It ought to be a rather easy riddle: what is Marc’s favorite book? The slyboots answers: Célébration de l’oeil.
Especially if he pokes around a bit in Marc’s office, where two copies of this little square book bound in sea-green fabric, in the well-known series brought out by Robert Morel in the 60s, are still sitting on the bookshelf, just behind his big desk. Marc discovered the book by the ophthalmologist Claude Durix more than twenty years ago, and he identified right away with the thirteenth century Italian eye doctor Pietro Spanno, elected pope in 1276 taking the name John XXI and who wrote:
IS A NOBLE
SEEING IS THE PARADISE OF THE SOUL
This declaration sums up for Marc everything that he calls his pleasures of the eye, which have always been at the center of his life, and he enjoys the formulas of this eye doctor, in particular that of « aqua mirabilis », made up of pumpkin seeds, fennel roots, rue, verbena, centaury, maidenhair, and virgin’s urine… This potion proved very useful, two hundred years after Pietro Spanno’s death, when it was used to treat the eyes of somebody named Buonarotti who had been hired by the Vatican to repaint a ceiling.
Stricken by a serious disease of the eyes, he was feared at risk of losing his sight but was cured when aqua mirabilis was applied. The ceiling he painted was that of the Sistine Chapel; he is known to posterity by his surname, Michelangelo. The potion has disappeared but the joy of seeing never shall.
Catherine Chaine, 2015