Friday, September 26, 2008

Quote of the Day: Darwin, on distant futurity

by J J Cohen

One of the pleasures of the work I've been doing on the relations between prehistory and distant futurity is the chance this temporal convergence has given me to read outside the usual canon of theorists that literary scholars work with. Here is a quotation that has stuck with me since coming across it again, from a theorist of time whom (I'm inclined to agree with Elizabeth Grosz) ought to be approached anew, Charles Darwin:
Judging from the past, we safely iner that not one living species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity. And of the species now living very few will transmit progeny of any kind to a far distant futurity. (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection [1859], ed. Joseph Carroll, 397)
Bleak indeed ... as well as thoroughly antiessentialist.

1 comment:

Nic D'Alessio said...

JJC: I certainly agree with you, and Grosz, that Darwin needs to be approached anew. But for now, I thought I'd bring this apropos conference to your attention, which takes its theme from the fact that 2009 witnesses the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of "The Origin of Species." The conference itself, however, is for graduate students (yes us!).

"Natural Dialogues: Art, Science, & Material Culture," to be held 2/21/09 at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven.