Darwin, Welles and the Evolving Ego.
We spent last Friday at the American Museum of Natural History. I'd been to New York many times, but never made the time to go to this venue. Without a doubt, it's the most impressive scientific museum I've ever seen. Typically, scientific museums cater to small children, making it somewhat boring for adults. This museum has something for everyone. In particular, the new Darwin exhibit is absolutely amazing.
The interesting thing is, Darwin waited over twenty years to publish his work on natural selection. Why? Apparently he was frightened that he would be made a pariah in the scientific community. In a sense, his ego prevented him from publishing one of the greatest scientific discoveries in the history of mankind. As you walk through the exhibit, you can see Darwin's original writings on evolution. It's absolutely magnificent.
We walked through the museum, which spans four blocks. I witnessed the diversity of life, reminding myself that I was in the largest city in the United States. "The world is a big place," I thought to myself. On the contrary, as we entered the planetarium, I remembered how small the world is, in context of the many galaxies present in our universe.
Having frolicked through the museum, we got a quick dinner and went to "Orson's Shadow," a play focusing on the egotistical struggle between Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier during their attempted production of Ionesco's "Rhinoceros." This production brilliantly depicted how two men could evolve into egotistical maniacs, consistently trying to out do one another.
I left the play thinking how our ever evolving egos can be kept in check if only we consider the size of the world, the interconnected network that bonds us all and our place in the universe. Perspective, methinks, comes from deep evaluation of scale.