5.01.2007

Thoreau's Journal: 01-May-1859

Science is inhuman. Things seen with a microscope begin to be insignificant. So described, they are as monstrous as if they should be magnified a thousand diameters. Suppose I should see and describe men and houses and trees and birds as if they were a thousand times larger than they are! With our prying instruments we disturb the balance and harmony of nature.

8 comments:

gon2marz said...

Greg. No! Why'd you have to show me this side of Thoreau? Scientist leave their emotions at home when exploring, sure, but we only explore because of our great interest in nature. It is just as Thoreau lives. Too bad he couldn't see it that way.

gon2marz said...

Damn. Nobody else reads this blog... sick sad little world we live on.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the official visitor count is, but those of us who read this blog daily derive immeasurable inspiration from it ... do not give up on the world.

Greg said...

Hey, there's a few of you out there. It gets about 1000 a week. Sure, it's not much of a thread when it comes to the whole web, but it makes my time seem somewhat worthwhile. Enjoy!

Cathy said...

I wonder what he found so repellent beneath the microscope's gaze. Why did the reality beyond his naked eye's ability to resolve images disturb him so?

Casey said...

I think there's a tendency to see "particulars" (or think you're seeing particulars) through the lens of a microscope...

When I used to look at the cells of a rose petal in science class under a microscope, at the very best I thought that I was looking at the essential components of this "whole" flower. Forgetting that the flower itself is only one of the components of the whole universe, or that the cell is made up of infinitely smaller components.

Thoreau's next post about anatomy and insight -- says it more succinctly.

s.o said...

I with Henry. It's a simple observation, but I've always thought Thoreau sensed the Miraculous in the everyday, and sometimes science digs to explain what is already unexplainable. I sense him saying something like that here ...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think that it is parallel to the statement that God is a poet, not an engineer.

The transcendence of the Creation is lost in the Enlightenment project. It just becomes data.

Muir is one of the few later naturalists who did not succumb to this disease of the "Age of Reason".