September 6, 2023

An 1882 Look At The 21st Century's Short Attention Span

I am going to ask you to put down your 21st Century Attention Span -- which research says is now less than that of a "goldfish" -- and read the following article written in 1883 by Annie Besant in her "Our Corner" publication.  I'll give you the esoteric significance afterwards. 

Peeps through a Microscope

It is startling to think how the universe has increased in size for us during the last 200 years. When Galileo roamed, a boy, through Florentine streets, his “large eyes full of speculation” gazed questioning at sky and earth, at stars that were mere far-off lamps hanging from the firmament, at the surface of land and water. He dreamed not of the realms of space, world-peopled, rolling around him, of the realms of minutest beauty in the air he breathed, in the earth he trod on, in the water that sparkled before his eyes. When Galileo died, his telescope had swept the boundary of the visible out of sight backwards into space, his microscope had lifted the veil that hid from man daintiness of beauty more exquisite than fancy had ever given to fay or elf. The old man dying, blind from long work or from Inquisition torture—darkness hangs over the cause of this pathetic blindness of the star-gazer—left to the world new eyes wherewith to see. 

This “world of the minute” made visible to us by the microscope is one of the most fascinating foreign countries into which it is possible to travel. And it has this great advantage over more commonplace lands, that you can journey all over it with very little expense, and without moving away from your favorite chair in your study. Besides, if you meet any very pleasant acquaintances among the natives of the land, you need not part with them, but can just put them by in a box, and renew your conversation with them whenever you please. Every study corner should have a microscope set on a steady table—a small table with thick legs is the best—in a good light. The first cost would be amply repaid by the good temper, bright interest, pure recreation that would flow perennially from that corner, and many a healthy walk would be taken to find “specimens” for evening work.  

Let me introduce to you, readers mine, some of the curious folk who live in this foreign land. And, as some of the wiser will try to see for themselves, instead of through my eyes, I will let you into the secret of how to find your way there for yourselves. 

The first thing we will peep at may be found in water. Put a few flowers in a glass of water, and leave them there till the water is discolored—discolored sounds better, more scientific, than dirty; take a clean slip of glass (a “slide”), and put on it a drop of the greenish water; take a “cover-glass” in your left hand, a needle in your right; rest the edge of the cover-glass against the edge of the drop and support the free side on the needle, and then let the cover-glass gently down, so that you get the water spread out evenly, and no air-bubbles in it. Now place the slide on the stage of the microscope and take a peep. 

The first inhabitant to which I introduce you often passes so swiftly across the field of the microscope that, as you realize his presence, he has disappeared. A will-o’-the-wisp of a thing, most aggravating to the novice, who sees a whirlwind, with a darkish space in the middle, shoot across and vanish. If we look for a little clump of vegetable matter, however, we shall probably find some of our friends busy there, moving in and out, round and round it, and so we can get a better view of them. If still they are too active, we can put a drop of tincture of iodine on one side of the cover-glass, and a little bit of blotting-paper on the other side, so as to draw the iodine under the glass, and as the brown fluid touches our lively friends all movement will cease, and you will see something like Fig. 1. 

This granular fringed object is one of the living things that hover on the limits of the animal and vegetable worlds, and is a member of a very large class, the INFUSORIA, so named because they are found in infusions of vegetable matter. The animal consists of a single cell, a wall enclosing semi-fluid contents. The wall, or ectosarc, is a thin delicate cuticle, and from this grows out the fringe of hairs, or cilia, to the continual motion of which is due the whirlwind noted above. The cilia sweep the animal along, and they also make currents which catch up all the little particles of matter suspended in the water round them, and drive these up towards the mouth, a. The semi-fluid contents are the endosarc, finely granular protoplasm, and in this at d is the nucleus, or endoplast, of more aggregated protoplasm, within which again is a small nucleus, the nucleolus or endoplastule. As the food is driven into the mouth and passes down the gullet it gets rolled into little balls, c, and these, each one surrounded by water, are 

in turn suddenly pushed into the endosarc, and travel slowly through it along a definite path, the innutritive part being finally ejected through the cuticle. At b is a remarkably interesting organ, the contractile vesicle, a structure probably respiratory in function, and allied to the complex water-vascular system of higher animals. As we watch this open space we see it suddenly contract and disappear, and then it again slowly opens, and again suddenly contracts, this rhythmical movement being constant. At its full expansion only the cuticle intervenes between it and the water, and as it contracts delicate radiating canals are seen to go off from it and to be charged with liquid. Thus the contractile vesicle acts like a water-lung, the water, carrying oxygen in solution, passing in through the cuticle....

Okay, gentle readers, I'll end the article here since it's definitely too wordy for our 21 Century Attention Span, and if you stuck it out this far, you must be itching to check you iPhone -- I am! You can read the full 1883 article written by Annie Besant on, conversely, I will tell you that she goes on in her article to show reproducing cells, or "Vorticella" cells and its "pranks" under the microscope -- how exciting.

So what is esoteric about this?  A few things: First, this 1882 article shows how far we've sunk in our brains, and with our shortening attention spans, there can be little doubt that in another hundred years we will be nothing more than mindless bodies being fed information from a storage devise.  Secondly, with the thousands of exoplanets being found daily in a Goldilocks Zone with water and plant life, how can anyone think there is not other life out there, life far more advanced than ours in the 13.787 billion years the universe has been developing.  Are we not but spiraling fission between earth and heaven on a slide of class under another dimension's microscope? Obviously we are!!! 

I'll now return you to your iPhone and google maps.  Enjoy your day!

~~ Dr TV Boogie


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Thanks For Being!

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