Mary Ellen von der Heyden Reading
A Reading from The Organs of Sense
In 1666, a blind astronomer in the mountains of Bohemia makes a prediction shared by no one in the learned world: at the stroke of noon on June 30 of that year, a solar eclipse will cast all of Europe into total darkness for four seconds. This prediction motivates a young Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz—not yet the world-renowned rationalist but rather a precocious nineteen-year-old whose faith in reason has been shaken—to set out for the man’s observatory. During the three hours before the predicted event, the elderly astronomer tells Leibniz how he arrived at his conclusion—a tale encompassing kings and princes, sibling squabbles, art, philosophy, war, and madness. Adam Sachs reads from The Organs of Sense, which purports to be a translation from the Latin of Leibniz’s account of their encounter.