Thursday 15 September 2011

Science and poetry

Inspired by my love for Richard Holmes The Age of Wonder, I'm heading along next Tuesday to Professor Kathryn Wall's inaugural lecture at Victoria University, looking at the mix of emotions with with the arts viewed science in the 18th century:

In the lecture, titled "God said, Let Newton Be": Alexander Pope and the Scientific Revolution Professor Walls will explain that Pope, like his contemporary Jonathan Swift, mercilessly satirised scientists.
"They were part of a reactionary movement—science was seen as a fad, an addiction and as a waste of time. It didn’t seem to be producing any practical benefits."
Professor Walls says it is not surprising that poets were opposed to science. "Poetry plays with words. It delights in paradox and ambiguity. Scientists value precision and clarity—the mentality is utterly different."
However, Professor Walls believes Pope's attitude to science was complex. "Pope attended a series of lectures given by one of Newton's disciples, and the scientific discoveries of the day clearly influenced his thought."

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