Welcome—first blog post!


A portrait of the blogger as a young man.

By way of a blissfully short introduction, my name is Mike A. Zuber and I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. (For the record, Mike happens to be my actual given name as stated in all official documents, so please don’t call me Michael.) My research project is concerned with what I’ve tentatively called ‘theosophical chymistry’ in the early eighteenth century, particularly in German-speaking contexts. If you’d like to find out more about my research and academic activities, you’re welcome to stop by at Academia.edu.

This blog owes its name to a book first published in 1733: Microcosmische Vorspiele Des Neuen Himmels und der Neuen Erde (Microcosmic Preludes of the New Heaven and the New Earth). This is but one of many intriguing, though mostly forgotten books that have come down to us from the turbulent early-modern period (by general consensus, roughly 1492 to 1789), an era ripe with political, religious and scientific tensions. And it is to such barely remembered books that this blog is dedicated, books I come across during my research and would love to investigate more closely than time permits, due to the fascinating glimpses of the lives and thoughts of our early-modern ancestors they provide.

With this in mind, the blog will serve as a channel for productive procrastination and an outlet for whatever thoughts I might jot down regarding such books, and who knows, the posts might turn out to be the seeds of something bigger—microcosmic preludes, as it were.

As a digression, or possibly a long-term cliffhanger: since I mentioned the Microcosmische Vorspiele, I should like to point out that most library catalogues mistakenly attribute it to Johann Conrad Dippel (1673-1734), who indignantly defended himself against this attribution shortly before his death. In fact, he even styled himself an ‘orthodox annihilator … of the so-called, entirely unfounded microcosmical new creation as the prelude to a new heaven and a new earth’ (F. W. Strieder, Grundlage zu einer Hessischen Gelehrten und Schriftsteller Geschichte, 1783, vol. 3, p. 131).

The radical Pietist and collector of hymns Christoph Schütz (1689-1750) has also been suggested as the author, though the leading Schütz specialist deems this highly unlikely (Konstanze Grutschnig-Kieser, Der “Geistliche Würtz= Kräuter und Blumen=Garten” des Christoph Schütz, 2006, pp. 310-11).

At present, then, we have to conclude that this mysterious ‘lover of divine and natural secrets’ remains unidentified. Quite possibly, though, he (?) is the same ‘lover of divine and natural secrets’ that added an ‘Appendix of Several Rare Chymical Manuscripts’ to the edition of Georg von Welling’s Opus mago-cabbalisticum et theosophicum prepared by Schütz in 1735 (pp. 517-82)…


8 responses to “Welcome—first blog post!

  • Praeludia Microcosmica – there’s a new blog on the block | Heterodoxology

    […] There’s a new blog out in the esotericisim/hist-sci neighbourhood. Praeludia Microcosmica brings microcosmic preludes from the PhD research of Mike Zuber (University of Amsterdam). In particular, we should look forward to “occasional notes on chymistry, theosophy and religious dissent in the early modern period”. The blog is named after a curious book, the  Microcosmische Vorspiele Des Neuen Himmels und der Neuen Erde – the contested authorship of which you can read a bit about in the blog’s opening post. […]

  • Peter Forshaw

    Hi Mike, good to see your blog and interesting to hear about Dippel. It’s always pleasing to hear about people exploring the world of ‘mostly forgotten books’. Which other ones are you working on and would you like to see back in the light of day? All the best, Pete

    • Mike A. Zuber

      Hi Peter, thanks for stopping by! One of the things I’m very keen to write on is the mysterious ‘balsam of life’, a concoction attributed to Abraham von Franckenberg (1593-1652), though only more than fifty years after his death. The story involves some Berlin apothecaries who possibly tried to cash in on Franckenberg’s reputation, as it is doubtful whether he actually practised medicine. Presumably the extant and exceedingly rare booklets represent an early-modern marketing offensive.

  • André Zuber

    Hi Mike. Great to get some more insight in what you are doing! Thanks for your research on pietism which still has a significant influence in today’s spiritual landscape. Keep moving! André

  • Bertrand

    Sounds great, looking forward to the next installments!

  • The Chirurgeon's Apprentice

    Welcome to the world of blogging! I look forward to more interesting posts.

  • The Orthodox Annihilator of the Microcosmic Preludes | PRAELUDIA MICROCOSMICA

    […] (as yet and to my knowledge). But some readers might remember that this blog adopted its name from a 1733 publication entitled Microcosmic Preludes. This work was falsely attributed to Johann Conrad Dippel […]

  • bryantfraser

    I will be following slowly through this lost world with you Mike…thanks…very courageous subject…and of great interest to this novice. Although I do have a back ground in Theosophy Studies and Gnostic Study….where the Spiritual and Material are one.

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