Before the Fall

Being convinced, by a careful observation, that the human understanding perplexes itself, or makes not a sober and advantageous use of the real helps within its reach, whence manifold ignorance and inconveniences arise^ he was deter- mined to employ his utmost endeavours towards restoring or cultivating a just and legitimate familiarity betwixt the mind and things.

On April 25th 1940, five months and two days before he killed himself in Portbou on the French-Spanish border, Walter Benjamin (10 Rue Dombasle, 15e) borrowed The Physical and Metaphysical Works (the edition by H.G. Bohn of Covent Garden from either 1853 or 1891) by Lord Bacon who died in 1626, aged 65 years, of pneumonia contracted while studying the effects of freezing on the preservation of meat.

Lord Bacon's project was mega and meta, not to mention a contradictio absurdis. He advocated using a reductive method to understand ever expanding complexity and he wanted, by advancing knowledge, to return humanity to the perfect understanding it had enjoyed, albeit briefly and in very small numbers, before the Fall.