dintr-un interviu cu Stephen Greenblatt, luat de catre Harvey Blume

‘HB: Has „materialism” gone out of fashion altogether as a
philosophical term? Is it no longer reputable to identify as a

SG: I’m glad you are asking me that. I think it’s reputable. I’m
fascinated by materialism in the philosophical sense. I think there’s
been a huge resurgence of studies in Epicurianism and in Lucretius.
I tell you where I’m going with this. Lucretius’s
extraordinary poem, „On the Nature of Things,” one of the greatest
works of late antiquity, was lost, that is to say, was not in
circulation, for about 1,000 years. Then in the early fifteenth
century, a papal bureaucrat, Poggio Bracciolini, became exceedingly
dismayed by what he saw at the Council of Constance, namely the
entrapment and killing of the reformer Jan Hus and his associate,
Jerome of Prague.
Bracciolini writes extraordinary letters back to Florence
saying that he’s horrified. These people were promised safe conduct,
which was arbitrarily removed; they were arrested and executed, and he
couldn’t do anything about it. In fact, the executioners tried to
leave as little bodily material as possible. They were afraid people
would take souvenirs so they burned the bodies and threw the ashes
into the water. It’s at that very moment that Bracciolini recovers „On
the Nature of Things,” and launches it again into the world.
„On the Nature of Things,” is a text that says that individual
objects, including bodies, always pass away but also that things come
together again. Things that disperse have a way of hooking back into
each other and returning to the world. Lucretius has the astonishing
idea about the physical universe that is at the very core of
materialism, which is that matter actually doesn’t die, that what
looks like an end is only a redistribution of the material of the
world. That notion of the endless redistribution of material, which is
a sublime idea and astonishing idea, is, in effect, relaunched out of
the deaths of Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague.
That’s for me a perfect instance of the bizarre, resonant and
crazily accidental conjunction that can encircle a particular
historical event. The Catholic Church, as you probably know, didn’t
put classical texts on the Index; you could read them. If you espoused
these ideas in your own voice, you would be executed, or severely
punished. But you could circulate and read these texts, as long as
they were safely in Latin, and kept to a small number of people. So
„On the Nature of Things,” this fantastically dangerous text, which
argues against fundamental principles of Judaism and Christianity, is
launched by the deaths of Hus and Jerome. It’s as if Bracciolini found
a way of putting their ashes in a new and surprising form, and
launching them back into the world.
Now, if that’s materialism, I want it.