(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Naturalism

“It would be a very naive sort of dogmatism to assume that there exists an absolute reality of things which is the same for all living beings”*…


Clockwork sized-archive-trunk

Detail of the nerves of the trunk from Cerebri Anatome 1664 by Thomas Willis


The model of nature as a complex, clockwork mechanism has been central to modern science ever since the 17th century. It continues to appear regularly throughout the sciences, from quantum mechanics to evolutionary biology. But for Descartes and his contemporaries, ‘mechanism’ did not signify the sort of inert, regular, predictable functioning that the word connotes today. Instead, it often suggested the very opposite: responsiveness, engagement, caprice. Yet over the course of the 17th century, the idea of machinery narrowed into something passive, without agency or force of its own life. The earlier notion of active, responsive mechanism largely gave way to a new, brute mechanism…

The idea that nature is a humming, complex, clockwork machine has been around for centuries. Is it due for a revival? “Alive and Ticking.”

* Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture


As we muse on the mechanical, we might send insightful birthday greetings to Loren Eiseley; he was born on this date in 1907.  An anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer, he was one of the preeminent literary naturalists of our time.   Publishers Weekly called him “the modern Thoreau.” Fellow science writer Orville Prescott praised him as a scientist who “can write with poetic sensibility and with a fine sense of wonder and of reverence before the mysteries of life and nature.” And Ray Bradbury, praising Eiseley’s “The Unexpected Universe,” remarked, “[Eiseley] is every writer’s writer, and every human’s human… One of us, yet most uncommon…”

You can find his annotated bibliography here.

220px-Eiseley_UPenn source


Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 3, 2018 at 1:01 am

“There are too many books in the world to read in a single lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere”*…

click here (and again) to enlarge

Via Goodreads.

* Diane Setterfield


As we dogear the page, we might send avant-garde birthday greetings to Hermann Bahr; he was born on this date in 1863.  A journalist, playwright, director, and critic, Bahr helped found Die Zeit (one of Germany’s leading newspapers) and edited  Oesterreichische Volkszeitungwas (one of Austria’s). He worked as a director with Max Reinhardt at the Berlin Deutsches Theater and as Dramaturg with the Vienna Burgtheater.   And he was the first critic to apply the label “Modernism” to literary works– part of a critical career in which he championed (successively) Naturalism, Romanticism, Expressionism, and Symbolism.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 19, 2013 at 1:01 am

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