A Welcome Clarification

We learn, in a recent message from the Secretary Locotenant of the Order of the Third Bird, that groups of practitioners associated with the Order were indeed present in Bologna and Florence near the end of the 16th century. However, we also learn that the correspondence purportedly exchanged between an Order member and the ecclesiastic Gabriele Paleotti, while the latter was working on his Discorso intorno alle imagine sacre et profane, is almost certainly a late 19th century forgery. In this apocryphal correspondence, Paleotti and the unnamed Bird are engaged, remarkably enough, in discussion of “apocryphal” images – a discussion from which Paleotti ostensibly quotes in his 1582 magnum opus. The Bird remarks that like apocrypha, Order members who are deeply habituated to the practice and enmeshed in the Order’s workings and doings must all the more lead “an occult and unremarked existence.” As he/she explains: “Power abhors a vacuum. Even in a collective that eschews the obvious manifestations of power, it often circulates for brief periods around certain figures. But it is the responsibility of these latter, if they are honest, scrupulous, and spry, to elude it.”