thrown fire
in law
love's fire




Inner Light

"And of the organs they first contrived the eyes to give light, and the principle according to which they were inserted is as follows.  So much of fire as would not burn, but gave a gentle light, they formed into a substance akin to the light of everyday life, and the pure fire which is within us and related to it they made to flow through the eyes in a stream smooth and dense, compressing the whole eye and especially the centre part, so that it kept out everything of a coarser nature and allowed to pass only this pure element."


Phosphorous's glow caused it to be known as the "flammula vita" (flame of life).













Plato, Timaeus


"It is just this inner light and clairvoyance that reminds one of the phosphor and the shining which decomposition brings out at the death of organic bodies. Everywhere, from the phenomena of electricity – and probably at  profounder levels than even this – right up to the union of the sexes in the organic world, we see this combustible element appear at the highest points of existence and interaction, aroused by the highest activity of life. At that moment, when the phosphor awakens in them, beings  become capable of a more far-reaching and more general interaction with the outer world, which, for bodies previously limited to the most proximate point of contact, only now steps properly into view, only now begins to exist for them. So the burning body, like the plant and the animal at the time of blooming and mating (the appearance of phosphor) steps into an inner relation with an outside world and with a higher whole which otherwise isn’t present for it…

"On the other hand, we see in everything which is capable of rousing the combustible essence, a heightening of life’s activity, and at higher measures we see the destruction of life itself. Poisons work in this last way, in kinship with phosphor and with lightning, and, in a similar fashion, too high a measure of passion can cause a momentary annihilation of organic life; and in many life-forms, the moment in which the animal or vegetable nature is most powerfully heightened – the moment of mating – coincides with death. Therefore, if at every excessive grade of the passions, or intensification of the vital forces, we see a clear indication of the combustible essence, it follows that this must also be aroused by any especial heightening of the vital forces, even when barely perceptible to the outer eye. Thus the somnambulistic inner sight appears to function in the same way as the eye sees, or as seeing outwards with closed eyes, or all the other phenomena of clairvoyance: through the liberation of this strange combustible essence."

Inner Light


Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft [Views of the Nightside of Natural Science] (Dresden, 1808) (p. 358-9).

thanks to Matt ffytche for the translations.



















"One of the first products of decay is a combustible essence, similar to that wrought by fermentation. Phosphor, which because of its highly inflammable nature, has acquired the name of light-bearer, in combination with hydrogen, is generally the first thing to be released from the dissolving body, and it’s this which often lends putrefaction and the shady crypt the appearance of shining; which should remind one that even the body’s final transformation recapitulates the old sequence of the first creation, whereby light was the first. For decay, too, seen in its own terms, is the work of a new creation." (p. 311)

"The combustible essence, whose generation is the first accomplishment of decay, often ignites itself into an actual, destructive flame. Such a bursting into flame, caused by the approach of a burning lamp, is not just often observed in coal mines in the vicinity of decomposing plant matter, or in cellars adjoining crypts. Rather, this kind of air, which can ignite at lightning speed, also issues forth from decaying corpses, and even out of the bodies of the fatally ill, whose innards are already gripped by gangrene and putrefaction. In a few rare cases of so-called self-combustion, the seemingly still healthy person has witnessed the flames of corruption breaking out of his body, in just a few moments transforming his limbs into ash. "

Inner Light

Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, Die Geschichte der Seele (The History of the Soul) [1850] (Fifth ed, Stuttgart, J.C. Cotta, 1877) Vol 1 (p. 312)

"Without speaking of the problematical but yet ordinary mode in which the sky is illuminated, when a low cloud may be seen to shine with an uninterrupted flickering light for many minutes together, we still meet with other instances of terrestrial development of light in our atmosphere. In this category we may reckon the celebrated luminous mists seen in 1783 and 1831; the steady luminous appearance exhibited without any flickering in great clouds observed by Rozier and Beccaria; and lastly, as Arago well remarks, the faint diffused light which guides the steps of the traveller in cloudy, starless, and moonless nights in autumn and winter, even when there is no snow on the ground. As in polar light or the electro-magnetic storm, a current of brilliant and often coloured light streams through the atmosphere in high latitudes, so also in the torrid zones between the tropics, the ocean simultaneously develops light over a space of many thousand square miles. Here the magical effect of light is owing to the forces of organic nature. Foaming with light, the eddying waves flash in phosphorescent sparks over the wide expanse of waters, where every scintillation is the vital manifestation of an invisible animal world. So varied are the sources of terrestrial light! Must we still suppose this light to be latent, and combined in vapours, in order to explain Moses's images produced at a distance--a discover in which reality has hitherto manifested itself like a mere phantom of the imagination."




Alexander von Humboldt, 'Geognostic Phenomena', Cosmos: A Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe. Vol. 1. Trans. E. C. Otte. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1849. p. 197

thanks again to Mf
for the reference



'According to my present belief, she had completed her ninth year, when playing by the side of a solitary brook, she fell into one of its deepest pools. Eventually, but after what lapse of time nobody ever knew, she was saved from death by a farmer, who, riding in some distant lane, had seen her rise to the surface; but not until she had descended within the abyss of death, and looked into its secrets, as far, perhaps, as ever human eye can have looked that had permission to return. At a certain stage of this descent, a blow seemed to strike her--phosphoric radiance sprang forth from her eye-balls; and immediately a mighty theatre expanded within her brain. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, every act--every design of her past life lived again--arraying themselves not as a succession, but as parts of a coexistence. Such a light fell upon the whole path of her life backwards into the shades of infancy, as the light perhaps which wrapt the destined apostle on his road to Damascus. Yet that light blinded for a season; but hers poured celestial vision upon the brain, so that her consciousness became omnipresent at one moment to every feature in the infinite review.'



Thomas De Quincey, 'Suspiria de Profundis', Confessions of an English Opium-Eater and Other Writings, ed. Grevel Lindop (Oxford, 1996), p. 145.



Barque of phosphor
On the palmy beach,

Move outward into heaven,
Into the alabasters
And night blues.



Wallace Stevens, "Fabliau Of Florida"


"The pure work implies the disappearance of the poet as speaker, yielding his initiative to words, which are mobilized by the shock of their difference; they light up with reciprocal reflections like a virtual stream of fireworks over jewels, restoring perceptible breath to the former lyric impulse, or the enthusiastic personal directing of the sentence."



Stéphane Mallarmé, Crise de vers (1892)



“The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’, to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception, because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged."




Shklovsky, “Art as Technique”, 1917



War is the father to all things. --Heraclitus.

The day that Luther produced the original text of the New Testament and with this Greek fire burnt to dust and ashes the centuries of the Middle Ages, with their lordly splendour and feudal servitude, with their poetry and lack of thought, that day and the three centuries that followed brought forth, at long last, a time "which belongs wholly to the public, a time of which Napoleon…said: ‘Le journalisme est une puissance'".'--Engels, Requiem for the German Adelszeitung (Jan-Apr 1840)