By Nick Wilding
Nick Wilding makes use of as large quite a few assets as possiblepaintings, decorative woodcuts, epistolary hoaxes, intercepted letters, homicide case records, and othersto problem the image of early smooth technology as pious, severe, and ecumenical. via his research of the determine of Sagredo, Wilding bargains a clean standpoint on Galileo in addition to new questions and methods for the examine of technology. the result's a publication that turns our realization from actors as participants to transferring collective topics, usually working lower than fake identities; from a global made from reliable print to 1 of frail tools and mistranscribed manuscripts; from a complacent Europe to an rising approach of complicated geopolitics and globalizing info platforms; and from an epistemology in line with the stolid challenge of everlasting truths to at least one generated via and within the provider of playful, politically engaged, and crafty schemes.
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Additional resources for Galileo's Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge
44 We are accustomed to thinking about Sagredo as a refraction of Galileo. The published sources encourage such a reading: the earliest autonomous statement is an affidavit testifying to Sagredo’s instruction in the use of the military and geometric compass from around 1597; the first surviving letter we have concerns his attempt to secure a raise for Galileo from the Padua University rectors. Galileo’s ventriloquizing of Sagredo in the Dialogue is the logical endpoint of such a reading: Sagredo exists only in his relationship with Galileo.
The Medici were not too interested in the instrument, which by Galileo’s admission had been on the market already for ten years. Cosimo accepted the book’s dedication, but the pair of silver compasses seems never to have been presented. The book was printed, and copies sold swiftly. 28 But this success followed only after a dispute on the book in Padua. As we have seen, Galileo printed the text in order to liberate himself from an unstable model of technological production. He attempted to reconsolidate his authority over the compass by becoming its author.
62 Magnets also fitted well into court economics: Sagredo’s “Rodomonte” magnet, when armed by Galileo, became an object over which Cosimo de’ Medici and Rudolph II vied, in extensive negotiations brokered by Galileo himself. Sagredo’s identity as the object’s owner was initially kept secret but eventually revealed by Galileo, presumably to boost the object’s fluctuating value. As the magnet entered the court, it became imbued with new meanings: Galileo, long practiced in the art of emblems, mottos, and devices, turned it into an instrument embodying and naturalizing Medicean politics.