Friday, August 8, 2014

De Materie Synopsis and Libretto (Part I)

The four sections of the work, which can be performed on stage or in concert, offer different perspectives on the relationship between matter and spirit. Part I, combining 17th century Dutch treatises on shipbuilding and atomic theory, sets the monumental tone with 144 orchestral hammer blows forming a precisely plotted rhythmic crescendo to the first entry of the tenor. Hadewijch (Part II) is more expansive and lyrical, with a soprano exploring the mystical visions of the 13th century mystic Hadewijch, but again rigorously structured in medieval fashion. De Stijl (Part III) is dominated by 20th century musical forms, most apparent in the boogie-woogie that accompanies reminiscences of the artist Mondriaan at the dance hall. Part IV employs writings on science and death, set to a stately pavane hocketing between two groups of instruments.

Part I - Libretto


Let it be known that we, forced by extreme distress, after deliberation and with general consensus, have declared the King of Spain, and now declare on the basis of this, ipso jure, he foreswearing of his Rule, jurisdiction, and his inherited claim to these Lands; and henceforth no longer recognize the prince as Lord in any matter relating to his Sovereignty,

Jurisdiction, and Domains in the aforementioned Lands; that we shall no longer use his name as Lord nor allow anyone else to use it. We also declare the following, namely, that all Officers, Judges, Tradesmen, Vassals, and all other Inhabitants of the aforementioned Lands, of whatever position or quality they may be, are henceforth discharged from their oaths of allegiance, sworn or intended to be sworn to the King of Spain having been Lord of the aforementioned lands.

Therefore we command all Judges, Civil Officers, and others to which the same relates and applies, henceforth to renounce the name, title, great and small seals and contra seals, and signets of the King of Spain and never use them again. Instead, as long as his Highness, the aforementioned Duke of Anjou, is still absent on urgent business to do with the welfare of the Provinces, they must for the time being accept and use the title and name of Lord and Landsraad. Until the Lord and Council have actually been appointed and assumed their functions, our name must be used. With this understanding, that in Holland and Zeeland men shall use the name of the highborn sovereign, the Prince of Orange and States of the Provinces, until such time as the Landsraad shall truly be established and shall thereafter abide by the instructions approved by the Landsraad and the agreement entered into with his Highness.

Now follows how one puts together the parts of a Ship.

Begin with the making of the Stern post, because the cutting of the Keel is made of the same, and the proportion of most of the Ship’s parts follows from the Stem post.

1.     First one makes the Keel.


2.     The Stem post

3.     The Stern post                                       

4.     The Transom timber                             

The Fashion frame

The Chock

The Lower transom

The Transoms

The Side counter timber. And then

one stacks the Keel.

Take off the Side counter timber and the Transoms out.

Build the Stem post.

Build the Stern post high, insert the Transoms, and add thereto the Side counter timber.

Make a Knee on the Keel and against the Stern post.

Thereafter make the Skin tight.

Finish it quickly.

Let the Ship fall on its side.

Put it right.

Finish it fully, to let it glide into the water, and when it is finished, launch it. And when the Ship is in the water, make then the Stages on both sides and at the back. Make the Chocks above the Outside Ports, and the Limber holes in the Hold; then the Nibbing planks.

[Enters Gorlaeus, twenty years old.]


Experience proves that matter is not a part of the essence.


With the Ceiling on that.

The Ledges on the Deck horse.

Carling under that.

The Step for the Capstan, and for the Mizen mast.

The Knee of the head.

The grated Headledge on the Deck.

Lay the Balks of the Cabin on Cleats, as those in the Forecastle.

The Balk ceiling under that, with the other Ceilings

The Ledges on the Deck

Finish the Knightheads in the Forecastie

Cabin balks in the Forecastle, and under the Ledges

Set the Bitt standards

The Main Knighthead and Fore Knighthead

Strike the Deck shut.

After that, one makes the Cross beam of the Cabin, and the Chamber bulkhead.

The Beak.

The Gallery.

The Ports.

Hawse pipes.

The Standard knees.

The Gunwale.

The Cross beam.

Strike the Forecastle.

Make the Wash board on the Forecastle.

And also the Wash board in the Cabin. Lay the Balks there, with the Ledges.

Make the Balk ceilings, with the other Ceiling planks underneath.

Strike it, and make the Channels.

Close off the Cabin, and make Bunks in there.

Finish the Bulwark fairleads.

Put the Masts in.

And the Bowsprit.

With the Capstan.

Make the Chain plates fixed.

Also the Bulkhead for the Steering stand

With the Bulkhead of the Forecastle

And the Grated headledges.

Make hereafter the Hatch covers.

The pump boxes and the Head.

The Bulkhead of the Cabin.


Range cleats.

The Bulkhead for the Gunroom

The Buttery.

The Galley.


No whole is distinguishable from the parts, when one has joined these together. If this were the case, then this difference would become apparent in some thing. This thing would either be a part of the whole, of the unique essence of the same. Should it be a part, then the previous tally of the parts would not be complete. If, on the other hand, it is a particular essence of the whole, then I ask, what may this essence be and how may it have been brought into existence? Thus, that which is distinguishable from something else can also be separated. But the whole cannot be separated from all the parts when these are combined and united, because, that where all the parts are present, so is the whole also necessary.

For the same reason, the size of a body cannot be distinguished from the whole body. This size is, after all, inseparable from itself. If they were separable, this would constitute a contradiction, because if a body did not have size, it would still be a size. A body without size, should this size be taken away from it, would nonetheless still be a size, provided it were divisible, and all that is divisible is one size. It would be divisible, since it still would possess parts. Because if it did not possess these, so therefore the parts would have joined together to one indivisible point. But then the bodies would be penetrable.

The Peripatetici say that each body is infinitely divisible, and that because of this one can never reach the smallest part. I do not share this opinion because I say, when a body is divided and afterwards the parts of the same and once again the parts of the parts and so forth are divided, one shall inevitably arrive at the smallest part, which may no longer be divided.


Because should every part be infinitely divisible, so the most miniscule gram of sand would be divisible into a hundred thousand parts, yes even more, a thousand times a hundred thousand parts could be divided, and yet again in so many parts, which is incomprehensible and uncountable.


It is completely unreasonable that a body, which of itself is finite, should consist of infinite parts.


Because that which can be divided may be put back together again.


Therefore we state that a body consists of indivisible small parts, we also say: these parts have size. We deny therefore that all size is divisible.


Saw or Hand saw.



Iron wedges.

Branding iron.

Wood ax.

Chip pick.

A Wooden Pincer.


Nail hammer.




Hold balks.

Stem and stern hooks.

Siphons and ropes.

A crow-bar.

Bulkhead ragbolts.

Iron hammer.


A wooden rammer.

And a big wedge.

Tar boiler.

Grind stone.

A mold            .

A Template.


Wood block.

Saw horse.


A sled.

Transverse sled.



Claw hammer.

Rabat iron.

Nail iron.

Work chisel.

Folding ruler.


A sledge hammer.

Nail hammer, little one.

A Jack plane.

Gerf plane.




Cleat nails bit, ten thumbs bit.



Excerpts from:
·       the Act of Abjuration, 1581
·       Nicolaes Witsen, Scheeps-bouw en Bestier, (Shipbuilding and Management) 1690
·       David Gorlaeus (1591-1612), ldea physicae (1651)

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