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In the Curse, er, Course of Reading

August 14, 2020

Wayne writes: I forgot to include in my list of recent reading Science and Human Values by Jacob Bronowski, HarperPerennial, 1990. It’s not the most coherent of Bronowski’s works, but it has its moments. Bronowski remarks, for example, that in 1665, when the twenty-two-year-old Isaac Newton was sitting in his garden at home while the University of Cambridge was closed due to plague (so familiar!), he saw an apple fall from a tree. But

what struck the young Newton at the sight was not the thought that the apple must be drawn to the earth by gravity; that conception was older than Newton. What struck him was the conjecture that the same force of gravity, which reaches to the top of the tree, might go on reaching out beyond the earth and its air, endlessly into space. Gravity might reach the moon: this was Newton’s new thought; and it might be gravity which holds the moon in her orbit.

I must remember this for the Great Astronomers course I’m co-teaching this fall.

There’s also an interesting discussion of the nature of the creative act, which in Bronowski’s view has to do with the recognition of two aspects, a ‘hidden likeness’ such as between Newton’s apple and the moon, which are then fused into one. He writes:

The poem [a work of Art] or the discovery [a work of Science] exists in two moments of vision: the moment of appreciation as much as that of creation; for the appreciator must see the movement, wake to the echo which was started in the creation of the work. In the moment of appreciation we live again the moment when the creator saw and held the hidden likeness.

I was put in mind of Tolkien’s comments on the ‘sub-creative act’ in On Fairy-Stories.

Next up for my reading will be Ransom Riggs’ The Conference of the Birds, the fifth novel in the ‘Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children’ series, but first I’m re-reading the fourth novel, The Map of Days, to refresh my memory of what went before. Christina is putting together a list of her own reading for a future post.

Speaking of reading, I read in the Williams College catalogue a description of one of this fall’s courses, which refers to it as a curse: I hope that isn’t prophetic. Our local paper, meanwhile, has these double-takes:

‘The Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] is compromised of more than 8,000 voting members.’

‘tapping the breaks’ (i.e. brakes, for those who don’t drive)

‘Faith Leaders Must Stand for Moral Principals’ (not heads of schools)

I’ve also read, in an ad, that a new webcam has a ‘wide angel lens’. Its images must be heavenly.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2020 9:03 am

    Rolling on the Floor, Laughing Out Loud and Scaring the Cat if I Had One…

  2. David Doerr permalink
    October 26, 2020 2:09 pm

    It’s like this:

    The more you read, the smarter you git.
    The smarter you git, the more that gits writ.

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