Wednesday, November 30, 2005

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.


Blogger Fred said...

Another reason many scientists didn't have their works published was for fear of alienating the Church. If you were excommunicated, it was a big deal - you lost everything. Science was essentially a branch of the Church; only during the Enlightenement period did it emerge from the shadows.

Galileo comes to mind as one who backed off because the Church told him to. It was only after he died that many of hiw works were published.

And so goes today's lesson...

4:18 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

Speaking of excommunication, Darwin had studied for entry for the clergy before being encouraged there to go on his travels to study the wonders of the world's creatures.

I do have to say that ego is a double-edged sword. One needs enough to get their ideas heard out there but too much ego puts one in a world of their own and makes them hard to relate to.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Camphor said...

Have you been fiddling with your template?

Perspective, methinks, comes from deep evaluation of scale.
Strange that the Ego reacts differently to different scale. What do you feel when you see an ocean? How small you are? How large it is? Or just free?

9:36 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

I was just going to say what Fred said... The Galileo comment... I guess we teachers think alike :)

9:47 PM  
Blogger paul asjes said...

"I remembered how small the world is, in context of the many galaxies present in our universe."

I really love this post. It is good to step back and gain perspective.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Rattie said...

Images of the Inquisition probably came into this brilliant man's mind...

8:54 PM  
Blogger LoraLoo said...

I too loved this post. I remember having a similar feeling when I first visited the Grand Canyon as an adult. Thinking about the millions of years and the simple elements it takes to create such an enormous thing of beauty... Sort of puts a lot into perspective. We are such a small piece of the puzzle, we only see this tiny chunk of time, and it all keeps going despite us.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jack H is trying to set me up by posting false homosexually charged messages in my 'anonymous' name on his 'Forgotten Prophets' blog. He may be doing the same elsewhere. I believe that he also plans to post a photo and a link and make it appear as if I posted that photo myself. If you happen to see this photo and know of its source, post that source here. There may be criminal activity involved.

7:27 PM  

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