As a prophet, I don’t know if Nostradamus was the real deal or not.
From what I have read of the original quatrains, despite my feeble grasp of 16th Century French, I can clearly see he certainly had a penetrating insight into human nature. I also understand how his rare ability to envisage the evolution of human behaviours might gravitate towards certain endpoints. And how his writings along these lines could be interpreted as prophetic.
Whilst amateur critics invariably suggest that his words could mean anything, that they are indefinite and circumspect, I am inclined to be more forgiving.
We must bear in mind, in the 1500s, he could only employ the tools available to him at that time. What we, in our time, consider to be archaic language was all he had to describe complex future events. For example, there were no words for nuclear or holocaust or pandemic. Aeroplanes and computers were incomprehensible, and the concept of manned space exploration was not only heretical (spoken of risked death) but impossible for most people to imagine. Similarly, America as we know it, was an unknown entity and Japan was a mystical land largely undiscovered by European travelers. Yet, Nostradamus wrote about all these phenomena the only way he could.
To gain anything of relevance to us in the 21st Century, from his prodigious and scholarly work, we must explore the themes of his writing – Greed, enslavement, prejudice, injustice and inequality were subjects he regularly examined. He foresaw that human proclivities would not decline and would drive many of the world’s present and future cataclysmic events. I offer the idea that it is not so much Nostradamus made concrete predictions but revealed footprints in the sand of future history.
It could be, he was more astute than we realise by showing humankind the future world we can expect unless we change.
© Rivenrod 2020
Sources: Morten St. George – Incantation of the law against inept critics | John Hogue – Nostradamus: The complete prophecies | Reinhart Koselleck – Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time
Picture: William Hogarth