In my last post I briefly discussed what’s going on with the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, also known as the Ritman Library. Today I just wanted to inform my readers that a dedicated blog has been set up for the cause, and should you want to follow the story, there would probably be the best place to do so. The blog is located at http://theritmanlibrarymustbepreserved.blogspot.com. It has been very reassuring to see so many scholars coming together to raise their voices as to the importance of the preservation of this priceless resource.
Archive for November, 2010
Today’s post is a short one. The Ritman Library, better known as Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, is in serious danger. A petition has been created as an effort to try to save the library. This would be a huge blow to the academic study of esoteric traditions. It is something I feel very passionate about as my personal academic aspirations include studying such currents in Western culture.
The petition to save the library reads:
It is widely known that the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam, founded by J.R. Ritman, was in great danger in the 1990s, when the ING bank took possession of the collection and threatened to sell it. Fortunately, the Dutch government intervened: the BPH was put on the list of protected Dutch heritage, and the State eventually acquired over 40% of it. The books remained at the same physical location, integrated with the rest of the collection, and the government would eventually acquire all of it. As part of this process, there were great plans for further expansion. Largely due to the financial crisis and a change of government this was taking somewhat longer than originally anticipated, but nobody doubted that the library was safe.
Last week this turned out to be incorrect. An extremely valuable medieval manuscript owned by the BPH (The Grail of Rochefoucauld) was put on sale at Sotheby’s, and this triggered a reaction from the Friesland Bank, which took possession of the library, that had apparently been brought in as collateral, in order to get back a 15 million euro loan from mr Ritman. At present the BPH is closed, and intense negotiations are going on behind closed doors. It is impossible at this moment to predict the outcome, but there is no doubt that the situation is extremely serious. There is a very real possibility that the Friesland bank will try to sell at least the ca. 60% of the library that is still owned by mr Ritman, and nobody knows what implications this will have for the rest of the collection and the BPH as a whole, including its staff. The brand-new government of the Netherlands has announced a program of radical financial cuts in the culture section and elsewhere, which makes a renewed intervention from that side highly unlikely.
If the Ritman library would go down, this would mean an enormous blow to international scholarship in hermetic studies. The damage would be irreversible. By signing this petition you express your concern, and ask the Dutch government and the Friesland bank to do their utmost to ensure that the collection will be saved and will remain available for the international scholarly community.
Additionally, you can express your concern by means of a signed letter. The initiative for this petition comes from the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and related currents at the University of Amsterdam (organizationally independent of the BPH, and not in any danger itself), so please send your letter to its director: Prof. Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Oude Turfmarkt 141-147, 1012 GC Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email: w.j.hanegraaff [ at ] uva.nl
So please, take a moment (it won’t take any longer than that) and sign the petition now.
For those who want to help spread the word, I have also created a Facebook Cause to help you get the word out.
In the first century CE, freed slave and writer Publilius Syrus wrote the Latin equivalent of, “it is a bad plan that admits of no modification.” Now, two millennia later, those words echo with the same truth, yet many fail to heed it’s warning. Back in February of this year I created this blog as a way to chronicle the day to day life of a college student as he seeks both a higher education and an internal spiritual education. I found this to be a challenge as I wanted to produce relative content without falling into the trap of writing yet another blog which reads as a daily diary. I also had to take into account the importance I place on my academic studies; it would be foolish to sacrifice my education so I could write a daily blog about my education.
My initial blog post was followed by several months of inactivity. The silence was finally broken in June when I began posting some of the papers I had written in school. Around this time I stumbled on an old CD with some poems I had written saved on it, and these too found their way onto the blog. I personally felt that those posts were the high-water mark of content, but soon the tide went back out and silence again largely prevailed.
By mid-October I began to feel bad for having been so neglectful, so, in an attempt to find some kind of content, I again returned to the formula of the first post, that being of a mostly uninteresting review of my personal life. I had intended to chronicle my summer adventures in California as I went, but failing in this I attempted to compensate by writing a series summarizing the activities in retrospect; this was also a failure. Immediately after the events chronicled in the last post, my world was shaken and the death of my brother cast a shadow over everything that happened during the summer. This is why I didn’t write all summer, and it is why trying to write about it was so hard.
So now, as we rush through the final week of November, I have decided to leave what never will be alone and instead steer this blog in a new direction. The posts will be occasional, but with an open acceptance of such instead of the guilt of not finding the time to post meaningless drivel. I now plan for this blog to be what it perhaps always should have been: a place for me to express my opinions when I feel they need to be expressed in writing; a place to share my writings when I find them of good enough quality to share; a place to post reviews of books I read when they’re good or bad enough to inspire me to review them; and maybe some personal anecdotes, when I feel so taken.