Maria Sibylla Merian & Metamorphosis

October 14, 2010

Tags: Maria Merian & Metamorphosis

I`ve only recently caught up with a brilliant book (CHRYSALIS) by Kim Todd on the remarkable woman naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian. I first came across Merian in the Exhibition 3 years ago AMAZING RARE THINGS, part curated by David Attenborough - who seems to be more interested in the thrilling realism of wildebeests being savaged by lions these days.

Merian was one of the first after Jan Swammerdam to describe the processes of metamorphosis in nature, which she did directly from nature rather than the lab. As Kim Todd points out "Her portraits and descriptions of Surinamese insects were so definitive that Linnaeus, in compiling his systematization of natural life, used her drawings rather than actual specimens."

A blog is not the place to undertake an argument as to the full significance of insect transformation in the disputes over natural selection. But as I have shown in a series of published books (which are introduced on my accompanying website,) metamorphosis feeds into all the great artistic, literary and musical achievements of the human race. This may appear to be metaphysical, but sonatas, symphonies, Shakespeare`s dramatic evolution - all follow this entirely natural and physical parabola.

It`s just that most folk look down in insects as relatively insignificant when they`re not a positive menace (the infamous Scottish midge). But as a matter of sheer fact, they are more SIGNIFICANT in evolutionary terms than the higher apes which of course have their place.

See also Home

Science and the Humanities
Science and the humanities
"In this volume, Spooner makes use of the most recent data from science to strike out in an interesting direction by returning to one of the great unresolved mysteries: how to fuse science and the great works of imagination without doing violence to one or the other of these great human enterprises."
Poetry and Entomology
A consideration of poets from Darío to Rueda and Lorca; Cernuda and Aleixandre to Valente.

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