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The Book of a Gentile and Three Wise Men

The Fundació “La Caixa” in Palma de Mallorca has done it again. CaixaForum Palma gives us a rather impressive exhibition of an extraordinary man, a great mind and a unique school of thought from the 13th century, Ramon Llull. ‘Ramon Llull. Historia, pensamiento y leyenda‘ is the title of this well composed exhibition at Palma’s Grand Hotel, executed with great care and splendor.

Ramon Llull, a Medieval forerunner of Einsteinean capacities, wrote treaties such as Ars magna or Ars compediosa inveniendi veritatem, which he used to transform his intellectual doctrines of Divine Dignities or attributes of the Godhead into an encompassing meta-physical system. Later, Llull wrote many more works and composed a second, more simplified, redaction of his ideas, the Ars inventiva veritatis. In 1308, Llull completed his Ars generalis ultima, and its epitome, the Ars brevis. Not many years ago, Ars notandi, Ars eleccionis, and Alia ars eleccionis, were also attributed to this very gifted man. In all, Llull is said to have created some 275 books, some of which are now shown at the Caixa exhibition in either their original manuscript version or else, in rare early editions. My photo shows the original Libre del gentil e los tres savis (Book of the Gentile and the Three Wise Men), an illuminated 14th century manuscript on parchment paper.

When Llull wrote about art it was not about art in today’s way of entertainment, but about Art in the sense of the creative impetus of humanity, the spiritual challenge of the senses, an investigation into man’s spirited view of the world, the capable application of the mind and the intelligent understanding of the universe.

As much as I cherish this exhibition, I must concede that it is a rather challenging presentation to take in. One needs to have a profound grasp of Ramon Llull and his theistic thoughts, ideas and conclusions to relate to the objects on display more than in a superficial way. If not, one will be left confused and frustrated, unless one buys the academically splendid catalogue (40 €), edited both, in Catalán, and/or in Castellano, but thankfully with full translations in a very competent English.

I must confess that I have been to the exhibition three times already, and I am not ashamed to say that I will be back for some more. The exhibition continues until January 11th, 2009. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday, 10h00 to 21h00, and Sunday, 10h00 to 14h00. Admission is free, as always. For the more ambitiously inclined amongst us, there is also a cycle of talks and lectures, albeit in Catalán and, I suppose, without the benefit of translations.

The photo was taken in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The date: October 14th, 2008. The time was 14:10:54.

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