Archive for May, 2012

5-27-12 Homicentric

Published by under Interplay












homicentric adj Believing homo sapiens to be the center of the universe. [related] anthropocentric adj Regarding man as the central fact or final aim of the universe.

For 469 years the best minds of man have dispelled the notion that we are the center of the universe. But, the rest of us can’t seem to get it through our heads.

The Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473-1543, proposed a view of the Earth that was in daily motion about its axis and in yearly motion around a stationary sun. The Catholic church rejected the view.

Galileo Galilei, 1546-1642, born in Pisa, Italy, became convinced of Copernicus’s sun-centered or heliocentric theory. The Roman Catholic Church forced him to recant. He lived the rest of his life under house arrest. In protest Galileo wrote: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

An Englishman, Charles Darwin, 1809-1882, published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” and was vehemently attacked, particularly by the Church. The logical extension of the theory was that homo sapiens were simply another form of animal.

The views of Copernicus and Galileo, born out by subsequent scientific explorations, are taught, without controversy, throughout the world. Darwin’s theory, despite huge advances made by evolutionary biologists, still has rough going. I was thinking of this the other evening during a period of heavy wind which blew a tiny Wilson’s Warbler off course and into a window pane. I held him, light as air in my hand, and beautiful beyond belief, yellow head as bright as the Golden Banner drifts opening their petals in the meadow, small coal black circle on the top of his head, set off by a greenish tinge of his wings. I felt the dying warmth and a cloud of feather. It was a melancholy moment. Mornings since the Wilsons arrival we have exchanged greetings: chip chip chip chip Good morning! chip chip chip chip Good morning! Oh, I want to be a relative.

A day or so later with spring snow covering the land and darkness falling, a dark movement, unexpected in a mowed clearing, assuaged the sadness. A Lazuli Bunting, brilliant blue head with cinnamon chest and dashes of white, poked around for larvae or seeds to feed his mate secure in a tangled shrubbery. If I am lucky, the couple and their brood will stay with me until fall.  Then, it is: adios y hasta luego!

* picture detail from the “Crucifixion“, Matthias Grunewald,1510-1515

John Willett, Expressionism, World University Library, 1971


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