13 November 2005
The Poet and the Philosopher
The eye perceives, the
heart grants not, and thus the mind declines to see
The pocks that mar a vision otherwise as perfect as a scene can be.
What loss, if then an ideal reigns and loveliness suffuse a soul?
Just this: that truth
constitutes the basis for all common
understanding, and authenticity is prerequisite to deep contact
between sentient beings, without which no love can endure.
What mortal man with eyes unglazed would deign adopt a
And not just love – were’t not for romance, would
man strive toward any goal?
There is no object world on which, our eyes once clear,
we’d all agree!
And yet we must strive to
purify our vision, using introspection to separate subject from object, if
ever we wish to establish a basis for harmonious co-existence, let alone
A heart to heart directly speaks without the need for word nor act.
Poetic truth can stand apart from logic or noetic fact.
’Tis matter keeps our bodies fed, and science measures history,
But art illumines – nay defines – our place in nature’s mystery.
~ Josh Mitteldorf
12 November 2005
"Ideas came with
explosive immediacy, like an instant birth."
11 November 2005
It has been said by many
scientists: the pursuit of reasoned understanding, ending in ultimate
mystery, gives the scientific world view a spiritual grandeur that is at
least as powerful as religious philosophies based on received wisdom and
faith alone. Here is the way Darwin ended the 1865 edition of his most famous classic,
Origin of Species:
interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of
many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting
about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that
these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and
dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by
laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth
with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction;
Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions
of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to
a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing
Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus,
from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which
we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals,
directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several
powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and
that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of
gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most
wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
Another fascinating bit of
history: We learn in school that Lamarck's mistake was to imagine that
evolution required the inheritance of acquired traits, and that Darwin's
triumphant insight was in realizing that blind variation and natural
selection were a sufficient explanation. We learn that twentieth
century science vindicated Darwin, and left Lamarck as a historic
footnote. But both the history and the science are more complex.
Contemporary scientists convinced Darwin that all variation would collapse
without inheritance of acquired traits; hence, in this late edition of the
Origin, he adds this language about "indirect and direct action of the external conditions
of life, and from use and disuse." This is Lamarck's
giraffe, who stretches his neck to reach the high branches, and then passes
along his extended neck length to his offspring! And in microbial
genetic labs of the 21st century, we begin to hear of exceptions
to the rule that only the received genome can be passed to offspring.
10 November 2005
preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips."
Goldsmith, born this day in 1728 or 1730
Goldsmith was an author,
widely-read in his day, and famous for living a life of petty jealousies and
vindictiveness, lacking in practice the folk wisdom that he expressed so
eloquently in his fiction and his poetry.
the disintegration of his personality, the foolishness of his actions, his
excessive drunkenness and incurable extravagance, Goldsmith was, and is, a
great man — a man of rare talents that bordered on genius, one of the
finest natural writers in the English language. This reputation is based on,
and justified by, some half a dozen books, essays, plays, poems, and one
novel, The Vicar Of Wakefield."
- biography, from
Notable Names Database
9 November 2005
wants its great men
to measure their lives by its puny foot-rule. But no rule
has yet been devised which will take their full height, for such men, if
they are really worth the name, derive their greatness, not from themselves
but from another source. And that source stretches far away into the
Infinite. Hidden here and there in stray corners of Asia and Africa, a few
Seers have preserved the traditions of an ancient wisdom. They live like
angels as they guard their treasure. They live outwardly apart, this
celestial race, keeping alive the divine secrets, which life and fate have
conspired to confide in their care."
8 November 2005
Mukhtaran Bibi is a new kind
of choice for Glamour Magazine's Woman
of the Year. After becoming the victim of a rape, she refused to
be a rape victim, and bounced back, instead, to bring her attackers to
justice, and to win a civil judgment against them. In her native
Pakistan, this victory was unprecedented.
"After prosecuting the rapists, Mukhtaran used the compensation money of $8,300 to start schools in her village because she thinks that education is the best way to overcome feudal attitudes. Girls from surrounding areas hike up to two hours each way to attend the
school," writes Nicholas
of the incident (in 2002) from Wikipedia.
7 November 2005
among those who
think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not
only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which
impress him like a fairy tale...All my life through, the new sights of
Nature made me rejoice like a child."
Curie, born this day in 1867