December 28, 2008

Origins and Exodus

In England now, tucked into the South-west corner. Had a perfectly delightful time with a perfectly delightful and enthusiastic lady the evening before we left, and will jot down impressions of here when I've got a bit more time. Perhaps in London.

For some reason, I've really been hit with jet lag, even though I didn't even notice the difference last time over... Of course, I didn't write for the first week, either, so that could be the difference there.

I have been shamed into FINALLY reading Darwin's Origin of the Species - one of my favorite features of this nation is how many people are educated, in school or otherwise. There is none of that idiot anti-intellectualism that's infecting North America: people here are unashamed to have books on their shelves, despite George Orwell's protests of years ago.

One of those books happened to be the sixth (and final) edition of Darwin's, and it's one I haven't yet managed to read. It's astoundingly accessible (allowing for the usual purple prose of Victorian times), and there is no reason not to have read it by now - the only excuse I can manage is that it is such an integral part of our lives that there is no need to read Darwin in the same way there's no need to read Pythagoras (if anything was left) in order to understand geometry.

But there's a better excuse to read Darwin's masterwork than guilt: in February, it will be that great man's 200th birthday, and come November, Origin will have been continuously published for 150 years. (By sheer coincidence, I got a comment at this post today, which I consider an entirely appropriate mention.) Tragically, that last major mention of Darwin's world changing theory was the execrable eXpelled: No Intelligence Allowed (which certainly lived up to its name), so it's time to make up for that.

This year, we can push his name into public consciousness as something more than a muttered grey man in Grade 8 Biology. That you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who has done more for our understanding of the universe since Newton is rarely mentioned: this really is someone who deserves to be enshrined for elucidating something so basic that modern science would be literally impossible without it.

He will be mentioned again, of course: what's important is where. His writing was for reasonably educated people who would not have known too many specialist terms one hundred and fifty years ago, so there is little excuse not to expose him to the same sort of people today.

Time to spread the word!


The Significant Other, reading over my shoulder as I write this, would like me to amend the "200th birthday" remark, as Darwin stopped having birthdays some time ago.


posted by Thursday at 12:17 pm


Blogger jl said...

bi-centennial of his birth...? hmmm...doesn't work either...

9:42 pm  
Blogger Gazetteer said...

Gotta wonder if....

The first finches to arrive on Easter I. had a nice pool of anti-jetlag genes.

1:34 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

jl -

How about I leave it at "If Darwin were here today, he'd look awfully good for his age"?

Gaz -

One hopes. Otherwise they'd be pretty easy victims. Maybe they brought coffee with them.

6:36 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home