Colorized flat-earth woodcut, main page logo

My involvement with the flat-earth woodcut

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Kerry Magruder


HyperNote software for the MacHyperNote software

Around 1990 I chose this woodcut as an emblem for HyperNote notetaking software because of its connection to the idea of "exemplars." It exemplifies an interest in the history of science and in the perpetuation of historical myths. It exemplifies the long tradition of thought-experiments, so important to science and to creative writing. And from a medieval perspective, it points to the notion of creatures and the cosmos as symbols or exemplars of ideas in the mind of God.

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OBU Planetarium logoFor similar reasons the woodcut now serves as the emblem for the OBU Planetarium, of which I was the director for four years ending May 1998.

Download a PowerPoint presentation: "Inventing the Liberal Arts Planetarium" (11.6 MB)

The OBU Planetarium logo incorporates a line from a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien found in volume 3 of the Lord of the Rings as part of a walking song of Frodo's. The quote seems to me to suggest the conclusion of C. S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where Edmund, Lucy, Eustace, and Reepicheep viewed the mountains of Aslan's country beyond Narnia's sun. Reep took the hidden path east of the sun while the others passed through a wall in the sky (much like the depicted figure). Perhaps Lewis and Tolkien were writing these two works at the same time--might they have discussed them together at the Bird and Baby pub, where they read their works aloud to one another each week? Might they have known of Flammarion's woodcut? Lewis' own discussion of the flat earth myth in The Discarded Image is excellent, of course, and this work provides a masterful short overview of medieval cosmology, just in case you would like a recommended place to start your own quest to conquer the flat-earth myth for yourself.

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Basic Celestial Phenomena
Constellations index
Main page medieval flat earth woodcut
Planetarium pages
Basic Celestial Phenomena


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Theories of the Earth
History of Science
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  • Kerry Magruder, page last revised: 7/28/2003
    • Copyright 1996-2003. These pages may be reproduced for educational purposes only, provided that the complete website is provided without abridgement, along with the URL ( Please notify me of any use of the page or its content. Thank you!