more reading

November 9, 2018

I’m on a manic research jag. I have eight library books on my front table. I’m reading three of them concurrently. Current topic:  the history of ornithology. Long story.

One of these is a biography of this 17th century British guy who did what a lot of rich British guys at the dawn of the Enlightenment did which was attempt to catalog, like everything, and describe and dissect and make his own miniature museum and basically invent modern science from the ground up. Francis Willughby sounds interesting and I’m happy reading about him. But the author of this particular biography is driving me up the wall by basically constantly inserting himself into the narrative.  One section, paraphrased:  “And here they were, in this very room, dissecting a bittern according to the journal, and I thought to myself, how wonderful, I would very much also like to dissect a bittern so I can get closer to Willughby and imagine how he felt and what he was thinking, but alas bitterns are endangered. So I called around to wildlife refuges asking if anyone happened to have a dead bittern that I could dissect — ”




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