What do William Blake, Jorge Luis Borges, Arnold Schoenberg, August Strindberg, Honoré de Balzac, Aldous Huxley, Czeslaw Milosz and Charles Baudelaire have in common?

Gary Lachman in The Independent:

Aside from being individuals of genius, all were influenced by the work of a gifted thinker whose ideas have been overshadowed by his vivid accounts of his “occult” experiences.

180pxemanuel_swedenborg_full_portraitIn Sweden, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) is recognised as one of the great figures of the Enlightenment, a polymath genius who turned his mind to an astonishing number of pursuits. An inventor, anatomist, mineralogist, philosopher and ethicist, Swedenborg applied himself to more intellectual tasks than most university faculties ever get around to. He discovered a lunar method of establishing longitude at sea (just missing the prize that went to John Harrison), devised new ways of constructing docks, and designed a submarine, an aeroplane and a machine gun.

Nor was that all. The editor of Sweden’s first scientific journal, he anticipated the nebula theory of solar and planetary creation. His explorations of the brain predate many “discoveries” not revealed until the 20th century. He published several scientific tomes, wrote erotic poetry, travelled across much of Europe, hobnobbed with royalty and, when he wasn’t occupied with his duties as Assessor in the Swedish Board of Mines or his responsibilities as a member of the Diet, thought a great deal about the infinite, God and man’s place in the cosmos.

More here.