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David Wootton discloses to the reader on page 182 that his aim is to provide an intellectual biography of Galileo Galilei. But this book does not. Wootton's aim is rather to re-enter, re-open or even unhinge the structures of all arguments about the so-called Galileo affair that have been written until now.
How many of us would happily make do without a fully equipped modern kitchen – even if it sometimes beats like a transplanted artificial heart at the centre of an artisan cottage stripped back to its original organic floorboards and fireplace?
According to the American humorist Ogden Nash, ‘God, in his wisdom, made the Fly. And then forgot to tell us why’. This long-standing mystery has apparently been resolved by John F. McDiarmid Clark, who argues that the fly’s main purposed was to allow early Victorian amateur bug-hunters to become 20th-century professional entomologists.
It is said that ‘efficiency is doing better what is already being done’, although the word in English derives from the Latin efficere; simply, to accomplish. In its crudest sense then, regardless of culture or nationality, the vast majority of humanity engages in efficiency at a personal level on a daily basis.
The intellectual historian Martin Jay once championed the cause of ‘ocular-eccentricity’ as an alternative mode of visual engagement.(1) The term, of course, was a play on ‘ocularcentricity’, the concept that the rational power of the eye had come to dominate the nature and scope of our interactions.
In Thomas Cannon’s 1749 pamphlet Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify’d, the author recounts a chance meeting with a ‘too polish’d Pederast’ who, ‘attack’d upon the Head, that his Desire was unnatural, thus wrestled in Argument; Unnatural Desire is a Contradiction in Terms; downright Nonsense.
In the past decade Britain has finally relaxed the strict controls on the movement of dogs and cats across its borders. The most potent and compelling arguments used for the retention of quarantine regulations could be found in the pictures of rabid dogs posted at marinas and other embarkation points.
In December 2002, 400 people assembled at the Institute of Historical Research in London to attend a conference called ‘History and the media’. Its purpose was to investigate the recent and phenomenal rise of popular history, and as such it drew delegates not only from colleges, libraries and museums, but also from television studios, newsdesks and film production companies.
Margaret Pelling, author ofThe Common Lot: Sickness, Medical Occupations and the Urban Poor in Early Modern England (London: Longman, 1998) and currently Reader in the Social History of Medicine at the University of Oxford, has produced a new volume in the Oxford Studies in Social History series, Medical Conflicts in Early Modern London.
John Monro was not, I suspect, an interesting man.