dealt with a journey to the moon, the planets and ultimately to the “space beyond the universe”. The author’s use of “space” in this sense is often cited as the oldest known use of the word regarding concepts of “outer space” and “space travel”.
If you enjoyed Monty Python’s Philosopher Drinking Song you should enjoy A Voyage to the World of Cartesius (Descartes). Daniel depicted himself on a search to contact the soul of the philosopher Rene Descartes. In keeping with Cartesian philosophy’s separation of mind and body Descartes was shown drifting through space, employing his philosophy to “correct” mistakes that were made by the Mad Genius Creator of the Universe.
Descartes had reached the stars by sheer force of will but Gabriel Daniel and his traveling companion needed some particularly potent “snuff” (yeah) in order to pursue him there.
The tale is loaded with tongue-in- cheek references to the views of Rene Descartes and other great thinkers plus Daniel’s own attempts to reconcile Cartesian philosophy with Christian canon. The protagonist even tries to negotiate a truce between Aristotle’s enthusiasts and Descartes’ own.
The space traveler visits Plato’s Republic on the moon, finds an outer-space island composed of dreams and a Chinese magician on a black cloud who preaches the philosophical strengths of St Thomas Aquinas. Think of the Beatles’ cartoon Yellow Submarine and you have a general grasp of the style but with philosophy jokes carrying the story instead of British accents and incoherent dialogue. All in all this is one enjoyable head trip of a story. We could all use a few snorts of that special Amsterdam “snuff”.
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